I’m thinking of maybe joining the 21st century and buying my first audio interface, primarily so I can record myself. As a complete luddite and technophobe I see the simplest option would be to put a usb mic in front of my amp but I am aware of a wonderful world that awaits people who know what they are doing with software. Should I jump in or maintain a healthy mistrust? I’ve looked on Amazon and audio interfaces from Focusrite and M-Audio seem pretty reasonable and come bundled with a decent amount of software. Can anyone guide me through the inevitable rabbit hole?
I have the focusrite scarlett 2i2, use it for both sax (mic) and bass (direct from amp/bass/pedals/wherever).
It works great and is easy to use both on PC and apple products alike.
I went more mid-range recently and got the arturia audiofuse rev2. It scalable for future needs and gives you a lot of what you get out of the highend stuff without getting locked into their ecosystem. Been really happy with it recently. Working on setting up my home studio and hearing how it works with my new monitors, but has been great so far.
I also use the Scarlett 2i2 DAI. Great starter DAI. (IMO)
I’ve been using a Scarlett for several years. Very reliable, good quality for the price. Easy to work with.
I’m using a Scarlet Solo 3rd Gen. Don’t have experience with anything else but this one works great for me and it’s $119.
You can’t go wrong with the Scarlets. That being said, I’m running a Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD which has great specs, is loaded with features and can be found for as little as $99.
Don’t sweat this decision too much. Any of the DAI’s suggested (and a whole lot of others) will get the job done just fine.
+1 for the Scarlet. Well built, easy to use ( even for a carpenter). Seamless integration with my Mac and GarageBand.
Those look fantastic, lots of nice features on that. Something like that would be the next step up for me.
I just upgraded to a Solid State Logic SSL2. I looked around a lot and it looks like it and the MOTU M2/M4 are the best choices for sound quality and features below something like the AudioFuse or the UA stuff. Especially if you care about mic preamps - the SSL2 had the best EIN and best sounding preamps of all of them that I listened to (though the MOTU sounded just as good to me really.) Another good one is the Audient iD4.
I think those three are basically the best of the sub-$750 interfaces, which seems to be the next large price tier.
MOTU M2 is killing all the competition at this price range and above for now:
Check the comparisons here, this guy did awesome job:
That looks really awewome!
I like the visual interface on the front a LOT.
You would catch ‘red’ out of the corner of your eye a lot faster than the focusrite ringlight
Yeah, the MOTU and SSL2 are basically the two best in the budget range. NI and Audient do really well too. Unless you care about low-impedance headphones (DGAS really).
Note that this review is really focused on the headphone amps though. His other reviews get to the more important aspects of the interfaces (mic and instrument preamps, and ADC).
His reviews are awesome, he helped me choose too.
It was tough to choose between those two. Could have gone with either.
That SSL is a nice step up too! I took some time going over everything with my tech from Sweetwater. We discussed my goals and other intended uses and this fit the bill. The nice thing is it’s still compact enough that you can take it with you, if you needed that option.
You definitely do and like some of the higher end systems, it keeps that peak if you do clip for a little bit, so you have even longer to notice it and dial back the gain/output as needed.
The Focusrites are very popular; you probably can’t go wrong with any of them. Then again, if you’re looking for an entry level DAI, make sure you check out the Behringer models as well. I own a Behringer UMC22 that does the job just fine, at half the price of a Focusrite Scarlett Solo.
If you are not LOOKING for all the software, I got a great little DAI with everything I wanted in it for $60 I believe.
It is not bungled with software, and I get that is a selling point for alot of the bigger names, but I am happy with Garage Band, at least for now, and if I were to upgrade, it may be something like Reaper, so I was happy to find this little unit with all the features the Focusrite and Scarlet Solo or duo have.
A dedicated Mic in that is also instrument in, AND, what was what I was looking for exclusively, like the Scarlett Duo (I think) it also has a dedicated instrument line in, with a button for Hi-Z on / off and Mano / Stereo out. I was really interested in the Hi-z on / off for my Stingrays with hot pickups that were giving me saturation on my old DAI (Zoom U-22) unless I really turned the gain back alot. On other basses, even active EQ, it was not so bad, but for my Ray, I just wanted a little extra way to cool it off.
Moukey. I am EXTREMELY happy with it. The only thing about it that is a little ODD, or, not really odd, but different then most of the others on the market I think, is it has a 1/4" (6mm) jack for the headphones. It makes sense if using higher end headphones I suppose, but I needed an adapter to use my headphones.
Wow, my BAD. I guess I bought at the right time.
I am actually guessing they are having stocking issues, thats why it is going so high. Like cheap Behringer pedals and the BDI-21, which is a $33 unit, I have seen being sold for as high as $121 or more, due to being out of stock almost worldwide.
That also brings us to Behringer, their UMC22 is great priced, it has most of what I wanted, just no Hi-Z button. In actuality, I probably don’t even need that button, but it was something I wanted, found a DAI with it and a price I liked ($59 at the time) and have loved it since it got here. But the Behringer I think does have SOME software and bonus packs included, so that could be a good budget choice. Budget is by price, I believe it is pretty much as capable as others twice the price.
Or, if you want a Zoom U-22 for a really good price, I will sell you my old one.
There is really nothing bad about it, and it is the brand @howard prefers, it is just a lower version then his, and does not have MIDI, which he needs.
I liked my Zoom a lot but I actually jst upgraded to a SSL 2
The Native Instrument interface scores surprisingly well too. Usually it’s a bit of an underdog and people don’t rate it that high. I thought the audio interface was actually very nice. It has a small form factor and looks sleek. It fits well into the NI eco system too.
@T_dub I had a hard time finding the Zoom U-22. Over here it has been sold out for months and the pricing for it has gone up too. There aren’t that many alternatives for that tiny size and quality. You could just get a second interface and keep the Zoom as (portable) backup?
That said, the market feels a bit differents at the moment. I’m guessing it has to do with covid and customer demand. I see the pricing of “old” products going up instead of down. Products are sold out for weeks if not months…
Yes! I seriously considered one of those as well, it looks quite good.
Just like the Moukey I showed that I had purchased a few months ago for $59 on Amazon. It was out of stock for a while, and some sellers on Amazon, selling new and used, were around full price for used, and up to $200 new.
Like I said before, look for any Behringer pedals, that are all MSRP $29, and you will find them going USED for between $75 and $225. It is crazy, but I think this is where the pandemic has taken us. With factories closed, and all the port regulations and quarantine and every other precaustion that is alive today, we have seen depleated product, thus driving up price from the Used, and New sold by small business or individuals that happened to have one they never opened. On any large retailer, shows them out of stock, waiting for new shipment. Well, its been about a year now they have been waiting.
Yeah, it is s little smaller then my Moukey, but the Moukey is a very nice compact size, and not as wide as the others. possibly a tiny bit taller, but it fits my spot perfectly, and being it is on 4 pads, and is a standard box design, it is way easier for me to use in my space. The Zoom was not really difficult, but it moves around, and I almost velcroed it to the top of my Gallien Krueger head that acts as the bass my Imac is on.
Funny, I have my SWR 4x10 cab, with the center leaf of my dining table on top of that, with the Gallien Krueger head centered back to the wall, with my Mac on-top of that.
How is that for a purpose built office space. It can quickly transform from desk to full blown amp at the drop of a hat.
I could and will unless somebody wants to buy it. If you want it, find out hoe much shipping cost, and pay for that and give me a few bucks and its yours. Or anybody else’s.