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Can't find decent interface! Audio Interfaces
Old 30th March 2016
  #1
Gear Maniac
Can't find decent interface!

So, I've recently tried an RME Babyface Pro and a UAD Apollo Twin USB.

I read and studied the reviews carefully, thinking one of them would be the answer to a long standing ongoing problem I have. Recording a decent electric guitar tone.

Neither of them satisfied. I'd had a long chat with music staff, listened to the youtube demos, the samples on the websites etc. I've been recording for about 5 years, playing for about 15.

Amplitube etc don't do it for me when it comes to distortion.

I have a Marshall DSL 2000 DSL 401 combo, but no way I can mike up without annoying the neighbours. Also have the original desktop Tonelab and I'm actually quite happy with the sound of it. Have never been able to get a good tone recording with it really.

So, I'm at a complete loss as to where to go next.

Torpedo Live maybe for the amp? And what interface? I'd be willing to spend a bit of cash if it solves the problem.

Any help much appreciated, this has been taking much time and energy.
Old 30th March 2016
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Frankly I don't know, what exactly you're expecting from the interface.. so I'm finding your thread title bit misleading.
I believe there is actually quite a few interfaces, which could serve to your planned purpose.

There are two basic things, which are typically important..
- round-trip latency, when you'll be using amp simulators. Both mentioned interfaces are very good in that, especially Babyface (but according to reports, USB Apollo at Windows is also pretty good).
- solid analog input, which will accommodate the signal from your guitar or preamp
Here are two attributes in the case of Hi-Z output from typical guitar.. there shouldn't be any audio clipping, so that input needs to have sufficient headroom and input should have sufficient high input impedance (typ. 0.5 or 1 MOhm) to avoid excessive loading of pickups, which will translate to muddy tone with treble loss.
If you fulfill both, then everything else is matter of used amp simulator and its settings for particular tone. You don't need top of the line mastering grade conversion with for that.. parameters of typical interface Hi-Z input typically exceeds any normal guitar amp input in terms of clean signal delivery.
I believe, both RME and UAD interface will be absolutely fine with those requirements and there is no point with seeking of different interfaces, which can possibly sound better in that particular usage.

Of course it is possible, you don't dig the tone for your taste.. then you can primary experiment with software amp and speaker simulators (probably zillions threads regarding that is already here) and its setup, or to try combine software with some outboard effect before the interface in the same fashion as with your regular amp.. There are folks, who likes to use such method and for instance use some kind of pedal boosters or drive pedals there (but still you have to be very cautious about possible digital clipping).
Other thing can be use of outboard guitar preamp or DI, which can already impart some pleasant tone to your signal.. preamp can have line level output, so it is necessary to switch your input interface to it from DI - instrument mode. In case of possible external DI, it typically has mic level output, so you'll need XLR cable for hook up to your inteface. But it not, that all external DI boxes necessarily provides better outcome than what someone already have at his interface, as I mentioned both RME and UAD are pretty good.. and such swap likely helps, when someone is using budget interface with some primary problem or DI has some distinctive tone you happen to like (eg. some tube DI).
If no such adjustment, preamp or DI help you out, then only option is to really record your amp at proper studio, when some important tracking will be done.

Last remark is to possible comparisons with the real deal.. Many folks IME are doing one basic mistake, which leads to bad conclusions.. Maybe it is obvious, but anyway.. It isn't possible to directly compare what you hear from some 5" monitors and DAW with amp sim to the wall shaking 4x12 Marshall. Only fair comparison is after you track the beast via mic and dry DI track from your guitar simultaneously, level match recording to the amp sim track and listen to both from DAW.. ideally in context of desired song. It can also helps with tweaking of amp sim, which has usually multitude of very interactive controls.. While the real deal always has to be better tan simulations, amps can also pretty demanding for tracking technique and space and many people can achieve very good and usable results with amp sims for most situations.. of course after they crack the nut and find the setup they like.

Michal
Old 30th March 2016
  #3
Lives for gear
 

I forget to mention outboard digital simulators.. which is something in-between amp and computer
Thing is, current software simulators beats most of older and cheapers amp sims IMO. On the other hand there are some newer (and quite hefty) machines like Kemper or Fractal.. well disadvantage is, they're pretty expensive just for hobby. Obivous advantage is, you can use it at the gig and if you like its tone, then you can easily capture it via almost any interface with straight line level input.

