Interfaces - How Much Do They Matter?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by crumjack, Jul 4, 2019.

  1. crumjack

    crumjack Member

    Messages:
    183
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2017
    I wonder off and on if a better (more expensive) interface leads to better recordings. The release of the updated Focusrite Scarlett series this week has me thinking again.

    I use a Behringer Uphoria interface (the 4 in version). I picked this a couple years ago because of the relative low cost to other 4 input boxes and it gets the job done as far as carrying sound from mics and instruments into my DAW.

    What is your opinion on if this matters and why? At what point does the “investment” payoff? At what point am I paying for a fashionable name and sleaker box?
     

    Attached Files:

  2. pipelineaudio

    pipelineaudio Member

    Messages:
    622
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2018
    The drivers matter...a LOT. Sound, not so much, but there can be differences.
    True believers and marketing scammers will make all sorts of hyperbolic claims, but if your song isn't a hit, its not because a behringer mic pre was used instead of a Neve

    My testing of Behringer ADA8000 (years old behringer mic pre and A/D D/A) vs Apogee Rosetta 200

    [​IMG]

    I am currently working on the first and only, as far as i know, direct, apples to apples comparison of the sound quality of mic pres, interfaces, and DI's (so far)

     
    bainmack, Antmax, ckfoxtrot and 6 others like this.
  3. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    17,976
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2009
    Location:
    Chattanooga, TN
    I think stability and low latency are super important, and those are mostly down to drivers. There aren’t too many different convertor or op-amp chips out there.

    Unfortunately the brands with better drivers do tend to be more pricey. OTOH their gear can last a long time in your rack. I bought an RME UFX this year and I love it. It is 2013 technology, approximately. Rock solid.
     
  4. drfrankencopter

    drfrankencopter Member

    Messages:
    1,572
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2006
    The word interface means different things to different people. At it's most basic it is simply a way to get signals that are already digitized into your computer, and at its most complex it's a full featured device with mixing, plugins, and preamps.

    The things that are important to me are stability, low latency, and long term driver support...and I get these in spades from RME hardware. It's not cheap at the outset, but I am still able to use the hardware I bought over 10 years ago because their driver support is incredible. Latency figures are also first in class.

    I opted for a simple interface card, and external AD/DA, and external preamps. The more stuff you cram into the interface, the more its going to have an influence on the overall sonic colour. Whether that's an issue for you or not depends significantly on what other equipment you have connected to it (e.g. the mic, the room, and the source).
     
    Dee S One, tribedescribe and Markdude like this.
  5. Stokely

    Stokely Member

    Messages:
    1,009
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2012
    I also have a Behringer uphoria, and I'm curious as well. It has been rock solid and has low latency, not a single problem in years of use (with a mac). I have wondered how it might stack up sound-wise--but end of the day, I'm a hobbyist and it sounds fine to me....just that little feeling where you wonder "hmm, might I be missing something and just wouldn't know until I heard it?" LOL
     
    crumjack likes this.
  6. jvin248

    jvin248 Member

    Messages:
    2,783
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2016
    That is spot on. The song needs lyrics and groove to get the audience's attention.

    Around 18 or maybe 20+ min into this video Lee makes comments about how well the twenty year old tech has stood up against the super complex modern and expensive options. He says he also gets asked every year by the gear companies about what new device he thinks would sell and he tells them to "build an updated one of these!" PODs. I never liked the layout, non-standard power supply, and difficult to fit on a pedal board shape.


    Wampler did a similar video with the newer Behringer version of the POD.


    Most of the interfaces and wonder boxes that get stacked ahead of the recording will live or die on the ease of use of their interfaces. Simple and easy to use/remember will win. Some companies think a hundred buttons or a hundred layers of menus deep give confidence in their expansive technology but in the end the user wants to make great music and not mess around.

    .
     
