Old 11-03-2018, 02:08 AM   #1
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Default I need a new audio interface

Hi,

because my old Tascam US-122 Mk II is no longer supported and the drivers only work up to El Capitan, I‘ll need a new interface, especially when I want to upgrade NI Komplete from 10 to 12, which requires at least Sierra.

Furthermore I‘m a bedroom producer using mainly a Beyerdynamic T90 headphone, which has a superb resolution. So an interface with a good integrated headphone amp would be preferred, but good mic preamps too.

Budget limit is below 1000 bucks and I need not more than 2 inputs simultaniously.

I‘m a bit unsure about MIDI ... I might want to buy and record an e-drum set later, so it might be useful to have a MIDI-in port at least, right?

Because I have a mid 2014 Macbook Pro (i7, 16 GB RAM & 512 GB SSD + external thunderbolt SSD for sample libraries) I thought of switching to a thunderbolt interface, but I would prefer an interface, that is bus powered. Fact is Thunderbolt would be preferred, because the Macbook only has 2 USB ports and one is needed for my NI Kontrol S keyboard. And I‘d like a use one USB port for a mechanical HDD for audio recordings ... not a must have, but preferred over the available SSDs (internal or external).

From what I reseached so far, I fear what I want doesn‘t exist :-(

So it might be worth a thought to buy a RME Babyface Pro, though that is still USB 2 ... mmh? But at least it is bus powered and has all required inputs and the drivers and hardware seem to be pretty good too.

I also thought of an Apollo Twin, but that doesn‘t have a MIDI port and I think I won‘t need their plugins, because for guitar and bass I use BIAS / BIAS FX and for everything else NI Komplete covers all my needs.

I also looked at the Zoom TAC interfaces, but as it seems the drivers are a bit of a gambling game and support also doesn‘t seem to be good. But the Zoom TAC-2R would at least theoretically be, what I‘m searching for ... as it seems ;-)

A last thing that comes to mind are drivers in general. The Tascam was horrible with Core Audio and much better regarding latencies, when using their proprietary „low latency driver“.

Any tips ... besides the Babyface? Any experience with the Zoom?
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Old 11-03-2018, 04:44 AM   #2
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If you have a 15" MB Pro, consider buying a used Mindprint Di Port. Mindprint stopped doing business a while back and a lot of people are dumping these. And since you are in Germany, finding one shouldn't be to hard.

These are driverless, as you connect them with optical cables to the MB Pro. The headphone amp is superb. Better than my RME. And the mic inputs are good. Not as good as on the RME, but close.

I picked up my Mindprint for 30 €...
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Old 11-03-2018, 04:55 AM   #3
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Thanks for the Mindprint suggestion, but since it needs an external power source ... mmh.

I also find the Motu stuff interesting ... ok, also external power needed, but the 624 looks pretty interesting especially this AVB network stuff, which could be an alternative to Lemur regarding mixing:

http://motu.com/products/avb/624

It seems my research journey will take longer as expected
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Old 11-03-2018, 05:07 AM   #4
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I personally would avoid any USB bus powered interface.

I used to have a Sound Devices USB Pre. Excellent gear, but my AKG C451's took up to a minute to start working and occasionally would drop out. Bus power wasn't able to keep up with their power demand.
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Old 11-03-2018, 08:10 AM   #5
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I personally would avoid any USB bus powered interface.
Well, with the Tascam I was pretty happy, though the headphone amp wasn‘t that good, as the High Z Input for guitar too.
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Old 11-03-2018, 09:42 AM   #6
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Why don't you get a Focusrite Clarett 2Pre? There are even 2 versions: one with usb and another one with thunderbolt. The price is around 400 bucks.

Clarett Pre2 with Thunderbold
Clarett Pre2 with USB
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Old 11-03-2018, 10:47 AM   #7
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Why don't you get a Focusrite Clarett 2Pre?
Yeah, I looked at the Thunderbolt version, but it seems, it can‘t be bus powered.