Michal
Old 30th March 2016
  #4
Gear Maniac
Thanks for the reply Michal.

When it comes to clean tones with the software emulations, I have no problem. Its the distorted tones that sound really grainy to me.

The UAD Apollo Twin has some excellent demos on youtube by Universal Audio. Thats what sold me, especially the Marshall plug ins. However, when I set it up in my DAW the results I got were nothing like the demos. I mailed UAD support and they just sent me installation instructions and how to use volume control, which didn't really help. I'm well aware of clipping and recording basics. If there's some technique to them getting their demos sounding so good I would have loved to hear it, but they weren't very forthcoming.

The problem was, the UAD amp plugins pretty much sound like Line 6, Amplitube and all the rest. The cost of a UAD Marshall plugin together with the Apollo Twin is £700, I'd pay it if satisfied but with this particular setup I wasn't.

Fractal units are reasonably priced secondhand. I'd be willing to get one if it gives me a decent distorted tone to record with. Or use my Marshall and plug into a Palmer DI03 or equivalent...
Old 30th March 2016
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Well, there will never be a perfect sim that captures the tone of a cranked up Marshall whatever interface you buy. That being said, of all the stuff I tried up til now, I didn't hear anything as close as the new 2203 combined with the Ocean Waves Studio cab M IRs, all with no latency whatever your buffer setting. That's 500$ worth of UAD plugins without counting the Apollo if you can't wait to get them while they're on special(the plugins) but with my Les Paul and a friend's tele, that was it. But again, nothing like the real thing... YMMV.

KA
Old 30th March 2016
  #6
Gear Guru
 
Muser's Avatar
If you can get an ok set of clean amp sounds, I'd suggest a simpler option of plugging
one of these into the instrument input of your soundcard.
it should probably work at line level.

Old 30th March 2016
  #7
Gear Head
 
phaezusa's Avatar
 

Seems kinda dumb to blame the interface. Sorry.
An electric guitar amp is an organic thing, and you play it almost as much as you play the guitar. Removing the amp is not a walk in the cake.
Get a Kemper or Fractal if you can't record a real amp.
Old 30th March 2016
  #8
Gear Addict
 
Guitarist9891's Avatar
Get an Axe fx 2 by fractal. It can also function as a USB interface if all you need is to record your guitar. ( Although I don't use it that way. I have it going to a direct box and into a HA73jr preamp ) If you are recording a solo you can also monitor with delay and record a dry track. Or you can record a DI track ( for reaping ) and a track with your amp tone simultaneously. Here is a thread on the fractal forum I made regarding this. Routing on my studio patches. | Fractal Audio Systems Forum

You can also hear the Axe fx 2 in my new track here so you get an idea how it sounds in the mix of a song: https://www.reverbnation.com/eduardmanvelyan

I have owned many amps and guitar preamps before: Marshall JCM900, JMP-1 preamp, VHT, Mesa Makr IV, Mesa F30, Mesa Triaxis, Carvin vintage series amps, more stuff I just can't remember.

I have since sold ALL my tube amps and pedals. I use the Axe fx 2 for both live and in the studio with terrific results. And I have pretty good experience micing up guitar amps in studios where proper volumes can be achieved. I do not feel I am sacrificing anything. The best thing for me is that it cleans up just like a tube amp when I roll off the volume knob on the guitar, so it realcts just a tube amp.

Your problem is not the interface. I use a Steinberg UR824 as my interface but it has nothing to do with my guitar sound. Any decent interface will do. You need to have a decent guitar amp simulation box. As I said if all you need to record is just the guitar you don't even need an interface since AXE FX 2 comes with its own USB interface built in.
Old 30th March 2016
  #9
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser View Post
If you can get an ok set of clean amp sounds, I'd suggest a simpler option of plugging
one of these into the instrument input of your soundcard.
it should probably work at line level.



