Poll: which of these 4 interfaces would you choose?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by JDW3, Apr 7, 2010.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Feb 23, 2010
    I've narrowed it down to these 4 interfaces for my first foray into Garageband.

    The E-MU 1616M.

    Echo AudioFire 4

    M-Audio Fast Track Ultra

    Apogee Duet

    There have been raving reviews about the the Apogee. I'm considering this one although it's one of the more expensive at $495.00.

    Some reviewers are saying the newer types of USB are as fast as firewire. The M-Audio is USB. Is it really a problem?

    It's also hard because the reviews on the 'net are sometimes 5 years old!
  2. macrumors 68020


    Jun 2, 2008
  3. macrumors regular

    Sep 16, 2008
    The Duet. The converters will be of higher quality than anything else there.

  4. macrumors 603

    Feb 20, 2009
    "The Duet. The converters will be of higher quality than anything else there"

    Be aware that with the Duet, I believe you're strictly limited to only TWO inputs.

    Those "in the know": is there any way around this?
  5. macrumors regular

    Apr 1, 2009
    The Duet has far and away the best converters of the four.

    You are limited to 2 simultaneous inputs. No way around this unless you
    a) get a different interface with more inputs in the same price range
    b) get an Apogee Ensemble in a much higher price range

  6. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 23, 2010

    Sorry about the clutter. Trying to eliminate the variables.

    Has USB improved to almost an equal to firewire? Just going by what I read recently.

    As far as the 2 inputs, I could probably deal with that for now. Especially if it's higher quality sound.
  7. macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    What are you recording. Line level from a digital piano? do you have condenser mics? How many inputs. Each of these is good but maybe a better match to one use or another.

    Is USB as good as Firewire? As good for what? For two 44.1K 16 bit channels USB 1 is overkill but for 16 channels you need FW.
  8. macrumors newbie


    Apr 8, 2010
    The M-Audio Fast Track Ultra is my go-to interface. I have used many, many interfaces and this one has been stable and reliable. It is nicely organized to be the center of my studio connections. It also works with Pro Tools M which is necessary for my setup.

    Apogee Duet is another good choice with excellent quality. it is nicely integrated into Garage Band and Logic 9. It is maybe a bit less convenient because the connections are made by breakout cable.

    You will get conflicting opinions on Firewire vs USB. I like to use a USB interface and run my external hard drives on Firewire. This has proven to be a reliable and stable configuration with my MacBook Pro.
  9. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 23, 2010
    I'll be recording mainly amplified guitar at a decent volume, and vocals. Probably some acoustic guitar.

    Considering I'm starting out, I probably would be fine with 2 channels. I'm not trying to record a drum kit or a band. I have a decent condenser mic and some SM58s.

    So with that, I may well be able to get away with USB. But after reading about glitches with it, I just want to eliminate the easy problems first. I'm also above my $200.00 limit, haha. The duet is pretty expensive but seems to be the least problematic.
  10. M87
    macrumors 65816

    Jul 18, 2009
    I'm no expert, but I think if you're only recording guitar and vocals the Apogee One should be sufficient. It's much closer to your 200 limit too. It works for me anyway.
  11. macrumors 6502a


    Jan 30, 2005
    In a house.
    Pure D/A conversion the Duet would easily be the best choice.
  12. macrumors member

    Feb 8, 2010
    Audiofire 4.

    1) Has same converters as RME Gear.
    2) Has more inputs/outputs than the Duet
    3) Duet is overexpensive.

    I know a lot of people jump on the Apogee bandwagon, but their entry level gear just isn't that great compared to competitors who make entry level gear.

    USB2 is -just as- fast as Firewire strictly speaking. But you're than likely to have multiple items on your USB2 Bus and that will slow you down. Dedicating Firewire to an Audio Interface is solid.
  13. macrumors member

    Nov 26, 2009
    I think you should DEFINITELY get the M-Audio Profire 610. Originally, I bought one to use as a backup for my RME Multiface II / ExpressCard system and found a B-stock on eBay for under $300. I've also extensively demoed the Apogee Duet. I'm selling the Multiface right now because I've been so impressed with the Profire.

    For one, the drivers are absolutely rock solid. I've never had a glitch with the 610 and honestly could not say the same for the RME despite the company's reputation.

    The Duet does have the best converters, but unless I was monitoring back on a very very nice playback system, I couldn't tell the difference between them and the RME's converters. The Profire 610 isn't quite on par with the Duet as far as converters are concerned, but the difference between the Profire and RME converters is negligible in my opinion. If you're really cutting a professional record for release, you're going to go to the studio and use their console and Apogee converters anyway.

