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New audio interface?
Old 15th June 2015
  #1
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dickiefunk's Avatar
New audio interface?

Hi,

I'm looking to buy an new audio interface as an upgrade to my old interface. At the moment I'm using a Focusrite Saffire Pro 24DSP and an Audient Mico dual channel preamp. On the whole this setup sounds and worrks great but ideally I'd like to have both the interface and preamps in one box. So, I'd like an interface with preamps on a par with the Mico but with better converters and headphone amps than the Saffire interface. Here is the spec I would like :-

1/ 2x Mic Pres on a par with the Audient Mico
2/ 2x separate headphone amps with individually customizable headphone mixes
3/ Dual studio monitor outputs with a/b switching
4/ 2x di inputs
5/ Rack-mountable
6/ Comfort reverb (not essential)
7/ Midi I/O (not essential)

Is there an interface under £1000 that would offer this level of performance with these features?

Thanks
Old 16th June 2015
  #2
Gear Maniac
Apollo duo or quad maybe/ not sure about the mic pres tho, but other than that it has all features that you're looking for except midi I/O, and you get great plugins as well.

(not sure about no.2,3 since I used it at my small home studio)
Old 16th June 2015
  #3
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I'm not sure how much they go for over your way, but the RME FireFaceUFX would cover your needs and more. With incredible fast and reliable USB2 support to boot.
Together with the included Totalmix software, there's nothing you cannot do.
Old 16th June 2015
  #4
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The New RME Babyface Pro. It's not rack mountable though.
Old 16th June 2015
  #5
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TinderArts's Avatar
 

You may wish to check out the Antelope Zen Studio.
Old 16th June 2015
  #6
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dickiefunk's Avatar
Thanks for the suggestions so far. The RME UFX and Antelope Zen Studio cost around £1400 which is over budget and the UA Apollo and RME Babyface Pro interfaces are not rack mountable.
One interface I'm curious about is the new Presonus Studio 192

https://www.presonus.com/products/Studio-192

This looks like it could be a potential option.
Old 16th June 2015
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

Was in the same situation recently. If only the uc or ucx had an extra headphone amp.

Maybe they will release a fireface 402 at summer namm with 2 headphone amps and the new babyface pro specs?
Old 16th June 2015
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

Just a thought. The uc and ucx are half racks. Maybe get a separate half rack headphone amp? You would have a spare 4 outputs on the fireface after your monitors? 4 mono sends or 2 stereo. Total up to 5 headphone mixes and 2 main monitor outs!


Perfect!
Old 17th June 2015
  #9
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The RME UCX does look like a great option at £840 but the Totalmix software looks really cluttered and confusing!? Also, the lack of two headphone amps will mean I'll need to get another headphone amp and I'm not aware of any half rack four channel headphone amps? Every half rack headphone amp I'm aware of only has a stereo input and not four separate inputs? Also, the RME UCX has it's power switch on the rear of the interface!! Also, I would need to use one of the mic pres for plugging in one of my dynamic mics for talkback which would mean I couldn't stereo mic instruments!

I like the look of the new Presonus Studio 192 as it has everything clearly laid out in one box. Also, this interface has a built in talk back mic which means I don't need to plug a mic into one of the pres and helps keep things even less cluttered!! If the headphone amps are of the same quality as those in their HP4 and HP60 amps they will be excellent. The line inputs are true line inputs (not routed through the pres and padded down) and the various Presonus preamps I've used in the past ( Eureka and Studiolive ) have been excellent. The specs on the converters appear to be a step up from those on the Focusrite Saffire interfaces but can't comment on those!?
Old 17th June 2015
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by dickiefunk View Post
The RME UCX does look like a great option at £840 but the Totalmix software looks really cluttered and confusing!? Also, the lack of two headphone amps will mean I'll need to get another headphone amp and I'm not aware of any half rack four channel headphone amps? Every half rack headphone amp I'm aware of only has a stereo input and not four separate inputs? Also, the RME UCX has it's power switch on the rear of the interface!! Also, I would need to use one of the mic pres for plugging in one of my dynamic mics for talkback which would mean I couldn't stereo mic instruments!
Then, UCX and pair with Presonus HP60. HP60 has talk back mic input.
For the power on, just use surge strip to on and off.

