Best USB audio interface in 2018 ?

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by eayottes, May 27, 2018.

  1. eayottes

    eayottes SS.org Regular

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    @bostjan

    I don't experience clipping with the UR22MkII, but the signal does come in hot on the hi-z input even with the knob set at zero. I'm not the only one reporting this, it is a fairly common complaint from UR22MKII users with active pickups (assuming said users don't want to do the obvious and lower their guitar volume). As for the specific reasons why this happens, I think there are a few Youtube videos on the subject.

    In my case, adding a passive DI box resolves the issue.

    I don't think anyone here questions the existence of latency (or entropy). I've never encountered "latency issues" with the UR22MkII.

    @Rawkmann

    Which MOTU model do you use specifically ? They're also on the list of interfaces I'm looking at. Which OS and DAW do you use ?

    @ Focusrite 2i2 and 2i4 (2nd gen) users: do you use Windows 10 ? I've heard many complaints about their driver problems for Win10. Are these issues resolved ?
     
  2. Nlelith

    Nlelith Motion Designer

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    Poor engineering. With passive pickups you'd better keep volume all the way up (at least for metal), and some interfaces will clip horribly even with lowest gain possible. You may use volume knob as gain stage with active pickups, but then again, 9V active pups usually produce far less hot signal than passives do, thus rarely have clipping issues. While many latest audio interfaces have at least tolerable max. input level on hi-z, there's far more things engineers do wrong, like non-standard impedance & poor S/N ratio. These specs are what's actually important when buying interface for plugin' in directly, but they are usually buried down in manuals. And features get marketed as specifications instead. Sorry for the rant.
     
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  3. eayottes

    eayottes SS.org Regular

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    Double post.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2018
  4. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Ok, I see. I looked at the specs, and it said that the max input for high Z is +8.5dBV, which seems sky high to me, for a guitar, but I see that pretty much every guitar player has noted this issue. I think the problem may simply be that the impedance is matched too well, so the signal is coming in very clear but also too hot. I still don't see why you can't just turn the volume down on the guitar until you resolve the clipping issue. :shrug:

    I've been using Presonus Audiobox, which, by now, is also a very old piece of hardware, but I've had only a few problems with it. Unfortunately, though, Presonus's customer service is very difficult to use for support. I resolved my primary issue (which was not caused by Presonus, but I had no way of knowing who caused the problem until they looked into it), and now most issues seem to be the fact that the drivers are no longer being updated or, more specifically, cannot be updated, due to changes outside of the company's control. The end result, though, even though the company made a great product for the time I purchased it, is that it's really not such a great product anymore.

    It seems like just about everyone nowadays is using the Focusrite for guitar.

    This is also my problem with my Presonus. It worked great with the older update of Win10, but after the really big update microsoft did a year or more ago, my stuff started really bogging down. As I said above, it's not anything to do with the drivers nor the hardware, it's a Win 10 thing, i.e., that Windows 10 is plain old antagonistic toward recording gear. My stuff still works okay, but I can no longer monitor anything but my dry input signal without severe latency, where, before the update, I was using my amp sim, cab sim, and up to 6 effects per track without any issues. The processor in my computer and the bandwidth over the USB were all perfectly fine, but with the extra security features in Windows now, something is constantly interfering with audio in general on my computer. I contacted Presonus and they simply told me there was nothing that they could do about it, and hinted that I should just roll back my Windows to the version where everything was fine.
     
  5. pahulkster

    pahulkster SS.org Regular

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    I have a Line 6 UX2 that has been good for years, but it is also almost ten years old. Just switched to a new pc with Windows 10 and also had some issues. I haven't found a suitable replacement yet, but the 2i4 seems like to best choice. I just need a guitar input and I'd like the option for a mic, but also want rca or a digital out to hook into a receiver.
     
  6. eayottes

    eayottes SS.org Regular

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    Question for UR22MKII users: do you use the Steinberg driver (v 1.10.0) or Asio4All ?
     
  7. Nlelith

    Nlelith Motion Designer

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    +8.5dBV (+10.7dBu) is pretty bad. +14-16dBu works great for active pups, but will clip some agressive peaks on passives, which is not ideal, but tolerable. +18dBu & above would be great for very hot passive pups.
    AFAIK, Impedance on Hi-Z doesn't affect level, but frequency: 1MOhm is standard, lower than that will cut highs a bit. Some interfaces have >1MOhm, but I'm not sure how it affects the signal.
    You can turn the volume down to avoid clipping, you just don't want to record passive pups like that because it affects overall tone (frequency level gets affected unequally, or something like that). Doing so on active pups doesn't drastically change the tone.
     
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  8. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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    Yeah, reducing volume on a passive setup that doesn't have a treble bleed on the volume pot will reduce the treble content of your signal and result in a muddy tone.

