From a home-studio owners' point of view the ProFire 2626 by M-Audio is a great audio interface.
It features 26 in -and outputs, that can be used simultaneously.
It has 8 high-quality octave pres, S/PDIF and 2* ADAT I/O (For extra pres), two instrument jack inputs, 8 analog outputs, and two additional headphone-outputs.
The ProFire comes with a software DSP mixer that allows you to route all the ins and outs however you want, which is great, although it can be a bit difficult to understand for the newcomer.
The unit is very sturdy as it's fully metal. All the gain knobs feel great to turn as they have a good amount of resistance to them.
As mentioned, the PT2626 has 8 on-board pres, and I can't really say a single negative thing about them. They sound really good. Sure, they might not sound like 10k$ preamp, but it's all good for the price you pay for the unit.
All in all, this is a great audio interface that I would recommend to any home-studio owner who needs a good sounding, sturdy interface with plenty of I/O's.
I run a pretty good recording business out of my home studio, and the Profire 2626 is the nerve center of the whole thing. I've got a Lynx Aurora 16 hooked up to it via the ADAT lines, and I clock it from the Aurora since all the important audio is dealt with there. There is a strikingly obvious difference between the quality of a source passed through the pre/adc on the Profire vs a nice outboard pre into the Aurora. While the quality is not really pro level on the Profire, its octane preamps are really pretty good for a pro-sumer audio interface.
"Why then", you ask, "don't you ditch the Profire and connect the Aurora straight to the computer via usb or pci?" Partly because it's nice sometimes to have the extra 8 channels of i/o for non-critical audio (recording a live scratch with the drum take or feeding a click track out), but mostly because I really like the Profire's software mixer. VERY useful, and extremely low latency if it's not making the loop to the computer. I often track a direct line from electric guitars (I like reamping) through the Aurora, lightpiped to the Profire, routed back through the Aurora to a Radial X-Amp where I feed the guitar amp and record that mic'd signal as well. The guitar player never knows the difference, and I could never get that kind of low latency if it was routed all the way through ProTools (non-HD) before hitting the amp.
It can be annoying trying to get to the software mixer suring a session to control your routing, but with a little planning ahead you can get it to be perfect for any session (within it's i/o limit). When I'm in a session, it's one piece of gear I almost never even take notice of, even though I'm using it. And isn't that what gear should do?
The profire 2626 features everything someone need for a home studio. A lot of in and out, 8 analog inputs (with 8 octa pre amps), 16 digital inputs. Two headphones outputs. Phantom power for the 8 analog channels, pad on all channels and a master volume.
Sound Quality: 6
I didn't have the chance to compare them to some better interface to see how the mix's translate, but, at my point of view, the output signal is amazing, and have no distortion at all. I recommend using good cables though, when I used monster cables to connect the interface to my monitors, there was a hum noise, but it get solved when I upgraded to mogami.
The DI sounds cool, but nothing special. It is usable.
The reason why I gave it a 6 for sound quality though is because of the preamps. I guess that 99% of the consumers that buy this interface are wanting the preamps, because they don't have money or don't want to spend money on high end preamps, mainly if it is for home recordings. My compliment about them is that they are good when the input source is loud, like a drum kit, bass/guitar cabinet at loud volumes etc... But, when you want to record vocals, acoustic and other sources that doesn't have a loud signal, and you are in the need of pushing the preamps a little harder, they get a lot of floor noise, what isn't cool because there seems to appear some hum on the sound that sucks. I highly recommend using really good cables with it in other to avoid those noises.
Another reason for the 6 is because the preamp until 1~2 clock is really low at the volume, and then, you just change it a little bit and the volume turns up dramatically, and that makes the user have a lost on the control.
Ease of use: 8
The interface is pretty intuitive, the buttons are well explained and you don't need to read the manual to understand how this baby works.
Something that might get people confused is if you need to use the external power supply or not when you are using it connected to the computer.
The answer for this is: YES YOU NEED TOO even though you are not using any phantom power. Differently from others maudio interfaces, the power supply on the profire 2626 should be always be plugged when then interface is on.
Why I gave it a 8 ?
Well it is because of the software. Even though the software is amazing, it is a bit confusing to understand the route when you first use it. But, it is just a matter of time and then you get used to it.
I have nothing to compliment about the features on this interface, as I said on the beginning of the review, it is simply amazing, it has everything you may need for you studio.
