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Echo Audiofire 4 vs. Presonus Firestudio Mobile? Audio Interfaces
Old 27th November 2009
  #1
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Echo Audiofire 4 vs. Presonus Firestudio Mobile?

I haven't been able to find much comparisons on the Firestudio Mobile because it just recently came out, but does anyone have any experience with it as well as an Echo Audiofire 4? The Firestudio Mobile appears to be a huge improvement over the Firebox so I'm curious to see how it would compare to an Echo AF4.

Thanks, Andrew.
Old 27th November 2009
  #2
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phase90's Avatar
 

Audiofire 2 user here...

Sound quality is very good.

Are you on a Mac? Rock solid on Mac Pro. FW driver is Apple's so it plays nicely.

Excellent company, gave me helpful pre-sales tech info.
Old 28th November 2009
  #3
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Yes, I am using an iMac. I'm reading about problems with latency on the Audiofire 4. I'm going to be using a fair amount of VST software so I want the least amount of latency possible.
Old 28th November 2009
  #4
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well depending on the amount of plugs/software you have running latency will be an issue no matter what platform or interface you use. It's just the nature of the beast. Something I've done is track dry and then mix/master with whatever you need in the tracks. Latency isn't much of an issue when you are just playing back stuff.

It'd be hard to vote for a brand new interface though anyway. It may be nice but it has no track record. The few people with say a Firestudio Mobile probably have no clue how support will be long term, the reliability of the unit long term (say how well it will perform a year from purchase), etc. Of course I'm not saying Presonus is a bad company to deal with, they've always been extremely helpful and nice to deal with in my experiences and I highly doubt much will change. But you get the point I'm making.

If you want something tried and true you are gonna have to pick from something that's been on the market for a little while. If you want something that's potentially better but has no track record take the risk on the Presonus.

Most Echo users I know are very happy with their products. I have tried the Indigo I/O and was very very impressed at that time though Echo didn't really offer anything like firewire/usb that I could really compare to other products on the market. I've heard/read mixed reviews on Presonus products I was a little disappointed with my Presonus purchases but those are dated pieces of gear now, but that was only about 3 years ago when I got my Firebox and used Firepods in friends studios/setups. Supposedly a lot has changed with converters and preamps in the newer Firestudios. I can't comment because I haven't really used them. Something you may want to ask yourself before making this purchase is what type of useful life do you expect this product to have. Interfaces come and go seems like every 12-24 months the products are being discontinued and replaced with something nicer quality. Just something to keep in mind.

Presonus definitely had build quality down to a pat then, but audio quality overall was a bit lacking, but it wasn't really worse than most other products in it's class, definitely outperformed all the typical M Audio stuff.

The real low end standouts for me where always the EMU offerings. They always had the best converters in their class, pretty good preamps (relatively speaking of course on models that had preamps built in), etc. Unfortunately unless you are on a PC the 1616M isn't really an option (to my knowledge), perhaps that's changed.

Ultimately there are a lot of great options now that weren't available even 2-4 years ago in computer recording. For the most part every option available is good for the money. A lot of this is going to come down to subjective preference, brand loyalty, interfacing with your particular computer/OS/DAW, etc. I would get whatever has the best conversion and the cleanest sound first, second I would make sure the item had a good warranty (my Focusrite was only covered one year and shortly after that year ended I had a major issue with mine so if I want to use that interface again I'm gonna have to pay to get it fixed/shipped around out of pocket). Just some food for thought, perhaps buying one of those dreaded product replacement / extended warranty plans wouldn't be a bad idea (of course with my luck I wouldn't have had an issue had I forked over the extra cash for one).
Old 29th November 2009
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaru View Post
I'm reading about problems with latency on the Audiofire 4. I'm going to be using a fair amount of VST software so I want the least amount of latency possible.
A few months ago i was in your shoes, i saw mention of latency with audiofire4. So i wrote to the audiofire guy and his assurances were enough to make me go out and buy the a4. Its a great product, i use lots of vi's and fx, no problem whatsoever. Lots of other users say the same. The latecny is absolutely tiny, as with any other decent interface.

I wouldn't be surprised if those complaints were by people who had wrongly configured their set-ups or just complete BS. It's a great interface for the price, believe me i've had a few.
Old 29th November 2009
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by yolkboy View Post
A few months ago i was in your shoes, i saw mention of latency with audiofire4. So i wrote to the audiofire guy and his assurances were enough to make me go out and buy the a4. Its a great product, i use lots of vi's and fx, no problem whatsoever. Lots of other users say the same. The latecny is absolutely tiny, as with any other decent interface.

I wouldn't be surprised if those complaints were by people who had wrongly configured their set-ups or just complete BS. It's a great interface for the price, believe me i've had a few.
i'm also curious to know what the latency is on the audiofire 4. it would be great if you could run the centrance latency utility and let us know what your results are. knowing the actual roundtrip latency and and whether or not it is stable would be nice.

CEntrance -> Latency Test Utility

the results for an audiofire 12 are listed here, which aren't so stellar. i imagine that the audiofire is on par with other low buck interfaces when it comes to true roundtrip latency.

Soundcards and Latency - Cockos Confederated Forums

it would also be great if owners of other audio interfaces could contribute to the above thread at the reaper forum.
Old 29th November 2009
  #7
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58lespaul's Avatar
 

Personally I would take a chance on the newer technology. You can always return it. The FSM supposedly uses the same converters as the studiolive which has received strong reviews for it's converters. That's just my opinion though as I don't have experience with either. I am a musician, not an engineer, I can mess around with different products and it doesn't cost me business. I personally would be very surprised if the echo sounded better because it's so old. Take a chance on the new tech, you can always return it if it doesn't play nice... That is unless you depend on this for income in which case you should definitely go for tried and true.
Old 29th November 2009
  #8
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KeithMoonwannabe's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 58lespaul View Post
Personally I would take a chance on the newer technology. You can always return it. The FSM supposedly uses the same converters as the studiolive which has received strong reviews for it's converters. That's just my opinion though as I don't have experience with either. I am a musician, not an engineer, I can mess around with different products and it doesn't cost me business. I personally would be very surprised if the echo sounded better because it's so old. Take a chance on the new tech, you can always return it if it doesn't play nice... That is unless you depend on this for income in which case you should definitely go for tried and true.
that's not necessarily true you can't always return an interface, in the rare events you are able to you only have anywhere from 14-30 days to do so. Which imho is hardly enough time to judge how well you will like something or give you an idea of how reliable it will be unless it's an all out flop. I've had an interface fail right after the warranty expired. Well guess what I can't return a used 13 month old interface anywhere. I'm just stuck with it, I can't sell it to someone AS IS and make any decent money (if any at all), etc. To me it has nothing to do with making a living off your gear. I want something that will last me a couple years 2-3 if not longer. I don't have the luxury of having the funds readily available to just "experiment" with different gear, that's great if you do but I'd rather buy something that I "know" will last than take a gamble. I may be an exception here but for the most part I live paycheck to paycheck if something like an audio interface fails I can't record period until I somehow come up with the funds to replace it which is why I expect something I've spent $500 or however much (that was the case with my Saffire) to last a lot longer than a year. Heck mics last a lot longer, mixers last a lot longer, etc. Yes I expect technology to advance around me and all that but I don't expect well taken care of gear to just fail.

To me personally all the Presonus gear I've used/heard has this weird hypey unnatural sound, I don't find it pleasing, but to each their own and like I said perhaps this has changed in the last year or two.

I'm a musician too, I don't engineer for a living. But I'm also a hard working poor ass college student. I want some security when I invest in gear. Out of these two units I only know for sure that the Echo has a chance of surviving both in terms of tone and software/hardware compatibility/reliability.

You have to remember new technology does not automatically equate to having good tone.
Old 29th November 2009
  #9
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As expected it doesn't seem like many people have tried the FS mobile and the Echo AF4, but I've heard many great things about the FS mobile (well and the AF4). It's obviously a huge upgrade to the previous Firebox, but the Echo AF4 was already ahead the Firebox in terms of SQ so it's hard to know how they would compare. I'm gonna wait a couple more weeks before deciding which one to buy to see if any new reviews come in since it's still relatively new.

Thanks for the help guys.
Old 30th November 2009
  #10
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KeithMoonwannabe's Avatar
 

I'm not sure if I'd even limit your options to those two.

Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 and 24 DSP look great and have similar features
EMU 0404 USB is great (might lack some of the features but makes up for it with sound quality)
M Audio Profire 610 (impressive features NOT THE GREATEST but acceptable and would offer PT compatibility)

as you can see there are other fish in the sea that are all worth at least a mention/looking into
Old 6th December 2009
  #11
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Okay so I got tired of waiting and just ordered the FS Mobile. The newness of it is exciting to me and I heard from numerous reports that it is one of the best sounding units Presonus has ever made. Can't pass up on that!
Old 18th December 2009
  #12
Gear Addict
Talking

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaru View Post
Okay so I got tired of waiting and just ordered the FS Mobile. The newness of it is exciting to me and I heard from numerous reports that it is one of the best sounding units Presonus has ever made. Can't pass up on that!
Well-how you liking the FS Mobile and how does it compare to other recording interfaces youve used?

