Picking a new Audio Interface!

Tell Your Friends about Gear that you love

Moderators: admin, mdc, TAXIstaff

Post Reply
User avatar
DanWessels
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2017 12:03 pm
Gender: Male
Contact:

Picking a new Audio Interface!

Post by DanWessels » Thu May 03, 2018 5:46 pm

Hi all! Five years back I bought a used Apogee Duet Firewire, and while it's served me well, it's pretty much kaput at this point. I can get sound out of it, but I can no longer use its inputs. So, time to upgrade, and thought I'd see if the forums had any suggestions! :D

I mainly work with virtual instruments, but want to up my audio game so I can supplement my tracks with real instruments. I own a Rode-NT1a microphone, and also record guitar and bass direct.

I have a budget of $500-$1000. Here are some things I'm interested in having in an audio interface:
1) Works on both Mac and PC. I'm a Mac/Logic user, but I game and do some production stuff on PC and would like to use the same interface/monitors.
2) Portability - I work mainly on an iMac at home, but I'd love to be able to take my iPad, go to someone's home, set up a mic, record them singing or playing, and bring tracks back to my place to mix. (or, be able to record on someone else's piano :)
3) Works for live sets - I'd like to incorporate a laptop into my keyboard rig for live performances, theater performances, etc, so ideally need an interface that works well on gigs. (I'm also interested in starting to DJ)
4) Expandable - I eventually would like to track a drum kit live, so I'd like to be able to expand to more inputs. I don't need more than two inputs right now, though.

I'm looking at RME Babyface Pro, Duet 2, and Universal Audio Twin MKII. MOTU and Focusrite are on my radar, but haven't wowed me. Any suggestions? Are there other things that you like in an interface I should be looking for?

Thanks!

neilmctavish
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2018 4:33 pm
Gender: Male
Contact:

Re: Picking a new Audio Interface!

Post by neilmctavish » Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:38 pm

You know I’d seriously consider a b stock Apogee Quartet. The four pres and conversion are great and it has ADAT light pipe for additional inputs such as an Audient 8 channel pre. I love the form factor as it’s a good monitor controller as well. It’s really a studio in a box. So portable. It’s awesome and built like a tank. Both my daughters have Quartets and they use them for remote work all the time. I would also consider the new Apogee thunderbolt interfaces. They are supposed to be great as well. I would get the optional controller if I was getting one of those though. They have deals sometimes where they throw in the controller for free. I really like the stability of their products and since you already have experience with one of their devices you’ll have less of a learning curve than if you bought another manufacturer’s product.

There’s a ton of great interfaces out there though. We’re living in a golden age for gear.

I should add that Apogee has recently added Windows compatibility to their products.

User avatar
lesmac
Serious Musician
Serious Musician
Posts: 1366
Joined: Thu Jul 04, 2013 7:53 pm
Gender: Male
Location: Tasmania Australia
Contact:

Re: Picking a new Audio Interface!

Post by lesmac » Mon Aug 06, 2018 5:02 pm

Hi, I use an RME UFX and am perfectly happy with it. No problems with it for 6 or 7 years so I'd recommend their products based on my experience.

Kolstad
Serious Musician
Serious Musician
Posts: 4237
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:19 pm
Gender: Male
Location: Denmark
Contact:

Re: Picking a new Audio Interface!

Post by Kolstad » Tue Aug 07, 2018 12:28 am

I would look into the Focusrite Clarett series. They sound incredible, comes with lots of plugin candy (new free plugins every two months or so) and have midi i/o on board which could come in handy for dj’ing. Focusrite is also great at keeping up with Apple and Microsoft os changes, which is pretty important.

MBantle
Getting Busy
Getting Busy
Posts: 91
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:12 pm
Gender: Male
Contact:

Re: Picking a new Audio Interface!

Post by MBantle » Thu Nov 22, 2018 12:28 pm

https://www.arturia.com/products/audio/ ... e/overview

I think the Arturia could get the job done.

The problem with many interfaces is that the line inputs do not bypass the preamps and you need to fiddle around with unity gain (and let alone working with two line inputs... where on some interfaces you need to adjust the gain with unstepped knobs...almost impossible to match them 100%...). Apogee and the higher priced Focusrites offer digital metering and you can bypass the preamps... The rather cheap Mackie controller (which is also an interface) lets you bypass the preamps but it is not really portable (otherwise a great bang for the buck). Some of the lower priced interfaces tend to have very weak headphone preamps and don't work well with industry standard monitoring headphones like Sennheiser HD650s. I personally like to have a second headphone output and that is where the Arturia really shines... It also does not have the 'One Knob' which can be tiring (let alone subtle changes you inadvertently make to the levels when pressing the knob to switch its function...).

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
Matt

MBantle
Getting Busy
Getting Busy
Posts: 91
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:12 pm
Gender: Male
Contact:

Re: Picking a new Audio Interface!

Post by MBantle » Fri Feb 01, 2019 11:41 am

neilmctavish wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:38 pm
You know I’d seriously consider a b stock Apogee Quartet. The four pres and conversion are great and it has ADAT light pipe for additional inputs such as an Audient 8 channel pre. I love the form factor as it’s a good monitor controller as well. It’s really a studio in a box. So portable. It’s awesome and built like a tank. Both my daughters have Quartets and they use them for remote work all the time. I would also consider the new Apogee thunderbolt interfaces. They are supposed to be great as well. I would get the optional controller if I was getting one of those though. They have deals sometimes where they throw in the controller for free. I really like the stability of their products and since you already have experience with one of their devices you’ll have less of a learning curve than if you bought another manufacturer’s product.

