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What's the best cheap USB interface? Audio Interfaces
Old 15th December 2010
  #1
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What's the best cheap USB interface?

I'm a partner in a nice home studio but I'm going to start recording my own crappy stuff at home in my room in my apartment. I'm going to be using a ****ty windows vista laptop with an old mackie 1202 mixer, a couple 57s, and ableton live and I want to know what the best of the cheap interfaces is. I'd like to have 4 simultaneous inputs if possible but I can deal with 2 if there is a big price difference. Advice? I'd say I don't want to go over the $200 range.
Old 15th December 2010
  #2
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Jose's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by silent_nick View Post
I'm a partner in a nice home studio but I'm going to start recording my own crappy stuff at home in my room in my apartment. I'm going to be using a ****ty windows vista laptop with an old mackie 1202 mixer, a couple 57s, and ableton live and I want to know what the best of the cheap interfaces is. I'd like to have 4 simultaneous inputs if possible but I can deal with 2 if there is a big price difference. Advice? I'd say I don't want to go over the $200 range.
Check the 2nd hand market, you'll possibly find some bargains.thumbsup
Old 15th December 2010
  #3
Gear Nut
 

My M-audio Fastrack Pro USB has worked quite effectively for home recording in my dorm/apartments over the years. I think that it couldn't have been over 150 bucks.
Old 15th December 2010
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 has been a great part of my rig.

Just a hair over $200. But lots of bang for the buck IMO.
Old 15th December 2010
  #5
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What's the best cheap USB interface?

The focusrite looks good but it connects through FireWire. I need USB. Thank you for the recommendations though. Any others?
Old 15th December 2010
  #6
Gear Nut
 

In that price range all interfaces are quite good, and some of them came with a SW bundle (you seems not to need it). You can't expect pro level preamps, but I guess all of them are good enough for your purposes.

However, from my experience with laptops, I would suggest to read a lot about customer support. Laptops are not the best platform, and you will probably need some help trying to get the drivers to work properly. I had a nightmare trying to make my Tascam´s to work, and 1641 is still not running well at all. And I have Windows XP, I guess Vista is even more difficult.

So, don't go too deep on features. Look for a good technical support instead. I throw you the first one: Tascam support sucks.
Regards,
Martin
Old 15th December 2010
  #7
Lives for gear
 

The old MAudio Transit 2 channel USB interface sold originally for about $68. You can probably find one used.
Old 15th December 2010
  #8
I'm pretty impressed by the Mackie BlackJack - it's 2 channels, but they're pretty solid for the price.
Old 15th December 2010
  #9
Gear Guru
 
Glenn Kuras's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by eighttwelve View Post
My M-audio Fastrack Pro USB has worked quite effectively for home recording in my dorm/apartments over the years. I think that it couldn't have been over 150 bucks.
I actually used one of these when I did some voice overs for a video I was doing. The thing actually worked pretty well. The one thing I did find though is you have to be very careful not to push the pre amp as it goes from good to SH$T in a second.
Old 16th December 2010
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whitecat View Post
I'm pretty impressed by the Mackie BlackJack - it's 2 channels, but they're pretty solid for the price.
I've also heard great things about the Blackbird (rack) and Blackjack pres and converters - how are the drivers? And no, I'm not confusing them with the previous generation Mackie interfaces whose drivers were written by Echo and problematical. There are some current complaints on the Mackie forum. I hope they're OK, cause I'm considering one too!
Old 16th December 2010
  #11
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Tops Cut oFF's Avatar
 

if you dont care about inputs the mbox 2 mini is real nice.
Old 16th December 2010
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Kuras View Post
I actually used one of these when I did some voice overs for a video I was doing. The thing actually worked pretty well. The one thing I did find though is you have to be very careful not to push the pre amp as it goes from good to SH$T in a second.
Most of the M Audio, Mbox units are around the 50's db gain range
The Blackjack is 60 db and has Cirrus Logic converters which are a good quality. Its USB 1.1 which since its only 2 channels not a big deal.
IMO its prob the best one you can get for under $200.
Don't know about driver issues, never had them with Macs.
Old 16th December 2010
  #13
Lives for gear
saffire 6 usb.
Old 16th December 2010
  #14
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Finnish's Avatar
 

