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Audio interface recommendation - 2x4, XLR, OS X, USB

Posted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 2:53 pm
by robbmasters
Hi all,

I'm on the look out for a new audio interface for my (mid-2013) Macbook Air (running Sierra).

I've been using a MOTU Microbook II, but sadly it's joined an increasingly long line of unreliable interfaces (glitches and drop-outs regardless of host, DAW, configuration, cables, etc.)

My minimum requirements are as follows...
  1. Two inputs
    1. One that supports an XLR mic requiring phantom power.
    2. Another that supports a high-impedance instrument input such as a guitar.
    3. Ideally, these inputs would also have separate RCA connectors to allow the connection of a stereo source. (Alternatively, it could have another pair of inputs.)
  2. Four outputs
    • With two available as a stereo pair on a headphone output.
  3. USB bus-powered (although phantom power's not vital when bus-powered).
I'd been looking at the Audient ID14 and the Zoom U24, although neither supports "1c" above. But a quick search on Thomann also suggested the Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD, Yamaha AG03, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 2nd Gen, Presonus Studio 26, and NI Komplete Audio 6. (The Yamaha AG03 or AG06 looks promising...)

Any thoughts on these - particularly regarding Mac compatibility? Or other suggestions? (Though I doubt I can stretch to an Apogee Duet!)

Thanks,

Robb

Re: Audio interface recommendation - 2x4, XLR, OS X, USB

Posted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 5:07 pm
by Stromkraft
robbmasters wrote:Hi all,

I'm on the look out for a new audio interface for my (mid-2013) Macbook Air (running Sierra).

I've been using a MOTU Microbook II, but sadly it's joined an increasingly long line of unreliable interfaces (glitches and drop-outs regardless of host, DAW, configuration, cables, etc.)

My minimum requirements are as follows...
  1. Two inputs
    1. One that supports an XLR mic requiring phantom power.
    2. Another that supports a high-impedance instrument input such as a guitar.
    3. Ideally, these inputs would also have separate RCA connectors to allow the connection of a stereo source. (Alternatively, it could have another pair of inputs.)
  2. Four outputs
    • With two available as a stereo pair on a headphone output.
  3. USB bus-powered (although phantom power's not vital when bus-powered).
I'd been looking at the Audient ID14 and the Zoom U24, although neither supports "1c" above. But a quick search on Thomann also suggested the Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD, Yamaha AG03, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 2nd Gen, Presonus Studio 26, and NI Komplete Audio 6. (The Yamaha AG03 or AG06 looks promising...)
I have stopped believing in NI audio interfaces since a dreadful bout with a previous one. Because of this experience I'm a happy owner of the original RME Babyface since some years. I could go on all day how satisfied I am with not only the hardware and the sound, but also the TotalMix software. I simply love the Babyface.

There's now also a Babyface Pro, but another great option would be a second hand original Babyface, if you can find one.

At least it should be a contender for anyone looking for a great audio interface. My next one will likely be an RME product.

Re: Audio interface recommendation - 2x4, XLR, OS X, USB

Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 6:57 am
by theophilus
if you can use thunderbolt, i've had pretty good luck with this over the last few months:

https://www.amazon.com/Resident-Audio-T ... B00OOXLQJS

connected to a 2014 macbook air.....

Re: Audio interface recommendation - 2x4, XLR, OS X, USB

Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 1:09 pm
by Richie Witch
The Scarlett 2i4 is an easy recommendation. I had one for a year and it was rock-solid even on Windows! LOL Easily the most reliable interface I've ever owned (and I've owned about six different interfaces so far).

The only reason I gave it up was because I needed more inputs as the studio started to grow.

Re: Audio interface recommendation - 2x4, XLR, OS X, USB

Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 1:53 pm
by redglass
Babyface, the one before Babyface Pro!

Re: Audio interface recommendation - 2x4, XLR, OS X, USB

Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 2:03 am
by Stefan Jantschek
redglass wrote:Babyface
Yes, indeed!
redglass wrote:the one before Babyface Pro!
Why?

*S.

Re: Audio interface recommendation - 2x4, XLR, OS X, USB

Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 5:28 am
by redglass
Stefan Jantschek wrote:
redglass wrote:Babyface
Yes, indeed!
redglass wrote:the one before Babyface Pro!
Why?

*S.
Why not? It is cheaper to buy a used one of the First babyface.

Re: Audio interface recommendation - 2x4, XLR, OS X, USB

Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 8:29 pm
by Shift Gorden
Richie Witch wrote:The Scarlett 2i4 is an easy recommendation. I had one for a year and it was rock-solid even on Windows! LOL Easily the most reliable interface I've ever owned (and I've owned about six different interfaces so far).

The only reason I gave it up was because I needed more inputs as the studio started to grow.
Another +1 for the Scarlett. I have an Apogee Duet at home and a Scarlett 2i4 at work, and the Scarlett gives you so much bag for the buck. Not as sexy as the Apogee, but more inputs (including MIDI which the Apogee doesn't have). Audio quality is great, separate main outs and headphone controls.

Although....after these guys mentioned the RME Babyface, that does look pretty darn nice...pricey though. Wish I'd got one of those instead of the Duet.

Re: Audio interface recommendation - 2x4, XLR, OS X, USB

Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2017 2:31 pm
by Shift Gorden
Hey guys,

Just thought I'd jump on this post as it inspired me to get a new interface.

I guess as I added to my studio I was becoming more and more frustrated with my Duet. I love the sound and the interface, and I love that big volume button sitting right on my desktop, but 2 ins and 2 outs was just messing with my mojo.

Yesterday I got a gen 2 Scarlett 18i20 - and I absolutely love it. Just being able to have my Prophet 6 and my record deck hooked up at the same time without having to mess with cables in absolutely liberating! My deck is hooked up with an RCA to XLR right now, but it also as a SPDIF out so I think I'm going to use that (the Scarlett has a SPDIF in/out).

For the first time in 15 years I had a great sampling session yesterday - quality is great.

Looking forward to buying more gadgets so I can mess with the multiple outputs!

Re: Audio interface recommendation - 2x4, XLR, OS X, USB

Posted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:16 pm
by robbmasters
Thanks for all the advice.

I was very tempted to get a Komplete Audio 6, but have just picked up... a Babyface! (Got a great deal on a second hand unit.)

Probably gonna get a little A/D converter too, so I can plug in an extra stereo pair via the SPDIF. (While the Behringer ADA8200 looks like a great way to add another 8 inputs via ADAT, that's overkill for my needs. For now, at least...)

Re: Audio interface recommendation - 2x4, XLR, OS X, USB

Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 6:17 pm
by robbmasters
I hate the Babyface.

Since I'm on a Macbook Air, and the Babyface needs two USB connections, I have to connect it via a USB hub. But regardless of which hub and cables I use (and I've tried three different brands of hub!) it keeps disconnecting itself - so Live loses the Audio Device preferences (and audio!)

Very unhappy. :evil:

Edit: Now trying a single USB cable direct to the Mac (since its USB ports are over-spec...)

Re: Audio interface recommendation - 2x4, XLR, OS X, USB

Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 6:16 am
by Tarekith
Why do you need to use two USB ports?

Re: Audio interface recommendation - 2x4, XLR, OS X, USB

Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:14 am
by robbmasters
Tarekith wrote:Why do you need to use two USB ports?
The supplied USB cable has one B connector (for the Babyface) and two A connectors - one for data and plower, the other for more power (as it apparently requires more than the USB spec.)

That said, it doesn't seem to be much worse if I just a normal A to B cable.

Re: Audio interface recommendation - 2x4, XLR, OS X, USB

Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:44 am
by Stromkraft
robbmasters wrote:I hate the Babyface.

Since I'm on a Macbook Air, and the Babyface needs two USB connections, I have to connect it via a USB hub. But regardless of which hub and cables I use (and I've tried three different brands of hub!) it keeps disconnecting itself - so Live loses the Audio Device preferences (and audio!))
I suggest that it's your Air that isn't what you think it is, a Pro Audio Computer. This is a well known problem with lesser MacBook models and a reason why DJs and musicians get the 15" Macbook Pros and not the toys.

Use whatever you want of course, but please understand that even if you do think it's RME's fault that Apple put too little power into their USB ports on some MacBook models, that's an opinion people like me may disagree with for the above reasons.

(edited for clarity and removed unnecessary personal remarks]

Re: Audio interface recommendation - 2x4, XLR, OS X, USB

Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:52 am
by robbmasters
I'll stop flaunting my ignorance when you stop flaunting your arrogance. Mine is a lack of knowledge, yours a lack of manners.

However, it was precisely because I was aware of my ignorance on this subject that I asked for recommendations. It's a shame you weren't around to show off your superior knowledge then, only to gloat after the fact.