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IronFilm

Low cost USB interfaces to use with Audacity/Audition?

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Wondering about what low cost audio interface to get?

Important points for me, in order of priority (but I could potentially be flexible on these):
1) 2x XLR inputs
2) 96kHz & 24bits
3) good pre amps
4) good limiters (which doesn't seem to be that common? Though a few like the Roland Rubix24 has them)

A few I've been considering (all prices in USD, sourced from B&H Photo, seems $150 is a very common price point here):

Zoom U-24 ($150)
Steinberg UR22mkII ($150)
PreSonus AudioBox 96 ($100)
Tascam US-2x2 ($150)
Behringer U-PHORIA UMC404HD (has **four** inputs, and only $100!)
Roland Rubix22 ($150, a new release! Not shipping just yet)
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen (also, $150. What is the difference between 1st and 2nd generation?)

And one more, just because it is just so crazy cheap:

Behringer U-PHORIA UM2 2x2 (only one XLR input, and the other is 1/4", plus is just 48KHz, but is an insanely low price of $29.99!! And is the big difference between this and the Behringer U-PHORIA UMC22 2x2 for ten bucks more??)

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

I use the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and it's fine. I got it in the studio package with a microphone and some headphones (needed to do some quick voiceovers so ran to the nearest store). It also came with a free copy of Cubase, so if I ever wanted to get into music production, there's a good starting point. It's very small and the red's kinda stylish I guess haha. Both XLR ports are also 1/4" jack inputs, and it's nice to have that option.

 

 

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3 hours ago, IronFilm said:

Wondering about what low cost audio interface to get?

Important points for me, in order of priority (but I could potentially be flexible on these):
1) 2x XLR inputs
2) 96kHz & 24bits
3) good pre amps
4) good limiters (which doesn't seem to be that common? Though a few like the Roland Rubix24 has them)

A few I've been considering (all prices in USD, sourced from B&H Photo, seems $150 is a very common price point here):

Zoom U-24 ($150)
Steinberg UR22mkII ($150)
PreSonus AudioBox 96 ($100)
Tascam US-2x2 ($150)
Behringer U-PHORIA UMC404HD (has **four** inputs, and only $100!)
Roland Rubix22 ($150, a new release! Not shipping just yet)
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen (also, $150. What is the difference between 1st and 2nd generation?)

And one more, just because it is just so crazy cheap:

Behringer U-PHORIA UM2 2x2 (only one XLR input, and the other is 1/4", plus is just 48KHz, but is an insanely low price of $29.99!! And is the big difference between this and the Behringer U-PHORIA UMC22 2x2 for ten bucks more??)

The outrageous ( ;) ) additional $10 is due to it having pre-amps from MIDAS.

They make the UMC404HD worthy of a listen as well to be honest. No limiters unfortunately, which makes that Roland a pretty rare bird.

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4 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

The outrageous ( ;) ) additional $10 is due to it having pre-amps from MIDAS.

They make the UMC404HD worthy of a listen as well to be honest. No limiters unfortunately, which makes that Roland a pretty rare bird.

MIDAS is a pretty famous name is it? If so that does possibly make it a cracking good deal for a hundred bucks and four of those MIDAS pre amps. 

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12 minutes ago, IronFilm said:

MIDAS is a pretty famous name is it? If so that does possibly make it a cracking good deal for a hundred bucks and four of those MIDAS pre amps. 

If you've been to a gig in anything above a few hundred seater theatre in the past 40 years there's a reasonable chance you've been listening to it through a MIDAS mixing console. They are owned by Behringer now (or Music Group to be exact) but its not just a brand name ownership situation, the product design engineering is still done by the original team.

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I've got a Scarlett 2i2 (1st gen). Nice preamps, better than the RME Fireface 800 (which I sold). I did have occasional issues with ASIO drivers on Windows and some issues without drivers on OSX in PP CC (could be Adobe's issue- crackling and loss of audio; could also have been a USB issue on the MacPro). Still a great value for the money. The Scarlett 2i2 is now on a recently built Windows 10 box (ASUS MB), and so far no audio issues. From your list, I'd give the Roland a spin, looks very good. If you want decent limiters (I couldn't find any info on the Roland's limiters; if they are decent Roland would mention them: http://www.roland.ca/products/rubix22/features/), I'd spend the extra $500 and get this: https://www.sounddevices.com/products/recorders/mixpre-3. You can also use for location recording and as a DSLR preamp. It has analog limiters, which are amazing. The preamps and sound quality are the best in the industry for the cost. I use a Sound Devices USB Pre 2 on my main workstation and the preamp quality is superb, headphone output is very good, and driving monitors or Stax earspeakers is amazing.

