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Audio interface and mic recommendations for small home setup
Old 21st September 2011
  #1
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Audio interface and mic recommendations for small home setup

Saw a couple of interfaces today. M-Audio Fast Track Pro and Komplete Audio 6. Need to get one for my small home setup and new Mac Mini Server. Was about to get the M-Audio Fast Track but decided to ask some more questions here first. Go USB? FireWire? Any other tips or advice?

As far as mics go I have no clue. Ultimately just for scratch tracks but it would be nice to have a decent mic that I could keep some final vocals with.

What about some of those package deals like the Avid Vocal deal where they have a mic, audio interface and mbox in one box?
Old 21st September 2011
  #2
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To be simple I would just go with a USB interface. It is true that firewire will give you some advantages but I feel since firewire is slowly being phased out anyway it is best to just stay with USB.
Old 21st September 2011
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by savyurrecords View Post
To be simple I would just go with a USB interface. It is true that firewire will give you some advantages but I feel since firewire is slowly being phased out anyway it is best to just stay with USB.
No performance advantage?
Old 21st September 2011
  #4
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You will find the best converters in the price range in these interfaces:

Mackie Blackjack ($149)
Emu 0404 USB ($199)

CAD M179 ($159) or Rode NT-1a ($225) or Oktava MK319 ($110 used) make a good all round starter mic. For vocals, I prefer the NT-1a or MK319. For instruments, I prefer the M179.
Old 21st September 2011
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gehauser View Post
You will find the best converters in the price range in these interfaces:

Mackie Blackjack ($149)
Emu 0404 USB ($199)

CAD M179 ($159) or Rode NT-1a ($225) or Oktava MK319 ($110 used) make a good all round starter mic. For vocals, I prefer the NT-1a or MK319. For instruments, I prefer the M179.
I was going to say the 179 seems like it's for snares, ag's etc. Will check the other for vocals. What about the Sennheiser 441, CAD E-100, and the deluxe version of the TapeOp omni?

Btw, your Mackie Blackjack and Emu 0404 USB recommendations look very nice indeed. The Mackie seems like it has a better reputation. What do you think of them both?

This looks good Equitek E100S
Old 21st September 2011
  #6
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Echo Audiofire 2 - $199 , the A/D is pretty damn good , really close to High End converters , doesn't sound as "Big" as the expensive stuff. I don't like the D/A though but what can you do , its only $199.

I'd get a used KSM32 condenser mic , $300-$350 . They call it the SM57 of condensers , sounds good on everything and built tough . Shure KSM32 microphone and bongo ties review | Ronan's Recording Show
Old 21st September 2011
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ty604 View Post
I was going to say the 179 seems like it's for snares, ag's etc. Will check the other for vocals. What about the Sennheiser 441, CAD E-100, and the deluxe version of the TapeOp omni?

Btw, your Mackie Blackjack and Emu 0404 USB recommendations look very nice indeed. The Mackie seems like it has a better reputation. What do you think of them both?

This looks good Equitek E100S
I like the clips I have heard on the 441 and e100s, but I don't have those mics so can't make definitive comments.

I have the Emu 0404 USB and the sound is superb (converters and preamps). In fact, I prefer its sound to that of my RME UFX. The Emu 04040 USB drivers are only fair, a little quirky but useable. The box is plastic, but has survived one drop to the floor here.

I don't have the Blackjack but I have researched it intensely a couple times.
Old 21st September 2011
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScumBum View Post
Echo Audiofire 2 - $199 , the A/D is pretty damn good , really close to High End converters , doesn't sound as "Big" as the expensive stuff. I don't like the D/A though but what can you do , its only $199.

I'd get a used KSM32 condenser mic , $300-$350 . They call it the SM57 of condensers , sounds good on everything and built tough . Shure KSM32 microphone and bongo ties review | Ronan's Recording Show
Will take a look at the Echo. KSM32 is great for vocals?
Quote:
Originally Posted by other forum
Audiofire 2 and 4 have the same akm ak4620a converters as rme fireface 400. Audiofire 8 and 12 have cirrus cs4272 converters. i think the same cirrus converters were used in apogee ensemble.
What do you think about that finding? They were saying that the diff in quality between the converters (2,4) & (8,12) were HUGE. What about RME BabyFace etc?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gehauser View Post
I like the clips I have heard on the 441 and e100s, but I don't have those mics so can't make definitive comments.

I have the Emu 0404 USB and the sound is superb (converters and preamps). In fact, I prefer its sound to that of my RME UFX. The Emu 04040 USB drivers are only fair, a little quirky but useable. The box is plastic, but has survived one drop to the floor here.

