Another "which audio interface" question

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by jazzer15, May 9, 2011.

  1. jazzer15 macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2010
    I am looking for an audio interface essentially to record saxophone for practicing purposes (to listen and analyze my playing) and maybe to do some recording over backing tracks to make some recordings for friends etc. I probably only need one input, but an extra can never hurt. I also want to be able to plug my computer speakers into the interface (or monitors when/if I get them) and also obviously will be plugging in headphones for monitoring when recording. This will be done at home with an iMac, so portability isn't essential, but something small is helpful due to limited space. I have a Zoom H2 that I can (and have ) used as an interface, but I use it as a portable recorder and would like something that is intended as a desktop interface.

    On the low end, I am looking at a Presonus Audio Box. On the higher end, the Apogee Duet (or I guess Duet 2 now). In the middle, the Presonus Firetudio Mobile and the Focusrite Saffire 6. I'm sure the duet is the best piece generally and I can swing the extra cost if that makes sense, but I wonder if I would even notice a difference and if I would likely be just as happy with one of the other interfaces given my use.

    Opinions on which of the above (or other) interface makes the most sense are much appreciated.
  2. TheUndertow macrumors 6502

    Feb 20, 2011
    Tricky question...there are a ton of variables that could make all 3 "sound the same" to you, including what you're playing them all through.

    I tend to be a big believer in the Apogee stuff as conversion is one place I don't want to skimp. I've heard Focusrite makes some good products as well.

    At the end of the day, if it's a dollars n' cents decision could go Saffire for more in's, and not notice a difference....I like the idea of the more premium pre-amps and conversion, even if you pay more per channel though.

    It would suck for a track to sound good on your/my equipment, only to share it professionally or with some with reference gear, and all the imperfections come out....probably going too far but stuff I worry about.
  3. firestarter macrumors 603


    Dec 31, 2002
    Green and pleasant land
    I quite like the Mackie Blackjack interface.

    It's metal, 2 input, 2 output and has a headphone amp.

    It doesn't need drivers (which is good in terms of stability/compatibility) and contains pretty good converters and preamps.

    The best feature IMO is that it actually has level knobs on each input and output. That just makes life a whole lot easier when it comes to usability than having a single control which you have to switch into different modes.

  4. PRPS macrumors member


    Jan 21, 2011
    Philadelphia, PA
    i personally have the duet 2 on pre order which i am looking forward to hearing

    also if you're looking for a portable audio interface (on the high end).

    check out the RME Babyface

    this was my other option when ordering a new audio interface
  5. jazzer15 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2010
    Thanks for the input everyone.

    Firestarter, that Mackie looks pretty interesting and wasn't even on my radar screen. I used to have a Mackie mixer and was pretty happy with the preamps in that.

    I may also wait to see what the feedback is on the Duet 2 when it comes out, but of course that's 3 times the price.
  6. dwwave macrumors newbie

    Mar 28, 2004
    Another 'which audio interface question"


    Never a question that gets a lot of the same answers

    I had a Tascam US-122 (had a good run) but when I bought a iMac last summer (edition prior to the latest release) it does not have Snow Leopard Drivers (though in this forum some have gotten it to work, I bought and returned a T.C.Electronic "Impact Twin" Firewire 400 A/I
    unopened, it just was after researching a long time not the one for me, I did though recently order a Focusrite Scarlett 18i6 Audio Interface USB 2.0 with a external power supply lists at $299.99 (got it for $270.00 new) awaiting shipment/arrival, there is another Focusrite Scarlett USB 2.0 model the 8i6 lists for $249.99. comes with some software and plug ins (both) I do like the Apogee Units (but not the breakout cable layout's) and the RME "BabyFace " same thing its 22 total channels and pricey (Sound on Sound has a contest for one through the USA distributer , Focusrite also has a USB 1.1 and Firewire models. The Mackies look nice as well, I looked
    online and in catalogs and forums A-Z, even mixers with USB, FW and ethernet connections to Mac's but decided
    I really like this one (the 18i6) will post after it arrives
    Lexicon has a nice (several) I-Onix Series USB 2.0 also
    released for NAMM 2009 with dbx preamps
    Best of Luck :apple::)
  7. carylee2002 macrumors member


