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Audio Interface for mostly sequencing

composerguy78

Active Member
What Audio Interface would you recommend for this kind of work:

Mostly sequencing - working with sample libraries
Barely ever record audio - but I have a 1272 module as a mic pre (so I am not relying on the mic pre of the audio interface).
Wants as low an audio buffer setting as possible

That said, do any of the above points make any difference to choice of audio interface?
 

oivind_rosvold

Active Member
Depends on budget, but i would recommend the RME Babyface or Babyface Pro. Anything RME has rock solid drivers.

Someone correct me if i am wrong here, but low latency would be more dependant on your computer hardware/CPU than the audio interface.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
I agree with olvind_rosvold that, contrary to what people say about drivers, the biggest difference is the computer - and especially whether you have SSDs that let you lower the streaming buffer.

If you have a 1272 module, you probably want a higher-end interface. I've been very happy with the Metric Halo 2882, which is now about 15 years old and running day in and out. It was their first model, and they have newer ones as well. What I like about their interfaces is also the company's sales pitch: they keep everything updated, so you don't have to worry about this being a short-lived investment. They also build their interfaces very well, and they sound good.

However, you'd be fine with most interfaces from any of the main companies who make higher-end ones: (Metric Halo,) UAD, RME, Apogee, Lynx, possibly Prism, some of the MOTU ones... who am I leaving out? Avid if you're using Pro Tools. It's probably a good idea to choose a Class-Compliant interface, meaning they don't rely on the company for drivers.

For less expensive ones, I was on retainer with iConnectivity for a few years (doing writing for them), and I like their interfaces. They're Class-Compliant.

I personally will never buy another expensive computer card, because they become obsolete very quickly. That's the main reason I like hardware audio interfaces.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
Oh, that's a good point. The new Metric Halo interfaces - including updated older ones - do work on Windows, although their main software hasn't been ported yet (same with iOS). Previous interfaces don't.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
How many milliseconds do those numbers translate to?

And what are the test conditions? For example, the Mackie Onyx is a mixer as well as an interface, so maybe it has to do some other buffering?

Need more info for that to be meaningful.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
Shifting this in a different direction...

What I personally care about when choosing audio interfaces (and what I based my decision on after having about seven of them here to test for an article):

- sound

- features

- hardware quality

- software support over time

Those aren't necessarily in order, and they're all balanced against one another and put on a scale.


What I personally don't pay attention to:

- latency specs

- bullshit about "the best drivers in the business" (even though RME's interfaces do happen to be excellent)

You can run any good interface at a 128 sample buffer with SSDs and a modern computer. I don't feel 128 samples, I can feel the difference between 128 and 256 but don't have a problem with 256 even with percussive sounds, and 512 samples is definitely annoying.

That doesn't mean we're all the same person, just that this is my experience.
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
^ Also, that's playing the keyboard. Wind controller is less critical, probably because your breath feels like part of the sound, and it's instantaneous.
 

pudik

New Member
Hi all.

Here too, I am doing an insane amount of research for an interface.

1. I mix on cans only (live in a small apartment)
2. I use orchestral libraries only
3. I never record from external resources (live instruments)

Because of the above criteria, I am looking for an interface with the best possible headphone output. I am inclined towards Babyface USB, but quite a few users have only lukewarm opinion about its headphone output. Too, presently it's priced at $749 new, where my budget would max out, so please I 'd prefer that advice won't branch out to any pricier interface.

Thanks, John.
 

vitocorleone123

Active Member
Hmm. Do you play or sequence? In other words, do you truly need low latency input?

If not, one option computer audio with asio4all plus usb headphone amp.

next up would be a new lower-end Scarlett plus an analog headphone amp (topping a30 is $98 on amazon as the bargain option).

Basically, get the interface you need for the least amount possible- you can always add a better headphone amp separately (esp if you’re not monitoring live input from an external source). You wont get the “best” headphone experience from an audio interface vs a quality, dedicated headphone amp.

but, otherwise, RME is pretty dang good
 

pudik

New Member
Thanks, vito.

