The Great Interface Hunt

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
TheNobleNemesis
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The Great Interface Hunt

Post by TheNobleNemesis » Wed May 14, 2014 2:39 pm

My current interface is non-ASIO compliant (Alesis), and the lowest output sample buffer I can get without crackling is around a 700, which is well over 17ms. The mic preamps have a horrible noise floor (seriously, i've tested multiple dynamic mics, condenser mics, guitar TRS outputs, digital grand TRS outputs, i've tested everything I can possibly test and no matter what, there's always a horrible noise accompanying it. It's certainly not a ground-looping issue nor a feedback issue, it's the shoddy quality of my mic preamps), and the EQ function on it is utterly useless (fixed at 80hz and 16khz.. sounds awful)

I'd like to make this thread as useful and relevant to other consumers searching for interfaces, so with that being said, what criteria should I be factoring in when hunting around for an audio interface?

Me personally, I will probably only be using one of the pre-amps at a time, much less a second one, so expansion and line count is a more secondary function.
My number one priority is having low latency, my number two is having class A pre-amps, and finally, extra outputs for a secondary speaker set (or, you know a sub) would be nice.

Your input is appreciated. (see what I did there?)

Analog4Science
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Re: The Great Interface Hunt

Post by Analog4Science » Wed May 14, 2014 2:54 pm

I use a focusrite Forte. It has premium quality preamps that sound better than most interfaces. I had a motu 828 mk3 and several other interfaces before that of similar quality and the Forte blows them out of the water. It also has great latency i have it set at 2 samples. which is perfect for playing VSTi's.

Donnie
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Re: The Great Interface Hunt

Post by Donnie » Wed May 14, 2014 3:31 pm

What price range are you looking for? Or should I say, what is the most you are willing to spend? This is probably the most important piece of criteria imo :wink:

login
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Re: The Great Interface Hunt

Post by login » Wed May 14, 2014 3:56 pm

The most important part of an audio interface is the driver support, without good drivers interfaces don't work well.

Rme is the undisputed king of drivers, but are expensive.

Lately Steinberg has been offering entry models with good drivers, check out the ur22.

Buleriachk
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Re: The Great Interface Hunt

Post by Buleriachk » Wed May 14, 2014 4:03 pm

Right now, I'm pretty happy with Focusrite.

Donnie
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Re: The Great Interface Hunt

Post by Donnie » Wed May 14, 2014 4:20 pm

Personally I would also recommend Focusrite in the lower price range, RME in the higher. After everything ive tried these tend to be the most solid on the opposite sides of the spectrum imo.

Focusrite is a great middle ground, and generally workable. RME will offer much lower latencies, greater stability, more professional features, etc.

Some examples: I went from a Focusrite 8i6 to an RME Babyface recently. With the Focusrite I was stable at about 17ms round trip. However it would occasionally crash during rapid tempo changes or when loading certain devices. With the RME I think I am about 4 or 5 ms round trip and rock solid. I dont think ive ever experienced a crash with it. In windows the RME shares all Windows Audio resources properly, while the Focusrite always seemed to have problems with that. The Focusrite is easy to use but feature light. The RME's feature set is much more comprehensive, settings are more accessible and useable, however settings navigation can be more confusing initially. The Focusrite is plenty passable quality input/output wise, but a touch noisy. On the other hand, the RME is super crisp with so little noise that I can barely tell its turned up.
Last edited by Donnie on Wed May 14, 2014 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

clydesdale
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Re: The Great Interface Hunt

Post by clydesdale » Wed May 14, 2014 4:25 pm

I just bought the RME Babyface based on the sheer number of satisfied users, for the audio quality, the driver support, and the consistent high performance and low latency. Plus there is class compliant mode for the ipad and the TotalMix interface. I was really tempted to get the UFX or UCX but after really considering my setup I wisely came to the conclusion that I only needed a 2-IN 4-OUT arrangement. I think the resale value and longevity can justify the premium price too. Frankly the only downside in my opinion is the form factor with breakout cable, I originally wanted something rack mounted.
LIVE 9.1.7 x64, PUSH w/PXT, APC40, KEYSTATION PRO88, Radium61
Win8.1 Pro, 4820k(4.5GHz)/32GB/840ProSSD/RME Babyface

jlgrimes
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Re: The Great Interface Hunt

Post by jlgrimes » Wed May 14, 2014 4:42 pm

TheNobleNemesis wrote:My current interface is non-ASIO compliant (Alesis), and the lowest output sample buffer I can get without crackling is around a 700, which is well over 17ms. The mic preamps have a horrible noise floor (seriously, i've tested multiple dynamic mics, condenser mics, guitar TRS outputs, digital grand TRS outputs, i've tested everything I can possibly test and no matter what, there's always a horrible noise accompanying it. It's certainly not a ground-looping issue nor a feedback issue, it's the shoddy quality of my mic preamps), and the EQ function on it is utterly useless (fixed at 80hz and 16khz.. sounds awful)

I'd like to make this thread as useful and relevant to other consumers searching for interfaces, so with that being said, what criteria should I be factoring in when hunting around for an audio interface?

Me personally, I will probably only be using one of the pre-amps at a time, much less a second one, so expansion and line count is a more secondary function.
My number one priority is having low latency, my number two is having class A pre-amps, and finally, extra outputs for a secondary speaker set (or, you know a sub) would be nice.

Your input is appreciated. (see what I did there?)

