Focusrite 18i20 ??

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JohnKenn
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2018/08/07 19:41:55 (permalink)

Focusrite 18i20 ??

Guys,
 
Some good opinions needed please. Couple questions.
Got to bite the bullet and retire my solid M-Audio 1010LT.  PCI slot and need to upgrade the computer with PCI all but obsolete. Any experience with the PCI to PCIex converters or am I beating a dead horse.
 
Was looking otherwise at the 2nd gen Focusrite 18i20 USB 2 hardware and saw Jesse's post on the failed 1st gen.
 
Is there any reason not to go with the Focusrite?  Current sale is $449 new and mostly good reviews.
 
My understanding is that waiting for USB 3 is a waste because it won't deliver incremental better performance even through there are a few specs that look good on paper. There's Thunderbolt and the old Firewire but seems like USB 2 will carry a good load. Just got the jitters getting away from a hard wired card. I know this topic has been beaten up in the past, so asking more about where we are currently that would change recommendations.
 
Thanks,
John
#1

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    bitflipper
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/07 21:59:42 (permalink)
    No complaints here. I use the Firewire version of the same interface, but USB vs. FW is the only difference. It's actually been more solid than its predecessor, a MOTU that cost twice as much.


    All else is in doubt, so this is the truth I cling to. 

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    #2
    JohnKenn
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/08 00:47:17 (permalink)
    Thanks Bit, and hope you are also out of the current heatwave. Blazing 68 degrees on the coast. Dog days of summer...
     
    Firewire so many advantages in speed and stability over USB 2. Unless building a session one track at a time where the advantage seems to wash out, USB can't keep up (even the older Firewire 400 seems to run theoretical rings around USB 2). Last 18i20 is USB 2 with no Firewire port. Don't know how much of a speed hit USB 2 will impose even over the older Firewire standard. Like got a fast computer but the bottleneck in USB 2 causing latency, pops, crackles because it can only go so fast. Argument about USB 2 versus waiting for USB 3 still rages. USB 3 interface in some opinions wiping out Firewire 800. Others claiming there will be no benefit. Analogy was put forth that if you got a package to be delivered, USB 2 is a car. USB 3 is a big truck. No matter how big the vehicle, it will still only deliver the package in the same time frame, so no advantage to be had. This why the industry is not keen on implementing USB 3.
     
    Any enlightenment thrown my way is appreciated.
     
    John
     
    #3
    stickman393
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/08 01:04:32 (permalink)
    I'm in exactly the same position: Upgrading my venerable studio DAW, currently enjoying great performance with the current PCI audio interface from ECHO (Layla 3G). 
     
    The USB2 interfaces from Focusrite are on my radar also, but I wonder about being able to achieve good RTL. I think we have to just bite the bullet and find out.
    #4
    JohnKenn
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/08 16:10:30 (permalink)
    My only experience with the Focusrite boxes was helping a friend install one of their entry level 2 in 2 out boxes (no midi port). Latency was good, win 10 on an older i3.  I was impressed by the clean, transparent sound quality. Can thus assume that the 18i20 will work well.
     
    Hard to abandon my setup with the 1010LT wired with a 2496. Same driver, 10 audio input channels and rock solid. Reality set in when the Fathom synth demo sounded like a popcorn popper. The dev asked me the specs of my 10 year old Vostro and told me that it may have some antique value.
     
    Still trying to find some information or recommendations on the PCI to PCIex adapters. They do exist and require a minor metalwork project because the adapter raises the height of the slot. Just don't know what the downside would be. Otherwise, Bit's thumbs up on Focusrite carries a lot of weight. Best option I have seen so far.
     
    John
    #5
    stickman393
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/08 16:50:58 (permalink)
    >> Still trying to find some information or recommendations on the PCI to PCIex adapters. 
     
    That's an avenue of investigation that did not occur to me. Interesting idea.
     
    I've ordered a Scarlett 6i6 from Sweetwater. Small investment in a decent interface which will be handy for portable applications in the future, if it works out. Also has resale value. In the meantime I'll find out what kind of performance i can expect from USB2 on my current DAW. 
    (When I upgrade the DAW itself, i figure performance can only improve with the faster CPU, etc.)
     
