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I need help choosing an audio interface...

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Hello everyone...

I want to get a new audio interface for recording at home.I have heard that the Toneport UX2 is a very good sound card,but I think I found something better for my needs.I have some questions regarding the M-Audio Fast Track Pro.I know it has S/PDIF in and I was wondering if that could help me connect directly to it my effects processor.I am thinking that through an optic cable connection I will get clearer sound and better recording quality.I don't know for sure if it is possible though.Another thing I want to ask is about it's compatibility.Is it compatible with Vista?Am I going to have problems running it with Vista if I get it?Another question is this.I saw on the web that it has an incorporated mixing device and I was thinking if that would prove helpful also.I am thinking that maybe if I can mix the recording through the Fast Track Pro,this may result in better sound quality.The last thing I want to know is wether I will be able to stream the audio to my speakers.This may be a silly question,but I must be sure...

If anyone knows something about these questions,please answer...

All the best,

Theo

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I know it has S/PDIF in and I was wondering if that could help me connect directly to it my effects processor.I am thinking that through an optic cable connection I will get clearer sound and better recording quality.

You could try it both ways and see which one sounds better. I have tried recording with the S/PDIF output from my Digitech RP14 and I actually preferred recording the analog outputs better. But that could just be the fault of the RP14, maybe it's digital output isn't designed very well.

Another thing I want to ask is about it's compatibility.Is it compatible with Vista?Am I going to have problems running it with Vista if I get it?

I don't know, but from all the bad things I've heard about Vista, I'm going to go ahead and say yes, you will have problems. ;)

The website does say it supports Vista, but who knows... I am doing my very best to stay far away from Vista, so far so good. :winkthumb:

Another question is this.I saw on the web that it has an incorporated mixing device and I was thinking if that would prove helpful also.I am thinking that maybe if I can mix the recording through the Fast Track Pro,this may result in better sound quality.

The mixer is only for adjust levels for recording and for playback (just like the windows sound mixer). For actually mixing your recording, whatever recording program you are using will have a built in mixer for that purpose.

The last thing I want to know is wether I will be able to stream the audio to my speakers.This may be a silly question,but I must be sure...

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "stream the audio to your speakers", are you talking about speaker outputs on the sound card that you can plug your speakers into? If so, then yes, it does have speaker outputs.

Hope that helps. :)

-tkr

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G'day Theo,

I've been toying with getting an interface too; just to make it easier to hear what I really sound like and to prove to my teacher that I can play sometimes without stuff-ups.

I've looked at a little device they call a field recorder, a Zoom H4. Sounded quite OK for general recording and doesn't require a direct link to the computer. I suppose there are other devices like this around but I haven't seen anything else yet. Maybe the flexibility would suit you too?

Rgds

Karcey

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Hello Tekker...

I didn't know that an S/PDIF out can have problems.But I am glad I asked,I am happy to learn new things.This reply is as helpful as it is unhelpful because I would have to have the M-audio to test it both ways,through the digital and analog outputs to see which is better.It is good to know though that it just may not work properly....

I have heard others say bad things about Vista.Before running the Ultimate version I had the XP Pro SP2.Sinced I changed to Vista my PC runs a lot faster.I don't mind the constant warnings and so far the only problem I had was with Yahoo which actually does problems all the time.I could easily say that I am happier with Vista,but I just might be wrong :dunno: ...

For the mixing device I was thinking that it might be better to use as the M-Audio is specified on recordings.That may give an edge and maybe not...

I didn't mean if I can plug my speakers to it.I ment if I can use the M-Audio as I use the sound card of my PC,record music and t the same time being able to listen to what I wply through the speakers.I guess it can be done.As I said,silly question...

The last thing I want to say is this.Maybe I am looking too deep in a story that can't be perfect.I mean if I am looking for a real difference in sound I should aim at gear that cost double the money than the Toneport or the Fast Track Pro.Furthermore I was thinking that maybe the M-Audio is not what it seems because it focusses on many things rather than recording.I mean the headphone volume is useless.If I plug in headphones I could adjust the volume through them,what headphones don't have a volume control these days?I am thinking that maybe the Toneport is better because it focusses only on recording and not on outputs for DJ's.Maybe the M-Audio,by focussing on many areas rather than plain recording misses somewhere the primary point,recording.Then again,I can only speculate,I am not an electronics guru :) ...

Thank you very much Tekker for the help.Be always well...

All the best,

Theo

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G'day Theo,

I've been toying with getting an interface too; just to make it easier to hear what I really sound like and to prove to my teacher that I can play sometimes without stuff-ups.

