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Audio Interface Recommendations

dman007

Member
Hi,

I'm looking to upgrade my Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 audio interface and would like any suggestions based upon user experience etc.

The budget is upto £500 GBP. Okay with Firewire, USB or Thunderbolt (up to TB3)

Preferences:
I would prefer an on-board MIDI IN but that's not essential.
On-board headphones socket and volume preferred.
Balanced outputs for 2 sets of monitors
Dim

Must haves: monitor/volume control, mute, phantom power, low latency, XLR & 1/4 inputs, XLR or Balanced TRS outputs

The main use is for in-the-box production using VST Instruments and sample libraries. Some music pieces have a lot of tracks (200+).

Looking for 2 key things: 1) something that can cope better than the Saffire with the type of work, e.g. solid drivers, large asio load, low latency, reliable, no dropouts/glitches

and: 2) Improved sound quality

Any help or advice appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
 

synthpunk

Senior Member
You may need to slightly up your budget a bit or look at used...

RME: Extremely solid drivers (most say the best), very good I/O, very good audio quality

Universal Audio Apollo Twin dual/quad: Solid drivers, features you have asked for, very good I/O, great plugins.

Apogee Element Series. Great integration with Logic, very good audio quality, several I/O configurations/models.

Audient ID22, Great preamps and converters, very good headphone amp, Latency can be a issue for some.
 
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conan

Member
RME for the drivers alone. If there’s anything that needs to be rock-solid (besides a pacemaker), it’s your audio interface.

I used a Fireface UFX for years until I replaced it with the new UFX+ for MADI support. I have never regretted stretching my budget for RME. As a bonus, the included TotalMix software is very powerful and offers tremendous flexibility when incorporating external hardware effects, compressors, etc.
 
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OP
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dman007

Member
Undecided between RME UCX, RME Fireface UFX Audio Interface or Apollo Twin MkII Quad ... any advice?

USB or Thunderbolt?

What's the best for working in the box and using a lot of virtual instruments?
 

bjderganc

Active Member
If you're working with VIs only, good drivers may help with latency. The RMEs all have the same great drivers. I can unplug the BFP from my Macbook and go right into the PC without skipping a beat, which is pretty cool.

The Quad has drastically less I/O that the others. Do you need all of that I/O? Might want to check out the Babyface Pro, and more importantly read the features/specs in detail before dropping so much money. (!)
 
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dman007

Member
I only need 2 XLR/TRS in. 1/4" headphone out with volume essential. Need 4 balanced outputs for two sets of monitors. I need MIDI in & out but can use separate midi interface if needed.

I'm currently on a Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 (firewire).

I'm interested in getting real-world experiences of these, especially when using a lot of virtual instruments in projects. I've found it hard to get this info just reading the reviews I found.
 

MillsMixx

Production Director/Sound Designer
I just upgraded from the Babyface to the newer Babyface Pro. RME has never disappointed and it's got a great loopback feature on that interface.
 

Wolfie2112

Senior Member
I only need 2 XLR/TRS in. 1/4" headphone out with volume essential. Need 4 balanced outputs for two sets of monitors. I need MIDI in & out but can use separate midi interface if needed.
Have you had a look at these?

https://mackie.com/products/big-knob-series

It has multiple monitor output options, etc. I have the previous generation as my monitor selector, so I can't comment on it's performance as an interface but have heard good things.
 
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dman007

Member
I don't really want to consider other makes than RME, Focusrite or UAD, as I narrowed it from what my choices were before reading tons of reviews. The only other one I'd maybe consider would be the PreSonus Quantum or Quantum 2, but I'd need a good reason to consider that.

I used to use the big knob but I found it coloured sounds slightly and not in a way I liked. I switched to a passive monitor control by SM Pro (which helped a lot with mixing & mixes sounding good across different devices).

The Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 has been pretty solid, a good workhorse. So what I'm wanting to do is really upgrade from that, not lose any features, and improve sound quality.

I have need to record vocals and sometimes acoustic/electric/bass guitar, but only ever two inputs at once. I use midi in & out, but moreso midi in with my keyboard controller and sometimes an old synth.

But mostly, I'm in the box with VSTi's and VST fx etc.

Part of the appeal of the Apollo Twin MkII Quad is the UAD plug-ins. But, that aside, will it offer me any improvements in sound quality or otherwise?

And is there a benefit to using Thunderbolt 2/3 over USB2 when working with a lot of virtual instruments?

Does the driver quality and interface type help with the overall asio load? (That's always the bottleneck I find with my system, the asio load, not lack of RAM or processor speed).

I'm just in the box, so I'm typically using many virutal instruments and other VST plugins (even if they are only stock ones) at the same time.

Any advice welcomed!
 
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