I purchased it because of its 6 line level inputs plus 2 mic pres/instruments inputs, excellent build quality, excellent specs and the included DAW/software package. What more can you ask for for 300 bucks-I'm glad I waited.

After having used an E-MU 1212M and a Digi 001 on a computer from the early part of the decade it was time for an upgrade. The E-MU had pretty good AD but DA sounded a bit hard/brittle to my ears if you turned it up....on the virtual volume control-which always bothered me/my workflow. It is flexible but I prefer straightforward and stable and this is where it falls short. Latency often seemed to be an issue when using midi into the Emulator X software which many have complained about. If I could go back in time I would have grabbed an Echo PCI, an 0404USB or an 1820M and the soundpacks from DSP Factory for use in another sampler. Craig Anderton seems to have great luck with it. But this is almost 2010....

The 001 was, on the other hand, quite reliable but sound quality was average-especially relative to competing products. And Avid/Digidesign/Pro Tools have the worst tech support/customer service. Period. No more money will ever be spent on this company's products. Reaper is great for many people with project studios and has replaced any need for Pro Tools and their shady hardware dongle. Had an MBOX that went south after less than a half-dozen uses/6 months.

My Dad gave me his Line 6 Toneport after upgrading to a new IMAC (Snow Leopard), with which it would crash immediately. So I compared all three units and to be critically honest-I could not choose a favorite for AD. The Line 6 came out on tops with DA though-so I use it alongside the Presonus. I compared it with 3 of my favorite artists tracks/WAV files and all three of us chose the Line 6!

In the end though, I kept it for its combination of features and quality. I didn't want to continue using Pro Tools nor dealing with their crappy reputation with customers. The Lexicon Ionix series was tempting with its USB, reverb and high quality domestic build but drivers were in question and firewire is typically more stable than USB. I didnt care for the build quality of the Focusrite and I don't really need the DSP-I need inputs and good quality software and Focusrite cant compete on that front unless ADAT is a priority.

Haven't personally tested the mic pres but if their good enough for someone who streams/broadcasts to the local jazz radio station for the annual jazz music festival....then they are good enough for me.

I had a few minor issues the first week but tech support handled them promptly and courteously. I'd imagine they'll continue to support the product for at least a couple more years meaning that I should get alot of use out of it if all goes well. No real complaints here-in fact Im quite happy overall. Only way to get better sound would require that you at least double the amount your willing to spend.
Old 25th December 2009
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bruceferraudi View Post
Well-how you liking the FS Mobile and how does it compare to other recording interfaces youve used?
Unfortunately I haven't got it up and running yet. Snow Leopard has caused nothing but problems for me lately. I'm going to try a reinstallation of SL and then see if it works.

Edit: FINALLY got it working. Turns out I did not have all of the files deleted from the previous mixer install before reinstalling with the Beta driver. Just a warning for Snow Leopard users buying the FS Mobile, DO NOT install the drivers on the disc that comes with the interface. You will have a hard time locating all of the files from the download when you uninstall it. Instead, go to the Presonus website and download the new Beta driver for SL. Then check for new firmware once installed. Works fine now, but I will have to have a little more time with it before deciding how it sounds.
Old 26th December 2009
  #14
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaru View Post
Unfortunately I haven't got it up and running yet. Snow Leopard has caused nothing but problems for me lately. I'm going to try a reinstallation of SL and then see if it works.

Edit: FINALLY got it working. Turns out I did not have all of the files deleted from the previous mixer install before reinstalling with the Beta driver. Just a warning for Snow Leopard users buying the FS Mobile, DO NOT install the drivers on the disc that comes with the interface. You will have a hard time locating all of the files from the download when you uninstall it. Instead, go to the Presonus website and download the new Beta driver for SL. Then check for new firmware once installed. Works fine now, but I will have to have a little more time with it before deciding how it sounds.
I was curious about Snow Leopard as well bc our other computer is a new IMAC....Snow Leopard certainly didnt approve of the Line 6's regular Mac drivers and we didnt bother to try any beta drivers-I dont think Line 6 even really has working drivers for Snow Leopard...looks like Mac's compatability with the latest fiewire interfaces is going south quite a bit-at least for the time being-especially with firewire on the outs and only one port on our 27" unit...

