School me on Audio Interfaces

Get that song on tape! Errr... disk?
User avatar
Unicorn Warrior
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 1897
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:58 pm
Location: Kentucky, USA

School me on Audio Interfaces

Post by Unicorn Warrior » Wed Nov 21, 2018 10:21 pm

Hoping to get a DAW and an Audio Interface by the years end. I'm nearly studio illiterate but will be using this home set-up to do demos of my band...in hopes to either A) Make good enough tracks to release on my own OR B) at least make craft songs good enough to later take to a better studio...

Anyway..my aim is to keep most things I record as organic as possible. Meaning I want to mic and record drums, amps, other instruments..etc. I want to find something that can do the job pretty well, but not break the bank. What do you suggest?

User avatar
jthomas
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 482
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:44 pm
Location: Downeast Maine

Re: School me on Audio Interfaces

Post by jthomas » Thu Nov 22, 2018 6:57 am

I have a Scarlet 2i4 (2 ins and 4 outs) going into my desktop. It works well enough for cheap and I suspect that most entry level similar audio interfaces work about the same. (https://focusrite.com/usb-interfaces) The Scarlet (and others) allow for direct inputs from a guitar and powered inputs for condenser mics. The Scarlet preamps are based on the Rupert Neve designed preamps. It's worth a few minutes to do some internet research on Neve. I found a YouTube documentary awhile back about his recording desks. I will look for it an post a link here if I can find it again.

I wish that I could have found a device specific cookbook when I set mine up. I had to futz around quite a bit, installing, de-installing, and re-installing the device drivers to get the interface working. I know enough about computers, but it took a couple of hours to get that step out of the way. Then you have to install whatever recording software you want to use. You also may have to install the audio drivers, depending on your choice of DAWs. If I remember correctly, the Scarlet comes with Abelton's Lite version and it works, but all of the DAWs have a pretty steep learning curve. I have defaulted to Audacity for the little bit of tinkering around that I do. That doesn't allow me to use plug ins in real time, but it's easy to use.

If you are going to be recording your band live, or nearly live (maybe laying down the drums and bass, live) you likely will need a mixer in front of the interface, if you have only 2 ins, like I do. I haven't tried that yet. I do have a little Behringer mixer (something like this: http://www.musictribe.com/Categories/Be ... FX/p/P0571).

Home studio recording is fun, but there's a lot of technical detail to iron out and it's a lot more difficult to make something sound good, than I anticipated. I know that this sounds a little patronizing, but I suspect that you will certainly need patience. I would suggest keeping a notebook (a recording diary) that details how you did things. As you go along, you will probably find a way to make something work and then 2 or so weeks later need to recall what you did. I use cheap school composition notebooks. It also makes sense to have a computer set aside only for recording. I use my desktop computer, but every now and then some application hijacks the audio system (like if I put the computer to sleep or play a movie) and I have to reboot it.

Lastly, I would suggest breaking the task down to a series of steps, instead of doing it willy-nilly, like I did. Something like:

1. Figure out your budget for each stage and component of the system (computer, interface, amps and monitors, DAW, mixer, mics, cables, etc). I probably have about $2500 invested in my ultra-cheap setup, but it would be crazy easy to spend a lot more. Once the system is stable, you can decide if you are going to purchase any fancy plug ins or use soft synths or samplers for drums. You might take a look at the UK magazines Computer Music and FutureMusic (they give away some nice software with the purchase of the magazine).

2. Commit to which computer and operating system you are going to use. I build my own PCs, but you may want to use a Mac. The choice of computers will have some impact on the later stages. (You will need to consider 32 bit versus 64 bit operating systems if you don't go Apple to maximize your set-up's ability to process sound in real time.) The less the computer has to do in the background, probably the better it will work for recording, so simple is best, IMO. My next set up probably will be Linux based as Windows is turning to a kind of carnival with all the shopping crap, notifications, pushed updates, and various Micro$oft intrusions. I use Win7. I suspect that with Win10 you could be in the middle of recording something and Windows will decide to alert you to some great sale price on something. Great for cell phones and my 18 year old daughter, but bad for serious work.