I don't have the Blackjack but I have researched it intensely a couple times.
Worried about the software for these audio interfaces. Some of these come with mixing software? Or the OS X drivers might not work with OS X Lion etc? What brands of audio interfaces traditionally have excellent compatibility with OS X and are more likely to be compatible with Lion?
Old 21st September 2011
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ty604 View Post
Will take a look at the Echo. KSM32 is great for vocals? What do you think about that finding? They were saying that the diff in quality between the converters (2,4) & (8,12) were HUGE. What about RME?

Worried about the software for these audio interfaces. Some of these come with mixing software? Or the OS X drivers might not work with OS X Lion etc? What brands of audio interfaces traditionally have excellent compatibility with OS X and are more likely to be compatible with Lion?
I would second the ksm32 if in your budget. Do you have a budget for mic and interface?

I use a PC so can't speak for use of the interfaces on a Mac.
Old 21st September 2011
  #10
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The 0404 is underrated in my opinion, great sounding ad. The 1212m has the same ad chip as the digi 192, although its worth pointing out that it's often the circuitry around the chips, e.g. opamps, that make the big difference.
Old 21st September 2011
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiopo View Post
The 0404 is underrated in my opinion, great sounding ad. The 1212m has the same ad chip as the digi 192, although its worth pointing out that it's often the circuitry around the chips, e.g. opamps, that make the big difference.
VERY good point. Forgot about that. I read that there are only about 4 different makes of converter chips in the first place and that like you said, it's the circuitry that makes the diff. I'm seriously considering the Echo AudioFire 8. Apparently amazing. Also heard that the AF 2&4 flavors sound nothing like the 8&12 flavors. Apparently the 8&12 are "stunning". I'll have to do some more research and listening. I'm in Japan though so listening is a bit tough. Will probably be going with reviews most likely.

p.s. I've noticed a lot of people buying an audio interface/converter (that comes with pres) are still buying separate pres "for more warmth". Analogue instrument/vocal ->pre amp -> A/D ->DAW. Is there a lot of benefit to adding another pre amp?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gehauser View Post
I would second the ksm32 if in your budget. Do you have a budget for mic and interface?
.
About $1K used.


.
Old 21st September 2011
  #12
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Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 USB Audio Interface at zZounds
Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 USB Audio Interface

PreSonus AudioBox 44VSL USB Audio Interface | PreSonus at zZounds
PreSonus AudioBox 44VSL USB Audio Interface

Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 USB Interface at zZounds
Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 USB Interface
Old 21st September 2011
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ty604 View Post
VERY good point. Forgot about that. I read that there are only about 4 different makes of converter chips in the first place and that like you said, it's the circuitry that makes the diff. I'm seriously considering the Echo AudioFire 8. Apparently amazing. Also heard that the AF 2&4 flavors sound nothing like the 8&12 flavors. Apparently the 8&12 are "stunning". I'll have to do some more research and listening. I'm in Japan though so listening is a bit tough. Will probably be going with reviews most likely.

p.s. I've noticed a lot of people buying an audio interface/converter (that comes with pres) are still buying separate pres "for more warmth". Analogue instrument/vocal ->pre amp -> A/D ->DAW. Is there a lot of benefit to adding another pre amp?
I'd personally say that there isnt but it depends on so many things. Budget pres never sound great to me and you have to check that the line in on whatever interface you get actually does bypass the preamp. For example I know that the line in on some m-audio gear goes through the preamp still, in which case getting a higher end pre is a waste of money.

I think in general if you have a budget interface, budget mic, then its a big guess as to whether adding 'warmth' is going to be a good or terrible thing anyway. And the only budget pres I've owned have been poor.
Old 21st September 2011
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by razorboy View Post
Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 USB Interface
Intriguing but their marketing is based on the Cirrus chip which makes me iffy about that doublespeak.
Quote:
Two mic inputs are armed with high-end pre-amps while Cirrus Logic converters deliver pristine, transparent sound.
Does look tasty though. Anyone else care to chime in?
Old 21st September 2011
  #15
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BTW as an aside have you checked out the focusrite liquid saffire? Good interface and two liquid preamps.
Old 21st September 2011
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiopo View Post
I'd personally say that there isnt but it depends on so many things. Budget pres never sound great to me and you have to check that the line in on whatever interface you get actually does bypass the preamp. For example I know that the line in on some m-audio gear goes through the preamp still, in which case getting a higher end pre is a waste of money.

