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Looking For Portable Interface Recommendations

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 3:41 pm
by towers of silence
I've been playing out a bit more lately and am planning on doing a little travelling this fall so I'm in the market for a small, portable audio interface so that I don't need to take my MOTU 828 mkII out with me. I love the MOTU, but it's hardwired into my studio and it's a huge pain to disconnect & reconnect it everytime I want to play out, plus it's overkill since I never need all those in's and out's for my live shows anyhow. So I want to leave it in my studio and just get a portable interface to use when I leave the house. I'm using Ableton 7 (of course) on a MacBook 2ghz core2duo.

I'm looking for decent sound quality but it doesn't have to be stellar as this isn't going to be my main rig. It should have MIDI I/O and it needs to have at least 2 built-in pre's with phantom power. I'm not positive I need more than 2 simultaneous ins but it may be nice to have just in case, so I'm open to the possibility. The ability to be bus powered would also be a plus but it's not a deal-breaker. It should have balanced outputs as well, 1/4" TRS are fine, but RCA out's are a bit of a downer for me.

My biggest factor is that I need to be able to run a cue mix from ableton through the headphones only, as much of my live set involves chopping and manipulating audio that is being played live and I need to be able to audition my tweaks before adding them to the arrangement that is coming through the main outs. I realize that if I have an interface with only 2 outs I can set up an aggregate device in CoreAudio and use the built-in headphone out on my Mac as my cue mix which would be fine, although I am concerned that it may add a significant strain to my CPU- anyone have any experience with that type of setup?

I would also like to keep it under $300 if possible. The Presonus Firebox seems decent, as does the Edirol FA66, however the E-Mu 0404 or Tracker look OK as well. There are quite a few options out there that roughly meet my criteria and my price range, so I'm looking for some comments from the peanut gallery that might push me in one direction or another-anyone got some advice for me?
Cheers
-Nathan

Re: Looking For Portable Interface Recommendations

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 3:48 pm
by beats me
NI Audio Kontrol FTW.

Re: Looking For Portable Interface Recommendations

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 3:53 pm
by logic_user99
beats me wrote:NI Audio Kontrol FTW.
+1! I love mine.

Jeez, I've been '+1 ing' a whole lot of stuff today!

Re: Looking For Portable Interface Recommendations

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:06 pm
by blackboab
presonus firebox would suit your needs perfectly

Re: Looking For Portable Interface Recommendations

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:44 pm
by towers of silence
The NI audio kontrol looks pretty nice but it only has 1 mic input from what I can see, and I'd really like to have 2 mic inputs. Otherwise it would be perfect...

Re: Looking For Portable Interface Recommendations

Posted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 2:04 am
by dontask100
I use a Presonus Firebox. Had it since Dec.2007. At first used it with an older HP laptop that worked just fine. Upgraded to basic macbook-similar to your mac configuration: works very well. Macbook powers the presonus device too. Meets my need for home-based use with ableton 7. For the price, think it will meet your approbation.