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M-Audio Fast Track Ultra..any good?
Old 3rd May 2011 | Show parent
  #61
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by elnombre View Post
Well unless I get an expresscard with a firewire interface, I can't get an apogee(or any other firewire device) and I'm not even sure if it would work through an expresscard slot - I don't know enough about them in relation to audio. This of course presents various problems in the music and video making world, although I'm not looking to be a professional.. at least not yet.
People always tout the benefits of firewire, but quite frankly I've never been convinced. They cost more, they need particular chipsets, and if you are careful with your other peripherals your USB will serve just fine.
That said, I think certain expresscards do work. Try TI.

Quote:
Originally Posted by elnombre View Post
"Aldenw", I don't plan to move it round much, so hopefully the power cable issue won't affect me. Thanks for the clear review of it. How often do you have to turn the gain to the last quarter of it?
Depends on the mic. It's something I do fight on occasion. Usually I have enough clean gain for what I'm trying to do, but I don't usually have a lot of excess. That said, I don't think it's ever prevented me from doing something I've wanted to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by elnombre View Post
Well I've been looking around at different interfaces.. can anyone tell me if the ultra 8r is more reliable? Also, I can't tell, is the body made completely of metal? And other than drum tracking, can someone give me an example of when you might use more than 4 mics? Thanks
It's prettier looking, but from what I've gathered it's the same thing with more pres.
If you don't know the answer to that question yet, you probably shouldn't spend too much on your gear before you know what you need. I do guitar/vocals and the occasional piano, and 4 pres has been perfect for me. I usually record stereo guitar with stereo room mics, then my vocals with stereo room mics. 4 can be very flexible for what I need.
That said, I'd prefer not to record drums with less than 8, though it's definitely doable. And if you've got a pianist or a guitarist in stereo who wants to do vocals at the same time, room mics are out.
I'd buy what you need to do what you need to now. If you need more pres later you just sell it and upgrade, or use aggregate devices through Protools 9, to use two interfaces at once.
Old 3rd May 2011 | Show parent
  #62
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
What about the M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R?
That is the one i'm currently using, it has 8 preamps with xlr/jack in's spdif and is usb powered.

Only issue is if you want to add more inputs, not sure if you can do so with the spdif? Also seems like so far you can only use 1 per system, which is a bummer if you are wanting to double up on ins/outs.
Old 3rd May 2011 | Show parent
  #63
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
I have a Fast Track Ultra and it works pretty well in its various tasks I put it to... I find sometimes though it gets a bit confused with the ins/outs (and consequently greatly confuses me) as well as the poor driver build. It puts OSX into an instant kernel panic (totally freezing the computer and being forced to shut down) if I disconnect and reconnect without restarting OSX, even if I turn the unit off before unplugging. Its annoying because my production suite is mostly on my laptop which I obviously like to take about everywhere. Just a nuisance to have to restart my computer before I plug it back in every time.

I remember it took M-Audio an absolute AGE to get Windows 7 drivers out too, once Windows 7 was released.
Old 3rd May 2011 | Show parent
  #64
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBigLongy View Post
What about the M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R?
That is the one i'm currently using, it has 8 preamps with xlr/jack in's spdif and is usb powered.

Only issue is if you want to add more inputs, not sure if you can do so with the spdif? Also seems like so far you can only use 1 per system, which is a bummer if you are wanting to double up on ins/outs.
I was thinking of that one - I guess if I need more inputs, I can just get a decent mixer and record the busses.. just wondering, did it come with Ableton Live or is that just the FTU?

Also, AldenW, thank you. I think I will stay with USB, as it seems to be almost as fast as firewire (if not faster).. and I'd rather not risk the firewire not working! If I increase the gain of a channel in a DAW, will it necessarily start to distort the recording?

Does anyone know how good the resale value of these things are? And does anyone have any more news on the drivers?
Old 5th May 2011 | Show parent
  #65
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldboy View Post
I have a Fast Track Ultra and it works pretty well in its various tasks I put it to... I find sometimes though it gets a bit confused with the ins/outs (and consequently greatly confuses me) as well as the poor driver build. It puts OSX into an instant kernel panic (totally freezing the computer and being forced to shut down)
I'm on W7, which is probably why I've never seen these driver issues then.

Quote:
Originally Posted by elnombre View Post
Also, AldenW, thank you. If I increase the gain of a channel in a DAW, will it necessarily start to distort the recording?

