Helpful ReplyNew Audio Interface considerations

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Blades
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2018/04/30 00:25:08 (permalink)

New Audio Interface considerations

Hello all,
 
I am looking to replace my existing, aging, Echo Audio Layla 3g for a number of reasons and strongly considering the new Presonus Studio 1824 as its replacement.
 
My MAIN concern is that latency performance will be bad.  I have read a LOT of things on the internet about Presonus devices working really well and sounding good (and integrating tightly to Studio One, if that matters).  But I've also read a lot of reviews about the latency being "hidden", unreported, or just plain bad.
 
I have a few reasons I want to replace the Layla:
 
1. It is old. 
The last drivers that were made for it were for Windows 8 when it FIRST came out.  Echo doesn't make interfaces any more, hasn't updated the drivers since November 2011.
 
2.  It is old
The phantom power doesn't work on the two front inputs and hasn't for years.  I can't really get an answer from them except for "send it in and we'll see if we can find a B-stock hanging around".  So I've been using a little Behringer Mixer for Phantom.  So I know that the preamps are going to sound better in a new unit, since I am passing through TWO sets of inputs to get sound.
 
3.  The headphone output sounds bad to me.  It's like it's really MID heavy or something.  Just doesn't sound rich.  I can pass the output from the speaker outs to any other unit and then listen with headphones from there and it sounds great.  The seem compressed and scooped.  I don't like them, so I'm always having to make concessions when I record with phones on and especially when I record my Drums (electronic with Pearl Mimic Pro), where I have to pass the audio out to the drum module and use the audio input there so it sounds decent, then mute all the drums on the soundcard so that they aren't doubled - etc.  It's a PITA.
 
So.  I tried asking over in the hardware area of this forum, but I'm just not really getting much feedback.  I've had one official answer there but it took 3 months to get it and I'd like to make decisions faster.
 
My current options are leaning to the:
Presonus Studio 1824 - benefits: brand, good reviews of products in the same line, integration with Studio One (which I also use as I consider my path after the demise of Sonar).
 
Behringer UMC 1820 - benefits: decent reviews but mixed on latency <128, I have a Behringer ADA8200 for ADAT lightpipe so should pair well, price ($250 right now, so that's half of the 1824 above)
 
Staying with what I have - benefits: I know it, it costs nothing new, it's PCI, which I suppose has some benefit (?)
 
For whatever opinions you might share, please keep in mind that I do NOT use the low latency for drums, so while I like it low for vocals, Guitar amp sims, and playing VST instruments, none of these has been an issue with my Layla, so I imagine also won't be a problem with any of the newer breed either.
 
Any opinions are indeed appreciated.  I hope that since this relates to Studio One, it will be allowed in this area, but if it needs to move elsewhere, please migrate it as needed.
 
Thanks!

Blades
www.blades.technology  - Technology Info and Tutorials for Music and Web
#1
Jim Roseberry
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Re: New Audio Interface considerations 2018/04/30 01:41:11 (permalink)
If lowest possible round-trip latency is important, I'd look toward RME or MOTU.
If you have a Thunderbolt-3 controller, you can achieve PCIe level low-latency performance with an external interface.
 
The newer MOTU USB audio interfaces allow you to set the ASIO and "Streaming" (safety) buffers down to 16-samples.

Best Regards,

Jim Roseberry
jim@studiocat.com
www.studiocat.com
#2
Blades
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Re: New Audio Interface considerations 2018/04/30 02:10:28 (permalink)
Lowest possible late cy is not the number 1. I want stable and with new drivers that aren't always a compromise.

I don't have thunderbolt. If I did, I'd be looking at the presonus quantum, but that and the tb interface together put me way over budget.

Thanks for the input.

Blades
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#3
fret_man
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Re: New Audio Interface considerations 2018/04/30 15:46:33 (permalink)
If #1 is stability and good drivers than I'd say RME is the best choice. They're notorious for good drivers and stability.
#4
JonD
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Re: New Audio Interface considerations 2018/04/30 16:40:59 (permalink)
You haven't listed your criteria except "stable drivers" and "decent latency".  Budget?  I/O? 
 
