Audio Interface - How to choose?

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StillNotWorking
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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by StillNotWorking » Thu Mar 05, 2020 11:58 am

I've used UCX in my home stereo setup as preamp and active crossover for years. Now simplified to a single balanced R2R DAC costing twice the UCX.

For sound quality I find RME neutral, not adding color to the sound. When I do want colour/body/fatness from the DAC I use a hi-fi DAC for two channel output.

If one want to chase the best sound for a multi channell ADC/DAC I personally think one should listen for details only. Not so much how good it sound. They can be one and the same thing, but most often are not as what we often perceives as good sound is a slur of earfrendly harmonic distortion and masking of frequencies. With my thinking is a task for dedicated color boxes and mixing consols.

My R2R stereo DAC that is so lovely to my ears is very flawed when it comes to perfect representation of the original sound.
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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by Monofunk » Thu Mar 05, 2020 12:06 pm

If great sound is your priority then I wouldn't go for RME.
I tested an RME fireface ucx against the much cheaper Focusrite Scarlett and couldn't hear any difference. I also tested it against a Metric Halo uln-2 which was roughly the same price as the RME and the quality was much greater in MH's favor. So much more depth and detail in the D/A and the micpres in a whole other league (sterile, lifeless clean vs huge, larger-than-life clean sound).
OP, I encourage you to compare the price and specifications of the flagship interfaces between Metric Halo and RME. Look at the features they offer and the connectivity. Look at the technical specifications.

The flagship Metric Halo interface is the ULN-8 3d. Note the price and then go to the website and look at the listed specifications.

The flagship RME interface is the UFX II and UFX+.
The UFX II uses USB 2 and the UFX+ uses USB 3 and Thunderbolt.
The main difference between these models is not latency or conversion quality but bandwidth and channel count. The converters are the same in both of these units.

You could find a secondhand UFX II within your budget.

I encourage you to look at the technical specifications and form your opinion based on numbers.

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by Monofunk » Thu Mar 05, 2020 12:18 pm

rod_zero wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2020 11:05 am
As for sound quality, today's DAC's are of excellent quality all across the board, from the 200 range up to 2000, the technology is cheap and there is no mystery on how to turn signals in to 1's and 0's. If people was making excellent records 30 years ago with DAC's that are now obsolete what we have now is more than enough. It is the kind of technology that has reached the specifications required to be as good as it could ever be given Human hearing range.
Nice observation right here.

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by naturligfunktion » Thu Mar 05, 2020 12:25 pm

Lovley to see the topic sparking a discussion!
Monofunk wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2020 12:18 pm
rod_zero wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2020 11:05 am
As for sound quality, today's DAC's are of excellent quality all across the board, from the 200 range up to 2000, the technology is cheap and there is no mystery on how to turn signals in to 1's and 0's. If people was making excellent records 30 years ago with DAC's that are now obsolete what we have now is more than enough. It is the kind of technology that has reached the specifications required to be as good as it could ever be given Human hearing range.
Nice observation right here.
Very valid point. I think my music sound pretty decent after it has been mastered and I've been making it on not the best equipment most of the time. But now Im interested in something that is fast, expandable, reliable, solid, something that feels (and looks!) n i c e.

That's why certain companies really don't get a chance for me! I don't like the looks of them :doh:

While that being said, Im gonna take a extra lookaround. And read some manuals. In the meantime - right now that is - Im recording vocals. I really need to practice singing...

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by StillNotWorking » Thu Mar 05, 2020 12:46 pm

rod_zero wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2020 11:05 am
As for sound quality, today's DAC's are of excellent quality all across the board, from the 200 range up to 2000, the technology is cheap and there is no mystery on how to turn signals in to 1's and 0's. If people was making excellent records 30 years ago with DAC's that are now obsolete what we have now is more than enough. It is the kind of technology that has reached the specifications required to be as good as it could ever be given Human hearing range.
For a thought experiment this happened when sound quality and price surpassed tape machines. Now so many found their way back to tape or some form of simulation one can question how important are ADC quality for the result anyway, — given it have enough resolution?

I found the Fabfiler Samplerate: the higher the better, right? video discussed on Sonic Talk really interesting. It will take 30 minutes of your life to watch but well worth it.
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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by Monofunk » Thu Mar 05, 2020 1:55 pm

Thanks for the suggestion I will watch that video.

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by äggmedskägg » Thu Mar 05, 2020 3:28 pm

naturligfunktion wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 8:22 am
That looks nice, and I do like Tascam, but every input has a preamp.
Actually, it has 8 inputs with mic preamps, and 8 line inputs on the back and 2 line/instrument inputs on the front.

And now I'm going to be very annoying, and point out that all inputs on everything has preamps. ;-) The mic inputs just have a preamp whose amplification you can change.

Really cheap preamps color the sound in a bad way, and very expensive preamps color them in a good way. Preamps on a audio in shouldn't add any color, hopefully.