I've looked at a little device they call a field recorder, a Zoom H4. Sounded quite OK for general recording and doesn't require a direct link to the computer. I suppose there are other devices like this around but I haven't seen anything else yet. Maybe the flexibility would suit you too?

Rgds

Karcey

Hello Karcey...

I checked out the device that you mentioned.The Zoom H4 is a digital recorder,not a sound card.Digital recorders are very interesting!I did open an thread some time ago about them.At the time I liked much the Boss BR 600,you might want to check that out.It is at the same price as the Zoom H4 and it has more interesting features like the built in drum machine.It sounds very interesting indeed,but I don't know if I can use a good mic with that for recording the acoustic or vocals....

Thank you very much for your help and for giving me another option.Be always well...

All the best,

Theo

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...Furthermore I was thinking that maybe the M-Audio is not what it seems because it focusses on many things rather than recording.I mean the headphone volume is useless.If I plug in headphones I could adjust the volume through them,what headphones don't have a volume control these days?I am thinking that maybe the Toneport is better because it focusses only on recording and not on outputs for DJ's.Maybe the M-Audio,by focussing on many areas rather than plain recording misses somewhere the primary point,recording....

Theo - While a lot of casual listening headphones (the ones used for listening to iPods, etc.) have volume controls, headphones commonly used for recording/monitoring don't...that's when the headphone volume control comes in handy. The speaker outs are where you connect your monitors, and yes, you can listen directly through them (and/or your headphones) while recording.

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I will add this... I have a UX2 tone port. I cant think of anything I dont like about it. It's perfect for computer recording. It comes with amp models ,effects and vocal pre-amps. It has Phantom power for a condenser mic and drivers for XP, Mac and Vista. I hear people say Firewire is faster, however USB-2 is plenty fast and with good audio drivers constantly upgraded from line 6, I see no latency problems when recording.

I have mine set-up as my primary soundcard and my analog outs to Logitech THX powered speakers. Not only can I record with it, but I use it as a practice amp in my computer room. It sounds great through the Logitech speakers!

If I could only have one piece of gear to record and jam with at home, this would be it.

Just my honest opinion.

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i have the edirol ua-25 usb audio capture from roland.,24 bit 96khz.

it comes with sonar le software.i have my two amps.in back and mt gnx3 in front,works well for me .go to ronland site and look up ua-25 and see if thats will help you.

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I didn't know that an S/PDIF out can have problems.

The S/PDIF worked fine it just didn't sound as good as the analog outputs. The analog outputs sounded "fuller" than the digital output. Which, was more than likely the fault of the RP14 (my guitar effects pedal) and not my sound card (Aardvark Q10).

I could easily say that I am happier with Vista,but I just might be wrong

I would say you are one of the lucky ones. I've heard so many horror stories that I'm just avoiding it. Microsoft is already moving on to Windows 7, so it looks like Vista is going the way of ME.

For the mixing device I was thinking that it might be better to use as the M-Audio is specified on recordings.That may give an edge and maybe not...

The big thing that makes a difference in your recording is the electronics in the sound card that convert the analog signal to digital. Once the signal is on your computer, every software mixer should sound identical unless there is something wrong with it. Where software starts sounding different is when you start adding effects and that's done within your recording program.

Furthermore I was thinking that maybe the M-Audio is not what it seems because it focusses on many things rather than recording.

M-Audio interfaces ARE made for recording. While they are not in the same ball park as "uber" expensive recording interfaces, they are one of the best inexpensive interfaces for recording. The other features are standard and I think you'd be hard pressed to find an interface without speaker/headphone volume (either a physical knob or a software mixer) and many recording interfaces have multiple outputs. In the studio it is very handy to have multiple outputs for running to studio monitors, headphones, external effects, a mixer, etc... My audio interface has 10 outputs (and 8 inputs).

-tkr

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Hello again Mac...

Thank for that tip about headphones.I am very excited to learn anything around the subject...About the monitors,I have no idea what they are(have you ever seen or heard about someone like me before? :) )!Using an audio interface as my sound card for recording,doesn't mean that I should bypass(select from the options)the sound card of my PC and use that new one?Doesn't this mean that I could listen to what I play/record through the speakers that I already have connected to the PC?If I am right then plugging the headphones to the new sound card wiil be optional because I could connect the headphones to the PC directly.I hope I am making sense...Thank you very much for replying,I appreciate it.Be always well...

Hello SlickCat...