I think most interfaces in this price range will eventually go USB2 and I think after having tried both now that it is equally reliable and I like that USB has a more robust physical connection...

Still not giving up on the Presonus and actually quite like it-just kinda sucks that it is a very capable mobile unit but wont work with most laptops bc of their lack of firewire or incompatible chipset or bc it would need a power supply for 4 pin FW connections which all units have that I've seen....

The Line 6 KB37 and Presonus FS are a perfect compliment to each other on my FX series Gateway with Vista32 and stock TI firewre chipset and I love being able to use the units side by side-1 for recording and the other for monitoring and playing VST instruments. This is a huge step up in functionality and ease of use from all the E-MU and Digidesign stuff Ive used the past 5 years-though I'll keep the E-MU EmulatorX/1212M around as a dedicated sound module/sampler-its not like its worth much on the resale market anyway.

Anyone interested in an inexpensive Pro Tools Digi 001-it does have ADAT and SPIDF and Pro Tools 6.9.9 (PCI is about as stable as you can get)...$100
Old 29th December 2009
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaru View Post
but I will have to have a little more time with it before deciding how it sounds.

Hello,

Did you ever get the FSM working? how is it? I am on a iMac snow leopard and want to try this card but I am waiting on you

thanks
D
Old 29th December 2009
  #16
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MrCrowbar's Avatar
 

Echo Audiofire.

Wish they had dedicated analog knobs for the headphones out and main out though.
Old 31st December 2009
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dinoman View Post
Hello,

Did you ever get the FSM working? how is it? I am on a iMac snow leopard and want to try this card but I am waiting on you

thanks
D
Yes it works flawlessly so far. No problems with snow leopard once successfully installed. Compared to the Presonus Firebox I have tried, it provides a much clearer sound, as well as a lot more gain without the added noise. Haven't had any problems with latency thus far.
Old 4th April 2010
  #18
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Mantoras's Avatar
 

Im just in the process of deciding for one of these soundcards.
Have no experience with either of them. My three major concerns is:

1. Headphone Amp - Powerful & clear sound at high volumes with heavy ohm headphones.

2. D/A Converters - Interested in musical qualites - not numbers on a paper.
So the firestudio mobile has best dynamic range, but does it have the best
D/A converters still?
In the end its all about the human ear, not about the paper.

3. Low latency & driver stability
Old 4th April 2010
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mantoras View Post
Im just in the process of deciding for one of these soundcards.
Have no experience with either of them. My three major concerns is:

1. Headphone Amp - Powerful & clear sound at high volumes with heavy ohm headphones.

2. D/A Converters - Interested in musical qualites - not numbers on a paper.
So the firestudio mobile has best dynamic range, but does it have the best
D/A converters still?
In the end its all about the human ear, not about the paper.

3. Low latency & driver stability
I have an older audiofire 8, the model without ADAT, that has cirrus logic converters, which I believe are the same ones used in many apogee units. So if conversion is a key issue for you, you might want to look into getting an older AF8, which can be had for the same price as a new AF4. I have had some experience working with mixes in which all the conversion was done through a presonus firepod (not sure if the firestudio uses the same conversion chips as the firepod) but the converters in my AF8 definitely provided a dimensionality in the mix that the presonus lacked; greater depth and you can really pinpoint instruments, etc. in the stereo field.

The headphone pot on my audiofire needs to be cleaned out, so I can't really provide you with an accurate answer regarding clear headphone volume, since on mine the right headphone channel is always maxed out, so I have to lower the output volume on my DAW and simultaneously crank the headphone volume on the AF8 to balance the signal in both ears. Yeah, you get used to it.

I don't think you will have any more latency problems with the audiofire as you would with any other interface--so long as the buffer is set to around 128 when recording and there aren't many plugins taxing your computer's resources.

And I know it's been said before, but the customer support at Echo is really great. Even if you buy a unit used, they still treat you as though you purchased it directly from them. That honestly amazes me.
Old 4th April 2010
  #20
Deleted User
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrCrowbar View Post
Echo Audiofire.

Wish they had dedicated analog knobs for the headphones out and main out though.
+1 on the Echo

BTW the Echo audiofire 2 has a dedicated knob for the headphones.
Old 7th May 2010
  #21
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
just want to give a bump in case there's any new input..