    One thing to note is that, if possible, you should use a dedicated USB2 hub for the audio interface. There's a couple of USB hub enumerators that can help map out which external USB port on the box is connected to each hub controller, USB1 or USB2, or USB3, etc.
     
     
    #6
    abacab
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/08 17:36:54 (permalink)
    JohnKenn
     
    Reality set in when the Fathom synth demo sounded like a popcorn popper. The dev asked me the specs of my 10 year old Vostro and told me that it may have some antique value.




    I understand the feeling there.  I picked up Fathom Pro on sale, and it is a beast!  It does seem to be very CPU hungry, and I get the pops if I let the polyphony get too high, regardless of my audio buffer settings.  And I am still running a FireWire audio interface on my desktop.

    DAW: Cakewalk by Bandlab; Sonar Platinum, and others ...  Other: AIR AIEP; Akai VIP; BIAB; Fathom; Ignite; iZotope Iris 2; Miroslav; Notion; Overture; SampleTank 3; SynthMaster; Syntronik; Waves  OS: Win10 Pro x64 1709  System: Homebuilt Asus; i3 3.4Ghz; 8GB DDR3; Intel HD Graphics; Dual Monitors; Samsung EVO 850 SSD, 250GB; PCIe FireWire  Audio: M-Audio FW-410  Controllers: A-300PRO; Alesis VX49; CME Xkey  Hardware: Roland JV880; JV1080; XP-30; Alesis QS-6; Casio CZ-1000; Fender P-Bass

    #7
    JohnKenn
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/08 19:46:23 (permalink)
    Fathom is a great synth. I was able to get it working much better on an older generation i5 and 8GB RAM going thru a Presonus Audiobox 22VSL. Not a great fan of the Presonus box though and looking at the Focusrite to replace it.
     
    Here are a couple links to the PCIex to PCI adapters. One got a negative review because the old card didn't fit, but this is a given and why a minor adjustment to the case with a hacksaw is necessary. Nothing noted on how well they work. Don't cost that much. Could be worth a try to hang onto what already works well.
     
    https://www.neweggbusiness.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIV10D7167649&nm_mc=KNC-GoogleBizMKPL-PC&cm_mmc=KNC-GoogleBizMKPL-PC-_-pla-_-Add-On+Cards-_-9SIV10D7167649&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI3vnGlpfe3AIVibfsCh1dSgd_EAQYBSABEgJYyvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
     
    https://www.walmart.com/ip/Startech-com-PEX1PCI1-PCI-Express-to-PCI-Adapter-Card/13216248?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=0&adid=22222222227000296254&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=42534089072&wl4=pla-81190916672&wl5=9033014&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11=online&wl12=13216248&wl13=&veh=sem
     
    Stickman, please update on how the 6i6 works for you.
     
    John
     
    #8
    Jeff Evans
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/09 00:36:06 (permalink)
    My iMac machine has got the Focusrite 18i20 as the interface and it is excellent. Jesse's experience with the 1st gen is very rare and unusual for sure. Do not base anything on that. 
     
    Latency is pretty reasonable with the 18i20. It has lots of ins and outs and Focusrite Control is also very versatile. Mic Pre quality is excellent BTW so don't let anyone tell you otherwise. 
     
    PreSonus are now making USB 3 interfaces and they will have improved latency for sure.  They are taking advantage of the faster speed.  It will be in the order of a fast interface running on thunderbolt on a Mac e.g. Focusrite Clarett can get under 2 mS latency over thunderbolt on my iMac here. 
     
