Recommended Firewire Audio Interfaces

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liftyrfists
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Recommended Firewire Audio Interfaces

Post by liftyrfists » Wed Oct 29, 2008 8:01 am

Hello,
So, I first started off with an lexicon omega unit. It had two XLR inputs, and really got the job done for what I was doing at that point. However, always need more, so now I'm looking to get a firewire audio interface type unit for myself and friends for our home studio. We were looking at this:

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/FireStuProj/

However, just wanted to get some feedback from everyone and wanted to see if there were any units that were fondly thought of. If it makes any difference, we're using cubase 4...don't know what kind of compatibility issues there are there.

Anyway, it would be rather awesome to be able to actually multitrack and assign channels and such! Haven't ever done that before, but haven't needed to until just recently...

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Post by aaronaustin » Wed Oct 29, 2008 8:13 am

It's quite a bit more than the presonus, but I love my RME Fireface 800. Great routing capabilities and the converters sound great to me. It has 4 built in preamps that are pretty good.

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Fire wire

Post by xpulsar » Wed Oct 29, 2008 2:11 pm

If you are using a Mac and any DAW except Pro tools then i would look into the Metric Halo Labs 2882 with DSP. It blows away any of the firewire interfaces I have heard i its price range. Plus it has features that no other Interface has. Plus the plug ins that you can get to run on the DSP sound really good. I use mine as a Live mixer and effects for the vocals in my band. I play the drums so I can switch to different sounds for different songs. Really worth the money. I just recently recorded my whole bands record on it at a 5000' space we rented. It sounds great.



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Post by Brian Brock » Wed Oct 29, 2008 2:48 pm

just make sure you research whether each interface will work with your particular computer. Driver stability seems to vary much more than sound quality on these things.

Specifically I remember when I looked into this last that the TI firewire chipset was the only one that most manufacturers recommended.

Also at one point the MOTU stuff was rumored to be unstable on Windows machines.

RME has a good all-round reputation, both for firewire and PCI implementations.

Presonus had some issues with firewire drivers at one point, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if they have figured them out.

You might want to check out the Echo Audiofire series.

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Post by analogcabin » Wed Oct 29, 2008 9:32 pm

Huge +1 on the Audiofire series.

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Post by Gentleman Jim » Wed Oct 29, 2008 10:59 pm

If you're looking for 8 preamps and A/D in a firewire unit in the roughly $500 price range you're pretty much going to get the same quality no matter what brand you buy. Don't take this to mean that I'm talking down, I'm not. It just seems to be about as inexpensive as those features can be made in a unit right now.

Here's what a quick look at Sweetwater told me about the Firestudio Project versus the neighborhood competition:

The Focusrite Saffire Pro 10 i/o is $100 cheaper, has everything the Presonus does except the two sends/returns. Are you going to use outboard FX?

The Alesis iO 26 is $70 cheaper, has 2 banks of ADAT inputs if that matters to you, but no analog outputs. Are you going to use analog outputs, or are you staying in the box? Oh, and it kind of has a weird tabletop form factor, not rackable.

The MOTU 8pre is $50 more expensive, has only speaker outputs, no spdif, but does have 2 banks of ADAT in and out.

So check the features, be honest with yourself about what you'll use and what you won't, and go for it.

As to the ever-present and never-helpful "Save Up For The Real Thing" advice: :roll: If you become so good so quickly at recording that the sound quality difference between a $500 Presonus unit and a $2600 Metric Halo unit is the biggest problem you have, then you certainly shouldn't have any regrets. We'll all be lining up to pay $250 apiece to watch you do preproduction on the new Led Zeppelin album, so that 'wasted' $500 will come back to you in no time at all.

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Post by rwc » Thu Oct 30, 2008 12:33 am

RME digiface.

you can start out with cheap converters and mic preamps

and when you are ready to move on, not have to replace everything.

when you decide you want a mobile setup, you don't replace everything.. you just get a card that attaches the interface to your notebook.

all without firewire issues!
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Post by Jeremy Garber » Thu Oct 30, 2008 6:26 am

A good rundown from Jim. Thanks for that!

I've used a Presonus Firebox for a few years now. It has been perfect for what I do at home. Limited to recording 4 tracks at once, unless I use the SPDIF to gain an extra 2. If I were to go up to an 8ch interface, I'd probably try to get a really nice A/D/A and then use dedicated preamps.

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Post by CurtZHP » Thu Oct 30, 2008 8:05 am

I've been kicking around getting either a MOTU 828mkII or their 896HD unit. I'd heard all the horror stories about them having fits with Windows, but a quick trip around the Unicornation forum suggests that most of those headaches have been ironed out.

The reasons I'm gravitating toward them as opposed to others so far:

1. The separate monitor outputs.
2. The "talkback" feature of their software mixer, which combined with #1 negates the need for another piece of gear to handle those tasks.
3. The fact that the monitor control can be assigned to the other analog outs for controlling levels when doing 5.1 surround mixing.
4. The fact that (with the exception of two mic channels on the 828) all the connections are on the back. Call me fastidious, but I can't stand having a bunch of input cables hanging in the way of the gear.

I'm sure there are others with comparable features, but my research is just beginning.

BTW, if you really want a good case of sticker shock, check out the Prism Audio Orpheus firewire interface.
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Post by liftyrfists » Thu Oct 30, 2008 8:48 am

Gentleman Jim wrote:If you're looking for 8 preamps and A/D in a firewire unit in the roughly $500 price range you're pretty much going to get the same quality no matter what brand you buy. Don't take this to mean that I'm talking down, I'm not. It just seems to be about as inexpensive as those features can be made in a unit right now.