I'm tempted by the presonus because of its two additional analog inputs. could make a pretty sweet mobile recording rig for local bands that don't want to pay **** (kick, snare, OH, OH, guitar, bass) plus a 1ru 4 channel outboard pre and six mics/stands/cables. I wouldn't even feel that bad about doing that for free or really cheap. would be harder to pull this off with the audiofire4 (unless you had two, or just buy the audiofire8 or 12 instead)

mainly I'm down to these two (firestudio mobile and audiofire4) because they're both bus powered, compact, and have two preamps, and arguably both are on the borderline of excellent sounding conversion. that means, I can stick this in a carry case with my laptop and two small microphones, and some short thin mic cables, all in the same bag, and have a personal recording setup for when I'm traveling, on tour, or want to tape a gig without too much fuss. minimal lugging, minimal footprint, minimal cable connections, maximum freedom

I was thinking about getting a couple Shure X2U for an even smaller footprint setup, but, for the same money, the Audiofire and Firestudio seem to make a little more sense...especially now that I'm aware both can be bus powered.

I've also considered the edirol, zoom, yamaha, tascam, etc mobile X/Y and flash memory recorders off and on but never was sold on any of them. the laptop solution seems so much more elegant, powerful, and versatile for my uses (mobile demo composition, band rehearsal documentation/composition memory tool, live recording, minimal multitracking). I might give the edge to the XY units for live recording, however, due to the zero setup time, and might have to eventually pick one up just for that purpose. the olympus LS-11 is looking pretty good on that front.

if there's any new FireStudio Mobile reviews, or Audiofire4 feedback, I'd be happy to listen!
Old 7th May 2010
  #22
Gear Nut
 

FSM working fine for me with Logic 9.1.1, macbook pro osx 10.6.3.
also, they recently released drivers for snow leopard, which can be downloaded at their site.
Old 7th May 2010
  #23
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MrCrowbar's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pier View Post
+1 on the Echo

BTW the Echo audiofire 2 has a dedicated knob for the headphones.
True, but none for the other output. So if you're using active monitors, you still need some extra gadget like the Mackie BigKnob or a mixing console to adjust your speaker level. Doing that with a software-slider just didn't work out for me and the driver doesn't support Mac OSX's volume controls (F11 and F12 on recent macs) so the only way is to do it in the software mixer. The hardware mixers I have in the home studio just degrade the signal too much and don't have the routing options I'd need for adjusting the speakers.

But yea, the conversion is still great for the price and the drivers are rock solid. If you have a 24 channel console and wanna wet your feed in OTB mixing, get two AudioFire 12 and enjoy 24 pristine ins and out, a meterbridge (right on the front of the AudioFire, vital to avoid clipping the AD converters) and low latency. I kinda wish ECHO made a 24 channel interface, looking like any 48-hole patchbay; top row is inputs, bottom row is outputs. Add green "signal" LEDs on the outputs and red "clip" LEDs on the inputs and you're in converter heaven. Combine that with an Allen and Heath 4-bus ZED mixer and you got yourself a sweet recording and mixing setup.
Old 7th May 2010
  #24
Lives for gear
If I bought the Audiofire 2, you are saying that I can't turn up my monitor volume with a knob? Is there any software I can use that comes with it to do this? I am running Win XP Pro sp3.
Old 7th May 2010
  #25
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kidvybes's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Methlab View Post
If I bought the Audiofire 2, you are saying that I can't turn up my monitor volume with a knob? Is there any software I can use that comes with it to do this? I am running Win XP Pro sp3.
...the Echo has a software control panel to allow you to adjust volume on your monitors, but if you're like me you want a hardware attenuater not software...

...I use this and I love it!:

TC Electronic Level Pilot .....MAKE US A BEST OFFER!!! - eBay (item 300418030856 end time May-15-10 08:44:17 PDT)

...make a reasonable offer...
Attached Thumbnails
Echo Audiofire 4 vs. Presonus Firestudio Mobile?-412d0oauxpl._sl500_aa300_.jpg  
Old 7th May 2010
  #26
Lives for gear
Woah..that is sweet. Plus there is a software option so Im good.
Old 23rd November 2010
  #27
Gear Addict
 

I'm now looking at the Firestudio from Presonus and the AF4. The volume knob is a biggy for me. Just curious on any long term opinions on the Presonus.
Old 23rd November 2010
  #28
Gear Head
 

Can anyone comment on the pres in the AF4? Thank you

Todd
Old 12th December 2010
  #29
Here for the gear
 

I would also like to know about pres in AF4 (as compared to Focusrite Saffire Pro, EMU 0404 and the like). Or maybe differences between these are small enough to be meaningless?
Old 22nd December 2010
  #30
Gear Addict
 

bump
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