I sequence by clicking in the notes on orchestral instrument tracks, or, sometimes I play them in with a MIDI keyboard. Problem is, I have 2 computers that I use in tandem, so I would want to use the same interface for both. There are enough switch models to accomplish that. Reason is that in this way I can orchestrate-mix two versions at once and then decide which to finalize. Another reason is that I can work at one computer at a time, keeping the other one turned off, so that both won't be worked to death. Of course, latency is not an issue, since I never record anything live. Prior to the Babyface I thought about the new Scarlett 8i6 USB-C gen 3, but there are too few user reviews about it. Its predecessor, the 6i6 gen2, had good user reviews. I don't trust the professional reviews on dedicated "technical music" sites. It's also hard to take a decision as to what to buy since everyone hears differently. I also pondered about the Clarett 2pre USB gen 3. But your thought about a less expensive interface + a good cans amp is well taken and I'll consider it.

Have you experienced Babyface's headphone output?

Best, John.
 
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vitocorleone123

Active Member
FWIW I have a 6i6gen2 it has decently low latency, but I know there's certainly better hardware/drivers at latency out there. I use it to drive my DT880 250ohm cans. It's pretty good and pretty clean - good enough for some time, at least. Focusrite seemed to have decreased the power to the headphone amp in gen3, but according to someone from Focusrite posting on gearslutz when i asked said it's pretty much the same... I'm skeptical (otherwise the specs say the signal should be even cleaner). That said, it'd be more than enough power for, say, 100ish ohms or lower. One option would be to look for a 6i6gen2 if stores have them still and are trying to get rid of them.

Given that you don't generally play things in via a MIDI keyboard, Babyface is probably overkill. With a Scarlett (or maybe a new Steinberg interface that just came out?), you'll get good performance and good sound - flexibility for the future. If you find the interface doesn't have good, clean power for your cans of choice, you can then spend a few hundred on a solid state headphone amp that gets reviews for being "neutral" sounding. And don't forget to demo Canopener Studio and Sonarworks Reference (just be aware you need to use them both for a week or so to get used to the difference!).

Hmm. Unless you're going to definitely use the 6i6/8i6 for the headphones, then those, too, are probably overkill if you'd end up using a separate headphone amp.
 

pudik

New Member
Yeah... Low power can output is out of question since I mix on the DT880/250 and the sennheiser hd580/300 (excellent for orchestral mixes). I am also looking to buy a sennheiser 600/300, also excellent for mixing, temporarily lent to me by a friend to try. It's time for upgrade after 12 years using my trusted Delta44 which m-audio doesn't write Win10 drivers for (sigh). Yea, I know about the equalizing software; tried Sonarworks a few years ago. Maybe later. Don't want to break the bank just now.

Cheers, John.
 

vitocorleone123

Active Member
The 6i6gen2 ($220 on Amazon) max rated ohm load is 250.

Honestly, I’m not sure you need an interface, unless you need the connections. You can get a good usb amp / dac nowadays. Maybe someone else can chime in with a recommendation.
 

pudik

New Member
Right you are! I was already looking for one. On Reverb I found a Babyface, almost brand new for $565. Almost bought it but I am on the same wave length with your opinion that it would have been overkill. Still, a good USB amp/dac is expensive, but not nearly as a Babyface. I found some great ones on Crutchfield's site. Will keep looking. One of them is made by Cambridge Audio with good enough reviews at $350. Don't want the portables since they don't have enough outputs, such as optical. This one has multiple inputs and ouputs, optical as well as coax and the mains are balanced, in other words everything I need and want and some more.

Thx for your input. Best, John.
 

pudik

New Member
Goodness gracious! I am having a harder time finding a good mid-priced amp/dac than even an interface, especially for music production. Most out there are for laptop listening with lukewarm user reviews, or extremely high-end minded audiophiles. I don't want anything that has a sweet, rounded, warm, etc. sound. I want neutral sound. Have no idea what'll give, but something will have to, since I am tired of agonizing after months of research.

John.
 

vitocorleone123

Active Member
Well... I'm not sure if it can handle 500ohms, but what about a Topping D30 DSD DAC + A30 Amp? (separates) From what I can tell, that's a great combo for ~$210 on Amazon. Alternatively, you could probably go down in DAC quality but get better (lower) latency by swapping the D30 with a Focusrite 2i2.
 

pudik

New Member
Well, I came across the Topping DX7s and Cambridge Audio's DacMagic Plus, about $300. Most people are quite satisfied with these, especially the first which has a much better PH amp. However, at some more pro sites the discussions rage about quality pro and con. Don't know, I'll have to make a decision soon and compromises. J.
 
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