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RME Babyface vs. SD USBpre 2
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Peterz
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#1
25th March 2011
Old 25th March 2011
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RME Babyface vs. SD USBpre 2

Hi.

I am trying to decide what interface will suit me best. RME babyface or SD USBpre 2. I checked out both devices, i read lots of posts here on Gearslutz, but i couldnt find any direct comparison between these two. Well there is some talk on this topic, but i am interested in hearing some opinions from ppl that have used both devices.
Also, i ve been reading that SD USBpre 2 might have some latency issues and that Babyface is really solid in that area.
I would be glad to hear, what people that have used both (or one or the other) interfaces have to say before i finnaly make up my mind.

Thank you
Peterz
#2
20th July 2011
Old 20th July 2011
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Am interested in this answer
#3
21st July 2011
Old 21st July 2011
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This video makes a pretty strong argument for the sound quality of the Usbpre2.

Couldn't tell you about latency though.
#4
21st July 2011
Old 21st July 2011
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I emailed Sound Devices and got this reply:

Quote:
The UBSPre 2 will output a digital signal with a latency of just a few samples. Based on what you set your buffer at will determine the actual latency and this will vary from project to project. You may want to spec this out yourself with your setup and apply sample delay compensation accordingly inside your digital workstation. I'm sorry I can't get more specific but if you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me. Thanks.

Jesse Parker
#5
21st July 2011
Old 21st July 2011
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I bought a USBPre2 recently and had to send it back, it was a faulty unit that bricked while I was on the phone with SD tech support. The tech had me flash the box with a firmware update and it bricked on me. When the unit was running at first in 16bit mode I liked what I heard but after installing the ASIO drivers I had nothing but problems. Granted, there are probably plenty of people out there who've had no prob's with this unit and that's nice to hear, but I'm running Win XP/SP3 with an ASUS mobo and AMD CPU. The first problem was definitely a serious latency issue that was unacceptable. Anything over 5ms is a deal breaker for me. I've not owned or used an RME Babyface so I can't speak specifically to that, but tracks I've heard captured through the latest RME offerings have been very sweet with regard to ADC clarity. The USBPre2 was equally impressive IMO when it came to ADAC, and I'm used to hearing quality ADAC through my BLA converters, so that's a qualified opinion. To be honest, most of the opinions I've read about the USBPre2 have been from audiophiles who are just using the box for playback and not so much for recording.

Don't know if this helps any but it was my experience with the USBPre2.
#6
22nd July 2011
Old 22nd July 2011
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Found this post claiming to get 5ms latency:

Quote:
I opened the biggest session I'd worked on recently (in logic 9, on a 1st rev mac pro with 8gb ram), which has 118 audio tracks and a dozen or so virtual instruments, fully mixed and with some haphazard master bus effects. Played back without a problem at 32 samples (or 5ms latency)... session is at 44/24. Skipped around the sequence a bunch, no hiccups. I had some work come in and it also went without a hitch... smaller project but lots more virtual instruments... one crash that I'm pretty sure had nothing to do with the interface (too many AUs), but I recorded guitars and lots of midi keyboard shit and never really even noticed that I was using a new interface, which I think is a compliment.
#7
22nd July 2011
Old 22nd July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgruff View Post
Found this post claiming to get 5ms latency:
It's nice to know people are having positive experiences with this box because it certainly seemed like a brilliant piece of kit. Very well constructed, decent pre's, excellent ADAC, etc. Top notch for your $$ IMO. The poster you linked to was running a mac and mac OS's are so much more efficient in utilizing system resources (RAM) than Windows ever has been.
#8
22nd July 2011
Old 22nd July 2011
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I looked at both of them and went with the Babyface. Really happy with it.

The new Totalmix software is extremely useful and incredibly stable. I love the whole build of it with the control wheel where I can just easily reach over and control the volume of the monitors or phones.

