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Time for a new audio interface?

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Here's where to talk about preamps, cables, microphones, monitors, etc.

Time for a new audio interface?

Postby stevenew » Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:30 am

I have been using my original MOTU Traveler for many years, it has worked well and I have had no major issues with it but I think it is time to get something more modern, that presumably has better sound quality, better preamps etc.

Although I am still on the old Mac Pro so have no Thunderbolt, it would be good to get something that has Thunderbolt as well as USB and/or firewire, so when I eventually get a new Mac I will have a TB interface. From what I can see MOTU is one of the few offering TB/USB as most other TB interfaces seem to have TB only.

I am thinking of the new MOTU 624, if anyone has any suggestions at anything else I should look at, I am at the lower end of the market about 1000GBP which I guess is about 1000USD. The new UA looks nice but TB only, RME don't seem to do TB in the smaller interfaces.

Thanks
2009 (5.1 Firmware) Mac Pro 2x2.26 8 Core, 24GB ram, 4 SSD, MOTU 624, OS X Sierra 10.12.6. DP 9.02/9.5. Cubase Pro 9.5 Wavelab Pro 9. DSP Quattro 4.4. Slate VMR, VCC, VTM, VBC. iZotope RX 6 AD, Ozone 7 AD, Iris 2. NI Komplete 8, Spitfire, Soniccouture, Synth Magic. Gforce. IK Sampletank 3. Arturia V. Scuffham S-Gear. BFD. SSD4. Novation 61 SLMKII, JBL LSR 305, Sennheiser HD600, AKG 240MKII. Fender & PRS Guitars, G&L Bass. Bad Cat, + many pedals.
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Re: Time for a new audio interface?

Postby HCMarkus » Tue Mar 07, 2017 9:37 am

With TB and USB, if the 624 provides the audio I/O you need, it will be an excellent choice.

Why not drop in two X5680 CPUs in your 4,1>5,1 MP while you're at it?
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Re: Time for a new audio interface?

Postby dix » Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:37 am

I'm not sure when it's shipping, but Slate's new VRS8 has me interested because of its future-proofyness. It has/will have both PCIe (for us old MP users) and TB.
2009 4,1 > 5,1 MacPro 12-core 3.33 ghz , 10.11.6, 24GB RAM, ATI Radeon 5770 (3-monitors), Evo 840/850 SSDs, NewerTech eSATA/USB3 PCIe Host Adapter, DP (latest version), 2408mk3, Apogee Ensemble, UAD-2 Quad, VEP6 ::: 15-inch MBP (2015) 10.12.5, 16GB RAM ::: prayforrain.com
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Re: Time for a new audio interface?

Postby stevenew » Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:48 am

HCMarkus,

Yea the 624 looks pretty good to me, plus with the addition of the correct network card I believe I could run it via AVB instead of USB. I do have a USB 3 card in my Mac Pro but when I connect USB 3 drives to it I do get a bit of Bluetooth mouse drag, I believe this is a known issue.

Another good thing about the 624 is being able to add more I/O via another MOTU AVB interface like the 8A. I don't know what the mic pre is like in the 624?

There is also the possibility of the UA Apollo Firewire which can have a TB card added to it, a little above my budget but I have seen some ex demo ones here in the UK.

Re: X5680, I am aware of this upgrade but have never seriously looked in to it. Am I correct that the dual CPU upgrade is a little tricker than the single one? In my PC days I was confident of swapping CPUs etc but for some reason the thought of doing this in Mac Pro makes me a little nervous:-)

I am not sure how much more cash I should throw at my Mac Pro, it already has 4 SSD, USB 3 & eSata cards (both Sonnet).
2009 (5.1 Firmware) Mac Pro 2x2.26 8 Core, 24GB ram, 4 SSD, MOTU 624, OS X Sierra 10.12.6. DP 9.02/9.5. Cubase Pro 9.5 Wavelab Pro 9. DSP Quattro 4.4. Slate VMR, VCC, VTM, VBC. iZotope RX 6 AD, Ozone 7 AD, Iris 2. NI Komplete 8, Spitfire, Soniccouture, Synth Magic. Gforce. IK Sampletank 3. Arturia V. Scuffham S-Gear. BFD. SSD4. Novation 61 SLMKII, JBL LSR 305, Sennheiser HD600, AKG 240MKII. Fender & PRS Guitars, G&L Bass. Bad Cat, + many pedals.
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Re: Time for a new audio interface?