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IMO, Behringer tend to be very 'meh' - they get the job done but you'll never find anyone too excited about them. MIDAS pre-amps is IMO mostly a marketing gimmick, but I'd be happy for someone to prove me wrong. 
As for the others, hard to go terribly wrong. I've had mediocre experiences with Behringer and PreSonus. I've had great experiences with Zoom and Focusrite. I'm rocking a Zoom UAC2 at the moment as my portable interface and loving it. A friend had the Steinberg and I couldn't warm to it. 
How much are second-hand Apogee Duet's going for these days? 

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11 hours ago, jcs said:

 I use a Sound Devices USB Pre 2 on my main workstation and the preamp quality is superb, headphone output is very good, and driving monitors or Stax earspeakers is amazing.

 

USB Pre2 is awesome, but mine got busted. Need to get it fixed because it was great. I liked it so much I even put it in my music video haha: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzMQMRVvdtk&t=2m18s

 

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After some more thought/research into it, it appears Focusrite is in general the popular "default" recommendation. 

But I often like to go against the grain ;-) 

Steinberg UR22MKII seems to be my preferred choice at the moment, because I get the feeling from reading reviews it might have a small edge in having better pre amps, but also it has the nifty feature of being able to run from a USB power pack which gives it some extreme portability! (you can hook it up then with a iPad)

Tempted to wait for the reviews of the new Roland Rubix24 to come out, plus tempted still by the Behringer U-PHORIA UMC404HD (because it has four inputs, and is only $100).

58 minutes ago, Amro Othman said:

USB Pre2 is awesome, but mine got busted. Need to get it fixed because it was great. I liked it so much I even put it in my music video haha: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzMQMRVvdtk&t=2m18s

 

Meh, the price of the USB Pre2 is so high that the MixPre3 would make more sense to buy instead!

Indeed, the MixPre3 is cheaper:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/734341-REG/Sound_Devices_USBPRE_2_USBPre_2_Microphone.html

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1333778-REG/sound_devices_mixpre_3_mixpre_3_mic_preamps.html

 

But nah, the MixPre3 is too pricey! I already own a Zoom F4 after all :-) Just looking around for something extra that is very cheap that I can leave around at a director friend's place for when he needs to voiceovers/ADR now and then.

 

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3 hours ago, jax_rox said:

I've had great experiences with Zoom and Focusrite. I'm rocking a Zoom UAC2 at the moment as my portable interface and loving it.

Ohhh.... the bigger version looks rather tempting should I ever decide to take this much further, and get a Boom Recorder set up with a laptop:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1116980-REG/resident_audio_zuac8_uac_8_usb_3_0_audio.html

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Oh indeed, I should mention that when I got mine it was $650 and my ex-fiancee got it as a birthday present (since then I was married for 4 days before divorce, and had to pay her over $20k BUT I DIGRESS).

I don't know why they put the price up but I definitely wouldn't recommend getting it now at $850. The MixPre3 is indeed cheaper, much newer etc. Also I record music and the output latency on the USBPre2 does leave a little to be desired... 

By the way, if you want cheap but great quality, then check out the Audient iD14. I have that and it punches waaay above its weight in terms of pre-amps and conversion!

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4 hours ago, jax_rox said:

IMO, Behringer tend to be very 'meh' - they get the job done but you'll never find anyone too excited about them. MIDAS pre-amps is IMO mostly a marketing gimmick, but I'd be happy for someone to prove me wrong. 

Yeah, their earlier years were sketchy to say the least. Some of their designs sailed close enough to the wind in similarity to people like Aphex and Drawmer (to name but two) to be actionable and thats before we get to the build quality. It wasn't uncommon to have to buy and return several examples of a product before you got a good one.

Its changed over time though, particularly with their manufacturing when they built their own plant in China, and the tipping point for me in acceptance was their X32 digital console. I think they've sold in the region of 50,000+ of that and it variants and its a superb product. I don't think anything they make is going to make you go wow (aside from the X consoles) but they're fall less likely to make you go ouch than they were and certainly will never make you go ouch when you look at the price tag.

