Hopefully this is the correct forum...
So the time has finally come to upgrade. I've started a new job and make some recent sales that allows me to make some significant upgrades and I need to make a decision.
- Core i7 3770K Hackintosh (OSX Mountain Lion) w/ 16GB of RAM, SSD, etc. Top of the line components.
- Digi 003 Factory
- Focusrite Saffire Pro 40
- Behringer ADA8000
- M-Audio DSM3 monitors
- Equator D5 monitors
- Fully treated room w/ traps, broadband absorption & cloud
The Digi/Focusrite/Behringer will all be sold to fund the upgrades.
- Mainly recording guitar, bass & vocals (1-2 tracks)
- Occasional live drums (10-12 tracks max), but mostly programmed/triggered
- Metal/Modern Rock/Punk/Acoustic genres
- Best conversion possible
- Best built in mic pres
- Driver stability
- 41/48k recording
Apogee Ensemble - Seems like a pretty solid unit, though the lack of controls on the front kind of turns me off. I'm really not big on controlling everything digitally (the less I have to use a mouse and keyboard, the better), but I can deal with it, if it's the best choice. Really like that the pres have a lot of gain on tap - Means I could use an SM7b and ribbons comfortably with it. Only concern is that the Ensemble is getting kind of old and its conversion/pres aren't quite up to the standards of the newer stuff coming out now in the same price range?
Metric Halo ULN-2 2D - Honestly, I've only heard rave reviews about these interfaces. Only concern is I could only expand it to 10 total channels via ADAT, but I've heard the conversion and preamps are stellar on it and ahead of anything else in the price range. The DSP seems like it'd be really cool as well, but I hear it has limitations once you start adding reverb and other heavier plugins. Plenty of gain on the preamps, like the Ensemble.
Metric Halo 2882 2D - Heard great things about these as well, but only 42db of gain on the preamps really concerns me, and having to use Fetheads/Cloudlifters on more than one channel really doesn't appeal to me. I've heard people say the conversion is different between this and the ULN-2, but on their website, it says it uses "1st Generation" technology, just like the ULN-2? Though, the preamp is "1st Generation," while the ULN-2 is 2nd Gen, which I presume means the ULN-2 has at least a slightly better pre.
Universal Audio Apollo - My Sweetwater sales rep keeps raving to me about how great his Apollo is and how it puts the Ensemble to shame, but I'm honestly not so sure. I've heard the converters are the same as the 4-710, which really doesn't excite me (they're alright, but I'm not sure they're quite up to par with the MH stuff...), and I'm sure the pres aren't a 610 at that price. The DSP would be pretty awesome, but since you only get 3 plugins with it, I'm not really excited about having to pay more to use the UAD-2 to its full potential, when I already have a couple grand in great plugins that my computer can run just fine.
Mostly leaning toward either the Ensemble (mostly because the 4 extra line ins could be used with a nice 4 channel pre like the API 3124+) or the ULN-2 at this point, but I honestly would like to hear some people's opinions on them all, especially now that more people probably have experience with the Apollo.
I'll be pairing whatever interface I end up getting with an Audient ASP008 and I'm hoping to start piecing together an SCA rack/API Lunchbox/API 3124+ as paychecks start to come in.
Alternatively, I was looking into getting a PCI card and running some converters into it like the RME ADI-8, Apogee AD16x, maybe even a Mytek 8x192 w/ FW, but that'd leave me with no preamps and more money I'd have to spend, plus I wouldn't be able to use it for mobile recording if I want to record live shows when I mix my friend's band. Not interested in the RME UFX - I've owned one previously and don't really want one again; I was also really interested in the A&H ZED R16, but as much as I'd love to have all the features of it, I don't know where I'd put it, because the 003 I have barely fits on my desk as is :lol: