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Steinberg UR22 vs Komplete Audio 6 vs Roland Quad Capture
Old 17th January 2014
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Steinberg UR22 vs Komplete Audio 6 vs Roland Quad Capture

Hey there, recently decided to sort out my home studio and I'm in the process of picking a USB audio interface. Been reading a lot of conflicting stuff on the forum so figured I should probably register and try to get some help on my precise needs.

So. Budget is low, up to 250 euros give or take; preferably lower. What I need is:

1) Low latency for large VSTi pianos on my main digital piano
2) 2 analog inputs with decent preamps for mic and guitar
3) MIDI I/O for my secondary midi keyboard

Furthermore it would be nice if I could have

1) Zero latency direct monitoring
2) Built-in DSP for basic effects mixed in the zero latency monitor
But these 2 are not essential.


My initial research has me considering mainly 3 models

1) Steinberg UR22 (seems to be adequate and very cheap ~125 euros)
2) NI Komplete Audio 6 (4 inputs and supposedly very low latency ~225 euros)
3) Roland Quad Capture (solid drivers, better build quality ~200 euros)

Additionally, I considered pretty much everything in the price range with honorable mentions to Focusrite Scarlett 2i4/6i6, MOTU Microbook II and Avid Mbox, all of which are hovering towards the topend of my budget and I'm not convinced they'd be better value for money compared to my 3 main options.

So, any feedback would be greatly appreciated especially regarding the latency of these units. I know Komplete Audio 6 is supposed to be great on that aspect but I haven't managed to find much info on the other 2.

Which one would you buy? Is the UR-22 really decent enough for what I need or I should dish out almost double the money for one of the other models? There's only so much you can gather from reading specs. The actual performance of the driver is where it's at and you don't get to experience that until it's too late. Low latency ASIO and clean preamps is all I need pretty much. Then again, I suppose that's what almost everybody needs, so go figure.

I'll be hooking it up on a Win7 x64 PC, using mainly Reaper as DAW btw.

PS. Please don't recommend the scarlett 2i2 (no midi) or the rme babyface (can't afford it!)
Old 18th January 2014
  #2
Lives for gear
 

The Steinberg UR22 doesn't have the built-in real time DSP Mix, but the UR28M does, and the new UR44 will as well. The UR44 is supposed to be available soon.

http://www.steinberg.net/fileadmin/f...omparison_.pdf

The Yamaha D-Pre on those Steinberg interfaces is decent. I heard the Roland clicks if you adjust gain while recording.
Old 18th January 2014
  #3
In my own tests using RTL Utility (which DAWBench uses for their raw round-trip latency metrics), the Komplete Audio 6 offers the best latency times, although I sold mine due to its numerous USB issues. Not everyone has problems with it, but it simply wasn't usable on my laptop's USB 3 ports, and it didn't wake up from sleep when plugged into USB 2.

The UR22 is next in line, likely followed by the Roland (I own the Roland Duo Capture EX). Both the Steinberg and Roland are quite nice. The Roland does a little more (iPad compatibility) but the Steinberg has higher specs. (Speaking about the Duo Capture EX here, not the Quad)

If you're interested in low latency, you are right to avoid the entry-level Scarlett models (2i2, 2i4). Possibly the worst latency times on the market.

Here are the numbers for all the interfaces I own(ed), all latency times captured at 44.1kHz, 256 samples (or the closest possible setting, due to limitations of the Roland and Focusrite control panels). Most important column is RTL ms- round-trip latency in milliseconds:

Old 18th January 2014
  #4
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Wow it's hard to believe the RME interface has almost -30db lower noise floor than the Steinberg. I know the Steinberg is at +16 db gain at it's lowest setting, so maybe it's not half as bad as that graph makes it look, I don't know.
Old 18th January 2014
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdunn View Post
Wow it's hard to believe the RME interface has almost -30db lower noise floor than the Steinberg. I know the Steinberg is at +16 db gain at it's lowest setting, so maybe it's not half as bad as that graph makes it look, I don't know.
I wouldn't base any purchasing decisions on either the return loss or noisefloor columns. The RTL Utility's documentation doesn't go into how those specific metrics are measured, whereas the latency metrics are simple math- but even if they're 100% accurate, ~80db headroom is perfectly acceptable as far as I'm concerned.
Old 18th January 2014
  #6
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ChrisLudwig's Avatar
 

Hi,
I have seen quite a few reports of the Roland's having issues with USB 3.0 ports. Not sure if they have improved or fixed this in recent driver updates.
The units do sound very good and seem to behave at low buffer setting otherwise.