With regard to MIDAS, its relative I suppose. Compare two Behringer products that have their own pre-amps in with the variant that has the MIDAS ones in (such as the ADA800 8 channel A/D and the MIDAS equipped ADA8200 version) and there is a difference. Its often related to changes in surrounding components as well to be fair to incorporate the MIDAS design but the overall end result is the same in terms of improvement. As I say, thats only relative to Behringer's 'own' design pre-amps though so whether it actually makes them better than other manufacturers is a lot more subjective. Its not just a marketing gimmick though to be fair, as the designs are genuinely still coming from within the MIDAS design team.

 

1 hour ago, IronFilm said:

After some more thought/research into it, it appears Focusrite is in general the popular "default" recommendation. 

But I often like to go against the grain ;-) 

Steinberg UR22MKII seems to be my preferred choice at the moment, because I get the feeling from reading reviews it might have a small edge in having better pre amps, but also it has the nifty feature of being able to run from a USB power pack which gives it some extreme portability! (you can hook it up then with a iPad)

Tempted to wait for the reviews of the new Roland Rubix24 to come out, plus tempted still by the Behringer U-PHORIA UMC404HD (because it has four inputs, and is only $100).

At the risk of sounding like a Behringer shill ( ;) ) there's quite a lot of side by sides on YouTube with the U-PHORIA where it doesn't disgrace itself.

Gearslutz.com is a good resource for blind comparisons between lots of different interfaces too. Often these are conducted by - how can I put it politely - people with more recording experience than some of the enthusiastic YouTube 'Hey whats up guys, Ched here with another of my famous shootouts that you folks have been asking me for' ones. Ched with his 19 subscribers there.

 

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Shrug, I went for studio gear, I bought an RME Fireface UFX, couldn't be any happier.

Though, I did supplement(add) the number of inputs with an Appogee AD-16x.   This was to plugin to seperate channels on the band's mixer board.

No, not lowcost as in OP subject, but great multichannel support.

I debated long and hard over the low cost items.

I now want a JoeCo Blackbox...

I agree with BTM_Pix, Gearslutz.com is the place, "see" you there.

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10 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

At the risk of sounding like a Behringer shill ( ;) ) there's quite a lot of side by sides on YouTube with the U-PHORIA where it doesn't disgrace itself.

 

A better buy then than the Focusrite 2i2? As it is cheaper, and has more inputs. 

11 hours ago, Amro Othman said:

Oh indeed, I should mention that when I got mine it was $650 and my ex-fiancee got it as a birthday present (since then I was married for 4 days before divorce, and had to pay her over $20k BUT I DIGRESS).

 

Sounds like a horrendously expensive USBPre2 in the end!! :-o 

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8 minutes ago, IronFilm said:

A better buy then than the Focusrite 2i2? As it is cheaper, and has more inputs. 

And double the outputs and inserts as well. MIDI too if you need it.

Its a bit more of an all rounder in terms of capability because of that. You can assign the additional ins and outs as aux sends and returns inside the NLE, use the inserts to patch additional outboard like limiters in and the MIDI side can let you drive the NLE from a cheap controller so its a bit more of a hub than a straight 2 in/ 2 out like the Focusrite.

Doesn't matter a dime of course if it sounds like shit but thats all in the ears of the beholder so you'd need to A/B them yourself.

Here's an A/B that someone has done but its still subjective because of the test not using the same mics or environment or source as you might yourself so take it with a variable amount of salt.

 

28 minutes ago, IronFilm said:

Sounds like a horrendously expensive USBPre2 in the end!! :-o 

Should've maybe got a USBPreNup...

Too soon?

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18 minutes ago, BTM_Pix said:

Here's an A/B that someone has done but its still subjective because of the test not using the same mics or environment or source as you might yourself so take it with a variable amount of salt.

The Behringer sounded more detailed in the highs and also fuller in the lows vs. the Focusrite, which sounded kind of thin comparatively in that test. For the price the Behringer sounds like a good deal, minimally worth testing with your own gear.

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Speaking of Zoom, that U-44 interface is quite the bag of tricks for the price.

Lots of connectivity and can be used as a field recorder with an iPhone/ipad.

It also lets you use their add on mic modules, which are, well, not that bad at all to be fair.

 

 

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