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Computer Hardware Audio interfaces, MIDI interfaces, control surfaces, MIDI controllers & USB MIDI keyboards (not motherboards or system components)

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Old 1st September 2008 , 10:39 AM
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Default Trying to decide which audio interface to buy.

I am trying to set up a home recording studio. I would like the capability to record all of the following items simultaniously.
up to 3 vocal mics,
up to 2 instrument mics
2 line outs from guitar and bass amps
yamaha DD-55 drum kit which has midi in / out, not professional quality
I also have a Casio CTK-571 keyboard with midi in / out

Some or all of the mics will require phantom power, not purchased mics yet. I have a PC and I was thinking of installing a firewire PCI card so I will be able to connect a firewire interface. The ones I have been looking at mainly are the Motu 8-pre and the M-audio 2626

The software I currently have installed is Sonar 6 LE

Any advice would be appreciated but please don't get too technical as I am new to this.
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Old 1st September 2008 , 11:57 AM
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What's your budget?
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Old 1st September 2008 , 12:35 PM
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I still have a number of things to buy, bass guitar, mics etc, so I need to spend as little as possible, but at the same time I want reasonable quality. I am thinking that I will need to spend in the region of 300 to 500, I will buy second hand if necessary.

Thanks for you quick reply.
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Old 1st September 2008 , 12:47 PM
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If I were in your shoes I'd look at these:

Focusrite Saffire Pro 10 I/O Professional 10 In / at DV247.COM
Focusrite Saffire Pro 26 I/O Multi-Channel Firewir at DV247.COM - for an extra 86 you'll get an ADAT input which will allow future expansion (you could add 8 more mic pres for as little as 179 in the form of a Behringer ADA8000 ULTRAGAIN 8-Channel A/D and D/A at DV247.COM)

The Saffire stuff, IMO, sounds good for the price, probably better than most other sub-400 interfaces. You can spend more/get more though...

Mackie Onyx 400f Studio Recording Preamp at DV247.COM

If you can go a bit above 500 this is a good bet -

RME Fireface 400 36-Channel 24 Bit/192 kHz FireWir at DV247.COM

The M-Audio is alright, it'll do the job as well, and it will also give you the option of running Pro Tools M-Powered if you ever need to at some point (none of these other interfaces will run it).

A Firewire PCI card would be a good idea, BTW (you'll note all these interfaces are firewire).

I think most of them have midi in/out as well but if not don't worry too much, you can buy a midi-to-USB converter for next to nothing - E-MU Xmidi 1x1 USB Midi interface at DV247.COM

Hope that helps somewhat...
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Old 1st September 2008 , 01:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terminal3 View Post
If I were in your shoes I'd look at these:

Focusrite Saffire Pro 10 I/O Professional 10 In / at DV247.COM
Focusrite Saffire Pro 26 I/O Multi-Channel Firewir at DV247.COM - for an extra 86 you'll get an ADAT input which will allow future expansion (you could add 8 more mic pres for as little as 179 in the form of a Behringer ADA8000 ULTRAGAIN 8-Channel A/D and D/A at DV247.COM)

The Saffire stuff, IMO, sounds good for the price, probably better than most other sub-400 interfaces. You can spend more/get more though...

Mackie Onyx 400f Studio Recording Preamp at DV247.COM

If you can go a bit above 500 this is a good bet -

RME Fireface 400 36-Channel 24 Bit/192 kHz FireWir at DV247.COM

The M-Audio is alright, it'll do the job as well, and it will also give you the option of running Pro Tools M-Powered if you ever need to at some point (none of these other interfaces will run it).

A Firewire PCI card would be a good idea, BTW (you'll note all these interfaces are firewire).

I think most of them have midi in/out as well but if not don't worry too much, you can buy a midi-to-USB converter for next to nothing - E-MU Xmidi 1x1 USB Midi interface at DV247.COM

Hope that helps somewhat...
I started off with the original Saffire.
Focusrite Saffire Firewire Audio Interface With DS at DV247.COM It has served me well.
The Pro version wasn't around then and I was happy with just a few inputs. You need more inputs that I needed at the time. However, if the Pro had been available I would have gone with that and I agree with T3 that it would be one of your best bets for a starting point.
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Old 1st September 2008 , 01:28 PM
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Thanks for the quick reply. I thought the M audio profire 2626 and the Motu 8-pre all had that ADAT thing. I'm not sure what ADAT is, in fact there is a lot I don't know.

You did not give an opinion on the Motu 8-pre, is it not very good. I was interested in it because you can plug 8 XLR plugs in if necessary and you can apply phantom power to any. I assumed that condensor mics were normally used for high quality recording, and these usually need phantom power.

I will look at all the interfaces you mentioned to try and form an opinion, but I am very undecided due to my lack of knowledge. I can't afford to spend hundreds on something only to discover a month later I should have bought something different. So all your help and advice is greatly appreciated.
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Old 1st September 2008 , 01:39 PM
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ADAT (nowadays!) is a form of digital connection, which will allow 8 extra channels over a single plug. Allows for expansion, that's about all!

I can't say anything about the MOTU stuff because I honestly have very little experience with it, hopefully others could chime in.

Phantom power is important - most interfaces will have it, but with some you have to switch it on in banks of four (or all at once!)