What you say about the UX2 sounds great to me!The first reason that I want to get a new sound card is that the sound from the GT-10 gets lost(it sounds like I play from the bottom of a barrel :) ) somewhere along the way.I also use Logitech speakers,a surround system,but the quality of the sound I get playing the guitar through the PC and playing through the amp have no comparisson.Maybe by getting a new sound card would help me solve this issue,or maybe I am just dreaming :) !Now please tell me this.Does it come with voice effests or just effects for the guitar?And another important question is what you use for your recordings.I wonder if you use an effect from the UX2.That would be something!Every time I am a sucker for that mellow sound of your guitar :yes: ...Thank you very much for replying,I appreciate it.Be always well...

Hello jazzandblues...

I checked out the UA-25.The price for it is a bit higher than the Toneport or the M-Audio but it is a very interesting piece of equipment.I bet you have a great iem using that for recordings :yes: !Thank you very much for replying.Be always well...

Hello Tekker...

Another great lesson from you!...I would have never thought that analog outputs give better results than digital ones.I thought that only the definiton was enough to guarantee better quality.I was wrong,but I am happy to know the difference...About Vista,everyone sais the same in Romania too.I didn't trust them before upgrading to Vista from the XP Pro SP2,because the ones that said horrile things about Vista were trying to use all kinds of "broken"programs on their PC.I always knew that original progrmas work better that "broken"ones and that is why I did upgrade.When I did it,I went for the whole version and avoided taking risks(I listened that others who tried the upgrade versions had problems)and I didn't have nay problems with it so far.But I guess that if you say that you avoid it,and I know for sure that you know a lot more about computers than me,you must be right.So,I might just be one of the lucky ones as you say :) ...Thank you for solving the questions I had about the processing of the sound.I now know better how things to work and I can make up my mind a lot easier...I didn't know that all that stuff were supposed to be standard,but then what do I know about the whole matter :) ?It is a good thinkg I need the interface for home usage and not for studio.Many outputs and inputs mean more money.The primary target though for me is to get better sound quality.I don't think I could record playing many instruments at the same time. If I wanted to do that(if I was in a band for example)I would think twice before getting an expensive device.I am thinking that it might be better to go and rent a studio for a couple of hours and do there the recording,just a thought of mine...Thank you vey much for everything Tekker.One more time I have learnt a lot from you,I really appreciate it.Be always well...

All the best,

Theo

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Hello again Mac...

Thank for that tip about headphones.I am very excited to learn anything around the subject...About the monitors,I have no idea what they are(have you ever seen or heard about someone like me before? :) )!Using an audio interface as my sound card for recording,doesn't mean that I should bypass(select from the options)the sound card of my PC and use that new one?Doesn't this mean that I could listen to what I play/record through the speakers that I already have connected to the PC?If I am right then plugging the headphones to the new sound card wiil be optional because I could connect the headphones to the PC directly.I hope I am making sense...

Theo - I'm sure Tekker can give you a much better technical response about your speaker/sound card/interface connections, so I'll leave that part to him. As far as monitors, they are merely speakers that are made to have a more 'flat' response than the speakers we usually use to listen to music. Where this comes in handy is when you are trying to mix/EQ the music you have recorded. If you're using a speaker setup with a subwoofer and a lot of bass (or headphones, which are often bass-heavy), you could end up making your mix too 'thin', and it may not sound good if you play it on smaller speakers. If you use small speakers with very little bass response, you could end up with a mix that sounds too 'boomy' in your car, your home stereo, or a larger speaker/subwoofer setup. Monitors are designed to help you get it right in the middle - a mix that "translates" well to other sound systems.

Even with monitors, it's helpful to listen to your mix on several different sets of speakers to help you decide where you need to be. As I said in my thread about the song I recently posted, I re-mixed and re-EQ'ed it several times as I listened to it through monitors, headphones, my iPod boombox and my computer speakers. I won't claim that the end result was perfect, or even anywhere near as good as many other members here can do, but in the end I was satisfied with it. I still have much to learn.

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Thank you very much one more time Mac!I appreciate you replying to the silly question of mine about monitors,I know very little about recordings and gear.To give you an example,I was playing back the two songs that I posted to the forum(during the recording)through the PC speakers,I never used my headphones!Only after I read a couple of posts of members saying that they use their headphones I could see that there was something missing,that there was another way...So,monitors should be used in order to get the best result out of the recording,very interesting.Another great tip to help me improve,I am so grateful!Thank you for your time and patience Mac,be always well...

All the best,

Theo

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Using an audio interface as my sound card for recording,doesn't mean that I should bypass(select from the options)the sound card of my PC and use that new one?Doesn't this mean that I could listen to what I play/record through the speakers that I already have connected to the PC?If I am right then plugging the headphones to the new sound card wiil be optional because I could connect the headphones to the PC directly.

