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Selecting a new interface Audio Interfaces
Old 10th December 2014
  #1
Selecting a new interface

Hey all,

I read some older posts in this regard, and probably not a bad idea to do an end of 2014 thread on it as products change, drivers change, new products are introduced, etc.

So I'm the type to slowly upgrade my chain, and try to get used to what I have. I find myself now with a well treated room, some very nice microphones, external pres, hardware comps and eqs, and a good share of useful plugs.

I also find myself with an unmodded ProFire2626 that I've used for years. I know I could just keep using it, but it's been a little while and that's my next spot for an upgrade. I've done some reading, but would love to hear some recommendations. I'll be able to get a hold of one or two of the devices in this area to try beforehand I think, but I know there's more out there to consider.

The requirements are:
- $2000ish price range give or take
- I'm running on a Windows system and not MAC and currently using Firewire with the ProFire.
- Must integrate well into Pro Tools and be fairly stable
- I'd like some usable clean pres, but not a deal-breaker. Typically don't use the Octane's on my Profire now unless it's the rare case where I'm tracking more than I usually do at once.
- Typically don't track more than 4 channels at once (mostly 2, but sometimes a little more), so don't need a huge input count, but don't want to limit myself unnecessarily for the future.
- Obviously the ability to run line level stuff since most tracking goes through an external pre/comp/eq chain already.
- Clearly if I'm looking to upgrade, I'm looking for an improvement in conversion, clarity, etc.

Anything you'd recommend? Save my money? I think there's much to be gained from my stock Profire so wasn't planning on saving... Tried a USB interface back in the day, and switched to Firewire because I got much better results with the Windows machine. I'll admit I don't know much about how well the USB interfaces perform now vs. Firewire, so I guess USB could be a consideration if it's on par with Firewire (which I'm not sure it is, but that's not based on anything other than past experience from 10 or so years ago).

Thanks,
Sean
Old 10th December 2014
  #2
Have a look at the RME fireface ucx. Plain looking but quality.

As for FW vs USB. I get the feeling from reading the manual that RME prefer USB. It's certainly stable enough for me and an improvement on my old Firebox which had occasional issues with firewire.
Old 11th December 2014
  #3
Thanks for the reply... I'm gonna have to read up on FW vs. USB. USB is just inherently slower (at least USB 2.0) and I recall some waiting times writing to disk and such after recording something, and other lags which I just didn't have once I went to Firewire. If the gap has closed, then I suppose that opens up some other options I hadn't looked at.

I looked at the RME stuff, and was looking at the UFX because it wasn't USB, but I'll give a look.

Definitely looking for an improvement up from the ProFire... I recalled reading that the RME units were great, stable, and had usable pres, but that there were questions as to the conversion. Again, you read a lot of threads and get a lot of different answers I suppose, but the RME stuff is definitely being considered... Curious to see if any others chime in with the same or different recommendations.

Sean
Old 11th December 2014
  #4
Here for the gear
 

Read this article in soundonsound.com earlier today, in which there is some discussion of USB vs FireWire. I don't know that the entire article will be relevant to you, but here's a link and an excerpt:

Choosing An Audio Interface

"... nowadays Hi-Speed USB interfaces can manage more simultaneous inputs and outputs than Firewire 400 devices, and although there's still a little snobbery around, in practice Hi-Speed USB (2.0) audio peripherals can work just as well as Firewire 400 ones. If your computer has Firewire 800 ports, you have double the bandwidth compared with Firewire 400, but few musicians will actually need the extra unless they require more than about 56 simultaneous channels of 24-bit/192kHz audio (although it's worth noting that your Firewire channel count will drop if you also want to chain other Firewire devices to the same port, such as external hard drives for recording and playback or a TC PowerCore Firewire DSP FX unit, for instance)."
Old 11th December 2014
  #5
Here for the gear
 

Come to think of it, that article is probably perfect for you to read. They cover the spectrum of low end to high end interfaces pretty well.
Old 11th December 2014
  #6
Excellent article. I'll give it a thorough read... Much appreciated.

Sean
Old 11th December 2014
  #7
Have a look at the new MOTU 1248.

Got a couple 16As on the way and am pretty stoked.
Old 11th December 2014
  #8
Had a friend mention that as well. Don't live nearby and haven't been able to try it out, but he asked me to give it a serious look...
And congrats on the 16As. A couple? I can't even imagine what you're gonna have running through those... I hate the waiting period in regards to ordering. Hope they arrive fast for you...
Old 12th December 2014
  #9
Looks like I will be able to get my hands on both an RME UFX and the MOTU 1248. Still not sure about the UCX vs UFX but i found the UFX new for 2k even which isnt too bad since I see it for 300 everywhere else.

Still reviewing others in the range so if anyone else has one they love that meet the criteria in my first post, let me know...

Thanks
Sean
Old 12th December 2014
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
dgkenney's Avatar
An Audient ID22/ASP880 combo can be had for less than your $2000 budget.