    But MOST important here, the preamps on the Profire 610 are definitely better than the Duet's and IMO better than the pre's on the Fireface. They have tons of clean gain and great frequency extension. If you're going to be recording vocals and you have a decent mic, preamps should be very important to you. I record bass and guitar direct with the 610 all the time now too and it really is absolutely killer.

    You get 4 analog inputs, 8 outputs, and 2 more of each with SPDIF. It's very flexible and very well made. M-Audio definitely stepped up their game with the Profire series.
  14. macrumors regular

    Sep 16, 2008
    Do you know that for sure? Not disputing it, just curious. We did a bit of an A/B with my Audiofire 2 and the University's Fireface 800, the 800 definitely sounded better. Were we hearing things?

  15. macrumors regular

    Apr 1, 2009
    I'm afraid I must to disagree. Many people avoid M-Audio with Garageband and Logic because their drivers are not solid!!! I don't know about the 610, but the and fast track pros over 2-4 years were definitely not solid. In this time they must have made better drivers then?

    Duet is more expensive than the competition because it's Converters and preamps are true Pro grade quality.

    If the OP needs to only ever record one input at a time the Apogee One interface may be fine.

  16. macrumors member

    Nov 26, 2009
    Fast Track Series = total garbage, useful for updating the Firmware on Fractal Audio products but that's about it

    Profire Series = Might as well be made by a completely different company I guarantee you. I perform with my laptop every week and I do a lot of mobile recording. I swapped out the RME because it was less reliable.

    If you have the immediate means, buy both and then return the loser.

    Don't get me wrong, the Duet is a great product but you are definitely paying a lot for the brand name and the preamps do not justify the price IMO. The converters are fantastic though, yes. All I'm saying is that unless you're in a pro studio with great mics for your amp and vocals, you aren't going to be WOWed by the difference despite the current fad of converter-spec obsession. You will notice the difference between preamps immediately and as far as I know, both are very reliable. You get more flexible I/O on the 610 if your needs change and preamps that I found to be slightly better than the Duet's. You can find the 610 for about $200 less than the $500 Duet.
  17. macrumors 603

    Feb 20, 2009
    Lots of posts here, kind of going in all directions.

    Once again, I'd like to suggest the Echo AudioFire4 as a "great compromise".

    No, its analog-to-digital converters may not be 100% as good as Apogee's, but they are "right up there" with the best of the rest. I think the original poster will be quite pleased with the sound quality he gets from this unit.

    No, it doesn't have 4 mic inputs (like the M-Audio Fast Track Ultra). But it does have plenty of other inputs that you can use. When your needs increase to 4 simultaneous XLR inputs, you can add a "standalone" mic preamp (connected via the line inputs). I'd suggest looking for a used FMR "RNP", one of the nicest 2-channel mic pres that fills a gap between the low-end and $1,000+ studio preamps.

    Firewire is a BIG PLUS. There are NO DRIVERS needed (you've already read postings in this thread about folks complaining about the quality of M-Audio's "drivers"). You will never have to deal with "driver problems" with firewire. Firewire uses the "CORE Audio drivers" that are built into the Mac OS. You just plug in the interface, and the Mac recognizes its "presence" IMMEDIATELY. It is then available to ALL your digital audio programs (with the exception of ProTools).

    And the price is [close to] right, too.
  18. macrumors 6502

    Sep 4, 2007
    motu ultralite.. $50 more than the Duet and has more I/O, really awesome piece, only downside? well, it's kinda ugly.
  19. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 23, 2010
    Considering I pick up the Apogee Duet, how do the studio monitors hook up? To the headphone out of the iMac of to the Duet itself?

    I have self powered monitors that have XLR and 1/4 inch jacks as inputs.
  20. macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California

    USB is a fixed standard. If you are only doing two tracks USB is fast enough. Stereo audio will fit just fine even over USB 1.0 The USB 2 is way faster than you need.

    But should you want to run many tracks at once Firewire is best.

    How to hook up monitors? Could go either way. From the duet, or other audio interface or from the built-in audio. I like to keep the sounds sperote and let the system beep and other sound come ou thtbuilt-in iMac speakers and music goout the audio interface. I don;t like the Mac OS X sound effects comming out the moniotrs so that means the monitors plug into the audio interface.
  21. macrumors member

    Nov 26, 2009
    Definitely go FW over USB no question about it. There are no advantages to USB interfaces besides compatibility with most commercial Windows laptops, which don't have the Texas Instruments FW chips that give Apple laptops such superior performance reliability with FW. The TI chips and Logic are the reason I stuck with Apple instead of buying a faster PC laptop for less money. You can also daisy chain with FW and you can't with USB. I've never had any issues daisy chaining a FW drive off my interface, but you need two firewire ports on your box (another major bonus in favor of the Profire 610).

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