The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Audio Interfaces with Dedicated 1/4" (6.3mm) Balanced Line Level TRS Inputs
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Gear Head
 

Audio Interfaces with Dedicated 1/4" (6.3mm) Balanced Line Level TRS Inputs

Recently I was looking for which audio interfaces supporting USB include dedicated balanced line level TRS inputs - in order to bypass the unit's preamps. I noticed that virtually every online store I went to didn't have dedicated TRS inputs as a filtering criteria. So I decided to put together a list myself so that no one else would have to spend hours looking for these answers like I did. Feel free to add others I missed!

Sub $500 Audio Interfaces
(Note: in order to qualify, units must have launched with an MSRP under $500 USD - it’s not enough for them to just be available for less used).

2x Dedicated 1/4" (6.3mm) Balanced TRS Inputs
ART USBMIX6
ESI U24 XL
Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen)
M-Audio AIR 192 - 14
MOTU Audio Express (AE8456)
MOTU M4
MOTU MicroBook IIc
Native Instruments KOMPLETE AUDIO 6 Mk II
Steinberg UR242
Steinberg UR44
Steinberg UR-RT2
Steinberg UR28M
Tascam US-20X20

Discontinued:
Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (1st and 2nd Gen)
Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 (1st and 2nd Gen)
Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 (1st Gen)

4x Dedicated 1/4" (6.3mm) Balanced TRS Inputs
Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 (3rd Gen)
Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (3rd Gen)
PreSonus Studio 1810c

Discontinued:
Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (1st and 2nd Gen)
Tascam US-1641
Tascam US-1800

6x Dedicated 1/4" (6.3mm) Balanced TRS Inputs
Tascam 16x08

Discontinued:
Focusrite Scarlett 18i6 (1st Gen)
Tascam US-2000

8x Dedicated 1/4" (6.3mm) Balanced TRS Inputs
ESI U86XT

16x Dedicated 1/4" (6.3mm) Balanced TRS Inputss
ESI ESI-U168XT


[B]Interfaces that offer them Only as inserts[B]

Audient ID22 (2x)
Behringer UMC204HD (2x)
Behringer UMC404HD (4x)

Last edited by Per Lichtman; 4 weeks ago at 02:35 AM.. Reason: Adding more interfaces.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Here for the gear
This is a genuinely needed post. I was searching this very thing a couple weeks ago, ended up with a Scarlett 4i4. Primarily because I've had the 2i2s with no complaint.

Unfortunately I ran my external pre directly into the interface pres. I imagine it's better not to but in my ignorance I got a decent sound with a GAP PREQ73 Premier. It definitely didn't destroy my signal at any rate.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BeholdaWolf View Post
This is a genuinely needed post. I was searching this very thing a couple weeks ago, ended up with a Scarlett 4i4. Primarily because I've had the 2i2s with no complaint.

Unfortunately I ran my external pre directly into the interface pres. I imagine it's better not to but in my ignorance I got a decent sound with a GAP PREQ73 Premier. It definitely didn't destroy my signal at any rate.
Cool. I’d be curious, if you had the time, about a comparison between the results you get the way you’ve been doing it so far vs. the dedicated 3-4 TRS inputs on the back.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

Audient ID22 has two (the returns).
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Gear Addict
 

Behringer UMC204hd and UMC404hd don't officially have dedicated line inputs but they do have inserts that can be used as direct inputs.

The 404 has inserts on all four channels.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JLast View Post
Behringer UMC204hd and UMC404hd don't officially have dedicated line inputs but they do have inserts that can be used as direct inputs.

The 404 has inserts on all four channels.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanM View Post
Audient ID22 has two (the returns).
I’ll make a section for ones that offer them as returns.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Per Lichtman View Post
Cool. I’d be curious, if you had the time, about a comparison between the results you get the way you’ve been doing it so far vs. the dedicated 3-4 TRS inputs on the back.
Well sadly I no longer own any outboard pres (liquidated my gear to fund a divorce). It was only a determinant when buying an interface because I knew I'd eventually get another one. I'll be sure to post here once I do, though.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Per Lichtman View Post
I’ll make a section for ones that offer them as returns.

Why does it matter they're labelled returns? The returns are 1/4 inputs that bypass the preamps, going line level straight to the converters. That's exactly what you asked for.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Per Lichtman View Post
I’ll make a section for ones that offer them as returns.
The Audient is pretty straight forward as it has seperate send and return jacks.

The Behringer and others have TRS send and return on the same 1/4" so you need to do one of three things:

1. Use a standard insert cable and connect the 1/4" TS return end to your micpre's output and then the TRS goes fully into the interface's insert while the other 1/4" TS end (the send) goes unused.

2. Use 1/4 " TS or TRS cable from the micpre out to the interface insert and half jack it so the tip hits the input part of the insert jack to mate up properly. Seems a little wonky but most click in fairly securely. If you are old school and have used inserts regularly as either just inputs or as direct outs then half jacking may not seem quite as scary to you.

3.Make your own special cables so that you can plug full into the insert and have the correct parts of the 1/4" plug mate up with the right parts of the jack to hit the internal return parts of the jack properly.

May seem like a bunch to consider but sometimes that's what it takes to get stuff to work the way you want.

I'm thinking about coming into the inserts on my mixer lately because it is kind of a similar situation. There is a bit more clarity skipping the line input which shares circuitry with the mixpres but I loose the use of my trim knobs which means it's a bit trickier to work with.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanM View Post

Why does it matter they're labelled returns? The returns are 1/4 inputs that bypass the preamps, going line level straight to the converters. That's exactly what you asked for.
Happy to explain. They can still be used for the purpose in question (so they get listed) but get their own section for clarity’s sake and so that labeling is consistent. I don’t want people coming into the thread and being confused, so if the only way for them to get that bypass is to use ports labeled for other purposes, I want them to know that’s the place for them to look.

Additionally, every interface I listed only had the I/O from inputs labeled as inputs: I did not label the inserts because a lot of people might use for other outboard gear as well. I’m sending friends to this page that are dealing with digital audio questions they didn’t have to before quarantine and I don’t want to have to do additional tech. support for them. If they don’t know what an insert is, they’ll likely pick one of the others.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
Gear Addict
 

As I pointed out using standard unbalanced TRS inserts as a line input to get a more direct path to the digital converters can get a little complicated for some people so I can see making a seperation between interfaces with line inputs that are marked as such and using an insert to achieve a similar result.

The Audient is unusual in that it's inserts are seperate jacks for in and out (like a truly high end console) which maybe makes it a bit less confusing than units with the single jack for both send and return but it's maybe still odd enough to some people to mention it seperately.

Another thought all together is units that have seperate line inputs but still pass through the micpre circuitry. Just because you have a seperate 1/4" input rather than an XLR 1/4" combi jack doesn't always mean you are clear of the micpreamp circuit. Not an interface exactly but the Behringer ADA8200 has seperate XLR and 1/4" inputs but the line input shares the trim knob and amplifier like many mixers do. Just saying that simply because you don't have a combi jack doesn't mean you are automatically safe.
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump