Audio interfaces decisions decisions could use some direction

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by Guelph_Guy, Jan 18, 2017.

  1. Guelph_Guy

    Guelph_Guy Active Member

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    Location:
    Ontario Canada
    Okay .. the readers digest version is I'm building a mini B studio ( studio A got moved to another location).

    This started as a hobby for me way back in 1988 ( boy have we come along way). It's still a hobby now and will be my retirement hobby after my girls finish university ( if there's any money left LOL)

    Anyhow , I'm struggling with the interface decisions ...

    I've been a heavy MOTU user 2408 Mk3 / 1296 X 2 / which have now relocated to the other location ....

    Anyhow, to start the quest , I've been trying to figure out what to put in place for an interface. The studio is primarily line level sources and VST instruments.... ( I'm running the latest Ableton 9.6).
    I'm PC Based ( I5, 32 Gigs of RAM ) HP 8200 Desktop ... storage is not an issue

    The monitoring system is Dynaudio BM6 Mk III the room has "some treatment" but could be improved

    So I checked the used boards to see whats up ...

    So I can grab ;

    Antelope Orion
    RME UFX
    U/A Apollo
    MOTU 16A
    or an SSL AlphaLink with MADI Interface ( MADI Extreme)

    I won't get to crazy but I can get the SSL solution with MADI card cheaper then the RME UFX and its compatible with my PC. Additionally they are claiming the MADI extreme driver solution is windows 8.1 and windows 10 compliant ..

    I realize this gear has a lifespan I just though it would be fun to dabble in MADI for a change
    (Well if the price is right)
    ... I also realize That the lifespan on this solution is limited if its not a legacy product by now..

    Am I being stupid looking at the SSL product ( mainly for the MADI interest) and just shooting myself in the foot..? Is it too dated at this point? ... is the conversion sub par to current solutions out there...??

    The Orion is fine but I don't need that many channels... (8 at the most) its overkill..

    The RME UFX is a solid performer from what I understand ( would consider this and it was initially my first pick)

    THE U/A Apollo holds its place well ... ( not sure how the PC driver end is working)

    the MOTU 16A or 1248 would do as well ..( would consider this but don't know how good they sound) my previous experience with MOTU has been stellar on the PC Platform... no issues.

    at the end of the day I'm just looking for an AD/DA solution that will sound better and outperform my current MOTU 2408 MK3 and 1296 solution...

    I'm just being swayed by the opportunity to try MADI and that's why I'm asking about the AlphaLink product

    Thanks for taking the time to read this, This site for me has been fantastic and the quality of the people and knowledge base is amazing (some on here have legacy that makes me green with envy)

    cheers
    Guelph_Guy
     
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    What about preamps ? have any external ones or do you plan for a mixer ?
    IF you want to use onboard preamps a nice option could be the Antelope zen studio. But frankly, my heart is to RME even if I don't know how the preamps compares to the zen...
    MADI is very solid on latency. I honestly don't know how the converters of the SSL compares.
     
    audiokid likes this.
  3. Guelph_Guy

    Guelph_Guy Active Member

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    Location:
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    I have some Focusrite Liquid Channels ( yes they don't get much love) but they work for me )... most of my gear is "line level" synths etc...( at least for studio B)

    I also have some old art pro channels which actually for all the ridicule they get actually perform well in the right situation and with the right mike placement

    There's some TC Helicon pre-amps and processing available as well ...

    yes I'm trending towards the RME as well .... The drivers are solid and they have from what I've read been "pro active" in insuring compatibility with operating systems..
    (even if windows 10 is the last release of windows)

    I see Audiokid liked your post , hope he looks again, I thought he was running a MADI solution...maybe he can comment...
     
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  4. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    They do, totalmix is a blast ! My FF800 is still running fine after a decade and it performe very well with 20 inputs in action. (I bought it used from an RO member)
     
  5. Guelph_Guy

    Guelph_Guy Active Member

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    Good to hear the ff800 is delivering .....and RME is too! ....

    I can say that the MOTU stuff was a little rocky when migrating to a PC based solution , but it got pretty good from XP forward ....
    All the MOTU stuff I have is running fine in Windows 10 .. and has been since XP ...
    I find the latency to be extremely low as well ...

    I have a lexicon IO82 interface which is USB... I like the unit but I find the latency is around 12 ms. this has sort of discouraged my from USB solutions at the moment.
    I suspect it's the quality of the implementation of the driver ...

    I have a Mackie 1640 with the firewire interface as well ... I like this little mixer it runs well but again the latency is up around 10-12 ms..

    maybe I'm just to picky , PCIe /MOTU runs without a hitch at 5 ms .. and it can run lower on my HP PC.

    Guess I'm spoilt ... anyhow ... I seem to shy away from Firewire/USB due to the latency. I had an idea that the MADI would run like the wind...

