Login / Register
 
RME Fireface 400 vs Fireface UC vs MR816X for product longevity
New Reply
Subscribe
RaboonTheBaboon
Thread Starter
#1
14th September 2011
Old 14th September 2011
  #1
Gear nut
 
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 104

Thread Starter
RaboonTheBaboon is offline
RME Fireface 400 vs Fireface UC vs MR816X for product longevity

Hey all,

I'm looking for a new audio interface. I've had both a Presonus and a MOTU, both of which failed after a disappointingly short time. This in mind, I must put a good weighting on product longevity for my next purchase. Not just from a build quality perspective, but from a technological standpoint too.

I use a MacBook Pro and imagine I will continue upgrading to them in the future. This immediately brings to mind Apple's blunt approach to removing ports on the MacBook line, the slow takeoff of Thunderbolt, and the rise in capable USB audio interfaces as of late.

Three interfaces stuck out:

Steinberg's MR816X, well praised and great cost for the quality and quantity of IO available. What deters me from jumping on this is Steinberg's lack of track record in long-term support, and the new UR USB interface that is basically the MR816 upgraded and repackaged. I have no interest in the UR interface when it costs as much as an RME device...

RME's Fireface 400, (speak of the devil!) seemingly bulletproof and well praised for a long timeframe. Great!

RME's Fireface UC, a newer speedier alternative to the above. Again, a USB successor...

I've pondered this for quite some time and could do with some nudging to help my decision.

Thanks for the help,
Joe
#2
14th September 2011
Old 14th September 2011
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Joined: Nov 2007
Location: N.Y.
Posts: 1,301

Alndln is offline
FireFace UC all the way.
dio
#3
14th September 2011
Old 14th September 2011
  #3
dio
Gear addict
 
Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Athens, Greece
Posts: 428

dio is offline
I have Fireface 400. Though it works great I've heard some stories about the firewire controler failing so I would say go for the UC.
#4
14th September 2011
Old 14th September 2011
  #4
Lives for gear
 
euphoria89's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Nottingham, UK
Posts: 1,415

euphoria89 is offline
UC if you can afford it, although the MR816 is absolutely brilliant and cost a third less.
#5
14th September 2011
Old 14th September 2011
  #5
Gear Head
 
Joined: Jun 2011
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 36

cleanpants is offline
+1 for the UC
#6
14th September 2011
Old 14th September 2011
  #6
Gear addict
 
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 464

Jay M is offline
I was in the same boat as you. I got tired of cheap, failing, and low performing sound cards.

RME has a track record of supporting their products for a very long time. My personal experience is that they are well built.

One very important thing to consider is the tools that come with RME. I don't think I could work without the metering that is included with RME sound cards.

At work I have been using an HDSP Multiface, and recently at home, after my Motu failed, I bought a Fireface UFX. 60 channels of I/O over USB. I don't see a need to wait for a Thunderbolt option.

RME claims that their USB products can have similar if not lower latency than even their PCI cards.

~Jay
__________________
my new blog, not much now, but I am committed to daily updates:
What's New and Cool in Pro A/V
#7
14th September 2011
Old 14th September 2011
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 745

neirbod is offline
Can't speak to the specific units you mentioned, but I bought a FF800 when it first came out and it served me very well and reliably for many years (until I recently upgraded to the UFX). RME is a great company that stands behind their products, both in terms of hardware and software.

RME's Total Mix software is also fantastic. For me, it is essential to how I work. This may or may not be a factor for your needs.
__________________
"If you have to flip back and forward, A/Bing to work out the differences, it's not "night and day" - any more than you have to blink many times to work out the difference between dark and light." Psycho_Monkey
#8
14th September 2011
Old 14th September 2011
  #8
Lives for gear
 
rumleymusic's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2008
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 2,252

rumleymusic is offline
I would say Babyface or UFX. They flaunt the new total mix fx engine and have the best driver team in the biz. The Steinberg sounds absolutely fantastic, but like you said, how long are you going to be able to use it before it is discontinued? 1-2 years? 10? Who knows?
__________________
Daniel Rumley
Rumley Music and Audio Production
http://www.rumleymusic.com
#9
14th September 2011
Old 14th September 2011
  #9
Lives for gear
 
Timur Born's Avatar
 
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,605

Timur Born is offline
UC also uses Totalmix FX.
#10
15th September 2011
Old 15th September 2011
  #10
Lives for gear
 
rumleymusic's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2008
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 2,252

rumleymusic is offline
Quote:
UC also uses Totalmix FX.
I didn't think so, where are you getting that from? Babyface was the first device to use the FX DSP.

Any UC users using the new totalmixFX?

Total Mix is the right column in the photo
Attached Thumbnails
RME Fireface 400 vs Fireface UC vs MR816X for product longevity-rme-specs.jpg  
RaboonTheBaboon
Thread Starter
#11
15th September 2011
Old 15th September 2011
  #11
Gear nut
 
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 104

Thread Starter
RaboonTheBaboon is offline
Thanks for the replies everyone, it's great to have a load taken off my mind as this is quite a hefty purchase. You all mostly confirmed my thoughts that the FF UC is the way forwards even though it tops out the scales.

I feel a little burnt ordering it, but I'm optimistic it'll kick arse.

Rumleymusic, I think I read the UC comes with the newer look TotalMix, but without the FX portion.
dio
#12
15th September 2011
Old 15th September 2011
  #12
dio
Gear addict
 
Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Athens, Greece
Posts: 428

dio is offline
In the USB Series drivers section the older drivers are listed as:
Archive: Fireface UC with classic TotalMix

so yes there's something going on there. Goddamned I need this for my FF400 as well. Also I think (but I am not 100% sure) that with UC you can use both optical and coaxial I/Os at the same time, something not possible with FF400. (Again for me...)
#13
15th September 2011
Old 15th September 2011
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 507

soundpalace is offline
Is the UC generally capable of lower latency and higher track counts than the FF400 on really new boards (e.g. Core i7)? I haven't seen a lot of reports on how it performs on Z68 boards, anyone used it on one?

If it really comes close to matching the PCI latency we all know and love, then it does indeed sound like a winner.

Just one thing that I've discovered and confirmed with RME which I dislike on both the UC and FF400. Both the monitor out and headphone out volume provided via knob is actually adjusted digitally (before the D/As). Now, this is easy to resolve for monitors with the use of a passive volume control (e.g. the SM Pro Nano Patch), however, I don't know if there is a suitable device for headphones.

Primary concern being that:
- Quality will be lost when adjusting volume in the digital domain as it results in less bits for the output
- The dangerous fact that a sudden volume blast or similar (in the case of a hardware malfunction or similar) will be unprotected and could come out at full 100% digital volume

Very fascinated by this thread as I am still trying to make my mind up on interface choice too
#14
15th September 2011
Old 15th September 2011
  #14
Lives for gear
 
shanabit's Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 6,163

shanabit is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alndln View Post
FireFace UC all the way.
Of the three I would go for that one, although I would get teh http://www.rme-audio.de/en_products_fireface_ufx.php since it does FW and USB

The Steinberg MR816X has just been replaced by the USB version BTW. Ive been very happy with my MR816X FW version here though
#15
15th September 2011
Old 15th September 2011
  #15
Lives for gear
 
dxavier's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2009
Location: London
Posts: 1,182
My Studio

dxavier is offline
Although I think the MR816 is a very good interface and IMHO, better a teeny bit better sounding than the RME FF400 and FF800, I am never going to believe in the longevity of a Steinberg product. They really do come and go, whereas companies such as RME and Metric Halo seem to keep the support and updates coming.
RaboonTheBaboon
Thread Starter
#16
15th September 2011
Old 15th September 2011
  #16
Gear nut
 
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 104

Thread Starter
RaboonTheBaboon is offline
Glad this is of help to someone else too! I got serious square eyes from hunting about forums trying to figure this out.

I believe I spotted the quote about the UC using the new TotalMix look from the RME forums, either from Daniel or their Admin over there.

I know what you mean about the volume knobs. Yeah it does seem the best way round it is full pelt the interface and attenuate further down the line to keep S/N and bit depth decent, whilst also protecting your gear and hearing. However considering RME use the same setup on their "flagship" UFX, I'm willing to trust them that it doesn't degrade the output too roughly.
#17
16th September 2011
Old 16th September 2011
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 507

soundpalace is offline
bumpies
#18
16th September 2011
Old 16th September 2011
  #18
Lives for gear
 
Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 4,140

work2do is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by dxavier View Post
Although I think the MR816 is a very good interface and IMHO, better a teeny bit better sounding than the RME FF400 and FF800, I am never going to believe in the longevity of a Steinberg product. They really do come and go, whereas companies such as RME and Metric Halo seem to keep the support and updates coming.
I learned the hard way a long time ago never to buy Steinberg, Tascam, Yamaha, Sony. RME is still supporting and updating old PCI products.
#19
17th September 2011
Old 17th September 2011
  #19
Gear interested
 
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 19

dede is offline
hey, I'm in a similar situation, after 9 years with a Motu firewire 828 (that's been "gone" for a week, no response from tech.supp there) I decided to switch to RME, I use in a bigger studio I work a PCI system that's the more stable and quality audio sys I ever found on PC.