    Jul 27, 2008
    Presonus makes pretty good drivers for their interfaces. I find them better than what digidesign uses.
  8. jazzer15 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2010
    I got side tracked for a bit, but now I'm back on the hunt. I think I have narrowed my choices down to the Mackie Blackjack and the Focusrite Saffire 6.
    I like the ergonomics of the Mackie, but the Focusrite has a couple of additional features, including midi in/out. I am primarily interested in audio recording, but I do expect that I will buy a small inexpensive midi keyboard at some point. If the keyboard is USB, will it matter if my audio interface doesn't have midi? Put another way, is there a benefit to having the midi input running through the same box as the audio rather than separately via a USB connection?

    Also, is there any concern with using a USB 1.1 interface if I am only recording one or two tracks at a time?

    @ dwwave -- Did you ever get the Scarlett? If so, what are your impressions?

  9. junior macrumors 6502a


    Mar 25, 2003
    Remember your sound will only be as good as the weakest link in your chain.
    If you can swing it, the Duet2 will be well worth it (Duet1 was very good when I tried it). After that, whatever you decide to buy, be it microphones, preamps, monitors, headphones, etc, you'll be able to judge purely on their quality, rather than resorting to guesswork due to the center piece (interface) not giving you the clear picture.
    If it's a two channel, multi-purpose interface you need, there's nothing in the industry that can touch the Duet2 for the price.
  10. jazzer15 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2010
    Thanks. I've heard great things about the Duet also, but for my simple and novice use I wonder whether the extra money is warranted, even if I can swing it. It all goes back to my initial post and whether I would really notice a difference in my less than ideal environment. I thought it might make sense to start more modestly and see if my needs are met (not that the Duet is "high end" price-wise as these things go).
  11. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    "Also, is there any concern with using a USB 1.1 interface if I am only recording one or two tracks at a time? "

    In this day and age, you DO NOT WANT a "USB 1.1" interface.

    Get something faster, or you're going to regret it.

    Just sayin'....

    Take a look at Echo Audio's offerings. I'd suggest the "AudioFire 4". Plenty of inputs, easy to set up and use. I have the AudioFire 8 and it's just fine.

    RME's "BabyFace" doesn't look bad, either, but it's more $$$....
  12. mikeytwice macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2005
    I know you've already ruled out the Presonus options, but I think you should give them a second chance. A lot of the higher-end options are probably overkill for your purposes. My friend managed to record his band's first album on a Firepod, and that album sounded good enough that its still in production, now under a label, they didn't bother to re-record or remaster.

    One more thing to keep in mind, and perhaps this is the most important point: audio hardware tends to have great resale value, especially if you buy used to begin with. I bought a Firepod 3-4 years ago, and sold it a few months ago at nearly the same price. So, consider saving your loot (or maybe putting it towards monitors or good headphones or other gear), starting with a lower-end piece of hardware, and selling/upgrading if it doesn't cut the mustard,.
  13. jazzer15 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2010
    Thanks. I'm not sure I've really ruled anything out. The only reason I initially took the Firestudio mobile that I had been looking at off the table was that I thought I would be paying for inputs that I wouldn't really need and that perhaps at the same price point I could get better sounding preamps if the money wasn't going toward inputs that I wouldn't likely use.

    That makes sense and was why I was looking more toward the lower end.

    The truth is I'll probably be fine with anything I get. At some point I'll just have to take a leap. And as you said, there is always resale if necessary.
  14. Chairman Plow macrumors regular

    Chairman Plow

    May 15, 2008
    I recently picked up the Presonus Audiobox, and I must say I'm pleasantly surprised. Works fine with Logic, GB or Pro Tools 9 (tested each), and Presonus includes its own DAW as well.
  15. mikeytwice macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2005
    Have you had any problems with clipping w/ SM57s or guitars direct in? I recently read that this has been a problem for a few people on both the Audiobox and Firestudio Mobile... but people tend to overstate hardware glitches. (I could understand a serious studio not tolerating any hiccups, but then they wouldn't be using a Presonus Audiobox/FS Mobile anyway).

Share This Page