#1
Hey guys

I currently own a ART Usb dual tube pre interface (used with a fairly powerful PC running Windows 7 64 bit). I really like the unit. It has a lot of features and is easy to use. The problem is, I think the converters in it are killing my sound. The interface has a 'mix' knob that sweeps from my direct preamp sound to my final sound (from my DAW, or whatever Im using). I love the direct sound (present, crispy, articulate). But when I roll to the final sound, it sounds like it is more dull, doesnt have the same presence, crispness, articulation, roundness and lacks overall feel. In essence, the tone that ends up being recorded is the dull AD converted tone.

I want to use an interface with Peavey Revalver 4 (which I am quite enjoying thus far) for recording purposes, practice, and live use. I doubt observers would notice the degradation of tone to be honest.. But I notice it and it really bothers me and it affects my recordings/practice. (FYI- I have observed this consistent tone degration across multiple platforms such as revalver, reaper, and general windows audio monitoring with no effects/sims/any processing applied to my signal).

Would I be able to achieve improved converter quality with a lateral interface purchase (i.e. a scarlett 2i2, or an mbox)? Does anybody else notice this issue when you sweep between your direct signal versus your returned signal (both via headphone or monitor listening)? The absolute most that I would be able to spend right now is $300, unless I sold some stuff. I dont require many features either: 1-2 channels, mic xlr input and guitar 1/4" direct input, 1/8" or 1/4" headphone jack and 1/4" outs for monitors. I dont need compression, low cuts, phantom power, or any other processing. Just good conversion.

Also- I use ASIO4ALL to get low latency. To be honest, I dont really notice any latency at all. Ive played with the settings, but it hasnt improved my tone degradation.

Thanks!
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Last edited by Watterboy at Feb 11, 2015,
#2
I think scarlett's sound pretty bad and M-Box's aren't worth the money they cost.

I'd get a mackie onyx blackjack or a roland duo capture EX.
If you want an even better result, get an audient id22 or an spl crimson.

Yes you'll head a difference.
Name's Luca.

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#3
Quote by Spambot_2
I think scarlett's sound pretty bad and M-Box's aren't worth the money they cost.

I'd get a mackie onyx blackjack or a roland duo capture EX.
If you want an even better result, get an audient id22 or an spl crimson.

Yes you'll head a difference.


Gawd- the Audient looks pretty cool, but it sure is expensive. I really dont understand why converters cost so damn much

How about the focusrite forte?
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Last edited by Watterboy at Feb 12, 2015,
#4
Quote by Watterboy
Gawd- the Audient looks pretty cool, but it sure is expensive. I really dont understand why converters cost so damn much

How about the focusrite forte?

Focusrite will sound way better than what you're currently using, Scarlett or Forte. Forte will sound the best between the two.
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#5
Quote by Sid McCall
Focusrite will sound way better than what you're currently using, Scarlett or Forte. Forte will sound the best between the two.


How do you know? Have you used both units? Im not trying to be sarcastic- I just have extremely limited experience/exposure to interfaces. They arent exactly something you can just try out a bunch of them like you can with guitar amps, so it is hard for me..

Are you well versed on the parts/converters and you know just by looking, or have you used them all? Thanks!
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#6
Quote by Watterboy
How do you know? Have you used both units? Im not trying to be sarcastic- I just have extremely limited experience/exposure to interfaces. They arent exactly something you can just try out a bunch of them like you can with guitar amps, so it is hard for me..

Are you well versed on the parts/converters and you know just by looking, or have you used them all? Thanks!

I don't have first-hand experience with those units, no, but I do know the pedigree of the company and their innovations upon which they based these newer units. Also, there's the balance between features and price that usually indicates what's on the inside - the Forte has two preamps and a hefty price tag - that's because the converters etc are higher quality to justify the price. This doesn't hold true 100% of the time, but the reviews are out there from people with firsthand experience to back it all up (and I obsessively read those).

Like others here, I spend a lot of time on other forums dedicated to recording and read trade magazines. I also live in Nashville, TN where everyone and their mother has studio experience and you can chat at length with serious pros and/or folks who HAVE used all the gear. When you love a topic, you soak it all up.

Also, the ART is just such low quality conversion-wise that pretty much anything by a reputable company will be higher quality - the question now is about getting the best bang for your buck.

