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Audio interface - about 500£ budget
Old 23rd August 2019
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Audio interface - about 500£ budget

Hi all, my first post here so thanks to this community for providing me to loads and loads of information, especially regarding audio interfaces and room treatment. I have built wideband panels for a vocal booth thanks to the information here and they work incredibly well.

I have researched the market for an interface that would fit my budget and needs and at the moment I have narrowed it down to the Focusrite Clarett 2pre USB, and the MOTU Ultralite Mk IV.

My needs are:
  • High quality low noise DA section, one headphone amp for the artist, one stereo output for me, 2 headphones outs would be nice but only if it can drive my 250Ohm DT770, will get a dedicated phone amp if not.
    Artist will monitor through low impedance headphones.
  • Minimum of one mic preamp, needs to be clean, low noise and distortion.
    this is because I will be recording Rap vocals and the tracks will be heavily compressed, and ofcourse as I care about quality.
  • Low latency round trip to let the artist hear the processed vocals would be a nice addition although not the priority
  • I have a Ryzen sytem so no TB for me, I have USB3.1 Gen 2, PCI Express and I would get a FW interface if needed.

I am open to suggestions for different interfaces ofcourse, and would like to hear especially about the Clarett 2Pre as it seems to have everything I need including the low RTL, but the figures given by Focusrite seem almost to good to be true? Although they seem to be providing actual measurements and not chip specs like some manufacturers do.
Also, I could not find Noise and Distortion and RTL specs for the MOTU 4Pre and Audio Express, so I am interested in hearing about them if data or first hand experience is available.
Thanks in advance.
Old 29th August 2019
  #2
Gear Maniac
So i had this whole thing typed out wanted to edit to one thing and reported my own post like a dummy.

Hands down go with the MOTU. 123db dynamic range on the DAC will make a huge difference in mixing. With the built in dsp mixer you can build 0 latency headphone mixes with eq, compression etc... It has midi i/o and the mic pre's are very clean and transparent. It only has one headphone jack but 8 analog line outs so you that way send a stereo set to a headphone amp and you can give the artist a custom headphone mix that is seperate from the control room mix.
Old 30th August 2019
  #3
JAT
Lives for gear
Audient.
Old 2nd September 2019
  #4
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JAT View Post
Audient.
The Audient interfaces in my price range have all good specs but all are inferior to the Clarett range.
Not sure if it is audible, or if it will make any difference in a final product...
I also like the ISA option of the FocusRite pres.
Old 2nd September 2019
  #5
Gear Addict
 
chipss36's Avatar
 

inferior To audient exactly how?

Audients conversion, with burr brown chips is excellent at its price point , the clarett uses what chip?
The pres in audient are very good as well.
Do not agree at all...
And have found the exact opposite to be true...




Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelainefes View Post
The Audient interfaces in my price range have all good specs but all are inferior to the Clarett range.
Not sure if it is audible, or if it will make any difference in a final product...
I also like the ISA option of the FocusRite pres.
Old 2nd September 2019
  #6
Audient 4 sure!

they don´t match the FR stuff at all....

Burr Brown Converter and the Pres are superior imo (tried and recorded on both of em a lot of times)

Bargain!
Old 2nd September 2019
  #7
Lives for gear
Every single audio interface in that price range I bought was a disappointment. Mainly because of terrible drivers or noise issues.
I'd buy something cheap and used that would get me going and keep saving for something like RME.
Old 2nd September 2019
  #8
JAT
Lives for gear
I haven’t used the focusrite but use the audient. It is an excellent sounding unit, to my ear.