There are so many interfaces each with dedicated tasks and apply to certain niches. You have relatively cheap 2 input USB interfaces (make sure they are USB2.0), all the way up to FX processor oriented interfaces like the Apollo/Digital Mixers/Interfaces with high quality preamps which can cost a few thousand dollars.


Some things that are important to some are useless for other people:



1. Rackmount vs Portable tabletop vs Digital Mixer
2. Connection type (USB 2.0 vs Firewire vs Thunderbolt, I personally would not consider other options since PCI and PCMCIA stuff is becoming less supported)
3. Number of I/O
4. Type of I/O (Line(balanced/unbalanced), XLR/Mic, HI Z, Phono, SPDIF, ADAT, Midi, Wordclock, headphone outs)
5. Quality of Mic Preamps
6. Stability
7. Low Latency performance (some are alot better than others)
8. Compatibility (Mac/PC/ASIO/Core Audio/64 bit/32 bit/IOS)
9. Digital Mixer (a few have motorized faders and can function as a controller)
10. Built in Fx (Built-in reverb can be useful for singers who like to track with reverb)
11. Cost.
12. Expandability (Most interfaces can't be combined for multiple inputs on the PC. However many firewire and thunderbolt interfaces allow using duplicate interfaces for multiple inputs).
13. Quality and capability of Interface Software (Some Interfaces have basically no software, where others are a lot more extensive and features such as Virtual DAW inputs or AudioStreams, digitally controlled preamps).
14. Built-in Midi Keyboard.
15. Supported Sample rates/Bit Depths


Alot depends on whether you are a bedroom type producer with minimal gear getting started, or a seasoned pro putting together a serious studio, A songwriting electric guitarist, A DJ who is tranfering his vinyl collection to digital, a live performer, or songwriter on the go, and a whole lot of other combinations and things.
Last edited by jlgrimes on Wed May 14, 2014 4:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jlgrimes
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Re: The Great Interface Hunt

Post by jlgrimes » Wed May 14, 2014 4:49 pm

TheNobleNemesis wrote:My current interface is non-ASIO compliant (Alesis), and the lowest output sample buffer I can get without crackling is around a 700, which is well over 17ms. The mic preamps have a horrible noise floor (seriously, i've tested multiple dynamic mics, condenser mics, guitar TRS outputs, digital grand TRS outputs, i've tested everything I can possibly test and no matter what, there's always a horrible noise accompanying it. It's certainly not a ground-looping issue nor a feedback issue, it's the shoddy quality of my mic preamps), and the EQ function on it is utterly useless (fixed at 80hz and 16khz.. sounds awful)

I'd like to make this thread as useful and relevant to other consumers searching for interfaces, so with that being said, what criteria should I be factoring in when hunting around for an audio interface?

Me personally, I will probably only be using one of the pre-amps at a time, much less a second one, so expansion and line count is a more secondary function.
My number one priority is having low latency, my number two is having class A pre-amps, and finally, extra outputs for a secondary speaker set (or, you know a sub) would be nice.

Your input is appreciated. (see what I did there?)

How old is this interface? It is surprising it has no ASIO drivers. It must be very old (Over 10 years old?).

H20nly
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Re: The Great Interface Hunt

Post by H20nly » Wed May 14, 2014 7:46 pm

^ yeah... is it am Alesis MultiMix??

GUY SMILEY
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Re: The Great Interface Hunt

Post by GUY SMILEY » Wed May 14, 2014 7:58 pm

metric halo. they make amazing interfaces.
2882 pretty cheap 2nd hand

TheNobleNemesis
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Re: The Great Interface Hunt

Post by TheNobleNemesis » Thu May 15, 2014 12:50 am

H20nly wrote:^ yeah... is it am Alesis MultiMix??
Yeah, one that I bought just last year. Why?

H20nly
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Re: The Great Interface Hunt

Post by H20nly » Thu May 15, 2014 12:57 am

i used to have one... it was my first interface. the firewire version.

i kept it for playing a small show or for jamming out with multiple mic'd and line in instruments, but i always got a lot of line noise out of it and... no ASIO support. i used ASIO4ALL with it.

i couldn't take the hiss in my recordings anymore either. i replaced it with a T.C. Electronic Konnekt 6 and recently replaced that with an Apogee Duet 2.

mrdelurk
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Re: The Great Interface Hunt

Post by mrdelurk » Thu May 15, 2014 1:16 am

I have an awesome system for buying audio interfaces.

I scour the local Craigslist ads for the best deal on a second hand interface. I buy it, take it home, then discover it was cheap because A) one of the channels disconnects at random times, B) just touching the master volume knob produces as much audio crackle as on a WW2 AM radio. C) It relies on a PCI card that only works in Macs built from May to June of 1997 and D) its driver was last updated during the Mondale administration.

Why I keep doing this when a new interface is barely $100 in a store? Must be the feeling that I scored the best deal in town!

(This post was not intended as a sarcasm towards anyone else; it's a honest-to-goodness confession how I bought my last 3 interfaces... unfortunately. Maybe I need professional help)

login
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Re: The Great Interface Hunt

Post by login » Thu May 15, 2014 2:13 am

For years I used m-audio and focusirte. M-audio preamps are bad, and support is bad. Focusrite sound better, drivers on mac are OK, on pc I could never get low latency.

Focusrite firewire on mac is quite good.

but steinbeirg IMHO has stepped up the game in the budget market, better build quality and far better driver support than the others. Their top models have been even compared to RME in stability and performance.

So if you have the money and want to invest in an interface that will last you 10 years: RME.

If you are on a budget: Steinberg.

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