EMU 0404 USB, that's some good sounding **** for under 200€, 0202 USB even cheaper but should sound exact the same.
Old 16th December 2010
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by troggg View Post
I've also heard great things about the Blackbird (rack) and Blackjack pres and converters - how are the drivers? And no, I'm not confusing them with the previous generation Mackie interfaces whose drivers were written by Echo and problematical. There are some current complaints on the Mackie forum. I hope they're OK, cause I'm considering one too!
I'm on a Mac, so there are no drivers... can't speak for the Windows side of things though! It's a new-ish product, hopefully if there are Windows issues they will be sorted quickly. The BlackJack is a great-sounding little box.
Old 17th December 2010
  #16
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by silent_nick View Post
The focusrite looks good but it connects through FireWire. I need USB. Thank you for the recommendations though. Any others?
You can buy a express-firewirecard and putt it in the slot of your laptop. Hook up external harddisks and interfaces over Firewire.

It's a little more expensive this way but consider the option. A second hand interface should not cost a whole lot. Should keep you in your budget.
Old 20th December 2010
  #17
Native Instruments Audio Kontrol 1 is on sale right now.

A lot of people pass it over because its NI but the AD/DA converter chip in it is first class. Cirrus Logic. I have been using it for the last 2 years without any issues as a front line in from a Presonus Studio Channel and the mic pres sound pretty good as well.

Its a steal for the price they are offering and if you are using a analog mixer it has a L and R line in perfect for your application.

I recorded this entire album on it:
Lostwars is the end. | lostwars
Old 20th December 2010
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by thatgtrguy View Post
Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 has been a great part of my rig.
+
Quote:
Originally Posted by silent_nick View Post
I need USB.
=
Quote:
Originally Posted by blacklion View Post
saffire 6 usb.
Focusrite are great.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #19
Gear Head
 
unklekarma's Avatar
 

within the last year I've tested several "small" USB soundcards for my mobile setup.
Today I received the Mackie Blackjack and even on my stupid crappy small laptop speakers I can hear difference from Tascam US-144, Lexicon Alpha/Omega, M-audio FastTrak - so much more transparent in sound, clean but with a punch and crispyness.

I would go for the Mackie.
Old 8th January 2011
  #20
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beechstudio's Avatar
 

Native Instruments Audio Kontrol 1.......without a doubt! I LOVE it!
Old 8th January 2011
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unklekarma View Post
within the last year I've tested several "small" USB soundcards for my mobile setup.
Today I received the Mackie Blackjack and even on my stupid crappy small laptop speakers I can hear difference from Tascam US-144, Lexicon Alpha/Omega, M-audio FastTrak - so much more transparent in sound, clean but with a punch and crispyness.

I would go for the Mackie.

Are you PC or Mac? My Blackjack will be here Monday and I am on PC laptop. I hope the horrible driver problems I am reading about are not going to cause me a ton of problems. The Onyx pres are the best you will find on a 200 dollar usb interface, that's pretty clear. So the drivers are the big concern.
Old 9th January 2011
  #22
Here for the gear
 

I've been playing wirh the Tascan US-800 ($235 after rebate from AMS) for a few days. Host is a Lenovo T61 with 2 gig running Vista. Vista with a very clean startup... If you don't configure Vista properly, nothing works well... Configuring Vista properly is a matter of an hour's net research.

So far it seems stable and clean. Cubase LE 5 is kinda different from the Pt LE I'm used to but it seems simple enough. My first test was recording a 45 minute cassette tape onto it. I do archival transcriptions for a local museum when they need it. Easy, peasey...

I have an ART S8 in bound. Wednesday evening I'll record 6 tracks direct for each set of my electro'coustic trio's weekly gig. Bass, mini-jumbo acoustic and archtop acoustic all coming from DI, plus 3 vocal mics. Usually it's 2, 1 hour sets and a closing 30 minute set. That should be a good test.

Another choice for 2 simultaneous but with intesting possibilities for the solo guitar or keys and vox thing - is the Zoom H4. You still have up to 48 tracks of Cubase Le agter all. The Zoom sounds pretty darned good set for mic emulation=U87 and limit=on using the on board mic's. You can use it as field recorder or audio interface. It's .wav's at 44.1 aren't bad at all... Used the can be had for a song... Makes a great sketchpad.
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