Time to upgrade my home studio (step 1: audio interface)



Hey all,

I’m looking to finally upgrade some of my home recording equipment and I’d love some advice on the direction to go.

I’d like to be able to record 6+ tracks simultaneously to logic or live (2 vocals, 2-3 micd amp, drum mics, midi instruments) on my macbook pro (2.4gHz/OS10.5)

My old emi 6/2m was unusable to begin with, but good enough for my beginner tastes. Now that I’ve done this for a few years, and the 6/2 has finally crapped out on me (and I’m finally getting a decent paycheck) it’s looking like shopping time for me.

I’m thinking firewire audio interfaces are the way to go. Looking to spend up to $500usd on the interface.
I’m eyeing:

Alesis IO 26 firewire
Focusrite Saffire firewire
Edirol FA 101 firewire
PreSonus FP10 10x10

I’ve got a faderport 1-channel mixer, so I don’t necessarily need integrated mixing capability if it means sacrificing on quality.

Also, one thing to consider is that I’d like to have a decent preamp for the vocals at least. And I don’t know about the quality of the built in preamps on these interfaces, but I’d guess that I’d eventually look to get a separate preamp, possibly looking at something like the presonus bluetube DP. Right now I run SM57s and a sennheiser e835, but am also considering getting a decent condenser mic.

Any suggestions? I have tons of questions, but I figure I’ll start here and ask as I go.



Thanks for the input. I did notice that people do tend to recommend the firepod series here alot for what I'm looking for, and I'm strongly considering the FP10 amongst those that I listed.

I threw the general question out there to start because it's my first post on the forum, and figured the best place to start would be, “here’s what I’m looking at,” and go from there.

Getting back to preamps though. I’ve been comparing the FP10 to the higher end firestudio. As I understand it from the presonus forums, firestudio’s got better preamps, and better monitoring flexibility. If I’m not concerned about monitoring options, does it make sense to save money with the FP10 and then save up to invest in a good mic pre unit later on?

And if I’m working with $1000 budget to start on the whole setup, is it insane for me to start by nitpicking preamp quality? Will my mics be the bottleneck of sound quality? Where is money best spent at this early stage of investing in recording equipment?

I know I have a lot more to learn before I would truly understand what’s relevant to good sound quality, and rest assured, I’ll be doing a lot of reading and searching for myself. But I imagine that experience has afforded you guys the understanding of what’s worth investing in, and what’s just going to end up wasted money, so any sort of input is probably a load of insight from my perspective.

Thanks in advance for any help. :)


No Bad Vibes!
Well-Known Member
Oct 26, 2007
Cocoa, FL
Are you talking a grand to spend on everything, or just on the ADC?

If that's total, you're gonna have to really shop smart - it can be done, no doubt about it. It's just gonna take some talking and searching here to help you get what you need.

You seem to have a grasp on what recording entails, and through experementation you can get a good sound from a drum kit with two mics, I'm sure - FYI, search for Recorderman mic technique, you might dig it.

As far as decent condensers, there's the Bluebird, the lower priced A/T 4000's such as the 4033 (a 4050 minus some bells and whistles, but sonically similar), even the Oktava MK319 is a good deal, albeit a little tricky to find just the "right one" for you.

I think you'll do well with the Presonus ADC, but look around this site - there are many opinions from some industry leaders here that you'll be well off taking into consideration!


It's not a hard line on the grand, more of a guideline to keep myself from going too crazy right off the bat and spending all my rent money.

Picking up an ADC and a good condenser will be a good start to get me functional. Eventually I'll probably want to invest in a good mic pre (brick maybe?) and maybe a good set of monitors, mixing interface, room treatment, espresso machine...

So I know it all adds up to a good chunk more than said grand, but I think if I take it in chunks like that and just invest in good quality equipment that I won't just be replacing six months down the line, I think it'll be worth it in the long run.

But to start, yeah, I'm nearly sold on the fp10 at its current price it seems like a steal.

Condensers, the Bluebird looks like a good deal. But I'm a little harder to say with mics, mainly because it seems like it's more subjective and voice dependent.

Could always use another dynamic, the requisite mic stands, cables. Part of me feels like I should throw out all my cheapo cables and get good quality cables. Any suggestions?

It all adds up. Am I overlooking anything?



Well-Known Member
Apr 4, 2006
Blacksburg, VA
I would not get too deep into research in the subtle differences in quality of preamps in $500-700 converters. There may be differences, but the differences are much smaller than the differences you can make by getting better at mic placement, gain structure, eq, panning, placement, etc., etc. And reviews tend to magnify small differences. (When they are not just an exercise in self justification and one upsmanship. My preamps ROCK. Yours SUCK. RESPECT MY AUTHORITY.) It's a gross exaggeration, but (with the exception of a few cheap, bottom of the barrel nasty sounding units) I've decided that all sub-$100 per channel preamps sound the same if you don't push them into their last few dB of gain before clipping. Keep them mostly in the green. Accept a lower signal to noise ratio.

So I'd pick your interface based on features. Does it have the kind of I/O you want, etc.? Try to have a plan for expansion. Of course, there is a good chance you will change your plan, but you should at least try to think ahead.

In general, I have an ambivalent attitude about buying better pres when you are a beginner at recording. (I have been one for the last few years and am just starting to more out of that stage. At least in my own mind.) On one hand, pres are pretty much static technology. If you buy a really good pre today it will be good in two years (maybe twenty). On the other hand, quality of pres is so much less important than the basics mentioned above that it is a distraction to think about it and likely to be somewhat disappointing. For instance, my cheaper pres are the Digi 002R, Focusrite Octopre, and an A&H mixer. My (somewhat) better pres are a Brick and an FMR RNP. But there is absolutely no question that a mic in the right position through the 002R sounds much better than one six inches in the wrong direction through the RNP. We're not talking a little bit here. It took me over a year to discover most of the ways in which the "good" pres really were better. (A few difference were apparent right away,) So if you have the money it's not a bad investment, but there is a real danger of buyers remorse and a cycle of buying and selling looking for a pre that will make up for the skills you have yet to acquire.