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PreSonus Firestudio vs M-Audio 2626?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by Dan Theman, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. Dan Theman

    Dan Theman Active Member

    I am running Cubase 5.

    I am looking to upgrade my M-audio Frast Track Pro. I havent had any problems with my M-Audio's product so i was looking at the 2626 but i was doing some research of similar products within the same price range and functionality to come across the PreSonus Firestudio.

    I feel like M-audio might be better for protools then there might be an interface better for Cubase. Thats niether her nor there which of these do you think would be a wiser choice?

    Also, if you have a suggestion other than the 2 mentions by all means fill me in!

  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    With PT9, you are no longer restricted to Digidesign or M-Audio interfaces. How many input channels do you need? Do you need a full complement of output channels (e.g. for in-ear monitoring), or simply a pair of outputs for driving monitoring and then mixdown loudspeakers? What's your price limit for a new interface?
  3. Dan Theman

    Dan Theman Active Member

    Minimum of 2 L and R monitor outputs mixing and play back, 2 or more headphone outs for recording and listening during recording for mutiple people during a session, The only multi track recording i will need is for drums and i wont need anymore than 8 mics.

    I was upgrading for 2 reasons, for drums and for vocals. The Fast Track Pro only has 2 inputs so drums arent an option and I was told it isnt really the best unit to record vocals on. At this point and time i dont need to record drums but i will down the road (3 or so months after the completion of the studio construction) and since i need to record vocals now and what to upgradei might as well get a unit that can handle both.

    Currently my budget is around $500-$800 but by all means if going a bit beyond that would be noticibly worth it i would consider it and save for it if needed.
  4. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Yes, it would be noticeably worth it to spend $1000 rather than $500 or even $800. Myself and most semipro-to-pro members here will recommend the RME Fireface 800 in this price range - 10 ins, 10 outs, direct monitoring, 4 good preamps and all the expandability and reliability you will need to have it last a long while and hold value on resale. Is firewire 800/400 so you would need IEEE1394 port on your computer.

    You will need 4 more preamps to record drums, but don't let that trick you into buying a lesser interface with 8 preamps and USB. You'll probably be able to reuse just the preamps from the Fast Track pro - or borrow a mixing desk, or borrow preamps, or add them later. 4 mics is in fact enough for good drum recordings.

    I use the FF800 with Cubase (3, haha, have 4 and never used it, so not going to 5) and have done for 7 years now with no complaints.
  5. Dan Theman

    Dan Theman Active Member

    EDIT: Thank you for your reply

    From what I looked up I found that the 'RME Fireface 800' is pretty consistant at retail $1,699.

    I am looking for something more or less under $1k being my budget is $500-$800 for an interface. I am willing to give a little extra, along the lines of $200-$300 extra in-order to get a more quality unit but the FF800 is more than double my budget. I don't doubt that it is a great unit, I have also came across this unit in my research and read about it as well but it is simply $800+ out of my price range, that why I didnt really take it into consideration. It will take me quite some time to save that amount of money unless I sacrafice my total studio budget in which case i will still be waiting and saving on a different item. If I would be wasting my money on $500-$800 unit then i will wait but if I can get a great unit for $500-$800 maybe a bit more that would be optimal.
  6. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    I see you are interested in the Presonus Firestudio.

    I have been a user since 2007 and recently updated with a Digimax FS.

    I must say that I enjoy the firestudio despite the issues I've had in the past. I have never put it up against the FF800, but I know that a member here, soapfloats has both units. He may chime in and tell us the detail in the differences of the two.

    I've never used the m-audio 2626 either, I can only tell you that the Firestudio has worked well for me. I do NOT have the budget for a FF800 either.

    The reason I was sold on the Firestudio 26x26 is because of the glowing review it received in Tape Op, need I say more?
  7. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Dan - I wasn't clear from your earlier reply whether you needed a stereo monitor output AND two headphone outputs on this interface. The M-Audio Profire 2626 is handy in having two headphone drive outputs as well as line outputs, and I can't instantly recall any other audio interface in this price range that has that.

    However, one problem with the interfaces around this lower price range is that they encounter difficulties when recording drums. One reason for this is that the crest factor (ratio of peak to average) of drum waveforms is much higher than that of instruments or sung vocals, and you really have to use lower than expected gains on interface units to capture the peak waveforms with anything like realistic accuracy, leading to problems with the noise floor being audible. There can also be other effects associated with slew rates. This is all tied in with needing to engage the attenuator pads on drum mics even when the levels do not at first sight require them.