Nevertheless interesting, yes.
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Old 11-03-2018, 11:27 AM   #8
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Check this out
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Old 11-03-2018, 12:00 PM   #9
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Check this out
Thanks for the tip ... I‘ll try to find out more about the RA.
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Old 11-04-2018, 04:48 AM   #10
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UAD Arrow maybe (if you already have Thunderbolt 3 in your computer. if you don't you might want to omit the bus-powered requirement)?
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Old 11-04-2018, 05:31 AM   #11
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UAD Arrow maybe ... ?
No, because I have a Mid 2014 MBP with Thunderbolt 2 and the Arrow doesn‘t support that with an TB3 to TB2 adapter ... it needs real TB3, too bad.
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Old 11-04-2018, 06:58 AM   #12
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Hi,
What about the iconnectivity interfaces? I just bought an audio4+ used and its pretty darn good. I'm using it for an iOS, but I hooked it up simultaneously with my PC and its very cool. The pres sound OK, but I was using line level.
I normally use a 2408 motu on my PC.
Extremely flexible routing. Gobs of midi. Innovative.
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Old 11-04-2018, 11:05 AM   #13
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No, because I have a Mid 2014 MBP with Thunderbolt 2
TB 1/2 devices are generally non-bus powered. either live with that or buy an inexpensive USB bus-powered interface like Presonus Audiobox 96.

this said, I sold all my USB soundcards when I moved for Clarett Thunderbolt, but it's not bus-powered as well.

p.s. USB 3.0 does not improve latency compared to 2.0, TB does. I've had experience with a Zoom H4n as a sound interface, this song is recorded with it: https://soundcloud.com/7enebo/galya-from-ipanema

I find the Zoom H4n's mic preamps to be a bit flat and dull, I'd rather prefer Focusrite or Presonus.

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Old 11-04-2018, 12:06 PM   #14
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Hi,
What about the iconnectivity interfaces? I just bought an audio4+ used and its pretty darn good. I'm using it for an iOS, but I hooked it up simultaneously with my PC and its very cool. The pres sound OK, but I was using line level.
I normally use a 2408 motu on my PC.
Extremely flexible routing. Gobs of midi. Innovative.
That one has interested me for a while. The ability to hook it to two devices is unique. And the MIDI capabilities are special, I understand.
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Old 11-04-2018, 03:24 PM   #15
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That one has interested me for a while. The ability to hook it to two devices is unique. And the MIDI capabilities are special, I understand.
The user experience with these iConnect devices seems to be mixed. Similar to Zoom devices I find a lot of complaints over the drivers.

The only device mentioned so far, where I find nothing negative reported is the Babyface Pro.
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Old 11-04-2018, 03:26 PM   #16
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I find the Zoom H4n's mic preamps to be a bit flat and dull, I'd rather prefer Focusrite or Presonus.
The preamps of the TAC-2R are reported to be pretty good, but the drivers and headphone amp are often criticized.
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Old 11-04-2018, 06:16 PM   #17
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The user experience with these iConnect devices seems to be mixed. Similar to Zoom devices I find a lot of complaints over the drivers.

The only device mentioned so far, where I find nothing negative reported is the Babyface Pro.

I believe the iconnects are driverless on Macos? Or is my memory failing me again?
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Old 11-05-2018, 12:38 AM   #18
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I believe the iconnects are driverless on Macos? Or is my memory failing me again?
No, sorry, you are corrrect. The iConnect Audio 2 & 4 are class compliant on macOS and iOS and only Windows needs a vendor driver.

It‘s the iConfig app, that causes headaches on Mac and iPad for several users.

Nevertheless these devices are pretty interesting, so I will do some more research about them.
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Old 11-05-2018, 06:23 AM   #19
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arturia audiofuse

https://www.thomann.de/be/arturia_au...dark_black.htm
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Old 11-05-2018, 08:15 AM   #20
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arturia audiofuse
Phono & effects loop are interesting features. Too bad, it‘s only USB 2.
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Old 11-05-2018, 09:11 AM   #21
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Quote:
but I would prefer an interface, that is bus powered.
Computer power supplies tend to be noisy and sometimes that noise gets into the preamps of bus-powered interfaces (and USB microphones). And, then you don't know if you should blame the interface or the computer because it might be OK on one computer and noisy (or noisier) on another.