Postby stevenew » Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:54 am

dix wrote:I'm not sure when it's shipping, but Slate's new VRS8 has me interested because of its future-proofyness. It has/will have both PCIe (for us old MP users) and TB.


I did not know about the PCIe, that is interesting, I could be wrong but I thought the price was around 2000USD? which would translate to 2000GBP and I would presume the PCIe card would be extra, currently that would be way over my budget by about 1000+:-(
2009 (5.1 Firmware) Mac Pro 2x2.26 8 Core, 24GB ram, 4 SSD, MOTU 624, OS X Sierra 10.12.6. DP 9.02/9.5. Cubase Pro 9.5 Wavelab Pro 9. DSP Quattro 4.4. Slate VMR, VCC, VTM, VBC. iZotope RX 6 AD, Ozone 7 AD, Iris 2. NI Komplete 8, Spitfire, Soniccouture, Synth Magic. Gforce. IK Sampletank 3. Arturia V. Scuffham S-Gear. BFD. SSD4. Novation 61 SLMKII, JBL LSR 305, Sennheiser HD600, AKG 240MKII. Fender & PRS Guitars, G&L Bass. Bad Cat, + many pedals.
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Re: Time for a new audio interface?

Postby HCMarkus » Tue Mar 07, 2017 8:52 pm

The CPU upgrade is a tad trickier on the 4,1 Dual CPU MPs, but this issue can be overcome by purchasing delidded CPUs or having them delidded or doing it yourself. This guy has been doing it for quite awhile and seems very reliable. The process he uses is meticulous. I see him over at Mac Rumors periodically.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/2009-Mac-Pro-Dual-Xeon-CPU-IHS-Removal-SERVICE-de-lidding-service-upgrade-/172561452736?hash=item282d76cec0:g:olwAAOSweW5VGXm2

Or you can try the iron, or the vise technique, see this thread:

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/4-1-cpu-upgrade-pre-delidding-test.1997401/#post-23524301

If you like your MP now, wait until you supercharge it. Delid the CPUs yourself and you are looking at about $200. If you have Box185 do the de-lid your total cost will be under $350. I saw a pair of X5680s pre-de-lidded for $400 on Ebay, too.

As far as going with Ethernet instead of USB to hook up to your Mac, you will get higher latency. Also, I believe the MOTU AVB interfaces are USB2 compliant, so you don't need to use your USB3 card to connect them.

If you have Bluetooth problems, consider doing this:

http://oliverwolfson.com/apple-mac-pro-bluetooth-issue-solved/

Plug the Bluetooth dongle into something very near your mouse, like a hub or wired keyboard. Should take care of any wireless communications issues.

I can't comment on the current-generation MOTU mic pres, but you have the option of running separate mic pres into the line ins if you find the built-in pres unsatisfactory. Something to add to the "someday" list.
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Re: Time for a new audio interface?

Postby stevenew » Wed Mar 08, 2017 9:47 am

HCMarkus,

Thanks for all the info, much appreciated. I will look in to all that. Regarding the CPU upgrade, I am in UK so I will be more limited in buying and delidded choices, but I will look in to it.

The bluetooth fix would be useful, I had not thought of using a external dongle, however I do not currently use a wired keyboard or hub. A couple of years ago I actually added an external antenna to the internal bluetooth which solved the range issue I was having.

I did not realise that AVB would give higher latency than USB. All my USB 2 ports are used up which is why I bought the USB 3 card, I will have to give this some thought.

