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HELP please get me out of the Audio Interface Dilemma
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> General Gear  
Author HELP please get me out of the Audio Interface Dilemma
mqmq
Hi ! I'm In the process of upgrading my modest studio and I'm looking for an audio interface. After reading a ton of posts here, on GS and on the interwebs I find myself more confused than when I started investigating the possibilities. help

Here is what I'm looking for : an audio interface witch gets me the "best" ADDA for a maximum of around 700€ with sufficient I/O (ADAT is a plus ) I mainly record hardware synths and my eurorack on a Mac.

Here is what I'm considering :

Audient ID44 : said to have great conversion, preamps (do I need good preamps to record synths ) overall quality, and expandability through 2xADAT. Also has 2x DI.

RME Babyface Pro : Same as above but less expandability. People are praising it's drivers and latency but being on MacOS I don't know if that's relevant.

Focusrite 18i20 3rd Gen : lots of I/O, cheap, expandability, not sure about the AD quality though. Again said to have good preamps but not sure I really need that.

Apogee Element 24 or 46 : simple, few I/O but said to have crazy good audio quality both AD & DA and very good latency.

MOTU 8A : no preamps, not sure about the audio quality but has plenty of I/O

I was leaning towards the ID44 until I started questioning the need for good preamps to record synths.

Curious to have your opinion on these or any other I could have overlooked.

Thanks !
starthief
I'm happy with the Behringer UMC1820. Zero driver problems or hassle whatsoever, super stable and low latency, excellent form factor for my purposes, handles levels anywhere between passive piezo pickups and Eurorack like a champ, and cheap. It just runs a little warm so it wants some extra space for ventilation if you rack it.

My general feeling is there are no bad converters on modern gear so that's not going to make a difference anyone will notice or care about. But I make noisy music anyway.
rowsbywoof
I went down the RME rabbit hole and I couldn't be happier. TotalMix has single handedly solved my routing issues and helped me integrate external effects and instruments seamlessly into Live, and for that I couldn't be happier. I have two RME rack units, a UFX and an 800 series Fireface, linked together via ADAT. Fantastic setup, though for the Mic pres I have an external 500series channel strip that does the heavy lifting, and don't really use the pres from RME. That being said, I've used them here and there and they sounded good to me, I just like my more vintage sounding 500series stuff for when I want it. All and all, very happy I went RME for my setup, though looking at your choices I think you'd be hard pressed to find a bad interface in your list. All are pretty solid.

I'd say, don't fear looking used for a RME UFX, though. That would likely be in your price range and give you a bit more than the BabyFace. Mine was around $800 used. A FireFace 800 can be found less than $500, and with a couple adapters (yeah, two, Firewire 800 to Thunderbolt and then Thunderbolt to USB-C... it's nutty, but it works flawlessly on new Macs) you're good to go with modern non-Firewire machines. Worth considering.
jonne74
If you want to color your sound with transformers, there's the Steinberg UR-RT2 and RT4. Both have input transformers. No Adat. I have the smaller one and the transformers do sound lovely. It has been rock solid on Win 10.
h4ndcrafted
I’m very happy with my MOTU 16a , I use a TC Electronics controller as the converter though via light pipe. Not that the sound is bad from the MOTU, I can’t hear any difference tbh. It just happens the TC can control my monitoring needs.

The softwear is super easy to use, updates via Ethernet and can be used from any browser. So I can route from my iPad and have a digital patchbay at hand for routing in and out of effects and samplers.
estin
Very happy with my Roland studio capture. Great sound, tons of inputs and perfect driver stability. Quad capture should also be great for less $ and inputs.
Devilwidget
From a technical perspective, the Babyface and Audient have the best ADDA chain, hands down. I feel that the Audient is better constructed personally. Do you need a pre-amp to record synths? Probably not, though having good preamps will likely be a blessing in the long run.
Tumulishroomaroom
I recently upgraded from a Keith Mc Millen K-mix to a RME Fireface UC (second hand). I have felt a huge improvement in the sound quality of my recordings. I'm on mac, I used a nice and clean usb-c cable so I don't have to deal with shoddy adaptors and it's really perfect. The UFX is a bit more expensive second hand, I already have good fx boxes so I didn't feel the need to get that one.

The one knob interface is a bit annoying, but you setup Totalmix once and then you're fine.
mqmq
Thanks for all your inputs so far !