The Babyface has a very good reputation, and I assume the power supply is well-filtered and I wouldn't expect that problem.

There's nothing wrong with USB-2, especially if you're only recording a couple of channels.

IMO - The best solution to latency is to get an interface with zero-latency direct-hardware monitoring.
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Old 11-05-2018, 09:32 AM   #22
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IMO - The best solution to latency is to get an interface with zero-latency direct-hardware monitoring.
that won't work with MIDI.

with TB interfaces latency is much nicer than with USB ones.
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Old 11-05-2018, 10:33 AM   #23
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with TB interfaces latency is much nicer than with USB ones.
Usually yes, but the Apollo Twin for example is said to be only strong jn this regard, when using DSP plugins. When using VSTs in a DAW, the Babyface is said to be similar fast due to their superb drivers.

Fact is ... this interface choice isn‘t an easy one. But I‘m still asking myself, if the Babyface isn‘t the best compromise for me.

But then ... bye bye USB HDD for audio recording, because I only have 2 USB ports and need one for the NI Keyboard. And you guessed it ... a hub would cause issues pretty likely.
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Old 11-05-2018, 01:19 PM   #24
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Phono & effects loop are interesting features. Too bad, it‘s only USB 2.
I think you may have to decide which is most important: bus power or not USB 2 : ) Oddly, or at least against what we assumed when USB 3 started appearing, most of the bus powerable interfaces are still USB 2, even new models.

There definitely is a line drawn through the features and capabilities of interfaces that are bus powered, with certain functions just not able to be provided with the USB 2 or 3 current output provided.
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Old 11-05-2018, 01:36 PM   #25
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The Babyface has a very good reputation, and I assume the power supply is well-filtered and I wouldn't expect that problem.
FYI the BabyFace doesn't include an external PSU but it has the input for one so it doesn't 'have' to be bus powered. Secondly, any audio device receiving power should filter it, though they don't always, it's sort of dumb not to do the basics. Lastly, for kicks I'll throw some USB 5V power on my scope this week and see how/if noisy it actually is.

Quote:
There's nothing wrong with USB-2, especially if you're only recording a couple of channels.
or 24 or 30 channels since I've done it. The bad rap USB-2 gets is about rebranded gear using class-compliant drivers far more than the spec itself.

To the OP: if it weren't for your concern about multiple USB devices on the same USB port as the sound card I'd be suggesting the BabyFace - I sort of still suggest it because... generally I don't even expect that to be a problem, it's only a problem when you are actually using much of the USB port's bandwidth AND the other device is using it to (or combined they pull more than the default max of 100mA or max max of 500ma) - that symptom isn't degraded audio, it causes the device(s) to completely drop their USB connection and reconnect, rinse/repeat - an external drive containing the audio you are playing in Reaper while you are simultaneously recording lots of tracks would probably cause issues for example but if nothing is eating the bandwidth and competing, I don't see a problem.

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Old 11-05-2018, 02:19 PM   #26
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... an external drive containing the audio you are playing in Reaper while you are simultaneously recording lots of tracks would probably cause issues for example but if nothing is eating the bandwidth and competing, I don't see a problem.
The idea was ... thunderbolt for interface, one USB for the keyboard (external power supply here) and one for the HDD. A second external drive (thunderbolt SSD) for sample libraries (NI Komplete).

And I usually only record one track at once ... so far thankfully no drum recordings with lots of mics

So, my guess is, that should work fine.

If I should choose a USB interface, I would be forced to place recordings on one of the SSDs, be it internal or the thunderbolt one with the samples. Both suboptimal, because it will be a mix of MIDI (virtual instruments) and audio recordings. Not a drama I guess, but a separate mechanical HDD for the recordings seems to be the better choice. And the internal SSD might become soon a bottleneck regarding available space.