    So I have some searching to do ... the new MOTU apparently is ultra low latency ... However, I need to at least do some reading on it to see what it compares to .. and hopefully I can hear one at my gear vendor!!

    I currently program for a living... what I can tell you is that most hardware is quite capable of outperforming the software(drivers) in terms of performance ... it takes a lot to write a high performance driver.
     
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  6. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Thanks. PCIe interfacing works for me.
    If you punch in with fast stops and starts, play loops and jam along punching in and out, chances are you would appreciate PCIe interfacing. To my understanding, because of the closest connection to the DAW, PCIe is choice for the wider variety of electronic and acoustic interfacing requirement (keyboard, MIDI, VSTi /acoustic musicians), tracking, overdubbing, mixing, especially for hybrid system . Its the supremo interface.

    I've owned Orion 32 and Apollo's. Used all sorts of interfaces and my main interface would for lowest latency and stability (as of 2017) > Desktop< PCIe card, clocked internally.

    PCIe AES EBU or MADI interface excels.
    FW PCIe 800 is excellent as well.
    USB lacks in comparison but works good enough for most requirement, does okay for hybrid up to about 8 AD DA .
    The Orion 32 is a good system but unless you are needing all those channels, I would look for something else. But what else is there?
    (for conversion) I have Prism converters that can't come close to the speed of a PCIe Madi combo. So even though those converters sound glorious, their interface seriously lack as low latency multi track systems. Just to slow imho.
    Follow me?
    There also appears to be a trade off when it comes to speed vs sound quality. The better converters come with less channels (usually 8 or less in a single rack). They run cooler as well. Most likely longer life span.
    Slower interfacing is better suited for capturing real time performances and mastering.

    Moving along...
    As an example of how fast PCIe is:
    I used RME PCIe 32 MADI and AES EBU cards and was able to lock in a full session with plugins, external keyboards and acoustic tracks at a speed of 178 bpm, looping a 2 bar track and punch in out like 100 times in the loop flawlessly for 5 mins. That is impressive.
    I was using Samplitude which is a pretty heavy load. Reaper or Ableton are super optimized for speed so I can only assume they would be amazing DAW's for this kind of workflow as well.

    Summery:
    PCIe MADI is definitely a good way to go, but like all DAW systems, you also need good converters that like the interface, and play well with the DAW.

    I have know idea about the SSL. I'm an RME guy.
    USB3 and thunderbolt might be worth waiting for. I am about a year behind with the latest converters systems.
     
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  7. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    I want to mention... I have the MPC Renaissance which has a USB interface and it is so fast, I pray this is where the next level of ADC are going. No latency, super fast tracking that can lay down 64th triplets at speed you don't ever use and never miss a beat. Things are getting better.
     
  8. Guelph_Guy

    Guelph_Guy Active Member

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    Well after researching the ssl solution, I've decided on the UFX , the ssl solution is problematic at best in Windows 10 from what I've read.. So I'll opt for the UFX based on drivers and support, just hoping the latency is low
     
  9. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    Lowell Massachusetts
    To the OP,

    I was told that for my level (pro-sumer) the RME Babyface is very good. And at this point, about 4 other people have old me the same. And the reviews are really good. So, the list of dacs I've actually heard is very small. But fwiw, from several people who seem to know their stuff, RME, is brought up a lot. Seemingly, no matter what level.

    I've never heard it, but I've never heard a bad word about them.

    The only other interface in your level that I have any experience with is the presonus tube preamp, but it's rack mount. But, I really like it. It seems to love any mic you put on it.

    I'd be curious what you finally decide to get...
     
  10. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    I read he's going with the RME UFX.

    Hope to get feedback once the studio is ready ;)
     
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  11. Guelph_Guy

    Guelph_Guy Active Member

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    Sep 2, 2013
    Location:
    Ontario Canada
    I'll be working away on the "scratch tracks" studio over the next couple of weeks ... (it's a time permitting thing, I'm currently gone 11-12 hrs a day for work but take Fridays off).

    Maybe some pics to follow.....

    Anyhow, the idea behind this studio is that it's a "scratchpad" you turn it on and go ... and get the idea down ... if it evolves into something worth developing I can send it over the internet to my other studio
    So the goal is :
    producer desk,
    HP 8200 PC running Ableton
    Novation impulse 61 as a master controller. (This one seems like the most practical one at the moment)
    an Ableton push controller.
    an RME UFX Interface
    a pair of focusrite liquid channels
    a set of DynAudio bm6's mk3..

    (I am going to check out the MOTU AVB hardware, I think I need to satisfy my curiosity so I'll never have to question if I made the right decision)

    I have a Yamaha THR10 amp for guitar which I'm quite fond of ...

    and a Roland TD20 drum kit , but running on a td9 module right now..

