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Old 9th August 2020
Gear Nut
kijix84's Avatar

Putting together a ‘modular’ audio interface with external AD/DA?

Usually when budget is relatively low, people go for a pre-built audio interface like the MOTUs, Focusrites etc. They do most everything people need and they do it all relatively well. The downside is none of what it does is ever really all that ‘great’. I’m looking to ‘piecemeal’ my own setup as I only need a handful of inputs and outputs and only 2 Preamps.

I currently have a Lavry 2 channel converter for D/A that Ive always used via digital IO on an existing audio interface. Now I am now looking to get a 2 channel A/D converter which would give me two channels of both AD and DA. My confusion lies in how to set all this up if I want to do all of this without an audio interface as a ‘middleman’. Is doing this even possible?

Of course with just ADDA alone I am left without preamps so I’d have to buy something for that. As far as audio drivers go Which I know is a big part of an audio interface I have no idea where I stand if I want to use only external AD/DA

If I wanted the equivalent of a typical 2 input 2 output interface with a couple of preamps (with Hi-Z) to be able to record a track in stereo, how would I even hook this up?

A budget all in one interface like the Scarlett 2i2 when you read the description has these features:

High-performance 24-bit/192kHz converters
2 upgraded 3rd-generation Scarlett mic preamps
Switchable Air mode gives your recordings a brighter, more open sound
2 high-headroom instrument inputs for bass, guitar, or synths
2 balanced line inputs, suitable for connecting line-level sources
Unique, intuitive halo level indicators for optimized gain staging
Super-low latency lets you monitor with native plug-in effects in real time
Direct Monitor circuit for monitoring your input with guaranteed low-latency
Balanced TRS L/R monitor outputs with level control
Headphone output with independent level control

If I want the equivalent In separate gear, as far as I can tell I would need:

(1) 2 channel AD converter
(1) 2 channel DA converter
(2) Single channel preamp with Hi-Z inputs

What else am I missing? Does each AD and DA converter have their own separate drivers? What about latency? I feel like I am missing something very basic here.

If I HAVE to use an interface in the middle, the cheapest ive found is a Scarlett 6i6 which is $299 and has SPDIF I/O. Is this the best option?