Poll: 1-2 Channel Interfaces Used In R&R
Poll Options
View poll results: 1-2 Channel Interfaces Used In R&R
Line 6 - Pod Studio/Toneport Series
10 38%
M-Audio - Fast Track Series
4 15%
Lexicon - Alpha or Omega
2 8%
PreSonus - Audiobox, Firebox
5 19%
Focusrite - Saffire Series
5 19%
EMU - 0404, 1212, 1616, 1616m
2 8%
Alesis - iO Series
1 4%
Apogee - One or Duet
0 0%
Edirol - UA Series
0 0%
Other
3 12%
Voters: 26.
#1
Alright people of the R&R forum, because I'm so fed up dealing with every topic that asks "what should I buy to record stuff", and really want to get down to more important questions, here is the topic that I'm hoping will end this repetitive question. I realise there is a review thread already, but I read that and it was too cluttered.

Here, I shall give a rundown of nearly all the main interfaces, their pros and cons, not spec list because no one wants to read a big list of features/waste of space when they don't understand what half them do - if something is complicated I will explain, and then you guys can feed back to me with testimonials/ratings based on what you have used and how you have felt it performed.

One final thing, I'm only going to cover one or two channel interfaces here because I'm sure not many people need more than one or two channels on this forum.

To start, a few units that I know very well:

Line 6

Models: Toneport/Pod Studio GX, UX1, UX2
Price: $100 - $200

Pros

The GX model just has 1 instrument level input (so is an amp sims only affair) whilst the UX1 and 2 also have mic inputs so you can mic up your amp with a suitable microphone (although most of the time to a recording newbie the former option will yield better results)

These are great little units, I've slugged along on the most basic model - the GX for a good few years, and until the point I've reached now (where I'm now recording full bands) I have yet to need something that did anything more. The Toneports/Pod Studios are great for running amp sims and of course Line 6's own Pod Farm is included (one of the chief benefits), Pod Farm is used by even professional level producers and engineers like Joey Sturgis (devil wears prada, oceano, attack attack) for studio quality guitar tones (newbies note; do not expect to plug in, and immediately sound like your favourite deathcore band/get that Joey tone, it doesn't work like that, you have to know the tricks of the trade, like I said, these units have the capability, you just need to develop and understanding of what you are doing).

In short these units are very flexible, fairly robust - you'd have to do something silly to break them.

Cons


Line 6's drivers are a bit sluggish latency wise, if I was running a slow PC I'd be hesitant to use them, you can use this unit with ASIO4ALL though, as the drivers are more efficient - this will reduce latency (ie time between you playing a sound and it recording/you hearing it back) Line 6 also still haven't released official Windows 7 drivers yet, so watch out for this. The GX unit just has one stereo 1/8" jack output, this might be more convenient for some people with pc speakers with 1/8" jacks as the high models have 1/4" two mono outputs so you'd need an adapter of some kind. Last I checked none of these came with a sequencer to record into either, but since you can get your hands on Reaper so easily, this shouldn't be a problem.

Other things to note are that the UX1 model has no phantom power so you can't use condenser microphones with it, the UX2 does however, so you can with it.

UG User Testimonials

For someone on a budget, I'd be happy to recommend one of these, they are a fair good quality option. 4/5 stars. - Me

M-Audio
Models: Fast Track, Fast Track Pro
Price: $120 - $150

Pros


The first line of the Fast Tracks were purported to be pretty crappy pieces of hardware, however with the introduction of the second line (the MKII's) M-Audio seems to have created something worth checking out. For anyone wanting to get into Pro Tools whether amateur or professional, the M-Audio Fast Track series are one of the cheapest options available to allow you access to probably the most comprehensive sequencer on the market and its nicely configured editing features.

The lower model Fast Track is one of the cheapest interfaces on the market to have phantom power capable xlr input meaning you can use condenser mics with it easily. It also has an instrument level line in for use with amp sims, or for capturing DI's.

Unlike the Line 6 units the Fast Tracks also have direct monitoring, useful for tracking vocals because it means you can monitor back in real time mostly latency free.

Again, unlike Line 6, M-Audio are far more on the ball with Windows 7 drivers and have released them already.

Cons

The Pro units are reportedly somewhat noisy and a lot of people have complained about latency (see reviews on Musicians Friend) and the basic Fast Track only has RCA and headphone outs, so no 1/4" or 1/8" jack outputs, which would have made a whole load more sense.

UG User Testimonials

Lexicon
Models: Alpha
Price: $80

Pros


The Lexicon Alpha is by far one of the cheapest interfaces on the market (clocking in at $20 under the Line 6 Pod Studio GX and $40 under the Fast Track) - with some of the better features, and lexicon are a fairly reputable name in the audio business - making some of the best sounding reverb units to grace the audio world.

