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Thread: Sweetwater Interface comparison - Under $500

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    Sweetwater Interface comparison - Under $500

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    Sweetwater has recently posted an interface test for a selection of different units under $500. They did a couple of voice tests, an acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and a grand piano. Interfaces ranged from Focusrite and Zoom to Apollo and SSL.

    Sweetwater Interface test

    Has anyone else pulled down the hi res 96k/24bit files and compared them? I found a couple of things interesting.

    The vocals and acoustic guitars are individual performances for each test. This is clear because the timing of the performances varies from take to take. I hear so much variation in the playing, singing or talking that it made comparing the interfaces impossible.

    The electric guitar and piano, though were done differently. For the guitar, they used a reamped recording, so the performance and setup were consistent. Only the interface changed. With the grand piano, they used a midi Diskclavier system on a Yamaha C7 miked with two AKG 414s, so again, the tempo, and subtle changes in touch were eliminated.

    Using those two sets of samples into Reaper, I bounced back and forth, soloing each track. Listening on headphones (both Sony 7506s and AKG 240s) i struggle to hear a difference. They did do the Scarlett with and without the Air setting, and that showed a difference. If anything, the Apollo sounded a bit duller than the rest. For the most part, soundstage (some are stereo files) and timbre were extremely consistent.

    I know with mics, its really easy to put 2 or 3 different mics in very close proximity and record them for a pretty valid comparison. I often hear some appreciable differences. With interfaces, not so much unless there is some difference in EQ or compression.

    Opinions, thoughts, comments? Am I deaf. Are the "massive" differences that people speak about really there?

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    IMHO the differences in these sub 500 USD units is a matter of ease of use, driver and build quality and support. They all sound pretty equal to my hearing.
    Win 7 Ult Dell i7 4core 6700ghz 32 GB, 1,2x2, 4 Tb Barracuda HD's running Pro tools 2019 through Allen&Heath Qu-32

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    Well, my hearing components are ancient, so subtleties are lost, especially when picking between 1 specific short clip, especially solo'd stuff. Sometimes in a full mix I might hear something but it's always the kind of thing where if I'd been doing the mix, it almost certainly wouldn't have mattered.

    So, yeah, what @Gtoboy said. Buy what works best for you, or what you think will have the best support for your needs, etc.

    I bought the Steinberg UR44C several months ago because I had to have a 4x input interface and wanted USB 3.0 capability at a reasonable price. It was literally the only one in stock. Based on reviews I've seen/read, it has maybe the worst noise spec of all comparable interfaces. Well, guess what, I cant hear it, and it's got all the ins/outs I need and slicker than snot on a glass doorknob when it comes to speed and getting stuff done. If it lasts a few years, I'm gonna be very happy.
    "... I know in the mornin' that it's gonna be good
    when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen

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    Isn't that what we've been saying for years here - there is no appreciable difference in similarly-priced interfaces?
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    For the most part, that's been my feeling.

    I had been reading some posts on another forum, and one fellow's comment was that the Focusrite preamps were total garbage - thin and weak. He said the Motu was way superior. Having not really compared them myself, I wouldn't comment one way or another. After listening to these tests, its pretty clear that a lot of people's evaluation can be based on factors other than the interface itself.

    In a lot of respects, it the same as the audiophile world, although some of those folk are completely delusional.

    At least I can say I'm not completely deaf. Dumb maybe, but not deaf!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mjbphotos View Post
    Isn't that what we've been saying for years here - there is no appreciable difference in similarly-priced interfaces?
    It's a fact that some people find differences in printed numbers, even small differences that may be inaudible, "appreciable."

    I've discovered that even audible differences, when they are made appreciable by virtue of testing in ideal usages on specific sources or played back under ideal conditions, usually become negligible in my recordings - I guess I have a knack for that sort of thing
    "... I know in the mornin' that it's gonna be good
    when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen

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    Waaaaay back when Pci Soundcards ruled but when Firewire and few USB interfaces were emerging, Sound on sound did tests in reveiws.
    The interfaces were A/B'ed after setting relative levels to better than 0.5dB. The tester's comments were on the line of..."MAYBE the xx has a slightly more open tone than yy but then a change of musical genre flips that opinion." Generally there was naver any "night and day" revelatons.

    SoS don't do such tests anymore. I suppose they have found the time taken is simply not worth the results?

    Dave.

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    I went through some interface comparisons years ago and didnt notice anything worth jumping up and down about, sound wise, either.

    But then as already said, it was the personal preferences that made the difference to me.

    If a person is using outboard gear, all the "realtime virtual gear" isnt wanted or needed. This makes it even easier to buy about any of the interfaces if using a Line IN only.

    I'd probably go with a wall-wart version or USB-C/Thunderbolt which is more juice to run all the circuits in the unit. But Ive never owned a USB-C yet. I like the 19" rack units and they come with wall power.

    As for listening comparison tests using SONY 7506 is probably a general HR studio grade playback, most end users have earbuds or Beats type phones... HiEnd studios with $$$$$$$$$ could hear the subtle changes, I would assume, but who knows, maybe not.
    Last edited by CoolCat; 1 Week Ago at 08:06. Reason: spellinkg

    if it's not happening in the room, it ain't gonna happen on tape.-H.Gerst

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    I wear NRR 33 earplugs and communicate via sign language.
    I only expose my ear drum when in the vicinity of Mcintosh stereo equipment and only then if the cables are Mcintosh.

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    There is no doubt digitally there will be nuances....but audibly detectable good luck in the blindfold test.

    On mic's sure on digital interfaces I would venture that with blindfolds on it would be hard to tell the difference between a $100 digital interface and $10,000 digital interface both recorded raw...and played back through the same system...unless of course it is a Mcintosh system...
    Tomco Audio Electric ( TAE )

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