Help with picking a new Audio Interface...and more

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guitargyro
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Help with picking a new Audio Interface...and more

Post by guitargyro » Fri Jan 31, 2020 1:07 am

Fully committing to making more modular/synth based music after many years doing the indie rock band thing.

My current setup is all stuff I bought around 2006: Apogee Ensemble (Firewire), Chandler Germanium Pre, AEA TRP (two channel pre), dbx 160, Royer 121 ribbon mic, AKG c414, cheap Mackie monitors. It’s served me well. Recorded numerous albums that hold up (sound wise at least...haha). And overall still sounds good.

However I’m looking to update the trusty Firewire Ensemble. It still sounds fine, but the Firewire version is basically not being updated anymore, so I’ve had to be wary of updating my OS every few months, and have had some emailing with Apogee to address the issues. It’s time I think...

I have bought a Universal Audio Apollo Twin in the meantime. Firstly, it’s Thunderbolt, so runs seamlessly with my iMac and MacBook. But, little to my knowledge, the ability to use outboard pres is limited, or should I say, sketchy? In order to use my mic pres I was told by an UA tech to just turn the line input to zero and track that way. Seems a bit if-y. So I’m guessing the Twin was really more geared towards people looking to track straight through the plugins. Not really my thing...

I’ve researched a bit, and it seems the Apollo X (rackmount interfaces) have addressed this and have specific settings for when you want to use outboard mic pres, as opposed to their UA plugin based pres.

I’ve come around on the plugins after using them with my Apollo Twin. But NOT really the mic pre plugins. To me, they don’t really sound right. That being said, I plan on building my UA plugin library of compressors, EQs, and effects, etc.

But, I am a bit torn on which interface I should go for. Price isn’t really an issue. I’ve got a decent chunk of cash to get current. I’m mainly looking for sound quality and ease of workflow.

Their cheapest Apollo X6 has 6 inputs, with 2 Unison mic pres. Not a lot. That leaves me one input shy with using all my current pres. The flagship Apollo has 16 inputs, but sells for about $3500. I’m not looking to spend that much, also that is silly as it’s clearly geared towards recording a live band situation.

So perhaps I should tell you what instruments I have to preface my needs:

Make Noise Shared System
Moog Mother 32 (2)
Moog DFAM (2)
Elektron Octatrack
Elektron Digitakt
Moog Sub37
Moog Grandmother
DSI Rev2
A ton of guitars/amps/effects
Baldwin piano

I’ve been using Logic Pro for years but am looking to get more into Ableton Live.

Ideally I’d like to have everything all plugged into a patchbay and just hit record. But, I’m not looking to spend half my budget on my interface just to have enough inputs to do that.

So I guess my main concern is...considering the amount of instruments I have to record, what is the minimum amount of inputs you would want your interface to have?

As I said, so far I’m a fan of my UA stuff. And I think most of the plugins sound pretty great with synths. Also, the news of UA’s DAW launch of Luna sounds like a gamechanger as far as integrating the plugins more easily. So that’s another plus for UA.

But, I am open to hearing what other interfaces people like for recording more electronic based music. Keep in mind I’m looking for something equal if not better in A/D conversion to the UA Apollo’s. If that includes better/more pres than them...even better!

I’m also planning on buying at least 1-2 more channels of mic pres as well. And updating my monitors with a pair TBD in the $2k range (which should be a significant improvement over the Mackies). But that’s a whole other topic...

Thanks!

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Red Electric Rainbow
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Re: Help with picking a new Audio Interface...and more

Post by Red Electric Rainbow » Fri Jan 31, 2020 1:23 am

I have a Motu 16A and I’m super happy with it. Maybe consider adding it to your radar?

I have a pretty big mixing desk and a bunch of patchbays so the only thing i have to do is coordinate patch cables. keeps the studio clean and I don’t waste much time setting anything up anymore.
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naturligfunktion
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Re: Help with picking a new Audio Interface...and more

Post by naturligfunktion » Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:51 am

Im also looking for a new audio interface, but I don't wanna spend so much as the Universal Audio Apollo are costing... Have you had any luck with your search guitargyro?
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guitargyro
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Re: Help with picking a new Audio Interface...and more

Post by guitargyro » Sat Feb 29, 2020 12:01 am

I ended up going with a UA Apollo x8. Found a mint one for a steal so I couldn’t resist. Even came with a couple cool plugins cuz the guy selling it is getting out of the ITB game.

