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Interfaces: Is There A Huge Difference? Your Advice Please... Audio Interfaces
Old 30th November 2016
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Interfaces: Is There A Huge Difference? Your Advice Please...

I have a Presonus Firepod. I am a guitar player working on a 12 song original project with a producer over the net. I play guitar, and my co-writer is a soulful black blues rock singer. I will be recording single vocal tracks and single guitar tracks, and sending them to the producer.

OK so my question is about the quality of my recorded tracks (vocals and guitar) with the Firepod. Is there any reason to buy a better preamp/converter unit?

I have read about different units but I don't get a chance to test them in person. I would like to try a Golden age with Dunhills, or something from RME, or a Duet etc, but a friend with lots of producing/engineering experience says what I have will work just fine.

I also wonder if I would be better off with a new 2 channel Presonus or Focusrite interface? Would they be lots better even though they are around $200 because of how technology has changed?

Your advice is appreciated.

Thanks!
Old 30th November 2016
  #2
Lives for gear
Went from a 003 to an ensemble first gen. Pretty big difference. Lot more transparent. About three months later jumped to a symphony. Not joking night and day from the ensemble. 3D creamy. Everything is awesome through her. I mean u can get a bad sound if u want but if you know your know how's then apogee is a fine line Ubove your rig now

Also make sure the room
Is treated and have a decent set of monitors and then you'll really hear the sonic signatures of higher end convertors or interfaces


Even cheap ish pres will sound "unharsh through a symphony. I use to hate the 414 and now love her.

Dead serious yes. They have certain qualities
In a higher end convertor All being a tad different. Some have transformers. Some are more transparent. Others have like the symphony is a creamy 3D sound. Anywho. Just find a vendor who can let u test some in your room

Very subjective topic

Hell im apogee biased
Old 30th November 2016
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

A little more info... I have an i7 PC, and Alesis M1 Active powered speakers.

My electric guitar is mic'd with a 57 or a 421. I have a great vocal booth, and I am using a u47 knock-off condenser mic.

My software is Studio One Pro.
Old 30th November 2016
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

I'd look more at your front end than your converters. You have good mics but going straight into your sound card is not ideal imo..
A good 2ch pre (maybe a comp too) would go further.
Old 30th November 2016
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ultraburner View Post
I'd look more at your front end than your converters. You have good mics but going straight into your sound card is not ideal imo..
A good 2ch pre (maybe a comp too) would go further.
What would you recommend?

You think the Firepod converters are OK, but the FP pre's are not?
Old 1st December 2016
  #6
Gear Addict
Get something like an Audient id14 and you're sure to notice a pretty big difference between it and the firepod. You can still get good results with the firepod, but you'll get better results easier with a better interface.
Old 1st December 2016
  #7
I went from a M-audio to a RME UCX and it made a HUGE difference. Night and day... Plus, it's super stable with Windows with low-latency.

There are lots of good interfaces out there but I haven't used bunches of them. I love my RME but they are a bit pricey (buy from UK/EU if you decide to go this route and save 30% or so if you are in the U.S.).

Peace,
TC
Old 1st December 2016
  #8
Gear Head
 

In 2008 I had a Firepod and wasn't happy with it so I upgraded to a Digi003 rack. That was a step up and lasted me a while. Then in 2015 I upgraded to a MOTU 16A with 500 series preamps and that was like taking the blanket off the speakers. I'm sure if I compared my setup now to the Firepod it would be a drastic difference.

The Firepod has pretty bad preamps. You really have to crank them up almost all the way to get a usable mic signal, meaning a lot of the noise floor comes with it. New they were like $500 for 8 channels, which equals $62 per channel including conversion and analog outs. Not great.

Having said that, if it's just music for you and a friend to make demos or something it's totally fine. If you're hoping to use it for a polished, final recording I would look for something newer. The interfaces of today have come a long way since then.
Old 1st December 2016
  #9
Lives for gear
 
chrischoir's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by P99 View Post
I have a Presonus Firepod. I am a guitar player working on a 12 song original project with a producer over the net. I play guitar, and my co-writer is a soulful black blues rock singer. I will be recording single vocal tracks and single guitar tracks, and sending them to the producer.