I think in general if you have a budget interface, budget mic, then its a big guess as to whether adding 'warmth' is going to be a good or terrible thing anyway. And the only budget pres I've owned have been poor.
What do you think of the AudioFire 8? It's sort of getting out of budget range and plus their stuff has probably the best reputation for the money on the market. From what I've read for the past day straight many people the AF8 on par with the big name converters i.e. Ensemble etc.
Old 21st September 2011
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiopo View Post
I'd personally say that there isnt but it depends on so many things. Budget pres never sound great to me and you have to check that the line in on whatever interface you get actually does bypass the preamp. For example I know that the line in on some m-audio gear goes through the preamp still, in which case getting a higher end pre is a waste of money.

I think in general if you have a budget interface, budget mic, then its a big guess as to whether adding 'warmth' is going to be a good or terrible thing anyway. And the only budget pres I've owned have been poor.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ty604 View Post
What do you think of the AudioFire 8? It's sort of getting out of budget range and plus their stuff has probably the best reputation for the money on the market. From what I've read for the past day straight many people the AF8 on par with the big name converters i.e. Ensemble etc.
I haven't used one so cant comment on the sound. You can probably trust the reviews though, and they all seem to praise the preamps at least. My only concern would be the lack of digital io, limits your upgrade options a little.
Old 21st September 2011
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiopo View Post
BTW as an aside have you checked out the focusrite liquid saffire? Good interface and two liquid preamps.
Looks very nice. I only have vocals and guitars to track though. Seems like overkill. A bit steep as well. If I were to buy a converter on looks alone it would be that one lol

Quote:
Originally Posted by kiopo View Post
I haven't used one so cant comment on the sound. You can probably trust the reviews though, and they all seem to praise the preamps at least. My only concern would be the lack of digital io, limits your upgrade options a little.
Hmmm
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiopo View Post
Budget pres never sound great to me and you have to check that the line in on whatever interface you get actually does bypass the preamp. For example I know that the line in on some m-audio gear goes through the preamp still, in which case getting a higher end pre is a waste of money.
Where in the specs would I check for that? What would be the terminology etc? For example in the AudioFire 8 above.


Btw are some people who use mostly software instruments are mentioning going out from the DAW to the IOs to utilize the warmth of the pre amp then track into the DAW. Could you explain this for me please? Would it be the converter's pre amp or a separate hardware preamp?

+ What do you think of having optical outs into Mac Mini? Nice option no? What about upcoming Thunderbolt interfaces in the works? Maybe buy a cheaper interface until a Thunderbolt version comes out?


.
Old 21st September 2011
  #19
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Everything I've read is that most of the Echo stuff sounds the same . Heres a list showing that most use the same converter chips . Echo Digital Audio Corporation

Yes , the KSM32 works great on vocals . This is all KSM32 . https://www.gearslutz.com/board/6936677-post26.html
Old 21st September 2011
  #20
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I also did shoot outs between the BLack Lion Audio Sparrow (High End) vs the Echo and the Echo sounds good just not as big . BLA Sparrow vs Echo , Digi002 , Behr ADA8000
Old 22nd September 2011
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScumBum View Post
Everything I've read is that most of the Echo stuff sounds the same . Heres a list showing that most use the same converter chips . Echo Digital Audio Corporation

Yes , the KSM32 works great on vocals . This is all KSM32 . https://www.gearslutz.com/board/6936677-post26.html
Thanks. Man that demo was grating on my ears. I couldn't even listen to it. I'm looking for more of a warm, big close sound found on Depeche Mode tracks. I guess the EQ'd in the song above isn't to my liking or something. Not a fan of that thin Dylan sound.

What do you think of the Komplete Audio 6 interface?
Old 22nd September 2011
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiopo View Post
Budget pres never sound great to me and you have to check that the line in on whatever interface you get actually does bypass the preamp. For example I know that the line in on some m-audio gear goes through the preamp still, in which case getting a higher end pre is a waste of money.
How do you check that the line in on whatever interface you get actually does bypass the preamp? What specs should I be looking at? For example in this AudioFire 4 interface and the Komplete Audio 6 interface.
Old 22nd September 2011
  #23
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So I bought the AudioFire 4 and Yamaha HS50Ms today. I can always change or upgrade later if something comes up. At least for now I can get started. Now to play around with my new Mac Mini server. Waiting for 16BG RAM
Old 22nd September 2011
  #24
I use M-Audio Fast Track. (USB)

USB is still universal, I can use it with my MAC and my old computer which doesn't have Firewire. That's a convenient.
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