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Thread: Audio Interface Recommendations

  1. #1
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    Audio Interface Recommendations

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    Hello guys I know there are a million threads on this already, I have search and I've only become more confused! So I will be very straight forward and concise in my question:

    1) Im using FL studio to make electronic instrumental music.
    2) Everything will be produced within the DAW. No external instrument plugins what so ever.
    3)I need advice on an external audio interface with better sound quality than the on-board sound my desk top offers(lookinbg to have the unit replace the on-board sound) and ASIO compatibility for low latency. nothing more, nothing less.
    4)My budget is below 200$ eventually when I get better at producing and mixing I will invest in something more expensive.
    Im open to pci,usb or firewire as well. so far im looking at the e-mu pcie 0404 and the firewire solo, are these decent at processing sound? and any other recommendations are greatly appreciated, thanks!

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    I am also interested in the answers and suggestions. Something that will help with latency would be great...I think an asio supported audio interface is a solution. Anyone?

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    If all of your intruments are internal.. the audio interface does NOT "process" sound. You will achieve the exact same results from a "quality" standpoint regardless of if you have a $10 interface or a $10k interface. The computer processes the sounds, primarily with the effects plugins in your DAW. You get quality by learning how to properly mix your song and use those effects plugins. The interface does two main things... 1) get sound into ur computer from external sources and 2) send the already processed sound out to your speaker. That's it. No purchase of any brand of interface is going to change ur sound quality in this case. That would only happen if u were recording external sources.

    You should be focused on latency and driver stability.. and that alone. Nothing else. You should take a look at Echo interfaces. The best solution would be a PCI card (I hear MAudio delta is a great card as well). But honestly, a firewire version or USB is close nowadays with modern PCs. PCI > Firewire > USB.

    So yeah, take a look at Echo, MAudio, Focusrite, Presonus, etc. There are PLENTY of choices in your budget. You don't need one with a preamp. You just need their base products that have the least features but the same drivers. I'm personally grabbing an Echo Audiofire 4 for driver stability and latency issues I'm having... they make an Audiofire 2 which would suit your needs for well under $200. If ur comfortable with opening up your desktop id recommend the PCI brands though, either an Echo PCI card or maudio delta.

    Buy used from a reputable dealer if u can. Guitar center has a great used page on their website.

    ---------- Post added at 05:58 AM ---------- Previous post was at 05:56 AM ----------

    Also... latency is very heavily dependent on your computer system. Mainly your CPU speed and amount of cores. Adequate amounts of RAM and hard drive size and speed play a big part too. Make sure your computer is optimized from audio processing.

    The interface does play a part in latency... but its moreso dependent on ur computer's ability to process audio.

    ---------- Post added at 06:02 AM ---------- Previous post was at 05:58 AM ----------

    Lastly... do u own a pair of studio monitors? If so.. what do you have? Quality is dependent mostly on ur mix... and u can only mix if u can hear ur song properly. So good monitors and a good listening space is hands down the most important thing.

    If u don't have any studio monitors... than it would make no sense buying an interface. Ud be wasting your hard earned money.

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    Thank-you for your detailed response! At the moment I don't have monitors, I do plan to get a pair when I purchase the interface though. As it turns out I get an accomadation with focusrite through my work, awesome prices with them! I'm stuck between a 2i2 scarlett or a firewire. the 2i2 seems like the most basic solution for my needs seeing as all I need is a sound card thats going to sound better than my stock onboard sound.

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    Ill reiterate... the interface is not going to "sound better" than your stock sound card. I don't want u to have that expectation. Its going to sound exactly the same for all intensive purposes lol.

    The only difference in sound will come from 1) you buying some good monitors and having a good listening space and 2) learning how to mix music.

    In your case ud be just fine with the cheaper of the two since u said ur not recording. If u had intensions of recording down the road then get one with preamps and consider firewire.

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    I see... So then my next question is what is the benefit of buying an external audio interface if I don't plan to plug any instruments or mics into it? Since im planning to get monitors Im going to need a way to plug those in to my PC so from what I understand the audio interface will give me the outputs I need to hook up some studio monitors, and the interface should help with lowering latency times as well. Are there any other added benefits for someone who is using all DAW to produce music?

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    No you pretty much nailed it for the most part. Line outs for your monitors... a dedicated driver for your DAW to work with. They come with inputs... which can be handy if you ever decide to maybe sample a record from a turntable, or throw your voice into the mix with a dynamic mic. Maybe plug a guitar in real quick to put a riff into your song. Whatever. But based on what you said you need to do... those are the 2 benefits.

    After my recent experiences, I think it's important for you to pick one with good drivers. It's a pretty big deal. It's one of those things where you only appreciate good drivers if you bought an interface with bad drivers. Lol, try to avoid that headache.

    I hear Echo has the best drivers in this price range. Focusrite and Presonus are said to be good as well. M-Audio's newer interfaces might be written better than the older ones I have & used, but do your research on it first. Listen to what people r saying on forums. Some people are just idiots, but u can usually tell which issues are legit. Fast Track series apparently gets good reviews. I wouldn't recommend their older USB/Firewire models for stability. I'm sure there's a few other companies i'm leaving out, but that's all i can think of.
    Last edited by CPhoenix; 01-25-2012 at 11:36 AM.

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    I guess it should be clarified that the digital-to-analog converters - which is the part of the interface that turns the 0s & 1s into sound you can hear - do have differences; it just doesn't actually affect the files, just the output to your monitors. So there's an indirect effect that potentially affects your mixing decisions...but then again, the differences between converters are subtle to say at least. Even though there's a lot of rantin' & ravin' about the converters - especially in the pro/high end circles - it should be understood that these differences only really come into play when you have superb monitors & monitoring environment (ie. a properly acoustically treated space). In a regular bedroom-type setup you just can't hear that much detail, so it's more or less a non-factor.
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