Skip to main content
forums, blogs, song critique, support & more...

Need USB Audio Interface with SPDIF

I have a trusty old Apogee Mini-Me pre-amp/compressor with drivers that don't work with anything beyond Windows XP.

For a time, I got away with using it via SPDIF  through my trusty old Egosys U2A - it's a cheap little USB Audio Interface which amazingly has both optical and SPDIF ins and outs and cost me less than $100 about a hundred years ago. (I know! Right?)

Basically, the U2A was doing nothing to add to the sound beyond passing through one digital source to another digital source. 

But now even the U2A is beyond its USB driver's working sell-by date. So I have to get something new because I'm using Windows 10 for my video software.

I don't want to give up the Apogee. So is there a similar bare bones USB Audio Interface with SPDIF I can get to replace the U2A?

Or can you convince me to scrap the Apogee and go with something more modern with USB drivers that actually work? If I'm gonna scrap it, it's gotta be for something a lot better.

I need it mostly for vocal.

Any ideas?

Comments

Profile picture for user Boswell
Member for
15 years 2 months

Boswell Thu, 05/06/2021 - 09:42

It used to be easy to find low-cost audio interfaces that had S/PDIF I/O, but these days they are very thin on the ground. One reason this is that, for 24-bit transfers under Windows, they can't use the native Windows audio I/O, since that is 16-bit only. It means that 24-bit drivers have to be written and supported, and, for Windows 10, that can be an expensive business.

I too have an Apogee Mini-Me, housed in one of my portable rigs (along with a Mini-DAC). For 2-channel capture and replay, this Apogee pair of devices is one of the best-sounding systems I know of in the price range. After the audio quality, the reason I chose it is that both the units are 12V d.c. powered, and will run for several hours on a 12V rechargeable wheelchair battery, all fitting in a plastic carry box including mics and cables (but not the mic stands). As a bit-bucket to capture the S/PDIF output from the ADC, I use an M-Audio Microtrack-II, and this also serves as a headphone monitor amp during recording. The Microtrack records on to CF cards, and post-event can transfer the recorded tracks via USB to a computer. In the past I have used an M-Audio Transit (original version) for direct laptop recording, but, like you, ran into driver problems as Windows 10 got more and more restrictive.

The only relatively low-cost interface that has coax S/PDIF input that I know of in the price range and that has supported W10 drivers is the Tascam US-144 Mk II. The quality of the analogue I/O is not in the Apogee league, but simply for S/PDIF it could be worth it.

https://www.tascam.eu/en/docs/Tascam_US…

 

Profile picture for user cyrano
Member for
3 years 4 months

cyrano Thu, 05/06/2021 - 11:32

Very good:

https://www.minidsp.com/products/usb-au…

Does Toslink (stereo in/out, up to 192 kHz SR) and ADAT (8 channels in/out, 48 kHz SR) allowing an upgrade later. No analog I/O.

Less than 100£, unfortunately out of stock atm. You could query their forum for a used one?

EDIT

These guys boast >10 in stock @ 154 € incl. VAT, free shipping, 

https://www.soundimports.eu/en/minidsp-…

Profile picture for user Boswell
Member for
15 years 2 months

Boswell Thu, 05/06/2021 - 15:28

The MiniDSP is a nice little unit, but is one of several available that transfer data via optical jacks only. If there really were no box that had a coax input, then converters could be used, but they are inconvenient and need a separate power source.

In addition, I would need convincing that a simple tick next to "PC/Mac interfacing" on the MiniDSP data sheet denotes supported Windows 10 compatibility.

Profile picture for user kmetal
Member for
11 years 11 months

kmetal Thu, 05/06/2021 - 16:55

Do you need low latency from your setup? If so the interfaces drivers become important.

At $319 (U.S. dollars) the focusrite 8i6 is the best balance between price, latency, and quality, that i know of, that would fit your needs.

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail….

