firewire interface (presonus Firebox) vs. mixer+PCI Cards (M-Audio)

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by bluessyndicate, Feb 23, 2006.

  1. bluessyndicate

    bluessyndicate Member

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    Seems like so many of us keep posting pleas for help on basic recording set-ups...I've tried to do my research, searches, reading tweaks primer etc....I hope I do this right the first time.

    First I was going to go the USB route, then decided that firewire would be better for my needs, and settled in on a Presonus Firebox with Cuebase LE....then in Tweaks primer I think I had an epiphany when I realized that since I already have a Mackie 1202 mixer (4 XLR, 4 stereo Line in) I thereby already have mic preamps that rival or perhaps(?) even exceed the quality of mic pre's I would obtain by buying something like a Presonus Firebox...and therefore I would get more bang for the buck by complementing my Mackie with a PCI card to merely take in line inputs and midi....perhaps using the money I save to invest in better sequencing software.

    So I look at M-Audio and see the 1010, 66, 44, 2496 and 192. I eliminate the 1010 and 1010Lt since they have mic preamps, the Delta 66 and 44 since they don't have midi, and am left staring at the Audiophile 192 and 2496....I choose the 192 since it seems to be better? but I don't fully realize why the 2496 has 8 ports (2 midi, 4 rca, 2 coaxial) and the 192 has 10 ports (2 midi + 8)....what are the 6 lines for vs. the 8 lines? This is the part I don't immediately get.

    I don't anitipate doing alot of simulataneous tracks or live band recording, predominantly multitracking one track at a time...but I can see the potential of occasionally playing guitar, singing, and feeding in an external source such as a cd and midi source stereo analog input such as a keyboard....on one hand those all could be coming from the mackie from the stereo master (the 2496 would then suffice?), but maybe it would be nice to feed the vocals, guitar, keys and externals source (cd) seperately to preserve their independence for editing...so would the Delta 192 allow for that?

    I feel I am close to understanding the nuances, but need a little help to get over the hump. I have not done a good job of scrutinizing the performance specs but it does seem the 192 is positioned as being a higher quality unit.

    In any event...firewire for $299 = Presonus firebox with Cuebase LE

    Amazon is selling the M-Audio Audiophile 192 for $129 currently (on special), so that leaves (299-129)=$170 towards buying something like Cubebase SX or Pro Tools (Maudio Protools $250). The 2496 is only $89 at Amazon currently.

    Sorry for all the detail, hopefully a few experts will respond, and maybe this post will be on target for the others that currently seem to be pondering usb/firewire/pci options with or without mixers.

    Thanks...Scott
     
  2. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    Well, I had been using pretty expensive PCI-based interfaces with a fairly large console for quite a few years, but last year started working at various places and was using a Powerbook with a MOTU Traveler when not at my own studio.

    I found that the Traveler sounded at least as good as my PCI-based interfaces, and that there didn't seem to be a noticeable lag in performance. Traveler is probably more money than you want to spend, but I'm guessing that the FW interfaces you're interested in aren't bad pieces of gear.

    What I'd like to point out, however, is that there is nothing wrong with having an extra mic preamp or two, they often come in handy, and a box with a couple of mic preamps built in is useful as heck if you need to leave your own studio, or record a large drum kit and band cutting live tracks.

    I have 32 mic preamps built into my console, along with outboard preamps, and yet it's nice to be able to do location stuff, and the box still works fine when I return to the studio to use other gear.

    Another advantage of FW is that when you change your computer, you don't have to ditch the interface; I've found that computer companies keep coming out with different PCI slots, some cards fit, some don't. Nothing's easier than dealing with a simple firewire cable however.
     
  3. bluessyndicate

    bluessyndicate Member

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    Thanks Les, great points. I think as you were posting I was editing some additional details (2 ships passing...)

    The chaning pci form/function is a great insight of yours. I think one way I could look at that is that for only say $129 for the M-Audio Audiophile 192, at that level it would not hurt as much as it would you with the high end PCI investments you made ....and having just bought a new PC, I am probably hanging onto this pc for at least 3 years...by then I can only imagine the new stuff that might be out by then, and could afford to eat the $129, plus by then I may be more sophisticated and ready to upgrade.

    In a similar vein, I don't currently anticipate going mobile, really just trying to find a way to finally get into some pc based home recording (anyone want to buy a Yamaha MT120 4 track?). So having 4 mic pre's on my Mackie 1202 seems already more than I will need.

    Still I suppose I could sell my mackie 1202 (older than the vlz pro) for $100 and my 4 track MT120 for $70, and just buy a Presonus FirePod (8 mic preamps: 2 of them switchable to instrument level, 6 switchable to line inputs). So perhaps that is tempting... the firepod also comes with Cubebase LE, but I lose the ability to buy what I perceived to be a better sequencer like Cuebase SX or others. Perhaps LE is good enough.

