What Audio Interface?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by active8, Apr 5, 2015.

  1. active8, Apr 5, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2015

    active8 macrumors newbie

    Sep 4, 2008

    Im getting back into making music on my Mac after not doing so for many years. I need to buy a new audio interface to process Audio Units and SoftSynths. Zero Latency is also a requirement.

    I have approx £100 / $150 to spend.

    Have looked at the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, Presonus Audiobox USB (although thats several years old now since it was released) and the Behringer UMC202.

    just need it for processing, not looking to record any instruments or vocals in.

    Any other suggestions / recommendations would be helpful.

    Thanks :)
  2. SimonUK5 macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2010
    +1 for the Foucusrite stuff, always good quality, and the A/D is fantastic.

    100 quid get a 2i2 for sure, nothing else in that price range at that quality.
  3. jblongz macrumors member

    Feb 26, 2013
    Or try a quality stereo Y cable if you have one around. I use UAD hardware, but a friend of mine uses a Y cable from his macbook pro jack to his Tannoy monitors. Sounds great to me, so you could save $150 for a good software deal.
  4. djippy macrumors newbie

    Apr 9, 2015
    Montreal, Ca.
    I have a Steinberg UR22 at home (for playback mainly, but I did try the pre-amp as well)

    It does a good job for the price.
  5. cltd macrumors member

    May 22, 2014
    +1 Focusrite. You'll get free plugins too.
  6. fastlanephil macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2007
    I'm a little unsure about what you're going to be using the the audio interface for. The processing is done internally without the need for a sound sound card when working strictly with DAW plug-ins, at least for the Mac.

    An audio interface can come in handy for monitoring with headphones but if you're not actually recording external sources (instruments, vocals) then latency is'nt going to be an issue.
  7. wesk702, Apr 17, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2015

    wesk702 macrumors 68000


    Jul 7, 2007
    The hood
    150 is not going to get you what you want. What you're describing is an interface that has DSP like Universal Audio's Apollo line. Those interfaces has processors built in that help run plugins.

    That price range is mostly going to get you an interface with AD conversion.

    If you're leaning on just ins and outs with AD conversion, $150 is fine with focusrite or something along those lines. Scarlett is a great starter/midrange line with many different models to fit any budget. You can find great deals on eBay, cause those things are going to last.

    Included DSP is gonna run you in the $1000 and up category, and I mean $1000 is going to be your baseline for anything along those lines.

    If you go DSP, I highly recommend UAD. It's really unreal and their plugins are unbeatable in my opinion and many professionals. Just head over to the uadforum and they'll help you narrow down the perfect one for you.

    Edit: Just reread your post. You want DSP. You're going to need to up that budget. If you're not doing anything live and mostly post production, zero latency isn't going to be that big of a deal.
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    With your budget Focusrite is the best option. The Audiobox is a good 2nd and I would never buy any Behringer product.

    What are you doing with it? "Processing" is something you do with a computer. Theses boxes are mostly for recording but also good for playback too. What makes one better than the other is mostly the quality of the preamplifiers and A/D converters.
  9. JoelTheSuperior macrumors 6502


    Feb 10, 2014
    London, UK
    Another vote for Focusrite kit - I've got a Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 and it's fantastic, especially considering what I've paid for it.

    Are you sure you need zero latency? I get around 6ms with my equipment and it works wonderfully. Honestly I think even for live stuff it's more than good enough.

    Of course, if you really do want something you can offload DSP processing to, you're going to need to expand your budget quite a lot.

    Really you'll be looking to upgrade to a beefier Mac before you reach that point.

    Regarding external DSP processing, I gather this is fairly specialised stuff - ie for very specific effects? The setups I've seen and my friends have worked with seem to just consist of using software effects on a MacBook or two - ie for example a Mac running Pro Tools with automation and timecode generation then hooked up to another machine which does the DSP.

    Keep in mind that all an external box is going to be is a very specialised computer - a well setup computer will get you near enough zero latency.
  10. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Can you define what you mean by zero latency?

    If you mean you want to record audio and monitor the analog source you are playing into the computer as you are playing it, then the solution to that is to have an interface with an analog headphone jack that gives you a listen before the signal is digitized. This is often what is called Zero Latency Monitoring.

    If you want to digitize the signal into the computer, apply some processing in the software and then monitor the result, then there is no such thing as zero latency. Only small latency.

    All audio which goes into the Mac and comes out again has to go through two stages of analog-digital and digital-analog conversion. This takes time to buffer and calculate the conversion, although with a good machine and a good interface, you can reduce the buffer size to get that time down to under 10 milliseconds round trip.

    >just need it for processing, not looking to record any instruments or vocals in.

    Can you elaborate on what you mean by processing? Are you working from pre-recorded tracks? Are you playing live MIDI control of software instruments? Are you doing mixdown of tracks only?

    If all of your tracks and sounds are in the computer, and you are not doing live performance of software instruments, then latency is a non-issue.

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