Better yet, I'd suggest you go to Sweetwater's site, narrow your list down to a few models, then come back here and ask about those specific models. 
 
Otherwise you will just get the standard responses (RME as the gold standard, or a listing of everyone's favorite interfaces).

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#5
Blades
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Re: New Audio Interface considerations 2018/04/30 22:34:31 (permalink)
Thanks for the responses.

My requirements for io are interfaces that have what the Layla and the other two that I am considering have.

I require 8 inputs on the card and adapt optical for 8 more from the behringer ada8200 I already have. The behringer umc1820 has those as doss the presonus studio 1824.

Budget is in that range as well. The umc is $250 and the 1824 is $500. I would be fine in either place. My original search was for the 500 range. The rme stuff is way outside if that for interfaces with that io so out of the running.

I hoped by giving examples of what I was looking for and what I have that suggestions would be related to the same.

Does that help hone it in a bit? Is either of my options GOOD? should I just keep the Layla?

Blades
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#6
HARDDRlVER
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Re: New Audio Interface considerations 2018/04/30 22:48:49 (permalink)
I love my MOTU 828mk3 hybrid.
However, if I had the cash I would've gotten a comparable RMI.
What's nice about the MOTU is it has 2 8 channel a day ports which can be configured to handle 2 stereo opticals, which is exactly what I need. It also has spdif coax. Very very nice unit. The mk3 hybrid is at the lower part of this link page.
http://motu.com/products/motuaudio/828x#firewire
#7
Blades
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Re: New Audio Interface considerations 2018/05/01 02:34:30 (permalink)
Post duplicated
post edited by Blades - 2018/05/01 10:31:33

Blades
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#8
Sonico
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Re: New Audio Interface considerations 2018/05/01 16:15:19 (permalink)
I'am shopping for a new AI too, I have been waiting for the Focusrite Clarett 8pre USB and now it's available.
I know is over your budget ($799) but I hear very good things about it, stability, very good latency, great preamps and conversion.
May be some one here that has this unit can comment?
Thanks!!

Desktop: Intel Core i7 3.60Ghz, 16 GB Ram Windows 10 64bit
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#9
Blades
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Re: New Audio Interface considerations 2018/05/02 01:43:14 (permalink)
Hmmm, that Focusrite Clarett 8pre USB looks nice, but I'm not sure that for the extra $300 I'd be getting something definitively better than the Presonus Studio 1824.  I am not STUCK to the budget, but I need to be compelled to purchase something more than that. 
 
I've considered the Presonus higher end Quantum units.  The one that I'd want in that line is the Quantum 26x32.  It supposedly sports 1ms latency (not at the hardware - at the DAW), but requires a Thunderbold interface, which I don't have on my PC and costs some amount near $100+ in addition to the interface (still less than the RME units that are similar in IO).  I'm not sure I understand why these have so much lower latency, since they use the same Universal Control driver.  I understand that Thunderbolt is faster than USB 2, but I understood that to be a bandwidth thing more than a latency thing.  Apparently, I don't know...
 
Does anyone here have any input on the Presonus Studio units or the Behringer UMC one?  I know Behringer has a bad name in some circles, but this one has received some decent reviews and the ADA8200 has been working well for me so far (though it might be a little noisy - can't tell if it's the ADA or the Pearl Mimic I have attached to it).
 
Thanks for playing along so far!

Blades
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#10
batsbrew
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Re: New Audio Interface considerations 2018/05/02 14:23:56 (permalink)
with the latency zappers designed into studio one,
paired with a presonus device,
you would be in the sweet spot.
 
i use a rme babyface pro,
with studio one,
and depending on the size of the project and how many active plug'ins i have going,
i can always monitor thru the babyface pro and never have latency issues.
 
with low tracks, no  plugs, i can do direct guitar recording using IR's, 
and still have next to nothing latency going THRU studio one.
 
studio one is optimized for presonus devices.
so there's that.