Edit: the ART is still a decent colored preamp and you should keep it around, you'll find it useful as you expand and experiment. It's a great utility device to have handy.
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#7
Quote by Sid McCall
I don't have first-hand experience with those units, no, but I do know the pedigree of the company and their innovations upon which they based these newer units. Also, there's the balance between features and price that usually indicates what's on the inside - the Forte has two preamps and a hefty price tag - that's because the converters etc are higher quality to justify the price. This doesn't hold true 100% of the time, but the reviews are out there from people with firsthand experience to back it all up (and I obsessively read those).

Like others here, I spend a lot of time on other forums dedicated to recording and read trade magazines. I also live in Nashville, TN where everyone and their mother has studio experience and you can chat at length with serious pros and/or folks who HAVE used all the gear. When you love a topic, you soak it all up.

Also, the ART is just such low quality conversion-wise that pretty much anything by a reputable company will be higher quality - the question now is about getting the best bang for your buck.

Edit: the ART is still a decent colored preamp and you should keep it around, you'll find it useful as you expand and experiment. It's a great utility device to have handy.


Agreed- I love the preamp sound of it. But it sounds like I need a better device for conversion. Whether I settle for the scarlett, or splurge and get something better I am yet to determine. I guess its good that tax returns are coming though Thanks for your help!
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#8
Quote by Watterboy
I really dont understand why converters cost so damn much
Converters don't cost that much.
A batch of 10k ESS 9018 will cost you less than $10 per unit, and if you buy singles you can expect to pay around $15 per unit, and 9018's are hella good sounding converters.

Audio interfaces though are a lot more than converters.
A lot more.

The design is what costs the most, then there's the brand, then there are the components.
Quote by Watterboy
How about the focusrite forte?
Sure as hell gonna sound better than whatever scarlett and saffire, likely better than the onyx blackjack, worse than the id22 and the crimson.
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#9
Quote by Sid McCall
Focusrite will sound way better than what you're currently using, Scarlett or Forte. Forte will sound the best between the two.


Meh- just ran out and bought the 2i2 to see if there was any validity there. Still pretty much the same thing. The preamp/direct sound sounds great from my monitors or headphones. Then I switch to the return sound and it just feels like its losing its girth. Its not a crispy. It almost feels like Im not actually interacting with it anymore. The latency is only 3-5ms, so i dont think that is whats messing with me.

Im probably going to return it tomorrow and try something more expensive. If this issue persists, then it may just mean Im an analog guy and not digital (as much as I want digital to be it, trust me)
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#10
Quote by Watterboy
Meh- just ran out and bought the 2i2 to see if there was any validity there. Still pretty much the same thing. The preamp/direct sound sounds great from my monitors or headphones. Then I switch to the return sound and it just feels like its losing its girth. Its not a crispy. It almost feels like Im not actually interacting with it anymore. The latency is only 3-5ms, so i dont think that is whats messing with me.

Im probably going to return it tomorrow and try something more expensive. If this issue persists, then it may just mean Im an analog guy and not digital (as much as I want digital to be it, trust me)

Very weird. Starting to sound like there's some other issue with your playback settings.
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#11
Quote by Sid McCall
Very weird. Starting to sound like there's some other issue with your playback settings.


When you toggle / roll mix knob between your direct monitor on your interface and your armed track record monitoring, do they sound the same to you? I cant imagine what playback setting I have wrong, but ive had this problem on two separate computers, with multiple programs (daw, revalver) and with two different interfaces now. I just want me RECORD MONITORING to sound and feel the same as my direct monitoring lol
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#12
Quote by Sid McCall
Very weird. Starting to sound like there's some other issue with your playback settings.
Sounds like a scarlett to me actually
Name's Luca.

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#13
Quote by Watterboy
When you toggle / roll mix knob between your direct monitor on your interface and your armed track record monitoring, do they sound the same to you? I cant imagine what playback setting I have wrong, but ive had this problem on two separate computers, with multiple programs (daw, revalver) and with two different interfaces now. I just want me RECORD MONITORING to sound and feel the same as my direct monitoring lol

I don't have a mix knob, but when I play back what I've recorded it sounds like I expect it to. Are you using a mic/amp or plugins? There's always going to be a slight disconnect between an amp in a room and whatever gets into the mic unless you're room micing.