    PCI based interfaces are still great and RME are the people to look into for that. I have got around 2mS now with my PCI RME interface in my Win 7 machine. It is way fast. The PCI buss is pretty quick. Plus it gets the interface right away from the USB buss which often has a raft of other stuff running at the same time on the same port.  Also you can never accidentally disconnect a PCI based interface either.  RME PCI (and PCIe) interfaces are dead silent as well and sound as stellar as any of their other models. 
    post edited by Jeff Evans - 2018/08/09 01:19:03

    Specs i5-2500K 3.5 Ghz - 8 Gb RAM - Win 7 64 bit - ATI Radeon HD6900 Series - RME PCI HDSP9632 - Steinberg Midex 8 Midi interface - Faderport 8- Studio One V4 - iMac 2.5Ghz Core i5 - Sierra 10.12.6 - Focusrite Clarett thunderbolt interface 
     
    Poor minds talk about people, average minds talk about events, great minds talk about ideas -Eleanor Roosevelt
    #9
    JohnKenn
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/09 01:44:29 (permalink)
    Thank you Jeff. Good points. Only confusion on my part is the claim that USB 3 will have greater bandwidth but have no effect on the speed of transfer as relates to latency, thus why most developers have not jumped to design for USB 3 because of negligible benefit.
    #10
    husker
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/09 01:48:31 (permalink)
    I've had the 2nd Gen 18i20 USB for about a year.   Really like it, and have not experienced one issue with it in either Sonar or Cubase. 

    Cubase Pro 9.5 / SPLAT
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    Interfaces - Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 2nd Gen / MOTU Midi Express XT USB
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    #11
    JohnKenn
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/09 02:15:42 (permalink)
    Thanks Husker. Another vote of confidence.
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    stickman393
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/12 16:03:16 (permalink)
    JohnKenn
    Here are a couple links to the PCIex to PCI adapters. One got a negative review because the old card didn't fit, but this is a given and why a minor adjustment to the case with a hacksaw is necessary. Nothing noted on how well they work. Don't cost that much. Could be worth a try to hang onto what already works well.
     
    https://www.neweggbusiness.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIV10D7167649&nm_mc=KNC-GoogleBizMKPL-PC&cm_mmc=KNC-GoogleBizMKPL-PC-_-pla-_-Add-On+Cards-_-9SIV10D7167649&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI3vnGlpfe3AIVibfsCh1dSgd_EAQYBSABEgJYyvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
     
    https://www.walmart.com/ip/Startech-com-PEX1PCI1-PCI-Express-to-PCI-Adapter-Card/13216248?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=0&adid=22222222227000296254&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=42534089072&wl4=pla-81190916672&wl5=9033014&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11=online&wl12=13216248&wl13=&veh=sem
     
    Stickman, please update on how the 6i6 works for you.

     
    John -
    Thanks for this. I followed up and did some additional research. Bottom line: I have some hardware coming my way: A new DAW; a Focusrite 6i6 ; and a PCIe-PCI adaptor card. The Echo Layla 3G has a very small PCB and I'm optimistic that the adapter will work out, albeit with some trimming of the PCI card's back plate I imagine.


    For what it's worth, my real-world normal operation with the Echo on my current DAW is ~6ms each way with 256 buffers, for a total RTL of 13 ms. 

    I won't side-line this thread further. I think I'll start a separate thread about testing and comparing both audio interfaces in the new box when they arrive. 
     
    Cheers
    #13
    mettelus
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/12 18:29:19 (permalink)
    USB2 should be fine for audio usage, and the only reason I went with FW was to have a "dedicated pathway" which wouldn't have a conflicting device in the machine at that time. My only concern for you is the viability of a PCI to PCIex converter.

    That said, I did get a FW card for my new machine which required me to back out to MixControl 3.4 (due to Win10, not the card itself). My recommendation would be to ask Focusrite directly about recommendations. They are responsive and can give suggestions on your situation. With any luck they will already know the answer for you.

    ASUS ROG Maximus X Hero (Wi-Fi AC), i7-8700k, 16GB RAM, GTX-1070Ti, Win 10 Pro, Saffire PRO 24 DSP, A-300 PRO, plus numerous gadgets and gizmos that make or manipulate sound in some way.
    #14
    JohnKenn
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/13 00:07:12 (permalink)
    Wondering also about what if any compromises are there in the PCI conversion. Irony is that some of the old PCI cards are so rock solid and could go on for years of service if the slot itself hadn't become obsolete when you upgrade the computer and the thing will no longer fit.
    When I get bummed out about my M-Audio card, I think of the guys who spent 5000 dollars on an RME card.
     
