Quality audio interface at max 300$? Details given

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Post Reply
hirnlego
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 3:48 pm
Location: Bologna

Quality audio interface at max 300$? Details given

Post by hirnlego » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:10 am

Hi, sorry for the quite common question.
I'm looking for an usb audio interface with a target max price of 300$.
My setup is a laptop with Windows 7 64bit, software used: Ableton Live, Max 4 Live, Reaktor, Sound Forge.
The interface's drivers must be multi-client to address multiple programs simultaneously.
Ideally it should be small, rugged and stable, for studio and live use. It should occupy zero space in studio.
I don't need a lot of ins/outs, 1 stereo out + headphone and a couple of balanced ins should suffice.
I already looked at Motu Microbook, Mackie Onyx Blackjack and NI Audio Kontrol 1. I like the Blackjack a lot, but I quite dropped it from the list because of the known drivers issues. The target now is the Microbook, although the lack of any knob bugs me a little, not much to be a purchase stopper, though.
I know it's a crowded price range but at the end they look all the same to me, so I'm having difficulties choosing one.
Any suggestion? Other names?
Thanks in advance.

Khazul
Posts: 3185
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: Reading, UK

Re: Quality audio interface at max 300$? Details given

Post by Khazul » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:09 am

Sorry, nothing new, but NI Audio Kontrol 1 or Audio 2/4/8DJ would be my first choices. I have both the AK1 and 8DJ on Win 7/64 and use both *simultaneously* with Live and Traktor. You can even send live and traktor to the same channels (unlike say RME who only support multi-client on different channels).

I would say NI in my experience have the most reliable and most drivers I have ever come across. Practical latency quite decent as well - I think I tend to leave it set to 192 samples at 44.1KHz (or around 6ms).

Audio quality wise, well I have never sat down and done an A/B the AK1 with my main RME UFX, but I dont generally notice anything bad when switchind back to the NI AK1 from the RME UFX. I'm sure if I did a careful comparison I would be able to pick holes in it somewhere, so no complaints on that front (In practice, room probbaly makes more difference to monitoring than the difference in audio card output sounds does).

Which to choose depends upon exactly what you are connectig it too. DJ series for DJ gear and consumer HiFi etc. AK1 for balanced connection to studio mixer/monitors etc and if you need a 48V powered balanced mic input and balanced line inputs etc.

Personally, the other audio interface I would look at is RME babyface - but thats quite a price jump, especially by the time you buy the extra unbalanced cable loom to give you all possible conectiveity options for live use. (Use the build in total mix to get around the cant-share-same channel driver behaviour, as well as given you an extra rather nice mixer). I wouldnt call it 'rugged' either :)
Nothing to see here - move along!

petit nuage
Posts: 431
Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2006 12:31 pm

Re: Quality audio interface at max 300$? Details given

Post by petit nuage » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:16 am

hello !

maybe this one is very good :m-audio profire 610

..ok i know it is firewire... but look at this thread on gearlutz..interesting :

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-co ... essed.html

hirnlego
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 3:48 pm
Location: Bologna

Re: Quality audio interface at max 300$? Details given

Post by hirnlego » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:55 am

Khazul wrote:Which to choose depends upon exactly what you are connectig it too. DJ series for DJ gear and consumer HiFi etc. AK1 for balanced connection to studio mixer/monitors etc and if you need a 48V powered balanced mic input and balanced line inputs etc.
Well, in studio I plan to connect it directly to the monitors, and live I usually plug into the console mixer (RCA).
I was considering the Microbook over the AK1 because of the size of it and also because the AK1 gave me a bit of a "toy" feeling, with that big knob and programmable buttons, but I can't compare them audio quality wise. Also, surely the AK1 is less toy-like that it seems.

The Babyface looks nice, but is too far ahead of my budget.

Thanks for your input. Anybody else?

hirnlego
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 3:48 pm
Location: Bologna

Re: Quality audio interface at max 300$? Details given

Post by hirnlego » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:57 am

petit nuage wrote:hello !

maybe this one is very good :m-audio profire 610

..ok i know it is firewire... but look at this thread on gearlutz..interesting :

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-co ... essed.html
Thanks. I had an M-audio Firewire 410 once and this looks like its successor.
This is a nice interface, but a little too big for my needs.

