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limitlessflight
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27th March 2012
Old 27th March 2012
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Audio Interface/ Mic Preamp/ Monitors! Best results

Hello, I am completely new to all of this. However this site has helped tremendously, more than I could imagine. So I created an account hoping for some of the best advice from professionals. So thanks in advance! Now...

What I have:
Macbook Pro 13in
Ableton Live 8
Audio Technica 4050 Microphone
K&M boom stand

I am seeking professional quality results - this is very important to me. I would like an interface with solid pres so I wont have to get an additional preamp.

Past: I purchased an Apogee Duet 2 which sounded great, but it was very unreliable and just wouldn't function properly. It sounded pretty incredible. The gain got up to 72db which I really liked. However when recording vocals, the sound would only play out of one side depending on which input cable it was in. All in all very unreliable piece of equipment, so I am returning it.

Now: I have a budget around $1,000 that I would like to be respected, but will splurge out more if it is absolutely worth it.
I definitely want to go with Firewire as you could imagine.


Considerations:
Metric Halo ULN 2
Steinberg MR816X
MBox 3 Pro
Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 - FireWire Digital Audio Interface
Focusrite ISA One Classic 1-Channel

And Im pretty solid on my decision for monitors: Yamaha HS80Ms - the only thing I am contemplating in this arena is should I opt for Monitor stands or pads? And I am also open if you know of better monitors for mixing please feel free to mention.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated

Note: Studio will manly be used only for my vocals and some/little acoustic guitar. So I wouldn't need many outputs. All types of music ranging from pop, jazz, hip hop, to techno. I just want the absolute best I can get for my buck to get realpro quality results!
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27th March 2012
Old 27th March 2012
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Not to say that the Duet 2 hasn't had its fair share of issues (I own one), but this particular "unreliability" smacks of user error. Save a bit of money up front and double check that you aren't recording your mono source (vocals) to a stereo track in your DAW. This would map the Duet's inputs to the track's left and right channels respectively, which would cause audio to only be captured and play back in either channel, depending on which input you're plugging the mic into. Any other interface would exhibit similar "unreliability" if this is how things are set up.

Apogee gets slammed quite a bit from time to time, but the Duet 2 is amongst the top of the pile for conversion in the sub-1000 price range (and the preamps don't particularly slouch either). If you haven't already tossed it, I'd keep it around for a bit longer and put the money towards room treatment, another choice or two for microphones (a good dynamic from the usual list of suspects) and maybe a color preamp.

Monitors are as subjective as taste in women, so go listen to a few and see what's best for your ears / room. Otherwise, a good set of headphones can do the trick until you can drop some decent coin on a good set of monitors.

"Professional quality results" starts and ends with the professional, so learn how to use every aspect of the equipment you have and move onwards and upwards from there. You've already got a good start with what you have. Cheers!
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27th March 2012
Old 27th March 2012
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Anyone with a Metric Halo ULN-2 will tell you that this is a hugely capable and fine-sounding box that few 2-ch Firewire interfaces on the market can match for features and quality (at any price). A new one will run you more than $1,000, but you might find a legacy box on the second-hand market for that.
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limitlessflight
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27th March 2012
Old 27th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianVengeance View Post
Not to say that the Duet 2 hasn't had its fair share of issues (I own one), but this particular "unreliability" smacks of user error. Save a bit of money up front and double check that you aren't recording your mono source (vocals) to a stereo track in your DAW. This would map the Duet's inputs to the track's left and right channels respectively, which would cause audio to only be captured and play back in either channel, depending on which input you're plugging the mic into. Any other interface would exhibit similar "unreliability" if this is how things are set up.

Apogee gets slammed quite a bit from time to time, but the Duet 2 is amongst the top of the pile for conversion in the sub-1000 price range (and the preamps don't particularly slouch either). If you haven't already tossed it, I'd keep it around for a bit longer and put the money towards room treatment, another choice or two for microphones (a good dynamic from the usual list of suspects) and maybe a color preamp.

Monitors are as subjective as taste in women, so go listen to a few and see what's best for your ears / room. Otherwise, a good set of headphones can do the trick until you can drop some decent coin on a good set of monitors.

"Professional quality results" starts and ends with the professional, so learn how to use every aspect of the equipment you have and move onwards and upwards from there. You've already got a good start with what you have. Cheers!

