Best Audio Interface solution for MBP?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Codeseven, Nov 3, 2009.

  1. macrumors regular

    I want to use an audio interface (audio module) connected to my MBP to play VST Software (ie Superior Drummer 2.0, BFD2, OWD, Addictive Drums, EZ Drummer ect) using my Roland V-Drums TD-12 as the trigger device.

    Anybody using a sub $500 external sound module connected to their MBP that they can recommend to me?

    Also, what method are you using (is fastest) to connect it to the MBP to keep latency low, Firewire 800, USB 2.0 or an ExpressCard/34 solution? Thanks

  2. macrumors 68030


    If you don't need any inputs then you're just looking for a good D/A converter with optical in.
    Also, the express slot with eSata is killer.
  3. macrumors regular

    Thanks Jim.

    I have to admit I'm at all this. I've only had my TD-12 kit for a few months and I'm already wanting to venture into the VST world.

    I take it then that Firewire 800 is my best choice since I'm now learning that USB 2.0 is slower.

    I'm not sure what you mean about needed inputs. I'll only be connecting my TD-12, MBP and the Audio Interface together.

    Do you have a recommendation for an Audio Interface or Drum VST Software?
  4. macrumors 68030


    oh, i miss read your post about wanting to trigger the VST with your pads. I'm guessing you'd do that with midi. Is there midi in your drumset control brain? Also look into BFD, it's a killer program.
  5. macrumors G4

    You will not have to spend $500. You can get this for under $200.

    Latency in the interface is not much of an issue the speed of sound is about one foot per millisecond. so even with USB we are taling about the "delay" you might hear if you moved an arm's length away from a real drum. The cable type does not matter for this very simple setup.

    All you need is an interface that can do the sample rate you want at 24-bits. after that practical things matters like, do you want a headphone jack, on the front or rear of the unit? What kind of outputs? Do you need XLR? Do you need rack mount?

    and one big feature you might want is a MIDI interface combined into the audio interface. This can save you a few cables. But most interfaces will have MIDI.

    Most of the different in quality between models is in the input section and you will not even be using that unless you decide to do some recording later.
  6. macrumors regular

    Thanks for the replies.

    Yes, there are MIDI connections on my drum module (TD-12). I currently have my drum module and MBP connected via a MIDI to USB cable and have been messing around with the available free VST drum software demo versions out there like BFD2 and Addictive drums. I've also been trying the trial versions of Reaper and Toontrack. I haven't been very successful at using Garageband to host the VST's though.

    All in all the VST's sound much better than the factory sounds from the Roland drum module (even the limited sounds in the trial versions) so I'd like to go ahead and purchase a full version of a VST software and as many have done (from what I've read on the net) also purchase a good sound module.

    I'm only playing the sounds in realtime for practice and enjoyment but might some day want to also record so I'd like to have components and software that I wont have to upgrade to do so.
  7. macrumors 68030


    A lot of people like the Apogee Duet, but the lack of specs bugs me. I would look at the m-audio profire 610, although it might be more than you need. The issue with getting all in one things (like most interfaces) is that the higher quality ones also tend to have the most I/O, which it seems like you just need 2 outs.
  8. macrumors regular

    I think your right as far as only needing two I/O, for now anyway. Looking at several manufacturers these sound modules can go for allot of money but as you pointed out, probably overkill for what little I'm planning on doing.

    I've seen both those modules mentioned. The M-Audio brand sometimes takes an opinion beating as far as quality but for the price your supposedly getting allot.
  9. macrumors 68020


    Wondering how exactly you're planning to setup your gear. Because there's a difference between an audio interface, like the Duet, and an external sound module that you're using as a drum synth.

    If you're just using your V-Drums as a MIDI trigger for software synths, you don't really need an audio interface. The interface usually comes into play when you're recording actual audio, which you're not. Firewire and latency issues usually matters when you're dealing with live audio, not MIDI. Pretty much only thing you'd be using the interface for is to route the laptop output to your speaker monitors.
  10. macrumors G4

    This is what I was getting at above, you just do not need anything expensive.
    Take a look at the Leixicon "Alpha". It is a lowest priced quality interface.

    If you want a unit that combines MIDI to reduce the mess of cables and number of USB cables then look here
  11. macrumors 68030


    Define quality interface. I don't think 100db dynamic range qualifies as quality.
  12. macrumors 68020


    Codeseven, what kind of speaker monitors are you using?

    Because this whole thread is void if you're just playing drums through your MBP speakers...
  13. macrumors 604


    I have:
    Alesis USB MultiMix (my cheap and first one)
    Lexicon Omega
    Native Instruments Audio Kontrol
    and another large Alesis board.
  14. macrumors regular

    Sorry for the delay, thanks for the replies.

    I'll be using VST software, Superior Drummer 2.0 and using my TD-12 to trigger my Roland e-drums. The sound module (Audio Interface) would be used in place of the basic sound solution in my MBP which wasn't designed to handle large sound files at low latency while playing live.

    I've been looking at the Apogee Duet, Presonus Firebox and the Focusrite Saffire. Driver support is critical especially with each OS update. The Duet is very pricey, I've heard Presonus is slow on new drivers (as is M-Audio supposedly) so that leaves the Saffire. I'll look into the other links also, thanks.
  15. macrumors regular

    DrumJim, I was thinking about using my 300GB WD VelociRaptor external e-Sata HD hooked up to a Merax e-SATA ExpressCard/34 I have. Would that be better than using a Firewire enclosure and the Firewire port? I was going to use the Firewire port for the Audio Interface.

    I know there have been many problems with e-SATA ExpressCard/34's. Which one do you use? Thanks
  16. macrumors 68030


    I use the expresscard for my HDD and firewire (400) for my audio interface and have had no issues.
  17. macrumors 68020


    As a Duet owner, I can tell you the reason the interface is priced so high is because of the quality mic preamps. If you're not recording audio in, it's not worth putting down 5 bills for

    And I'm trying to figure out where your bottleneck is. Bare minimum, your I/O would be something like this

    V-Drums -> MIDI/USB Converter -> MBP -> Stereo Out to Speakers

    With an interface, you'd be doing this

    V-Drums -> MIDI/USB Converter (or Interface's MIDI In Port through Firewire) -> MBP -> Back to the Interface through Firewire -> Speakers

  18. macrumors regular


    Thanks DrumJim. Which e-SATA expresscard are you using? I got mine from Fry's last year, don't know if it's any good or remember what I paid for it. I've read that they go from $20-$200! and there are crappy e-sata cards out there.
  19. macrumors regular

    Hi Liqourpuki. Those Duets are nice man and I like that their fully Apple friendly. I don't plan on recording but if I change my mind some day I'd hate to have to buy another AI. You definitely get what you pay for as far as decent DAC's.

    I believe everything will be connected this way. TD-12> MIDI to USB> MBP> Firewire> to Audio Interface> Headphones/Speaker System. Also, in my case, I'll have an external HD loaded with the VST software sound library> e-SATA ExpressCard/34> MBP.
  20. macrumors 6502

    My M-Audio FireWire 1814 works just great with capturing a Roland V-Drum kit via midi while grabbing several audio streams too.

    This cost me €150 second hand, so pretty inexpensive for what you get.

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