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Which Interface? Confused by Ports
Old 11th March 2016
  #1
Which Interface? Confused by Ports

Hi all,

First post here, so apologies if it's in the wrong place.

I'm looking for a new audio interface to replace my M-Audio 2626.

Here's the situation. I need an interface with at least 8 XLR inputs as the primary use is drum kit recording. However, I have just bought a brand new laptop (Dell XPS 13), which is Windows 10, and has two USB 3.0 ports, and one Thunderbolt 3 port. My worry is getting an interface that is both stable and high-performing on these ports.

So:

The Scarlett 18i20 looks great, but is USB 2.0, and has reported stability issues with USB 3.0 and Windows 10. Even Focusrite themselves will only say it "should" work.

The Clarrett 8Pre is Thunderbolt 1, and Focusrite say it needs an adapter for Thunderbolt 3 ports.

The Presonus 192 is USB 3.0, but has reports of terrible drivers.

I don't know much about the Tascam US-2020.

My 2626 is Firewire, which seems to be disappearing, and I don't have a firewire port on the new laptop.

Basically, can anybody point me in the direction of an audio interface that:
- Has 8 XLR inputs
- DEFINITELY works with either USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt 3
- DEFINITELY works with Windows 10
- costs less than GBP £1000?

To clarify, my laptop does NOT have any ports other than two USB 3.0s, and a Thunderbolt gen. 3.

Thanks all, looking forward to your replies.
Jonathan
Old 11th March 2016
  #2
Lives for gear
Part of the intent of Thunderbolt is to provide an external appearance of PCIe so that various adapters can work with the operating system. That's why Thunderbolt-to-Firewire adapters exist. It seems to me that should be your first stop in your research regarding Windows-10 compatibility.

I know there's a Thunderbolt-2 dock ($220 USD) that breaks out Firewire, Ethernet, USB 3.0, and HDMI. There's probably a Thunderbolt-3 dock available or in a pipeline somewhere, but I haven't had the need to find one. So, no 'definitely' in my response, but it's certainly a low-risk, cost-effective approach to getting going again with recording.

EDIT:
I'd like to amend and expand on my previous comment. I did 5 minutes or Web research and concluded that USB-C Thunderbolt-3 to Firewire may be long in coming, if ever. Given that, the most practical answer is rather clumsy in that a USB-C-Thunderbolt-3-to-Thunderbolt-2 adapter [e.g. StarTech $80 USD ] would then plug into a Thunderbolt-2 dock or Firewire adapter. I am not a fan of layered adapters, but this is actually workable given my confidence in Thunderbolt 3-to-2 compatibility.

So, depending on your willingness to wait for a native Thunderbolt-3 interface or a stable USB 3.0 interface, or willingness to tolerate cascaded adapters, or willingness to spend Euros on Ethernet-based interfaces (my latest infatuation), you do have possible solutions.

HTH

Last edited by MediaGary; 11th March 2016 at 04:04 PM.. Reason: Additional research
Old 11th March 2016
  #3
You can keep using PF2626 in standalone mode as long as you have a computer to setup routing. Then feed the signals to any interface that has ADAT in.

Regarding USB3.0 and Thunderbolt3, you don't need to worry too much about connection, if you buy RME UCX, Babyface Pro, FF802 or UFX. They are USB2.0, but they all work and stable. Sounds like Babyface Pro is good enough for your needs, PF will provide 8 XLR preamp inputs.
Old 11th March 2016
  #4
Thanks for the replies.

You'll have to pardon my ignorance, I'm still learning about audio equipment. Previously, my studio (drum kit recording) ran with the PF2626 straight into the laptop via Firewire into Reaper, and that was that. Now that I'm expanding, I'm learning as I go.

You both seem to be suggesting that I would be better served finding an adapter for my 2626, rather than replace it with one of the alternatives listed above. Is there any reason for this? The Babyface, if I've understood its use correctly, would act as a hub between my 2626 and my new PC, with the 2626 connectinct via... what, ADAT? Is this correct?

If that's the case, looking at the price of the Babyface, would that be a better option than, say, the Tascam US-2020, which is USB 3.0 native compatible, and can act as a mixer as well?
Old 11th March 2016
  #5
Well PF2626 is a decent 8ch preamps and converter, so why not utilizing what you have....was the reason I recommended ADAT connection. Of course, you can try Scarlett 18i20 to see if works. Probably good time to read PF2626's manual? There is also a description of standalone mode.
Old 11th March 2016
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masaaki View Post
Well PF2626 is a decent 8ch preamps and converter, so why not utilizing what you have....was the reason I recommended ADAT connection. Of course, you can try Scarlett 18i20 to see if works. Probably good time to read PF2626's manual? There is also a description of standalone mode.
Thanks. Am I right in thinking that the PF2626 goes into the Babyface via ADAT? What does the Babyface actually do?
Old 11th March 2016
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCurtisDrums View Post
Thanks. Am I right in thinking that the PF2626 goes into the Babyface via ADAT? What does the Babyface actually do?
Babyface will be your 'interface', passing signals from PF2626 to your laptop.
PF2626 will be your preamps and AD converter, and a single TOSLINK cable (optical cable for ADAT format) will pass 8ch information from PF2626. So, you have to setup routing in PF2626 using the laptop you're using with it, and save the routing in the unit. The most straightforward routing setup is preamp in 1-8 goes to ADAT out 1-8. This is elaborated in the user manual of PF2626.
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