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#11
Sonico
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Re: New Audio Interface considerations 2018/05/02 17:24:31 (permalink)
Blades
Hmmm, that Focusrite Clarett 8pre USB looks nice, but I'm not sure that for the extra $300 I'd be getting something definitively better than the Presonus Studio 1824.  I am not STUCK to the budget, but I need to be compelled to purchase something more than that. 
 



I'am not an expert but I had a presonus firestudio project and I was very happy with it (It still works like a charm in windows 10), then I bought a focusrite scarlett 18i20 and really noticed an improvement. In my opinion, scarlett preamps are a small step above xmax preamps in presonus units (at least to my taste), the preamps in the clarett range are better than both.
Not sure if $300 better though.

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#12
BenMMusTech
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Re: New Audio Interface considerations 2018/05/02 23:29:42 (permalink)
Wouldn't touch Behringer for audio interface - even though I believe converters these days are all around the same level. This will be disputed by some, but there are only a handful of converter manufactures in the world. Most mid priced units source their converters from the same source. And unless you're recording a Stradivarius or something of that Ilk and also you're not feeding the recorded signal in and out of the box for outboard effects...then apart from Behringer they will all do the same thing more or less. On saying that you can't go past Motu or Presonus. I've still got my Moto 828 Ultralite 2 from 2010. The LCD light is bust and I had to replace power pack, but apart from that...still does the job. I'm looking at the Quantum units later in the year because I have a gaming laptop with a Thunderbolt port...its one of the newer ports or Thunderbolt 3 so I would have to get an adapter...but if you've got a box computer then the 100 buck thunderbolt card investment would be worth it I think. For me anyway because - Guitar Amp sims. Just make sure you check chipset compatibility - as in the past I believe Presonus audio interfaces can be a bit sensitive.

Benjamin Phillips-Bachelor of Creative Technology (Sound and Audio Production), (Hons) Sonic Arts, MMusTech (Master of Music Technology), M.Phil (Fine Art)
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#13
cityrat
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Re: New Audio Interface considerations 2018/05/03 11:27:41 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby eikelbijter 2018/05/09 21:42:44
The only USB interface (that's not RME MOTU $$$$) I would consider "low latency capable" is the Zoom UAC series.   Some issues with non Intel chipset MB.   The 8 channel is $599US
 
 
https://www.zoom.co.jp/pr...usb-30-audio-converter
 
The USB 3.0 SuperSpeed transfer protocol used by the UAC-8, with a speed of 2.0 ms roundtrip @ 96kHz / 32 samples, is ten times faster than USB 2.0 and six times faster than FireWire 800. That not only ensures low latency, it provides a data stream that's unaffected by computer jitter (slight variations in timing), so there's no need to connect an external master clock source.
post edited by cityrat - 2018/05/03 12:07:37

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#14
mettelus
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Re: New Audio Interface considerations 2018/05/03 18:36:32 (permalink)
For the concerns you have, you can simply purchase from a retailer who has a liberal return policy and test run the crap out of it for a while and then commit (or not). Pretty much everyone has a 30-day return policy anymore, and even moderate AIs have more than sufficient latency leeway. A lot of people who complain about latencies are not due to the AI itself, but the plugins and processing power they have running on the transport... in that regard, Studio One has an upper hand with their low latency audio engine setting. The Presonus 1824 would have the added advantage of being optimized for Studio One.
 
A guy who works in the office next to mine habitually buys stuff in 3s, then returns the two lowest performers before the return period is up. He is funny to listen to, since that is definitely the "extreme" approach to product comparison. The eye opener (for me) is the occasions where he determined that the cheapest option was the best performing.
post edited by mettelus - 2018/05/04 09:18:31

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#15
Blades
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Re: New Audio Interface considerations 2018/05/04 01:21:33 (permalink)
@cityrat - thanks for that new suggestion.  I was initially interested and even a little excited to have another possible contender, but then search after search I found people complaining about two things: stability and crackling/popping.
 