OK so my question is about the quality of my recorded tracks (vocals and guitar) with the Firepod. Is there any reason to buy a better preamp/converter unit?

I have read about different units but I don't get a chance to test them in person. I would like to try a Golden age with Dunhills, or something from RME, or a Duet etc, but a friend with lots of producing/engineering experience says what I have will work just fine.

I also wonder if I would be better off with a new 2 channel Presonus or Focusrite interface? Would they be lots better even though they are around $200 because of how technology has changed?

Your advice is appreciated.

Thanks!
There can be a huge difference in interface quality, however something like RME ADI-2 is no better than a firepod. Focurite stuff is no better than Firepod either. It's all prosumer audio stuff.
Old 1st December 2016
  #10
I'll agree with others -- while there can be very noticeable differences in audio converters -- once you get up out of the consumer device class (phones, tablets, consumer wi fi speakers, consumer hi-fi's, etc) and into at least the prosumer class, the range of difference tightens up considerably.

Is there going to be a difference between a $200 2 channel converter and a $2000 one? We hope so. But as you go up the quality/dollar scale [which don't always match up, of course, caveat emptor and all that], it increasingly becomes a 'game of inches' where each new iota of enhanced quality seems to cost exponentially more.

Like the guy said, you'll do fine with what you have.


For the overwhelming majority of recordists starting out, once they've got the basics covered, it's usually in gaining experience and improving skills where the biggest improvements can be made.
Old 1st December 2016
  #11
Gear Maniac
 

OK so unit will bring up the quality? I am just recording straight tracks. All the other work is being done by top guys off site. I want to provide decent audio...

Thanks!
Old 1st December 2016
  #12
Lives for gear
 

There's a new Tascam interface that guys with high end gear are saying it's as good as their expensive stuff!

I think the Tascam cost $399, also the Stienberg UR series interfaces are actually very good as well!
Old 1st December 2016
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by classictunz View Post
There's a new Tascam interface that guys with high end gear are saying it's as good as their expensive stuff!

I think the Tascam cost $399, also the Stienberg UR series interfaces are actually very good as well!
Do you know which Tascam model number it is? They have a few different ones...
Old 1st December 2016
  #14
Lives for gear
I once owned two Firepods. As I purchased newer/better gear, I had the chance to A/B the new gear against the Firepod pres. Preamps and interface quality can make a difference in recorded sound. I own two Steinberg UR interfaces, the newer Behringer ADAT unit, two MOTU interfaces, one Focusrite OctoPre. They all sound noticeably, but not dramatically, better than the Presonus using the same. Mics. The Presonus doesn't sound bad, but it is a tad noisier and less clear. To my ear, the Presonus does sound as good as the various levels of ART preamps I own. When I stepped up to Focusrite ISA Pres and True pres, the Presonus really sounded less finished. The truth is that the Presonus will do a reasonably good job with everything except low gain ribbons and a few dynamic mics like the SM7 and the OM7. You are the only judge of whether "reasonably good" is going to make you happy. I've spent a lot of money to be just a little more happy. I can't say it is what you should do.
Old 1st December 2016
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
I once owned two Firepods. As I purchased newer/better gear, I had the chance to A/B the new gear against the Firepod pres. Preamps and interface quality can make a difference in recorded sound. I own two Steinberg UR interfaces, the newer Behringer ADAT unit, two MOTU interfaces, one Focusrite OctoPre. They all sound noticeably, but not dramatically, better than the Presonus using the same. Mics. The Presonus doesn't sound bad, but it is a tad noisier and less clear. To my ear, the Presonus does sound as good as the various levels of ART preamps I own. When I stepped up to Focusrite ISA Pres and True pres, the Presonus really sounded less finished. The truth is that the Presonus will do a reasonably good job with everything except low gain ribbons and a few dynamic mics like the SM7 and the OM7. You are the only judge of whether "reasonably good" is going to make you happy. I've spent a lot of money to be just a little more happy. I can't say it is what you should do.
Problem is I don't get to judge. I don't have access to the gear. I would love to try something, but it is all a crap shoot for me. Any idea what units will get me a noticeably better sound? What about the Golden Age with Dunhill transformers? The RME Babyface? The...???
Old 1st December 2016
  #16
Lives for gear
 
loopy's Avatar
 

Pick an interface with solid drivers and good long term support. You can always upgrade to new/different pre-amps later.