For what it's worth RME and Steinberg USB and FW interfaces generate the least amount of support and warranty issues for us a retailer and integrator. So they always tend to be our first choices even when an other interface might have slightly better specs.

The newer MOTU Hybrid interfaces when used as USB interfaces also seem to improved a lot driver wise as well so we have been suggesting them more often lately.


Chris
Old 18th January 2014
  #7
Here for the gear
 

Right. UR28/44 are both out of my price range, they go for 350+ euros here; so it looks like it's gonna be the UR22 then. Saw some reports of low freq noise on steinberg's official forum which has me a bit worried but I'll try and grab it from a local store so I can easily return it if it turns out defective I guess. Thanks for the input guys.
Old 19th January 2014
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdunn View Post
I heard the Roland clicks if you adjust gain while recording.
Oh really? Do you have a sound file to back this egregious claim up? I suggest you're talking nonsense, because I have one, and mine doesn't.

Of course you can get the mic pres to clip if you take manual control of input levels - and set the levels wrong. But that's the whole point of the Auto-Sens feature - to save people who don't know what they're doing from themselves, and clipping the inputs despite having 24 bits to play with. (Though one could argue it's also useful for maximising the dynamic range of recordings).

Quote:
Originally Posted by UltimateOutsider
I have seen quite a few reports of the Roland's having issues with USB 3.0 ports.
It would be unfair to fault Roland where the problem is with the computer USB3 port hardware or driver or BIOS setting - and that is a far from rare occurrence.

This is what Roland actually say (Quad-Capture readme):

Computer

Windows-compatible PC equipped with USB 2.0 port
* Intel chipset is recommended.
* QUAD-CAPTURE may not perform to its full specs when used with an added USB 2.0 interface card.
* This product cannot be used with a USB 3.0 port that is not compatible with USB 2.0 specification.
* If this product does not work correctly when connected to a USB 3.0 port, you will need to connect it to a USB 2.0 port.
* Even if connected to a USB 3.0 port, this product will operate as a USB 2.0 device; the performance of the product will not change.


No-one needs USB3 bandwidth to run a Quad-Capture. But FWIW I have had no problem running it into USB 3.0 ports on a ASRock Extreme6 board.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UltimateOutside
If you're interested in low latency
Now here is an interesting thing.

Sound on Sound published (November 2013) an intriguing postscript to their August 2013 review of the Studio Capture. That review found poor low-latency performance. But the curious reason affects also the Quad-Capture (possibly also other Captures): when the ASIO driver is being used, the device control panel setting "Reduce CPU Load" should be checked. Who knew?

Well, it turns out perhaps only Roland, since the purpose and meaning of this setting is not explained anywhere in the Quad-Capture documentation, and the reviewer (and yours truly, and likely many customers) have laboured under the misapprehension that "reducing cpu load" implied larger buffers and increased latency. (The default unchecked setting is the recommended one for the WDM driver, not ASIO).

Sound on Sound then write about the Studio Capture, after accounting for this snafu:

"we were able to achieve latency performance on a par with many other USB interfaces, and it proved possible to use the Studio Capture at the smallest 32 sample buffer size, with a round-trip latency of just under 6ms".

In the latest Quad-Capure driver (1.5.2) this option has been renamed "Low latency mode". hmmmm. "ASIO low latency" would be even less obscure, IMO.

In a further documentation tarfu on the Quad-Capture, it transpires the Quad-Capture has a LoopBack facility, although that is not mentioned in the sales material or the end-user documentation. (You have to look in the technical blurbs to see it referred to at all).

Briefly, the driver exposes 6 inputs: 1-2, 3-4, and MAIN. So WTF is MAIN in a 4-in 4-out (2 analog, 2 SPDIF) device ? Well, that is the Loopback input, so if you play out on Outputs 1-2 and receive on MAIN you can record well all sorts of things that I probably shouldn't be encouraging anyone to be doing. In Windows' Sound devices control panel applet you can at least rename the damn thing to what it should have been named by Roland in the first place. You will probably need to monitor on phones in the Quad-Capture, but there is also visual confirmation of signal flows in the Sound devices applet.

I suggest LoopBack has its uses. You may differ.

Kind of a plug now for this thing, as you might have somehow got the idea that I could actually like it.

The mic pres are Class A, and you can hear that they are. Whether you prefer having odd order distortion components in your sound (or in this case, having perceptibly fewer of them) is up to you. I suspect the device could have been made and sold cheaper if Roland hadn't used Class A mic pres in it, but that's just my surmise.