Quote:
I'm happy with the Behringer UMC1820. Zero driver problems or hassle whatsoever, super stable and low latency, excellent form factor for my purposes, handles levels anywhere between passive piezo pickups and Eurorack like a champ, and cheap. It just runs a little warm so it wants some extra space for ventilation if you rack it.

My general feeling is there are no bad converters on modern gear so that's not going to make a difference anyone will notice or care about. But I make noisy music anyway.


To be frank I'm quite scared about berhinger in this price range. I'm wondering how could a 200€ interface beat the sound quality of a 500€ one.

Quote:
I’m very happy with my MOTU 16a , I use a TC Electronics controller as the converter though via light pipe. Not that the sound is bad from the MOTU, I can’t hear any difference tbh. It just happens the TC can control my monitoring needs.


16a looks like a decent option. I just read about the 828es also. Seems to be very similar to the 16A with loads of expandability. Anyone has experience with it ? How does it compare to the RME Fireface UC Tumulishroomaroom mentioned in the same price range.

These two are outside my price range but I believe in the "buy once, cry once" approach.

Would it be wise thinking about going for an ID44 (I keep hearing many praises on it and its ADDA, as mentioned by Devilwidget) then expanding it with say a Ferrofish Pulse 16 or MOTU, or just go for the more expensive (in short term) 828es and the likes (or maybe even Digiface USB + Pulse 16)
Red Electric Rainbow
+1 for the Motu 16A. I dont think the price difference between the 8A and the 16A is that bad and having all the inputs in one interface has been nice. The sound is clear and has a large amount of depth to it IMO.
jessem
I hadn't see the Audient before but it looks like it has dual ADAT, which is pretty unique and gives you a lot of flexibility in the future for Expert Sleepers and adding additional I/O through a mixer or rackmount interface.

I don't think you'll really need preamps for line level synth stuff.

I'm using an RME UC and I'm happy with the sound. Expert Sleepers ES-3 and recently ES-6 for I/O to modular. Latency is a pain to offset sometimes, but it's always a pain no matter what interface you choose.

Like others have said, TotalMix is really useful (but takes a minute to get used to). I can quickly go between different routing presets for all of my I/O depending on what I'm trying to do and visually see all my levels and routing on one screen.
rkilman
I record on a Mac, had similar goals to yours, and auditioned the Audient iD4, RME UC, and Apogee Element 24 in my studio. I kept the Apogee. I liked the sound the best (by miles).

Not sure if the Audient iD44 is different beyond extra ins/outs, but I didn't care for the iD4 at all.
minipusice
In modern audio, the preamp offers more audible difference than different converter.

That said, I have owned RME, Audient, Focusrite. I still own BLA modded Behringer ad8000, Apogee Quartet and Midas f32 analogue console with 32 ADDA channels (FW interfacing via TB to FW connector).

If I were you, I'd pick Apogee converters first.

Then at later time add some higher end standalone preamps IF YOU LIKE TO ADD ADDITIONAL COLOR to your synths. Tthere are too many to pick from, in many different shapes, and it really depends on TASTE.
There are many many plugins with which you can explore what kind of sound/saturation/distortion you like (Decapitator for example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94iHeJgSJNM).
Research this before you pay money for hardware. Good luck.
peripatitis
I went with an rme digiface usb, to connect my MR816 to my laptop (firewire extinction, etc).
Anyway though Totalmix, everything works brilliantly and I also bought the arc to control everything.
I would have gone for "cleaner" options with something like audient or spl's crimson but I am pissed of how they keep on refusing to allow monitoring control for spatial audio. The idea that I need to take 6/8 outputs from an interface to a separate monitoring device is just ridiculous.
digitalganesha

The most important summation of the test is at marker 08:19.

All the analytical data, graphs, curves and fact not hindered by emotion:
http://www.pro-tools-expert.com/production-expert-1/2017/12/15/case-st udy-technical-testing-of-audio-interfaces
DubplateDerek
h4ndcrafted wrote:
I’m very happy with my MOTU 16a , I use a TC Electronics controller as the converter though via light pipe. Not that the sound is bad from the MOTU, I can’t hear any difference tbh. It just happens the TC can control my monitoring needs.

The softwear is super easy to use, updates via Ethernet and can be used from any browser. So I can route from my iPad and have a digital patchbay at hand for routing in and out of effects and samplers.


+1 on the motu.

I use mine with a separate optically connected d/a for monitoring so I can keep all 16 analogue inputs and outputs of the motu for sends / returns amd getting signals from hardware into the daw.
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