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by Monofunk » Thu Mar 05, 2020 4:30 pm

I found the Fabfiler Samplerate: the higher the better, right? video discussed on Sonic Talk really interesting. It will take 30 minutes of your life to watch but well worth it.
This video is off-topic from OP's inquiry but a great watch. Thanks.

To OP, I would assume you want an audio interface that is neutral and does not color your sound. There are many other pieces of gear and plugins where you can get color.

Both RME and UA preamps are neutral and sound good. I can't speak to the quality of Focusrite.
If you want to obsess over a preamp you can buy a dedicated and expensive one.

You mentioned using Windows. Windows can be picky with audio interfaces. RME is rock solid on Windows. If you monitor through the interface you can have near zero latency otherwise you can probably expect around 8 milliseconds of latency roundtrip.

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by jonne74 » Fri Mar 06, 2020 2:57 am

Benj wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:11 pm
maybe take a look at the new presonus quantum 2626
it does most of what you want . you will need a thunderbolt 3 capable motherboard .
I've been looking at the Quantum 2626 for my MBP. It seems to be one of the few cheaper cards with tb3 and plenty of i/o, DC-coupled too. I haven't seen it available yet though.

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by shroom81 » Fri Mar 06, 2020 3:39 am

naturligfunktion wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 4:05 am

Yeah this is a really good candidate actually. I would love to have another two outputs, but that is maybe possible to expand in the future?
Any RME users out there: how is their software working with ableton?
Rme all the way, you'll never have to worry about it not working with anything, ever.

I upgraded from a Focusrite Scarlett to a RME and I can tell you the differnce in audio quality is staggering. I felt like a thick wool blanket had been pulled off of my monitors when I first heard the RME, no joke.

Also RME are waterproof, who else can claim that ? lol ...
https://ask.audio/articles/this-audio-i ... ver-thames

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by kay_k » Fri Mar 06, 2020 4:15 am

shroom81 wrote:
Fri Mar 06, 2020 3:39 am
I upgraded from a Focusrite Scarlett to a RME and I can tell you the differnce in audio quality is staggering. I felt like a thick wool blanket had been pulled off of my monitors when I first heard the RME, no joke.
Which generation of scarlett? the newer ones got better in that regard. I actually never compared the direct signal with the converted one on the scarlett.
(I do so all the time on my MOTUs cos I jam on the mixer but switch to monitoring what I record so I don't clip the signal. I hear no difference)

As I said I use the Scarlett outside the studio and recently recorded/mixed a track in ableton with it. (Hardware synths & drum machines)
I was very happy with the result.

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by shroom81 » Fri Mar 06, 2020 5:02 am

kay_k wrote:
Fri Mar 06, 2020 4:15 am
Which generation of scarlett? the newer ones got better in that regard. I actually never compared the direct signal with the converted one on the scarlett.
(I do so all the time on my MOTUs cos I jam on the mixer but switch to monitoring what I record so I don't clip the signal. I hear no difference)
Well to be fair it was 1st gen, but I'm talking playback of audio, synths etc and not the preamps, I don't think I ever used those...

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by StillNotWorking » Fri Mar 06, 2020 5:45 am

jonne74 wrote:
Fri Mar 06, 2020 2:57 am
I've been looking at the Quantum 2626 for my MBP. It seems to be one of the few cheaper cards with tb3 and plenty of i/o, DC-coupled too. I haven't seen it available yet though.
Yes good pont - DC coupled might be something OT might have interest in, or at least have a understanding if it's worth considering.

For cork sniffers in hi-fi DC coupled is considered a good thing as there are no serial capacitors in the signal path to destroy the good sound. Nor is there any caps to block DC voltage for offset and protection.

For modular synth it means one can use the sound card to control CV values.
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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by naturligfunktion » Fri Mar 06, 2020 5:46 am

äggmedskägg wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2020 3:28 pm
And now I'm going to be very annoying, and point out that all inputs on everything has preamps. ;-) The mic inputs just have a preamp whose amplification you can change.

Really cheap preamps color the sound in a bad way, and very expensive preamps color them in a good way. Preamps on a audio in shouldn't add any color, hopefully.
Cool I didn't know that :) A guy in a music store told me never to preamp into a preamp and I have been very confused since. I really don't understand why a preamp into another preamp has to be a bad thing.
Monofunk wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2020 4:30 pm
To OP, I would assume you want an audio interface that is neutral and does not color your sound. There are many other pieces of gear and plugins where you can get color.

Both RME and UA preamps are neutral and sound good.

You mentioned using Windows. Windows can be picky with audio interfaces. RME is rock solid on Windows. If you monitor through the interface you can have near zero latency otherwise you can probably expect around 8 milliseconds of latency roundtrip.
I think because of the reason you mention, RME is really making a strong case. I want something precise so I can add colour and character elsewhere. My current setup sounds "good" but not neutral. It has a charm, but Im interested in something more honest.
shroom81 wrote:
Fri Mar 06, 2020 3:39 am

Rme all the way, you'll never have to worry about it not working with anything, ever.