Other acquisitions:

-2 CAPI VP28 pres
-REDDI Dual tube pre/di
-Kush Electra EQ
-stereo pair of Distressors
-Dynaudio LYD8 monitors
-Yamaha Hs7 monitors

Still waiting on the right cables to show up to finish the patching, but I’m pretty psyched.

guitargyro
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Re: Help with picking a new Audio Interface...and more

Post by guitargyro » Sat Feb 29, 2020 12:04 am


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naturligfunktion
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Re: Help with picking a new Audio Interface...and more

Post by naturligfunktion » Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:22 am

It looks good! Do you like it so far?

Ideally I would want something similar: 6-8 inputs out of which two have an onboard preamp. 6-8 line outs, a master out and two headphone out. I would also like a nice volume knob. The kicker is that I don't want to spend more than 2000 €. That is aboslute max. Preferably 1200 € but it seems difficult.

Btw nice pair of distressors there :tu:
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3hands
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Re: Help with picking a new Audio Interface...and more

Post by 3hands » Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:49 am

Ugh Distressors... I’m jealous. The UA stuff is fantastic!
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c0rpse
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Re: Help with picking a new Audio Interface...and more

Post by c0rpse » Mon Mar 02, 2020 12:48 pm

Red Electric Rainbow wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 1:23 am
I have a Motu 16A and I’m super happy with it. Maybe consider adding it to your radar?

I have a pretty big mixing desk and a bunch of patchbays so the only thing i have to do is coordinate patch cables. keeps the studio clean and I don’t waste much time setting anything up anymore.

This is good to hear. I'm also picking a new interface right now and the Motu 8A is at the top of my list.
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XXXEsq
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Re: Help with picking a new Audio Interface...and more

Post by XXXEsq » Wed Mar 04, 2020 3:33 pm

As you probably know, setting up a proper studio is part science, part art, and part personal taste. That being said, you need to think about what you want to accomplish by updating your gear.

I still have a pair of the old Steinberg MR816s which are also on firewire and, while they really sound great and have plenty of ins and outs for me, I think firewire is on its way out and I fear that at some point, I will have to retire them (just like I did with my old Aardvarks).

As far as interface quality, the 2 things to consider are sound (A>D/D>A) and driver stability. My research and experience (at other studios) is that you can't beat RME stuff. That is what I plan to migrate to when my 816s give up the ghost. They sound really (really) good and are rock stable at low latency settings. The UA/Apollo line is also quite good, but RME is pretty widely regarded as having the best (and quickest updated) drivers and that can make all the difference when your OS or Windows updates from time to time.

The number of simultaneous inputs/outputs is the next question. Unless you are planning to mic a live drum kit, or running live sequenced music driving numerous instruments and recording each on their own tracks simultaneously (which I do from time to time), most people won't use more than 6-8 ins/outs at the same time. (In fact, most people seldom need more than 4) A properly designed and installed patchbay will make your set-up infinitely more versatile and cut down on cable spaghetti.
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Re: Help with picking a new Audio Interface...and more

Post by Monofunk » Thu Mar 05, 2020 10:35 pm

OP, you might want to check out the recent discussion in this thread about audio interfaces.

You could go to the manufacturers websites and compare the technical specifications of the interfaces directly.

That being said I can recommend RME. Rock solid drivers for both Mac and Windows. The interface will easily last a decade. The company and customer support continues long after release. I'm assuming you are looking for an outboard solution and not PCIe since we're talking about Mac OS. Their flagship interface right now for that type of product are the UFX II and UFX+ interfaces. These feature newer converters and they sound great and by great I mean neutral. What you put in is what you get out. The Mic Pre's sound great and by great I mean neutral. You can have near zero latency monitoring through Totalmix FX and around 8 milliseconds of latency roundtrip depending on your DAW settings.

UFX II is USB 2 and UFX+ is USB 3 and Thunderbolt. This interface difference has nothing to do with conversion quality or latency or smoothness of operation. It has to do with how many channels of audio you can run simultaneously. Based on the instruments you listed you can find a used UFX II within your budget and interface the listed gear. The UFX II can run up to 30 channels in and 30 channels out simultaneously. The UFX+ can run up to 60 channels in and 60 channels out simultaneously and has MADI but this seems overboard for what you are trying to record.

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