Audio Interfaces || USB 2.0 vs Firewire (Scarlett vs. Saffire)

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by AgileButt, Jun 14, 2014.

  1. AgileButt

    AgileButt SS.org Regular

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    Hey there everybody. I'm currently looking for a quality audio interface on a budget (roughly 200$ or so). I've heard good things about Focusrite interfaces, and especially for my price range. So I've sparked a lot of interest in some of the Scarlett and Saffire models. Specifically, the 6i6 and Saffire Pro 14 (I need midi and s/pdif). Their specs seem to be very similar. The big differences are that the 6i6 has more instrument inputs, 2 headphone jacks, a power on/off switch, and is USB 2.0 rather than Firewire.

    Based on the looks, specs, and reviews, I'm definitely leaning towards the Scarlett 6i6. Especially since I've seen quite a few for $190-200, while the Saffire is typically $250. I use a Macbook Pro as my computer, Presonus Studio One 2.0 as my DAW, and would use the interface mostly for DI and Guitar recordings. I'd only really need 2 instrument inputs, but all the 2-input interfaces that I've seen don't have s/pdif or midi. Is the extra $50 worth it for the Firewire connection? I know that many Mac users prefer Firewire to USB, but with the improvement of USB 2.0, will the Firewire make a noticeable difference of any sort?

    I'd appreciate any and all the feedback that I can get. I'm also open to other suggestions as well. These 2 just seemed like good fits based on my needs and what I've read about them.
     
  2. Fretless

    Fretless Knob Fiddler

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    I use an 18i20, and I can say I honestly have no discernible latency. I know it's there when I reamp, but with my recording method you don't feel it while playing.
     
  3. NickLAudio

    NickLAudio SS.org Regular

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    Focusrite makes very good HIGH END interfaces. The Scarlett line is not one of them. (although the more expensive Scarletts like 18i20 are nice). Some work awesome, but most have problems. There has been so many complaints about them that I wouldn't recomend it. The "Saffire" line and up, on the other hand, are very reliable and are top quality interfaces/pres. I would save the extra money and skip the Scarlett.

    Firewire is slightly faster and more stable than USB but is getting less popular/less supported. You won't notice a difference between the two just recording single tracks. You would notice if you're recording 8+ mics into an interface simultaneously were Firewire would have less latency. But for your situation, USB would work perfectly.

    Why skimp on your most important piece of gear? Save up a little more and buy something nice!
     
  4. Rook

    Rook Electrifying

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    There are currently absolutely no known issues with the Scarlett range of interfaces, and going from the 2i2 to the 18i20, they don't get 'better' you just get more and more complex IO and the addition of Scarlett MixControl. The quality remains the same all the way up the line.

    The reasons why you would chose FireWire/Thunderbolt over USB are:
    - High IO count - if you were recording an entire drum kit, two guitars and a bass, you'll feel the benefit
    - Taking your audio interface off the same bus as any storage media. If you use an external drive to save all your stems while working on your projects, using an interface AND a USB HDD will slow both down, so you'd either use a FireWire/Thunderbolt hard drive - which gets really expensive really quickly - or put your interface on that bus.

    FireWire isn't getting 'less supported' as such, it uses the same protocol as ThunderBolt in many ways, so Saffires can be used with ThunderBolt, which isn't going anywhere.


    The Focusrire Scarlett range is one of the best selling ranges of interface ever, if they were as flawed as ^this guy's making out I feel that'd be rather more publicised and people just wouldn't buy them.
     
  5. GoldDragon

    GoldDragon SS.org Regular

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    In the less expensive interfaces, I would go with Firewire. The latency comes down to driver performance and USB drivers typically underperform Firewire. The only manufacturer with USB drivers on par with their Firewire is RME. If you have 500-600 to spend, check out their Babyface. The big advantage of USB is forward compatibilty. Most notebooks dont have firewire ports anymore. USB is here to stay.

    Latency is a big deal, especially if you are tracking using plug-ins (like Revalver or other VSTis) or have a high plug-in count. If you are monitoring direct, its not as big a deal because you can always bump up the buffer size to avoid drop outs.
     
  6. NickLAudio

    NickLAudio SS.org Regular

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    Really? Input clipping problems? Input noise depending on OS? Just do the research...it's all there. Sure a DI box will help but why have to buy more gear for it to work properly? And sure a pad was added to the non baseline models but that acts as a "work-around" and doesn't fix the actual input gain problem.


    It is publicized, people just don't do the research to find out. They buy it, then make threads on this forum and other forums asking "why is my scarlett having problems?" I read a new one every week :lol:
     
  7. Rook

    Rook Electrifying

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    I need to clarify first an foremost, I work for the company and am not here to push that fact, nor promote the product. That's not my in my interests, nor is it my job.

    I would however be keen to stay on top of the facts. I'm not going to tell you Focusrite interfaces are better or worse than other brands, but comments on reliability I feel I have something to say about...

    First, they don't have 'input clipping problems' as such, but they don't have the headroom for a hot set of pickups particularly, it's not a problem as such, but it is a pain in the design. By that I mean it isn't broken, the design just didn't account for that sadly.

