INT Lexicon U42S
I'm converting from an ADAT 8 Track recording setup to completely computer based recording. I already own a Lexicon PCM80 so I was pleased to see they were introducing USB Interfaces. I picked the U42S but I could have easily picked the U82S for the extra channels, to avoid plugging and unplugging. But now that I've bought it I'll plug/unplug the four channels as needed. I have mic/guitar/Drum L/Drum R so it's enough channels for my "live" setup. In any case I only record one track at a time. It has a solid metal/plastic case which should withstand any bumps. I don't intend to use it for gigs. It has a strip of LED's for each of the four channels, two for the Output and one for the monitor mixer. They're not bad but are not really that accurate - seems like the same number of leds are lit up regardless of the level control know setting until you hit the peak then it lights up all the leds and peaks (more on this later). The knobs, switches, inputs are all high quality. It has two headphone jacks, two instrument jacks (which override the mic inputs 1 and 2) and 4 mic jacks. There are also two main outs which I route to my mixer for mixing/monitoring. The headphone outputs are good - enough volume and you don;t have to crank them to hear the live/recorded mix. There's a level control for each channel. These are not that good - I found the level didn't change a lot until you cranked it - then at the last bit you got a big jump in volume and it overdrove the channel. It was still clean but it overloaded the signal going to the software. I would have liked to see the change in level more even over the range of the volume knob. The monitor mix knob works well - no latency for the live signal and you can blend in the previously recorded tracks perfectly.
The sudden jump in volume on the channel volume control worries me. I would have expected it to be a smoother increase overall. I had latency with SONAR 6 PE but I set the AUDIO/OPTIONS/ADVANCED Manual Offset (Recording Latency) to 1000 and every track recorded in sync. The latency was frustrating until somebody on Harmony Central suggested I try this. I would probably buy another one but maybe the U82S for more channels.