need advice - looking for audio interface

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by CmdrLaForge, Aug 9, 2005.

  1. CmdrLaForge macrumors 68040

    CmdrLaForge

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
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    around the world
    #1
    Hi,

    I am looking for an audio interface I can use to connect my condensor mics (need phantom power) to my mac. I know that the presonus firebox is really good but the price is soooo high. It would be really a stretch for me. I don't care so much if it is usb or firewire (or should I ???)

    Any help or advice is very much appreciated

    Thanks and regards
    LaForge
     
  2. dadio2002 macrumors regular

    dadio2002

    Joined:
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    London, Ontario
    #2
    I would check out the mbox by digidesign that uses protools. This is great if you only have 2 mics. Or you can check out the digi002. I have the 002 and will never switch to anything else.
     
  3. wwooden macrumors 68000

    wwooden

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    #3
    Go to M-AUDIO, these guys are the fastest growing audio company. They just make good stuff that works great with either GarageBand or ProTools. I'm sure you can find something there to fit your needs.
     
  4. jeffgtr macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    #4
    I think the Presonus is going to have better mic pre's than the m-audio. If your going to spend the money on decent condenser microphones you want to have a decent preamp. I use a Presonus Tube Pre going into a tascam US-224 for tracking with Cubase SX3, that set up works very well. I looked at the Firebox when I was having trouble finding drivers for the US224 for the mac (I'm a switcher from PC), it looked like a really nice unit. On the other hand, the other poster is right, m-audio makes some pretty nice stuff for the money.
     
  5. WinterMute Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

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    #5
    Whatever you get, don't buy a buss-powered interface, neither USB or FireWire have the juice to power mic amps effectively.

    I have an M-box with Focusrite amps, but they sound crappy, so I tend to use a high quality mic-amp (currently the Focusrite 428 or Amek Purepath) into the line input on the M-box.

    Check out Focusrite's new Sapphire interface. Sadly a good interface is going to cost money.

    M-audio units are probably the best of the buss-powered units, and you can now use Protools with some of them via Digi's M-powered Protools.
     
  6. faintember macrumors 65816

    faintember

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    #6
    I agree with jeffgtr and WinterMute. If you want a condenser mic to sound proper, you need a separate pre-amp.

    Personally i would run away from anything Digidesign unless you use ProTools. My m-box is still not supported under Tiger unless i upgrade to the OS X version of PT, which i refuse to do.

    The Sapphire or a M-audio product would prob be your best bets if you did not use an separate pre-amp.

    As to the FW vs. USB. I prefer FW hands down. FW is consistent, where usb is not. Inconsistency can lead to latency.

    As Winter said, a good product is going to cost some money, but i am pretty sure that you realize that considering that you are using condenser mics. This really is a case of "you get what you pay for".

    Hope we are helping!
     
  7. CmdrLaForge thread starter macrumors 68040

    CmdrLaForge

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    #7
    Hi guys,

    yes - you helped me a lot. I look at the Saffire very seriously now. The price is even higher the the Presonus but the feature are incredible. I realize that I have to spend some more - but hope its future proof then.

    Do you think the built-in pre-amps are good enough? It is perfectly possible to power the unit with regular power or over firewire. Maybe regular power gives better sound.

    A word about the Mics. I currently look at the Rode NT-3 and the Rode NT1000 as well as AKG 1000S.

    What do you think about those mics? I will use them mainly in the home studio and seldom on stage (if ever)

    Cheers
    La Forge
     
  8. WinterMute Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

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    #8
    The pre's in the sapphire are plenty good enough, 3rd (or 4th) generation Focusrite designs, and they sound OK when powered over FireWire, but much better when mains powered.

    On mics, the Rode's are generally good, but I wouldn't touch an AKG C1000 in that company. Check out Oktava Samson and SE mics as well, they have good ranges at very reasonable prices. If you have a little to spare look at Neumanns TLM103, a U87 capsule in a budget body.

