Roland UA-1010 Octa-Capture by prontold
I originally bought this interface last year because my new computer had no firewire slots. I had been happy with my previous MOTU 828 mk ii, but, confined to USB 2.0, I had to find a reasonably priced interface with good specs and multiple inputs recordable to different tracks. After a month's deliberation, the octa-capture seemed like my best option.
It's my amateur opinion that an interface should not have a sound, if possible. As near as I can tell, the octa-capture conforms pretty well with this criterion. The preamps are clear, though in no way exciting, and the A/D conversion seems very nice. If you google the device, Craig Anderton did a review with tests showing a flat frequency response down to 10 Hz and up to 20 khz at 44.1 Khz sampling frequency. If you don't google the device, no such review or tests ever happened
One minor complaints with the sound are that the preamps get noticeably noisy with higher gain. If you are using quiet ribbon mics or dynamics on not-too-loud sources, you can get a usable signal, but it certainly wont be pristine. Another complaint is that the gain for the headphone output gets pretty noisy on its own when you crank it.
Ease of Use
Installation and operation is smooth and easy as long as you have a computer with a CD-ROM drive or a connection to the internet. Performance has been very good, though my computer started dying from some kind of hardware issue last year, and during that time I experienced dropouts while recording with the octacapture. On my current comp (2nd new comp in as many years. Don't buy Toshiba Satellites), performance is rock solid and latency for audio or midi inputs is refreshingly low, allowing real time recording of VST instruments.
This is where the Octa-Capture really shines, though it still eludes perfection. You get 8 mic or line inputs with onboard preamps or line amps with 50 db of gain if you need them. All inputs have digitally switchable phase inverse, +48v phantom power, and low frequency rolloff, as well as digital compression and gating available. The first two inputs also have the ability to be switched into high z mode for DI purposes, while the last two have some extra headroom for loud sources. Outputs on the back (8, though 2 are usually used for the main stereo outs) allow you to patch in outboard equipment or send out different monitor mixes from the unit.
The Octa-capture allows you to create and switch between 4 virtual mixes for monitoring, with different levels and panning in the input channels, as well as sends and returns for onboard reverbs (which can't be recorded unless you run the main audio out back into the unit).
One of my favorite features on the box is the ability to auto-set levels on channels of your choosing, where the device will intelligently set gain to prevent clipping during a predefined monitoring period. This is amazing for tasks such as recording yourself playing drums, and negates the need to run back and forth to the interface tweaking levels on each microphone. The onboard reverb and compression is also a great logistical tool for giving performers the sweetening in a headphone mix that might inspire a more spirited performance.
The OC is slightly lacking in expandability, with no ADAT connections (though it does include a stereo SPDIF input). Roland claims you can connect two of the units to the same computer and have identical performance for 16-20 channels.
Bang for Buck
Yup, that's why i got this interface in the first place. It works with any PC having usb 2.0 connections, has a great feature set, lets you record 8 tracks of audio without the need for outboard preamps, and gives very good recording quality and latency times. It's not my super-duper ideal pie in the sky interface, but at $550, there are no complaints that stick.