Of course, no one wants either of those, and my current Layla Interface has neither problem.
 
Still leaning towards the Presonus at this point, but the Focusrite is a definite contender.  Looking forward to additional thoughts on the matter.

Blades
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#16
Cactus Music
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Re: New Audio Interface considerations 2018/05/04 17:43:44 (permalink)
Audio Interface Shopping List      MY SHOPPING GUIDE  FOR INTERFACES Word Document File
There is a lot of choices
Most important is to make out a list of your requirements first  then start shopping. .
 
Here is a basic outline of hat you will be comparing: 
 
What kind of connectivity do you require? and how many of each.
These are some of the options:
XLR, 1/4" TS, 1/4"TRS, Combi jacks,  RCA, ¼” line level, ¼” Instrument level,
MIDI, SPDIF,  ADAT, MADI , Word Clock.
How many ins and outs do you think you'll need now and in the future?
Are they accessible?  Front or rear panel or both?
Are the ¼” jacks Balanced?  
Is there a true stereo pair? Some don’t have a matched set of inputs which rules out using a pair of mikes on an Acoustic guitar,  drum overheads or recording a stereo source like a hardware synth.
Most interfaces have at least 2 matched combi jacks on the front which is my preference. They can handle just about anything including  XLR and guitar cables. I also think 4 inputs is minimum as it's great not to have to always swap out cables. The extra 2 can be back panel TRS.  If like me you play a few different instruments then having a dedicated input for each is the way to go. If you don't plan on recording bands and your only going to be recording 2 or 3 tracks at once then a 4 channel interface is all you need. You can always add more dedicated inputs buy purchasing a small mixer. If you are going to record a group or band, then 8 XLR inputs will be minimum.
 
Pre Amps are very important and choosing the quality of your needs will take a bit of research.  The “you get what you pay for”  rule applies here, but check out the reviews and keep in mind that if you have those back panel TRS jacks you can always add a hardware pre amp latter. If pre amps are high on your list then look at the $400 plus range. 
Having SPDIF is a nice option as a lot of powered monitors now have digital inputs. Only down side is the monitor control knob on the front panel probably won't control your room level.
On my 2 interfaces SPDIF input does not have direct monitoring either.
 
If you have other gear that supports the various multi channel digital formats like MADI or ADAT then you'll defiantly be requiring those options as in/outs.
Old school MIDI ports are now often replaced with MIDI over USB but if you plan on using any older midi equipment make sure you have this option.
 
I like to have 4 outputs. Main 1/2  to monitors, 3/4 I run to a small mixer I use for monitoring.  If your thinking about recording a group of musicians  then you will need more outputs or headphone mixes. Most multi output interfaces come with GUI based mixing software that facilitates complicated cue mixes. There are also many complaints about the learning curve for using this software so pay attention to reviews.
 
A/D convertors are generally good these days. There would seem to be a diminished return formula at play as the ones that claim highest quality are $$$$$. How much better those will make your recordings is anyone's guess. Myself convertors are low on my list of concerns.
 
Are there peak level meters or just a little LED for each input?  I hate little lights, but that's seems to be standard.
Are there channel Insert jacks?  This is a must if you desire a hardware compressor or EQ. You can also tap into this to run the signal to a monitor/ headphone  mixer. 
 
Are there separate controls for Monitor level and headphone level? This is super important. People who miss this end up having to fork over an extra $100 for a "Big Knob"
Is there a blend control on the front panel for mixing Source with Computer ( DAW) ? Sometimes this is Software based only. This might be important to you to balance the input signal with the playback. I use my small mixer.
How many Headphone jacks? A level for each?
Are the input pads or line / Instrument toggle switches on the front, back or software controlled?
 
Is it a metal box or cheap plastic? Is it light and portable or large and bulky, Rack mountable? Size matters. I like the Tascam interfaces as example, but compared to most others they are way to bulky to pack in a laptop bag.
Does it have an on / off switch? Nice to not have to unplug the wall wart.
 