Does anyone know how good the resale value of these things are? And does anyone have any more news on the drivers?
Welcome!
Welll... No? I mean, unless you start clipping, but that's totally unrelated to your interface. It's the preamp gain knobs that will get you the noise, and it's not distortion but noise floor/hum.
I think what your trying to sort out is whether you can just bump up the gain on your DAW to compensate. Unfortunately, that will amplify all aspects of the signal, thus raising pre's noise floor. If you need more gain than the pre can cleanly provide there's not really a way around that.

Look at completed listings on ebay. I think they go for ~$180-200.
Old 5th May 2011 | Show parent
  #66
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
I had thought that that would be the case (I misused the word "distort" there, I did actually mean the hum or ground noise). Am I right in saying that condenser mics will have less of a problem with the slightly low level pres?

I hadn't thought of that..

I also noticed a slight difference in specs between the ultra and the 8r.. can anyone tell me if these will make a noticable difference to the sound?
Old 6th May 2011 | Show parent
  #67
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by elnombre View Post
I had thought that that would be the case (I misused the word "distort" there, I did actually mean the hum or ground noise). Am I right in saying that condenser mics will have less of a problem with the slightly low level pres?

I hadn't thought of that..

I also noticed a slight difference in specs between the ultra and the 8r.. can anyone tell me if these will make a noticable difference to the sound?
It depends on the mic, but condensers generally have higher output than dynamics. Ribbons tend to have very low output.
That said, I work mainly with condensers, and their output is what I was referencing.

Haha, no worries.

From what I've gathered, there is really no difference in quality. The official specs actually list the 8r pres as having a bit less gain, but there are some inconsistencies between the two pages that makes me wary of overthinking it.
Perhaps our M-audio guru can chime in.
Old 6th May 2011 | Show parent
  #68
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Ok then, I'll wait and see if he responds!
Old 6th May 2011 | Show parent
  #69
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
I've not tried or tested the differences between the ultra and 8r so can only say that i've not had any issues getting a decent level and the led's on the ultra8r are pretty reliable.

I'm not going to say it has been plain sailing as I migrated to the 8r from one pc to another which meant also from xp to w764. Had to do the usual stuff to get the usb set up to make sure it didn't power down when idle or in use but since updating the drivers and now getting chance to get back into it. I'm happy, hasn't failed me so far.

Like i said previously, you often only hear the bad things about interfaces on the forums, little of the good as those who often using them are to busy writing and recording to be posting. But not all systems are made equal and different interfaces will work better with certain systems and chipsets.

Will I upgrade in the future?, depends on how long this lasts and if my requirements change. If they don't and all is well, i doubt I will have the need for a long time.

Resale value...if you're lucky i've seen them sell second hand in great condition for near or over the retail value. If you're unlucky...well, who knows lol.

Hopefully in the coming months I will be renting a cottage and barn with the members of the band to spend a week recording, i'll be using it a lot more for that week than normal so i'll consider it a good stress test. I shall let you know what happens.
Old 7th May 2011 | Show parent
  #70
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Well right now I'm pretty certain on the 8r - it looks like its only problems are slightly quieter pres, and slightly weak headphone outs (all the driver issues seem to be with macs.. which is not a problem for me).

Just one more question was this - I have a Sony Vaio E series for taking around to places, and was just wondering a couple of things.

Firstly, it has an expresscard slot.. would a TI firewire card work? If so, are there any much better firewire interfaces for around Β£350? (i.e. better latency and better preamp sound)

Secondly, is an i3 processor capable of recording 8 channels in Reaper simultaneously?
Old 8th May 2011 | Show parent
  #71
Gear Head
 
samorost's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I purchased a FTU in august 2008 and it was shipped all the way to Costa Rica from Amazon but came DOA. I contacted M-Audio support and they agreed to replace it, but I had to pay for shipping again (and tax again, sadly).

It took a while to get here, but the second unit worked fine for a couple of years. Then around march 2010, it just stopped working entirely. Everytime I switched it on it would just freeze my computer entirely. Same thing happened on a second computer, and on a third one it seemed to work but the audio stream would "freeze" (it just kept repeating a small buffer over and over until disconnected). I tried everything I know troubleshooting-wise but nothing worked. I eventually gave up and threw it away.

Focusrite is the way to go, IMO.
Old 8th May 2011 | Show parent
  #72
Gear Nut
 
NYM1985's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I will have to agree Focusrite is a much better path I've had a first gen and second gen Saffire interface. I like their stuff so much I'm planning to get an ISA One Digital and an Octopre MKII to use with my Saffire Pro 24.

Preamps, converters, etc are all very good and better than the M Audio Profire/FTU stuff.

