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Budget Audio Interface Suggestions
Old 5 days ago
  #1
Here for the gear
Budget Audio Interface Suggestions

Hey GearSlutz, looking for some recommendations.

I'm in the process of building a little home writing studio. I want to upgrade my interface. When I was just a student my little Steinburg UR22 was okay, but not good enough for the kinds of recording I want to do, for obvious reasons. So I'm in the market for a new interface.

My challenges are as follows:

a) I am running an older 2009 iMac, so theres no Thunderbolt connectivity or USB C, so older USB 2 and 3.0 interfaces are where I want to be. Dont want to go as far back as firewire - again, for obvious reasons.

b) With all the other things I'm investing in, plus a baby on the way I'm on a bit of a tight budget. I'd like to spend no more than $500-$600 CDN.

I'd ideally like something with 8 or more inputs, just so I can plug everything in and leave it at the ready.. I also get that at that price point, it may be a challenge.

I've looked at the PreSonus Audiobox 1818VL - used around $300 or so, I think $550 is the most expensive I've seen..
The PreSonus Studio 1810 also looks good at $550.. would prefer something rack mountable, but not a deal breaker necessarily..
On the budget end, there's the Behringer 1820 U-Phoria.. That might be too budget though from what I've gathered.. thoughts?
Then there's the M-Audio M-Track Eight. Familiar with the brand but not that particular interface..
And then I found a Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 Gen 2 for around $550 as well.. Not as nice as the new Clarrett stuff but the Clarrett is WAY out of my budget. From the reviews I've found, I think I'm leaning toward this one, but it's also near the top of my proposed budget and there may be something cheaper that's competitive??

If you can't tell, I'm a little lost on this one.
In terms of my recording needs, I just want something with enough inputs to leave all my mics, midi instruments, etc. plugged in, that has a decent enough pre to record nice clean audio.

What do you think, GearSlutz?
Old 5 days ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 

If you want something that’s both supported on older systems and will work with current/future systems...has good converters/pres, I would highly suggest in a good brand like MOTU. They have a reputation for maintaining driver support for a lot longer than most...and build interfaces that last. For your budget that probably means an Ultralite. The latest model is the AVB, which sits about the top of your budget new...but if that’s too much of a squeeze there’s the mk4, etc.. I use a 1248 which is pretty killer.

I would pass on Behringer/M Audio unless you’re dead broke...especially M Audio, just say no...

I’ve heard good things about the modern Tascam models but haven’t used it myself.
Old 5 days ago
  #3
Gear Maniac
The U-PHORIA UMC1820 has nice pres and is simply unbeatable at the price - a perfectly good interface that will serve you well.
Old 5 days ago
  #4
If you're okay with used, you can find some good deals out there. After a while of searching for deals on it, I found a MOTU 828 hybrid (firewire and USB supported) for a little over $350, including shipping, from a Guitar Center across the country. Not sure that'd be fitting your requirements since there's only 2 preamps, but it's got MIDI, 8 analog inputs, 8 analog outputs, digital I/O, and more, so it might be an option worth looking into. Or at least look at Guitar Center's used section to see if there's anything there that suits your needs. I will give this warning - before I found the one on Guitar Center's site, I bought one from ebay and after getting it I found that the lcd screen was very very dim (not 100% dead but, pretty much unreadable), and had to deal with sending it back for a refund. So, you should be careful where you order from - I think Guitar Center's return policy is pretty solid and quicker than dealing with ebay (I think you can return to your local store regardless of which one you bought it from).
Old 4 days ago
  #5
Gear Addict
 
Tashez's Avatar
 

Buy second hand and get something decent . I like the the RME stuff . I picked up a API A2D and it was worth the extra money . You can buy new but it will never be better than a nice second hand semi pro unit .
Old 4 days ago
  #6
Gear Addict
The UMC1820 isn't that bad actually. It's probably on par with that Focusrite you mentioned. Price tag doesn't necessarily denote quality. I returned my Zoom H6 because of how awful it's preamps were. They were probably worse than the Xenyx preamps on the older Behringer gear. And the H6 cost me twice as much as the UMC1820

I definitely agree with buying better stuff used if you can find it for cheap. I got the UMC1820 because I wasn't able to find much in that price range used.
Old 4 days ago
  #7
Quote:
b) With all the other things I'm investing in, plus a baby on the way I'm on a bit of a tight budget. I'd like to spend no more than $500-$600 CDN.
The MOTU Ultrlite MK3 hybrid is right in your price range and has 8 analog inputs 92 mic pre and (6 line ins and the 2 mic pres can be line ins also) and 10 analog outputs to meet your needs, with MIDI ins/outs and SPDIF in/outs
Old 3 days ago
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

You might still want to consider a clarett if you are upgrading for sound quality reasons. The scarlett 18i20 and behringer 1820 are not bad but even the scarlett 2nd gen uses older cirrus logic converter chips. Same goes for behringer. I’d pick the scarlett over the behringer as it has a volume display and slightly better specs / latency. I’d say its worth the 200 dollar difference. But the clarett 6 pre usb is about 100 dollar more than the 18i20 and a significant step up! It’s pretty much high end sound wise. You can always expand it if needed.
Old 3 days ago
  #9
Here for the gear
 

