Help choosing an interface

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by paolo-, Jan 7, 2010.

  1. paolo- macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2008
    Hi, I decided to get rid of my current tascam us 122l, sounds like crap (output clips too, disgusting), and rarely works properly.

    So, I'm looking for something with 2 ins and preferably two stereo outs. It also needs to be usb as I have a unibody macbook, so no firewire.

    I plan on using to record mainly from mics, so I'd want something with decent pre-amps and obviously phantom power. But will also be inputing at line level from keyboards and record direct inputed guitars and bass from time to time.

    To make this quick, I'm in starting up in an electronic rock duo. So, I plan on using the sound card as an output for my computer with ableton live when playing live. Witch is why I'd like two outputs so I can cue stuff, just like a dj. I know I could use the output from my macbook to cue, and I wouldn't really mind. But since I'm getting a new interface, I might as well get something that gets everything done. Also, I'd like to keep this under 300$, preferably quite lower.
  2. deej999 macrumors regular

    Apr 1, 2009
    There are many available on the ,market. Firewire ones tend to be better. What's your budget?
    Do you need preamps included?

  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    So you want something that is an order of magnitude better then a Tascam, has more outputs and for less then $300.

    Are you willing to go with external preamps?
  4. paolo- thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2008
    Well I'm a bit flexible, 300$ is a guide line, just usually when I see these kind of posts on forums people start recommending stuff mainly over budget, for me it's not more of a guideline, if there's something totally worth but over budget, I don't mind.

    For the outputs, I've been thinking about it today and I think most interfaces have just one stereo channel. And I don't think having to cue from the macbook would be a problem. Just, don't see multiples output as a waste for me.

    I'm guessing you're thinking of DJ oriented audio interfaces as those don't have pre-amps. But I think I'd prefer pre-amps in the box as I'd need to carry that to gigs too as we plan on putting effects on guitars and voice.

    But it could totally be workable. It also looks like it's fairly common for those interfaces to have 4 or 6 inputs, witch could also be useful live to have the guitars and voice in the computer and mix everything in the computer to have a single output to the PA without having to rely on the venue's mixer. More inputs can also be usefull for recording, never enough inputs lol.

    I'm looking at some interfaces right now and they seem to claim to have better sound through PA. Sounds like total BS to me, can anyone verify that ?

    Thoughts on that ? Would mixing everything in the computer piss off venue's as they would essentially have no control over our sound ? And could you name me a few reputable interfaces and pre amps, preferably a bunch of pre amps in one box.

    Thanks for the help, much appreciated :)
  5. Plumbstone macrumors regular


    Feb 6, 2007
    A few points....

    1. unfortunately ableton has a really annoying bug when using an aggregate device (ie using your headphone out on the mac to cue) which means that every time you import an mp3 it will cause the audio to stop. not ideal when you're doing a gig!

    2. If you want ins and outs firewire is a much better option. Although data rates via usb2 are pretty much equivalent, firewire can send data both ways simultaneously, which is essential if you want to record and monitor through your system, to get this working with usb you generally tend to need much higher buffer settings and therefore an often unplayable amount of latency. far as pre-amps go, ones included with budget soundcards tend to be pretty nasty imo. You're probably better off saving up and getting a dedicated external mic pre, there are several good (but not great) cheap ones on the market.

    SO where does this leave you? if I were you I would keep your DJ life and your studio life separate. Get a dedicated 4channel (2xstereo) usb soundcard for when you are DJing ( like the NI Audio2DJ). Your main issue is lack of firewire so you may just have to put up with the inadequacies of usb2!

    fwiw I know a few people who like the Edirol interfaces, or maybe on of the larger Native instruments interfaces could be good...Audio4/8DJ for instance. They claim to have super low latency drivers but then again who doesn't?
  6. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    not to be a jerk, but are you sure you're using it properly? clipped output sounds to me like a gainstaging problem.
  7. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Actually, I think the _real_ solution here is for you to make the move to a MacBook Pro that has firewire.

    That will open up an entire range of options to you that you don't have now with USB2.

    Once you have firewire, there are many firewire-based interfaces that will work well and do what you need - for not all that much money, either.
  8. MezicanGangxtah macrumors regular

    Jul 21, 2007

    Easy, get a Yamaha Mixer, USB if you'd like. Its good build quality and generally pretty clean pre's. If you want a USB interface, try those new Firebox Mobile ones from Presonus, it has a lot of inputs and MIDI and all that, and they recently improved the pre's from its predecesor. Both of these have good amount of inputs and are inexpensive. Good luck
  9. mwchris macrumors regular

    Apr 12, 2008
    Did you bother to read the original post???

    To answer the original question . . .

    I think, as several mentioned, your biggest concern is that you are going to be limited by USB, and I would imagine that your needs will mostly likely only grow and require more inputs/outputs, etc. So, I would recommend another computer that has firewire capabilities.
  10. paolo- thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2008
    Haha I was thrown off by that comment too, but after reading a second time it actually makes a lot of sens.

    Yes, actually think mine had some defects, a friend of mine has one and it's not as bad. Just listening to pretty much any track in iTunes at max volume (in iTunes) makes it clip on peaks. I can live with that but it just isn't convenient as I never really know when things will clip. But that's just the beginning.

    Oftentimes, DAWs just stop recognizing it. For some odd reason I need to restart just about every application except DAWs when plugging it : iTunes and firefox have no sound when I plug my us122l in, so I need to restart them. Midi drops all the time. Either way, it just isn't dependable...


    Back to choosing an interface, obviously going firewire would be better. Kind of pisses me off to have a change a slab of aluminium for essentially the same slab of aluminium but with another hole in it. Mind you, I getting a 15" with a capable cpu could be worth it.

    Any ideas of capable firewire interface, could be worth comparing with firewire ?

    But I'm not sure I want to change it right now, I think it would be more economically feasible to get a usb interface and change it later on at the same time as my computer. As we plan on starting playing live this summer. The price of changing my computer right now is essentially the same as the interface I'll be buying.

    Back in usb world, the native instruments audio 4 dj looks like a pretty good grab. Apparently has 4ms latency. It can't be too bad, they have an 8 channel version using the same drivers and it's made to run time coding software...

    Either way, what do you guys think of mixing the additional two guitars and voice in the computer ?
  11. junior macrumors 6502a


    Mar 25, 2003
    M Audio Fast Track Pro.
    4 i/o, 2 preamps/phantom power, midi i/o, monitor out, master out, USB.

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