As I just need just 8 i/o, my choice was for a PCI (e) version, as I presumed was much better in terms of CPU load, latency, etc.
So I went to a professional store today for a Multiface II+ HSDC PCIe.
there I learn from the salesman that that product was out of stock and that he didn't think they would get it in stock in the future, as for such a small interface, Fireface was the one
that promises more longevity and performances that rival a Pcie. As I needed and audio card now to keep working I asked for a fireface 400, to learn that that one was out of stock as well, replaced by Fireface UC that claims much better latency and performances than any firewire interface out there. And learned that firewire seems to be in its last days while USB is there to stay, specialy since the "revolution" that tthis little UC seems to be.
So any user of this Fireface UC there?
As I've been out of the (audio card) market for a while I'm definitely reticent to buy an USB interface, PCI and Firewire being my established (paranoid?) must choice.
Hope somebody can help me decide, i'll go shopping tomorrow.
Love,
dd

ASUSTeK P5W DH Deluxe (Intel 975X Express) - ATX
Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 @ 2.33 GHZ - Dual Core Socket 775 FSB1333 cache L2 4 Mo 0.065
2x Seagate Barracuda 320 Go 7200.1 16mo sata
RAM Corsair Twinx 2x1024 DDR2-C6400 twin 2.34 GHZ
NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT - 256 Mo - PCI Ex16
Motu 828
Win XP SP3


#20
17th September 2011
Old 17th September 2011
  #20
Lives for gear
 
AwwDeOhh's Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: State of Insomnia, sleepless USA
Posts: 2,550

AwwDeOhh is offline
Happy FF400 user here.

If choosing between the FF400 and the UC (or even the UFX)
keep in mind:
Firewire (FF400 & FF800) devices can be daisy-chained, while USB cannot. So, if you see your I/O needs expanding in the future, something to keep in mind.
#21
17th September 2011
Old 17th September 2011
  #21
Lives for gear
 
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 507

soundpalace is offline
Here, the difference in price is also something to take into account, Fireface 400 is about $1000 while the UC is $1249.

What are the functional differences between TotalMix & TotalMixFX (on the UC without effects)? Is it mostly the look of the software in this case?

Most people seem to say that performance is about the same while tests in the audio performance thread suggest that Firewire still has the advantage.
#22
17th September 2011
Old 17th September 2011
  #22
Gear interested
 
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 19

dede is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundpalace View Post
Here, the difference in price is also something to take into account, Fireface 400 is about $1000 while the UC is $1249.

What are the functional differences between TotalMix & TotalMixFX (on the UC without effects)? Is it mostly the look of the software in this case?

Most people seem to say that performance is about the same while tests in the audio performance thread suggest that Firewire still has the advantage.

here in Europe both Fireface (UC = 845EUR, 400=798EUR) are bundled with Totalmix period. No Fx whatsoever.
I can go for USB instead of FW as performances in this "new" RME's USB seem to be really above the other 100-200$ USB interfaces. That's what everybody claims in specs and test, so besides the fact that FW was more professional 10 years ago, it seems that it is fading away. Specially with this new USB2 or the upcoming USB3. Mind: my Toshiba Satellite Pro from early 2010 (that really rocks on Sonar x1 w/ a lightweight Alesis USB2 i/o) doesn't even have a Firewire port! I just noticed, I was sure it had on 4 pin as my previous Toshiba!

So the argument (for salesman yesterday) was that FFUC is actually replacing FF400 in the long term, it's the same external box, same preamps, same totalmix, conectivity, etc, exactly the same beast but with a new generation transfer protocol instead of the good old FW400. Thus the 'updated" price.

My concern is not really USB vs FW anymore, but my original choice was PCIe+Multiface (889EUR) instead of external box, as I don't really need preamps nor portability (I do have that tiny Alesis to go) , I was convinced that PCIe was allways more stable and solid in terms of plugin count, CPU load, etc.
But this guy was really convinced that this new UC is really a step above both Fireface 400 AND Multiface in terms of developement, so he didn't wanted to sell me the Multiface even if it's 50 buck more expensive.

Could this be the case?

Perhaps, as we're talking about 8 i/o/, surely PCIe is the choice for 32 track i/o system, but I'm still reluctant.
dd
#23
17th September 2011
Old 17th September 2011
  #23
Lives for gear
 
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 507

soundpalace is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by dede View Post
here in Europe both Fireface (UC = 845EUR, 400=798EUR) are bundled with Totalmix period. No Fx whatsoever.
Fireface UC actually uses TotalMixFX software, but without effects while Fireface 400 uses the Classic TotalMix software.

