MIDI and D/A hardware advice needed and given

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Bad Paper, Apr 23, 2007.

  1. Bad Paper macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2007
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    graphite clamshell
    #1
    I am shopping for a piece of hardware for MIDI and audio connections to my computer.

    Should I look for USB or Firewire?

    I am familiar with Avid/Digidesign's line of entry-level hardware (Mbox, 003, etc), but I don't care for ProTools LE, and want to try Logic instead. What products do you use?

    thanks
     
  2. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #2
    There are a wide variety of interfaces that are suitable for Logic.. Have you read the primer?

    Edirol, M-Audio, Focurite, Presonus, Mackie, Alesis, e-Mu, MOTU, Behringer and many others have USB and Firewire interfaces.
     
  3. Bad Paper thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    I had not read the primer, thanks, but it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. Not to say it's useless advice, but I'm old hat at a lot of this. It's just that I am used to using the high-end Digidesign equipment, so this is my first foray into amateur-level stuff.

    I guess I should rephrase my request: How about some reviews of different equipment? And not just from glossy mags, but from users of this board? What do you like/dislike about your own (or your friends') equipment? If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
     
  4. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    toronto
    #4
    what are you referring to when you talk about their high-end gear? HD cards? conversion? their pre's?
     
  5. Bad Paper thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #5
    I worked in a group of studios in the late 90s that had all the generation of Digidesign stuff before HD, so I haven't used any of the HD stuff. But yeah, it was all the hardware, the cards, all the software plugs-in. Don't know if the preamps were DD. I think Digidesign was just starting to push their hardware interfaces; we didn't have any of those. And every machine (G3, OS 8) had an aging SampleCell card.

    Anyway, things have come a long way since then. I don't really need a control surface, and don't want to pay for DD's pretty plastic. So if I'm going to embrace the Logic scene, I'm curious about what the heck people use, since from what I can tell, Apple/eMagic doesn't make a MIDI-audio box.
     
  6. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #6
    it's just that i've heard digi's "high end" converters, and frankly i think my apogee is a lot better. yeah, i think they have great software (PT, i mean, the plugs vary), but when i hear the term "high end", i don't find myself thinking about digi.

    to your question, you might get better responses if you specify # of channels and a budget. fwiw, a friend of mine uses Metric Halo, and i think the stuff he records w/ it sounds pretty darn good.
     
  7. Bad Paper thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Which do you have?
    Good point, thanks. As cheaply as possible, ha ha.

    For the moment, great audio isn't really a priority. I don't have any fabulous microphones, anyway: one XLR with a spotty connection, and a bunch of cheapy ~$50 things for a garage band. My only analog recorder is my trusty old Tascam Porta-One, so anything at all will be an improvement over a cassette four-track. My audio-editing software is limited to Sound Forge on my winders box. I tried the ProTools LE trial version, but it did not get along with the winderz box, and I didn't care enough to make it work. For multitrack I mix down to the four-track. For real! Noisy as hell, but janky is good and cheap.

    My Mac is a graphite clamshell iBook: G3, 366MHz, 192MB RAM, 5GB HDD -- not an audio workstation. I'm gearing up for a Macbook (not pro, waiting for Santa Rosa). I have a 24" monitor attached to the Winderz box, and will use that for sit-down editing whenever I can chase the wife away. My MIDI stuff is in a different room from the monitor, though, so I need the portability of the tiny Macbook.

    My major MIDI controllers are a Roland A-90 and an MC-303. Between the two of them I have some sequencing capability, but...I am an avid Max/MSP-head, and really need MIDI in/out.

    I don't have enough equipment to justify loads of balanced channels. I was thinking of perhaps trolling {there, I said that for you, scottlinux} for something used that doesn't have XLR at all, and buying something brand-spankin-new if ever I needed it. Also, I am a fan of Paia's DIY kits, and would probably just build this if I ever needed XLR connections: http://paia.com/proddetail.asp?prod=9215K

    So how about a box that does 2-4 channels in, stereo out, and MIDI in and out? Possibly even two of each of those MIDI jacks? I have multiple keyboards, and swap friends' keyboards in and out for space. Chaining MIDI can be a pain in this setup, so I prefer the hub model, and operate on different banks.

    And again, I may be looking around for a used one, so even advice on which brands to avoid would be helpful. Apogee is mentioned as awesome. I have heard mixed reviews on MotU. I haven't even heard of half of the companies in CanadaRAM's post.

    USB is slightly preferable to Firewire. I will probably wind up waiting a few months, so I have time to look around. Price? huh. I am surprised at the cost of a lot of the things I see, so ... the more expensive it is, the further into the future I have to push it. I was looking to spend maybe $200. If I get desperate I will drop $500 on an Mbox 2, but ... I'd prefer a cheaper starter package.
     
  8. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #8
    Sigh, we have done this list so many times already. A Search on this forum is really valuable.

    You need to do the research - none of us can tell you what the right combination of features is, and none of has used more than three or four units, so its not practical to give comparative reviews. Individual reviews are valuable, but are highly coloured by the poster's personal requirements, budget, and experience.

    I suggest getting ahold of back-issues of the magazines listed in this tread and reading through reviews of the models to get a feel for where your proper feature point will be.

    Edirol,
    M-Audio interfaces and mixers,
    Focusrite Saffire,
    Presonus,
    Mackie Firewire interfaces and mixers,
    Alesis,
    e-Mu USB interfaces,
    MOTU (Mark of the Unicorn) Firewire/USB and PCI card interfaces,
    Behringer

    EDIT: I have added an expanded version of this list to the sticky Primer thread
     
  9. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #9
    rosetta 800. if/when digi allows me to get more ADAT conversion, and/or if/when i switch to something which does allow it, i'll be looking at adding a DA-16X. or two.
     
  10. Bad Paper thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2007
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    graphite clamshell
    #10
    oh! I have never seen a vBulletin with the Search feature turned on for free! Well, shucks, that's helpful. I've only seen it as a service for paid subscribers or high-post-count members.

    OK, yeah, I'll search, thanks.
     
  11. Plumbstone macrumors regular

    Plumbstone

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2007
    #11
    I would say that the current range of Digi project level interfaces (m-box-003 etc) are pretty comparable in conversion quality to the old legacy Digidesign hardware (882, 888 etc) except , of course, they can handle higher sample rates so you can't really make a comparison there. They also have MIDI ports built in.

    I have used loads of other mid range hardware and imo you should stay away from Edirol gear, it just sounds cheap. RME is well worth a lok as for the price they sound great. Another option is if you already have an ADAT connection is to hook up some Swissonic (sp?) converters as they also sound great but are a bit more pricey and you would need something separate for MIDI.

    As for higher end equipment, I have a PT HD rig with a bunch of 192s , and it sounds great, beautifully transparent and detailed recordings when used with a quality signal path (mics, pres, comps). I have also done some direct comparisons of higher end converters, as it is just not possible to judge anything from just having heard it; I have heard an £8000 prism sound rubbish because the engineer was clueless and the musicians were mediocre. IMO Prism gear blows away the competition, leaving PT and Apogee battling it out for second spot.
     

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