3. Commit to an audio interface (USB versus firewire) and install it and iron out the bugs. There will be volume (level) controls at multiple stages of the system, learn where all of them are. It can be frustrating to try and set the recording level and have zero volume and then 20 minutes later figure out that the mixer in the operating system has set itself to off.

4. Wire up the interface to an amp and speakers. (I bought a couple of cheap Radio Shack Sherwood receivers that I use for my sound output and I built a couple of cheap monitors out of inexpensive Jensen guitar speakers in cardboard boxes) Your budget probably will allow for something nicer. I have kids.

5. Try a couple of DAWs (most manufacturers have lite versions for free) and select one and learn how to use it. That may be the hardest step of all. I would have loved to take a course in recording. Oh well. Wikipedia has a nice summary of propitiatory and free DAWs.

6. Chances are you will have to play around with the set up at that point to reduce that latency as much as possible. I have found that to be a dark art with some recording software (Damn you Guitar Rig!!)

7. THEN, after you have a stable recording system, and only then, begin to record your mates (or yourself) and shake out the bugs in the recording space, mic placements, sound levels, etc.).

Best wishes and happy Thanksgiving.

EDIT: Here's the link to the video about Focusrite consoles
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJd8606oNNk

User avatar
Unicorn Warrior
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 1897
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:58 pm
Location: Kentucky, USA

Re: School me on Audio Interfaces

Post by Unicorn Warrior » Thu Nov 22, 2018 5:52 pm

Thank you for the wealth of info. May be worth mentioning that I got a good start. I have some studio monitors that I use for my record player. I also have tons of mics, cables, and a Mac

User avatar
Unicorn Warrior
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 1897
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:58 pm
Location: Kentucky, USA

Re: School me on Audio Interfaces

Post by Unicorn Warrior » Fri Nov 23, 2018 2:13 am

After investigating a bit further, it appears that I'm going to need quite a few inputs/preamps for the drums. I don't necessarily plan on doing a lot of simultaneous recording of other instruments, but to keep the drums "true" I'll be looking for something that can cover the ground there

User avatar
mbene085
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 3659
Joined: Tue May 24, 2016 5:07 am

Re: School me on Audio Interfaces

Post by mbene085 » Fri Nov 23, 2018 5:00 am

First, you need to set your budget. "Not breaking the bank" is not very specific.

You mentioned wanting to track drums. There are different methods to this, of course. If you were into 40's and 50's music, a single room mic could get you that sound. More modern but simple recordings tend to have at minimum a pair of overheads, a mic on the kick drum, and 1-2 on the snare. Commonly, you'll find 2 on the kick, 2 on the snare, 2 overheads, 2 room mics, one on the hats, and one per tom. You can easily find studios that use more mics than that.

The Presonus Quantum would be my choice if you're really going to need that many inputs. It's got the most channels and preamps for the money, super low latency, the pres sound good, etc. but like jthomas said, you have to nail down a budget for everything (mics, cables, interface, computer, software).

User avatar
Unicorn Warrior
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 1897
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:58 pm
Location: Kentucky, USA

Re: School me on Audio Interfaces

Post by Unicorn Warrior » Fri Nov 23, 2018 5:12 am

mbene085 wrote:
Fri Nov 23, 2018 5:00 am
First, you need to set your budget. "Not breaking the bank" is not very specific.

You mentioned wanting to track drums. There are different methods to this, of course. If you were into 40's and 50's music, a single room mic could get you that sound. More modern but simple recordings tend to have at minimum a pair of overheads, a mic on the kick drum, and 1-2 on the snare. Commonly, you'll find 2 on the kick, 2 on the snare, 2 overheads, 2 room mics, one on the hats, and one per tom. You can easily find studios that use more mics than that.

The Presonus Quantum would be my choice if you're really going to need that many inputs. It's got the most channels and preamps for the money, super low latency, the pres sound good, etc. but like jthomas said, you have to nail down a budget for everything (mics, cables, interface, computer, software).
Would prefer to keep it around $500..but may be willing to go a little higher or lower. As mentioned before, I've got the computer, mics, cables, and monitors sorted...just need a daw, maybe a mixer?, and the interface.