Honestly it sounds to me like your monitor volume could be louder. Usually things sound weak when you're recording hot and monitoring low. Crank up your monitors and monitor only the armed track, not your direct. Get it to sound good while monitoring the DAW, not your input.
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#14
Quote by Spambot_2
Sounds like a scarlett to me actually


Ill take your advice spambot and try the Audient Id22. Ill probably buy it in a month or two and Ill report back if it solves my issue and provide a comprehensive review. Will the audient help reduce latency too? I thought my latency was at 5ms but im actually at about 10-11ms reported latency.
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#15
Quote by Sid McCall
I don't have a mix knob, but when I play back what I've recorded it sounds like I expect it to. Are you using a mic/amp or plugins? There's always going to be a slight disconnect between an amp in a room and whatever gets into the mic unless you're room micing.

Honestly it sounds to me like your monitor volume could be louder. Usually things sound weak when you're recording hot and monitoring low. Crank up your monitors and monitor only the armed track, not your direct. Get it to sound good while monitoring the DAW, not your input.


Right now im plugging my guitar in direct to my interface, although I notice the quality difference when I mic up my amp too. Usually the direct sounds more saturated, present, sweeter. The record monitoring sounds like the high end takes a hit and it sounds more dull. Either way- my interface is usually set that Im seeing GREEN on the input indicator, but never red. The volume difference between the direct vs record monitoring is usually minimal; if anything the record monitpring is louder some reason. Im not using any processing. I bet if you had direct monitoring, you would hear what im talking about too
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#16
Quote by Watterboy
Will the audient help reduce latency too?
Most likely not.

See, latency depends on your computer's processing power (the higher it is the lmaller you can set the buffer size, and the smaller the buffer size the less latency you have) and on the data interface of the audio interface (USB in this cases, which has a hell of a lot of latency).
Quote by Watterboy
I thought my latency was at 5ms but im actually at about 10-11ms reported latency.
That would probably be input only or output only latency vs roundtrip latency.
Name's Luca.

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#17
+1 for Focusrite
I recommend the Focusrite Saffire Pro 14. It is under 300$ and is a great unit.
#18
So I just ordered an RME babyface. It should be here by the end of the week. Im going to do a direct comparison video between the RME and my ART usb dual tube pre interface. I am sort of skeptical about the whole "big" sound difference between interfaces, but on the other hand I imagine it would be crazy of people to spend so much money. So stay tuned and I will finally put this issue to rest for my myself, and maybe some of you guys too

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Last edited by Watterboy at Mar 3, 2015,
#19
Quote by Watterboy
So I just ordered an RME babyface. It should be here by the end of the week. Im going to do a direct comparison video between the RME and my ART usb dual tube pre interface. I am sort of skeptical about the whole "big" sound difference between interfaces, but on the other hand I imagine it would be crazy of people to spend so much money. So stay tuned and I will finally put this issue to rest for my myself, and maybe some of you guys too


Good choice! There will be a HUGE difference because you just bought a real interface, not a cheap preamp that has an afterthought AD/DA shoved in it. Enjoy!
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#20
Quote by Watterboy
I am sort of skeptical about the whole "big" sound difference between interfaces
Nah don't worry, my half deaf grandma would have no problem discerning a BabyFace from the ART pre.

Also what Scott said.
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#22
Hey all- I got my RME babyface in. I didnt have time to do a comparison video to my cheaper ART interface yet, but I wanted to give you a decent review of my findings:

Babyface
The Good:
-the preamps and conversion sound good and seem to accurately capture the sound you hear outloud, and when direct monitoring vs playback monitoring
-the latency is great. At 48khz i have the buffer set to either 64 or 96 and it is low stable latency. This resolved my issue where I thought my playback monitoring sounded degraded; the latency on my other interface was too high (19ms)
-the design is pretty sleek and portable

The Bad
-i dont love the breakout cable scheme. Its a pain in the ass hanging around. And i wish it had more analog inputs instead of the midi ect. But i guess many people would appreciate having midi
-totalmix is a uber pain in the ass to get started with. Im getting the hang of it and i can do the basic playback schemes that I need. But as many reviews have suggested, there is definitely a bit of a learning curve there.
-every couple of minutes I get a random half second dropout on my audio. Maybe thats because of my low buffer, but it shouldnt be happening according to how the product was advertized. Idk