Bang for buck: 10
This interface is not expensive at all for what is has with it. Amazing build quality, even though the knobs may look a little cheap. It has everything you need for a really good price!
After having a profire 2626 , I have always wished other DSP mixers were as in depth as the profire's DSP mixer. It is a very easy to use interface, and very self explanatory how to route everything in the DSP mixer to your needs. I had a few issues with the clock on the interface, but in the end, it was a great working piece of gear. And if i needed another interface again, I would very much consider the Profire 2626 again.
I like my ProFire2626. Once I had a good studio template in Cubase everything became dead simple. Turn on the interface, hit record and go. It sounds good to my ear and through my HS80s but my recording room is untreated and most of my gear is ancient. The 2626 captures every nuance of hiss from my half-dead vintage junk.
A word about the M-Audio customer support, something to always consider when buying gear.
I bought a used Profire 2626 broken for dirt cheap (do NOT hot plug this interface or you'll cook the FireWire chip). I figured I could send it in for repair and save some money.
M-Audio (Avid) were courteous and punctual, utterly unhelpful. As with most support services they simply read the FAQs from the web site in an Indian accent. After obtaining a RMA# I sent the interface in. I quickly received an email with the promise of "we'll send you an estimate for repair cost in 14 days."
Well, I had a family medical problem that consumed nearly 2 months. When I finally resurfaced I still hadn't heard anything from M-Audio. The best I could do was find a phone number for their contracted repair center in New Jersey. I called M-Audio who couldn't give a status. I called the repair center at least 4 times. No one ever answered, I left very polite messages each time.
Another month passes and I get a survey in an email from M-Audio asking how I liked the service. I wrote them a detailed report, swear words were conspicuously absent; again I was very polite. At the end I solicited any help they might give.
Two days later I receive an ominous email with nothing more than a tracking number. A week later the interface arrives, haphazardly packed. I plug it in, wondering what's going to happen...and? It worked!
So I guess M-Audio was fine to deal with but their contracted service center was no good. At least they made it right in the end. It's notable that their forums are full of people with similar complaints. So if you buy their gear don't break it!
I use my profire 2626 with Logic 9 on a mac book pro i7. I have been using it since August and it has worked flawlessly. (I have had more problems with logic crashing than anything!)
The headphone jacks in front tend to not be loud enough, so I usually end up just plugging in one of the outputs and sending whatever the artist needs through a bus (however this does cause some latency). I have only partially experimented with the DSP mixer and any routing. It can be a pain. This is why I gave it an 8 for ease of use..
Another great part of this is that the line inputs in the back pass through the pre amps thus allowing one to use external mic pre's! Regardless, the 8 built in octane preamp's are great, especially since they all have phantom power and can be chosen accordingly 1-4, 4-8. The pre's are very neutral and do not add any sort of color which can be good or bad depending on what one is looking for.
The only problem I have found with the pre's is that if you are using a dynamic on a vocal or acoustic guitar you have to crank the gain fairly high and it is not very finely tuned in the higher gains which can make it more difficult. However, if used on a snare or other loud instrument or amp it is perfect!
Overall, I am very happy with the unit and it is a great interface to start with. I have had no client complaints about quality of sound or not having enough mics for their drum set!
I would definitely recommend it to anyone from a person attempting to track their band to a small studio working with clientele as myself. I do not believe there is any better deal for the money you pay for this unit!
I’d like to add my thoughts to what has already been said about the M-Audio ProFire 2626. I agree with those that posted that this is a great interface for a number of reasons. Firstly, price-versus-performance is incredibly high. Second, the preamps are astoundingly good, considering you get 8 of them. I compared the ProFire’s preamps head-to-head against an Apogee preamp and the ProFire’s pres seemed cleaner and lower noise. This is an important point--the Apogee was a Mini-MP, which was a dual preamp only (no PC interface) and the MSRP was higher on that little unit than the ProFire, which comes with 8 pres and so much more.
I use the ProFire 2626 on a Windows 7 x64 machine and have never had a single glitch. It’s rock solid. What’s more, I have a stock FireWire chipset on a stock HP desktop. No finicky requirement for a TI chipset with this interface.
With that said, there are a couple of things that I find a little frustrating about the ProFire.