    I'm going to run REW (Room Eq wizard and sweep the room again.) the first time I was working with this tool I was a "novice",
    I've learned a lot since then so I want to find out what's going on in the room ..

    Anyhow... a good project, the only area I'm short is the interface product.
     
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  12. Guelph_Guy

    Guelph_Guy Active Member

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    Thanks for the feedback, I almost bought one of those presonus tube preamps off the gear board in my area ... but I looked at what I had and can get by fine ... (Focusrite Liquid Channels as a stereo pair)

    I'd still consider one, but I find the Liquid channels are "pretty darn good" maybe down the road if I want a different color of sound the presonus tube pre would be a good fit ...
     
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  13. Guelph_Guy

    Guelph_Guy Active Member

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    Location:
    Ontario Canada
    yes I have to agree , the PCIE is really quick .. I have the PCI424e for my MOTU setup .... The HP 8200 runs my 2408 and my two 1296's like the wind ... I've been happy with this set up and am moving it over to a different location.
    I'm pretty sure it's sub 5 ms... running Sonar and slightly quicker with Ableton..
     
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  14. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    I'm very jealous. Why are you using a td-9 brain? Will that operate all those pieces? Or are some just not functional right now? I'm asking bc I've seen some people run different brains, but I don't understand the benefit of changing the brain, unless you have the pieces to match it....(confused)

    Can I ask what sticks you use? I'm looking for max rebound for the cymbal and hh surface. I like longer sticks, but I'm mostly looking for what YOU use. I don't mind having a large stick collection to find my preference.

    I have the TD-11's. Which I thought would be fine for me for a while. I'm not a trained drummer. I can play a little, but I'm a hack. But the pad toms are just so slow. I guess I advanced faster than I thought I would. But I'm going to replace those 3 toms with the mesh pads. Imo, the mesh pads, at least on the td-11's, are brilliant. I can make it feel just like a real snare.

    Pretty amazing tech in these. I wish I had a set as large as yours though...
     
  15. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    Whatever gets it done for you.

    "Novation impulse 61 as a master controller. (This one seems like the most practical one at the moment)"

    I also use this. It gets the job done.

    File Sep 30, 9 21 19 AM.jpeg

    And the Rolands. Some people have commented on how they are setup. They aren't. I just got everything on the rack, shoved it in, and took a pic.

    IMG_0787.JPG
     
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  16. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    Every Roland pads are interchangeable and compatible with the controllers. Some hi-hat may be an exception. I bought a TD9 and installed mesh and triggers on an acoustic drum and it works fine.. I may change the brain at some point but most of the time I play the midi to a VSTi that sounds better than the TD9 so I'm not complaining...
     
  17. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    What VSTi?

    I know they are all interchangeable. What I mean is, my td-11 has (let me turn around for a sec) has 8 surfaces, not including the x-stick and hh pedal. The td-20's have quite a few more. So, what happens to the left over drums? Do they just not function?

    Any help on the drum sticks? I know you can't tell me what sticks are right for me...I was hoping you could tell me which stick rating and tip will give me the most rebound off the pads.
     
  18. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    Virtual instruments.. The one I like for drums is Addictive drums : https://www.xlnaudio.com/addictivedrums

    If you don't have a place to plug them, they won't..

    I use regular sticks, the same I use with acoustic drums. (sometime lighter ones because pads don't need that much presure to sound good.
    Roland drums are built to mimic accoustic drums. If you have the mesh pads, you can tune the mesh tighter and get more rebound. Thing is, if you make it too easy to play, after a while, you'll get a hard time to play on an acoustic drum.
     
  19. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    You are awesome Marco. Hardly a day passes that you don't make me laugh. I mean that as a compliment.

    So when drummers ask you what sticks you like, you say, "regular?"

    I'm not laughing at you...I'm laughing at how far we missed each other. I obviously did not communicate my q very well lol. What I meant was for rebound on those roland pads (non mesh) do you like 7a, 5b...what?

    As for ease and transferring to acoustic, I'm almost never on an acoustic set. I may have a couple hours with one tonight, but that will be the first time in a year, and I won't see one again for about 6 months.

    The mesh snare is awesome. The rubber pad toms, they just feel slow. That's why I'm wondering what the best rebound sticks are for them, maybe that will help.
     
  20. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

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    Sticks are like gloves, you get those you are confortable with.
    I use Vicfirth 5b with a nylon tip and sometime the Promark 5b with nylon tip for soft playing (because they weight less)
    But any sticks will work on electric drums, just try a few and get use to them.
    A big part of getting a good rebound is to hold the stich near its balance point. . . If you hold them near the end they won't react the same.
    Pretty funny to see swetting wet punk drummers working too hard on there drums instead of using proper technique. . .
    There is no reason that playing drum should need force... You want to be loud, put the mics louder !! ;)
     
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