So my guess is ... thunderbolt interface for home recordings and a second bus powered interface for field recordings. For the later I already tried the iRig Pro, I use for iPad, but wasn‘t that satisfied, though it‘s great on the iPad. But there I didn‘t find an app, that can record 24/96.
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Old 11-05-2018, 02:21 PM   #27
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Yep, I totally forgot you'd have the samples etc. on the same USB hub so I agree there.
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Old 11-05-2018, 02:25 PM   #28
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Yep, I totally forgot you'd have the samples etc. on the same USB hub so I agree there.
No, samples will be placed on external thunderbolt SSD, not USB.

But recording to this SSD would be nevertheless pretty suboptimal, yes.
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Old 11-05-2018, 02:38 PM   #29
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No, samples will be placed on external thunderbolt SSD, not USB.

But recording to this SSD would be nevertheless pretty suboptimal, yes.
I thought your original concern with using a USB interface was because drives/sound card might conflict, hence discussing *adding* thunderbolt to the setup. Either way, all good.
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Old 11-05-2018, 03:24 PM   #30
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Usually yes, but the Apollo Twin for example is said to be only strong jn this regard
Said by whom? Did they try Clarett or Quantum or any other TB device? IME TB bus is much better for near-real-time audio than USB.

Never used a RME interface though myself. Googled for "Babyface latency" though and not impressed, it's about general USB latency, nothing magical with it. A reasonable TB device like Apollo, Clarett or Quantum will leave it behind.
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Old 11-05-2018, 04:10 PM   #31
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Said by whom? Did they try Clarett or Quantum or any other TB device?
Sorry, I read so much the last days ... don‘t remember all details, but yes, the Apollo was compared to other TB devices and was slightly slower, except when using the UA plugins, where it shows it‘s real strength as it seems.

What a f*cking difficult choice
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Old 11-06-2018, 02:21 AM   #32
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FYI the BabyFace doesn't include an external PSU but it has the input for one so it doesn't 'have' to be bus powered.
The power input specs are very broad. Any power supply of decent quality between 11 and 18V will do. You can even power it from a car battery. It's an example of how it should be set up.

Quote:
Secondly, any audio device receiving power should filter it, though they don't always, it's sort of dumb not to do the basics. Lastly, for kicks I'll throw some USB 5V power on my scope this week and see how/if noisy it actually is.
Filtering can be an issue, but the main issue is the limited 5V, 500 mA that the USB2 spec provides. A lot of USB ports can provide more, some can't. And 2,5 watts isn't a lot to power an interface, especially as it also needs to crank that 5V up to 48 V for phantom power.

Quote:
or 24 or 30 channels since I've done it. The bad rap USB-2 gets is about rebranded gear using class-compliant drivers far more than the spec itself.
According to RME, a true USB2 specs port can handle up to 56 I/O.

Quote:
To the OP: if it weren't for your concern about multiple USB devices on the same USB port as the sound card I'd be suggesting the BabyFace - I sort of still suggest it because... generally I don't even expect that to be a problem, it's only a problem when you are actually using much of the USB port's bandwidth AND the other device is using it to (or combined they pull more than the default max of 100mA or max max of 500ma) - that symptom isn't degraded audio, it causes the device(s) to completely drop their USB connection and reconnect, rinse/repeat - an external drive containing the audio you are playing in Reaper while you are simultaneously recording lots of tracks would probably cause issues for example but if nothing is eating the bandwidth and competing, I don't see a problem.
It also depends on the computer in question. If both available ports are on the same internal hub, it will be a problem. I think in the MB Pro they are. And perhaps the camera, internal mic, keyboard and trackpad also are on the same internal hub? I'd need to peek at the schematics to be sure, as most manufacturers don't bother mentioning it.

But, yeah, the current Babyface Pro is a pretty nice device.
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Old 11-06-2018, 02:52 AM   #33
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It also depends on the computer in question. If both available ports are on the same internal hub, it will be a problem. I think in the MB Pro they are.
Fact is, the NI Keyboard will have issues on a hub, so I would be forced to use the Babyface and a HDD on a hub ... no thanks ... Thunderbolt is the way to go, at least for me.