While you could use your normal computer sound card as you said, the recording sound card will give better results. All around the sound card made for recording will be better suited for recording and mixing.

Getting the sound out of your computer and to your speakers is just as important as getting sound into your computer. You want to be able to accurately hear your music during mixing and having a good quality interface, good monitors (as Stratrat mentioned) are all very important.

Basically the instruments, the room acoustics you are recording in, the microphones you use to record, and the inputs on your audio interface (analog-to-digital conversion) are all part of the recording process. Then the software, the outputs on your interface (digital-to-analog conversion), monitors, and the room acoustics you are mixing in are all part of the mixing process. You don't want to skimp in either of these areas in order to get the best signal recorded onto your computer and the best signal coming out of your computer to mix with.

I would have never thought that analog outputs give better results than digital ones.I thought that only the definiton was enough to guarantee better quality.

The idea behind digital outputs is to avoid having multiple conversions going from digital to analog and back to digital.

In other words, if you are using a digital effects pedal, using the analog outputs would look like this:

Guitar (analog) --> Effects Pedal Input (convert to digital) --> Effects Pedal Output (convert to analog) --> Computer Interface Input (convert to digital) --> Computer Interface Output (convert to analog) --> Speakers

But using the digital outputs would remove two of those conversions because the signal stays digital between the Effects Pedal Output and the Computer Interface Input.

Guitar (analog) --> Effects Pedal Input (convert to digital) --> Effects Pedal Output --> Computer Interface Input --> Computer Interface Output (convert back to analog) --> Speakers

The idea is that every time you go through a conversion the sound changes a little bit and/or is degraded. High quality converters use better components and better designs in order to reduce these changes, but there is no such thing as a "perfect" converter. Therefore if you can reduce the number of times you perform a conversion then your signal won't change from the original as much.

In my case the problem was probably the sound quality of the Digitech RP14's effects because using the digital output sounded thin and grainy. Therefore, the quality of the RP14's effects must have been thin and grainy and using the digital outputs kept that sound. But using the analog output changed the sound a little bit and in this case, changing the sound actually sounded better than not changing it.

-tkr

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Hello Tekker...

So,I guess I will need to get some monitors also in order to improve the recording quality.I was thinking I could do that using headphones for starters.I guess I will have to look for some monitors also,but as to the rest,well,I can't say that I could do them all.It would take a studio in order to get optimal conditions for recording....

About digital outputs,I must say I didn't know the whole process as you described it,but I was assuming that the digital output would bring better results.Although it is good to know about certain things as for example what happened to you.I draw the conclusion that digital by definition may be better but it also depends on the quality of the effects processor and how clean the effects can be.Well,as far as I know the GT-10 is one of the best in the market but I wouldn't say for sure that I wouldn't face the same problem as you did.A friend of mine,Bob,said that the effects I use are made for live concerts rather than home recording and I should use the effects of an audio interface to get beter results as the effects of the audio interface exist there for the purpose of recording.I can't say for sure,but I think that he is right.So the idea is that not until someone tries the digital output of his gear can't actually know for sure if the process brings better results than a plain old analog output...

Another time I feel the need to thank you for being here for me.Knowing little details as you explain them,really helps a lot to have a general idea of the subject.It means a lot to me.I should call all of you professors for the help that you provided me since the very first day I joined the forum.I really appreciate all your efforts,the time that you invested in me and your patience.I am very grateful!Thanks again Tekker and all of you...

All the best,

Theo

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Theo,

These are the speakers I have. As you can see...they have plenty of power and I use them as the output to my UX-2 toneport. I actually use the toneport and these speakers as a home practice amp!

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I have these at home SlickCat :

I listen to my recordings through them before rendering with Reaper.I hope I will be able to do the same with any audio interface.I think I will try out also my headphones next time though :winkthumb: ...BTW,I use the amp rarely when I want to practice...

All the best,

Theo

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So,I guess I will need to get some monitors also in order to improve the recording quality.

That is a very good idea. I used to mix on my home stereo and a set of cheap Aiwa CD-player speakers, and getting a real pair of monitors drastically improved the quality of my mixes.

How much would you be willing to spend on monitors?

About digital outputs,I must say I didn't know the whole process as you described it,but I was assuming that the digital output would bring better results.

If my RP14 had better sounding effects, then using the digital output probably would have resulted in a better sound. The GT-10 is a LOT better than my RP14, so you might have better luck with the digital outputs. But try it both ways and then let your ears be the judge. :winkthumb:

-tkr

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Hello again Tekker...