    As for reliability, there are currently over 70,000 lower end Scarletts registered in the world (and you don't have to register them), more than any other single range - partly because some other brands don't use as wide 'ranges' as we do - it'd be a surprise if there weren't a few that people have trouble with, but 99% of them never have a single issue - no more than any other interface in their price band. Most of the issues I read about Scarletts stem from the kind of customer they attract and the problem is usually a set up issue, which can be resolved with some help rather than being a huge issue with the product itself. It's that kind of product, it attracts that kind of buyer and so on. That's not to shift all the blame for every Scarlett issue ever onto the buyer, far from, of course some units have their moments, but in my experience we can usually help people through their problem without having to replace hardware etc.

    I hope none of what I've said here classes as promoting the brand, I absolutely don't want that to be the case. As I say, I have no interest in trying to 'shift a few boxes' through this forum, it's not necessary and I just wanna be a member here. If a mod has a problem with anything I've said PLEASE let me know and I'll wipe it out.
     
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  8. ThePhilosopher

    ThePhilosopher Reason User

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    I've always preferred FW to USB for my interface - it's always been a better fit for me I/O-wise on my PCs. I will say that having audio loopback is a huge feature for me so the Saffire range was a good upgrade over my M-Audio unit.
     
  9. ascl

    ascl SS.org Regular

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    FWIW I have both FW and USB Saffire interfaces (14 pro and USB 6) from Focusrite and had an issue with the FW device until a firmware update cleared it up. Aside from that both devices have worked flawlessly.

    YMMV of course. If you are just recording a couple of guitars I am sure either USB or FW will work fine, just make sure it has the ins/outs you want (S/PDIF for eg).
     
  10. cwhitey2

    cwhitey2 BlackendCrust Metalâ„¢

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    I have a usb 6 and that thing is awesome. No problems what so ever.
     
  11. jasonsansburn

    jasonsansburn Bleep Blerp Bleep

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    I have the Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 for over a year now and I can honestly say that I've never had one problem with it and I'm extremely happy I bought it. However I've never tried a Saffire interface so I can't say one is better than the other.
     
  12. mcleanab

    mcleanab Theta Sagan Swords

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    Hijack!

    I have a similar question relating to the USB or Firewire thoughts... I currently have a Peavey PV8 USB mixer that I record with. Been going strong for several years without a hitch. It seems that it is 24 bit 44.1kHz which still sounds great to my ears.

    I'm thinking of getting this for two reasons:
    Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 | Sweetwater.com

    One, I'd love to "upgrade" to the 96kHz... I'm certain that one can hear the difference between 44.1 and 96? (I'm a totally noob about specs, so forgive me).

    Two, I'd love to have it as my mixer so I could monitor live or just play in the room when I'm not recording...

    My concern is latency. With the Peavey Mixer, there's no latency because it's a mixer... if there is latency going down to Reaper, it's compensated for between the computer, Reaper and the Peavey.

    With the Focusrite, would it actually function well as a live monitor? (Live being in the room, not playing out). Has anyone had latency issues when monitoring?

    As with the previous posts, I don't think I'll be recording with more than two inputs at a time, but as I currently use the Peavey, I have my Theta running into my Lexicon MPX-1 (two XLR in) and MXP-G2 (two XLR in). I switch it out for just the XLR out on the Theta and sometimes the ADA GCS-2 XLR out. But, I'm tired of plugging and unplugging and want something that functions like a live mixer -where I could plug in the Theta, ADA GCS-2, and both Lexicons and maybe another two XLR from another unit (if I get it) - and function as a killer audio interface that I don't have to plug and unplug when recording guitars or drum machines or keys...

    Any and all thoughts appreciated! Thanks!
     
  13. Icecold

    Icecold SS.org Regular

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    I own the Pro40 and I absolutely love it. I've had it for about 2 years, done live drum tracking and all of my own stuff with it. I have never had any latency issues(Recording and Monitoring) with the Pro40.
     
  14. mcleanab

    mcleanab Theta Sagan Swords

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    That's good news! So you think it will function fine as a stand alone mixer (just me wailing away in my office)? And function fine as a top notch interface?
     
  15. Promit

    Promit SS.org Regular

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    Firewire is dead, guys, at least for all practical purposes. I wouldn't want to invest serious money in it now.
     
  16. 7stg

    7stg SS.org Regular

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  17. Icecold

    Icecold SS.org Regular

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    It's got my vote! :yesway:
     
  18. mcleanab

    mcleanab Theta Sagan Swords

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    The Focusrite seems to have FireWire to Thunderbolt adapters ...

    Seems it's fine for the moment since my Mac Mini has both!!!
     
  19. 7stg

    7stg SS.org Regular

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    Any adapter will add latency, and may not operate as fast as the FireWire alone in this case.
     
  20. PlumbTheDerps

    PlumbTheDerps SS.org Regular

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    lol, I've seen more complaints about the Scarlett interfaces than any others on the market. I had a 2i2 myself with standard active EMGs and it clipped by default because the thing has a retardedly high default input level, something like +10db. I know lots of people have the Saffire and above, but I've still heard of problems with even those, though they seem to be less frequent.
     

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