Best sounding audio interface under $300?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Tone Deft
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Re: Best sounding audio interface under $300?

Post by Tone Deft » Thu Jun 30, 2011 9:38 pm

rydn wrote:I'm mostly concerned about sound quality to help with eqing/mixing/mastering.
there's very little difference in sound cards when it comes to this, especially for a user just starting out and that difference is only for recording and playing out to a PA. the sound card has NOTHING to do with how well EQs or mixing/mastering plug ins work. don't overthink all this.

you want a powerful sound card for low latency that fits your budget.
oddstep wrote:I agree with all of this. I'm just bored of writing "its music, just listen and trust your judgement"

rydn
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Re: Best sounding audio interface under $300?

Post by rydn » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:03 pm

Well yeah, I don't mean "help" like "power", but clear so that I'm not mixing against something that isn't representing the sound well. If that's really not an issue, then great. One less thing to worry about.

Tone Deft
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Re: Best sounding audio interface under $300?

Post by Tone Deft » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:05 pm

your monitor choice and room treatment will have a much larger effect.
oddstep wrote:I agree with all of this. I'm just bored of writing "its music, just listen and trust your judgement"

H20nly
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Re: Best sounding audio interface under $300?

Post by H20nly » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:14 pm

^ true, unless he mixes in headphones. :D

if you think about it, an interface that colors the sound too much is not necessarily a good thing. it's probably better to have something transparent than to have something that one person or another describes as "warm" or "cold".

for under $300 i'd say go with something that gets good reviews, has tried and true drivers that will work with your operating system, and is easy to setup if you plan on doing a lot of traveling with it. if you find something that is "brand new" or just got released yesterday... personally, i'd avoid it. because until the masses have tried it (extended beta tested) you always run the risk of driver issues and you don't want to be stuck waiting for an update with 90 ms latency in the meantime.
Last edited by H20nly on Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Tone Deft
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Re: Best sounding audio interface under $300?

Post by Tone Deft » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:16 pm

disagreed.
oddstep wrote:I agree with all of this. I'm just bored of writing "its music, just listen and trust your judgement"

H20nly
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Re: Best sounding audio interface under $300?

Post by H20nly » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:17 pm

por que?

oh verbose one...

Tone Deft
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Re: Best sounding audio interface under $300?

Post by Tone Deft » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:25 pm

sounds cards will not color the sound compared to other elements, starting with his own ears. generally their frequency responses are like +/- 0.5dB across the spectrum, I don't know where you're getting this notion. these sounds cards really don't color the sound. you're saying you can tell what one sound card sounds like over another? what?

the guy's just starting out, there's a lot of BS in this thread, it's not this complicated, it's pretty black and white. these pseudo audophile descriptions of warm and cold are BS.

good point on getting something that's been out for a bit, early adopters can get bit. in that vein make sure the sound card has drivers for your operating system.
oddstep wrote:I agree with all of this. I'm just bored of writing "its music, just listen and trust your judgement"

H20nly
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Re: Best sounding audio interface under $300?

Post by H20nly » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:35 pm

Tone Deft wrote:you're saying you can tell what one sound card sounds like over another? what?
oh no. i'm not saying that at all. but it has been implied in this thread... i think by the OP himself.
Tone Deft wrote: these pseudo audophile descriptions of warm and cold are BS.
that's kinda what i was getting at (just not so blunt :D ). he asked in the subject for "the best sounding" which is subjective and at the end of the day... your interface shouldn't sound like anything... it should pass the music through just as it did when you put it in or just as you want it to sound coming out... which is why i said;
H20nly wrote:it's probably better to have something transparent than to have something that one person or another describes as "warm" or "cold".

rikhyray
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Re: Best sounding audio interface under $300?

Post by rikhyray » Fri Jul 01, 2011 6:02 pm

If by best is meant clarity and definition - hearing better the details - the best deal is TC Konnekt, specially the 6 which performs better then most interfaces thrice its price, amazing sound for the money. However like all devices using TC made DICE wont give good latency. Focurite, Presonus, and some other companies use and suffer due to DICE chips. All usable but problematic on lower buffers. The newer DICE II are even worse. If you want both quality sound and latency, pay more, waste time and money less = get RME.