Something I didn't get by watching videos or looking at pics of the Babyface, is that it's actually really sturdy. The casing is metal and it has some weight to it so it sits firmly on a desk.
#9
22nd July 2011
Old 22nd July 2011
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Long live the Babyface! You won't regret buying it.
#10
29th July 2011
Old 29th July 2011
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SD USBPre 2 has been giving me all types of problems. It crashes all the time. I have two brand new laptops and both crash when the USB Pre 2 is plugged in. Seems to be a power issue. When it does not get enough power it crashes.
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29th July 2011
Old 29th July 2011
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Have you tried it on a desktop PC?
#12
1st August 2011
Old 1st August 2011
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After working with Sound Devices support, I can report that the USBPre 2 is working correctly. It sounds awesome adn the pres are realy good. Stephen over at SD is awesome.
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1st August 2011
Old 1st August 2011
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Great What kind of latency are you getting?
#14
1st August 2011
Old 1st August 2011
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I'll recommend to try both and return the other one after some testing. Sorry to read about problems with SD units. I'm on the other hand having some really bad issues with my Babyface. I've been in contact with RME support but this far without succes. I've never had any problems with fireface AI's I've used (RME and Motu) but this thing is giving me hard times. Maybe these USB units are more prone to compabilty issues than FW? Anyway I suggest you to try them with your system first.
#15
3rd August 2011
Old 3rd August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgruff View Post
Great What kind of latency are you getting?
10 ms using SD's Asio drivers. If I use Asio4all set to 128 buffer, I get about 7 ms which is fine with me. I really love the conversion and the pres on this thing. Puts my old RME Fireface to shame, and it was modded by Black Lion.
#16
3rd August 2011
Old 3rd August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skallawa View Post
10 ms using SD's Asio drivers. If I use Asio4all set to 128 buffer, I get about 7 ms which is fine with me. I really love the conversion and the pres on this thing. Puts my old RME Fireface to shame, and it was modded by Black Lion.
While I had driver issues with my SD box I still feel it's a quality product so will offer positive feedback on what I found so cool about this particular box.

Yes, the pre's are really nice IMO. They sounded a lot like the pre's on my A&H ZED...which is saying a lot. And again, the conversion is really fantastic, on par with BLA conversion for sure...IME.

I also have a box modded by BLA and while BLA ADAC is stunning IMO the pre's (also upgraded by BLA) were not impressive. Granted, I feel this isn't a reflection on BLA because the analog mod's made a huge improvement IMO and there's only so much you can do when modding another company's architecture. In my case they were working with an m-audio 1814FW, so...

If you're looking for solid pre's with a hint of sweetness and beautiful ADAC, the usbpre2 is fantastic. Yes, watch out for compatibility issues with your computers chipset, etc., and be prepared for higher latency than you may be used to IMO...YMMV.

BTW, if you don't install drivers and use the box in it's original 16Bit mode everything is perfect. No latency issues, no compatibility issues...just straight up super quality 16Bit conversion at 44.1kHz sampling. Believe it or not, the ADAC at this rate sounds much better than many boxes in this price range at 24Bit/48kHz. Again, YMMV, but this is my opinion. To me it's comparable to the sound of an Alesis ADAT setup in the 90's.

At the risk of getting flamed I feel tracking at 16Bit with pristine ADC into a 24Bit file running 24Bit plugs creates a genuine analog feel that's hard to imitate. That's just me though. Just my opinion and the way I hear.
NLP
#17
19th December 2011
Old 19th December 2011
  #17
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Own both SD USBPre2&RME Babyface.
Both latest updates and few months old.
System W7 64bit, using on 4 different computers (2 laptops, 2 stationary).
In short:

USBPre2:
Stability: build great+++, DIP switches can be likable, WDM drivers just ok (higher latencies) but can not use higher sample rates... on laptops very unstable, ASIO driver is unreliable - mostly useless (for example: unfortunately the installation failed error: 0x0006 etc.), on Asio4All far better performances (on some programs not working well...:() & can not get to 96&192kHz... on laptops problems with power supply over USB ports (much better when use powered USB hub).
Sonically: preamps matter of taste, maybe better like on RME BF. Converters: not like day or night but maybe slightly! better on SD. I/O very versatile yes! Phones: almost do not use it so I will not estimate...
I will keep the unit, looking and durability are on very high level, maybe someday will release useful ASIO driver. Friend of mine use Macs and I borrow him the unit till ASIO driver get better.

RME BF:
Stability: on all computers (on XP 32bits system too) work without any problems. Even on-board and SD USBPre2 card are on and RME BF seems do not care about that
Durability: OK... wheel knob is concerning on long route but I am gentle... colour is "pretty" easy to scratch off, all those cables (breakout) are insane, but I build the breakout box so this is not issue any more
Sonically: very, very good, in pair with USBPre2. Phones out: so almost do not use headphones but USBPre2 is noticeable better.
I "can not decide" which AD/DA converters are better, mic preamps are very good on both units etc. but I am using RME BF every day, realibility and sonically is unbeatable in this (till LynxTWO and much higher...) price range.