I think I‘ll search for a „higher end“ solution (if needed without bus power) for home recording and a cheaper USB based one for field recordings, but the later isn‘t that urgent currently.
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Old 11-06-2018, 02:59 AM   #34
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Oh, btw ... I found the Resident Audio T2 & T4 pretty interesting, especially because I found a detailled review in a German Online Magazine pointing out the superb audio quality.

But both Sweetwater and Thomann have cancelled it in their lineup ... Amazon reviews also pointed out issues, especially with newer Macs, that only have TB3 over USB-C, where the RA interfaces seem to be incompatible. Further critique are weak mic preamps ...not enough amplification.

Sooo ... further research ... how about the Apogee Element 24? Any thoughts?
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Old 11-06-2018, 03:23 AM   #35
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Fact is, the NI Keyboard will have issues on a hub, so I would be forced to use the Babyface and a HDD on a hub ... no thanks ... Thunderbolt is the way to go, at least for me.
I agree, but you could also put the harddisk on Thunderbolt. That would be a bigger gain, IMHO.
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Old 11-06-2018, 03:25 AM   #36
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I agree, but you could also put the harddisk on Thunderbolt. That would be a bigger gain, IMHO.
Yeah, ok, but I think a Thunderbolt interface has more advantages
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Old 11-06-2018, 03:30 AM   #37
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I don't think so. Audio doesn't need the bandwidth TB provides. Harddisks and especially the latest generation SSD's do. When you compare the Babyface Pro's latency with TB interface's latency, there's hardly an advantage.

If you need 64+ channels, I'd say go TB, or AVB/Dante. But you only need 2 in, 2 out. There are numerous USB interfaces to choose from. On the TB side, choice is rather limited and some user experiences haven't been that good.

And now I think of it, even for 2 in, 2 out, a Dante box could be an advantage. Not in terms of latency or quality, but in terms of longer cables...
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Old 11-06-2018, 04:51 AM   #38
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Audio doesn't need the bandwidth TB provides.
Why then have TB interfaces usually better latency performance?

Ok, I could get a Babyface and a second LaCie Rugged HDD, but the later are pretty expensive ... I alrady got one and exchanged the HDD for an SSD for my sample libraries.

Add a bit more money to the LaCie budget and I‘ll have a Focusrite 2 PRE for example.

The Focusrite would cost me around 380€ and the Babyface Pro plus LaCie TB HDD around 1000 bucks!

Nope ... TB interface seems to be the best bet.

Ok, that AVB and Dante stuff is interesting too, but I only have a Fritzbox based WiFi, so I think, I‘ll go the TB interface route.
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Old 11-06-2018, 07:38 AM   #39
LugNut
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Hi,
For the sake of clarity,
My friend sold me his I connectivity audio4+..... Another sold me his broken iPad air 1 ...needed a battery.
So, I had the same experiences as the op saw online....me and many ppl with iPads were having problems with the iconnectivity routing software.
Not so on my win 7 PC. Setup flawless.
It was very frustrating because I intended to just use the interface live with the ipad....
Then I found that if you cleared ram on iPad first...the iconfig software launches every time.! As an aside, I just posted on their forum with the tip.
Good latency...good sound..good pres..superior routing and innovation. I come from motu stuff mostly...have a emu 1212 m that sounded pretty good also...so you know where I'm coming from.
At a 299 us street price....awesome IMHO.

Edit..cubasis and my new love, beat maker 3, can record at 24/96. There should be others.

Guido

Last edited by LugNut; 11-06-2018 at 07:53 AM.
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Old 11-06-2018, 09:16 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LugNut View Post
Then I found that if you cleared ram on iPad first...the iconfig software launches
How to clean up RAM on iPad? Just closing all apps?

Quote:
Edit..cubasis and my new love, beat maker 3, can record at 24/96. There should be others.
So Cubasis should allow me field recordings with my iRig Pro at 24/96? Would be good to know, so then i could concentrate on macOS for home studio only.
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