Interfaces - How Much Do They Matter?

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

  1. Jim Roseberry

    Jim Roseberry Supporting Member

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    Yes, the audio interface driver's "Safety-Buffer" (often hidden from the user) is the X-Factor when it comes to Round-Trip Latency. Better quality audio interfaces typically can get by using a smaller safety-buffer.
     
  2. pipelineaudio

    pipelineaudio Member

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    I had expected about exactly the opposite, but I was pretty much blown away by just how bad some of the interface DI's could be!

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Jim Roseberry

    Jim Roseberry Supporting Member

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    Yeah, with a crap DI... it’s hard to get that P or J bass sounding good.

    Of all onboard (audio interface) DIs I’ve tried, those on the newer Antelope models sounded best. Still not on par with a great outboard DI/preamp.

    If you do a lot of DI recording, invest in a quality DI/preamp.
    First time I plugged my J bass into a Neve, it was an epiphany.
    If you don’t want/need the EQ and Dynamics, Neve makes an affordable DI.
     
  4. mikebat

    mikebat Member

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    I really preferred the sound of my Foucsrite over the Yamaha/Steinberg interface I currently have but....in the end, you need to get good performances and songs, THAT is better and will sound better than the best interface and bad songs poorly performed.

    As much as audio quality counts...songs matter more. There are plenty of songs being released everyday that do not sound great, but are great songs that connect with people. That beats the heck out of songs that are lifeless, but sound pristine.
     
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  5. pipelineaudio

    pipelineaudio Member

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    The misfits sure proved that!

    Its the songs! The fidelity and other stuff is just crap we argue about amongst ourselves
     
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  6. Maltese Fan

    Maltese Fan Member

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    Sorry, didn't see this post. I was using an M-Audio Firewire 1814 with an ADA 8000. I went to a Focusrite Clarrett 8Pre USB and Clarrett Octopre.
     
  7. Billinder33

    Billinder33 Member

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    I recently changed from an Apollo 16 to an Antelope Pure 2.

    From an audio perspective, I cannot hear any real difference. From a feature and usability perspective (given my specific use case), the difference is huge.

    There are a lot of threads on this forum from users asking about upgrading interface to improve sound quality, and for most users who already have decent modern interfaces, there will be no discernable impact. It's the features, usability, latency, quantity and types of I/O that will make an impact, if anything.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
  8. soundhack

    soundhack Member

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    Jim is absolutely right regarding noise floor in Mic Pres in interfaces - some interfaces are much better than others here. Especially important on low output mics (ribbon - SM7).

    Also good to check crosstalk performance in multichannel interfaces. I found one popular mid-priced interface to be absolutely horrible in this regard.
     
  9. Hired Goon

    Hired Goon Gold Supporting Member

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    We are probably at the stage where it is difficult to hear the differences between a $100 preamp vs a $5000 preamp. I mean how much better can a preamp get? What is left to achieve in a preamp?

    It's similar to guitars. Those of you who lived in the 70s and 80s know how bad a budget guitar could be, but today they are entirely respectable.

    Nobody is going to put Adele through a Behringer preamp, but I'd suggest that it wouldn't make an iota of difference in sales if they did.
     
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  10. patshep

    patshep Supporting Member

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    When I switched from my motu 828 to the apogee duet I noticed a definite improvement, it’s the converters. Plus the preamps were better. Unfortunately apogee stopped upgrading their drivers so it’s a worthless piece of junk now, won’t buy more apogee products after that. I’m now using an RME baby face which cost like $450 used I think. It sounds great and the drivers work well, although the software is difficult to learn compared to the others
     
  11. patshep

    patshep Supporting Member

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    The difference between my Great River ME1nv vs the stock preamps is very obvious. Especially with a cheap dynamic mic
     
  12. pipelineaudio

    pipelineaudio Member

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    Some of those stock preamps are pretty crazy good when going head to head with big name ones
     
  13. Hired Goon

    Hired Goon Gold Supporting Member

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    Perhaps but needing expensive tools is no longer a barrier. Now it's more about talent, creativity, and hard work, which is the way it should be.

    I'm sure a high level experienced professional could get the job done just fine with stock preamps.