    I'm still liking the idea of an M-audio powered Protools system, my M-box is looking sadder by the day, although it now runs fine under Tiger, and I tend to limit the amount of recording I do with it and use it for comping and editing mainly. One day I'm going to have to buy an HD for myself.
     
  9. rugonnaeatthat macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #9
    Edirol FA-101

    I just bought an Edirol FA-101 and have not looked back. It is 10in 10out at 24bit 192kHz, FW, bus powered, etc etc. It's truly superb; both in sound reproduction, and system/core audio intergration.

    I was using an Mbox before this which was an experience which I don't remember fondly. The mbox suffers from being USB (made for PC's) and the lack of using core audio in any useful manager. When I bought my Edirol I didn't have anything to install - infact it had a slip of paper which told me to upgrade OSX to the latest version for best use! I was stuck on 10.3.7 on my Mbox - and there was the entire period between 10.3.2 and 10.3.7 that the Mbox didn't work. I really had a bad experience with Digidesign.

    Someone wrote earlier that they wouldn't use bus powered devices, but I haven't had a problem with my Edirol - probably because it is on Firewire.

    I'd buy another FA-101 in an instant - I'm a real happy camper :)
     
  10. Surreal macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2004
    #10
    no one mentioned the 896HD?

    or the Traveler?

    or the MOTU 828mkII?

    man, macrumors HATES MOTU!!!

    :rolleyes: ;)



    edit..and about usb v firewire

    it has pretty much already been said..but usb --even usb 2.0-- does not match the raw bandwidth of FW. usb's max speed is burst speed..fw i meant for large amounts of continuous data.
     
  11. SRSound macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2005
    #11
    Personally, I use (and love) the digidesign 002R w/ pro tools (18in/out 4 focusrite preamps) and it does a wonderful job. Remeber that sometimes the audio interface will limit what software you can use so keep that in mind when chosing. If you want to shop around a bit more, check this out:
    http://www.sweetwater.com/store/category/c683

    Also, I own 2 RODE NT1000s and they are a wonderful value for the money, with surprisingly full frequency response. They did a wonderful job on some backing vocals I recorded a little while ago. However, the NTK is THE best microphone I've used that cost less then 1000. The NT-3s have worked very well on stage for instrument micing with minimal feedback in my experience, but are even better for hi hat or aux percussion micing.
     
  12. CmdrLaForge thread starter macrumors 68040

    CmdrLaForge

    Joined:
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    #12
    Hi,

    thanks a lot for the feedback guys,

    now I look at the Edirol as well. But I think the Saffire is the better choice. I don't need that much inputs and the integrated DSP sounds great.

    The digidesign 002 are out of my league.

    For the mics - the Neumanns are to expensive. I will go with either the Rode NT1000s or Rode NT3

    Thanks and Cheers
    LaForge
     
  13. WinterMute Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

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    Location:
    London, England
    #13
    I didn't say I wouldn't use them, I do use them, my point was that they don't sound as good as mains powered systems because the buss power isn't sufficient for the mic amps. If you like the sound your edirol puts out, great, in the end we all use what we can afford rather than what we like.

    Surreal: MOTU make some of the best hardware around, but it's expensive for the big stuff and limited for the lower end.
     
  14. Sirus The Virus macrumors 6502a

    Sirus The Virus

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    Texas
    #14
    Go with the Digi02. I've used these things and they are totally awesome.
     
  15. ddub macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2005
    #15
    MOTU

    In my opinion, the MOTU 828mkII is one of the best interfaces for your money. Good selection of I/O, including mic/instrument pre's, and a built-in MIDI interface. Also, the monitoring/mix capabilities of this interface are awesome. You should give it a serious look.

    http://www.motu.com/products/motuaudio/828/body.html/en
     
  16. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #16
    Great products -- just at double the price range the OP is looking in...

    Cmdr, not only do the preamps need to amplify your microphone's puny little signal (and one determining factor of an amplifier's quality is the maximum swing in voltage it has to work with - a reason that battery powered boom-boxes sound worse than mains-powered stereos) -- but the interface also has to supply 48V phantom power to the microphone to charge the condensor element. Doing this while drawing 5V power from the Firewire or USB bus (with a 500 mA maximum yet) is a challenge in design for the engineers. So a unit that comes with AC power is preferable whenever you are in the studio.

