My first audio interface in the 90s was the Event Audio Gina PCI card for PC.
As I started increasing track count, I began having MIDI/Audio synch issues with my Gina and Cakewalk Pro Audio.
So I moved to the Presonus Firepod, and then SONAR in the mid 2000s.
The Firepod was pretty much fine - at least it was stable with SONAR.
The only major issue was I could never get my recordings and mixes to sound as full, rich and detailed as my source (tracked) material was.
I struggled with this for years
- I could NOT understand why my electric and acoustic guitars, and metal (cymbals, tambourines, etc.), as well as richer and more complex harmonic content in keyboards and vocals, etc. - which sounded so rich and sizzly in my ROOM - did not translate AFTER I had recorded it with the Presonus (I'd always thought the same with the Event card, as well)!
So, I kept hyping the high end in my mixes to compensate for the lack of high frequency detail. And my mixes NEVER sounded right. They never sounded rich and tonally balanced to me.
THEN I switched to the FF800
in the late 2000s. Holy CRAP. I FINALLY could HEAR the high end sizzle, and rich and deep harmonic content in my electric guitars, acoustic guitars, keyboards, drums/cymbals and vocals. Even the high mids in the electric bass sounded way better. It was literally like night and day! I was blown away.
While I think most producers and mix engineers always struggle with getting their mixes right, at least with the FF800
I can HEAR the frequencies that I could NEVER hear before on my lower end audio interfaces.
Now I know there are tons of folks who swear how much better Weiss, Lavry, BLA, etc. are than RME. Well, that remains to be seen. And when I can afford to throw money around, I'll be checking out some of the higher end I/O.
Currently, I'm very happy with my RME UFX
(with remote). I LOVE the matrix mixing in Total Mix, and I LOVE how stable RME's drivers are.
Personally, I didn't really hear such a difference (if any) between the FF800
and the UFX, but I got rid of the FF800
because I didn't need two interfaces. I do like the reverb, delay, compression and EQ options in the UFX, as well as the remote. I also dig the improved display graphics on the front panel, 2 HP outs, and XLR main outs.
To sum up (no pun intended), I think RME rocks! EDIT: In addition to the audio interface upgrade, I also improved several key elements in my recording chain, and monitoring setup. I do have a much more expensive preamp with EQ and compression for my vocal/guitar/bass chain. And I do have a much more expensive and elaborate monitoring setup now. I find that pretty much NOTHING beats having amazing monitors SET UP CORRECTLY in a treated room (with way less reflection).
I also upgraded my guitars, basses, synths and sample libraries, and worked diligently to set up and treat my tracking/mixing room - using double layers of moving blankets all around my mix position, measuring the frequency response at different point in my room, and moving and rotating my speakers and mix position for a few years until I found the perfect speaker orientation in my room.
I still use a relatively inexpensive microphone for all my recording, and relatively inexpensive acoustic guitar and 5-string electric bass, but I use a wonderful higher-end custom Tele made by a local friend here in upstate NY.