Does it use Buss power or a power supply? Buss power can have issues with noise and Phantom power. I myself would avoid any interface that does not have an optional A/C power supply.   
 
Does it have DSP effects built in? Certainly a worthwhile option if you plan on using the interface as a live mixer. My next interface I'm looking at is a Motu that serves double duty as a live digital mixer.
Does it use a GUI mixer? Having a software (GUI) mixer adds more options. And once again with brands like the Motu you now have Tablet / iPad remote mixing capabilities which for live sound in ears and studio headphone mixes is pretty slick. 
 
Can it be used as stand alone? Some interfaces are also handy as a small mixer.
What are the Round Trip Latency (RTL) specs? Do you need low RTL for real time processing?
Low RTL is going to be at a higher price point. A $200 interface will have hidden buffers etc and score higher latency. If you wish to use Guitar Sims your going to want to spend more money and get your RTL down to below at least 5ms. Best performers are brand like Motu and RME.
 
Zero Latency monitoring is not the same as RTL. All interfaces have some latency. 
Zero latency is just marketing hype for monitoring directly from the interface.
And most important of all, Does it have top notch drivers for your OS. 
What is the word on support from the company?
Does it come with free software, An LE version of a  DAW you would like to try?  Free plug ins?
 
Everyone will recommend the interface they have chosen, that doesn't mean it is the right one for you.
Sit down and make a list of your desires and then go on web sites like Sweetwater and read reviews and specs. Also a good idea to visit the web sites of the major brands and see what's new. Careful of outdated gear.
 

Johnny V  
Cakelab  
Focusrite 6i61st - Tascam us1641. 
3 Desktops and 3 Laptops W7 and W10
 http://www.cactusmusic.ca/
My Sonar Tutorial on using MIDI
http://www.cactusmusic.ca/Sonarmidi.htm
 
 
#17
Blades
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Re: New Audio Interface considerations 2018/05/07 00:30:56 (permalink)
Well - I pulled the trigger this evening.
 
A little history:
I had a vintage set of Vibraphones (a Premier 701 set to be exact).  I was able to list and sell them on eBay.  They were my sister's and they have been literally sitting in storage (my house) for the past 30 or so years doing nothing.  I spent some time cleaning them up.  I got more than expected for them and after fees and the (painful) shipping, I was left some money, which I promised myself would be used on musical equipment I wanted.
 
I initially expected to spend it on a new set of ATV Electronic hi-hats and a Presonus Faderport 8.  I didn't anticipate having enough left to get the audio interface and expected that I would be waiting on the sale of a few other items to do the interface part.
 
Well, I found an "open box" on the Faderport 8 (eBay from a music store in NY) and the same on the hi-hats (from eDrumCenter in TN), which left me just a little bit short of getting the Presonus Studio 1824.  So, I searched around for a deal - but this is a BRAND new unit, so I was not able to find anything, except a coupon code that offered 15% off $299 or more at musiciansfriend.  It didn't work, but I got a rep on chat and on a Sunday night at 8:00pm and I was able to get that rep to use the discount code.  They couldn't do PayPal as I had hoped (since that's where the eBay purchase funds were sitting), but I was able to do a few transfers and get it done over the phone. 
 
It amounted to about a $75 discount!
 
Don't underestimate the value of looking around and ASKING!
 
So, for a piece of equipment I had sitting in my back room for decades that I not only never used, but also would never use in the future, I was able to purchase a new set of hi-hats, a new Midi control surface to replace my BCF2000, and a new Audio Interface to replace my Echo Layla 3G.
 
I am super excited about this because it was the perfect example of "found money".  Love it.  And while I went down this path because I'm likely to use two out of the three in Studio One, all three can be useful in either Studio One or CbB (which I am still attracted to).
 
Happy. Am. I.
 
I'll report back with the experience when I have all of these things - though maybe not in this thread! :)

Blades
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#18
AT
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Re: New Audio Interface considerations 2018/05/07 02:59:44 (permalink)
Cool Blades.  I'm a sucker for a happy ending.
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