On the D/A side, I would describe the sound as comparable to the input quality: in other words not edgy or harsh or gritty; some might call it "polite". I appreciate that this epithet could mean different things in the USA, where you don't know if the person you're talking is carrying a gun, so polite is good manners; and in the UK, where polite is the opposite - the art of being rude, that is, bad mannered - so let's just say I find the D/A conversion has a pleasant, fatigue-free sound, with a good representation of recorded ambience, that is no hardship to listen to for extended periods.
Old 19th January 2014
  #9
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stejo View Post
Right. UR28/44 are both out of my price range, they go for 350+ euros here; so it looks like it's gonna be the UR22 then. Saw some reports of low freq noise on steinberg's official forum which has me a bit worried but I'll try and grab it from a local store so I can easily return it if it turns out defective I guess. Thanks for the input guys.
The NI Komplete interface looks nice, I'm considering it myself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hyper.real View Post
Oh really? Do you have a sound file to back this egregious claim up? I suggest you're talking nonsense, because I have one, and mine doesn't.

Of course you can get the mic pres to clip if you take manual control of input levels - and set the levels wrong. But that's the whole point of the Auto-Sens feature - to save people who don't know what they're doing from themselves, and clipping the inputs despite having 24 bits to play with. (Though one could argue it's also useful for maximising the dynamic range of recordings).
I read it from a user, I'll see if I can dig up the post.

They weren't talking about clipping, but a clicking sound from the MDAC that is used for gain adjustment. If you're using Auto Sens and never want to adjust the gain yourself during a take, I guess this wouldn't be an issue.
Old 19th January 2014
  #10
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdunn View Post
The NI Komplete interface looks nice, I'm considering it myself.
KA6 was my initial top choice too tbh, but eventually figured that since I don't really need more than 2 analog (or any digital) inputs right now, it wouldn't justify its price compared to the UR22.

It does seem like a very solid product tho, and it would be a no brainer if all 4 analog inputs had preamps on, but I suppose it would cost considerably more in that case.
Old 19th January 2014
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hyper.real View Post
Oh really? Do you have a sound file to back this egregious claim up? I suggest you're talking nonsense, because I have one, and mine doesn't.
OK I found where I read that, it's the last review at the bottom of this page.

By all accounts the Roland units sound killer, which is why I was considering them, and read a bunch of reviews. Maybe he had a defective unit?
Old 19th January 2014
  #12
Contemplating buying the Roland Quad-Capture and letting you know what I think of it, after coming from using a Duet for a few years, it's hard to believe that anything in this price range could actually be worth using, but I understand that the industry has moved on in a big way since the original Duet in terms of AD/DA chipsets and drivers, plus USB 2.0 seems to be achieving better latency than FireWire 800.

Not completely sold on the pres though, and from what I've heard you can't bypass them, but it all comes down to personal taste, I've not heard anything negative said about them, just that they're plain, which in my books is a good thing, in my opinion I felt that the Duet pres were plain, and that was a good thing as all the fanciness came afterwards in my case.

Bus power seems nice as I'm after a very portable interface that's high quality with no nonsense like breakout cables or controls on the top, but I've heard mixed opinions on bus powered interfaces on various forums including Gearslutz, supposedly externally powered is far better, with that said, I watched the Quad-Capture marketing video on YouTube and was pretty amazed by how much thought had gone into the internals to avoid noise with separate circuits.

I was holding out to see if NAMM brought any news of interfaces, but I'm unconvinced there'll be anything worthwhile as most announcements of compact interfaces so far seem to be for iOS. As ridiculous as it sounds, the Propellerhead Balance looks fairly solid if a little childish, I've not heard anything negative said about that, but not keen on the impractical form factor and dislike having dials on the top of a portable interface.

Anyone have any additional thoughts to throw in regarding the Quad-Capture? I'll be using OS X and Windows, so Apogee isn't on the cards for that reason, and I'll be using Nuendo and Live, so any DAW-specific features like on the Balance are lost on me.
Old 19th January 2014
  #13
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdunn View Post
OK I found where I read that, it's the last review at the bottom of this page.
That refers to the Octa-Capture. Because it quotes Roland's user documentation it indicates that Roland were aware such an issue could arise.

I have gone through the Quad-Capture Owner's Manual, and can find no mention of such an issue. The OM has an extensive Troubleshooting section, which discusses inter alia problems that may occur with some computers, eg when starting up, when hibernating. Notwithstanding my criticisms of the docs, I am inclined to conclude that Roland do not consider that Octa-Capture issue pertinent in the Quad-Capture. Perhaps it was something they found in the O-C and fixed in the Q-C before it went into production, but I really don't know. I can say, tho, that it categorically does not affect my sample.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hammy Havoc
Not completely sold on the pres though, and from what I've heard you can't bypass them...
I believe that is the case. But is that not generally the case for audio interfaces below say $750, and sometimes also above?