Thanks mate, I'll look into one of those. Sounds interesting.
Old 30th March 2016
  #10
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitarist9891 View Post
Get an Axe fx 2 by fractal. It can also function as a USB interface if all you need is to record your guitar. ( Although I don't use it that way. I have it going to a direct box and into a HA73jr preamp ) If you are recording a solo you can also monitor with delay and record a dry track. Or you can record a DI track ( for reaping ) and a track with your amp tone simultaneously. Here is a thread on the fractal forum I made regarding this. Routing on my studio patches. | Fractal Audio Systems Forum

You can also hear the Axe fx 2 in my new track here so you get an idea how it sounds in the mix of a song: https://www.reverbnation.com/eduardmanvelyan

I have owned many amps and guitar preamps before: Marshall JCM900, JMP-1 preamp, VHT, Mesa Makr IV, Mesa F30, Mesa Triaxis, Carvin vintage series amps, more stuff I just can't remember.

I have since sold ALL my tube amps and pedals. I use the Axe fx 2 for both live and in the studio with terrific results. And I have pretty good experience micing up guitar amps in studios where proper volumes can be achieved. I do not feel I am sacrificing anything. The best thing for me is that it cleans up just like a tube amp when I roll off the volume knob on the guitar, so it realcts just a tube amp.

Your problem is not the interface. I use a Steinberg UR824 as my interface but it has nothing to do with my guitar sound. Any decent interface will do. You need to have a decent guitar amp simulation box. As I said if all you need to record is just the guitar you don't even need an interface since AXE FX 2 comes with its own USB interface built in.

Nice tune man, thanks for the link.

The Axe Fx comes up again and again in these threads, so its a piece of gear I'm definitely considering. Does it work well on USB? Or would I get better results going into an interface directly, or via SPDIF?

The 11 rack and POD HD500X are also up for consideration, I agree that an amp sim box is potential way to go. I like the results this guy gets, says he records his POD via USB. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6M-W...RVEtVCfQ45G2pw

Have you had any experience with amps into load boxes, eg Palmer DI03?
Old 30th March 2016
  #11
Gear Nut
 

You said that you have been playing now for 15 years.
Did you get a good tone out of your amps?
Can you post an example of a bad sound?
Old 30th March 2016
  #12
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terence T View Post
Thanks for the reply Michal.

When it comes to clean tones with the software emulations, I have no problem. Its the distorted tones that sound really grainy to me.

The UAD Apollo Twin has some excellent demos on youtube by Universal Audio. Thats what sold me, especially the Marshall plug ins. However, when I set it up in my DAW the results I got were nothing like the demos. I mailed UAD support and they just sent me installation instructions and how to use volume control, which didn't really help. I'm well aware of clipping and recording basics. If there's some technique to them getting their demos sounding so good I would have loved to hear it, but they weren't very forthcoming.

The problem was, the UAD amp plugins pretty much sound like Line 6, Amplitube and all the rest. The cost of a UAD Marshall plugin together with the Apollo Twin is £700, I'd pay it if satisfied but with this particular setup I wasn't.

Fractal units are reasonably priced secondhand. I'd be willing to get one if it gives me a decent distorted tone to record with. Or use my Marshall and plug into a Palmer DI03 or equivalent...
Well, hard to say, why you can't achieve the tone from UAD.. Sorry I have no experience with those Unison amp plugins.
With regards to amp sims, I've recently heard and was very pleasantly surprised by its sound were actually S-Gear Scuffham and Positive Grid Bias. It worked pretty well also for tones with natural breakup and overdriven rhythm tones, which was usually always bit ugly when amp sims were used. Heavy high gain tones are also much better than older Pods and likes.
Although there isn't any Marshall label at their presets and modes (they don't have official endorsement like UAD has), it can be tweaked for this kind of tone.

If you like to use your real Marshall and record its speaker output, this can be also possible option. I used that technique few times, but it wasn't actually some fancy box, but rather simple transformer DI box with pad and thru line to speaker.
There is one remark though, even if you have some small pedal format DI with built-in analog speaker simulator like that DI03, you still have to connect your real speaker to it (so it isn't silent), because it doesn't have a load inside.
There are some boxes with load inside, usually you can spot it immediately, because it has bigger rack format and possibly also some cooling.
Also with regards to its built-in speaker simulation, I haven't tested new elaborate boxes like Torpedo, but usually cheaper units has rather simple analog filter for speaker simulators, which is maybe sufficient for practice or ok for live use, but in comparison with some software speaker simulator with IR response of real cabinet, it falls short.. So even if some similar circuit is there, it is possible you'll prefer to bypass it, send it flat to your DAW and apply speaker simulator there.