Thank you very much for your response! I still own the Duet 2, but it doesn't quite power on when I need it too. For me it has been very unreliable in that aspect. As for recording mono vocals to a stereo track I tried to find out if I was doing that but I had no luck. When I record from my built-in mic on my Mac I do not have this problem only with the Duet 2!
limitlessflight
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27th March 2012
Old 27th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Lehmann View Post
Anyone with a Metric Halo ULN-2 will tell you that this is a hugely capable and fine-sounding box that few 2-ch Firewire interfaces on the market can match for features and quality (at any price). A new one will run you more than $1,000, but you might find a legacy box on the second-hand market for that.
Thanks very much James for your input! I unfortunately don't know what a legacy box is? I have found a decent deal for a used ULN2 but I'd only be able to afford that for now! Id have to wait on the Yamaha HS80ms and I'd only be able to get the Metric Halo
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27th March 2012
Old 27th March 2012
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I would definitely recommend the Pro 40, as long as you have the TI FireWire chipset.

That unit has stellar conversion and clean, bypassable pres
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limitlessflight
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27th March 2012
Old 27th March 2012
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Thanks for the responses guys! Keep them coming! I need to know which interfaces can really produce pro quality results and include a nice preamp for my Audio Technica4050! I appreciate all the helpful insights!
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27th March 2012
Old 27th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fastlanestoner View Post
I would definitely recommend the Pro 40, as long as you have the TI FireWire chipset.

That unit has stellar conversion and clean, bypassable pres
Thanks FastLane! Why would you recommend the Pro 40? I also, searched information on the TI FireWire chipset and its relatively chip. Is it easy enough to install on your own? How much greater significance is it to have that included? Thanks!
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27th March 2012
Old 27th March 2012
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I dont know how 4050 sounds but i use 4040 with my mr816x and it sounds really good. You my need to get more pres for more color later on. I use ua 710.

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limitlessflight
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27th March 2012
Old 27th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by upstar View Post
I dont know how 4050 sounds but i use 4040 with my mr816x and it sounds really good. You my need to get more pres for more color later on. I use ua 710.

Sent from my GT-I9000 using Gearslutz.com

I hadn't considered an ua710. My goal is too have a solid enough interface where I would need a preamp. Thanks though, it's good to hear from someone with another AT40's model
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27th March 2012
Old 27th March 2012
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Anybody else out there know who's got the edge??
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27th March 2012
Old 27th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by limitlessflight View Post
I hadn't considered an ua710. My goal is too have a solid enough interface where I would need a preamp. Thanks though, it's good to hear from someone with another AT40's model
What i meant is that mr816 pres are clean, dont give much color. But my 4040 sounds warm so together it sounds nice. But if i use for example oktava mk319 it sounds a bit thin to me.
Im just trying to say that you will eventually go for more mics and pres anyway but mr816 is very good to start with imo

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limitlessflight
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27th March 2012
Old 27th March 2012
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Thanks upstar!

I am narrowing my options down to the Metric Halo ULN2, Steinberg MR816x, and Pro40...but with the Pro40 I would really need all those extra ins/outs since it will only be me, and light guitar..
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27th March 2012
Old 27th March 2012
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Thanks guys I REALLY appreciate all the information...keep it coming!
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27th March 2012
Old 27th March 2012
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Ill add that I really need pro quality results and just as equally solid reliability! I was very impress with my Duet 2 but it was by farrrrrr and actually still is (as I own it and try to get it to work when I need it to) the most reliable interface ever! So reliability is important! And I am no longer considering any USB interfaces...thanks in advance!
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27th March 2012
Old 27th March 2012
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TC impact twin. Great ( not "good enough", really great ) converters, really good clean uncolored preamps with tons of clean headroom, low latency and very stable drivers since 2009. They also have onboard FX that are really good. If you need color, you can always add a preamp later on, such as a UA710 as was advised, but you really shouldn't have to if you use plug-ins to color your tone after recording.
limitlessflight
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27th March 2012
Old 27th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Martins View Post
TC impact twin. Great ( not "good enough", really great ) converters, really good clean uncolored preamps with tons of clean headroom, low latency and very stable drivers since 2009. They also have onboard FX that are really good. If you need color, you can always add a preamp later on, such as a UA710 as was advised, but you really shouldn't have to if you use plug-ins to color your tone after recording.

Wow!! thanks alot Chris...do you really think that the TC impact twin will give me the professional quality that I am seeking? thanks for introducing that interface

do you have any problems with yours? seems like that may be a possible way to go..
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27th March 2012
Old 27th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by limitlessflight View Post
Thank you very much for your response! I still own the Duet 2, but it doesn't quite power on when I need it too. For me it has been very unreliable in that aspect. As for recording mono vocals to a stereo track I tried to find out if I was doing that but I had no luck. When I record from my built-in mic on my Mac I do not have this problem only with the Duet 2!
The built-in microphone on your MBP is stereo, hence the reason you wouldn't see the same issue when you record with it to a stereo track. I'm not terribly familiar with Ableton, but a quick Google search is saying that you can hit an edit button on the track and convert it from stereo to mono. I'll defer to the more seasoned with with Ableton for the specifics, but it seems to be quite possible (and a common question).