1. With all of the routing supported on this unit, the interface doesn’t let you say where your Headphone 1 and 2 mixes come from. They are hardwired to be the same as stereo out 1/2 and stereo out 3/4 respectively. This is compounded by the fact that the only output that uses the volume control is stereo out 7/8. So if you want to be able to use both headphone outputs and attach your powered monitors directly to your ProFire (as you might in a home project studio), you only have stereo out 5/6 left to send an independent mix to.
2. You can’t change the buffer size while Cubase is running. The ProFire disables the buffer setting when it sees any app named Cubase running (on Windows at least). So if you want to switch from a high-latency mixing mode to a low-latency tracking mode, you have to close your project, exit Cubase, switch latencies, and boot Cubase again.
These two flaws are glaring in an otherwise perfect interface. Additionally, the drivers—while rock solid—haven’t been touched in a year, leading me to believe that Avid is no longer investing in any R&D in this unit. But for the money, you won’t find many interfaces that are this capable.
I've had my profire 2626 since 2008.
Overall, it has been a great interface, especially at the pricepoint. The main drawcard for me was the extra digital inputs. I wasn't too interested in the built in preamps, or the converters, as most of the time I would be using Lynx and Mytek converters.
I have used the line inputs (which bypass the preamps, from what I've read) with pretty good results too. While not as open as the Mytek and Lynx, they do a reasonable job, and I've use them quite a few times on bigger projects, where I've needed the 8 extra inputs.
As for the preamps, I don't think I've ever used them, apart from the odd guide track here and there, so don't have much of an opinion on them, but as some have mentioned already, you have to turn them nearly all the way up before they give you any reasonable gain, which seems a waste of a pot when you only get 25% of useable range.
The unit has been very stable over the last 4 years, and I've never had any driver issues. My Imac does have a TI firewire chip, so that probably accounts for the smooth performance. My only gripe is, when changing from PT sessions in 44.1/48k to an 88.2/96k session, Pro Tools has to close and re-open at least twice, sometimes three times. A little bit annoying.
But it seems that's part of the DICE II chip that it uses, and other brands that use the same chip suffer the same issue. I loved it when I borrowed a friends Fireface 800, as I could change between all kinds of sessions without pro tools closing once.
My profire firewire port decided to give up, so the interface is now dead weight. (the 2nd port never worked from the beginning). I never hotplugged at all. In fact I was working on a project in the morning, went for a lunchbreak, and then after lunch, suddenly it wouldn't recognize the profire. Latest drivers etc
When I sent it in for repair to the dealer here in New Zealand, I was quoted $400 for the repair, but they couldn't guarantee that it would work after the repair. WTF? I don't know if it's like that worldwide, but I'm not paying for a repair that may not work........
I really liked my profire 2626, but it's sudden death and the uncertainty of repair, left a little bad taste in my mouth.........
I'm considering adding one of these to my set up for a number of odd reasons I won't belabor this post with.
A few questions...
Do you HAVE to be running the software control panel to configure all of the in/outs on the 2626? I'm hoping to be able to control everything from within ProTools 10. I figure it's an Avid family device, so it might be possible.
Does anyone know who makes the pre-amps?
Does anyone know if it can be used with other Firewire based interfaces "simultaneously"? I've got an 828 MkII and a Presonus FP10.
This is not a review but just something to add. I know that you set the sample rate from the ProFire Control Panel. This overrides selecting a sample rate when you create a new session in Pro Tools. As a matter of fact, the whole sample rate selection process is skipped. What concerns me is that I assume everything is recorded in the sample rate I selected from the ProFire Control Panel (192k for example). When I'm ready to bounce to disk however I notice that 44k is checked as default and I must select 192k. This leads me to believe that the sample rate in Pro Tools is stuck at 44k with no way to change it before recording. I found a suggestion online to restart Pro Tools while holding down "N". Supposedly this will allow you to reset the interface and default sample rate.
Bought it on special for $400 thinking it would be a great investment in expanding the I/O into my Pro Tools rig for my project studio.
The preamps on my unit are so soft it needs to be turned all the way up to apply any usable gain, resulting in such a high noisefloor the signal is unrecognisable. After weeks of testing it myself and by the dealer they finally agreed to send it for repairs. Took 2 months only to receive a note saying "No fault found". On top of that they are still ignoring my phone calls and emails.
Not impressed, should have gone with a Presonus or Focusright sigh…