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Layla vs. Aardvark???

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Doublehelix, Nov 2, 2001.

  1. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    Looking for some advice here...

    I am about to go out and drop some bucks on a harward input device for Cubase. I am currently using Cubase and the Tascam US-428.

    I have narrowed my options to:

    Ehco's Layla and Aardvark's Q10. (I am leaning towards the Layla).

    I know Opus uses the Layla. What's the word here dude? What's your opinion, and how does it work with the 428??? What about the status of the W2K drivers? Are you using the beta drivers, and how do they work??? What about ASIO 2.0 and latency??? How is the sound quality vs. the 428? How is playback handled? Do I need a soundcard, or will the 428 or Layla handle the playback? What is your mother's maiden name?

    Does anybody know anything about Aardvark? The Q10 looks pretty cool on paper, and looks like a great deal features vs. price, but that scares me. I subscribe to the philosophy of "you get what you pay for", and if something "looks too good to be true", it probably is. The URL for the Q10 is at:
    It has 8 XLR/TRS inputs, 4 inserts (cool for outboard gear), phantom power, lots of cool stuff, all for about the same price as the Layla. I doubt that the mic pres are worth a crap at that price, but curious if anyone has any experience with 'em.


  2. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    I do infact use the Layla as well as my US428..I often switch back and forth...If you are using Win2k the latest Beta drivers that I am testing are(well, to be very honest)...sketchy...if on 98..no problems..great drivers!! They're working on the drivers and trying to get the latency a lot lower than they should be right now(hmm, ljp, havent we heard that one before?!!!) I love my layla..8 in 10 out(remember I have the older model..the 20bit version) the new 24bit one has 8 in 8 out PLUS optical input which can be used at the same time for a total of 16 channels at once..cool huh?!! Also the ability to stack mulitple echo units to use in one program is key..so if you ever wanted to get the Mona as well you could use both at the same time due to Echo's control panel which allows for multiple daisy chaining.
    Aardvark has some great stuff..when they first started coming out with audio hardware it was not that great in the beginning. Lots o bugs...cards would heat up and frizzle out..or just crash the system left and right...tech support with them is frustrating at best too..but that could have changed from the last time I have dealt with them
    As far as which device is better...I tend to like to stay away from units with built in pre amps and phantom power..adds noise after a while of useage due to wear and tear..plus the onboard DSP of their units is a great feature but as I said before..the enclosures on Aardvarks PCI cards get really really hot!!! You need a fan just for that card!!!
    Layla is nice since they dont add any wierd headphone mixing system and alternate control panel like aardvark...
    I hope all this makes sense
  3. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    OK...kewl, thanks. I am concerned about the beta W2K drivers, but the Layla has been getting great press for several years...it has a good track record, and that means something.

  4. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    Well...I am in heaven right now!!! :)

    As you know, I am "just a musician" that has tinkered around with recording myself and my bands for several years, but have decided to get more serious about it in the last 6-7 months.

    Up until now, I have been using my laptop computer, few mics and pres, some outboard gear, cakewalk, and a little talent thrown in for good measure! Whenever I am working on a project, I set up my "little space" in the basement for a week or so until I have finished the song or project. Unfortunately, the computer (laptop) is also used for my "real day job", so I always have to keep moving it, and plugging and plugging everything. A *real* pain in the a@#.

    I am now happy to announce that I have a permanent place to do my music, with everything set up 24 hours a day! I just built a new computer that is dedicated to the music...bought a nice computer desk to set everything up on...got me some new studio monitors yesterday (Event 20/20 bas)...I am rockin' and rollin' now!!! :D

    The last piece of the puzzle for me (at least for a while), is the hardware i/o device to supplement my Tascam US-428...

    My original post above requested feedback between Echo's Layla, and the Aardvark Q10...

    Well...yesterday, I was at my local music shop, and the salesman there was trying to talk me into the M-Audio Delta 10/10.

    I like the feature set better on the Layla, but he was trying to convince how much better the M-Audio would sound, and it is $100US less than the Layla, so he was not trying to talk me into spending more money.

    Any opinions here on the M-Audio 10/10???

    Layla vs. M-Audio 10/10 vs. Aardvark Q10...all very similar feature sets...

  5. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    M-Audio....cheap interface...low dynamic range...new drivers every day pretty much...buttons on the back break off like the candy buttons(ya know those strips of paper with the majorly overladed sugar drops on them?!!!)
    Layla...as I said..the drivers "I" am Beta testing arent that great but the ones on the website are fantastic..only issue is that they need to impliment multi-client audio ability again..also getting better lower latency settings..right now with the .066 drivers they have on the site you can effectively use the 512 buffer settings..would be nice to go down to 256 but in time you will..Layla has great dynamic range..great sound..better flexibility for future expansion and so forth..As I stated before about Aardvark stays the same...
  6. simonsez

    simonsez Guest

    I have also had great luck with the 20 bit LAYLA card. I got it when it first came out and it has worked perfect....I take that back....after about a year the break out box fritzed out, I sent it to the company and they fixed it for FREE!!!!
    And it wasn't even under warrenty!! Thats a big plus in my book. The tech said it was something of a known defective component issue.
    Any way...I cruise along happily at 7 or 12 ms latency, I had this card first in my PC...now a new MAC, still kickin.