I have an Acer laptop right now running Vista 64 and I use a Siig Expresscard it has two FW 400 ports and uses a TI chipset. It'd be what I'd suggest for a firewire card. Don't get a USB/FW combo card make sure it's just FW.

Not sure if you are still lookin or not but just wanted to share my experience.

I'm not a big fan of M Audio stuff I have a pair of in ears but they were really made by Ultimate Ears, M Audio just distributed em in the USA and put their name on em.
Old 8th May 2011 | Show parent
  #73
Gear Head
 
samorost's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
To make sure you use the correct FW card for a Focusrite interface, follow this article:

http://www.focusrite.com/answerbase/...patibility.pdf

(Sorry for the OT)
Old 8th May 2011 | Show parent
  #74
Gear Nut
 
NYM1985's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I'd just like to add that not only is the Saffire Pro 24 cheaper than the FTU but it also has SPDIF and ADAT so if you decide to use more than the two built in pres and analog line ins you can add a stereo pre via SPDIF (I'm planning to get an ISA One Digital for the SPDIF and an Octopre MKII for the ADAT on mine).

I've used the FTU and it doesn't compare to the Focusrite stuff. I'd say either Focusrite, EMU, or Mackie Onyx Blackbird.

If you don't mind spending more Steinberg MR816, RME, or Yamaha N12.
Old 8th May 2011 | Show parent
  #75
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by NYM1985 View Post
I'd just like to add that not only is the Saffire Pro 24 cheaper than the FTU but it also has SPDIF and ADAT so if you decide to use more than the two built in pres and analog line ins you can add a stereo pre via SPDIF (I'm planning to get an ISA One Digital for the SPDIF and an Octopre MKII for the ADAT on mine).

I've used the FTU and it doesn't compare to the Focusrite stuff. I'd say either Focusrite, EMU, or Mackie Onyx Blackbird.

If you don't mind spending more Steinberg MR816, RME, or Yamaha N12.
Why do you say it doesn't compare? And I guess I'm a bit nervous of the firewire not working.. it doesn't seem to have that many benefits, and the ultra 8r has very good latency anyway apparently. Also, I would like the ADAT to extend the system, but the truth is, I don't have enough money to buy more preamps, and I would like to have 8 pres straight away.

Has anyone got a better suggestion than the ultra 8r for either: a usb interface with 8 preamps for less than Β£400
or: a usb interface and an 8 input pre for less than Β£400?

When I say better, I mean faster (or just as fast) in terms of latency, and a better sound from the pres.
Old 8th May 2011 | Show parent
  #76
Gear Nut
 
NYM1985's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by elnombre View Post
Why do you say it doesn't compare? And I guess I'm a bit nervous of the firewire not working.. it doesn't seem to have that many benefits, and the ultra 8r has very good latency anyway apparently. Also, I would like the ADAT to extend the system, but the truth is, I don't have enough money to buy more preamps, and I would like to have 8 pres straight away.

Has anyone got a better suggestion than the ultra 8r for either: a usb interface with 8 preamps for less than Β£400
or: a usb interface and an 8 input pre for less than Β£400?

When I say better, I mean faster (or just as fast) in terms of latency, and a better sound from the pres.
what are you afraid of with firewire I've used firewire for the last 6 years and 3 of which have been on a SIIG FW 400 Expresscard. It works a lot better than USB and here is why.

Most people use a lot of usb devices: keyboards, mice, printers, flash drives, external hard drives, etc. So your USB bus gets tied up with all that stuff.

If you run your audio interface through the expresscard slot it will be the only thing on that bus. An expresscard slot is essentially a PCI/PCIe slot it has all the bandwidth and stuff you need. It's designed to expand the functionality of your laptop. You will get a lot better performance out of FW than USB. In theory USB 2.0 can match FW performance but that's assuming there are literally no other USB devices running while you record. So unless you like clicks, pops, audio dropouts, etc than have fun. I honestly own a USB 2.0 interface it's an EMU 0404 it's the best usb 2.0 interface available except for perhaps the RME. Honestly it can be a struggle sometimes recording 2 tracks simultaneously if my CPU resources are hogtied by a mouse and my external hard drive which are also USB. That's absolutely no fault of the interface just the nature of the beast. Now going to an interface with 4 or 8 inputs tracking at once you are just asking for a nightmare. Compared to both Focusrite Saffires I've owned (that run FW) I've had less of those headaches with the Saffires and they both do a lot more than the EMU as far as simultaneous tracking and such.