 

Next step up would be a focusrite clarett, or this antelope zen go interface. The go has great specs for the price and probably sounds on par with your apogee.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/…

 

 

Profile picture for user Meg Lee Chin
Member for
2 months 2 weeks

Meg Lee Chin Thu, 05/06/2021 - 23:23

In reply to by miyaru

I've been looking at the Focusrite Clarett. Seems if the sound quality was good enough I could skip the SPDIF's all together and just use the Fcosurite. Plus I only need 2 channels of stereo really.

But it seems risky. Can the Clarett sound as good as the Apogee? 

Profile picture for user Meg Lee Chin
Member for
2 months 2 weeks

Meg Lee Chin Thu, 05/06/2021 - 23:30

In reply to by Boswell

Boswell,   

Unfortunately, looks like the Tascam US-144 Mk II has been discontinued in North, Central and South America. Plus no windows 10 drivers;

Windows XP:32bit SP3 or more, 64bit SP2 or more
Windows Vista:32bit SP2 or more, 64bit SP2 or more
Windows 7:32bit, 64bit
Windows 8:32bit, 64bit 

What a crying shame. The 2nd hand price looks good.

 

 

Profile picture for user Meg Lee Chin
Member for
2 months 2 weeks

Meg Lee Chin Thu, 05/06/2021 - 23:38

In reply to by cyrano

Here's a converter for the problem of the optical jack.

https://www.futureshop.co.uk/blustream-…

It requires 5V power too.  That feels clunky to me but might be my only option. 

Seems I got 2 choices;

1) Either get a cheap spdif in to USB out box with Windows 10 drivers that'll let me keep my apogee.

2) Or get a  high quality USB Audio Interface replacement for my Apogee. As such I wouldn't need SPDIF anyway. So that opens up the possiblities.

I don't mind spending a fair amount to get a flat-out Apogee replacement. But I'd want to be pretty sure it's good if I'm gonna lose the Apogee. Nobody ever downsizes on the quality right? Plus returning stuff is a pain here in the UK.  

Profile picture for user miyaru
Member for
5 years 3 months

miyaru Fri, 05/07/2021 - 00:13

There come's the Babyface in: rocksolid and very good sounding! And it is under the $ 1000,= mark.

Meg Lee Chincyrano wrote: 2) Or Get a flat out USB Audio replacement for my Apogee. As such I wouldn't need SPDIF anyway.

Profile picture for user Boswell
Member for
15 years 2 months

Boswell Fri, 05/07/2021 - 02:57

In reply to by Meg Lee Chin

There's a Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 MK2 going on Ebay UK at the moment. This would satisfy your choice (1).

If you went for a high-quality interface instead, would you keep your Mini-Me? If you were thinking of selling it, the FireWire versions go on Ebay for £200-£250, and the USB ones for £250-£300.

I keep a look out for an Apogee USB card to replace the FireWire card in the Mini-Me, but I've never seen one come up on Ebay.

Profile picture for user cyrano
Member for
3 years 4 months

cyrano Fri, 05/07/2021 - 03:38

Thanks, Bos!

Obviously, I missed the coaxial bit.

It works on Win 10, I've been told. You need MS USB class 2 drivers, or ASIO4all.

The problem is MS dropped USB audio class 2 drivers when Win10 was released. After some protests, they included the driver, to pull it again later on. The driver should be available for download from MS.

It's a shame, as it works "out of the box" on Mac and Linux and every other OS on the planet.

Boswell wrote: The MiniDSP is a nice little unit, but is one of several available that transfer data via optical jacks only. If there really were no box that had a coax input, then converters could be used, but they are inconvenient and need a separate power source. In addition, I would need convincing that a simple tick next to "PC/Mac interfacing" on the MiniDSP data sheet denotes supported Windows 10 compatib

Profile picture for user rmburrow
Member for
8 years 5 months

rmburrow Fri, 05/07/2021 - 10:01

I am in the same situation.  Looking for a suitable SPDIF to USB adaptor for Win 10 on a laptop.  Found a source for transformers to split one SPDIF output to two SPDIF loads, but I really need the SPDIF to USB converter.  Any ideas?

