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Best Audio Interface Under $300? Audio Interfaces
Old 13th September 2011
Gear Head

Best Audio Interface Under $300?

My Lexicon Omega has started developing a slight crackle in both my monitor and headphones output, and since I was also slightly bothered by the fact that I can't adjust the monitor and headphones volume separately, I'll use that as an excuse to upgrade.

I'm using a Macbook Pro running Lion and Garageband to do all my recording and editing, so I'm assuming firewire is the way to go.

I was looking at the Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 and the Scarlett 8i6. I've read really good things about the mic pre's on the Focusrite units. Anything else you guys would recommend? (Preferably around $250 or less..)

I'll be using it to record vocals, guitars, bass, percussion, as well as a MIDI interface.

Thanks in advance for helping a newbie out.

Last edited by Andres.; 13th September 2011 at 05:23 AM.. Reason: To add flair and visual appeal - hopefully attracting more readers.
Old 13th September 2011
Lives for gear
razorboy's Avatar

You're better off getting one with credibility.
Old 13th September 2011
Gear Head

Originally Posted by razorboy View Post
You're better off getting one with credibility.
Please elaborate a little bit? I don't quite know what that means.

Thank you.
Old 13th September 2011
He means spend more money
Old 13th September 2011
Lives for gear
andreaeffe's Avatar
Hmmm... comments & responses here not being really very helpful to the OP, huh?

In my personal experience (and that of people I personally know) with the Focusrite interfaces, it IS true that their mic pres are a shade "better than average" when speaking of cheap(er) computer soundcards/interfaces, but the digital/support/driver side of things is not equally as good.

So, in terms of quantity and quality of features, as well as versatility and rock solid stability, I'd recommend the OP the M-Audio Fast Track Ultra.
Number of inputs/outputs, digital connectivity, the software "mixer"/routing, the double separate headphone output - all good.
The mic pres are on the low gain side, however, and clean & quiet, but obviously (at this price) neither characterful nor exciting.

For significantly better mic pres, I'd look at something by Presonus (I guess Firestudio, Audiobox, Firebox in that price bracket).

In terms of sound quality, some speak highly of the Native Instruments interfaces, the Komplete and the Traktor - haven't tried it personally, though.

Also, most anything by RME (Babyface, Fireface - but probably slightly over your projected price) is both good sounding and completely troublefree & solid on the software/drivers/compatibility side.

Hope it's been of some assistance.

Kind regards,

Old 13th September 2011
Lives for gear
Personus audio box has weak pre amps (about 35 db gain is all)

Their fire studio mobile is better and has more inputs too for adding outboard pre's later on if desired.
Old 13th September 2011
Gear Head

Thank you very much for your responses. You've definitely given me a lot of things to consider. I understand $300 is not much for an interface by any means, but as a college student starting out, I can't justify spending 10x that on just the interface/pres.

With that said, would I be better off with a "decent" interface and some standalone mic pres?

I'm really liking the Scarlett 18i6, but I just noticed the MF Stupid Deal of the day is for a Tascam US-800 for only $100. I think that's a steal, considering my current budget.

Anyone on here have experience with the Tascam? I like the scarlett better, but for $200 less, I think the Tascam could work well.
Old 13th September 2011
Gear Addict
Hide's Avatar
Have you check Roland QUAD-CAPTURE?
Old 13th September 2011
Gear Nut

I highly recommend the Tascam. But I am not seeing the $100 price tag from your link.
Old 13th September 2011
Gear Head

Originally Posted by jimmys69 View Post
I highly recommend the Tascam. But I am not seeing the $100 price tag from your link.
Here you go.

Stupid Deal of the Day

It changes every day, so I linked the actual product for future viewers.

I know it's not the best, but for $100 I think it's a great deal. Any info on how well it works with Lion?
Old 13th September 2011
Gear Head

IMO, the Roland and Presonus stuff gets the job done fine. I sell a bunch of these and with an exception here and there I've heard no complaints. Sure, you can spend more money for better mic pres, yada yada...but unless you have magic and/or experienced ears you're not going to hear the difference to justify the cost, so save your money until you go pro.
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