Thanks again.
2009 (5.1 Firmware) Mac Pro 2x2.26 8 Core, 24GB ram, 4 SSD, MOTU 624, OS X Sierra 10.12.6. DP 9.02/9.5. Cubase Pro 9.5 Wavelab Pro 9. DSP Quattro 4.4. Slate VMR, VCC, VTM, VBC. iZotope RX 6 AD, Ozone 7 AD, Iris 2. NI Komplete 8, Spitfire, Soniccouture, Synth Magic. Gforce. IK Sampletank 3. Arturia V. Scuffham S-Gear. BFD. SSD4. Novation 61 SLMKII, JBL LSR 305, Sennheiser HD600, AKG 240MKII. Fender & PRS Guitars, G&L Bass. Bad Cat, + many pedals.
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Re: Time for a new audio interface?

Postby stevenew » Mon Aug 28, 2017 3:53 am

I have still not got round to replacing my my Traveler due to other financial commitments but the time is now approaching. I am going to get new monitors most likely Neumann KH120A, as I can get a good deal on an ex-demo pair, my other choice would have been Focal CMS65 but they are a fair bit more.

But I am more confused than ever on which audio interface. I trip to a local retailer here the UK has given me more options, although not all with Thunderbolt and USB. In addition to the MOTU 624 I have been recommended The RME, I think the UC or UCX, Apogee Quartet, Antelope Zen Studio, and a new one I had not heard of before even though I think the company is here in the UK, Audient ID22+ Audient ASP 800 8 Channel preamp expander. The Audient ID22 is really cheap but has got good convertors in and does sound very good, I like the idea of the monitor controller built-in, plus I would be getting the additional preamps. Again the Apogee Quartet appeals because of the desktop controller.

The other option I was suggested if I stretch my budget is going for a simple Prism Lyra 1 then adding a preamp expander at a later date.

I am a bit overwhelmed really, I am very tempted by the Audient, anybody here using them? Plus it would be great to be able to call support here in the UK during UK business hours:-) Also to be honest the ones I have heard all sounded very similar. I did not hear the Lyra 1.

Any thought on any of these would be really helpful.
2009 (5.1 Firmware) Mac Pro 2x2.26 8 Core, 24GB ram, 4 SSD, MOTU 624, OS X Sierra 10.12.6. DP 9.02/9.5. Cubase Pro 9.5 Wavelab Pro 9. DSP Quattro 4.4. Slate VMR, VCC, VTM, VBC. iZotope RX 6 AD, Ozone 7 AD, Iris 2. NI Komplete 8, Spitfire, Soniccouture, Synth Magic. Gforce. IK Sampletank 3. Arturia V. Scuffham S-Gear. BFD. SSD4. Novation 61 SLMKII, JBL LSR 305, Sennheiser HD600, AKG 240MKII. Fender & PRS Guitars, G&L Bass. Bad Cat, + many pedals.
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Re: Time for a new audio interface?

Postby HCMarkus » Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:25 am

IMO, most modern interfaces offer decent conversion. You can always add a boutique mic pre or two in time if you find it necessary.

One important question: is the driver software solid and continuously supported?

I do like having a monitor controller on the desk and have been quite happy with the inexpensive PreSonus Monitor Station. One feature not readily apparent from literature - It has four very strong headphone amps.
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Re: Time for a new audio interface?

Postby stevenew » Mon Aug 28, 2017 10:44 am

HCMarkus wrote:IMO, most modern interfaces offer decent conversion. You can always add a boutique mic pre or two in time if you find it necessary.

One important question: is the driver software solid and continuously supported?

I do like having a monitor controller on the desk and have been quite happy with the inexpensive PreSonus Monitor Station. One feature not readily apparent from literature - It has four very strong headphone amps.


Absolutely agree about the driver software. I know MOTU has been good from experience, 2408, 828, Traveler, and the continued driver support for legacy units. Not sure about the drivers for the new AVB units. I know RME has a good rep. Unsure about Apogee. The retailer here said the Audient support was excellent. I presume that Prism would be good but who knows.

