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Audio Interface w/ quality pre-amps?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by DesertRat, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. DesertRat

    DesertRat Active Member

    Hi everyone,

    First post here. I'm slowly getting back into the home recording arena after a hiatus.

    I'm very intrigued by Protools 9 and its ability to handle other audio interfaces. I used to record on a Digi001 but that's been on the shelf now for a few years. That being said, I'm also looking at other DAW's (reaper, logic, etc.).

    What I need is an audio interface (firewire) with high quality pre-amps. Right now the only preamps I have are from my 1202-vlz3 mixer and I'd like to move a step higher than the XDR2 preamps.

    Right now I at least need 2 preamps for recording acoustic guitar with 2 mics but I have used up to 8 (for drums) way back when. My budget is $1000 to $2000 and I'm willling to sacrifice number preamps for higher quality but I need at least 2. What about a separate interface and preamp?

    I've been looking at the Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56 if that gives you and idea of what I'm leaning toward. Supposedly, it works with well PT9 but will also work with other DAWs.

    Any other recommendations?

  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    If you want the preamps

    RME FF800 > simple :)
  3. DesertRat

    DesertRat Active Member

    Thanks! I'll check it out.
  4. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    RME FF800 - only milestone purchase from $100 (SM57/58) up to $3000. Its the best combination of features, usability and value. Just go get it.

    Understood, but remember every other DAW has done this for years. Protools suddenly starting to give customers what they want because they can't milk the bespoke hardware market any further is no cause for celebration.
  5. DesertRat

    DesertRat Active Member

    Sweet! Another vote for the RME. It looks like exactly what I want. I just want to make sure that it's a "one time" purchase that will last a long time and I don't end up having to spend money on the next thing unless I want to. :smile:

    I guess I'm intrigued by PT9 because I used PT LE. What other DAWs should I look at?
  6. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Are you Mac or PC? Its horses for courses really, there isn't much to choose between them, although some things like Sequoia apparently have better summing, I can't speak for that side of things.

    I use Cubase for the same reasons as you, as I've used it since the Atari ST days. However that may end up be the reason you decide to stick with PT9. There are apparently some hardware compatibility issues with PT9 but I would guess they would iron these out soon?! Again, that inside-a-computer part is better advised by somebody other than me.

    Logic & Sonar are the other big-name choices, Reaper is very cheap and as good as anything else, its PC only afaik.
  7. nicholaspaul

    nicholaspaul Active Member

    Reaper is on OS X as well. I found it way easier to use than Cubase or ProTools, but as you said it's all horses for courses. You can try Reaper for free and the non-commercial license is only $60. Sixty bucks - you can spend more than that on coffee in a month! I happen to love Ableton Live too, even as a regular DAW, but that's just me. I love the combination of loop and sequential recording modes.
  8. DesertRat

    DesertRat Active Member

    Well, I'm used to a Mac for audio recording but that's also on the list of things to buy. I sold my Powermac G4 3 years ago before a move.

    If I went the Mac route again, what specs would you recommend? Right now I'm looking at the Apple iMac (21" 3.06GHz Dual Core i3) with 4gb RAM. Will that get me going and keep me going for a while? So, I would be looking at the iMac and the RME and a DAW (possibly PT9).
  9. nicholaspaul

    nicholaspaul Active Member

    I would definitely go with the i3 or i5 iMac. My i5 is ridiculous - 8GB RAM but will go up 32. Unless you're running a commercial studio, the iMac will last you a while.
  10. DesertRat

    DesertRat Active Member

    Hmmm...what about something from PCAudiolabs or Rain? Should I consider switching to a PC? It looks like I can get a pretty sweet machine for a comparable price and tuned to work with audio.

    How does this work for a home studio set-up?

    RMEFF800 ~$1700
    2.93GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7-870 ~$1800
    Reaper Discounted License $40.

    So, I'm looking at a total cost of $3,540 to get up and running.

    p.s. Other recording equipment I have to use initially (Mackie 1202vlz3, 2 SM57, 1SM58, Alesis M1 Active MKII Monitors, Kurzweil PC88MX)
  11. SharkFM

    SharkFM Active Member

    Go PC I think for cost & performance. Mac's are typically 2x the price of equivalent PC. We are controlling entire plant processes (critical stuff $20K per hour downtime) on windows server class PC's!

    Reaper is very stable too, running like a charm.