    Even if you do have a treble bleed, it's not an exact science - the value of the cap basically determines the frequency above which the signal will "bleed" past the volume pot, so you can still easily get issues with your frequency response changing throughout the sweep of the pot.

    Actives aren't affected by that for obvious reasons.
     
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  9. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    Beautifully summarises why so many professional studios are still using Windows 7 (or even XP), or OS X Mavericks (the last Mac version before they started adding fancy visuals to everything).

    Luckily, I haven't run into problems with updating OS yet - but the thought has occurred to me of having a separate computer just for music production, getting a software setup which works, and then never changing/updating it ever again.
     
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  10. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    Honestly, not much

    The difference in guitar DI quality between audio interfaces is pretty small in my experience

    I used to have a very cheap (£60) ik multimedia iRig HD and I upgraded to a £500 Apogee DUET. There is a little bit of difference in the high end, and the DUET can take a slightly hotter signal without clipping. But it's really minimal. By the time you've added an amp sim, cab impulse, post EQ etc, it's absolutely impossible to tell.

    I think that it would not affect your need to post EQ in any way whatsoever.

    The main difference is lower latency when running amp sims. Same Logic project opened with the iRig has 16ms latency, but only 1.8ms with the DUET at the same buffer setting.

    Another difference would be driver stability, which varies between manufacturers and operating systems.
     
  11. eayottes

    eayottes SS.org Regular

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    Thanks a lot for sharing these insights. I think getting less clipping, having a lower latency and being able to have a hotter input signal would be good benefits.

    Thanks for the info. I've read a couple complaints about Win10 drivers, at least enough to make me question going for that interface.

    =====

    Here's where I am in my reasoning at this point.

    Focursite 2i2-4i2: reported Win10 driver problems

    Apollo twin USB: do I really need the UA plugins and the fact that the twin has DSP (thus alleviating the load on my computer) ? I don't think so, especially for that price.

    Audient id4: reported Win10 latency probs

    Apogee one: guitar does not connect directly to interface, some say cable connection points wear out after a few years. It's "old tech", but I prefer mature tech to "new buggy" tech.

    Motu Ultralite AVB: software may not be intuitive for all, thus generating a non-optimal workflow for some (as far as I read anyways). Win10 driver problems.

    RME baby face: ???

    Right now I'm leaning towards the duet.
     
  12. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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    My 2i4 has definitely had driver issues, but it's working fine at the moment with the latest regular driver, and has been for months.

    I did have a NIGHTMARE of a time getting it to work properly, however it turned out that it was due to my overclock being stable, but not quite perfect - that caused audio issues.
     
  13. gienek

    gienek SS.org Regular

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    My piece of advice again. Make sure you use Yamaha ASIO and set the 192 khz on input, this keep your latency low. You can try upgrade firmware from producent site. Afaik clipping is separate problem from os and daw, unfortunately.

    Did you try to use first input not the instrumental?

    Also shitty advice would be to use longer cables but there is a downside as well.
     
  14. eayottes

    eayottes SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the advice. I use the latest version of the firmware and Yamaha driver. I'll try the 192 kHz input setting. I've tested the 1st input but get better results by just using a DI box.
     
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  15. jvms

    jvms SS.org Regular

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    I'm looking to buy one of the Steinberg UR, but I heard some of them have mono direct monitoring. Wich are the ones who are stereo?
     
  16. Casper777

    Casper777 Slow Player

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    MOTU Track 16... super happy with this one!
    Other more traditional one from the brand are nice too
     
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  17. Masoo2

    Masoo2 SS.org Regular

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    oh I completely forgot about the RME stuff, would definitely recommend you spend some time looking into the Babyface/Babyface Pro
     
  18. ReignIB

    ReignIB SS.org Regular

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    I have a super primitive DAW setup: Apogee Jam -> Mac/GarageBand
    It has it's downsides but clipping is not one of them. Both passive and active - Invader, EMG etc etc.
     
  19. Descent

    Descent SS.org Regular

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    I'm using Presonus FP10 - mainly Win7 and Win10 on another PC at my practice space until Windows update just killed my firewire drivers on that one. No issues and tech support for Presonus has been very good to me. I am fairly advanced on my own support as I work in IT. It is now a discontinued product but I got 13+ year out of it and I am actually thinking of using it as preamp and going into a Roland Studio Capture which is 16 input interface, only 12 pres though so that way I'll have 16 inputs for drum/band miking.

    Audient is looking pretty good though, and I am mainly using 4 inputs tops when not recording drums...so who knows, I might just go that route.

    BTW, I have no issues with anything by Roland or PreSonus that I've owned and guitars clipping. It must be really bad design by some of these brands.
     

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