Good to hear about the Presonus Monitor Station, I had though about getting one if I didn't get a interface with desktop control. It is the one thing I have always hated about the Traveler - the tiny controls and LCD I can hardly see, which is why the Audient ID22 or Apogee Quartet appeal to me.
2009 (5.1 Firmware) Mac Pro 2x2.26 8 Core, 24GB ram, 4 SSD, MOTU 624, OS X Sierra 10.12.6. DP 9.02/9.5. Cubase Pro 9.5 Wavelab Pro 9. DSP Quattro 4.4. Slate VMR, VCC, VTM, VBC. iZotope RX 6 AD, Ozone 7 AD, Iris 2. NI Komplete 8, Spitfire, Soniccouture, Synth Magic. Gforce. IK Sampletank 3. Arturia V. Scuffham S-Gear. BFD. SSD4. Novation 61 SLMKII, JBL LSR 305, Sennheiser HD600, AKG 240MKII. Fender & PRS Guitars, G&L Bass. Bad Cat, + many pedals.
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Re: Time for a new audio interface?

Postby sdemott » Mon Aug 28, 2017 8:44 pm

Just to muddy the waters a bit more ;-)

I am a huge fan of the Metric Halo interfaces. Have been using them for over a decade. They are rock solid and Metric Halo support is top notch. They are also readying an upgrade for all their interfaces called 3d (they don't phase out their hardware, they offer upgrade paths to help protect your investment). This will convert their FireWire interfaces to USB and support AVB. Sadly, I think the only one that fits into your budget is the ULN-2, and that would only work for you if you could get by with 2 mic pres.
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Re: Time for a new audio interface?

Postby stevenew » Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:16 am

sdemott wrote:Just to muddy the waters a bit more ;-)

I am a huge fan of the Metric Halo interfaces. Have been using them for over a decade. They are rock solid and Metric Halo support is top notch. They are also readying an upgrade for all their interfaces called 3d (they don't phase out their hardware, they offer upgrade paths to help protect your investment). This will convert their FireWire interfaces to USB and support AVB. Sadly, I think the only one that fits into your budget is the ULN-2, and that would only work for you if you could get by with 2 mic pres.


Good call, Metric Halo were on the edge of my radar, not so common over here in the UK, in so much as the dealers I have been talking to don't stock them. However I have seen a used ULN-2 with the DSP upgrade for 700GBP which seems pretty good.

It would be nice to have 4 mic pres as I have got used to that with my Traveler but a lot of the interfaces I am looking at only have two, so I will be getting extra mic pres at some point.

I am not adverse to buying used but some Manufactures don't turn up used here in the UK as often as others. Ideally I like to buy ex-demo from reliable dealers, that way I save a bit of cash but get full warranty.
2009 (5.1 Firmware) Mac Pro 2x2.26 8 Core, 24GB ram, 4 SSD, MOTU 624, OS X Sierra 10.12.6. DP 9.02/9.5. Cubase Pro 9.5 Wavelab Pro 9. DSP Quattro 4.4. Slate VMR, VCC, VTM, VBC. iZotope RX 6 AD, Ozone 7 AD, Iris 2. NI Komplete 8, Spitfire, Soniccouture, Synth Magic. Gforce. IK Sampletank 3. Arturia V. Scuffham S-Gear. BFD. SSD4. Novation 61 SLMKII, JBL LSR 305, Sennheiser HD600, AKG 240MKII. Fender & PRS Guitars, G&L Bass. Bad Cat, + many pedals.
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Re: Time for a new audio interface?

Postby bayswater » Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:22 pm

HCMarkus wrote:IMO, most modern interfaces offer decent conversion. You can always add a boutique mic pre or two in time if you find it necessary.

One important question: is the driver software solid and continuously supported?

I do like having a monitor controller on the desk and have been quite happy with the inexpensive PreSonus Monitor Station. One feature not readily apparent from literature - It has four very strong headphone amps.

Agree. For those reasons, and because good pre-amps and desktop monitor stations are readily available, I've stuck with class compliant USB interfaces. Getting everything bundled into one unit always seems to lead to compromises, and limits your flexibility to add new stuff that you might want.
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Re: Time for a new audio interface?

