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preamps and converters- EMU and RME

Discussion in 'Converters & Interfaces' started by ManicMonkey3, Aug 29, 2009.

  1. ManicMonkey3

    ManicMonkey3 Guest

    OK, I took the leap of faith and got a UA LA610. The reason I bought it is that it was half price- used- and I figure I can sell it if I don't see an improvement in my sound. Obviously I will see some improvement, but how much with just one component is a mystery. I record original tunes alone even though I am in a cover band, so one channel strip is enough for me.

    My question is this. The EMU units seem to be a cheap substitute to the RME. At least people bother to compare them for quality. I am currently using a Presonus Firebox. I imagine either EMU or RME would be an improvement. The questions are two:

    How do the RME and EMU products compare? Second, since I have a UA LA610, record one track at a time and don't care about built in preamps, can I get along with an EMU 1212m? It sounds like it is the 1616m without the mic pres.

    On the other hand, should I get better mic pres for $2k to plug into the Firebox? It has inputs? It seems to have latency issues though and I'd rather go back to a PCI solution. I used to have a 0404 with a Joe Meek and then I got a faster computer with an Firebox and Cubase 3 with Waves plugins and definitely the sound improved. The software was better though, so it's hard to compare interfaces. Now I have an i7 machine but my Cubase SX3 won't run on it and I'm not eager to buy Cubase 5. I may keep running on my old Windows XP machine forever rather than buy new software. I spent enough on this stuff.

    Anyway, I'd love better converters and less latency, but I want to get the most bang for my buck. Would a 1212m just be trading sideways? It sounds like people argue whether it is as good as an RME Fireface 400 or 800. Since I don't care about pres, is the 1212m as good as the 1616m in other respects?

    Should I get external RME converters and plug them into my Firebox with the digital optical out or SPDIF or whatever this has?

    Basically, I don't want redundancy for signal channel recording. I don't need to pay any extra $400 for pres when I already have something better. I sing, play bass, and guitar- lead/rhythm. I use drum loops and software. I have drummer friends, but don't want to buy more pres and a better interface just to bring them in on my projects. I figure I've been composing alone and don't need to spend thousands bringing some drummer in on my hobbyist projects when I'm pretty happy with EZdrummer.

    I only devote a few hours a week to this hobby, so I want it to be cost effective. I wouldn't have bought the LA610 if I didn't feel confident I could sell it later if I get to busy to continue with this hobby. I had a son recently and the wife is less supportive of my recording hobby. Still, I want to maximize the quality of the recordings during the time I spend recording. Especially since the 1212m is so cheap.

    I am doing better than my amateur friends in the area, but I am not giving the pro studios any worries. You can check out my mixes/recordings at http://www.myspace.com/manicmonkey3. My monkey has evolved quite a bit since these early recordings on an EMU 0404 with no plugins except primitive reverb, but a few are with the new Firebox/WAVES setup. See if you can tell which ones. The background noise should be a giveaway. I didn't know enough to clip out background hiss during rests on the early stuff. Eh, live and learn.

    I'm kind of operating in a vacuum here. The few friends I have who record know much less than I do- which isn't much. My friends are also partial to Behringer gear and such, so they are easily impressed by my results. I try to compare myself more to studio recordings and always fall a little short. I am catching up to my friends who record in local studios, but am falling short of the pro/international scene- and probably always will.
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Moderator Resource Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    RME is right at the top of its class of gear IMHO. The EMU gets good marks and one of the other moderators here thinks highly of EMU so you probably can't go "wrong" with either. As for resale value, watch eBay for a couple of weeks.

    I think where the RME Fireface shines is in it's routing user interface (UI or GUI) and it's complement of ins/outs. From what you have described in other posts, right now a Fireface would be sort of overkill for you maybe (maybe not). The right EMU will provide you good duty at less money with less ins/outs and routing options which may be just what the doctor ordered provided those options meet your needs.

    Avoid Behringer at all cost. You don't have to shun your friends that like it but don't follow them down that path.
  3. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2008
    Rainy Roads WA USA
    I've also heard good things about EMU, but I've never used one...
    I use a FF800 with Cubase 4 and it has been nothing but perfect....plus if you want to expand that system and add more inputs in the future its all there.
    It has low latency in Cubase (in fact zero latency monitoring if your using RME's TotalMix GUI mixer).
    On my Cubase 4 the device setup reports 6.825ms Input latency and 7.982ms Output latency @44100....which I think are pretty good numbers....very stable, no hicupps etc...fast smooth operation within Cubase...
    Definitely something to compare with the other interfaces...other units out there have alot of driver problems and latency/performance issues!