My Verdict
i wish I bought the babyface first, because low low latency and accurate direct playback monitoring are very important to me. But, I dont think there is as big of a sound quality difference between the babyface and my other interface as you all suggested there would be. Ill have to do a direct comparison, but I think this site (and the web in general) is full of overexaggerators when it comes to guitar gear and describing sounds. If latency and high high driver stability arent the most important things to you, I wouldnt spent over $250-300 for an interface. But if you want everything so you can have a hi fi reliable live sound, then a babyface will work. But buy it used; dont spend $700 on one. Thats craziness. I got mine for $480.

Anyway, here is a clip. I used my esp ltd mh401 with SD jb/jazz combo through my Engl Powerball and Mesa 4x12. Two mics Shure sm57 and shure beta57a, both mixed dead center on the Babyface. No processing or pedal effects at all. Just futsing around with my channels and diff pickup selections.





https://www.dropbox.com/s/n5hm9cyqjk25z3i/Engl%20Powerball%20Rme%20Babyface.mp3?dl=0
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Last edited by Watterboy at Mar 10, 2015,
#23
So in other words you wouldn't say the $700 price tag justifies the product?

I looked at the breakout cable and it brought memories of the nightmare I had with the old M-Audio Delta 1010lt when those cables started wearing out.
#24
Quote by diabolical
So in other words you wouldn't say the $700 price tag justifies the product?

I looked at the breakout cable and it brought memories of the nightmare I had with the old M-Audio Delta 1010lt when those cables started wearing out.


Nah. Dont get me wrong- the babyface is pretty good. But I think interfaces in general are ridiculously overpriced. There is such a huge price difference between them, but it seems like the lower priced ones (under $200) are pretty damn solid already In terms of sound quality. Basically, you are paying $500 for a driver. If thats what the driver costs, so be it- but its a little ridiculous. Quite bluntly- I think you would have to be an idiot or purely wasteful to pay over $1000 for an interface
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#25
Quote by Watterboy
Quite bluntly- I think you would have to be an idiot or purely wasteful to pay over $1000 for an interface
Not to be rude here, but just because you can't hear a difference it doesn't mean there's not a difference.

Have a listen - https://www.gearslutz.com/board/gear-shoot-outs-sound-file-comparisons-audio-tests/719634-one-symphony-apollo.html?highlight=symphony

Now if you can't hear a difference between your previous pre and your babyface then you likely won't even hear a difference, let alone get it right.

Thing is, I can and I can find the symphony everytime, and lotsa other people can as well.

Apogee (among others) makes interfaces costing more than $1k, and are they worth it if you ask me?
Damn right they are.
Why?
They sound better, end of the story.
Name's Luca.

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#26
Quote by Spambot_2
Not to be rude here, but just because you can't hear a difference it doesn't mean there's not a difference.

Have a listen - https://www.gearslutz.com/board/gear-shoot-outs-sound-file-comparisons-audio-tests/719634-one-symphony-apollo.html?highlight=symphony

Now if you can't hear a difference between your previous pre and your babyface then you likely won't even hear a difference, let alone get it right.

Thing is, I can and I can find the symphony everytime, and lotsa other people can as well.

Apogee (among others) makes interfaces costing more than $1k, and are they worth it if you ask me?
Damn right they are.
Why?
They sound better, end of the story.


You're kind of being snobbish. First off- "They sound better, end of story". 110% subjective statement.

Secondly, youre right about me not knowing which interface is which in that test.. because I have never used any of those interfaces. But the fact that each interface colors a recording in its own way is different than saying one sounds "better" than another. If one interface adds upper mids, that is quantifiable. But to say it sounds BETTER is subjective; maybe you like more upper mids, but somebody else doesnt..