23kon
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Re: Best sounding audio interface under $300?

Post by 23kon » Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:09 pm

At the moment i've got a Cakewalk UA-25 EX which i've recommended previously in other soundcard threads.
For about £140 it's got a lot of ins and outs.

However I think it's the cause of some random crashes with Ableton. When I get these random crashes it's the audio that dies.
Sometimes I have to unplug the USB to soundcard then re-plug in or restart the machine.
A very annoying thing when you are in the middle of something!
And would be even worse when playing a live gig!!!!

So i'm thinking about getting something else for gigging with.

I might end up keeping the UA-25 EX for studio use but get something a lot smaller and simpler for live performance.
This card has to be usable but sample quality doesnt have to be up at 192.
I'd been thinking about the ESI MAYA44 USB 4 in 4 out.
It's maybe the kind of thing you should consider? Small. Portable. Light. and only £70.

Has anyone used one of these? How good is it? How stable is it?
any reports?

Would you recommend anything else along those lines/brief?

H20nly
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Re: Best sounding audio interface under $300?

Post by H20nly » Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:33 pm

^ have you tried changing the USB cable? sounds kinda stupid i know, but it's probably just something silly like that... drivers etc.

are you Mac or PC?

23kon
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Re: Best sounding audio interface under $300?

Post by 23kon » Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:48 pm

I'm PC based.
I'm about to buy a dedicated machine for music production rather than using my laptop i use for surfing/design/music.

Good shout with the cable. I'll grab one this weekend. Might try using a different usb port too and put the card through its paces on current machine.

I think i'll still be on the lookout for a lighter and more portable thing too though.
The soundcard for studio will have to put up with more hardcore tasks whereas the one for gigging won't have to do so much hard work as synths & effects on most channels will be rendered as audio for these sets.

You think the Maya would be up to that?

H20nly
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Re: Best sounding audio interface under $300?

Post by H20nly » Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:05 pm

23kon wrote:You think the Maya would be up to that?
:? you mean: http://www.mayasound.com/ :?:

if you're PC based it could also be the USB port. i'm not a fan of Apple's business strategies, but i completely respect their hardware... the thing i respect most over any of it is the fact that you can unplug a USB device and plug it right back in without the errors or reinstall prompts you typically get with a Windows PC. anyway, what i'm taking the long road to get to is.... definitely try a new port.

oh and be careful buying a USB cable. they can be horribly overpriced. if you're paying more than 10 bucks (U.S.) you're getting jacked - i don't care how long it is. for the purpose of testing the theory surely you have something around the house you could borrow a cable off temporarily.

Donnie
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Re: Best sounding audio interface under $300?

Post by Donnie » Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:29 pm

In addition to trying a new USB cable I recommend reinstalling your drivers or to try using asio4all. There are a lot of real shitty drivers out there for audio interfaces on pc.

23kon
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Re: Best sounding audio interface under $300?

Post by 23kon » Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:04 pm

I dont think i have any other usb cables that fit the bill.
just sold my novation zero sl that i think had the same connector. Oh maybe the one for my nocturn might be the same actually.

I'll give that a shot or buy a new lead and also try a new port and put it through its paces over the weekend.
sorry to hijack this original thread lol.

Still interested in finding a good more portable solution though for lighter soundcard loads like the thread started out asking for.
Cheers for everyones suggestions :) I shall post up results.

I hope it is just the connections though as the cakewalk is a great card for the money.
Cakewalk is a Roland company too - so gotta be good sh*t!!!!

I'll try reinstalling the drivers (im sure i did that not so long ago)
Is ASIO for all better than the Roland/Cakewalk drivers you reckon?

I tried asio4all before with a mates alesis card that he was having stuttering bother with and it was a pain. Maybe it was just his card. Actually, on that note, he's looking for a new one too because that alesis one is absolute sh******te!!!!
If i manage to stabalise my cakewalk then il prob recommend that to him. Its on sale at andertons in the uk at the moment £149!

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