Khazul
Posts: 3185
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: Reading, UK

Re: Quality audio interface at max 300$? Details given

Post by Khazul » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:58 am

hirnlego wrote:
Khazul wrote:Which to choose depends upon exactly what you are connectig it too. DJ series for DJ gear and consumer HiFi etc. AK1 for balanced connection to studio mixer/monitors etc and if you need a 48V powered balanced mic input and balanced line inputs etc.
Well, in studio I plan to connect it directly to the monitors, and live I usually plug into the console mixer (RCA).
I was considering the Microbook over the AK1 because of the size of it and also because the AK1 gave me a bit of a "toy" feeling, with that big knob and programmable buttons, but I can't compare them audio quality wise. Also, surely the AK1 is less toy-like that it seems.

The Babyface looks nice, but is too far ahead of my budget.

Thanks for your input. Anybody else?
Ignore the knob and buttons - I have never used them.
Nothing to see here - move along!

hirnlego
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 3:48 pm
Location: Bologna

Re: Quality audio interface at max 300$? Details given

Post by hirnlego » Tue Mar 01, 2011 2:19 pm

Khazul wrote:Ignore the knob and buttons - I have never used them.
Yeah, I guessed. Thanks.
Anybody else in the room? I really like to hear something about the Microbook, or other equivalent.

fl0w
Posts: 56
Joined: Sun Jun 28, 2009 11:28 am

Re: Quality audio interface at max 300$? Details given

Post by fl0w » Tue Mar 01, 2011 2:26 pm

hirnlego wrote:I plan to connect it directly to the monitors
Then make sure there's a volume control on your sound card... That's one of the reasons why I have an AK1.
(Alternatively, you can get a Mackie Big Knob or similar)

hirnlego
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 3:48 pm
Location: Bologna

Re: Quality audio interface at max 300$? Details given

Post by hirnlego » Tue Mar 01, 2011 3:05 pm

fl0w wrote:
hirnlego wrote:I plan to connect it directly to the monitors
Then make sure there's a volume control on your sound card... That's one of the reasons why I have an AK1.
(Alternatively, you can get a Mackie Big Knob or similar)
Good point, thanks. Although the Microbook has a software mixer, the lack of a physical volume control in this configuration is a big minus.

Khazul
Posts: 3185
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: Reading, UK

Re: Quality audio interface at max 300$? Details given

Post by Khazul » Tue Mar 01, 2011 3:58 pm

I must admit, despirte the NI audio interfaces being very good, I still actually dont trust *any* computer audio interface and so have a presonus central station or DJ mixer between all my audio interfaces and monitors.

A physical volume control not subject to any software control should be a standard feature of all audio interfaces along with an immediate cut smooth off if the thing detects anything wrong.

At least its not as bad these days as it once was - ended up sticking a digital feedback suppressor inliine with my monitoring as it turned out it recated rather well to the digital shreaks you get out of a crashed audio application.
Nothing to see here - move along!

hirnlego
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 3:48 pm
Location: Bologna

Re: Quality audio interface at max 300$? Details given

Post by hirnlego » Tue Mar 01, 2011 4:54 pm

Khazul wrote:At least its not as bad these days as it once was - ended up sticking a digital feedback suppressor inliine with my monitoring as it turned out it recated rather well to the digital shreaks you get out of a crashed audio application.
Aha! I remember cutting a lot of nice loops out of these sounds. :)

Khazul
Posts: 3185
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: Reading, UK

Re: Quality audio interface at max 300$? Details given

Post by Khazul » Tue Mar 01, 2011 5:17 pm

hirnlego wrote:
Khazul wrote:At least its not as bad these days as it once was - ended up sticking a digital feedback suppressor inliine with my monitoring as it turned out it recated rather well to the digital shreaks you get out of a crashed audio application.
Aha! I remember cutting a lot of nice loops out of these sounds. :)
LOL - I think I still have a patch in my v-synth based upon the horrible screech that I used to get out of my virus TI regularly back in its more flakey days :)
Nothing to see here - move along!

hirnlego
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 3:48 pm
Location: Bologna

Re: Quality audio interface at max 300$? Details given

Post by hirnlego » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:42 pm

In the end I opted for the AK1.

Post Reply