    Question for Opus, will it ever be possible to run a 24 bit Layla and a 20 bit Layla side by side?....hehe, then I would have to get a 24 channel mixer though.
  7. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Yes...you can run the 20bit and the 24bit together....BUT...you will only be able to record at 20bit!! Which really isnt that bad after all..4 bits...oh boy!! lol!!!
    See DH...go with the Layla..you cant go wrong...speaking of...I need to send my layla in for servicing as well...unit is buzzing!!!! Yes, they will fix it for free too!! Now that IS customer service...good luck getting MidiMan or Aardvark to do that $*^t!!!
  8. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    Crap! Who cares about customer service? Nothing *ever* goes wrong with my systems...I *never* have problems, never need help or support...Sheesh! You guys that need all this handholding, I don't understand! :) Customer service is pretty high on my list of important things to consider. I'm off to my local soda shop/music store...As Eric Clapton so aptly put it when he was with "Derek and the Dominos":

    "Hey! Who stole my bag of weed?"

    WHOOPS! No...No...*Sorry*...wrong quote!!! Try this one instead:

    "Layla...You got me on my knees...Layla...I'm begging darlin' please..."

    Thanks for everyone's advice. This is what this forum is all about, and it is great to see it work so well.

  9. simonsez

    simonsez Guest

    Only record at 20 bit?...that kind of bites.
    Must be a driver issue.
    The reason to get the Layla 24 would be to input at 24, so I think I will hang on to the 20 for a while. I was thinking it might be nice to record at 24 bits.
    I am seriously considering the new RME Multiface also.....but thats a whole other topic isn't it.
  10. weezy christ

    weezy christ Guest

    just to throw my log on the fire here, I am an Aardvark user and supporter - I record with an Aark 20/20, the original 20-bit version, 10 ins/outs and have had zero problems.

    the only thing that pisses me off is that not too long after I bought the 20/20, they came out with the 20/20+ (+4dB version, not -10dB like the original) and after THAT they rolled out the 24 bit version, D'OH! oh well it *is* only a measly 4 bits, phhht.
  11. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    I guess when I was doing the fun ol' phone support I came across a ton of issues dealing with teh aardvark cards...so I am biased as to what companies offer better support or better non-malfunctioning drivers and so forth...Aardvark does make some great products but I think they could step up on the QA and tech support...at least that was quite a few months ago and they couldve but more and more people tend not to go with aardvark and go with RME!!! I think my next machine *may* use RME but then at that point you will need a converter to take analog to digital..more cost at that point.
  12. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    OK...I am now the proud owner of a new Echo Layla interface!!! (Yeah!) :) ($800US Later... :( )

    A couple of Qx before I dive in...

    1) The manual states to disable the system sounds since they will set the layla card to a lower resolution. Do I need to remove my Sound Blaster 16 card that I have in there now? It is currently being used for the Windows Bleeps and Blips. Will it interfere?

    2) Which W2K drivers should I use? (The web page has 0.66 beta drivers.) Any comments or recommendations?

    3) What other sage advice do you folks have for installing this thing??? (Cubase, Sound Forge, Tascam US-428)



    P.S. I also looked at the Presonis Digimax 8 Channel preamp today...($1,300US...OUCH!). It got a great review in Recording Magazine a couple of months ago...built-in compressor...limiting, etc. It also has an ADAT link that would couple very nicely with the Layla box...that would still leave me with 8 analog inputs on the Layla for other stuff...that would effectively give me 16 channels at once...pretty cool, eh? Any comments or experience with the Prosonis stuff (other than the low-end Blue Tube unit which I have heard is just "fair")?
  13. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    Please someone with experience with Echo's Layla and W2K, can you help me with the install? See my last post above.

    How do I set it up to use it with the TASCAM US-428 for example?


  14. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    That's an easy one!!
    When you run the drivers it says to uninstall any devices in the device manager...hit the launch device manager tab...highlite Multimedia device shown in device manager with ? next to it..choose properties for it and hit uninstall...hit ok to uninstall...continue on with uninstall and say yes I removed device from device manager..from there continue onward and it will tell you to reboot when you hit install drivers..reboot...make sure the unit is on of course!!!
    Keep your SB 16 and US428 as is...no need to do anything else!! Once you restart it will configure it for you!! In Cubase make sure you select the Echo ASIO drivers for your audio card..voila ..you're done...enjoy my friend
  15. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    I am trully in DAW heaven right now!

    The Layla installed flawlessly, and it was so easy to do, it was almost a joke. Took me all of about 5 minutes, and most of that time was to reboot the PC! :) I have noticed a few weird quirks with the beta software, but the work-around is fairly straight-forward.