Here's what a quick look at Sweetwater told me about the Firestudio Project versus the neighborhood competition:

The Focusrite Saffire Pro 10 i/o is $100 cheaper, has everything the Presonus does except the two sends/returns. Are you going to use outboard FX?

The Alesis iO 26 is $70 cheaper, has 2 banks of ADAT inputs if that matters to you, but no analog outputs. Are you going to use analog outputs, or are you staying in the box? Oh, and it kind of has a weird tabletop form factor, not rackable.

The MOTU 8pre is $50 more expensive, has only speaker outputs, no spdif, but does have 2 banks of ADAT in and out.

So check the features, be honest with yourself about what you'll use and what you won't, and go for it.

As to the ever-present and never-helpful "Save Up For The Real Thing" advice: :roll: If you become so good so quickly at recording that the sound quality difference between a $500 Presonus unit and a $2600 Metric Halo unit is the biggest problem you have, then you certainly shouldn't have any regrets. We'll all be lining up to pay $250 apiece to watch you do preproduction on the new Led Zeppelin album, so that 'wasted' $500 will come back to you in no time at all.
Lovely run-down Jim!

I we have no plans to use outboard effects (you mean rack-effects I guess?) and 'keeping it in the box' I suppose is a given since I hadn't really considered going outside of it, haha. What does that mean exactly? Are the return/sends for outboard effects; sending them and bringing them back into the mix or something?

Also, in regards to the saffire, since it only has 1/4" inputs, is it cool to run XLR to 1/4"s? I've been under the impression that that isn't the best idea, though I don't know where I got that impression (probably from a faulty xlr-1/4" cord :P). Or would that be something that you'd be running the mics into preamps first and then the saffire?

Sorry for the greeness, trying to remedy that. Previous to this I just ran mics straight into my lexicon omega, so it was as simple as could be, basically...

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Post by rwc » Thu Oct 30, 2008 11:51 am

Also I have to admit I recommended the digiface solely to assist in the sale of my very own presonus digimax FS.

then you could have 8 mic preamps, 6/2 line/instrument inputs, 8 D/A converters, in one box.

and when you decide to go mobile, you buy the expresscard OR the PCMCIA card for it.

when you decide you want better converters, you don't have to replace the interface.

the saffire looks like it has 8 XLRs on the back so you wouldn't need xlr to 1/4"
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Post by Gentleman Jim » Fri Oct 31, 2008 1:20 am

liftyrfists wrote:
I we have no plans to use outboard effects (you mean rack-effects I guess?) and 'keeping it in the box' I suppose is a given since I hadn't really considered going outside of it, haha. What does that mean exactly? Are the return/sends for outboard effects; sending them and bringing them back into the mix or something?
Yes, the sends and returns would be for outboard effects; rack, stompbox, whatever.

ITB, (Inside The Box), and OTB, (Outside The Box), usually refer to whether or not you're using a mixing board. If you do all your mixing on the computer with plug in's without outputting the audio to a mixing board or other hardware, that's ITB. If you use the analog outputs of the firewire unit to feed compressors, eq's, a mixing board, or other hardware, that's OTB.

Keep in mind that if you are sure you're going to stay ITB, you don't need analog outputs other than speaker outs.

P.S. I totally blew it with the Alesis. Sweetwater didn't mention that it has 8 analog outs, so I assumed it didn't. It does. Frankly, with inserts on the 8 channels, 2 banks of ADAT in, (no ADAT out), 2 headphone jacks, a phono input, and SPDIF it's a pretty cool looking package. Do you care that it's designed for a tabletop? Do you really want to rack it anyway? I'm sitting here in front of my unracked MOTU 896 that I've had for about 4 years now.

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Post by mattwhritenour » Fri Oct 31, 2008 2:20 am

ok I'll be the one to say if you can pull the money together,

get a 003r which comes with 4 preamps for 1,199.97 new or
the 003r+ factory which comes with 8 preamps on board and some extra plugs for 1,549.97.

or you can find a used 002r on ebay for probably a decent amount of money.

When I was in college my teacher who also owns a successful studio recommended at the time a 001 to get started in the world of pro tools, which was the best thing I could of ever done at the time and I never looked back.

a lot of people on these message boards will put it down, but that could just be because of the type of work they do or that they can't afford it, but I find it to be a lot better than the other programs I have seen when it comes to working with 95% audio recording

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Post by llmonty » Fri Oct 31, 2008 4:56 am

mattwhritenour wrote: a lot of people on these message boards will put it down, but that could just be because of the type of work they do or that they can't afford it, but I find it to be a lot better than the other programs I have seen when it comes to working with 95% audio recording
While it is true alot of people put PT down it isn't because of these reasons. In fact I believe most of it to be about the limited options and quality to get for the price. I finally found a pro tool option for me for overdubs and editing of a project I am working on from another studio. It was maddening to navigate the hardware/software/version compatibility and features issues. And I am bitter that I had to spend more $$ than I would have liked for hardware that will be by all accounts inferior to my regular set up.

Having said that, The digi 003+ seems to be a step in the right direction, with PT 8 coming out as well. Though again, seems a bit spendy vs the other options.

Having said THAT, I am also a big fan of RMEs totally solid drivers, quality conversion, and other features.
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Post by dparrish » Thu Nov 13, 2008 6:03 am

Presonus FireStudio?

Bad, bad, bad, bad.

Bad, bad.

I went through three units and never got one to work, and am pretty sure that the units were rendered useless after I attempted their instructions to update firmware.

After the third unit I exchanged it for the M-Audio FireWire 2626 and never looked back. The only problem is that the M-Audio comes with no DAW, but it is Pro-Tools compatible which may benefit you or it may not.

The bottom line is that the Presonus drivers are just WAY too unstable at this point.

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