My advice is :

RME
MOTU
Lynx
Audient (If you do not do a lot of VSTi work)
Old 1st December 2016
  #17
Lives for gear
You DO get to judge... whatever you decide to buy. If you do not need more than two channels, it is not too expensive to buy the best. With the Steinberg UR interfaces you also get a pretty complete and absolutely great sounding version of Cubase. I hesitate to say anything for or against brands I haven't tried, but I did try and send back a Behringer and a Focusrite two-channel interface before trying and keeping the Steinberg. They were all within about $40 of each other. The audio quality of the Steinberg is very good...ins, outs, and headphones.
Old 1st December 2016
  #18
Lives for gear
Since your using PC and want a higher end convertor it looks like rme is going to be a solid pick. Apogee is Mac only..... prism is going to be expensive but if u got
Budget hell whatever.

I'd get your control room treated first though my friend. Then an external preamp and a UA twin. Learn on her then in a few, as your gear grows
, buy some pres and a higher end convertor tomgo
Line
In. More flavor and color or
Transparency than some
Of those stock convertors
Old 1st December 2016
  #19
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by P99 View Post
Do you know which Tascam model number it is? They have a few different ones...
Uh-7000
Old 3rd December 2016
  #20
Gear Maniac
 

The Tascam "looks" great. Is the Audient ID4 comparable but with only 1 mic pre? Are the specs for the Audient ID22 better the iD4? Or the ID14?
Old 3rd December 2016
  #21
Years ago I knew a guy who was using a cheap SoundBlaster interface, and his finished stuff sounded a LOT better than people using the the highest end interfaces...go figure. I guess there's more to getting great sound than the interface alone, and a great interface doesn't insure you won't sound crap.
Old 3rd December 2016
  #22
Lives for gear
 

(face with scrunched lip and sad look)

Too many avenues taken over this.

In the end, here are the most important qualities of an audio interface:

-drivers
-latency
-quality of unit
(bonus round, best interface software)

Everything else is nonsense.

Who wins? RME. /end thread.
Old 3rd December 2016
  #23
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lovessuperstrats View Post
(face with scrunched lip and sad look)

Too many avenues taken over this.

In the end, here are the most important qualities of an audio interface:

-drivers
-latency
-quality of unit
(bonus round, best interface software)

Everything else is nonsense.

Who wins? RME. /end thread.
Which RME interface do you recommend? Babyface?
Old 3rd December 2016
  #24
While highly expensive RME's are certainly good, and you can't necessarily go wrong with it - my buddy has two $2,000 plus RME's - it's not the ONLY game in town, much less the end of discussion. I doubt anyone could tell much of a difference between any other 'good' interface costing only a few hundred bucks in a finished product under the same exact conditions, with the same person at the helm, and the same songs.

If you're running a pro studio for hire, you may need RME, if nothing else, to impress the kiddies that you've spent a ton of money ..oh and you'll need 'Pro Tools brand' (ask for it by name) software too ... so I hear from my young nephew who snubs his nose at Cubase brand

The last interface I bought was a used Tascam FW-1884 off eBay some months back ...and for only $100, runs & sounds great on my Win 7 64 bit PC (with firewire). It has all the features & I/O's I need, which is really the important stuff

When I was 20, the ONLY amp to buy was a Marshall half-stack, that was kiddie hair law! I'm a grown up now
Old 3rd December 2016
  #25
Lives for gear
I somewhat agree with Steve Fogal. I'm not paying a premium for Pro Tools either. Cubase sounds at least as good, probably better, and I don't seek or have clients who care. AsI said above, I do hear a difference between interface preamps, but I agree with Steve that going all the way to RME isn't necessary for what you intend to do.
Old 3rd December 2016
  #26
I not only love RME because they sound pretty good, I love them because you get it, install it, and it just works everyday, all day, with zero problems even in low latency mode. That being said, there are quite a few interfaces that people like for PC (for Mac I would probably go a different route).