    I am looking at only USB 2.0 interface. I think that is all you will see into the next few years. So what is the best value in a USB interface the RME UFX??
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Read this: Simply stating the facts from my experience over the last few years.
  13. DesertRat

    DesertRat Active Member

    Nice! I read that article before I checked out the PCAudioLabs website.

    So, do you think the machine I referenced above would do me well and into the future? I also saw on another of your posts that 8gb RAM was the way to go so I looked at that machine on their site.

    Overall, what do you think about my initial setup of potential equipment to purchase? Thanks!
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    The PC and FF800 will be wicked! But rather than me tell you whats best, the guys here are spot on.
    I'd hang out here for a while before you buy, read more on things.

    Reaper is the Dark Horse and sooo smooth but there are others like PT 9, Sonar, Cubase Samplitude etc that are great too. You kind of want to get onto one , get used to it and then start flying. Reaper is so reasonable that you really can't loose. Most of the DAW programs are $500 plus. They all do similar things and just look different but they are similar and will all produce hit songs if you know what you are doing, have a great sounding room, converters, mics and so on.

    You need 8 gig to run any DAW and Win7 smoothly.
    The best thing you can do is decide whether you are going Apple or PC, get a good, or great converter and then take baby steps as you buy the goodies. Don't get caught up in all the G.A.S.

    The vets here will guide you well. There are no shills around here so hang out and read. Call PCAudioLabs and tell them what you are doing . They will not over or under sell you.

    Hope that helps.
  15. DesertRat

    DesertRat Active Member

    That helps alot actually. I bought into the ProTools hardware thing a while back and don't want to get caught up in the G.A.S. again. Initially I want to get the PC or Mac, Pre-amp/converter/interface, and Reaper before I go down the DAW, microphone, preamp rabbit hole. :) I just want to make sure that I won't outgrow where I start or regret buying this instead of buying that. That whole game. I'm willing to pay a bit more for that reason as long as I feel it's a great foundation. That's why I'm looking at the RME and the PCAudioLabs PC right now.

    Does that make sense?

  16. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    perfect sense.

    I have a feeling (like most everything) there is going to be something new in the converter market this year so be prepared. I would expect Lynx to do something cool but its only speculation. Lets see if I'm right. Could be other new companies. I cannot believe it the converter market has so limited competition. PT 9 is going to open this up.
    RME is great and the FF800 is not the best sounding but as a combo and what you get for that price... nothing touches it. Should you decide to step up your interface/conversion if something comes online, you will still be able to sell it.

  17. SharkFM

    SharkFM Active Member

    I had a look at the PC audio labs. Nice cosmetics and they play to the industry, but a media-saavy PC can and will do the same thing probably for less $. A pc is a pc at the end of the day. processor speed, ram and build quality. Dells are good, HPs can be too. I guess quiet fans are nice but i've never heard a fan on a recording with a mic 6-10 feet away.

    You can also run XP, or Vista with everything disabled. We are using 3 x HP Media Center PC's boought them at staples $800 they come with firewire and USB's, card readers and inputs and outputs front and back pretty handy actually but had to replace a power supply in one of them. They are choking at about 24 tracks with effects. Have about 4 gigs ram not sure actually. My son has one, I have one and the studio has one.

    HD video now that is a processing hog, audio is dick and jane in comparison.
  18. DesertRat

    DesertRat Active Member

    Another question for you audiokid, if you don't mind. Would it be better to invest more of my funds in a great pre-amp and then a separate converter. In other words, buy a 2 channel pre-amp that I would use "forever" like a Great River MP-2NV and then as converter technology changes, upgrade my converter? I guess I'm worried about the pre-amps in the RME sounding less than expected or am I just splitting hairs here and over analyzing?

    Would there even be a separate pre-amp and converter packaged together that would cost about $2,000 that would work/sound better than the RME? I know the GR is about $2,300 on its own.
  19. SharkFM

    SharkFM Active Member

    For 1/2 of the RME and with faster than firewire USB 2.0 look at:

    M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R - High-speed 8 x 8 USB 2.0 Interface with 8 Preamps and MX Core DSP
    Tascam 2000 too

    All look like great interfaces with decent specs too.
  20. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    USB is hardly faster than firewire in actual day to day usage. No one has yet created usb2.0 to work at potential. Also, the RME Fireface circuitry and drivers eat any M-Audio garbage for lunch. So yes it's less money but it is also less capable and sounds crappy to boot. There may be decent Tascam stuff but if in fact it is all very high end gear and that Tascam 2000 unit is not it. The low end Tascam preamps are just as garbage as the M-Audio.

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