As far as specs, when I interviewed Rupert neve he said he was always trying to get the purest amplification possible, even the 1073. Years later he achieved that goal, practically. The electrical and mech engineers were amazed, but recording engineers didn’t take to the brand. When they over drove the pre or turned up the eq, “nothing happened.” There was no excitement in the sound, which is the distortion. He didn’t say which of his old companies this was, but it is easy to guess if you’ve used it. There is more to sound than dreamt of in EE class.
Old 2nd September 2019
  #9
Gear Maniac
I can personally vouch for the motu stuff. I own an 828es and have used the ultralite. Price to quality ratio its the best out.
Old 3rd September 2019
  #10
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JAT View Post
I haven’t used the focusrite but use the audient. It is an excellent sounding unit, to my ear.

As far as specs, when I interviewed Rupert neve he said he was always trying to get the purest amplification possible, even the 1073. Years later he achieved that goal, practically. The electrical and mech engineers were amazed, but recording engineers didn’t take to the brand. When they over drove the pre or turned up the eq, “nothing happened.” There was no excitement in the sound, which is the distortion. He didn’t say which of his old companies this was, but it is easy to guess if you’ve used it. There is more to sound than dreamt of in EE class.
I've been known to apply liberal amounts of distortion when mixing, I just don't like it embedded in the tracks by default.
Old 3rd September 2019
  #11
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chipss36 View Post
inferior To audient exactly how?

Audients conversion, with burr brown chips is excellent at its price point , the clarett uses what chip?
The pres in audient are very good as well.
Do not agree at all...
And have found the exact opposite to be true...
How good converter sounds is more about the implementation of the chip than about the chip itself, I hope we agree on that.
All measured specs see the Focusrite slightly superior.`
ADC chip is the AKM AK5388 and the DAC is AK4413EQ, same as on RME Babyface Pro.
Old 4th September 2019
  #12
Here for the gear
 

So, with all the support Audient got, I went on and researched the iD22, and basically the ADC and the DAC measure on paper and following the same standard (AES-17), within negligible differences of each other for all parameters.
3rd party testing with RMAA seems to confirm this.
Both are excellent.
Microphone pres also show similar performance to each other on paper, as do the headphone outputs.

At this point, I would politely ask if anyone here used a Clarett and a iD22, and is preferring on or the other, to please give an indication as to why they would express the preference, would some aspect of one interface shine and make it a better tool? Or would it be a defect of the other that would be the determining factor?
Also, the Audient has a mic in impedance rating of 3kOhm, the Clarett is at 6.2kOhm, with the ISA switch changing it to 2.1kOhm.
Would this make any difference at all with large diaphragm condenser microphones?
Old 4th September 2019
  #13
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelainefes View Post
So, with all the support Audient got, I went on and researched the iD22, and basically the ADC and the DAC measure on paper and following the same standard (AES-17), within negligible differences of each other for all parameters.
3rd party testing with RMAA seems to confirm this.
Both are excellent.
Microphone pres also show similar performance to each other on paper, as do the headphone outputs.

At this point, I would politely ask if anyone here used a Clarett and a iD22, and is preferring on or the other, to please give an indication as to why they would express the preference, would some aspect of one interface shine and make it a better tool? Or would it be a defect of the other that would be the determining factor?
Also, the Audient has a mic in impedance rating of 3kOhm, the Clarett is at 6.2kOhm, with the ISA switch changing it to 2.1kOhm.
Would this make any difference at all with large diaphragm condenser microphones?
I have zero experience with both of those interfaces however, anytime you change the impedance it will affect the tone of what you are recording. Having multiple impedance options def adds to your tonal possibilities.
Old 5th September 2019
  #14
Gear Addict
 

The Focusrite Clarets sound good but the drivers are iffy and latency not the best. By all means get it over the Audient if it comes down to those two. The Claret 2 pre is cheaper than the MOTU Ultralite stuff so if you only need one pre, have no need for expansion, and no need for low latency, I’d go for that but it will only have one stereo output and one headphone jack.

If you go for MOTU, maybe even consider springing for the Ultralite AVB with the ESS DA for the ability to expand over Ethernet with other MOTU stuff if you ever need more pres or want to mic up a drum kit. The pres are good, extended, and warm but not as good as the pres in the newer 828es and 8pre-es. The DA conversion in the newer MOTU stuff is noticeably better than the Claret. The USB is more reliable with lower latency too. The older MOTU stuff without the ESS DA chips are not as good.