  7. pipelineaudio

    pipelineaudio Member

    Messages:
    622
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2018
    Justin Frankel is still using the RME HDSP 9652 I sent him in 2005 to test REAPER with. Talk about support! RME is in a different category
     
    Elantric, Cruciform, Tresman and 2 others like this.
  8. pipelineaudio

    pipelineaudio Member

    Messages:
    622
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2018
    For the uphorian line, the 202HD, 204HD and 404HD test much much better than the older ADA 8000 I posted above, I'll have graphs and measurements soon, not sure about the UMC22 as I won't recommend it since it doesn't have its own ASIO drivers
     
    toddincharlotte likes this.
  9. drfrankencopter

    drfrankencopter Member

    Messages:
    1,572
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2006
    He’s not the only one...I’m using a 9652 HDSP+. It still runs the latest version of their total mix app; just keeps getting better with age. The only issue for me is finding mobo’s with PCI support. I’ll likely need to upgrade to a PCIe card in a few years, but it’s pretty awesome, and basically unheard of for 14 year old hardware.
     
    Elantric and pipelineaudio like this.
  10. crumjack

    crumjack Member

    Messages:
    183
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2017
    Good to know. I get that spending an extra whatever dollars isn’t going to make a hit. I hope everyone knows that but we’ve met those musicians who feel like they are destined so it’s a good reminder. I was with @Stokely wondering if I could make the recordings sound a little more professional with a wonderbox.

    As Eddy Merckx said when it came to bicycles, “Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades.”
     
    art_z likes this.
  11. Motterpaul

    Motterpaul Tone is in the Ears

    Messages:
    11,670
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    Location:
    Encinitas, SoCal
    IN terms of latency they make no difference since you can always monitor the "live" sound. Basically, if it is for a vocal on a big budget album - it makes a difference. For playing guitar at home - almost no difference at all. Most plugins & DAWS have almost no latency if you are not recording.
     
  12. pipelineaudio

    pipelineaudio Member

    Messages:
    622
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2018
    Its funny how many people think this. Try and come up with an interface which you think "it makes a difference" vs one where its not audibly as good. Doing these apples to apples tests its almost terrifying how identical all of these interfaces are
     
  13. Toffo

    Toffo Member

    Messages:
    31
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2018
    To add to this, if you are playing on a computer and using VST amps for sound (Amplitube, S-Gear and the like), in my experience the interface does make a difference with latency. I don't know if I'm especially sensitive to latency or not, but I find anything more than a few milliseconds to be off putting. I have found different interfaces are capable of different latencies, so for my use case it is worth having one that can handle low latencies. I'm talking Behringer UM2 vs. Mackie Onyx Blackjack vs. Axe FX II here; each one is a step up from the earlier one.

    Without getting too deep into all this, remember a more powerful computer will reduce any latency introduced by the VST itself. This is especially the case if you prefer to use different VSTs for the amp, reverb, delay, maybe a stomp box or two; while playing tracking in a busy mix with a bunch of tracks with their own plugins, and not wanting to freeze or render the tracks.

    Also, if the stock drivers for the interface are no good, ASIO4ALL on Windows is always worth a look.

    So I guess my answer to your question, "interfaces: how much do they matter?" is a disappointing, "it depends on what you want to do with it."
     
  14. Maltese Fan

    Maltese Fan Member

    Messages:
    2,519
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA.
    I upgraded interfaces last year. Differences are subtle, but noticable.
    Getting your monitoring situation, (i.e. room treatment), taken care of is probably more important then which interface you use. You need to be able to hear these differences in sound quality.
     
  15. Motterpaul

    Motterpaul Tone is in the Ears

    Messages:
    11,670
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    Location:
    Encinitas, SoCal
    Usually the buffer setting (on the DAW software) has the most to do with latency. For recording you can set it at its lowest setting and the latency is very small. I agree that even a little is not fun, but I find I can deal with it at the lowest buffer setting. High buffer settings are for mixing, and usually involve more latency but it doesn't matter because nothing is live.
     