I did a search on monitors and I must say I was quite disapointed.The cheapest set of 2.1 comes at a price of 360 euro!I don't think that I will get monitors after all,not now at least.This would mean to spend about 700 euro or about 1000 US dollars to get me going.I think I will start with a sound card and a mic and take it from there.Maybe before moving to monitors I should see if I deserv them.Meaning,can I make music for that money :winkthumb: ?...

Well,maybe the GT-10 won't have that problem with digital out.But here is another dillema.I hear that UX2 is better than the Fast Track Pro and I am thinking that I wouldn't want to risk getting the M-Audio just for the S/PDIF in that might not work.what is your opinion on this?...

Once more thank you very much for your time and for replying to my questions.You have taught me a lot up to now,I really appreciate it...Be always well...

All the best,

Theo

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If you are recording multiple tracks with drums, horns, keyboard, guitars, vocals etc - then mixing is very important and near field monitors would be a good investment. If you are just recording acoustic guitar, I don't think that they are worth the investment - unless you've got money to burn.

In my opinion the order of importance for acoustic recording would be:

microphone

room acoustics

pre-amp

analog to digital conversion

digital to analog conversion

speakers

amplifier

But that's just my opinion...

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Hello Doug and thank you for replying...

Here is how things stand.At first I want to get an audio interface.I think it is an upgrade compared with the standard sound card of my PC that I use now.I also want to get a decent mic in order to be able to record my acoustic.The one I have is plain acoustic,no pickup there but I think that a condenser mic will do the job good.If I get the mic,I would like also to take a shot in singing,I used to sing when I was 17.Up to now I have no idea about how to put drums in a song and that is a chapter that I want to discuss about with all of you after I have finished with the sound card and the mic.In the two songs that I recorded up to now,I use multimple tracks.There are three or four guitars in the songs and if I had the chance to use drums,I would do it.Furthermore,I have a cheap set of keyboards that I want to use in my recordings while in the long run I want to experiment in how to put a bass guitar in my songs.I have bass effects in my processor,I just haven't figured out yet what exactly a bass does in a song in order to be the one who plays it.As you can see I have high hopes and I hope with the help of God I get to reach my goals through the years.The whole idea is that I have to start somewhere,that's why all these questions about recording and gear.I am a beginner,but with the help of the forum,I got to know things that I wouldn't even imagine when I first decided to start playing the guitar.It is you guys here that made me believe in myself and have these high hopes...I think you are right with what you suggest.I think that it would be better to take it step by step,it would be wiser...Thank you very much again for your suggestions and your reply.Be always well...

All the best,

Theo

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I have these at home SlickCat :

I listen to my recordings through them before rendering with Reaper.I hope I will be able to do the same with any audio interface.I think I will try out also my headphones next time though :winkthumb: ...BTW,I use the amp rarely when I want to practice...

All the best,

Theo

Those look to be great speakers. I would think they would work fine for recording and playback.

As Tekker says...studio monitors are the best, but I really couldnt justify spending that much for home recording especially because I only do it as a hobby. :)

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Those look to be great speakers. I would think they would work fine for recording and playback.

As Tekker says...studio monitors are the best, but I really couldnt justify spending that much for home recording especially because I only do it as a hobby. :)

For me they are good and they sound ok.I bought them in the summer and I am sattisfied.Yours are better though,I love them!I wish you have all the fun in the world with them!!...

I can see your point and I think you are right.I may buy a pair of monitors sometime but only if I prove to myself that I deserv them!I found a cheap pair of monitors that I think would be a good place to start EDIROL MA-15DBK - U.K. International Cyberstore ...The thing is that I am so excited about making music that I even found a drum set to use for adding drums to my songs MILLENIUM MD70 - U.K. International Cyberstore !I can't say that tomorrow I will go and get the drum set and the monitors,but I think it would be my next goal.I believe that I wouldn't be throwing money also as they come cheap,about 100 euro a piece.In the long run,isn't it nice to dream :) ?...

Thank you again for your time and your tips Bob,I really appreciate it!Be always well...

All the best,

Theo

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Can you get the Yorkville YSM1p monitors where you're at? They cost about $430 US. I have the YSM1p's and I did a LOT of research before deciding on these and I couldn't be happier with them. :winkthumb:

-tkr

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Hello Tekker...

Unfortunately I can't find them on the web,at least at the places where I usually look for gear to buy...I am glad that you are vey happy with them!Post something for ust to listen,you made me curious :yes: !!...

All the best,

Theo

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