I've run into power up issues with the Duet 2 before, but have typically found that if you boot up without the device plugged in, then plug it in and let Maestro start before firing up your DAW, then there is much less issue. I also tend to keep it unplugged when I'm not using at as well, and these issues are for the most part gone. I believe there are currently some stability issues if you are trying to record with a sample rate higher than 96kHz, so if you're trying to use 192, that may be causing some instability.

As a general rule of thumb with the Duet 2, I'd periodically check out Apogee's site for the latest firmware updates.

And to mirror the sentiments of what some others have said, the Metric Halo ULN-2 is a great piece of kit, and well worth the money.
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27th March 2012
Old 27th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianVengeance View Post
The built-in microphone on your MBP is stereo, hence the reason you wouldn't see the same issue when you record with it to a stereo track. I'm not terribly familiar with Ableton, but a quick Google search is saying that you can hit an edit button on the track and convert it from stereo to mono. I'll defer to the more seasoned with with Ableton for the specifics, but it seems to be quite possible (and a common question).

I've run into power up issues with the Duet 2 before, but have typically found that if you boot up without the device plugged in, then plug it in and let Maestro start before firing up your DAW, then there is much less issue. I also tend to keep it unplugged when I'm not using at as well, and these issues are for the most part gone. I believe there are currently some stability issues if you are trying to record with a sample rate higher than 96kHz, so if you're trying to use 192, that may be causing some instability.

As a general rule of thumb with the Duet 2, I'd periodically check out Apogee's site for the latest firmware updates.

And to mirror the sentiments of what some others have said, the Metric Halo ULN-2 is a great piece of kit, and well worth the money.
Thanks for responding! I would check it out with Ableton and your suggestions as I recently took out my Duet 2 and tried to power it on, Im having no luck I was stoked when I made this investment but it just isnt working for me!

And to cosign on what you said I agree Metric Halo ULN2 is looking more promosing....are there any others out there guys in the same class as ULN2 & Duet 2? My goal is not to have to get a pre and with these two Im sure you wouldnt have to! Thanks everyone
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27th March 2012
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Quote:
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do you really think that the TC impact twin will give me the professional quality that I am seeking?
Yes, as long as you know how to use it. This doesn't belong in High end.
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27th March 2012
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I'd honestly put the ULN-2 a step above the Duet, but another option at the same price point as the Duet would be the RME Babyface. Slightly more expensive, will sound different, has a little more I/O and RME drivers have a reputation of being rock solid.

If the unit is not powering up at all, I'd try contacting Apogee support or if you're within your return / exchange window, just swap it out as the unit itself may be faulty.

You really can't make a bad choice between the ULN-2, Duet 2 and the Babyface... although it could be argued that one is clearly the better choice. I'd still advise spending more of your resources on learning some of the basics (like working your way around your DAW) than on purchasing more kit at this point.
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27th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quakenul View Post
Yes, as long as you know how to use it. This doesn't belong in High end.
If I can afford the higher end, then I would like to go in that direction and learn the equipment as I progress! but if that can compete with the higher end interfaces I am all game!!
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27th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianVengeance View Post
I'd honestly put the ULN-2 a step above the Duet, but another option at the same price point as the Duet would be the RME Babyface. Slightly more expensive, will sound different, has a little more I/O and RME drivers have a reputation of being rock solid.

If the unit is not powering up at all, I'd try contacting Apogee support or if you're within your return / exchange window, just swap it out as the unit itself may be faulty.

You really can't make a bad choice between the ULN-2, Duet 2 and the Babyface... although it could be argued that one is clearly the better choice. I'd still advise spending more of your resources on learning some of the basics (like working your way around your DAW) than on purchasing more kit at this point.
Thanks alot! Out of that line up I am more in favor of the ULN2, Baby face, then the Duet 2. I have only had the Duet 2 for 2 DAYS!! but I do not think I will get another USB device I think Firewire may be a more stable solution??? SO more in favor of ULN2 overall Is there anything cheaper that can honestly compete with the ULN2 that is Firwire??
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29th March 2012
Old 29th March 2012
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anybody??? whose got the edge??
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