How far have interfaces come in the past 10-12 years?

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RedfoxRambler
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How far have interfaces come in the past 10-12 years?

Post by RedfoxRambler » Tue Feb 27, 2018 7:39 am

Hey all, I've been out of the recording game for a little while but I'm jumping back in now that I have a lot of ideas for music making and such (old time mountain folk with a bit of grit). I have a Presonus Firepod from around 2006, and while it still works just fine I'm itching to upgrade since I always felt like it left some "prosumer" haze that I couldn't quite get rid of. Don't have a huge budget either, maybe $300-550.

I'm wondering if the signal path and AD converters in lower end gear has improved enough in the past 10-12 years that it would be a noticeable improvement to switch to a Focusrite Scarlett, Behringer U-Phoria, or similar multi-input device in that range. Alternatively, I'm wondering if the overall quality would be better if I spent about the same amount on a 8-10 year old RME Fireface, which was way out of my price range back then. I have a 2010 MBP (4gb ram, HHD) running Mavericks and a 2013 MBP (8gb ram, SSD) running High Sierra. And yes I know improving the room, instruments, player, mics, pres etc makes more difference than the dang interface :P

Current gear fyi:
Mics: Avantone CV-12, Rode NT1000, MXL V400, EV Raven, MXL 603S, AT4041, MK-012 (2), Cascade Knucklehead, sm57s, AT ATM25
Pres: Alctron MP-100, Presonus Eureka w/BB, GAP Pre73 mk2, ISA One
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kslight
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Re: How far have interfaces come in the past 10-12 years?

Post by kslight » Tue Feb 27, 2018 8:28 am

Going from M Audio Lightbridge using an Alesis HD24XR as converters to Motu 1248 was a very noticeable upgrade for me.

Not really the price range you’re talking about but that was my experience.


I personally would steer clear of old interfaces, especially if they use dead standards like FireWire. I understand some stuff will work with a thunderbolt adapter, assuming there is both driver support AND OS support. I would not be at all surprised to see Apple kill off FireWire Audio entirely in the near future.

RedfoxRambler
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Re: How far have interfaces come in the past 10-12 years?

Post by RedfoxRambler » Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:39 am

I found a used MOTU 828 mk3 hybrid firewire800/USB 2.0 for $300, and a used Focusrite Clarett 4pre (thunderbolt) for $400. I'm leaning toward the MOTU just because only one of my MBPs has thunderbolt, and I'm not convinced that format will stick around for a long time. It seems like people have a surprisingly good opinion of the Behringer UMC1820 too at $300 new. I'm just wondering if I'd actually hear any difference in signal path/AD between those three with the same mic and outboard preamp...

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Re: How far have interfaces come in the past 10-12 years?

Post by RedfoxRambler » Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:29 pm

Fyi I went with the Focusrite Clarett 4pre thunderbolt, $470 refurbished direct from Focusrite with 2 year warranty. Seemed to be the best combination of high quality pres and converters plus format longevity, since thunderbolt 3 in the USB-C style plug will likely be in use for a long time and older thunderbolt devices are compatible with adapters

kslight
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Re: How far have interfaces come in the past 10-12 years?

Post by kslight » Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:33 pm

RedfoxRambler wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:29 pm
Fyi I went with the Focusrite Clarett 4pre thunderbolt, $470 refurbished direct from Focusrite with 2 year warranty. Seemed to be the best combination of high quality pres and converters plus format longevity, since thunderbolt 3 in the USB-C style plug will likely be in use for a long time and older thunderbolt devices are compatible with adapters
I’ve no experience with those but that’s probably a safe bet.

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Re: How far have interfaces come in the past 10-12 years?

Post by KennyLusk » Wed Feb 28, 2018 5:08 pm

I'm of the opinion that digital interfaces have come a long, long way in the past 10 years.

My Audient iD14 is the closest thing to sounding analog that I've ever heard. Nice, clean, usable pre's and Burr Brown op amps make for a pretty decent analog console sound that's open in the top end and smooth instead of crisp, has smooth and accurate mids and a tight/punchy bottom. Transients are handled fast and the noise floor is really nice. AC power provides ample voltage to properly power your mics to spec. Much better than using USB bus power.

The Audient boxes also have a really nice sounding JFET DI that is totally useful for electric guitar and bass. The DI stomps any interface DI I've used before. They also play very nice with outboard preamps.

Less than $300 is a bargain IMO.
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RedfoxRambler
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Re: How far have interfaces come in the past 10-12 years?

Post by RedfoxRambler » Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:14 pm

here's a dumb-ish question: say you wanted to expand the inputs on the Audient iD14 via ADAT with a cheaper device, like a Behringer ADA8200. Assume we're just using the line ins on the Behringer with decent outboard pres. Would the cheaper converters/signal path on the ADA8200 negate the advantages of a higher end device like the iD14 that directly interfaces with the computer, or would the iD14 still make a difference in terms of the final signal that ends up in the DAW?

kslight
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Re: How far have interfaces come in the past 10-12 years?