And I mean it doesn't compare as in it's cheaply built (plastic), has unreliable drivers (that rarely get updated), and sounds like crap. The Saffire series on the other hand is built like a tank it's all metal, has durable knobs, just a much better build quality, and Focusrite actually seems to give a damn about their customers (they've been prompt and helpful everytime I've needed assistance). Not to mention imho the new Saffires are some of the best sounding interfaces I've heard in any price range. And you get a very useable set of plugins for free which is always a plus but hey it's your money. Did I mention Saffire now supports PT9?
Old 8th May 2011 | Show parent
  #77
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takman's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
i've had my fast track ultra recording 5-6 tracks simultaneously. keyboard, vocals, guitar, bass..electronic drums......and didnt have any issues.

and that was with lots of other peripherals going.....USB mouse, keyboard, MIDI keyboard, webcam, alesis trigger etc
Old 8th May 2011 | Show parent
  #78
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
M-Audio Fast track Ultra 8r, isn't plastic it's metal and rack-mountable.

In full swing i've had V-Drums triggering BFD2, Controller playing reason and another with various soft synths whilst recording 8 ins in Sonar at 24/48 No perceivable latency and no glitches in recording sessions lasting around 6hrs. This includes plugins running on existing tracks.

I'm not going to get into the argument between what's best usb/firewire. All I know is this setup currently works for me and for many others I know. There are limitations in the quiet preamps and lack of upgrade path with regards to adding more inputs. But for the money I'm happy
Old 9th May 2011 | Show parent
  #79
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NYM1985's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBigLongy View Post
M-Audio Fast track Ultra 8r, isn't plastic it's metal and rack-mountable.

In full swing i've had V-Drums triggering BFD2, Controller playing reason and another with various soft synths whilst recording 8 ins in Sonar at 24/48 No perceivable latency and no glitches in recording sessions lasting around 6hrs. This includes plugins running on existing tracks.

I'm not going to get into the argument between what's best usb/firewire. All I know is this setup currently works for me and for many others I know. There are limitations in the quiet preamps and lack of upgrade path with regards to adding more inputs. But for the money I'm happy
regular FTU is plastic the 8r isn't sorry, I thought we were talking about the regular one. Either way sound still isn't as good as other units in the same pricerange, of course those options are Firewire and not usb.

Like I said I'd rather spend the same amount or a little more on a better interface like the Pro 40 Saffire and be able to expand down the road with SPDIF/ADAT. The difference in conversion and preamps is noticeable between the saffire and fast track ultra (keep in mind I've used both) sound quality being better on the focusrite. But perhaps that's just because I grew up listening to a lot of british music and in contemporary stuff recorded in the UK Focusrite gets used a lot.

I guess performance will vary depending on the computer, applications/etc used, and operating system unfortunately I use Vista 64 bit so my CPU is always pretty busy and under a big workload.
Old 9th May 2011 | Show parent
  #80
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
If I were you I would think about saving a few more quid up and getting (as NYM1985 already said) a Steinberg MR816, a Focusrite Saffire Pro 56, or a Moto 2626. Personally I'd get the MR816 for the best sound quality but to each their own.

Look at it this way...

If you get a FTU with not great pres / converters in it, soon you might start questioning it and not trusting your gear. I learned the hard way that once you stop trusting your gear, your mixes tend to suffer...a lot! Then you probably will be looking to upgrade or get yourself a decent preamp for about €500 or so.

If I were you, I'd get a 816 (or LS56 if you prefer/need more I/O options), then be able to trust that your gear is grand and you can't be blaming your gear for a bad mix!
(Plus, it may make you hold off on needing an external pre until your mix skills / production requirements are at a level where you actually need one)

just my €0.02....
Old 20th August 2011 | Show parent
  #81
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
hello, I have the M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R and I was wondering if I may ask a question, I've seen many times in M-Audio fourms were the gain is very low when recording, I would like to try a pre amp but I'am not sure how to plug it in and were. I would like to know how I can get a higher Level when recording, thanks much for your time. I do own a MACKIE SR32-4 mixer but I'am not sure how to connect it, I have 2 TRS snakes 10 each. thanks again
Old 1st May 2013
  #82
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Wanted to share my experience with the Fast Track Ultra...

I originally purchased the interface in 2011 because the small footprint and many inputs / outputs were appealing to me for home studio use. In M-Audio's marketing material they specifically mention "works great with Macbook Pro!" I have had nothing but problems, both compatibility and hardware related.

