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Thread: OH... which AUDIO INTERFACE to buy? lemme see, lemme see..

  1. #1
    notstuff is offline Newbie
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    OH... which AUDIO INTERFACE to buy? lemme see, lemme see..

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    we have the...

    1. the m audio firewire audiophile

    2. the m audio firewire 410

    3. the edirol ua5 usb

    4. the emagic 2|6 usb

    5. the emagic 6|2 usb


    i need (1) digital inputs (optical preferred, coaxial fine though), (2) 1/4 analog inputs, (3) 24 bit/96hz a/d conversion, (4) xlr inputs would be nice but are not necessary, (5) usb or firewire interface, (6) the highest sound quality i can get for this price range (around $300).


    at the moment, i am really trying to decide between the edirol ua5 and the m audio audiophile. it looks like the latter may give me more sound quality, but enough to outweigh getting xlr inputs for $20 less?


    any suggestions/insight?


    thanks a bunch!

  2. #2
    dwillis45 is offline Número sesenta nueve
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    Insight:

    Are you set on an interface versus a soundcard? Are you using a computer that lacks an available card slot? I mention this only because the most popular option around here seems to be a soundcard--something like the M-Audio audiophile.

    Have you done any research into the difference between USB and Firewire in terms of speed, performance, quality, etc.? Firewire traditionally enjoyed a stronger reputation in the past, although USB has come along way.

    Are you sure you want to skip XLR inputs? It seems to me that they are crucial if you will be micing vocals, acoustic guitar, etc. I would also make sure that the interface had phantom power to run condenser mics.

  3. #3
    Massive Master's Avatar
    Massive Master is offline MASSIVE Mastering, LLC
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    I'm not familiar with all the specs, but I was sent a 410 to test and review... It was quite nice - Nice sounding converters, etc. Just an all-around handy box. Wish I could've kept it.

    And for the most part, if you can keep your converters out of your box, go for it. MUCH quieter when it counts.

    John Scrip - www.massivemastering.com
    John Scrip - MASSIVE Mastering


    Spoon-feed a newbie the answer and he'll mix for a day --
    Spark his curiosity to find the answer himself and he'll mix for a lifetime...

  4. #4
    notstuff is offline Newbie
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    in response to the questions that dwillis45 asked:

    1. i don't have the option of using a soundcard, unfortunately.

    2. in terms of speed, firewire devices are clearly better. speed is not an issue for me, however. in terms of performance and quality, i have not been able to uncover information that indicates whether either port type, alone, affects performance or quality. this is, in part, what i was hoping to learn as a result of my post ...in addition to benefitting from the experience that others may have had with any of the devices i listed.

    3. i am honestly not sure if i would like to skip xlr inputs. perhaps you cen lend some insight to this. i have two devices (one analog, one digital) that, themselves, have xlr inputs and which output via 1/4 inch analog and digital (coaxial and optical), respectively. so i had assumed that i could run my mics through either of those without a loss in quality. this assumption may be entirely wrong, however, and i would appreciate any insight into this, as well. (in response to the phantom power comment, i have a separate phantom power box for my condenser mic.)

    thanks!

  5. #5
    notstuff is offline Newbie
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    massive master, what did you mean by the following statement?

    "And for the most part, if you can keep your converters out of your box, go for it. MUCH quieter when it counts."

    wouldn't i rather my audio interface perform the d/a conversion for me? i understand that most computers do not perform very well at this.

    additionally, at times, i will be running digital inputs into the interface, so d/a conversion would not be an issue in this case. is this a correct assumption?

    thanks for your input...

  6. #6
    dwillis45 is offline Número sesenta nueve
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    Originally posted by notstuff

    3. i am honestly not sure if i would like to skip xlr inputs. perhaps you cen lend some insight to this. i have two devices (one analog, one digital) that, themselves, have xlr inputs and which output via 1/4 inch analog and digital (coaxial and optical), respectively. so i had assumed that i could run my mics through either of those without a loss in quality. this assumption may be entirely wrong, however, and i would appreciate any insight into this, as well. (in response to the phantom power comment, i have a separate phantom power box for my condenser mic.)

    thanks!
    It sounds like you have a preamp with XLR inputs, phantom power, and digital out. This should cover you micing needs and you can run the unit into your new interface, provided the digital connections match (optical>optical or coaxial>coaxial). If your interface also has a mic preamp, however, you will have an additional choice that may give you better or perhaps different sonic results. In addition, having a preamp in the interface will allow you to use a second set of A/D converters. If you rely on your outboard preamp and digital out, the signal will be converted to digital when it reaches the interface. In other words, it should bypass the interface's A/D conversion and be routed to your computer. If you get a preamp/interface combo, the A/D conversion will take place in the interface using a different set of converters. The two sets of converters may be the same or different in terms of quality, but you will at least have some choices. The other issue to consider is clocking. If you link multiple digital devices (preamp w/digital out>interface) you may introduce digital artifacts. I'm not sure if this will happen in your case. Alot depends on how the digital devices relate to one another. Normally, you would have to "slave" one device to the other by setting the interface's software control panel. This normally means that you tell the interface to accept digital signals from the digital preamp or to use the interface's internal clock. At any rate, an interface with a built-in preamp would avoid potential clocking issues.

  7. #7
    Teacher's Avatar
    Teacher is offline do unto others......
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    Originally posted by notstuff
    massive master, what did you mean by the following statement?

    "And for the most part, if you can keep your converters out of your box, go for it. MUCH quieter when it counts."

    wouldn't i rather my audio interface perform the d/a conversion for me? i understand that most computers do not perform very well at this.

    additionally, at times, i will be running digital inputs into the interface, so d/a conversion would not be an issue in this case. is this a correct assumption?

    thanks for your input...
    he meant stand alone AD and DA's i think like these

    http://www.mercenary.com/addaconversion.html
    "...if the opposite of pro is a con lets go beyond this, the opposite of CONgress must be PROgress..." Cage

    [url]www.sicbeats.com[/url]

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    freeztar is offline Junior Member
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    Or as another example, the Aardvark Q10 incorporates the A/d d/A converter on the soundcard in a shielded case. It's not the best, but quieter and supposedly more efficient than an outboard incorporated converter. Although I'm sure the best would be a solution similiar to that mentioned above.

  9. #9
    notstuff is offline Newbie
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    a soundcard is, unfortunately, not an option for me. my understanding is that a usb/firewire interface can provide decent a/d conversion (not concerned with d/a). is this true?

    ...don't get me wrong. i would love a stand-alone. i just don't have that kind of cash.


    so... given my limitations (lack of money, lack of card-slot), what might be my best option?

  10. #10
    dwillis45 is offline Número sesenta nueve
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    YMMV, but I would go with the M-Audio Firewire 410. If you have a preamp with digital out, try running it through the M-audio and compare. If you want to uprgade your A/D converters at some point down the road, you can upgrade using the M-audio's optical/coaxial connections. For the time being, the built-in converters should qualify as "decent" for the price range. The 410 will also handle D/A conversion which is important since your ability to monitor and mix can be affected by the quality of the D/A conversion process.

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