    I would think for your purposes maybe check out the FF400 which is less expensive than the FF800 with 4 mic preamps and might be the perfect setup. I don't think you would regret it.
    The FF400 would save you some money and provide enough inputs for what you stated your doing....guitar vocal bass and drum tracks...
  4. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    The E-MU stuff offers great value. 1212M is the two channel version of the 1616M. While you can argue with others as to if RME is better, other E-MU ousers like myself march on using a great product at a great price.

    A mong many audio interfaces that I onw and use, I also used to own the MultiFace, I liked it. It was and still is, a good and solid product. I sold it as I felt that the converters in the E-MU 1616M are better, others may not agree.

    The E-MU 1616M is not perfect and like all computer products, for some users it performs better from some than others. I have no regerets choosing the E-MU 1616M. It performs well for me, has the fetaures I need as well as the audio quality and signal routing flexibility that I require.

    The La-610 should work well with any audio product that has balanced line level input.
  5. ManicMonkey3

    ManicMonkey3 Guest

    The EMU sounds good and cheap and worth the risk. I think I'll go with the 1212m since it is the same as the 1616m minus the preamps and I have a UA LA610 and it is better than the pres in the 1616m. I mean, minus the pres, the 1616m and 1212m are the same, am I right? I only need one recording channel for what I do although two doesn't hurt.

    $150 for a new soundcard is really nothing- unless someone tells me the 1616m is still better sounding for some other function that the 1212m is lacking.

    The Presonus is good and sounds better than the EMU 0404 I used a few years ago, but it has latency issues. It seems to record well, but on playback I get a lot of clicks and pops (I use a PIV 2.6ghz) These do not come through after mix export. I do sometimes get ruined tracks though when I am running lots of plug-ins. Cubase hiccups and the track is ruined. I have the Presonus Firebox set up for a low power CPU even though I should have enough to run it as a high power CPU according to the company.

    One problem with the EMU though. I am currently recording on a 2.6ghz PIV, but I have a 2.6Ghz i7 Dell machine with Vista 64 sitting right next to it with 6 gigs of ram and I'd love to start using it to start recording. I can't get Cubase SX3 to install on it though. Also, I will soon be receiving a free upgrade to Windows 7 and I don't know how long it will be before EMU offers drivers and Patchmix software for that platform.

    Anyway, so far so good with the LA610. If I didn't have the awesome Waves plugins, I'd be totally blown away. My cheap pres with Waves compressors sound pretty good though. I mean the LA610 with compression blows away my setup from a few years ago with a Joe Meek into an EMU 0404 with essentially no plug=ins except reverb.

    I would recommend to someone just starting to buy good gear like myself to get a good channel strip before buying expensive plug ins like Waves. Software can't get a good signal into the machine in the first place and then changes to your recording platform, etc. might make them useless. I don't know if they will even run on my new i7 machine with Windows 7. At least with a good channel strip like the LA610 I can get a good sound pluging into just about any DAW nomatter how cheap it is or how limited the software functions are. I'd take the LA610 compressor or the Waves compressor any day over the compressors that come with Cubase. I was impressed by them when I first got the program, but they just don't stack up to Waves or the LA610 hardware compressor- which I understand is not truly identical to the LA2A. Good enough for me. For $800 it was a steal. I wish I'd gotten it before the Waves plugins. I might not have even needed them- although the L2 seems to be a good mastering plugin for my needs. I don't know anything about proper mastering but at least the L2 is easy to use, keeps me from clipping, and sounds fairly transparent used sparingly. I try not to limit more than 3db although I sometimes hit 4db at extreme parts of the song.

    I'm totally self taught and YouTube taught and I don't know what I'm doing, but i can tell that I've improved a lot over the years and I haven't spent all that much. I'm glad I finally started reading this forum. Thanks guys.

    When I was using an EMU 0404 and the free version of Cubase that comes with it there really wasn't anything on this forum that wasn't over my head.

    I didn't even understand how external converters worked until the other day.
  6. Spase

    Spase Active Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    I can't guarantee the emu will work in your i7 machine - there are too many variables involved without knowing more - but there's been at least a few people using them with windows 7. The only difference between the 1212 and 1616 models is the dock. the dock has 2 pres and 2 more line ins(the pre channels can take mic or intrument or line). so with the 1212 you get 2 line ins, an adat in and an spdif in.
  7. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Distinguished Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    I have been using Windows 7 32 and 64 with E-MU 1616M on a AMD X2 test machine using Vista drivers and it works well. Have not done any major projects or tried to stress it yet, but no real issues noted due to Windows 7. I have MSDN license and will be downloading the final W7 RTM version this weekend to test and checkout.

    Instead of asking blind questions, poke your head around http://www.emu.com and take some time to learn about the products you are interested in.

    1616/1616M MicroDock has two mic/line inputs and 4-line inputs with 6-line outputs. Includes RIAA phono preamp for two of the 4 rear inputs as well as a headphone amp.

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