Still, I wouldn't be so fixed at Youtube videos and reviews.. because amp tone gets very subjective and it is result of many factors (guitar and its pickups, particular playing technique, setup). And as I said in previous post.. only fair comparison to your real amp is, when it is mic'd and recorded to DAW.

Michal
Old 30th March 2016
  #13
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by _ben View Post
You said that you have been playing now for 15 years.
Did you get a good tone out of your amps?
Can you post an example of a bad sound?
I have a Marshall DSL 2000 combo which is pretty good. I've also had a Marshall TSL 60w head which I was happy with at the time.

Still have an old Vox Tonelab desktop which I use as a practice tool and I'm happy with that. I used to record that into an EMU 1616M with some success, but no longer have the interface unfortunately. Plugging it into both the RME Babyface Pro and the UAD Apollo sounded no better than plugging it into a Live 6 Guitarport and was inferior to my old EMU.

Didn't keep the tracks I made with the UAD to post unfortunately.
Old 30th March 2016
  #14
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by msmucr View Post
Well, hard to say, why you can't achieve the tone from UAD.. Sorry I have no experience with those Unison amp plugins.
With regards to amp sims, I've recently heard and was very pleasantly surprised by its sound were actually S-Gear Scuffham and Positive Grid Bias. It worked pretty well also for tones with natural breakup and overdriven rhythm tones, which was usually always bit ugly when amp sims were used. Heavy high gain tones are also much better than older Pods and likes.
Although there isn't any Marshall label at their presets and modes (they don't have official endorsement like UAD has), it can be tweaked for this kind of tone.

If you like to use your real Marshall and record its speaker output, this can be also possible option. I used that technique few times, but it wasn't actually some fancy box, but rather simple transformer DI box with pad and thru line to speaker.
There is one remark though, even if you have some small pedal format DI with built-in analog speaker simulator like that DI03, you still have to connect your real speaker to it (so it isn't silent), because it doesn't have a load inside.
There are some boxes with load inside, usually you can spot it immediately, because it has bigger rack format and possibly also some cooling.
Also with regards to its built-in speaker simulation, I haven't tested new elaborate boxes like Torpedo, but usually cheaper units has rather simple analog filter for speaker simulators, which is maybe sufficient for practice or ok for live use, but in comparison with some software speaker simulator with IR response of real cabinet, it falls short.. So even if some similar circuit is there, it is possible you'll prefer to bypass it, send it flat to your DAW and apply speaker simulator there.

Still, I wouldn't be so fixed at Youtube videos and reviews.. because amp tone gets very subjective and it is result of many factors (guitar and its pickups, particular playing technique, setup). And as I said in previous post.. only fair comparison to your real amp is, when it is mic'd and recorded to DAW.

Michal

Yeah, the Palmer has a load box http://www.lean-business.co.uk/eshop...FeIp0wod22AOIQ

Know what your saying about not getting too fixed on youtube demos and reviews, but what else is there to go by?

I wish the software cab emulations satisfied me, but they don't. To my ears the can sim of my pocket pod is superior to that of Amplitube and Guitar Rig, when it comes to distortion...

I'll check out the S Gear, thanks for the recommendation.
Old 30th March 2016
  #15
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terence T View Post
Still have an old Vox Tonelab desktop which I use as a practice tool and I'm happy with that. I used to record that into an EMU 1616M with some success, but no longer have the interface unfortunately. Plugging it into both the RME Babyface Pro and the UAD Apollo sounded no better than plugging it into a Live 6 Guitarport and was inferior to my old EMU.
That's definitely strange observation.. as tone is completely produced in Tonelab, which has line level out, generally you should be able to do straight recording with almost any audio interface, unless bad levels or some weird gainstaging.. eg. no better, worse or straight inferior. Differences in recordings of same take will be rather very small.

Michal
Old 30th March 2016
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terence T View Post
Yeah, the Palmer has a load box http://www.lean-business.co.uk/eshop...FeIp0wod22AOIQ

Know what your saying about not getting too fixed on youtube demos and reviews, but what else is there to go by?

I wish the software can emulations satisfied me, but they don't. To my ears the can sim of my pocket pod is superior to that of Amplitube and Guitar Rig, when it comes to distortion...

I'll check out the S Gear, thanks for the recommendation.
Yes, this rack version of PDI 3 has speaker load built-in, I was referring to PDI 3 in pedal format (Bonamassa model), which was at the page, you've linked before.