I have a version of Pro Tools; It never gets used. Props to Reaper, it's all I use now (I am not running a pro studio with clients). It runs lean and mean on my PC, and never crashes. The money I would have had to give AVID went to some other things that I wanted. Sorry to be a fanboy

Peace,
TC
Old 4th December 2016
  #27
I'm a professional electrician, at one time I would only use Klein hand tools, & Makita cordless drills... as an apprentice... now that I'm an old pro and don't give a crap what others think, I use any Home Depot hand tools available and [gasp!] Ryobi cordless drills!

I kind of take the same approach to this music DAW stuff...even though I don't run a professional studio. But hey, if one has the cash to splash so freely on the highest end interface money can buy, then go ahead. While you're at it, they sell guitar & speaker cables for several hundred dollars each, you may as well buy those too if you 'really' want the best, because everyone knows anyone who bought a $2,000 plus RME interface certainly won't go out and buy a decent & cost effective $20 cable from brands like Hosa after that...
Old 5th December 2016
  #28
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Fogal View Post
I'm a professional electrician, at one time I would only use Klein hand tools, & Makita cordless drills... as an apprentice... now that I'm an old pro and don't give a crap what others think, I use any Home Depot hand tools available and [gasp!] Ryobi cordless drills!

I kind of take the same approach to this music DAW stuff...even though I don't run a professional studio. But hey, if one has the cash to splash so freely on the highest end interface money can buy, then go ahead. While you're at it, they sell guitar & speaker cables for several hundred dollars, you may as well buy those too if you really want the best, because everyone knows RME users won't use decent & cost effective cable from brands like Hosa
I was looking at a pair of headphones that are $2199.00. I have also seen speaker cables from Alessandro Amps for almost $5K each. Here is a link to their 20' guitar cable for $2K.

Alessandro High-End Products: Instrument Cables

I think there is still a big difference between my 10 year old Firepod and the newer low end stuff. Like the Tascam UH 7000, iD14/22, SPL Crimson etc. I am really leaning towards the UH 7000. I may try it out. My music store has a 30 day return policy and I will have a 10% hit from that. So about $52 CAD for a month's trial. The other I am looking at are the iD14. I am not wanting to get into more outlay than these units cost at this point.

I have been reading and researching quite a bit, and there seems to be features I would like in all the units, such as:

Nice high quality converters and mic pre's and clock.

For this project only 2 mic pre's. If I get one with 8 or 10 in/out I am paying for more than I need right now.

2 speaker outs, so I can switch between my nearfields and stereo speakers. UH 7000 doesn't have.

Dedicated knobs for main volume and headphones. I would like 2 headphone outs. UH 7000 doesn't do this, or have 2 headphones.

Fast drivers. The UH 7000 apparently is slow and has high latency.

The new one that is not out yet I think might be a winner is the Arturia AudioFuse. It's not for sale yet, and I don't like buying in on the 1st round of manufacturing. There are always bugs and changes that take place...

Arturia AudioFuse | Sweetwater.com
Old 5th December 2016
  #29
Lives for gear
 
Lenzo's Avatar
I was listening to some stuff from my stock 002 the other day. Compared to my Symphony, the difference is quite huge. The texture of the sound, the punchiness and definition of low end. The sound field in general is more spacious.
I really doubt there is a $200 or $300 dollar interface that would compete with the Symphony. Then again, I haven't heard all of the interfaces on the planet. I'm just glad I spent the money so my time is spent making the best sounding recordings I can.
L.
Old 5th December 2016
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenzo View Post
I was listening to some stuff from my stock 002 the other day. Compared to my Symphony, the difference is quite huge. The texture of the sound, the punchiness and definition of low end. The sound field in general is more spacious.
I really doubt there is a $200 or $300 dollar interface that would compete with the Symphony. Then again, I haven't heard all of the interfaces on the planet. I'm just glad I spent the money so my time is spent making the best sounding recordings I can.
L.
Yeah, the difference between my M-audio and my RME was night and day as well. I got mine for $1K from UK and saved myself a bunch of coin.

My buddy has some Presonus stuff he uses and he gets a nice sound. I don't remember if anyone mentioned them and I don't feel like re-reading the entire thread

I had a ZOOM portable recorder that kicked some ass for the price. They have interfaces now, too, but I don't know how they stack up.

At least you got lots of choices!

Peace,
TC
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