See the following pages for confirmation of this:

RME User Forum / Fireface UC with Total Mix FX?

The information is all correct. You can use the latest driver with TM FX for the UC, or the older driver which has the former TM. Take what you like, at this time you have the choice. But not for long....

and here

RME: Home

Uunder "New driver generation for all current RME interfaces"

The new TotalMix FX, used by Babyface, Fireface UC and Fireface UFX, got a mono (single channel) output mode added to its default stereo mode and lots of other improvements.
#24
17th September 2011
Old 17th September 2011
  #24
Gear interested
 
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 19

dede is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundpalace View Post
Here, the difference in price is also something to take into account, Fireface 400 is about $1000 while the UC is $1249.

What are the functional differences between TotalMix & TotalMixFX (on the UC without effects)? Is it mostly the look of the software in this case?

Most people seem to say that performance is about the same while tests in the audio performance thread suggest that Firewire still has the advantage.
hi, just found this video, this guy playing soft-synths and samples through midi guitar on a FF UC, pretty astonishing (I'm used to my Motu 828 latency, doesn't come even close to this )

Burr Johnson: A low latency setup with the Fireface - YouTube

And just got a response from a RME tech support guy:

<<<<<<<<<<<<<quote:
All fo RME's firewire and USB devices are designed to work as close to PCI/PCI-e performance levels as possible.
Bot PCI and PCI-e are slightly lower latency than either FW or USB. The CPU load and overall latency are very close over all.
The main benefit you would be getting with the HDSP series hardware is the flexible expansion You can mix and max up to 3 HDSP cards in your system for a huge amount of I/O expansion. The Fireface series with most systems is limited to 2 units connected to the computer.
The USB based Fireface devices like the UC, Babyface and UFX all work great on either PC or MAC. ON the PC side. Firewire is starting to become less common of a built-in feature on motherboards and especially laptops. USB 2 and now USB 3.0 are becoming more prominent.
Unless you are really planning on adding allot of I/O as in more than 32 channels of I/O then you will be fine with the Fireface series.<<<<<<<<<
#25
17th September 2011
Old 17th September 2011
  #25
Gear interested
 
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 19

dede is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundpalace View Post
Fireface UC actually uses TotalMixFX software, but without effects while Fireface 400 uses the Classic TotalMix software.

See the following pages for confirmation of this:

RME User Forum / Fireface UC with Total Mix FX?

The information is all correct. You can use the latest driver with TM FX for the UC, or the older driver which has the former TM. Take what you like, at this time you have the choice. But not for long....

and here

RME: Home

Uunder "New driver generation for all current RME interfaces"

The new TotalMix FX, used by Babyface, Fireface UC and Fireface UFX, got a mono (single channel) output mode added to its default stereo mode and lots of other improvements.

Thanks for that information, you're right. It was misleading that when asking in the store the guy just mentiones "no fx" but as you say, is the updated software w/o fx indeed.
cheers
dd
#26
17th September 2011
Old 17th September 2011
  #26
Lives for gear
 
AwwDeOhh's Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: State of Insomnia, sleepless USA
Posts: 2,550

AwwDeOhh is offline
The reason the RME are unique in the USB latency performance, is that they developed their own USB controller. (instead of using the generic on that most other AI's do)
You may or may not see other manufacturers impliment something like this in the future, but in this regard RME are miles ahead of the competition.

(that, and their drivers are rock solid)
#27
18th September 2011
Old 18th September 2011
  #27
Lives for gear
 
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 507

soundpalace is offline
What latencies do RME Babyface / UC users tend to run for real world projects? Is 128 samples manageable for bigger projects with these units?
#28
8th February 2012
Old 8th February 2012
  #28
Gear interested
 
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 1

nexus01 is offline
yes its possible, usually at 256, but that depends exclusively on the OS (mac or pc) and how fast your CPU is...

in pc, usb controllers aren't so efficient as the ones that mac uses, causing an internal latency issue which results in drops and clicks at lower latency levels, that in mac could work flawlessly
#29
8th February 2012
Old 8th February 2012
  #29
Lives for gear
 
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 507

soundpalace is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundpalace View Post
What latencies do RME Babyface / UC users tend to run for real world projects? Is 128 samples manageable for bigger projects with these units?
I run at 128 from start to finish, projects are usually 70+ tracks with heaps of VST effects and instruments. 64 is also fine on slightly smaller projects.

Im using a Fireface UC with a 2600k PC with Cubase 6.
New Reply Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook  Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter  Submit Thread to LinkedIn LinkedIn  Submit Thread to Google+ Google+ 
 
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.