The Audient interfaces are garbage. They were very colored and poor latency. The pres are very thin and strident. I was surprised by how awful they were.
Old 5th September 2019
  #15
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noctambulant View Post
The Focusrite Clarets sound good but the drivers are iffy and latency not the best. By all means get it over the Audient if it comes down to those two. The Claret 2 pre is cheaper than the MOTU Ultralite stuff so if you only need one pre, have no need for expansion, and no need for low latency, I’d go for that but it will only have one stereo output and one headphone jack.

If you go for MOTU, maybe even consider springing for the Ultralite AVB with the ESS DA for the ability to expand over Ethernet with other MOTU stuff if you ever need more pres or want to mic up a drum kit. The pres are good, extended, and warm but not as good as the pres in the newer 828es and 8pre-es. The DA conversion in the newer MOTU stuff is noticeably better than the Claret. The USB is more reliable with lower latency too. The older MOTU stuff without the ESS DA chips are not as good.

The Audient interfaces are garbage. They were very colored and poor latency. The pres are very thin and strident. I was surprised by how awful they were.
I can confirm that both models of the ultralite have the ESS DAC. Not all the ultralite mk4's have the ESS DAC. Only the new ones. The first year or so of production they had the old DACs.
Old 5th September 2019
  #16
Here for the gear
 

Thanks for the replies, I was looking at posts made here and other places and the iD22 seems to have a documented history of specific circuits failing over time.
I am inclined to get the Clarett 2Pre, If the RTL will be too much for tracking I will use the internal mixer.
Old 9th September 2019
  #17
Gear Addict
 
chipss36's Avatar
 

Have a link to the data that supports this?




Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelainefes View Post
How good converter sounds is more about the implementation of the chip than about the chip itself, I hope we agree on that.
All measured specs see the Focusrite slightly superior.`
ADC chip is the AKM AK5388 and the DAC is AK4413EQ, same as on RME Babyface Pro.
Old 9th September 2019
  #18
Gear Addict
 
chipss36's Avatar
 

The id22 headphone is not like the claret at all??
Not even on paper....
Think you may need to look at that again...
Not sure how you could come to this conclusion..
It is simply not correct.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelainefes View Post
So, with all the support Audient got, I went on and researched the iD22, and basically the ADC and the DAC measure on paper and following the same standard (AES-17), within negligible differences of each other for all parameters.
3rd party testing with RMAA seems to confirm this.
Both are excellent.
Microphone pres also show similar performance to each other on paper, as do the headphone outputs.

At this point, I would politely ask if anyone here used a Clarett and a iD22, and is preferring on or the other, to please give an indication as to why they would express the preference, would some aspect of one interface shine and make it a better tool? Or would it be a defect of the other that would be the determining factor?
Also, the Audient has a mic in impedance rating of 3kOhm, the Clarett is at 6.2kOhm, with the ISA switch changing it to 2.1kOhm.
Would this make any difference at all with large diaphragm condenser microphones?
Old 9th September 2019
  #19
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chipss36 View Post
Have a link to the data that supports this?
Review for the Clarett 2Pre with pictures of the PCBs and RMAA loopback test (Google translate link)

https://translate.google.com/transla...ml&prev=search

FocusRite's published tests, AES-17 standard

Line Inputs
Frequency Response 20 Hz - 35 kHz ± 0.5dB Min Gain
Dynamic Range >119 dB A-weighted
THD +N 0.001%
Maximum input level +26 dBu at minimum gain
Gain Range +57 dB

Line Outputs (1-4)
Dynamic Range
119dB A-weighted
Maximum Output Level
+18dBu at minimum gain, Balanced Line/TRS Outputs
THD+N
0.00075%