When I began using the product, it would randomly crash my Macbook and I would be forced to do a hard restart (losing any unsaved data). This happened all the time to the point where I just stopped using it. They eventually came out with an updated driver which fixed this problem and I began using the device again. Unfortunately, if my laptop (MBP, Snow Leopard) went into sleep mode, if I turned off / on the device or if I unplugged / re-plugged the interface via USB I would have to restart my Macbook for it to recognize the device again. This was never fixed up to the very last driver deployment (2.2.2).

Because of these inconveniences, I use the interface occasionally at home. It has never been dropped, has never gotten wet - literally, it has never left my desk.

Recently (about 2 years after purchasing the device), I was using the interface to jam guitar along to songs on Spotify. I hit pause and lowered the Main Output knob all the way to take a break. When I returned and hit play again, the interface volume was on full blast with no control from the Main Output knob, nearly blowing my monitors and causing a huge disturbance to my neighbors.

I tried everything to get it working again. Installing, reinstalling drivers, different hardware and software configurations, tried it on another computer.. no luck. I looked to M-Audio for support, but they are no longer responsible for the product - all M-Audio USB interfaces are now under Avid's wing.

So, I looked to Avid for support. They require you to purchase support codes for tech support, which I refused to do. I called customer support and found that you receive one free tech support code when you register your product. With new hope, I tried registering my FTU on Avid's website, but it would not work. The registration form did not recognize the FTU as a product.

Now feeling pretty hopeless, I spent about 2 weeks on the Avid Customer Support Forum asking other users for help - with no luck. I called Tech Support to see if they could help me, but could not get through without purchasing a Support Code.

Another few weeks went by and I called customer service again, this time aggravated. Finally, the representative told me that actually, the registration link for Fast Track Ultra was not on the Avid website. He then proceeded to read me a URL like this over the phone to plug into my web browser: http://www.productregistration.com/a...a/register-now (why is this not on the website? why couldn't he email me the link?). I was finally able to register my product and received a confirmation email that included my "1 Time Support Code" that is only good for 60 days (good thing I didn't register when I first purchased the product, huh?).

I use my Support Code to submit a Support Ticket. The first thing I get back is a request for proof of purchase. is to provide proof of purchase. Why not include this in the product registration process? It's a little insulting to ask for it after the fact.. Like you have to "double check" on me personally. I provide a copy of my receipt.

Next, I get an email from tech support asking me to provide a 4 hour window of availability that they will "try to contact me" during. Tech Support hours are 9am - 5pm, Monday - Friday. So, I have to take half a day off of work just to *hope* that I'll get a call from Avid Tech Support? You're joking right? So, I take a half day and schedule it.

During our troubleshooting meeting I'm asked to try a different USB cable. I had tried everything else the technician suggested. It was concluded by my technician that my Fast Track Ultra was a faulty piece of hardware. After all of the trouble I went through for this 5 minutes of actually talking to someone that knows about the device, I'm expecting maybe a replacement, free repair or even a discount on another device.. Something, anything! My Tech Support Technician routes me to the Repairs department for a $100 repair quote.

I realize that the Fast Track Ultra was a dud for Avid. It's obviously a poor quality product that fails pretty soon after the 1 year warranty. You find reports of this all over the Avid support forum from people who refuse to pay for tech support and are searching to find a solution. I don't blame them. After all, my product failed for absolutely no reason after 2 years of sitting on my desk with light use. Yet, after only 2 years, this $300+ piece of equipment has ceased to perform.

Any respectable company would take the responsibility for the fact that their product is of poor quality. Avid has not done this. Instead, they make it as hard as possible to contact their tech support team because they know that the end results will just aggravate the customer even more.

I will not get my product repaired. I refuse to give any more money to a company like this. I will never purchase another Avid product again. If Avid wishes to retain customer satisfaction, they need to seriously think about the way they do business. After all, we are the ones who keep them in business.
Old 27th February 2015
  #83
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
old thread but does anyone know if you can run direct ins into the xlr/jack inputs on the back ? its a drum machine with 8 outs that I'm trying to record through it
Old 15th February 2016 | Show parent
  #84
Here for the gear
 
I noticed nobody has posted on the thread in forever but...just in case:
Dug out the old Fast Tracks Ultra to help my daughter do a demo recording on her Mac. Also decided to download the last Windows driver and see if Windows 10 worked. On both the streaming was an issue but eventually backtracked and loaded a older driver because her Mac is running 10.6....old interface but it works. Only one problem left....I don't seem to get anything out of the effects that are onboard the DAW....am I nuts? Would you have an idea of what I could be missing here?

Thanks
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