    Thanks
    Trevor
    CanadaRAM.com
     
  17. faintember macrumors 65816

    faintember

    Joined:
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    #17
    In refrence to MOTU

    Bingo. I have a 2408 mkI and it is a great interface, but for one i have to use crappy drivers for it because motu, in their infinite wisdom, decided not to update the drivers properly to os x. The only reason i have the motu is because i found it at a local recording studio, which was switching over to all Digi-crap and i bought it for $250.

    $1000 and up is not really affordable for the average user. In this instance, it was about helping CmdrLaForge get the best bang for the buck.

    To CmdrLaForge, you will quite happy with the Sapphire and either of the Rode mics. Remember, if you want to add a mic pre amp later, you can. IF you can find a dealer for the oktava's i would seriously consider them as well as they are great mics if you are on a budget!

    Its good to know that we can help someone on these forums!
     
  18. CmdrLaForge thread starter macrumors 68040

    CmdrLaForge

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
    Location:
    around the world
    #18
    Hi,

    thanks for your help - I really appreciate it. Yes - I am on a budget. I cannot spend as much as I want.... In fact $400 seemed to me a little bit too much for an audio interface. On the other hand - it's not worth saving $200 and buying some device that in the end doesn't get the job done right and I have to go out and buy another one.

    That's why I am now really considering the Saffire. Looks pretty good to me. With the on-board DSP's my brand new iBook G4 should be able to manage it quite well.

    Thanks again everybody
    LaForge
     
  19. faintember macrumors 65816

    faintember

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    the ruins of the Cherokee nation
    #19
    CmdrLaForge,

    i just ran across this at the Sweetwater website.

    Presonus Firebox B-Stock

    It looks like it was a defective unit or the like, but has been remanufactured. I haven't purchased anything like this before, but at $339 it is not a bad buy, and it is still covered by the regular Sweetwater warranty (not sure about manufacturer warranty).

    But then again, that Sapphire looks so sweet with the on-board DSP and Focusrite does make some nice preamps. I would prob still go with the Sapphire, just figured i would throw out the Firebox B-stock because of it's price.

    -cameron
     
  20. CmdrLaForge thread starter macrumors 68040

    CmdrLaForge

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    #20
    Hi Cameron,

    thanks a lot for the feedback and suggestions. The price is really sweat. But I live in Germany and they do not ship this product (as well as the Saffire) to Germany. I already asked some dealers and it looks like for some products they are just not allowed to ship oversees.

    If anyone knows a dealer shipping here - would be great.

    Cheers
    LaForge
     
  21. faintember macrumors 65816

    faintember

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    #21
    That stinks CmdrLaForge.

    I will check with a couple of my buddies, who are German, but live in the states now for graduate programs. They may know a company. The only German audio companies i know are of course Steinberg (Cubase, Nuendo) and Doepfer. Hopefully my buddies will know of someone else that actually carries the product. Hope to know soon.

    If WinterMute sees this thread he may know of someone, as he is in England i believe. Its weird how an American based company wont ship one of their products to Germany. Strange!

    -cameron
     
  22. CmdrLaForge thread starter macrumors 68040

    CmdrLaForge

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    #22
    Hi Cameron,

    you can buy the stuff in Germany - but only from local vendors. You cannot buy and import it from a US dealer. I guess because the prices are much higer in Germany and to protect the local vendors.

    Cheers
    LaForge
     
  23. WinterMute Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

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    Jan 19, 2003
    Location:
    London, England
    #23
    Focusrite's an English company (had lunch with their MD last week), I'm sure there are a number of audio sites who'll ship to Germany, try http://www.dv247.com for starters.

    DV aren't the cheapest though, so take a look around.
     
  24. faintember macrumors 65816

    faintember

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    #24
    Good information to know, thanks WinterMute.

    Cmdr, i did talk to my German buddies, but they did not know of any companies that would do what you are looking for. :(
     

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