    Got a Focusrite box coming that should do the job. Very much interested to get Stickman's report on the PCI converter. There may still be hope for vintage hardware if the converter works as advertised.
    John
    #15
    JohnKenn
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/17 01:02:12 (permalink)
    Report back from the trenches...
     
    The Focusrite Scarlett arrived today. Got it up and running after a few glitches trying to figure out the control panel that was bleeding unprocessed signal into Reaper.
     
    The unit is excellent. Blows away my old M-Audio hard wire card although the card limited by older PCI slot limitations. Blows away the PreSonus AudioBox2VSL regarding latency and buffer size.
     
    Happy camper so far. Leap of faith being paranoid of USB capability, but good advice here prevailed.
     
    Thanks also to Jim who many many threads ago gave an argument, supported with data about the relevancy still of a USB 2 connection.
     
    John
     
    #16
    Jim Roseberry
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/17 14:38:41 (permalink)
    It may be a moot point now, but if anyone is still looking (especially if lowest possible round-trip latency is a priority), check out the Presonus Quantum.
     
    Can take the ASIO buffer size down to 16-samples (sub 2ms total round-trip latency).
     
    It's a Thunderbolt audio interface, so you'll need a Thunderbolt-3 connection.

    Best Regards,

    Jim Roseberry
    jim@studiocat.com
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    #17
    Starise
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/17 15:44:25 (permalink)
    I have the 2nd gen 18i8 no issues here. I got a good price on it. Has worked well.

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    #18
    stickman393
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/19 00:28:49 (permalink)
    I have some results, comparing my PCI-based ECHO Layla 3G with the Focusrite 6i6 USB 2.0.
    For the full story, read here.  To save you navigating my lengthy prose, here is the bottom line:
     
    Interface: ECHO Layla 3G PCI
    Buffer Size ASIO Reported RTL     Measured RTL
    ----------- --------------------- ------------
      256       13.7 ms  602 samples    0.015 sec
      128        7.8 ms  346 samples    0.010 sec
       64        4.9 ms  218 samples    0.007 sec

    Interface: Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 USB2.0
    Buffer Size ASIO Reported RTL     Measured RTL
    ----------- --------------------- ------------
    256         25.5 ms 1102 samples    0.037 sec
    128         13.1 ms  578 samples    0.020 sec
    64           8.2 ms  362 samples    0.013 sec
     
    So, on this computer at least, the Focusrite USB is about twice as slow as the ECHO PCI.
    #19
    JohnKenn
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/19 16:46:23 (permalink)
    Interesting comparison and will have to check out the speed of the Focusrite on my old Vostro 400 where the 1010LT is receding into dust.
    Performance of the Focusrite on the i5 is far better than the 1010LT, but obviously because the Vostro is so underpowered. Good article.
     
    Also thanks for your report on the Dim-Pro authorization problem since had the same dead end and thus there may still be hope.
     
    John
    #20
    Sonico
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/08/21 22:07:58 (permalink)
    I still own a 1st generation Scarlett 18i20 and my experience is great with this interface.
    Latency is very good, preamps are great, lots of in/out, great drivers, etc.
    I now have a clarett 8pre usb and it is even better but I use my 18i20 for live gigs with excellent results.
    Good Luck   

    Desktop: Intel Core i7 3.60Ghz, 16 GB Ram Windows 10 64bit
    Laptop: Intel i5 2.3Ghz, 6GB Ram Windows 10 64bit
    Focusrite Scarlett 18i20
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    #21
    HeatherHaze
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    Re: Focusrite 18i20 ?? 2018/09/15 06:23:32 (permalink)
    I realize I'm a bit late to the game, but I've had good luck with my Scarlett 18i20.  At first I was skeptical because I was having some nasty latency issues, but found out it was a problem with my CMOS, not the interface.  Since then it's been running like a champ.  The latency isn't quite as low as my old Roland VS-700R but still very good.  I found the driver interface a little confusing at first, but it's actually fairly powerful.  It's a capable, full-featured unit.  I don't think you can go terribly wrong with it.  

    )-|-( HeatherHaze
    http://heatherhaze.com/

    "This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before." ~ Leonard Bernstein

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    ...and a whole bunch of other stuff.
    #22
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