I use RME HDSP 9652 and several ADAT units to do headphone mixing via Total Mix. It is much more powerful than any other DSP mixer for interfaces. Once you learn Total Mix, then you'll find routing is so much flexible.
Old 18th June 2015
  #11
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I am aiming to do away with multiple boxes and lots of leads so I really want to go for an all in one interface.
Old 18th June 2015
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by dickiefunk View Post
I am aiming to do away with multiple boxes and lots of leads so I really want to go for an all in one interface.
Then increase your budget and get RME UFX. It has all you need.
Old 18th June 2015
  #13
Old 18th June 2015
  #14
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dickiefunk's Avatar
The RME UFX is definitely one of the interfaces that would be on my dream list. However, if I could justify that kind of money on an interface I would prefer one of the new UA Apollo interfaces.
I've had a look at the RME 802 and it looks like a potential option but I'm not quite ready to buy yet. I have a couple of things to sell first. Also, I'm a little unsure if 54dB of gain will be enough when using some of my dynamic mics.

The Presonus Studio 192 looks like it could have the same converters as the Studiolive desks which is excellent. The pres look to be tweaked a bit and offer 85dB gain. The preamps specs also look like they could offer potentially lower noise than my Mico but that could easily be very different in real world performance. Maybe USB 3.0 will help to reduce latency more?

Last edited by dickiefunk; 18th June 2015 at 10:10 PM..
Old 19th June 2015
  #15
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Been in conversation with Rick from Presonus and he has said the preamps in the Studio 192 are the best preamps they have made aside from the the ADL series. They are better than the older xmax preamps. The converters are also a step up from anything they have used before and brand new to Presonus. The USB3.0 will offer lower latency than their previous products.

This all sounds very promising and I'm very keen to try one of these when it is released!

If the pres and converters are a step up from my Focusrite Saffire (even a small step up) and the USB 3.0 format offers even lower latency (which is already very low on the Saffire) then the Studio 192 should fit my needs perfectly.
Old 20th June 2015
  #16
Gear Head
 

I wouldn't be to concerned with the preamps at this level they are all the same...Clean. And gain specs should be taken with a grain of salt.

But I would never choose a presonus product over RME. RME make quality interfaces which will be working long after the presonus has been thrown in the bin. e.g. the firefire 800 over a decade old and got a software overhaul just last year.

Just my 2c

Old 20th June 2015
  #17
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That's a very good point about the RME still supporting a product that's over a decade old!
The Fireface 802 could be an option but like I said I'm a little concerned by only having 54dB of gain on the preamps!? Also, Totalmix looks like it will take some getting used to.

I've had my Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 DSP for around 6 years now and it has been rock solid and reliable the whole time I've had it! I have no reason to expect the Presonus Studio 192 to last as well as the Focusrite!?

Yes I agree about preamps in general at this level but the noise performance can noticeably vary. Ideally I'd like the preamps on the Presonus to have a fraction lower noise than the Focusrite Saffire but if they're no worse then that would be acceptable.
Old 20th June 2015
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dickiefunk View Post
The RME UCX does look like a great option at £840 but the Totalmix software looks really cluttered and confusing!?
Dickie if I can use it, anybody can - not nearly as difficult to use as you would think and there are plenty of youtube tutorial vids to help you over the hump.
Mind you with the routing versatility of Reaper I dont find myself grabbing for things in totalmix that often nowadays.
Old 20th June 2015
  #19
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Ok I guess I'll soon get my head round it. How do you guys find the 54db of gain on the preamps for recording with the SM7b and the like?
Old 20th August 2015
  #20
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Thought I'd post a quick update. I've had a change in direction and am going to sell my second pair of reference monitors as my toddler nearly pulled one of my main monitors on top of himself!!! Very scary!!! I've only got space for one pair of monitors on my studio desk shelf so the other pair will have to go.

