Advice on audio interface please

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Hi all,

I've had a Presonus Firestudio Mobile for years and it has suited me very well. The headphone volume is getting a bit dodgy and I am considering treating myself to an upgrade.

I'm a home noodler and only occasionally record stuff - either to practice or for youtube.

Question 1. 
I originally bought the firestudio because I was wary of latency with USB interfaces. The firestudio has never given me a moment of problem with latency when using software amps etc. Given that firewire is generally on the way out, do I need USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt (I'm a mac user)? Thunderbolt interfaces are obviously more expensive, but is there any difference in the real world?

Question 2.
I need 3 stereo inputs permanently plugged in on the back of the device. (Kemper, Beatbuddy, Looper) and this gives me the ability to mix levels easily on screen. And just a pair on the front for occasionally sticking a mic or guitar in. All of the devices I look at either have hardly any 1/4 sockets on the back or a shedload on the front. I don't want front ones as it will just make my desk messy. Any ideas of products with at least 3 stereo inputs on the rear?

Question 3.
Should I just be looking at a really simple 2 socket interface and then a mixer separately (I know even less about mixers)? It all needs to be fairly small and controllable via software.

Overall, I'm looking for the apple solution, not the android one. i.e. it just works without a load of hassle.

Grateful for a steer on all this

PS will probably be moving to an M1 mac soon so needs to work with that.
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Comments

  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 1333
    Latency is generally better on Thunderbolt interfaces but not by that much. Nearly all small USB interfaces use Apple's own class compliant driver which is pretty decent. At a 32-sample buffer you'll get a round trip latency of 6ms or so. A few manufacturers get even better performance with custom drivers -- RME being the obvious example.

    The other advantage of the class compliant approach is that it'll definitely work on an M1 Mac, you won't have to wait for the manufacturer to get around to coding a driver.
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  • allenallen Frets: 144
    Thanks.

    I've just seen a similar thread on here. It seems I should probably be going for a small mixer. It also seems like a lot of those have a USB audio interface.

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  • spark240spark240 Frets: 1728
    Ive just got the M1 and was hoagy old Presonus Gen 1 Mixer would work...but sadly not.

      Im looking at the Thunderbolt options.


    Mac Mini i7, 2.3Ghz.
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  • personalnadirpersonalnadir Frets: 115
    I quite like the audient sono - has the two notes stuff in it, though I rarely make use of that
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  • Macca_25387Macca_25387 Frets: 74
    Audient stuff works well with Mac M1. 
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  • allenallen Frets: 144
    Thanks for the advice chaps. I think I'm going to research how to expand interfaces with ADAT. That looks like the best option to add inputs to an interface. I've been looking at mixers and they all seem to have the sockets on top, which is a bit messy for my desk.

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  • Macca_25387Macca_25387 Frets: 74
    I use a behringer ada8000 to add 8 mic/line inputs through adat to my audient interface. Works really well. 
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  • RME Babyface Pro is great, can't recommend it enough. Works with M1 too for those who need it to.
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  • personalnadirpersonalnadir Frets: 115
    allen said:
    Thanks for the advice chaps. I think I'm going to research how to expand interfaces with ADAT. That looks like the best option to add inputs to an interface. I've been looking at mixers and they all seem to have the sockets on top, which is a bit messy for my desk.

    Been thinking the same recently. There’s some good options out there - the Arthuria 8pre and Audient options look good for that
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  • allenallen Frets: 144
    After a long time I think I'm a bit closer to my solution.

    It's the MOTU Ultralight Mk5. 

    The main benefit is that it has a lot of line inputs that most interfaces don't have.

    Unfortunately it doesn't have hardware output mixing, but I didn't have that on my previous interface - got to do everything in software.

    The only downside is that it's bloody expensive.

    My old interface has been going for about 10 years though so if the next one works for 10 years that's just £60 a year.

    Slightly better interfaces just seem to go up in price from there so I think £600 is the limit for me.
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  • paulmapp8306paulmapp8306 Frets: 715
    focusrite Scarlett 18i20 ??  
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  • allen said:
    After a long time I think I'm a bit closer to my solution.

    It's the MOTU Ultralight Mk5. 

    The main benefit is that it has a lot of line inputs that most interfaces don't have.

    Unfortunately it doesn't have hardware output mixing, but I didn't have that on my previous interface - got to do everything in software.

    The only downside is that it's bloody expensive.