Postby stevenew » Thu Aug 31, 2017 10:14 am

bayswater wrote:
HCMarkus wrote:IMO, most modern interfaces offer decent conversion. You can always add a boutique mic pre or two in time if you find it necessary.

One important question: is the driver software solid and continuously supported?

I do like having a monitor controller on the desk and have been quite happy with the inexpensive PreSonus Monitor Station. One feature not readily apparent from literature - It has four very strong headphone amps.

Agree. For those reasons, and because good pre-amps and desktop monitor stations are readily available, I've stuck with class compliant USB interfaces. Getting everything bundled into one unit always seems to lead to compromises, and limits your flexibility to add new stuff that you might want.


All good points, class compliant USB makes a lot of sense. I am finding it hard narrowing the choices down, currently I am thinking RME most likely the UCX, Audient id22+ASP880 or MOTU 624, however I can get a ex demo Prism Lyra 1 but that will only give me one input and one output pair but I am told it sounds better than the others but who knows. If I got the RME or MOTU I would likely get the Presonus Monitor Station V2 as well. Looks like the Apogee Quartet is now out of the running as I missed the ex demo one.
2009 (5.1 Firmware) Mac Pro 2x2.26 8 Core, 24GB ram, 4 SSD, MOTU 624, OS X Sierra 10.12.6. DP 9.02/9.5. Cubase Pro 9.5 Wavelab Pro 9. DSP Quattro 4.4. Slate VMR, VCC, VTM, VBC. iZotope RX 6 AD, Ozone 7 AD, Iris 2. NI Komplete 8, Spitfire, Soniccouture, Synth Magic. Gforce. IK Sampletank 3. Arturia V. Scuffham S-Gear. BFD. SSD4. Novation 61 SLMKII, JBL LSR 305, Sennheiser HD600, AKG 240MKII. Fender & PRS Guitars, G&L Bass. Bad Cat, + many pedals.
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Re: Time for a new audio interface?

Postby stevenew » Wed Nov 29, 2017 4:05 am

Update: Finally after what seems like months of going round in circles I have a new audio interface.........a MOTU 624:-) It seemed to offer me the minimum of what I wanted regarding in/out, future proof if/when I go to a Thunderbolt Mac and I got a good deal:-) I am currently running it on USB 3 via my Sonnet USB 3 card, so far it has work flawlessly. I also have a Sonnet Ethernet card that is AVB and it seems works fine with that as well but I have only used it a few times just to test the AVB.

It has worked fine with DP, Cubase & Wavelab.

When I first heard playback through it I was stunned, it sounds so much better than my Traveler, more open, detailed, the low end is tighter more defined, the highs cleaner, less fizz. I haven't used the mic preamps much yet but they sound superb compared to the Traveler. The guitar inputs are useful, I no longer have to use my MOTU Zbox. I can run two sets of monitors and output to a headphone amp.

The new routing software takes a bit of getting used to but once setup you can forget about it.

Plus once I get the Apple Camera converter I can use it with my iPad albeit over USB 2 as I only have the 1st get iPad Pro. The small size means it is portable as well.

I will get a/some external mic pres at some point maybe even another AVB unit and a external monitor controller, mostly likely Presonus.

Overall I am very pleased, and the little display on it is really clear, bright and in colour:-)
2009 (5.1 Firmware) Mac Pro 2x2.26 8 Core, 24GB ram, 4 SSD, MOTU 624, OS X Sierra 10.12.6. DP 9.02/9.5. Cubase Pro 9.5 Wavelab Pro 9. DSP Quattro 4.4. Slate VMR, VCC, VTM, VBC. iZotope RX 6 AD, Ozone 7 AD, Iris 2. NI Komplete 8, Spitfire, Soniccouture, Synth Magic. Gforce. IK Sampletank 3. Arturia V. Scuffham S-Gear. BFD. SSD4. Novation 61 SLMKII, JBL LSR 305, Sennheiser HD600, AKG 240MKII. Fender & PRS Guitars, G&L Bass. Bad Cat, + many pedals.
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