    Maybe if your price limit is as you say you should get the 2626, as it has a lot of features for the money. I've seen the 2626 in use, but have not myself used one critically, so am not in a position to endorse it, and it may be up to others who actually own one to say whether they think it gives good results for the sort of things you will be asking it to do.
  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    If you could stretch to $1,000 then I'd go for the Konnekt 48 by TC Electronic. Otherwise I dislike M-Audio products generally (especially the preamps) while Presonus has a better track record with users.
  9. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately, I really can't comment on the Profire 26/26... it seems to be a comparable unit to the Firestudio, from all I've heard.
    I recently upgraded from the Firestudio to the Fireface - it put a dent in my wallet, but well worth it.

    The Firestudio is a fantastic product for the price range - the Control Console in particular is a nice piece of software that allows for easy creation and routing of mixes for monitors, headphones, and so on. The Anolog I/O and ADAT allow for a lot of option for expansion. The Presonus Digimax line of preamps is a nice addition via ADAT if you ever decide you want more than 8 inputs at once.
    The one downside for you would be only one amplified headphone output - meaning if you want more, you'll need a headphone amplifier (you would use the line outs to feed this amplifier).
    Also look into getting the optional MSR - makes switching monitors, checking mono, and volume control/talkback a breeze.

    IMHO, the RME unit is really just a better version of the FS (TotalMix vs Control Console, better preamps and converters). Unless you're looking to go semi-pro, the preamps in the FS should be sufficient, just take Boswell's warnings into consideration - I managed to make many a fine recording using these preamps.
    Not sure if using the line-ins offers TRUE bypass of the FS's preamps, but if so, you can later add more quality pres and run them into your setup this way.

    I've had some difficulty w/ the Firestudio (syncing, etc) - but the Support people were always fantastic. Make sure you check w/ Presonus on requirements for OS, drivers, and your 1394 firewire card - TI chipsets are a MUST.

    Let me know as your search develops. I've been holding on to my FS to use for an "at-home, quick mix" setup or mobile rig, but am considering selling it and the MSR now. The fact that my new studio is about an 8-min drive lessens the need for a home setup, and we're looking at other, stand-alone hardware options for a mobile rig.

    Not for certain on selling it, but if it's the decision you come to, I might be willing to unload it and the MSR for a nice price.
  10. Dan Theman

    Dan Theman Active Member

    Agian thank all of you for the advice, insight and replies.

    Along side of your comments and suggestions i have been doing my own research aswell and it seems a bit back and forth on these two units, although for the presonus i havent heard many bad things about it on the other hand for the m-audio i have read a lot about driver problems (for all of their units not specifically this one), and tech support issues. When it comes down to it they seem very close in almost all aspects though i am leaning towards the presonus.

    I do plan on purchasing a unit within the next 30days or so and @Soapfloats i appreciate the possible offer VERY much and i will most likely be contacting you for further details if you dont mind! You are most considerate to even throw that option out there to me.

    @Boswell, the headphone situation is less important and as SoapFloats had mentioned having a headphone amp this would quickly fix that issue. I dont really want the headphone situation to be the selling point, the important thing is recording quality. My last album was done on a friends Tascam US2000 and we seemed to have a flawless drum recording. I believe that these two units mentioned are much better than his Tascam, i hope this is the case!

    Edit: I am not looking for a professional studio unit. I wont be producing nickelback anytime soon, i just want professional sounding recordings. I can produce a very good and satifying recording right now with the gear i currently have and i am now looking to upgrade.
  11. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Before you make any decision, I think you need to ask yourself a few very important questions:

    1. How many inputs do you need to record at once, right now? One year from now? Two years? Five years?

    2. It sounds like you've got decent technique if you've been able to make good recordings w/ what you have. That's good. Too many think a new piece of gear is the solution.

    What are trying to upgrade specifically? Preamps? Converters? I/O?

    3. REAL budget. I know this is critical, but if you're really looking to make an investment in better preamps/converters, you should look at other products, like RME.

    There's nothing wrong w/ Presonus, and I'm not trying to dissuade you. I just want to make sure it's what you really want/need, before you drop a lot of money on it, only to find out a year or two later that you ACTUALLY wanted the RME Fireface 800 or something else. That's what I did.
    There's also a chance you can get better quality in a 4-channel unit that fits your budget, if you don't actually need 8+ inputs.
  12. Dan Theman

    Dan Theman Active Member

    Well my major concerns are 1. Vocals, This is one of the most crucial parts of any recording IMO. As a guitarist i do spend a lot of time making sure my tone is how I like it because well that is my "voice". With years of working with my guitar tone and the gear I have I can whip out a good tone in no time, in most situations. I am now I'm going vocal (not back up anymore) and since my guitar tone is so important to me, now my vocal recording should be treated the same way. I am by no means Sebastian Bach on vocals but i would like to create a vocal recording as good as my guitar recording. I have looked into mic's and I'm 99% set on the RODE NT2A, i heard a lot about RODE mics not a bad word has been said and in my weeks of research this really seems to be the mic for me, though you never really know until you use it.