So Sound Devices: please give me good reliable ASIO driver or hire RME Team
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#18
19th December 2011
Old 19th December 2011
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thank you for this!
#19
19th December 2011
Old 19th December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NLP View Post
all those cables (breakout) are insane, but I build the breakout box so this is not issue any more
Did you figure it out or do you have a link with an explanation?
NLP
#20
19th December 2011
Old 19th December 2011
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Thanks, no problem.
I even buy a few CardBus & ExpressCard34 adapters (CB/EC - 2X USB3... because some built-in USB chipsets are probably problematic... but so many computers etc.) and SD USBPre2 can get enough power and chipsets on those adapters are much better, but still ASIO driver is unstable:(((
Even with WDM it is not always good enough.
SD unit is almost perfect product (mechanically) and when occasionally working good - for me is (sonically) unbeatable card even with 2 or 3 times more expensive products with similar functionality.
NLP
#21
19th December 2011
Old 19th December 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by el_gato View Post
Did you figure it out or do you have a link with an explanation?
Here is manual:
http://www.rme-audio.de/download/bface_e.pdf
and see:
27.2 Connector Pinouts
... so made box with built-in connectors and that is all
#22
19th December 2011
Old 19th December 2011
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the RME babyface is one of the best interfaces in its price range if you don't need a lot of channels IMO
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#23
19th December 2011
Old 19th December 2011
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I have the SD USBPre2 and it has been great for me. I ordered the RME BF when they were first announced , but it was backordered forever so I cancelled the purchase. I like the "no software" approach to making settings on the USB Pre2, but also respect the TotalMix approach. I suppose there are reasons to own both...
#24
19th December 2011
Old 19th December 2011
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Go for the BF... it's a product better suited for studio work...
Soundwise I would bet both sound great, but the BF should be more stable...
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#25
28th February 2013
Old 28th February 2013
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So a full year later, do you still have both and how do you now feel about how the two compare?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NLP View Post
Own both SD USBPre2&RME Babyface.
Both latest updates and few months old.
System W7 64bit, using on 4 different computers (2 laptops, 2 stationary).
In short:

USBPre2:
Stability: build great+++, DIP switches can be likable, WDM drivers just ok (higher latencies) but can not use higher sample rates... on laptops very unstable, ASIO driver is unreliable - mostly useless (for example: unfortunately the installation failed error: 0x0006 etc.), on Asio4All far better performances (on some programs not working well...:() & can not get to 96&192kHz... on laptops problems with power supply over USB ports (much better when use powered USB hub).
Sonically: preamps matter of taste, maybe better like on RME BF. Converters: not like day or night but maybe slightly! better on SD. I/O very versatile yes! Phones: almost do not use it so I will not estimate...
I will keep the unit, looking and durability are on very high level, maybe someday will release useful ASIO driver. Friend of mine use Macs and I borrow him the unit till ASIO driver get better.

RME BF:
Stability: on all computers (on XP 32bits system too) work without any problems. Even on-board and SD USBPre2 card are on and RME BF seems do not care about that
Durability: OK... wheel knob is concerning on long route but I am gentle... colour is "pretty" easy to scratch off, all those cables (breakout) are insane, but I build the breakout box so this is not issue any more
Sonically: very, very good, in pair with USBPre2. Phones out: so almost do not use headphones but USBPre2 is noticeable better.
I "can not decide" which AD/DA converters are better, mic preamps are very good on both units etc. but I am using RME BF every day, realibility and sonically is unbeatable in this (till LynxTWO and much higher...) price range.

So Sound Devices: please give me good reliable ASIO driver or hire RME Team
NLP
#26
28th February 2013
Old 28th February 2013
  #26
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Better drivers for USBPre2.
I am happy with both units, RME have more functions for studio work and very reliable to work on different computers...
#27
1 Week Ago
Old 1 Week Ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NLP View Post
Better drivers for USBPre2.
I am happy with both units, RME have more functions for studio work and very reliable to work on different computers...
Beter drivers???
you got to be f_cking joking now mate?
the drivers have been the BIG problems of both the usbpre and the usbpre2
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#28
1 Week Ago
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LOL... I don't know any company in the audio industry that makes better drivers than RME...
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#29
1 Week Ago
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on "old" win 7 comp (HP Probook) it works fine, on new one... I sold the USBPre2.

Quote:
Originally Posted by andytheswede View Post
Beter drivers???
you got to be f_cking joking now mate?
the drivers have been the BIG problems of both the usbpre and the usbpre2
#30
1 Week Ago
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I have owned both.

IMHO the USB pre 2 is sonically superior. The preamps are a lot better, fuller and clearer then the RME babyface.
Not just a little, they are actually really freakin good (I´ve run them against UA, calrec, API), and the analog limiter sounds very cool if you wanna smash stuff on the way in. The build quality is also tank level.
The DA is very good, better than RME.
Had some hiccups with the driver tho, audio dropouts.
If you just wanna have excellent audio I/O and don´t care about latencies, monitor solutions (total mix kills here) and more I/O, then go USB pre.

But. I choose the RME. Because of flexibilty, and the totalmix software, and I don´t use the preamps on it a lot. I go outboard. AND IT HAS ADAT. And the support forum and RMEs overall future thinking and reliability.
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