OTOH, it *is* possible to bypass the pres by coming into the Quad-Capture on SPDIF, eg, using an Audient Mico. (And how weird is this: the OM does not seem to mention SPDIF as such, it's always 'COAXIAL').
Old 20th January 2014
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by hyper.real View Post
It would be unfair to fault Roland where the problem is with the computer USB3 port hardware or driver or BIOS setting - and that is a far from rare occurrence.
It looks like you quoted someone else but accidentally attributed my name to that snippet. I actually found my Duo-Capture EX quite capable on both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0- granting that its lowest selectable buffer size was 96 samples, where as most interfaces let you go down as low as at least 64.

I did some recording tests to determine what the lowest usable buffer size on each of my USB interfaces was, when plugged into USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 on my laptop at 44.1kHz, 24-bit.


  • Samples (lowest selectable) - The smallest available sample buffer size in the interface's control panel.
  • Samples (lowest usable) - The smallest buffer where I could record audio without any pops or drops on USB 2.0.
  • Input latency - input latency reported by my DAW at that sample buffer size..
  • Output latency - Output latency reported by my DAW at that sample buffer size.
  • Combined latency - Simply the previous two columns summed.
  • Lowest samples usable on USB 3 - Smallest buffer I could use to record without glitches on USB 3.0.

The Roland may well be artificially limited by its control panel.

Also while I agree that poor performance on a USB 3.0 bus might not entirely be a given USB 2.0 device's fault (for a variety of reasons), certain interfaces seem more problematic in that regard than others. (Particularly the NI Komplete Audio 6, although I know NI have been working on that. I still haven't heard whether the latest firmware has addressed most folks' problems there.)
Old 21st January 2014
  #15
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Apologies for the misattribution.

For comparison with your table, here is what Samplitude reports for the Quad-Capture driver in ASIO mode, and its "Low latency mode" setting enabled:
- samples (lowest selectable) - 32
- input latency - 80 samples (also reported as 2ms)
- output latency - 145 samples (also reported as 3ms)

These values are identical between connection to USB2 or USB3 ports. The reported ms values have clearly been rounded to the nearest millisecond.

So the Quad-Capure considerably better than the Duo-Capture Ex, and in the same ball-park as the RME.

I don't altogether consider the lowest usable latency setting useful, as this in practice depends on the attached computer and its DPC latency performance. Poor or compromised DPC latency means the cpu cannot get the breaks from the operating system fast enough to service the audio driver, and therefore the audio driver must have larger buffers for seamless audio performance.
Old 21st January 2014
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by hyper.real View Post
I don't altogether consider the lowest usable latency setting useful, as this in practice depends on the attached computer and its DPC latency performance.
Yes, I do agree to a point- however I think it still serves to show the relative difference between interfaces when you see the numbers for each interface when connected to the same computer, with the same settings.

I'd also like to see what the Quad Capture software looks like. From what I've read, manufacturers seem to provide really primitive, limited software/control panels with their ground-floor devices (the Duo-Capture EX's control panel isn't much better than the 2i2's, for example), but step up their software game with higher-end models.
Old 22nd January 2014
  #17
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I suppose ideally audio interface performance should include both the DPC latency of the machine, and the lowest interface latency achievable at that DPC latency, otherwise reports about its performance are simply not useful to anyone else.

The Quad-Capture user manual is downloadable from Roland, and has lots of screen caps of the driver software in action.
Old 23rd January 2014
  #18
Here for the gear
 

Update for anyone considering the UR22. I got one after all and while the performance is excellent latency wise, it still has the low freq noise on the inputs even with nothing connected on (do a google search if you're not familiar with the issue), even though its serial number is supposed to be unaffected. And it also isn't working on my usb 3 ports, so I'll end up returning it. Good card for the money overall if you can find a unit without noise.
Old 23rd January 2014
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stejo View Post
Update for anyone considering the UR22. I got one after all and while the performance is excellent latency wise, it still has the low freq noise on the inputs even with nothing connected on (do a google search if you're not familiar with the issue), even though its serial number is supposed to be unaffected. And it also isn't working on my usb 3 ports, so I'll end up returning it. Good card for the money overall if you can find a unit without noise.
This is a real bummin' problem. I got one of the unaffected units, and couldn't be happier with it, but...

I've heard elsewhere that the serial number range Steinberg initially quoted was too narrow, and that they WILL replace the problem units for free when you contact them- but it sucks that people are still receiving bad ones.