Profile picture for user kmetal
Member for
11 years 11 months

kmetal Fri, 05/07/2021 - 13:01

In reply to by Meg Lee Chin

Ive never compared the two. I wouldn't expect a big difference given the age and price point of the apogee when it came out.  All the stuff ive heard done with the clarett sounds clear and artifact free. 

Have you looked at the apogee symphony desktop?

If you only need 2 ch, the apollo USB solo is in the same $500 price point, and alot of people use the desktop apollo on records.

Having looked at the mini me manual, the the dynamic range spec is 105db.  A scarlett is rated at 109db. Specs dont tell the whole story, certainly not just one spec, but still many of the mid range stuff sits in the 115db-125db dynamic range spec.

Profile picture for user Boswell
Member for
15 years 2 months

Boswell Fri, 05/07/2021 - 16:18

In reply to by rmburrow

@rmburrow: What's the device that's outputting the S/PDIF? Does it have S/PDIF optical out as well as the RCA (coax) that feeds your other S/PDIF load?

If it's just RCA coax, then putting that through a converter box that outputs both formats would open up a greater choice of S/PDIF -> USB interfaces, and bypass the need for splitter transformers. However, I know that, like me, you do a lot of live work, so clutter minimisation may be a serious concern.

Profile picture for user Meg Lee Chin
Member for
2 months 2 weeks

Meg Lee Chin Sat, 05/08/2021 - 07:17

I forgot to mention that the Mini-me has a great built-in compressor/limiter. So I'd be losing that too... But WOW! The Apollo Solo has "a suite of onboard UAD plug-ins".  Does that mean they're actually built-in or is it just bundled software?

Ah... nevermind. Just found out it's software based.

Profile picture for user Boswell
Member for
15 years 2 months

Boswell Sat, 05/08/2021 - 07:22

@Meg Lee Chin, @rmburrow:

I've done some more searching and think that both of you (independently!) should look at the Audient iD14 Mk II for your S/PDIF input to USB requirements. Its digital input can be switched between ADAT and S/PDIF protocols, but is optical, so would need a low-cost converter for inputting electrical (RCA/coax) signals. It would additionally provide two analogue input channels with high-quality converters giving 4-channel input when the S/PDIF is in use. Very good value at under £200.

For S/PDIF coax-optical converters. look at something like the Roofull (£15 from Amazon) or the Lindy (£50 direct from Lindy). Both of these boxes have a switchable input, and they output both optical and coax signals, so can work as a splitter.

Profile picture for user Meg Lee Chin
Member for
2 months 2 weeks

Meg Lee Chin Sat, 05/08/2021 - 07:51

That seems to make good sense. So I could use the Apogee thru the optical input but also have an extra two inputs for times when I need more. It's a pretty good price too.

BoswellMeg Lee Chin, wrote: It would additionally provide two analogue input channels with high-quality converters giving 4-channel input when the S/PDIF is in use.

Profile picture for user kmetal
Member for
11 years 11 months

kmetal Sat, 05/08/2021 - 13:22

In reply to by Meg Lee Chin

The processing is built into the interface, like your Spx 90 for example. The difference is you control the parameters via the computer. Using the pluggins doesn't put load on your computer, the interfaces dsp chips do the work.  You can use the effects just for monitoring, print them, and use them for mixing.

Some UAD interfaces have a standalone mode so you don't need a computer, if i recall correctly.

Meg Lee Chin wrote: I forgot to mention that the Mini-me has a great built-in compressor/limiter. So I'd be losing that too... But WOW! The Apollo Solo has "a suite of onboard UAD plug-ins".  Does that mean they're actually built-in or is it just bundled software? Ah... nevermind. Just found out it's software based.

x