    The 2nd most important concern is drums, last time i recorded drums we had 7 or 8 mics. 3 on toms 2 on over heads 1 on kick and I think 2 on snare. like i said it was on a Tascam US2000 and they drums came out great even the vocals and we had a mic that wasn't comparable to the RODE i will be getting. So, I figure an 8 mic unit would do the trick.

    The headphone situation is no biggie, like you said i can always get a headphone amp which i actually would prefer it seems like an easier way to go about it and the monitors i have are powered so i would just need simple a L and R out. Other than that i believe I'm good to go. I can go without drums for now because construction on the studio wont be done till spring, so there is no way i can even lug a drum set here to record.

    So at this time i don't NEED 8 inputs but i will in the near future. I have read a lot about the RME Fireface 800 and the more i read about it the more good things i hear. It rated like best Audio Interface in 2010. The only negative thing i heard was that it is a bit over priced, not that I agree or disagree but that's just word on the street. I did at one point get locked in its image and starred at it for a good 10 min straight... *Sigh* I didn't really wanna drop that much on a unit but deep down inside BEHIND my beer gut knew that i would probably have to go out of my price range. Hmmm... Atlantic City isn't that far if i put it all on red and win i can buy 2 RME Fireface 800's!
  13. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    The downside is, the FF800 only has 4 mic preamps...

    meaning you can get great quality for vocals and smaller things, but you'll have to look at external preamps down the line for drums the way you record them.

    More money, but the reasons for the leap in interface justify plugging better pres into the line-ins.
    Things that start at $500 a unit, and range up to $3000+ a unit.
    Things that you'll use to achieve a certain sound/color, or at least dedicate to your vocals and core drums.

    Again, you have to figure out what you really need.
    I know it's tough... I wish I had saved money on things I rarely use, and instead saved for an API 3124+. It's on my shortlist, but at $2500, not in my immediate future.

    Of course, that bet you mentioned could be just what the doctor ordered :cool:
  14. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I currently have 18 channels of outboard preamps and of course am always budgeting for more. The best thing is that more and more high end preamps are coming with good digital outputs as well. One of my 8-packs feed the optical inputs of the FF.
  15. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    I was thinking of you buying the FF800 second-hand when I suggested it. As long as you buy from somebody reputable, and therein lies the rub, for most (pro or semipro) pieces of gear its worth buying second hand as they've already undergone most of the devaluation they are likely to and your money is safe. I don't include mics in that as I don't feel comfortable buying condensor mics without a warranty.

    The FF800 gave the biggest "wow upgrade" factor I've ever had from a studio change. The other options feel a bit like "more of the same" to me although I know the TC Electronic is getting good reviews and they certainly seem to rate their own converters, FWIW.
  16. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    If you had $2100 USD you could get the RME UFX, thats one sweet looking piece of kit as you say!
  17. Dan Theman

    Dan Theman Active Member

    As always thanks for the replys and what have you!

    Well as Jeemy said 'buying it second hand' well that is precisley what i have been looking into, problem being as jeemy stated i dont want to be getting ripped off and then be $1k in the hole after that (or in jail for murder when i find the guy). If i can find this badboy RME 800 for around $1k, consider it sold but my search will have to start next month. Which i will be putting forth great measures to find this item at the price i want! hah.

    It just makes sense to get the RME 800 i can probably strech my budget to buying a used or open box item, i dont need drums now but i will later and by then i can load up the one of the ADATs with an 8 input preamp and have 12 mics for drums... So, this is the route i should be going.

    Also as i stated i am looking to 'upgrade' my recording quality and as jeemy says all the other units mentioned seem "more of the same" instead of an upgrade.

    As for the RME UFX i am taking donations if you are offering! Lets try and keep it less expensive! i cant afford anymore $$$ without selling my body, haha. Though it does look amazing and would fit perfectly in my rack!

    I really appreciate all of your efforts and advice. I do believe that now the RME FF 800 is def the unit i should have, next step is affording it haha but really thank you all!
  18. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I purchased one of my FF800's off of auction for a low enough price that if it didn't work I could have RME fix it and still come in slightly under standard used pricing. Otherwise just make sure if using eBait that there is a return/guaranteed no DOA policy on the sale and by all means don't be afraid to open a case with eBait. My personal policy is never buy something I can't resell for what I paid and I do factor in possible repairs.

    In the FWIW category, RME is very easy to deal with if you do have a problem.

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