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Best budget audio interface for recording on a laptop?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by beebody, Aug 23, 2012.

  1. beebody

    beebody Active Member

    I just started a thread here about the problems with my Tascam US-1800 which has 10+ recording channels ... but I can't for the life of me get any channels besides 1 and 2 recognized by my DAW (Ableton 8). I have two main goals in mind for recording: recording my own acoustic stuff (obviously only need one or two channels), and recording for my band (which is what I had in mind for the Tascam). I'll need to record guitars, bass, acoustic drums, keys and vocals, and it would be NICE if we could do at least some of that at the same time. The drums alone will require...what, 3 or 4 mics?

    I knew the Tascam US-1800 might not be the highest quality sound I could get, but I didn't think it would be IMPOSSIBLE to use for the purpose I bought it for (recording several channels at once). If I have to buy something else because this will never work, I'd like to get the right one next time.

    So what would you recommend for an interface with a few channels? My laptop has USB 2.0 and 3.0 as well as a Firewire port, and I can probably spend around $500. I'm not made of money, but if I have to spend a bit more this time it would be better than throwing $300 away like I may have on this dumb Tascam.

    Also, what would you recommend for a good single channel interface in case I can only afford that route for now?

    Thanks guys! Your help and suggestions are very much appreciated.
     
  2. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    i have used the us-1800 in a buddies studio, and it sounds fine, and is tough to beat in the $300 range as far as quality, reliability, and shear i/0. better than my personal m-audio 1814. Don't bother to buy another interface unless you have at least 1k, you will waste your money, unless you need compatibility w/ protools.

    While i'm not the most qualified person here to talk cpu issues, i can assure you that the interface is the least likely culprit. So here's how i'd try to go about it based on what you posted.

    download the latest drivers for the interface, next download the latest update of ableton. if not working, try another usb cable. if the same, it's likely something w/ in ableton. i used the demo version i got w/ my software package but i uninstalled it a while ago and can't recall the settings menu in the program.

    It's very unlikely that your interface is defective, but stranger things have happened to me in sound, so i would recommend you download 'reaper' for free, it had no trouble recognizing the available inputs of my interface, just to make sure your interface/drivers are showing up to your cpu.

    You already own a nice interface, and cpu, save your money for some room treatment or speakers, or whatever. Your interface is designed to work for the majority of software/cpu's it's just a matter of tweaking. It's perfectly capable to record a full band well. It comes w/ cubase le5 so maybe try that first, it should be install/update/record. your software preference is up to you, but first we need to make sure your interface shows up completely. I believe that you'll only 'see' analog inputs 1-8, because the rest are optical,or spdif.
     
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    What you might not be understanding is that channels, 1 & 2 are the default. From that selection, you should find your other channels inputs. It's a drop-down menu. This is all likely operator inaccuracy on your part. You have a reasonable piece of equipment that works well. Not my favorite, but when I have to, I'll use it also. You just have to understand that most TA-SCAM equipment does not have a whole lot of headroom. In that respect, you may not want to over crank your gain trim of the microphone preamps. That's when they start to get dull sounding on those units. So you record at a slightly lower level at 24-bit, and the sample rate of your choice that it is capable of. I usually just select 44.1 kHz as it is 100% adequate, and generally the delivery format, at 16 bit. So generally, I don't even bother to record at 24-bit, unless it is requested of me. That's because I know how to properly set levels. You have to understand a little bit about your equipment and what it can or cannot do. Those preamps are not what we would call stellar, but general-purpose, usable, quite usable. And without any additional noise or problems. If you are experiencing noise and problems, you are tweaking something the wrong way. And that won't sound good, regardless of the quality of a preamp. You can get just as much atrocious sound from an API or a Neve, when gain isn't adjusted properly. So why spend the extra money if you don't need to, unless you want to? And even if you do purchase, a boutique quality studio microphone preamp, you are still going to be going into your TA-SCAM microphone inputs. So why bother? There really won't be anything to be gained by that even though there will be. And that will only be realized when done correctly, with input pads on the TA-SCAM unit.

    The digital inputs and outputs give you the option of utilizing better quality analog to digital converters. And just passing the digital data stream through your TA-SCAM unit. Without going through any of its rather inferior analog circuitry. In that respect, it is only a digital pipeline to the computer. Which down the line might be something else you may want to take advantage of? But only if you like taking advantage of your equipment?

    I like to abuse my equipment. I think I'm "micochistic" engineer?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     

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