Yet another interface recommendation thread

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by thetourist, May 3, 2021.

  1. thetourist

    thetourist SS.org Regular

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    I'm looking for an entry/mid-level interface to primarily connect to my Fractal AX8 to, but also have it future-proofed in that I might want to record vocals and midi keyboard in the near future. I'd also want to use it as a general sound card for a mac mini.

    Some googling has me thinking the Audient stuff might be what I'd want, although I don't know enough about interfaces to decide if I'd need the 2 mic preamps on the id14, as compared to the one on the id4.

    What would you guys suggest I get, audient or otherwise?
     
  2. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive CNC hack

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    I've had a scarlett 2i2 for like 8 years and it's been great. A little bit flaky here and there but it seems like most peripherals are.
     
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  3. Lopp

    Lopp SS.org Regular

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    Regarding 2 vs 1 mic inputs, I'd go for two in case you ever want to do stereo or otherwise record with two mics at the same time. For example, last time we were in the studio, they had two different mics on our vocalist so they could select the best one for her voice or even blend them. Two mics can also be useful for different mics on a cab at different locations, on different speakers, and/or at different distances. However, you use an AX8 (I do too), so that might not be an issue. Then again, you might want to record stereo effects from the AX8, so two inputs could be useful. An extra bonus for two inputs is you can keep your AX8 plugged into one input and a mic plugged into the other to reduce cable swapping when you switch between each.

    I used an Apogee Duet when I had a Mac. Unfortunately, it looks like Apogee no longer offers anything comparable. Now I use a PC with the Focusrite 2i4, which does the job. Not familiar with Audient, but it seems to get favorable user reviews when compared to Focusrite.
     
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  4. Forkface

    Forkface Feast on this.

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    this is the way.
     
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  5. eclecto-acoustic

    eclecto-acoustic "That" guy.

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    For your needs, don't look any further than a Scarlett or similar that offers you stereo input capabilities. 3rd gen units are reliable, broadly compatible, and spec out very well for their price. It's easy to be swayed by the spec war, but you're just not using an interface for the purposes those specs illuminate.
     
  6. NoodleFace

    NoodleFace Delicious Noodles

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    This is exactly how I Feel. Flaky occasionally, otherwise great
     
  7. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

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    Motu M4 and SSL 2+ are definitely 2 to check out. The ID14 seems pretty decent as well.
     
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  8. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire only the dead have seen the end of GAS

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    I had a 2nd gen Scarlet 2i4 for years and it worked fine, it was a solid interface for sporadic recording. I recently bought an Audient ID14 and it's better as far as quality of life features imo (built in headphone amp and JFET fed DI input being the main ones for me). Sound quality is better than the 2i4 and has a higher native bitrate, but it's not a gigantic step up from my head to head comparisons.
     
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  9. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive CNC hack

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    Just realized I have the scarlett 8i6, not the 2i2 (they look the same, just 1 extra i/o pair on the back.). But the 2i2 should be the same deal.
     
  10. thetourist

    thetourist SS.org Regular

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    There is something to be said for longevity. I'll have to keep Focusrite in mind.

    Thank you for the detailed reply! There's a lot there to ponder about.

    I see you guys' points in most of the reviews I've gone through so far; sound quality seems to be on par amongst most of the interfaces, with quality of life features being differentiating factor. But, latency seems to be an issue to some of the reviewers. I've only monitored directly so far, and I imagine I'll be fine with an appropriate mix for monitoring over a bunch of tracks through a DAW, but is the difference of like 5ms in latency noticeable in your workflows? On a related note, I'd love to know what you guys' recording workflow is like.

    The reviews for the Motu M4 seem promising. I'll have to check that out. Thanks, DudeManBrother!
     
  11. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire only the dead have seen the end of GAS

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    my workflow is pretty simple, just interface into studio one where I run a few vsts and a compressor
     
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  12. Rev2010

    Rev2010 Contributor

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    Agreed, the Motu M2/M4 has unbelieveable specs for the price, been tested with amazing results on Audiosciencereview.com. I've tried it out and using lowest safety buffers setting at 64 buffers I got 6.190ms with the RTL utility which is quite good. My RME Babyface Pro FS however gives 4.172ms but is 4x the price. Only issue why I didn't keep the MOTU is the balance knob for monitoring the input vs DAW playback. Problem was as you balance towards the monitoring signal the DAW output gets too low and the headphone volume even at max is nowhere near loud enough to use for monitoring (talking about vocal monitoring here). Could be easily solved with a decent headphone amp however. But yeah you can't go wrong with the Focusrite stuff either for simple entry-level use.


    Rev.
     
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  13. Lopp

    Lopp SS.org Regular

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    I've also heard the Audient is slightly better. You mention the headphone amp is an added quality of life feature. Your 2i4 2nd gen should have also had a headphone amp (mine does). Do you mean it has a better headphone amp or something else?
     
  14. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire only the dead have seen the end of GAS

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    Yeah the headphone amp in the id14 is better quality imo. Sound quality is a bit better and it drives my sennheiser hd6xx better than the 2i4 did tbh.
     
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  15. eclecto-acoustic

    eclecto-acoustic "That" guy.

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    I use the RME Babyface Pro, but only because very low latency over USB as well as absolute stability were my top priorities. My rig doubles as a recording and live VST machine. If I were just recording, I'd have probably gone with something cheaper. As far as latency goes, I play guitar through it, monitoring through software, at about 5.3ms round trip. I can go lower, but that's still a pretty comfortable amount of latency that I can't really feel.

    For the vast majority of us, the audio quality differences between interfaces are going to be miniscule, and have a negligible effect on our ability to produce quality tracks. The specs that are really the most important are the input and output specs and the type/number of connections. They need to be suitable for the stuff you're plugging in, ie enough preamp gain for an SM7b if you use one, ADAT if you need it, etc. Beyond that, the most important things are compatibility, reliability, and support. Audio Interfaces aren't very sexy most of the time, but they're kinda mission critical; the less you have to fuss with one, the better.

    Where the audio quality differences REALLY show up is in big projects (like 100 tracks or more) where the cumulative effect comes into play. In that scenario, ultra-clear preamps start to make sense.

    There was actually a video on YouTube where the reviewer was comparing the newish SSL interface against something else, and they would test the conversion (and I think preamp) quality by feeding a clip through it over and over again. The thinking was that the cumulative effect of the device's distortion would become more apparent as you kept feeding the same audio clip through it. It was a ludicrously high number of cycles before it made enough of a difference to really matter, and these were also budget interfaces.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2021
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  16. thetourist

    thetourist SS.org Regular

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    That seems to be the consensus so far. Thanks for the info, man.

    This entire thread's been very useful, thanks everyone.

    I ended up ordering a MOTU M2, here's hoping I make something fun with it!
     
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  17. Matt08642

    Matt08642 SS.org Regular

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    I can also vouch for MOTU, got an M4 last year and it's phenomenal.

    upload_2021-5-5_16-25-8.png
     
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  18. Rev2010

    Rev2010 Contributor

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    Yeah it was 500 cycles and the results were quite surprising. But the reviewers did indeed mention that there was no way you would hear the difference in real world use. Still was an interesting experiment :)
     
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