I upgraded from a Focusrite Scarlett to a RME and I can tell you the differnce in audio quality is staggering. I felt like a thick wool blanket had been pulled off of my monitors when I first heard the RME, no joke.

Also RME are waterproof, who else can claim that ? lol ...
https://ask.audio/articles/this-audio-i ... ver-thames
Another great comment for RME :) I have looked for used ones but haven't found any, so Im currently saving money.

Thanks again for replies and interesting feedback on audio interfaces!

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by Monofunk » Fri Mar 06, 2020 2:24 pm

With patience you can find a deal and buy an interface within your budget that is high quality and will last you a long time. Interfaces are one of the most used items in a studio and worth the investment.
Last edited by Monofunk on Fri Mar 06, 2020 2:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by Monofunk » Fri Mar 06, 2020 2:25 pm

With patience you can find a deal and buy an interface within your budget that is high quality and will last you a long time. Interfaces are one of the most used items in a studio and worth the investment.

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by Mr. Aloud » Fri Mar 06, 2020 5:45 pm

RME, end of discussion.

I was a customer for almost 2 decades, starting with PCI Hammerfalls back in the days. Always top performance, super low latencies when others weren´t there yet, rock solid stability, great features and routing options one level beyond what I needed. Drivers on highest quality levels. Also had 2 babyfaces for laptops, same thing. I second what was said about broadcast market, those guys are super demanding and RME build to their demands.

The only reason why I _was_ a customer: Studio rebuild, replacing the old and trusted DAW (2x 9652, ADAT to 2x02R). Decided to move to Audio over IP and selected Dante against AVB. RME picked the other route, so that was that.

Still a great company, would buy blindly if I was in the AVB camp or if AoIP didn´t matter to me.
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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by Estes » Sat Mar 07, 2020 12:22 pm

By the way Ableton works perfect with RME, I even used my 802 for Live and it does a great job, also the routing and everything is very handy... For the "bigger" budget RME is a no brainer. For smaller homestudio/budget solutions I'm currently looking at the Motu M4.

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by naturligfunktion » Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:02 pm

Mr. Aloud wrote:
Fri Mar 06, 2020 5:45 pm
RME, end of discussion.
I agree :)

I thought people would argue for UA but the love for RME is grand

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by Monofunk » Sat Mar 07, 2020 1:18 pm

I dislike plugins being tied to an audio interface. If you need the plugins you can get one of the UA DSP cards.

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by The Goob » Sat Mar 14, 2020 7:16 pm

If you're still looking for a UCX, there is one listed in the FS section. No idea if the seller ships to your neck of the woods but couldn't hurt to ask

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by äggmedskägg » Mon Mar 23, 2020 12:48 am

naturligfunktion wrote:
Fri Mar 06, 2020 5:46 am
Cool I didn't know that :) A guy in a music store told me never to preamp into a preamp and I have been very confused since. I really don't understand why a preamp into another preamp has to be a bad thing.
Well, you don't need to have two preamps whose amplification you can adjust. It's simply not necessary, and will add noise. Unless one of the preamps adds color, of course. And you of course need to make sure all the levels are set correctly.

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by naturligfunktion » Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:49 am

The Goob wrote:
Sat Mar 14, 2020 7:16 pm
If you're still looking for a UCX, there is one listed in the FS section. No idea if the seller ships to your neck of the woods but couldn't hurt to ask
Thanks for the tip, but the guy basically sold it for the same price as a brand new...

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by JediDJ » Mon Mar 23, 2020 8:02 am

Better not to buy all-in-one package.
Because this type of technics looses its value very quick.
Stick to a Lynx AES16e as a lowest latency card on the market.
And buy an external 8 channel AD/DA box and a mic pre.
If you're only going to digitize a synths (and not recording acoustic guitar or vocals)
i think there's no need to chase a top end AD/DA chips.

If you decide to sell everything one day, it will be a lot easier to sell multiple narrow profile parts
instead of one expensive outfated audio interface.
imho of course ;)

RME - to me very overpriced, it's a shame they still use cheap opamp buffers in most of their gear.
Metric Halo - whole another level.

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Re: Audio Interface - How to choose?

Post by Monofunk » Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:05 pm

JediDJ wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 8:02 am
Better not to buy all-in-one package.
Because this type of technics looses its value very quick.
Stick to a Lynx AES16e as a lowest latency card on the market.
And buy an external 8 channel AD/DA box and a mic pre.
If you're only going to digitize a synths (and not recording acoustic guitar or vocals)
i think there's no need to chase a top end AD/DA chips.

If you decide to sell everything one day, it will be a lot easier to sell multiple narrow profile parts
instead of one expensive outfated audio interface.
imho of course ;)

RME - to me very overpriced, it's a shame they still use cheap opamp buffers in most of their gear.
Metric Halo - whole another level.
The Lynx AES16e does not fit OP's criteria at all.

Which RME is very overpriced? Which Metric Halo is "whole another level"? If you provide specific models to compare then people could research the price and technical specifications and make a more informed decision.

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