    My old interface has been going for about 10 years though so if the next one works for 10 years that's just £60 a year.

    Slightly better interfaces just seem to go up in price from there so I think £600 is the limit for me.

    Have you had a look at the M-Audio AIR 192/14? I've been weighing up expanding my interface or replacing it today - the AIR seems to pack a lot of features into a low price point. That said I know nothing about it.

    I've worked out that I'd ideally like something (either a mixer or interface) with 8 inputs so I can have 4 stereo instruments going simultaneously. I also want low latency monitoring.

    I'm leaning towards the Arturia AudioFuse Studio at the moment myself. Expensive, but compact and would replace the Audient Sono I currently have as opposed to expanding it. I rarely use the two notes stuff, so not sure I'd miss it for guitar. Either that or the 8pre.

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  • LastMantraLastMantra Frets: 1817
    edited August 13
    focusrite Scarlett 18i20 ??  

    Don't know about that unit but I've been using my old saffire 6 USB for about 20years and it's still going strong! 
    Can't be bad.

    Plus it's been getting thrown in my backpack (unprotected) with mics and stuff regularly over that time.
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  • allenallen Frets: 144



    Have you had a look at the M-Audio AIR 192/14? I've been weighing up expanding my interface or replacing it today - the AIR seems to pack a lot of features into a low price point. That said I know nothing about it.

    I've worked out that I'd ideally like something (either a mixer or interface) with 8 inputs so I can have 4 stereo instruments going simultaneously. I also want low latency monitoring.

    I'm leaning towards the Arturia AudioFuse Studio at the moment myself. Expensive, but compact and would replace the Audient Sono I currently have as opposed to expanding it. I rarely use the two notes stuff, so not sure I'd miss it for guitar. Either that or the 8pre.

    M audio doesn't have spdif on it. But otherwise ticks a lot of my boxes.

    Arturia Audiofuse studio was also on my list for a while. It's a really really nice device with a lot of nice features. Possibly wrongly I am discounting it due to only 2 stereo line inputs on the rear when I really want 3. Although they do have 4 mono inputs on the front to be fair. Since it's about 200 more than the motu and the only real advantage is the knobs on the top I slightly favour the motu. The motu also has bigger headroom and gain on the inputs.

    For all of these devices I wish they had an output mixer with physical controls. I just want all of my gear plugged into one box and to be able to set the output volume balance easily. 

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  • allen said:.

    For all of these devices I wish they had an output mixer with physical controls. I just want all of my gear plugged into one box and to be able to set the output volume balance easily. 

    Unfortunately I think that might require a DAW control surface. 

    In the end I’ve grabbed a Arturia 8pre, going to see what it’s like both as an ADAT expander to my Sono and as a stand-alone interface. In the end (as is so often the case) it was a heavy discount that decided the matter.

    I did at one point have the Studio in the basket and was about to click buy - but it has so many features I can’t see myself using and is still a hefty price. 
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  • allenallen Frets: 144
    Unfortunately I think that might require a DAW control surface. 

    In the end I’ve grabbed a Arturia 8pre, going to see what it’s like both as an ADAT expander to my Sono and as a stand-alone interface. In the end (as is so often the case) it was a heavy discount that decided the matter.

    I did at one point have the Studio in the basket and was about to click buy - but it has so many features I can’t see myself using and is still a hefty price. 
    I've been looking at control surfaces, but then you need an interface that responds to mackie control or something similar. And I can't work out which ones do that.
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  • allenallen Frets: 144
    I've gone further down the rabbit hole and ordered a RME fireface UCX ii

    Total overkill for my application (and a lot of money), but I went for something that has the possibility of external control plus a lot of love on the internet for the way RME supports their interfaces for years and years.

    Plus a bunch of other stuff. 
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  • HeartfeltdawnHeartfeltdawn Frets: 19364
    allen said:
    I've gone further down the rabbit hole and ordered a RME fireface UCX ii

    Total overkill for my application (and a lot of money), but I went for something that has the possibility of external control plus a lot of love on the internet for the way RME supports their interfaces for years and years.

    Plus a bunch of other stuff. 
    You won't regret it. 

    I bought a Babyface Pro FS last year. It's not cheap and it's worth every penny. It sounds superb (big upgrade from the first Babyface) and it's drivers are brilliant. I'm sure you'll find the same with the UCX II. 
    Now accepting applicants for the position of Minister for Being Reasonable Until Questioned. 
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