    Am I also giving up more by unloading my mackie?...i.e. is software based mixer routing less flexible than a real life piece of hardware? (I am not interested in worrying about the opportunity loss of using the mackie in other physical locations or applications..just worried about the application of pc based home recording: micing a guitar amp, adding some vocals, and backing tracks from computer or multiple audio sources i.e. stereo keyboard and cd player).

    With the Presonus Firepod (or equivalent) I definitely do understand that I can get into simultaneous recording of multiple tracks, i.e. live band recording... I still don't understand what the PCI based Audiophile 192 will allow in that regard.
     
  4. killerburst

    killerburst killerburstguitars.com Silver Supporting Member

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    "the firepod also comes with Cubebase LE, but I lose the ability to buy what I perceived to be a better sequencer like Cuebase SX or others. Perhaps LE is good enough."

    FirePod comes with Cubase LE as part of the package, but that doesn't mean you can't use any other software you like (except ProTools). In fact, Steinberg offers discounted upgrades for LE users to purchase SL or SX.
     
  5. bluessyndicate

    bluessyndicate Member

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    "I was not aware of that"!...thanks, great point. Do you have a preference between those 3? I am not yet educated on the differences. Yikes, looks like it's $249 to upgrade to SL, so they give you only $50 off. LE must be severely limited in comparision...?
     
  6. killerburst

    killerburst killerburstguitars.com Silver Supporting Member

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    LE is a starter kit. The current version actually only lets you record 4 tracks simutaneously. The next OEM version (1.09) is supposed to allow 8 tracks simultaneously. Off the top of my head I don't remember the features that the other versions include, because I haven't missed them. Do the research to compare the differences in features between versions and decide what you will need. As far as basic recording features, software interface and sound quality, the software works great. You can still do 48 tracks of audio and unlimited MIDI, 2 inserts per channel and 4 aux FX sends, software synth plugins, etc. Not bad for a starter kit. If you need the SL version, you save $50. Or you can skip Cubase altogether and buy Sonar, Tracktion, DP, Logic, Garage Band, Audition, Live, Acid, etc. Whatever you prefer.

    FYI, I just got the Inspire 1394. Amazing what you get for $200. Just the software package is worth the price.
     
  7. bluessyndicate

    bluessyndicate Member

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    The Inspire looks great, if only it handled Midi as well it would work for me...and damn those marketing guys, firepod and firebox have midi but don't include the Propak with all the software goodies you spoke of.
     
  8. A440

    A440 Silver Supporting Member

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    +1 on that !

    even if they offered the pkg for sale as an upgrade, that would be great
     
  9. OrangeChannel

    OrangeChannel Member

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    I love the firebox that I just picked up to replace my FW410...that thing caused conflicts with 2 machines...
     
  10. killerburst

    killerburst killerburstguitars.com Silver Supporting Member

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    MAYBE...The PreSonus ProPak software package that comes with Inspire will be included with the FireBox and FirePod soon. They will also sell the pack for a small fee to existing registered owners as an upgrade. They just need to square away all the licensing issues with the various software vendors. BUT THIS IS JUST MY SPECULATION. ;)
     
  11. A440

    A440 Silver Supporting Member

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    just wanted to let you know that the propak software pkg was bundled with the firebox I just got :dude
     
  12. bluessyndicate

    bluessyndicate Member

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    Yes apparently Presonus just started packaging the firebox and firepod's with the propak....I called and they are sending me a copy. :BEER Thanks for the heads up!
     
  13. amper

    amper Member

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    The M-Audio Delta 1010 does NOT have mic preamps.

    I went through the same thing when I put my system together. A PCI interface is always going to give you better bandwidth and lower latency than a FireWire interface, at the expense of portability.

    Since I decided that the recording system would be a dedicated workstation, I went with a Dual 2GHz G5 with a Delta 1010, fronted by an M-Audio Octane. I don't use MIDI at all, so that didn't factor into the decision.

    I had actually purchased a Firepod as well, but then realized that you can't use the mic pre's on their own, so I returned it and went with my original choice, the Octane.

    Oh, and I'm using Logic Pro 7. This was before M-Audio was bought by Avid, so the M-Powered version of Pro Tools wasn't available. I had considered the Digi 002 as well, but I didn't want to be tied in to Digidesign hardware. Plus, I get a better discount on M-Audio and Apple stuff.

    In the future, I can replace my mic pre's or A/D interfaces separately, which would not be possible with something like the Digi 002, Firepod, or Mackie Onyx. The only Firewire interface that I might seriously consider right now is the MOTU 896HD, for it's ability to go to 192 KHz sampling rate, but I don't *really* need that just yet.

    The Deltat 1010 has some of the best A/D chips out there, and the Octane has gotten very good reviews for its price range.
     

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