     
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  14. Jim Roseberry

    Jim Roseberry Supporting Member

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    FWIW, I've used cheap/onboard preamps... and I've used prime-time outboard preamps.
    If I have a choice, I'll take the prime-time preamps. ;)
    Literally everything you run thru them sounds better.
    They make it easier to get great sounds.

    When I did my original drum sample library (now years ago - Purrrfect Drums), I recorded the cymbals with a C24 (stereo C12) and used GML preamps (George Massenburg).
    The sound had a somewhat dark... but extremely detailed quality.
    The noise-floor was ridiculously low.
    For a number of years, those cymbal samples were a benchmark.
    Without that mic and those preamps, the cymbal samples would not have been the same.

    No, a great preamp won't write a better song/arrangement.
    Song trumps all... and I agree with that.
    But (IME) there's a significant difference between a $30 preamp and a $3000 preamp (Neve/etc).
    The expensive preamp is literally like getting an upgrade on all your gear (instruments and mics).
    At the risk of repeating, DI electric bass thru most cheap audio interface DIs sounds weak/anemic.
    With an anemic bass recording as a starting point, it's hard to massage that into a great sound.
    Run that same bass thru a Portico-II or Shelford Channel... and it's instant.
    First time I ran a J bass thru a Portico-II, I heard the result I had been chasing for years.

    Years ago, there was an older guy on the Cakewalk forums... who saw my posts (struggling with DI bass recording).
    He claimed quality DI bass recording was easy.
    He mentioned a couple nice outboard preamps. I thought he was FOS (to be honest).
    Well... years later, I'm now that old guy... and he was right. o_O:D
     
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  15. sws1

    sws1 Member

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    Who says transparent is what you want? We buy gear because it imparts a tone every step of the way. Pro engineers choose microphones because they impart a sound...often very far from flat.

    Everyone loves a NEVE preamp, but it's far from flat and transparent.

    So why should transparent (or having a flat frequency graph) be the objective?

    If your ears like it, then it's good.
     
  16. Andrew Montreal

    Andrew Montreal Member

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    Having moved from MOTU 1224 to Lynx Aurora to Apogee Symphony I can attest that converters make a difference. It’s often more to do with the electronics that surround the actual chip itself. A good example of that is Burl.

    BUT of course, the converters are not going to be the major game changer that proper monitoring, a good sounding room, well-maintained instruments, and mic choices will be (musicians aside).

    To add to those, preamp choice also makes a big difference. Tracking with API vs Neve vs old tube gear vs Fearn (so on)... major differences. And all have their place and use. Gain staging will also affect how these units change the sound.

    BUT... and this is key to avoid sending people off to empty their accounts and go in debt just to feed their addiction... the difference isn’t worth it if you are making great music for the world to enjoy/connect with/be moved by. If that is your focus, which hopefully it is, go make music with what you have. Get the basics and create. Don’t get sucked in to the obsession!
     
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  17. batsbrew

    batsbrew Member

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    yea, get what you can afford.
    make music.

    but if you can afford better converters,
    that's a no brainer too.
     
  18. Timseel

    Timseel Member

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    I have a Mackie Onyx 1620 that connects via Firewire and I get constant clicks with Windows7, they stopped updating years ago and I'm about to upgrade the PC (staying with Windows probably 10) is there anything I can use to connect the desk to before the PC that will 'upgrade' it and make it all lovely? The desk is fine for what I need, I can have up to 18 channels at once recording directly to separate channels when live jamming etc.

    It will crash or jitter at the slightest attempt to do anything else. I have also got the latest (old) drivers and it took me ages to get it to work.
    It used to be fine with XP until I tried to do too much but the PC that was on wasn't powerful enough so I get that.

    I don't want to have to get rid of a perfectly good audio desk if I can sort out the firewire connection.
     
  19. PRSAtomic

    PRSAtomic Supporting Member

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    I don't own a mixer aside from my Apogee Duet 2. I love it, the preamps were very noticeably better than my Tascam US-2x2. I am considering buying a 500 series lunchbox and a channel strip module with a preamp to avoid using my audio interface preamp's gain altogether. I've seen postings elsewhere to save my money. I'm adding at times about 30db with the apogee gain to my signal. Do you have an opinion on the apogee and or high end audio interafce gain quality vs a 500 series module signal gain?
     
  20. batsbrew

    batsbrew Member

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    look at cloudlifter
     
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