Lastly- if you prefer the $1k plus interfaces and want to spend your money on them, then thats your perogative and I wont argue that. But my own personal findings are beginning to prove that my personal hypothesis that the sound quality improvement between massively varying price ranges of interfaces is very minimal and not worth the investment. Basically, if I see somebody asking "is it really worth it to buy X instead of Y??", my answer going forward is going to be "unless you want rapid latency, in my personal experience, the answer is NO"
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#27
Quote by Watterboy
my answer going forward is going to be "unless you want rapid latency, in my personal experience, the answer is NO"

Just make sure that when you give that answer, you make it clear that your experience does not include any $1000+ interfaces

Regarding the breakout cable, I have the same issues with my duet, and here's what helped me clean that up:
http://www.amazon.com/Bluelounge-CableDrop-Black-Management-System/dp/B004K2WZS4
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#28
Quote by Sid McCall
Just make sure that when you give that answer, you make it clear that your experience does not include any $1000+ interfaces

Regarding the breakout cable, I have the same issues with my duet, and here's what helped me clean that up:
http://www.amazon.com/Bluelounge-CableDrop-Black-Management-System/dp/B004K2WZS4


I will be sure people know it is my personal opinion and personal experience; but that being said, I read the Recording Introduction sticky and it seems like the higher end recommended two channel interfaces are the apollo, the crimson, and the audient id22.. i have read countless reviews and comparisons, listened to comparison vids, and the general consensus appears to be that the Babyface is pretty much right on par with the quality of these interfaces. Maybe there is slightly different coloring, but the quality is right there. There is no way I am gonna take a $1000+ bath to buy a unit that "adds a little brightness" or "low mids" when I can just adjust my depth punch, presence knobs, or just move my freakin microphone a bit. I really think people exaggerate a fair amount when it comes to this stuff, and it isnt limited to interfaces.
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#29
Quote by Watterboy
First off- "They sound better, end of story". 110% subjective statement.
Up to a point.

They sound better about as much as a powerball sounds better than a marshall MG.

Somebody may argue somebody else may like an MG's tone better than any other $1k+ amp, but the vast majority of people who have listened to stuff will agree a powerball sounds better.
Quote by Watterboy
Secondly, youre right about me not knowing which interface is which in that test.. because I have never used any of those interfaces.
Did you hear any difference though?
Also did you check the results, 'cause there are two interfaces and three clips there and you may find interesting stuff.
Quote by Watterboy
But the fact that each interface colors a recording in its own way is different than saying one sounds "better" than another.
Again, up to a point.

Somebody may like a 1073 better than a 3124, somebody else may like a distressor better than an LA-2A, somebody may like UA apollo's better than apogee's, but nobody who can hear the difference will like an art tube pre better than a symphony i/o, just as much as nobody will like a line 6 spider better than an axe fx.

Quote by Watterboy
But my own personal findings are beginning to prove that my personal hypothesis that the sound quality improvement between massively varying price ranges of interfaces is very minimal and not worth the investment.
I do respect that.

Thing is, one can't objectively quantify how much of a difference he hears between two things, so you'll never really be able to tell if you don't think the investment is worth it because you don't think the sound improvement is worth it or because you can't hear the sound improvement.
Quote by Watterboy
I read the Recording Introduction sticky and it seems like the higher end recommended two channel interfaces are the apollo, the crimson, and the audient id22...
Also the apogee duet.
Quote by Watterboy
i have read countless reviews and comparisons, listened to comparison vids, and the general consensus appears to be that the Babyface is pretty much right on par with the quality of these interfaces. Maybe there is slightly different coloring, but the quality is right there.
I partly agree.

Quality's there all right, both in sound and drivers, but you should go and try the other interfaces listed there, even if only to get an idea of what you can get for your money.
Quote by Watterboy
There is no way I am gonna take a $1000+ bath to buy a unit that "adds a little brightness" or "low mids" when I can just adjust my depth punch, presence knobs, or just move my freakin microphone a bit.
Yes, but have you listened to an ULN-2 in person?
Have you listened to a symphony i/o in person?

If you haven't I suggest you cut down the statements of principle and go listening to stuff.
Name's Luca.

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#30
That's all fair man. i wish I had more opportunities to try them all, but I dont know an easy way to do that, short of buying and returning them lol. Anywho- the Babyface is pretty good and I am happy with it. It solved my issue with my difference in sound direct monitor vs daw monitor which was the intent of the thread. So ty to everybody who gave me advice multiple times and pointed me in the right direction
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