There’s a ton of great interfaces out there though. We’re living in a golden age for gear.

I should add that Apogee has recently added Windows compatibility to their products.
I recently bought an Apogee Element (I recommend to buy the control unit, too - it is sold separately). Performance is rock solid and it is a very simple unit with a great sound + integrates well with Logic X as you can control all preamp features directly from the channel strip in Logic (when you activate direct monitoring a little box appears at the top of the channel strip where you can control gain, phantom power y/n and phase). Hope that helps.

User avatar
andygabrys
Total Pro
Total Pro
Posts: 5280
Joined: Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:09 pm
Gender: Male
Location: Summerland, BC by way of Santa Fe, Chilliwack, Boston, NYC
Contact:

Re: Picking a new Audio Interface!

Post by andygabrys » Fri Feb 01, 2019 11:49 am

Duet 2 is solid and cheap in the grand scheme right now (I have had one for years).....

but in todays game I would be looking at the Universal Audio stuff - the Twin with the Quad processing.

I am also a UAD user to begin with though so its kind of solving a problem that is created by UAD in the first place. Their plugins are so hungry for DSP that you need to run your DAW with a large process buffer (like 1024) and then you have issues with latency while recording - which is solved on the Twin with the zero latency monitoring.

If you don't get into UAD plugins and stay with Slate or Waves or Soundtoys etc. then you don't necessarily need the UAD Twin or similar - although their unison preamps are sweet and the plugins have serious vibe.

MBantle
Getting Busy
Getting Busy
Posts: 91
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:12 pm
Gender: Male
Contact:

Re: Picking a new Audio Interface!

Post by MBantle » Fri Feb 01, 2019 11:58 am

andygabrys wrote:
Fri Feb 01, 2019 11:49 am
Duet 2 is solid and cheap in the grand scheme right now (I have had one for years).....

but in todays game I would be looking at the Universal Audio stuff - the Twin with the Quad processing.

I am also a UAD user to begin with though so its kind of solving a problem that is created by UAD in the first place. Their plugins are so hungry for DSP that you need to run your DAW with a large process buffer (like 1024) and then you have issues with latency while recording - which is solved on the Twin with the zero latency monitoring.

If you don't get into UAD plugins and stay with Slate or Waves or Soundtoys etc. then you don't necessarily need the UAD Twin or similar - although their unison preamps are sweet and the plugins have serious vibe.
I had a UAD and really liked it! The only disadvantage for me was that you could not take any session with UAD plugins on the road (and I don't think their bus powered Arrow interface will solve that as it does not have enough 'cores'...). But if you do all the work in one place and have a healthy degree of resistance not to spend all your pocket money on UAD plugins...(been there...) :D I would also highly recommend the UAD interfaces!

User avatar
andygabrys
Total Pro
Total Pro
Posts: 5280
Joined: Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:09 pm
Gender: Male
Location: Summerland, BC by way of Santa Fe, Chilliwack, Boston, NYC
Contact:

Re: Picking a new Audio Interface!

Post by andygabrys » Fri Feb 01, 2019 12:00 pm

MBantle wrote:
Fri Feb 01, 2019 11:58 am
....... and have a healthy degree of resistance not to spend all your pocket money on UAD plugins...(been there...)
ha. So true.

MBantle
Getting Busy
Getting Busy
Posts: 91
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:12 pm
Gender: Male
Contact:

Re: Picking a new Audio Interface!

Post by MBantle » Fri Feb 01, 2019 12:14 pm

For me one of the features I would look for buying a new interfaces is whether you can bypass the preamps and hit the converter directly. As far as I know UAD, Apogee and RME are all capable of doing that but when it comes to Audient, Focusrite, M-Audio, Arturia, Tascam etc. you really need to look it up (from my experience, unless you go for their top drawer interfaces you do not get that feature). This of course only matters if you plan to connect e.g. an external preamp. In other words, why would you spend a considerable amount on e.g. a 1073 clone to then have it 'coloured' by the sound of the preamp of your 100 USD Focusrite USB interface... :D I know some will say (including the respective customer support of the aforementioned companies) that by putting the preamps to unity gain this will ensure 'pristine / converter only quality' in that scenario but well, I am very sceptical to say the least.
The other important feature for me is whether you can precisely link two channels for stereo recording. Again, I think Apogee, RME and UAD offer full control over the preamps via their software app, so dialing in the exact same gain for two channels is not an issue (or there is a link feature in the software, which makes it even easier). Cheaper audio interfaces only offer you to do it by eye or ear... and if the pots are not stepped at least for me this comes down to guess work...
Last but not least: headphone amps. Depending on the headphones you are using (e.g. Sennheisers HD 650) you need a headphone amp that is able to drive your headphones properly (unless you have extra cash for a SPL, Lake People etc. dedicated headphone amp but then again I think it makes more sense to spend the money on an interface that does that from the outset).
Just my five cents.
Cheers,
Matt

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Exabot [Bot] and 0 guests