I really hope they get their act together with the UR44. The UR22's a great interface, but only when it doesn't have manufacturing defects!
Old 16th April 2014
  #20
Here for the gear
 

I'm about to buy the quad capture. Does anyone have more information about the latency issue? I've been using a Scarlett 6i6 - from what I'm hearing, it's sounds like the latency will be much less with the Roland. Has anyone had experience with this unit yet?
Old 16th April 2014
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by katie777 View Post
I'm about to buy the quad capture. Does anyone have more information about the latency issue? I've been using a Scarlett 6i6 - from what I'm hearing, it's sounds like the latency will be much less with the Roland. Has anyone had experience with this unit yet?
I bought the Roland Quad-Capture, I've used it on both Mavericks and Windows 8.1 Pro Update, it's a fantastic little unit, I'll be publishing a review of it in Previous Magazine very soon, I actually just finished recording an EP with it. It's got a rotary encoder on the front that allows you to mix the real-time input signal with the signal that's gone through all your effects et cetera if you're using a guitar or whatever, it's really great, I love it so much I'm seriously considering the Octa-Capture for permanent installation in the studio and using the Quad-Capture in the field or in the living room.

It is a bargain for what it is, you can't go wrong with it.
Old 17th April 2014
  #22
Note that thedriver reported latency value usually is wrong. The actual roundtrip latency is higher. Non-RME USB interfaces do not get a lower roundtrip at 64 samples buffer than 7.x ms (analog).
Old 18th June 2014
  #23
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DAW PLUS View Post
Note that thedriver reported latency value usually is wrong. The actual roundtrip latency is higher. Non-RME USB interfaces do not get a lower roundtrip at 64 samples buffer than 7.x ms (analog).
Yes, at 64 samples the Quad does around 7ms RTL.
Old 25th June 2014
  #24
Gear Head
I had a Quad Capture for about 2 years then it suddenly starts to behave very strange. Got a lot of noise and strange bleedings from other tracks. Roland refused to help me. I will never buy anything from Roland again. I got me the UR22 instead and so far it works fine.
Old 7th November 2016
  #25
Here for the gear
 

UR44 Motu audio express or Komplete audio 6

Hello, I'm waking up this conversation to know what do you think today (end of 2016). I am hesitating between these 3 models:
Native instrument Komplete audio 6
Steinberg UR44
Motu audio express


All have more or less the same price range, same reviews, with small difference in connectivity etc. My main concern is which one will last (driver wise), and which one is the most stable?
I know that the UR44 is the latest to go out, but does it matters? The motu is the most interesting connectivity wise, and the komplete audio seems nice and solid...
Please give me your thoughts...

Thanks
Old 7th November 2016
  #26
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdunn View Post
The Steinberg UR22 doesn't have the built-in real time DSP Mix, but the UR28M does, and the new UR44 will as well. The UR44 is supposed to be available soon.

http://www.steinberg.net/fileadmin/f...omparison_.pdf

The Yamaha D-Pre on those Steinberg interfaces is decent. I heard the Roland clicks if you adjust gain while recording.
Ur28 owner here. Sounds good and the DSP thing is cool if you like it, BUT.. It requieres external power and is more a desktop interface, if you are looking for portability, skip it
Old 7th November 2016
  #27
Still love the Quad-Capture, but very tempted by the Motu UltraLite-mk4 as I need more I/O. A lot has changed since then. I've started dabbling in modular and API 500 stuff. Will probably keep the Quad-Capture for portable use, and rack the Motu if I do get one.

Last edited by Hammy Havoc; 8th November 2016 at 12:47 AM..
Old 8th November 2016
  #28
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pupupu View Post
Hello, I'm waking up this conversation to know what do you think today (end of 2016). I am hesitating between these 3 models:
Native instrument Komplete audio 6
Steinberg UR44
Motu audio express


All have more or less the same price range, same reviews, with small difference in connectivity etc. My main concern is which one will last (driver wise), and which one is the most stable?
I know that the UR44 is the latest to go out, but does it matters? The motu is the most interesting connectivity wise, and the komplete audio seems nice and solid...
Please give me your thoughts...

Thanks
I own MOTU Ultralite (older model), NI Session and Steinberg Mr816x. MOTU has been the most stable with drivers on both Mac/PC on multiple different OS. Nut I'm still satisfy of my other products. They are 3 compnies I personnaly recommend.
Old 8th November 2016
  #29
Here for the gear
 

Thanks @ Soundsgoodtome ! The NI instrument you have is software, but can you compare also the other features from these interfaces?
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