Audient iD22 Review with RMAA test (couldn't get google to translate the page)

https://www.exound.com/articles/681a...4-3aa9122c008c

Audient's published tests, AES-17 standard

ADC LINE INPUTS (Insert Returns):
(measured at optical output under AES-17)

MAXIMUM INPUT LEVEL: +18dBu
DIGITAL REFERENCE LEVEL: 0dBFS = +18dBu
INPUT IMPEDANCE: >10kΩ Balanced
FREQUENCY RESPONSE: +/-0.5dB 10Hz to Fs/2
CROSSTALK: -100dBu @ 1kHz & 10kHz
THD+N @ -1dBFS (1kHz): <0.002% (-94dB)
THD+N @ -6dBFS (1kHz): <0.0015% (-97dB)
DYNAMIC RANGE: 117dB un-weighted 120dB A-weighted

DAC OUTPUTS (1-4):
(measured from optical input under AES-17)

MAXIMUM OUTPUT LEVEL: +18dBu
DIGITAL REFERENCE LEVEL: 0dBFS = +18dBu
OUTPUT IMPEDANCE: <100Ω Balanced
FREQUENCY RESPONSE: +/-0.5dB 5Hz to Fs/2
CROSSTALK: -110dBu @ 1kHz & 10kHz
THD+N @ -1dBFS (1kHz): <0.0008% (-101dB)
DYNAMIC RANGE: 110dB un-weighted
114dB A-weighted
Old 9th September 2019
  #20
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chipss36 View Post
The id22 headphone is not like the claret at all??
Not even on paper....
Think you may need to look at that again...
Not sure how you could come to this conclusion..
It is simply not correct.
Here Focusrite specifies how they test their headphones output with 600Ohm loads.

https://medium.com/focusrite-spectru...s-2745936cbc0a

Clarett 2Pre USB Headphone amp specs from Focusrite

Dynamic Range >115dB A-weighted
THD+N 0.0008%
Maximum Output Level +16dBu

Audient iD22 Headphone specs from Audient

(measured from optical input under AES-17)

MAXIMUM OUTPUT LEVEL: +18dBu
DIGITAL REFERENCE LEVEL: 0dBFS = +18dBu
OUTPUT IMPEDANCE: <50Ω Balanced
FREQUENCY RESPONSE: +/-0.5dB 5Hz to Fs/2
CROSSTALK: -110dBu @ 1kHz & 10kHz
THD+N @ -1dBFS (1kHz): <0.0008% (-101dB)
DYNAMIC RANGE: 110dB un-weighted 114dB A-weighted
MAX LEVEL INTO 30ohms: +8dBu, 0.0032%
THD+N, 2.75Vpk
Power: 250mW or Pavg 125mW
MAX LEVEL INTO 60ohms: +11dBu, 0.0022%
THD+N, 4.3Vpk
Power: 300mW or Pavg 150mW
MAX LEVEL INTO 600ohms: +17.2dBu, 0.0013%
THD+N, 7.94Vpk
Power: 105mW or Pavg 52.5mW
Old 12th September 2019
  #21
Here for the gear
 

I have the MOTU Ultralite AVB and it has worked well; I'd suggest looking at the MOTU 624 as a slight step up from mine.
Old 12th September 2019
  #22
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck_S View Post
I have the MOTU Ultralite AVB and it has worked well; I'd suggest looking at the MOTU 624 as a slight step up from mine.
I dont know why they are all arguing over audient and focusrite. Any of the MOTU stuff that is loaded with the sabre ess DAC's smokes both of those.
Old 12th September 2019
  #23
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelainefes View Post
Thanks for the replies, I was looking at posts made here and other places and the iD22 seems to have a documented history of specific circuits failing over time.
I am inclined to get the Clarett 2Pre, If the RTL will be too much for tracking I will use the internal mixer.
With my MOTU 828es my RTL is 2.something ms. Im not in front of my rig at the moment. And with the cuemix i can record with zero latency and I can add eq, compression, reverb etc. to my headphones and still have 0 latency.
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