In practice this isn't a big deal, even a dynamic mic (which doesn't need phantom power) will still operate with it turned on, EXCEPT there are some types of ribbon microphones that can be fried by phantom power if you accidentally turn it on while they're plugged in or plug one into an XLR that has the 48V turned on. At your level I doubt you'll be considering ribbon mics yet for your application anyway, so not something to worry about until it becomes an issue. Certainly in that case there's an argument for being able to switch it on individually on each channel.
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Old 1st September 2008 , 01:40 PM
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I'm afraid I can't help you any more Acorn. I will soon be in the market for a new interface too.

Even though I am happy with the basic Focusrite Saffire set up I have for the past year and a half, I need to upgrade it. I will be in a similar boat to you in the near future.

All I can suggest is look at the recommendation of the guys...they seem very experienced and in the know to me. I don't think anyone here would lead you astray.

Good luck with the decision...and I will be watching this space for ideas too!
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Old 1st September 2008 , 02:01 PM
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Thanks to both of you for your help. Terminal 3 that's very useful information espacially about the phantom power. I would of been asking questions on that, as I was worried that if a dynamic mic was plugged in and the phantom power was accidentally switched on it would cause some damage. I suppose the same applies if your plugging in line outs from amps, in other words no damage even if the phantom power is accidentally switched on.

I have to go out now but I will have a read up on these various interfaces, and no doubt more questions will arrise, so I will speak to you later.

Bye for now.
Acorn.
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Old 1st September 2008 , 02:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acorn View Post
Thanks to both of you for your help. Terminal 3 that's very useful information espacially about the phantom power. I would of been asking questions on that, as I was worried that if a dynamic mic was plugged in and the phantom power was accidentally switched on it would cause some damage. I suppose the same applies if your plugging in line outs from amps, in other words no damage even if the phantom power is accidentally switched on.
Just to clarify, phantom power will only ever be supplied over an XLR connection that feeds a preamp stage (nearly always marked as a microphone input). Line inputs, typically employing either unbalanced RCA (phono) sockets or balanced/unbalanced jack sockets will never be used to feed phantom power.
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Old 1st September 2008 , 02:12 PM
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+1 for the Onyx

Mackie Onyx 400f Studio Recording Preamp at DV247.COM

I've personally got one of these and have had absolutely no issues whatsoever.

It's fast, it has multiple inputs, it supports 64 Bit Vista, is built to last, and above all, I think it sounds great. Though not boutique quality, the preamps are of a high quality for the price.

I really can't complain.

I must confess, I've not compared it to higher end D/A converters, etc. but it does me for my budget!
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Old 1st September 2008 , 02:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mutilatedlip View Post
+1 for the Onyx

Mackie Onyx 400f Studio Recording Preamp at DV247.COM

I've personally got one of these and have had absolutely no issues whatsoever.

It's fast, it has multiple inputs, it supports 64 Bit Vista, is built to last, and above all, I think it sounds great. Though not boutique quality, the preamps are of a high quality for the price.

I really can't complain.

I must confess, I've not compared it to higher end D/A converters, etc. but it does me for my budget!

It's good to see someone who is happy with what they've got...I wish I was there!!
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Old 1st September 2008 , 03:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sphelan View Post
It's good to see someone who is happy with what they've got...I wish I was there!!

I'm slowly getting out of that 'I need new equipment' phase and trying to get on with the music! It's an easy trap to fall into.
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Old 1st September 2008 , 06:16 PM
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Ive been looking at the interfaces mentioned but I am still wondering how the motu 8 pre compares to them. It has got ADAT and 8 XLR/Jack inputs with individual phantom power switches. It also has midi in out etc. I think the 8 pre is 96kHz whereas some interfaces seem to be 192kHz, I don't know if this makes a lot of difference to sound quality, is so, is the difference audible to most people.

I don't think it has any built in effects such as reverb but I suppose you could apply effects like that with the sonar 6 LE program, which I think is called a daw. I'm still trying to get use to all the terminology.

I'm a little bit confused about midi instruments such as my drums and keyboard. Both have midi in/out din sockets can these be connected together then on into the interface. Do I need to use the midi out from the interface back to the keyboard or drums. Terminal 3 mentioned a midi to usb converter, but If i'm using windows XP with sonar 6 LE am I right in thinking that I can only record from either the main interface or the midi/usb port but not both simultaniously. Hopfully you all follow what I'm trying to explain.

There's quite a few queries bundled in this post, everyones input is appreciated, others on the same path as me will probably benifit by reading your replies.

Acorn.
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Old 1st September 2008 , 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acorn View Post
Ive been looking at the interfaces mentioned but I am still wondering how the motu 8 pre compares to them. It has got ADAT and 8 XLR/Jack inputs with individual phantom power switches. It also has midi in out etc. I think the 8 pre is 96kHz whereas some interfaces seem to be 192kHz, I don't know if this makes a lot of difference to sound quality, is so, is the difference audible to most people.

I don't think it has any built in effects such as reverb but I suppose you could apply effects like that with the sonar 6 LE program, which I think is called a daw. I'm still trying to get use to all the terminology.

I'm a little bit confused about midi instruments such as my drums and keyboard. Both have midi in/out din sockets can these be connected together then on into the interface. Do I need to use the midi out from the interface back to the keyboard or drums. Terminal 3 mentioned a midi to usb converter, but If i'm using windows XP with sonar 6 LE am I right in thinking that I can only record from either the main interface or the midi/usb port but not both simultaniously. Hopfully you all follow what I'm trying to explain.

There's quite a few queries bundled in this post, everyones input is appreciated, others on the same path as me will probably benifit by reading your replies.

Acorn.
I am interested to know too if anyone is using or has experience of the MOTU. Any comments from anyone? What are the preamps like?
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