With youtube videos, I've meant, while it is good for generic introduction of the product or some features walk-through.. It is very hard to use it as some reference (you're trying to match), because many variables, which can be involved there.
So my point was, take it basically as a teaser.. but not as shortcut for own testing.

Michal
Old 30th March 2016
  #17
Lives for gear
Get a decent pre amp with DI to plug into your audio interface.
Old 30th March 2016
  #18
As for computer audio interfaces go with regard to guitar tones, sounds like someone barking up the wrong tree. And with using software amp sims, I find it especially important to get a decent pre amp in, and that's using the interfaces direct (DI) guitar/bass input, which will have built in preamp's designed specifically for guitar & bass. If the interface doesn't have one, or you think you need something better, try an external DI pre amp box for guitar or bass. Even my old Aardvark Q10 cards guitar DI sounds good. I don't find a DI necessary when using hardware amp sims, as these already have a guitar pre at it's input. Using my sound cards DI after running through my hardware amp sim doesn't do much for me, software amp sims yes.

I find with amp sims (software or hardware) it's too easy to put way too much gain/distortion in the signal which is well beyond a typical real amp. It's this unatural tone that makes a guitar begin to sound like a toneless buzz saw. Each amp sims I've ever used has it's plus & minuses, and some just suck donkey balls.

Trying to get the 'perfect tone' on 'record' with either amp sims or real amps, is something that I've never been able to get. And even if I think it sounds pretty good one day, it doesn't on another day. I use amps sims exclusively for recording, it's much easier than dealing with real amps & mics...especially if having the amps in the same space you're recording in. I can get an exceptable tone with amp sims, enough so that when in context of a songs mix, it's good enough.

Listening back to some of my favorite bands throughout my years growing up, my guitar hereo's tones weren't near as good as I thought when I was a teenager. It's mostly about the 'player' behind the tone, and how that player alters their playing techniques to work with the tone they have...at least once a close enough desired tone for a particular playing style is dialed in. It's kind of a give & take thing...IMO.

Don't blame to tools! ... not completely anyway.
Old 30th March 2016
  #19
Gear Addict
 
Guitarist9891's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Terence T View Post
Nice tune man,
Thanks!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Terence T View Post
The Axe Fx comes up again and again in these threads, so its a piece of gear I'm definitely considering. Does it work well on USB? Or would I get better results going into an interface directly, or via SPDIF?

The 11 rack and POD HD500X are also up for consideration, I agree that an amp sim box is potential way to go. I like the results this guy gets, says he records his POD via USB. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6M-W...RVEtVCfQ45G2pw

Have you had any experience with amps into load boxes, eg Palmer DI03?
Never tried recording through it using USB. Although never hear complaints from anyone. Spdif would work fine as well.

A lot of your tone all depends on the monitors that you use. I use Yamaha NS10m. And thats the only speaker I like/trust. Some people love them some hate them so it is subjective. If you already have a tube amp you like you can also use something like a Torpedo C.A.B. that has cabinet impulse responses. It will allow you to connect your amp to your interface and get a mic'ed tone going direct. I like Ownhammer V30 impulse responses and use those loaded into the axe.

I record two impulse responses simultaneously (since the Axe has 2 outputs) when tracking Rhythm - one is the Marshall 4x12 with vintage 30s miked up with sm57 and one with r121. The impulse responses are in perfect phase so I can mix them as I see fit in pro tools.
Old 2nd April 2016
  #20
Gear Maniac
Spoke with the manager of the store where I bought the Apollo, he said that he cant recommend another interface, as the two I've tried are the best in their class.

I'm going to give RME another go, and admit that maybe it wasn't the fault of the interface and I need to experiment a bit. I found a new RME UFX on sale for £776, and an open box but new RME UC for £550. I went for the UC, the UFX sounds like the convertors might be slightly better but slightly doesn't justify the extra £200 for me. The UFX definitely has some extra cool features on it, but I probably wont use them. I like the rack design of both the units, reminds me of my old EMU 1616M.

The Axe FX 2 is very expensive! Might be out of my budget for now. Even used, they're close to a £1000. Used Pod HD beans are going for £150 used, I've seen a POD 500X for £250 used.

When it comes to recording bass I am, thankfully, fully satisfied with IK's Ampeg SVX.
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