This would give you 10 channels of conversion and very nice mic pres. As an added benefit each of the 8 channels of the adat connected ASP880 can be be used as insert with either the internal or external mic pres or "direct to conversion" line inputs - selected from the front faceplate. Also provides modest multi-monitor control function
Old 12th December 2014
  #11
$2000, PC, driver stability, low latency, I/O flexibility, 4 clean MIC pre, 8 line ins = RME UFX
Old 12th December 2014
  #12
Gear Nut
 

Agreed. I bought the UFX and it's great. Love the pres, great drivers, very flexible. An excellent choice.

Andy B


Quote:
Originally Posted by Masaaki View Post
$2000, PC, driver stability, low latency, I/O flexibility, 4 clean MIC pre, 8 line ins = RME UFX
Old 12th December 2014
  #13
Thanks for the replies all. Just to let you know - I am not going to purchase both. I have the ability to get my hands on those two to try. I won't get as much time with the 1248, but some. I'll be able to get the ufx for 4-5 days to work with it. That's all that I meant there.

I've got several priorities, and doing my best to find a unit that is an improvement in most of those areas over what I have now... Better conversion, better pres, and stability. I experienced some latency with the existing interface, but it's not as high of a priority of the others. So if I can find a stable device with more usable pres, and better conversion, it would be worth the money to me (obviously with the other requirements listed above - Windows, etc).

Thanks everyone for all the replies. I like to know what folks are using and are happy with, but I'm doing tons of my own research too. Not a time wasting thread cause I'm definitely interested, and if I get it narrowed down quick, I wouldn't mind hearing more specifics (like you asked) about "why" people like them, what improved when they went to them, etc.... And to address what you said, I'd certainly go with one unit over two. I'm not dying for 2 units. I've got a lot of rackspaces filled, so rack-mount is a plus too (but not a dealbreaker). Just keeping things tidy if possible, but if value/quality points me to something that doesn't fit this, so be it.

Thanks,
Sean
Old 12th December 2014
  #14
Gear Nut
 

And it's highly unlikely the difference in the converters will be even close to audible. He never said anything about buying two units.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nms View Post
These threads usually end up with most people just recommending the current interface they own.

@OP - why the ufx and 1248? They make no sense to purchase together. The best thing the UFX offers is its latency performance, so if low latency performance is your first priority then go for that. On the other hand, if sound is first priority the 1248 offers a significantly better & newer converter design with higher grade components, but you'll probably be waiting another month for windows drivers.

If you wanted to buy two units then just skip the UFX and get an RME RayDat card for better low latency performance and use it to run a 1248. That way you get the best of both worlds.
Old 12th December 2014
  #15
Gear Nut
 

I suggested no such thing. The units under discussion...I would doubt there is a noticeable difference in converter sound between the UNITS MENTIONED. IMHO. I own both RME and MOTU interfaces. My opinion doesn't make me dumb or inexperienced. You get very far in discussions by insulting people you don't know right off the bat?

He could get his hands on these two units to TRY THEM OUT. It was pretty obvious.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nms View Post
Only an inexperienced person would suggest audible converter differences are a farce. They can be identified just fine if you have good monitoring and ears:

Hilo, Lavry, Mytek, Prism, Metric Halo blind test
Old 12th December 2014
  #16
Thanks all. Now that we're all on the same page, we should be good.

w1awb - I agree that in the range I'm looking, I don't know that I'll be able to discern a difference between the converters even in my well treated (but far from perfect) room. I have no doubt I'm improving upon my existing interface (which is unmodded and I got it not too long after it came out which was a while ago) however. I won't get too hung up on conversion alone between the considered interfaces.

nms - I'm most interested in trying the UFX because I've read lots of "pros" vs. "cons" with it and I want to see if I agree with a lot of what I've read. I know you said it's major point is the low latency performance... That's not in the top 3-4 for priority for me, so I'm hoping my ears hear a lot more benefits there, but obviously I'm looking for all the items I listed above.

In reality, the Profire has been pretty good. I intend on shooting it out against a shortlist (that I'm trying to get feedback on here) of new interfaces. I'm "expecting" to hear improvements, stability, etc. If I don't, then my money will go elsewhere. The Profire hasn't been a "problem" for me, but the interface was the next logical item to upgrade in my path of improvement so that's why I'm going this route. The path of improvement for me in past years already stopped at things like a whole lot of room treatment, computer, microphones, preamps, and other outboard stuff (EQ, compression, etc). I chose interface over monitors mainly because I've had the monitors for quite a while and I know them well and get good translation...

Thanks for the info, and I'll continue researching others in this area, and am happy to hear about more, or just things you like about the existing ones we're talking about vs. what you upgraded from, etc. All valuable feedback to me.

Thanks,
Sean
Old 13th December 2014
  #17
Well, I'm anxious to try out the MOTU, but it doesn't look like it has Windows drivers out yet (and no word on whether Win 7x will be supported or just Win8). I'll be able to try it out on another system (not my own sadly) but I am anxious to try it.

nms - Do you really think that the quality of components and such will really put the MOTUs that much on top? I admit I'm skeptical, but I'm going into the comparison with an open mind. Have a few others I'll try to get my hands on before I make a final decision, but looking forward to trying them both out, and any others that get in the hotlist.....

Sean
Old 14th December 2014
  #18
Thanks for the additional info. Much appreciated. Wish I was starting the testing tomorrow instead of in a week or so. I'm not patient, especially when it comes to new things......

Sean
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