Post by kslight » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:25 am

RedfoxRambler wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:14 pm
here's a dumb-ish question: say you wanted to expand the inputs on the Audient iD14 via ADAT with a cheaper device, like a Behringer ADA8200. Assume we're just using the line ins on the Behringer with decent outboard pres. Would the cheaper converters/signal path on the ADA8200 negate the advantages of a higher end device like the iD14 that directly interfaces with the computer, or would the iD14 still make a difference in terms of the final signal that ends up in the DAW?
The Audient would have no effect on the Behringer’s digital output.

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Re: How far have interfaces come in the past 10-12 years?

Post by Nick Sevilla » Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:29 am

RedfoxRambler wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:14 pm
here's a dumb-ish question: say you wanted to expand the inputs on the Audient iD14 via ADAT with a cheaper device, like a Behringer ADA8200. Assume we're just using the line ins on the Behringer with decent outboard pres. Would the cheaper converters/signal path on the ADA8200 negate the advantages of a higher end device like the iD14 that directly interfaces with the computer, or would the iD14 still make a difference in terms of the final signal that ends up in the DAW?
What you would have here, is a lesser quality conversion from the Behringer unit, and better conversion from the Audient unit.

Analogy: You hire ONE excellent musician, and complement with total amateurs from a middle school band.

Which is never a good thing. Always try to have the same brand and generation of equipment, so you have the same conversion across all your input channels.

That, or COMPLETELY IGNORE all technical aspects and do what you want to do within your limited budget.
Realizing vibratory excursions from a paper widget.

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Re: How far have interfaces come in the past 10-12 years?

Post by RedfoxRambler » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:53 pm

Would a 10-15 y/o RME ADI 8 DS be more like hiring a bunch of once stellar musicians from the LA nursing home to help the star performer?
https://reverb.com/item/10315527-rme-ad ... _wcB&pla=1

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Nick Sevilla
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Re: How far have interfaces come in the past 10-12 years?

Post by Nick Sevilla » Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:52 am

RedfoxRambler wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:53 pm
Would a 10-15 y/o RME ADI 8 DS be more like hiring a bunch of once stellar musicians from the LA nursing home to help the star performer?
https://reverb.com/item/10315527-rme-ad ... _wcB&pla=1
While these are excellent units, converter chips themselves have come a long way. Like 2-3 generations newer, and better.

If this is all you can afford though, they are good units.
Realizing vibratory excursions from a paper widget.

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Re: How far have interfaces come in the past 10-12 years?

Post by vvv » Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:02 am

I am not embarrassed to note that I still love my M-Audio Delta 44 that I use with amy XP Pro macheen. All the overdubs, vocals, etc. at the below-linked were recorded thru that interface.

I mean, that there right there is indisputable proof that I use "vintage" gear! :twisted:
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Re: How far have interfaces come in the past 10-12 years?

Post by jimjazzdad » Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:40 am

vvv wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:02 am
I am not embarrassed to note that I still love my M-Audio Delta 44 that I use with amy XP Pro macheen. All the overdubs, vocals, etc. at the below-linked were recorded thru that interface.

I mean, that there right there is indisputable proof that I use "vintage" gear! :twisted:
I run two Delta 66 cards, synced together on SPDIF and the asioforall driver on a Win 7 machine. The setup has been bulletproof. It is getting pretty hard to find a motherboard with real PCI slots anymore tho... The rest of my gear is even more 'vintage' :wink:
Jim Legere
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calaverasgrandes
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Re: How far have interfaces come in the past 10-12 years?

Post by calaverasgrandes » Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:09 pm

I made a lot of very interesting music that I am quite satisfied with using a MOTU 828 MKII. Later upgrading to a 2nd one for more knobs and such.
Recently I was confronted with the demise of current drivers for the old firewire 828MKII. Well, I have a decent middle class job so I go out and get a UAD Apollo 8.
Holy cow. This thing sounds much smoother. No more of that edgy midrange, or indistinct low end.
There is an actual soundstage!
I've only just started to work with this ADDA. But I am very enthusiastic that stuff no longer sounds so flat and 2D as it did with the MOTU.
Now of course I did spend $2000 to get here. But they do have their desktop interfaces which are more cost effective, and have ADAT connectivity to expand inputs.

BTW, I have to thumbs down the idea of using the Behringer ADDA to expand outputs. I've owned a couple of those over the years. And they are hard to work with. It's hard to put a finger on, but I certainly ended up using a lot more EQ and compression on the stuff I tracked through the Behringers.
Just because it passes audio, doesn't mean it is worth using. I'd rather have two channels of slightly better AD like the ART Digital MPA, than 8 channels of that Behringer tone.
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Re: How far have interfaces come in the past 10-12 years?

Post by KennyLusk » Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:38 pm

calaverasgrandes wrote:
Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:09 pm
Well, I have a decent middle class job so I go out and get a UAD Apollo 8.
Congrat's on your new Apollo 8.

I would love to hear what you think of the preamp emulation and particularly the ability to change impedence and gain structure. I imagine that being able to change gain structure is a game changer.
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