  16. pipelineaudio

    pipelineaudio Member

    Messages:
    622
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2018
    What interfaces was that from and to? I will put the results of the differences of them up, if I have them
     
  17. pipelineaudio

    pipelineaudio Member

    Messages:
    622
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2018
    The buffer setting on the driver is the ultimate ruler of the round trip latency. The DAW can add to it, but cannot take away from it. Most people are far mistaken on what the actual latency numbers are. The samples or time given are only the reported latency, there is also a small (or very large) safety buffer, plus, in the case of latent plugs like amplitube, at least one more full block of latency. People talk about being ok with 6 msec of latency ,when if you really check the RTL (such as the one in the chart in my sig) you'll see its often closer to 13ms. The truth is, people generally seem ok around 9-13msec, as it approaches 20 most people can feel it, but even then, that is the MINIMUM latency for iPad guitar interfaces and tons of people play through that without shooting themselves
     
    yeky83 and Markdude like this.
  18. vashuba

    vashuba Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,466
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2009
    Location:
    StL / LA
    When I first got started had a tascam us122. Then up graded to apogee one and was like , this sounds clearer. Then upgraded to the duet, which sounds slightly better. Now have the element 24 and it sounds very transparent.
    So I’d say yes. But the room matters too.
     
  19. batsbrew

    batsbrew Member

    Messages:
    4,374
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Location:
    SL,UT
    just take a poll on what PROFESSIONALS use...
    and take a cue from that.
     
  20. Jim Roseberry

    Jim Roseberry Supporting Member

    Messages:
    857
    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2010
    Over the past 25+ years, I've installed/used most audio interfaces that exist.
    Can you make recordings with a cheap audio interface? Absolutely.
    Are those recordings going to sound as good as if they were done with a higher-end audio interface?
    Most likely not.

    There are both subjective and objective differences between audio interfaces.

    Higher cost interfaces typically have lower noise-floor (sometimes significantly lower)
    On a single track, you may not notice the noise-floor being 6-12dB lower.
    Multiplied over 24-48 tracks of audio, it's like peeling a veil of noise off the project.

    The Apollo series (the full rackmount units) has good fidelity and super low noise-floor.
    That said, I subjectively think that they're not particularly flattering to DI electric guitar (using software AmpSims).
    The sound in the lower mids is "tubby"... and the tone in general sounds a bit "unnatural".
    For DI electric guitar (used with AmpSim plugins), I (subjectively) prefer the sound of the Presonus Quantum.
    On paper... the Apollo is superior in all aspects. Measuring specs, the Apollo is superior on all facets.

    If you're talking about DI recordings:
    I've compared many DI options for recording electric bass.
    Everything from cheap onboard DI... thru SansAmp models (both pedal and rack), Reddi Box, U5, UA Solo-610, Neve style preamps, etc.
    With a cheap DI, a passive Fender bass sounds weak/anemic.
    That same exact bass thru a Neve DI/preamp sounds great.

    Great gear doesn't make great records/performances... (that's down to the individual)
    But... it does make it easier to get great sounds.
    A great player will sound great playing a $300 guitar.
    That same player will also sound great playing a $12k Private Stock PRS.
    Are the playing experiences identical? That's where it gets subjective.
    I'm not a guitar virtuoso, but (IMO) there is a massive difference in the details.
    Rupert Neve gear is expensive, but it's generally a no-compromise design.
    I struggled to get good DI electric bass recordings... until I got a Neve DI/preamp.
    A preamp isn't nearly as exciting a gear purchase as a new instrument, but it's like getting an upgrade on all your mics/instruments.
    I have a Miktek CV4 (LD tube mic)... which sounds pretty good thru onboard RME mic preamps (but can sound a little strident in the upper mids).
    Same exact mic thru the Portico-II sounds much more balanced (just the preamp no dynamics or EQ applied).

    On the flip side, there's some great low-cost gear out there.
    The new Klark Teknik 1176, LA2A, and Pultec clones are a great example.
     
    RCM78, w.izzy, GP_Hawk and 1 other person like this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice