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Which Audio/Midi interface is better?

Hello,

I'm about to purchase equipment for my home studio, and right now I'm trying to decide which audio/midi interface will be the best. Some possibilities I'm considering:

M-Audio Firewire 410 or 1810
PreSonus Firebox
E-MU 1616m
Edirol FA-101

Most importantly, I need to know which one of these, or maybe any other device in this price range, has the highest quality preamps. So far, I've been leaning towards the E-MU, however a worker at SamAsh told me that their preamps are crappy, they add unnecessary coloration to the sound. He recommended the PreSonus and M-Audio preamps instead...

Please post any opinions about the devices above, and/or suggest something else.

Thank you.

Comments

AudioGaff Tue, 03/14/2006 - 21:09
I've been a very satisfied owner and user of the E-MU 1820M, and just recently got the E-MU 1616M for my laptop and have been very satisfied. I'll now likley sell the 1820M, and just use the 1616M. While not exactly low budget, it is of outstanding sound quality and really excellent value. One of the best bang for your buck packages that money can buy at this time. I certainly would not waste my time and money on any of the other products you mentioned no matter how cheap they may be in comparision.

Beware! If the guy at Sam Ash is anything like the schmuks that claim to be pro audio salesman that I have encountered at any Sam Ash or Guitar Center, they would not ever know a good preamp from a poor one even if there life depended on it. All they know is the few key features of what product is being pitched this month from management, and which ones make them more money over another.

Reggie Wed, 03/15/2006 - 07:25
Also beware: audio interfaces and high-quality preamps are two different things. I understand not everyone can afford nice outboard preamps or a mixer right off the bat, but I wouldn't get something where you are stuck with built-in preamps that will just get in your way later on. I would worry more about getting an interface that has good AD/DA and an adequate # of channels so it will last you a while even after your tastes for preamps change.

AudioGaff Wed, 03/15/2006 - 08:30
Good point Reggie. The converters used in the 1616M are as good as it gets for a mass produced product. The mic preamps in the 1616M are not world class, but are way better than average and as good or even better IMO than anything else in the same class. Of course I would almost always much prefer to use one of my high end expensive mic preamps, but I would not hesitiate to use them on anything, and I'm known around these parts as being a pretty picky audio snob when it comes to audio gear.
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