    I have also purchased and installed a Prosonus Digimax mic pre. This thing is slick! It has 8 class A mic pres, with a limiter and gain control for each channel, phantom power, etc. The output is 8 analog, *and/or* digial out. I am using the ADAT optical outs to feed directly into the Layla. This still allows me to use the 8 analog inputs on the Layla, for a total of 16 analog ins all together (8 w/ mice mic pres)!!! For a home studio, these pres kick some serious butt, but aren't cheap(list = ~$1,700US). The unit got a great review in Recording magazine a couple of months ago, and so far has lived up to my expectations!


    It sounds especially great with my Rode NT2!!!

    Now the cool part is that I can still use the analog outs on the Presonus for monitoring, along with the 8 outs on the Layla...lots of flexibility there...It is pretty wild to see the option to use any of 16 inputs in Cubase, but I am diggin' it! :)

    Thanks for everyone's advice and input!!!

  16. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    well allright dude!!!! Glad to hear we steared you in the right direction!!! Peace Love and Healthy Binary Digital Recording!! lol
  17. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member


    Had a recording session this weekend with a new vocalist that I had never worked with before (male). He has a pretty powerful voice, which is cool, but I had some problems with my Presonus/Layla setup (which I was debuting for the first time outside of my own testing...).

    I don't know if this problem is with the Presonus or the Layla, but here it is:

    The signal is too hot, and overloads Cubase. Remember that I am going from the Presonus pre's to the Layla box via optical ADAT, so I am using the digital ins on the Layla.

    What I have to do is attenuate the signal so far at the preamp, that I am not getting the dynamic range that I want. The pre is sooooooo far from peaking. If I adjust the gain on the pre so that I am getting close to peaking...the levels in Cubase are "pegged for days". In order to bring the signal down under the red in Cubase, I have to lower the gain on the pre so far, that I am losing lots of vocal quality.

    I am using a Rode NT2 mic.

    Here is what I have tried so far (in various combinations):

    1) Having the vocalist back up a bit...

    2) Activated the -10 dB pad on the mic...

    3) Activated the -20 dB pad on the pre...

    (none of these were particularily successful, and didn't really give me the sound or results I was looking for...)

    The logical thing to try next that I didn't try this weekend is to switch the +4/-10 switch on the Layla box to the -10 setting (which Echo calls the "consumer" setting vs. the "professional" setting).

    Any comments or other suggestions?


  18. simonsez

    simonsez Guest

    Sounds pretty normal, hot mic, decent pre = lots of signal, in Cubase I end up pulling down the input gain considerably, sometimes as far as -20 on the input monitoring fader.
    The way I get around this type of input issue is use a compressor on the front end. From the pre to the compressor, then I use the output level on my compressor as a sort of input gain adjustment. That way I can get the Mic pre nice and hot, and add a little compression.
    Did you find the Layla Console? I used to mess with this a lot now I just leave it as is and adjust the levels efore they hit the computer. I have no idea if these issue have anything to do with the ADAT inputs. Did you try the analog inputs? Just for fun? And what version of Cubase are you using?
    I'm sure Opus will set you straight on this one.
  19. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the advice Simonsez...one other thing I tried this weekend that I forgot to mention is I used the built-in limiter on the Presonus preamp. I tried it at several different threshold settings to help prevent transients...hoping that would help, but not much effect.

    "in Cubase I end up pulling down the input gain considerably, sometimes as far as -20 on the input monitoring fader."

    I assume you are referring to the channel strip fader on the mixer...I was under the impression that this had no effect on the input signal...at least it didn't in Cakewalk, and I guess I never thought to change that setting...I usually leave it alone, which usually means it is at 0dB unless I am overdubbing...Hmmmm...let me know if I am missing something here.

    I haven't tried the analog outputs and inputs yet, but that is another thing I was going to try.

    btw...I am using the newly released Cubase/32 5.1.

    I did get some *great* sounding guitar through this system (direct signal from a Pod, not from a mic), some of the best sounding stuff I have ever got from a direct signal! :)

    I also recorded some acoustic guitar using the NT2, and although it sounded fine in the mix, I had the same signal attenuation issue that I had with the vox track.

  20. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    OK...some troubleshooting...woohoo!! lol
    No, the faders within Cubase do not affect the input level..it only affects the output level that you are hearing IF using the direct monitoring within Cubase..
    The echo console is the right place to start indeed..setting the levels to -10 plus the SPDIF setting to consumer vs professional might help as well. I think the problem might be that you are trying to get too much gain out of the NT2...that mic is pretty sensitive as it is. You shouldnt have to crank the gain on that puppy. The best thing to do not use too much limiting or compression when recording to disk(note I say Disk and not TAPE!! lol)
    General rule of thumb for recording is not to record a signal "wet"..this way if you need to do any adjustments the track is clean and not affected by any processing.
    The way I do it is try to get the hottest signal into Cubase by looking at the meters and getting it as close to clipping but no red lighting it..
    If you are listening to the output of the layla for your listening source that might be an issue..since you are trying to get the best level for the singer possible so that he/she may hear it better..you are cranking the gain to make up for the output..do you use an external mixer? Ifr not get yourself a headphone distro box this way you can crank the ouput to get a better listening level than cranking the input to the point of over saturating the recording..
    let me know

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