With the Lexicon products as well as getting a lexicon reverb plugin you also get a copy of Cubase LE.

With the Alpha having the most sensible ins and outs of a cheap interface (1 instrument input for amp sims and DI's, 1 XLR for dynamic mics and 2 Line Outs (two mono not one stereo, no splitter necessary here).

On the whole it's probably the best value for money, for what you get.

Cons

This unit looks a bit more plastic-y and fragile compared to some of the others. As of yet Lexicon offer no Windows 7 support and the Alpha has no phantom power so thus does not support Condenser microphones, which could be a bit of an arse if you're wanting to hook up some nice vocal mics. Reviews for this unit are however, pretty solid.
Last edited by Beefmo at Dec 28, 2009,
#2

Digidesign

Models: Mbox 2 Mini, Mbox 2, Mbox 2 Pro
Price: $300 - $700

Pros

Mboxes are made by Digidesign, the makers of Pro Tools and bundled with the Mboxes is a full version of Protools LE, the M-Audio units only come with a crippled version of Pro Tools with the ability to upgrade, so what is on offer here is very useful, Pro Tools is a pretty great sequencer as I've stated before and is considered the best for editing purposes thanks to its Beat Detective plugin.

The Mbox Mini is fairly full featured for the lowest version, with a headphone output and a xlr input with phantom power and a DI input as well as two TRS (1/4" jack) outputs for speakers. the higher models here provide mainly more of these inputs.


Cons


These units are largely very expensive for what you get, Digidesign is a company notorious for ripping audio engineers off - mainly because they can, when you've got the audio worlds standard sequencer you can get away with adding a good chunk on to the price, that's visible here, although if you really want to get into Pro Tools early on these units may be worth it.

The Mboxes are also pretty hellish to use if you to use them as your full soundcard, switching from using an Mbox in a sequencer to using it with your music or computer games may prove clunky and unpractical, and at worst - impossible. The reason for this is that Digidesigns drivers are notoriously finnicky about what they want to work on and what they don't.

UG User Testimonials

More to come...
Last edited by Beefmo at Dec 28, 2009,
#4
im liking this thread. pretty interested in the lexicon alpha. if i plan to use amp sims and then eventually just a dynamic mic would this be a good idea? is an interface the way to go for direct input and amp sims?
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#5
An interface is absolutely essential if you want to record guitar direct in, with any other (shoddy) connection, you'll have ridiculous latency.

Beef, you may want to consider adding the Mbox series to your list there, I know a lot of us use those!
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#7
Quote by Sid McCall

Beef, you may want to consider adding the Mbox series to your list there, I know a lot of us use those!


I knew there was something I forgot, sorry I don't think I can add it to the poll, but I will give it it's own review spot.
#9
Quote by jof1029
my thread is better...
https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1246859


except no one has contributed anything except for what ive taken from the stickies *hinthint*


Well it could be, but it reads as a hodgepodge collection of half review half tech specs.

I mean, look, who here understands this sort of stuff:

max input -2.2dBu (0.6 Vrms), min. gain signal to noise ratio -100dB @ 48kHz (A-weighted), min. gain dynamic range 100dB @ 48kHz (A-weighted), min. gain


It might as well be gibberish, because most of it doesnt even mean anything to me and compared to most folks here I'm fairly in the know.
#10
meh, that was a joke.

i mean tech specs are important, but the idea was more to stick a lot of reviews in one place. i have just copied stuff from other reviews, but if no one else contributes then its hard to get it off the ground.
#11
My vote goes to the Focusrite saffire series. I don't own any of their interfaces (I'm a MOTU user) - but they have some of the best preamps I've ever heard in a digital interface.
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#12
Just to add to the Mbox review, I run my instruments through the mini all the time and into amp sims and it sounds great. I just hit the DI switch, then the pad switch and everything comes through all nice and purdy.
Telecaster - SG - Jaguar
Princeton Reverb, Extra Reverb
P-Bass - Mustang Bass
Apogee Duet 2 - Ableton Suite
#13
Quote by Sid McCall
Just to add to the Mbox review, I run my instruments through the mini all the time and into amp sims and it sounds great. I just hit the DI switch, then the pad switch and everything comes through all nice and purdy.


Whoops, my bad man, I checked the units and didn't see it first time, now you've corrected me I see that's pretty wrong, will edit.

Jof, I totally missed the joke man, sorry, wierd night. Haha.
#14
watch out for the fast track ultra. I have it and ive had soooooo many problems with it. I recieved a pod x3 for christmas and just set it up today with no difficulties, and theres no pops when im recording. So my vote is for line 6 (Would you mind adding pods to Line 6 beefmo? They all are used for recording extensively)
#15
I voted for Other since there was no Mbox post.

Had my Mbox for over a year now. Never had a problem with it. Sure, a few hangups with Pro Tools every now and then but nothing too major.
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