Yet another audio interface question

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by mct1, Aug 3, 2005.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    #1
    I want to record my electro-classical guitar and MIDI keyboard (played separately, not simultaneously) via Garageband on my Mini MAC. The result need not be perfect but needs to be good enough to traspose to a CD for home playing. So - from what I've gathered so far - I need either a firewire interface which includes a MIDI input cable, such as the M-Audio 410 or Presonus Firebox OR a USB device like M-Audio Fast Track plus a MIDI USB converter eg the UNO. The 2nd option would be less than half the price but is it false economy? The Fast Track blurb says you can plug a keyboard into it but how? Does the Fast Track really have a latency problem - and if so does that actually make recording live instruments difficult? Where does the Firewire Solo fit into all of this? No latency problem but no MIDI connection.....? A couple of years back I bought an Extigy external soundcard to record keyboard but it was utterly hopeless and a complete waste of £200. I'm trying not to make the same mistake again. ANY advice or comments much appreciated guys.
     
  2. macrumors 65816

    pulsewidth947

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2005
    Location:
    squarefrog.co.uk
    #2
    As the Mini only has 1 firewire/2 USB ports, I'd suggest getting an interface that has audio and MIDI built in. This will save having to use up both your USB ports.

    The 410/Firebox are good if you plan on recording more than 1 instrument at a time. If you do not want to do this something simpler (and thus cheaper) can be bought. The Fast Track Pro or the USB Audiophile look like good options.

    Incidentally I've owned an USB Audiophile and the sound quality is great. The build quality is a bit cheap (which you can tell from the price!) as its entirely plastic, but it looks like you are just going to be stationary with this so that might not be of a concern. In terms of latency with the Audiophile, you have Direct Monitoring, which relays the input signal straight to the headphone/output port so latency is not an issue. The downside of this is you dont hear any effects that you've put on in, say, garageband.

    Using something like the Audiophile, plus your electro acoustic, and garageband - theres no reason you cant get really good quality recordings.
     
  3. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    #3
    Thanks Pulsewidth. I'll look at those re spec and price as they could be what I need. Any other comments welcome.
     
  4. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    #4
    Just to complicate matters further

    I've discovered that there's also an Audiophile Firewire which is offered at the same price as the USB. Maybe I should go for that instead? Just one question for pulsewidth - does the Audiophile have a mic socket? as I would want that as an option.
     
  5. macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #5
    You can get product details at http://www.m-audio.com/index.php?do=products.list&ID=mobileinterfaces

    To answer the question, the Firewire Audiophile does NOT have mic inputs, it has RCA line inputs only. This would be suitable only if you had an outboard mixer.

    The FireWire Solo doesn't have MIDI

    The Firewire 410 does have MIDI and 2 mic preamps with professional XLR connectors and phantom power available.

    The FastTrack Pro USB has mic preamps and MIDI but does not provide phantom power for condensor microphones.

    Search the forums for recording or guitar, there are many existing threads.

    Check also similar products from Edirol, Presonus, Mackie, Lexicon.

    Thanks
    Trevor
    CanadaRAM.com
     
  6. macrumors member

    scarlco

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2005
    Location:
    Ossining, NY
    #6
    I've had lots of luck with the Lexicon Omega. 4 simultaneous inputs (2 XLR, 4 Line), great sound, good price. It's USB, and it has midi in/out as well.
     
  7. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    #7
    Many thanks for your suggestions - I'm checking it all out. I'm still wondering if and how you can plug a keyboard into the M-Audio Fast Track - like it says you can.

    I've now read loads of relevant threads and sometimes that just adds to confusion when posters have such divergent views (eg on the necessity of condensing mics for recording - this seems a major question since it narrows down what I can get and doubles the cost).

    The lexicon Omega looks suitable all right. Any advantages to the Firewires which have the same spec? (like Firebox and 410).
     
  8. macrumors 65816

    faintember

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2005
    Location:
    the ruins of the Cherokee nation
    #8
    Yes there are advantages.
    USB can be unstable for lack of a better word. Basically usb is controlled by the cpu controller, where as firewire has its own controller. What this means is, for instance, that it is possible for the latency on a usb device to change somewhat as you are recording, where as firewire will be much less likely to do this.

    If you are looking at the lexicon omega, (in the $299 price range) then go ahead and buy the FW 410 or the Firebox. Our school uses a 410 for mobile recording and for a portable solution for performing multi-channel surround compositions, and it works pretty well.

    -cameron
     
  9. Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2003
    Location:
    London, England
    #9
    Has anyone taken a look at the Focusrite Sapphire interface yet? We had a pre-pro model for a while and it's really nice, especially the fact it's mains powered, so the mic amps are actually supported properly.

    Focusrite

    We're presenting one to our MA prizewinner tomorrow, I think Focusrite might be picking up the lunch bill...:D

    God bless the tab.
     
  10. macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #10
    You need to define what you mean by "plug a keyboard in"

    A MIDI Keyboard outputs MIDI note on and note off information (and various controller information) from a MIDI Out port. This would be plugged into the MIDI In port of the adaptor. Would be used to control software instruments, or to record MIDI sequences into the recording software for later control of software or MIDI hardware instruments on playback (MIDI is not audio data, it is controller data that "plays" nother instrument. The actual sound is generated by the instrument itself.)

    Some MIDI Keyboards also contain sound generating hardware. These have MIDI IN jacks, so that a MIDI seqence from the recording software can be used to trigger sounds from the keyboard. The MIDI OUT of the adaptor would plug to the MIDI In of the keyboard (or other hardware sound module)

    On the other hand, if you have a keyboard that generates sound, you can plug the Audio output of the keyboard into the Mic or Line input of the adaptor and record the sound of the keyboard (just like you would voice or guitar) This gets you an audio track in the recording software. On the plus side, is that it will sound just like you played it (plus or minus effects and editing you apply later) the downside is there is less control over the playback than with MIDI sequences (you can't substitute other sounds, or easily change the key signature or the tempo.)
     
  11. macrumors 65816

    faintember

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2005
    Location:
    the ruins of the Cherokee nation
    #11
    OT, but the Focusrite looks quite nice. Maybe i will look into getting a Sapphire instead of the Firebox.

    Wintermute, how did the software and plug-ins that came with the Sapphire do?

    Sorry for the off-topicness!

    -cameron
     
  12. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    #12
    I'm learning. I'm settled on the Presonus Firebox as it has everything I need. Next thing is which mic but I'll read the relevant threads before posting on this.
    Cheers
     
  13. Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2003
    Location:
    London, England
    #13
    The software "editor" is apparently very powerful, I didn't use many of the plugs, as I had Logic Pro running into a 5.1 system and was running the native stuff, they look very useful though I like the Focusrite software plug-ins usually.

    Overall the only downside is it won't talk to Protools, but that's Digidesign's choice, not Focusrite's... :rolleyes:

    If I switch permanently to Logic for the PowerBook I'll be getting one.
     

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