Consider the Tascam 16x08. I have one paired with a 2009 MacBook Pro and it's been great. decent pre-amps, lots of ins and outs. I can record a 6 piece band with a three separate stereo headphone mixes which is rad.
Old 3 days ago
  #10
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by StupidDisco View Post
You might still want to consider a clarett if you are upgrading for sound quality reasons. The scarlett 18i20 and behringer 1820 are not bad but even the scarlett 2nd gen uses older cirrus logic converter chips. Same goes for behringer. I’d pick the scarlett over the behringer as it has a volume display and slightly better specs / latency. I’d say its worth the 200 dollar difference. But the clarett 6 pre usb is about 100 dollar more than the 18i20 and a significant step up! It’s pretty much high end sound wise. You can always expand it if needed.
Any idea if the Presonus 1824 is any better than the UMC1820 sound wise, or should I save for longer and get the Focusrite Clarett 8Pre?
Old 2 days ago
  #11
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dohreetoh View Post
Any idea if the Presonus 1824 is any better than the UMC1820 sound wise, or should I save for longer and get the Focusrite Clarett 8Pre?
I cant tell. It’s an entry level device so i suspect it will not be in the clarett range sonically / latency wise , but this needs testing. I cant find any info on the converter chips being used in the 1824 and 1824c. Presponis says ‘high end’. It says 114b dynamic range so could still be eg older cs4272’s, same as in scarletts / behringer umc’s (clarett has newer / better chips with better range specs). Obviously converter chips isnt the whole story (analog circuit matters a lot too). The presonus seems to have quite some gain on the mic pres (80db) though, much more than the scarlett which is nice if you need to drive sm7bs.

The thing with the claretts is, that it has very good specs to begin with (that exceed the entry level stuff) and in practice has shown to compete with (very) high end gear, at least sonically / latency wise. The higher end gear basically has more features than the claretts and perhaps a few more db range and more gain but sonically the gap is much much smaller or absent. This gap is clearly and audibly there between the clarett and the entry stuff.

Dont get me wrong, any modern interface will be decent / nice but up to a certain point there are clear audible differences.
Old 2 days ago
  #12
JAT
Lives for gear
Audient if you can wait to add digital expansion. The TAscam us 2020 is a good bet for 8 channels out of the box. I like the audient tone better but the TAscam stuff is nice sounding, effective and priced right.
Old 2 days ago
  #13
Lives for gear
 

The Tascam 16X08 is a killer interface for $299. You get 8 Burr Brown Mic preamps, 8 line level inputs and 8 line level outs.
You can record with all 16 inputs and you can use 8 outs for feeding a mixer or looping hardware effects through aux busses.

I have a couple of the Tascam US-1200 units which are the 6 channel versions and I can verify the preamps are clean and quiet.
Latency is very low too. I think its 12 milliseconds in or out and 32 round trip. The units are all metal rack units, no plastic junk with high quality pots and connectors.

The money you save can be put towards updating your computer or buying additional mics. If you want to run the 8 line inputs with mics you can buy an 8 channel mic preamp. I bought one of those inexpensive Nady units and I run all the drum mics into it. Then I route it through a patch bay before the interface. This allows me to bypass the external preamp and record directly into the line level inputs by simply plugging into the front of the patch bay. Makes things quite convenient.
Old 1 day ago
  #14
Gear Nut
 

Would the Tascam US- 4x4 represent a large enough upgrade sound quality wise over my Scarlett 18i8 to warrant making a jump? I've been looking for a cost-efficient next step, and it's difficult to find something with 4 pres that doesn't shoot way up in price. Though, this thread has me thinking that Tascam interfaces may be a notable upgrade for LESS.
Old 1 day ago
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goat Punishment View Post
Would the Tascam US- 4x4 represent a large enough upgrade sound quality wise over my Scarlett 18i8 to warrant making a jump? I've been looking for a cost-efficient next step, and it's difficult to find something with 4 pres that doesn't shoot way up in price. Though, this thread has me thinking that Tascam interfaces may be a notable upgrade for LESS.
I doubt it. While both the scarlett en tascam sound good/ great they are purposely segmented as entry level. They have intentionally been designed in such a manner that they can position higher end stuff above them. It’s in their interest to make sure there is a difference sound and feature wise, otherwise no one would buy their higher end stuff. Competition mitigates this somewhat, so you get pretty good stuff for cheap these days, but pretty much all manufacturers have a segmented product range.

Now again the thing with the clarett is that its audibly a step up from the clarett and sounds so good/clear it wins or equals against even higher end stuff sonically in terms of conversion, or the gap is really small. The remaining difference is the e even higher end stuff still has more features, but conversion wise kinda plateau.


So no, i dont think the tascam gets you in another ballpark conversion wise.
Old 5 hours ago
  #16
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by StupidDisco View Post
I doubt it. While both the scarlett en tascam sound good/ great they are purposely segmented as entry level. They have intentionally been designed in such a manner that they can position higher end stuff above them. It’s in their interest to make sure there is a difference sound and feature wise, otherwise no one would buy their higher end stuff. Competition mitigates this somewhat, so you get pretty good stuff for cheap these days, but pretty much all manufacturers have a segmented product range.

Now again the thing with the clarett is that its audibly a step up from the clarett and sounds so good/clear it wins or equals against even higher end stuff sonically in terms of conversion, or the gap is really small. The remaining difference is the e even higher end stuff still has more features, but conversion wise kinda plateau.


So no, i dont think the tascam gets you in another ballpark conversion wise.
Thank you for that! Would the next step up be something like the Clarett Pre4 or the Audient ID44? I've seen good things about both.
Old 3 hours ago
  #17
Gear Maniac
 
solveforq's Avatar
 

I'd recommend going Motu as well. It's well engineered equipment.
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