As a result I no longer need an interface with dual studio monitor outputs so I thought I'd try and find if there are still any new Saffire Pro 24 DSP's because I loved the one I had. It does everything I need, sounds great, is totally rock solid and there is nothing new I'd have to learn with a different interface! After a lot of searching and phoning around I managed to find one dealer with one left and I went with it. Whilst it's discontinued Focusrite said they will still be supporting the Saffire Pro 24 DSP with any firmware updates where necessary! Really happy and satisfied, thanks to all for taking the time and and recommendations
Old 20th August 2015
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dickiefunk View Post
Thought I'd post a quick update. I've had a change in direction and am going to sell my second pair of reference monitors as my toddler nearly pulled one of my main monitors on top of himself!!! Very scary!!! I've only got space for one pair of monitors on my studio desk shelf so the other pair will have to go.

As a result I no longer need an interface with dual studio monitor outputs so I thought I'd try and find if there are still any new Saffire Pro 24 DSP's because I loved the one I had. It does everything I need, sounds great, is totally rock solid and there is nothing new I'd have to learn with a different interface! After a lot of searching and phoning around I managed to find one dealer with one left and I went with it. Whilst it's discontinued Focusrite said they will still be supporting the Saffire Pro 24 DSP with any firmware updates where necessary! Really happy and satisfied, thanks to all for taking the time and and recommendations
Nice outcome. Thanks for reporting back. I read a lot of these types of threads and seldom do people actually update the contributors. Note I didn't contribute to the thread, except for some lurking.
Old 26th August 2015
  #22
I just modded my Focusrite but i think i might have to pull the trigger on a 192 i read they have Burr Brown in them as well. Its a pretty impressive list of things the 192 has usb 3.0 Burr Brown 85 DB software controlled class A pres and a software channel strip. Is the fat channel channel processing limmited to only Studio One users? and does anyone know if you can monitor as well as record with those effects with the live DSP onboard processor?
Old 26th August 2015
  #23
I think PreSonus really got the leg up on Focusrite their competitor went Thunderbolt this year and as far as i know the users of PC is still waiting for windows drivers for the new Focusrite interfaces. I thought i would wait until Focusrite would go with a new USB 3.0 interface next year. Its pure speculation of course but i expect a usb 3 interface from Focusrite sometime soon but PreSonus really topped off this year. I have also been reading you can bypass the on board preamps on the 192 which to my knowledge you can't fully on any Focusrite boxes. I am just jittery on new software and components but i can preorder a 192 right now.
Old 26th August 2015
  #24
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dickiefunk's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakebreezeaudio View Post
I just modded my Focusrite but i think i might have to pull the trigger on a 192 i read they have Burr Brown in them as well.
Which Focusrite interface did you get modded and where? I noticed the Black Lion Audio mod some of the Focusrite Saffire interfaces and replace all the op amp's (amongst other tweaks) to improve the audio quality of all the inputs and outputs. I'm very tempted to get mine modded once the warranty has run out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakebreezeaudio View Post
Its a pretty impressive list of things the 192 has usb 3.0 Burr Brown 85 DB software controlled class A pres and a software channel strip.
Yes it does look impressive but I really love my Audient Mico preamp that I use with the Saffire Pro 24 DSP. I've used the X-Max preamps in the StudioLive and had a Presonus Eureka and whilst they are all very good I still find the Mico the best performing preamp I've tried (though the differences are subtle). I've found I've not needed any more gain than the Mico offers on the various dynamics I've used. Also, I've read in various benchmark tests the Focusrite Saffire has been one of the better performing interfaces regarding latency etc and beat all the current Presonus interfaces.

The Studio 192 does indeed look very promising for an all in one interface at that price! It looks like it has a great feature set (apart from lack of midi I/O) and the specs "on paper" look good.
Old 3rd September 2015
  #25
I got my Focusrite 18i20 modded dickiefunk.

The Black Lion Audio mod is a significant improvement in my opinion. Headphone and preamp levels have much more clarity and headroom. I did the sale they were running not a bad upgrade for $400.
Old 3rd September 2015
  #26
They do some stuff to the ad/da as well.
Old 3rd September 2015
  #27
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dickiefunk's Avatar
Thanks for sharing this. Yes, once my warranty runs out on my new Saffire Pro24DSP I'm hoping BLA will be able to mod it. Saying that, I find the audio quality of my Saffire to be very good already. The preamps sound very good indeed (though my Audient Mico has the edge) and the headphone amps are nicer than any dedicated budget rack mount unit I've tried. I also find the drivers rock solid and don't have any latency issues at all.
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