Old 12-15-2018, 01:15 PM   #1
Rednroll
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Default USB Audio Interfaces with S/PDIF IN?

Hi folks been out of the DAW/studio game for awhile and am currently looking into getting back into it but this time around with a minimalist setup approach using a laptop on Windows 10 Pro and keeping as much as possible inside the box.

Outside the box I want to keep things as compact, minimalist and portable as possible while still getting pro audio quality sound.

I wish there was a compact USB interface which fit my audio i/o needs and was also able to function as a control surface but in my search for such a device it does not seem to exist. Therefore, what I've decided to do is go with a compact control surface and a separate USB audio interface.

For the control surface after looking at the Presonus Faderport and the Behringer X-Touch ONE, I've decided to go with the Behringer X-Touch One.

For the audio interface here are the minimal functions I need.
2- Mic/Line Pre-amp inputs with 48V phantom power.
1- S/PDIF digital input
2- Audio Monitor Outputs (Prefer balanced outs)

I currently own a USBPre v1 audio interface which had served me well and would have worked well if not for the fact it was discontinued and driver support for newer Windows OSes killed it. I'ld like to avoid that situation again and go with a more reliable and supported brand.

I came across the NI Komplete Audio 6 USB interface which seems perfect for my needs. However, after doing some research I found it does not seem to be a very well supported device where it has been hit and miss in the reliability department and if you just happen to fall into the miss category, there is no support from NI. I haven't completely eliminated this as an option yet.

When I start looking at other audio interface options, it seems I need to step up in price and size levels to find one which includes a S/PDIF input. For example I'm currently considering the Focusrite 18i8 or Behringer U-PHORIA UMC1820. However both of these have more i/o than I really need/prefer, they're larger in size and I'ld be paying more for things I don't need such as 8 analog inputs. All their more compact offerings don't seem to provide a digital S/PDIF input.

Are there other compact USB audio interfaces which include a S/PDIF digital Input and are known to be reliable which I should be considering? Or should I just roll the dice on the NI Komplete Audio 6 and ignore the bad experiences I've read about? RME? M-Audio? Roland? Steinberg? Others?


As an FYI for the need of the S/PDIF digital in. I own a TC Finalizer and a DBX 376 Tube channel strip which I plan to include in my studio setup. Since both of these devices have S/PDIF digital outs, the quality of the audio interfaces built-in Mic Pre's are not that much of a concern for my studio setup but plan to use the built-in Mic pre's for remote recording setups.

Last edited by Rednroll; 12-15-2018 at 02:00 PM.
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Old 12-15-2018, 02:11 PM   #2
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I think you can get a 3rd party driver for the USB Pre. It's just a firmware loader. The device itself is USB Audio Class compliant.

That said, I also gave away mine and it still wouldn't get you spdif I/O.

What's your budget?

Have you considered an RME Babyface Pro? Driverwise, that's about the best you can get and their support lasts very, very long. Even their oldest stuff still works with their current drivers.
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Old 12-15-2018, 02:47 PM   #3
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i agree that RME is the way to go, if possible, but you would have to get a converter if you are expecting an rca spdif connection - the babyface only has optical.
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Old 12-15-2018, 03:50 PM   #4
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Thanks for the suggestions. I just checked out the RME Babyface Pro and it does look like it fits into what I'm after. The $600 price tag and having to complicate the setup by adding a S/PDIF to Optical converter into things look to be the downsides for what I'm after.

I'll add it to my list of considerations but for that price, I'ld really like it to be a perfect fit and not have to deal with the additional coax to toslink adapter. I do know RME makes good stuff and provide reliable driver support. In my previous DAW I ran with Echo Audio interfaces and their driver's were always good as well, but here I am 10+ years later and see they jumped out of the Pro Audio game as well. Ironic how I stepped away for those 10+ years and come back to find out Audio interface driver support is still hit and miss among audio interface developers.

I was trying to keep my budget price under $300.

I have downloaded the 3rd party driver for the USBPre, I may give that a shot as well.

Last edited by Rednroll; 12-15-2018 at 04:16 PM.
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Old 12-15-2018, 11:08 PM   #5
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I use a rather cheap SPDIF (coax and optical) converter to drive my Monitors directly from the PC audio output (optical). It does not feature XLR (symmetric) but just cinche, but sitting next to an audio I/O box this should not be problematic.

-Michael
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Old 12-16-2018, 02:37 AM   #6
Rednroll
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I just googled upon this link, which is a nice USB audio interface matrix from tweakheadz and shows interfaces which include a S/PDIF I/O. However, it seems to be very out dated.
http://tweakheadz.com/audio-interfac...parison-chart/

The M-Audio fast track ultra had me interested but then I learned M-Audio has been sold again and is now an unsupported product by Avid without a driver for Windows 10.

I looked at the latest available drivers for the NI Komplete Audio 6 which was released in 2015 and states supports "Windows 7 and above", which doesn't bring a lot of confidence.

Here is a more recent comparison review of interfaces, but doesn't call out which have a s/pdif I/O.
https://www.gearank.com/guides/audio-interface

It's interesting reading the reviews since all of them seem to call out Windows 10 driver support being one of the bigger disappointments.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Focusrite
No thanks to regular operating system updates, most of the issues raised about the 18i20 pertain to problems with OS updates and driver compatibility. And while Focusrite does the best they can to keep up with them, there are still some who quickly write up negative reviews without waiting for updated drivers to solve their issues.
What a headache I've stumbled into. We are approaching 2019 right? I feel like I've time warped back to 2009.

Last edited by Rednroll; 12-16-2018 at 03:04 AM.
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Old 12-16-2018, 02:47 AM   #7
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Optical to electrical conversion is dirt simple. It needs just a few components. And optical connection has the big advantage of providing complete electrical isolation. No ground loops...

But I agree it's yet another box in the chain.
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