The presonus is in my price range so I'll definitely give it a look. You have any experience with it?

EDIT: just realized the one with more channels is slightly above budget.

User avatar
Unicorn Warrior
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 1897
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:58 pm
Location: Kentucky, USA

Re: School me on Audio Interfaces

Post by Unicorn Warrior » Fri Nov 23, 2018 5:35 am

Anyone know what the advantage of the Qauntum is over the Studio?

User avatar
Larry Mal
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 12318
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 4:25 pm
Location: Saint Louis, MO

Re: School me on Audio Interfaces

Post by Larry Mal » Fri Nov 23, 2018 7:42 am

If I remember correctly, the Quantum is Thunderbolt based and the Studio 192 is USB.

That's going to be one of the first choices you'll be making here- forget about Firewire, Firewire is obsolete. Unless you have a Firewire equipped Mac and don't see yourself ever upgrading that, just move to a newer bus protocol and future proof yourself.

If you have a Thunderbolt equipped Mac, I would recommend Thunderbolt over USB, but not by a whole lot.

Here's one thing that I'm going to suggest: if you get something like the Clarett line:

https://focusrite.com/thunderbolt-audio ... arett-2pre

That's only two inputs but on the back there is an optical in and you can add something like the Focusrite Octopre later:

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... CVEALw_wcB

And those can be found for around $500 if you look. So you would be able to buy a two, four or eight preamp initial box from Focusrite and then add another eight later. That should cover you with a drum kit. I've been giving this some thought because I'm also a drummer and want to get back into recording my own drums down the road.

If you are on a Mac, then Logic is an absolute no-brainer to purchase. There's nothing really "better" out there although there's a lot of great DAWs, but Logic is shoulder to shoulder with any of them and costs far less at $199. Plus, I have not seen Logic have another "version" upgrade since Logic X, so you'll be paying $199 one time and one time only and then they just keep updating it anyway, which you continue to get.

It just doesn't make financial sense to get anything other than Logic and that's the one thing that keeps me on the Mac platform to this day (although nothing is forever).

Let me know the answers to what you are doing regarding USB or Thunderbolt and I might have an offer for you.
Back in those days, everyone knew that if you were talking about Destiny's Child, you were talking about Beyonce, LaTavia, LeToya, and Larry.

User avatar
Unicorn Warrior
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 1897
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:58 pm
Location: Kentucky, USA

Re: School me on Audio Interfaces

Post by Unicorn Warrior » Fri Nov 23, 2018 7:38 pm

Larry Mal wrote:
Fri Nov 23, 2018 7:42 am
If I remember correctly, the Quantum is Thunderbolt based and the Studio 192 is USB.

That's going to be one of the first choices you'll be making here- forget about Firewire, Firewire is obsolete. Unless you have a Firewire equipped Mac and don't see yourself ever upgrading that, just move to a newer bus protocol and future proof yourself.

If you have a Thunderbolt equipped Mac, I would recommend Thunderbolt over USB, but not by a whole lot.

Here's one thing that I'm going to suggest: if you get something like the Clarett line:

https://focusrite.com/thunderbolt-audio ... arett-2pre

That's only two inputs but on the back there is an optical in and you can add something like the Focusrite Octopre later:

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... CVEALw_wcB

And those can be found for around $500 if you look. So you would be able to buy a two, four or eight preamp initial box from Focusrite and then add another eight later. That should cover you with a drum kit. I've been giving this some thought because I'm also a drummer and want to get back into recording my own drums down the road.

If you are on a Mac, then Logic is an absolute no-brainer to purchase. There's nothing really "better" out there although there's a lot of great DAWs, but Logic is shoulder to shoulder with any of them and costs far less at $199. Plus, I have not seen Logic have another "version" upgrade since Logic X, so you'll be paying $199 one time and one time only and then they just keep updating it anyway, which you continue to get.

It just doesn't make financial sense to get anything other than Logic and that's the one thing that keeps me on the Mac platform to this day (although nothing is forever).

Let me know the answers to what you are doing regarding USB or Thunderbolt and I might have an offer for you.
I'm not really sure if my IMac has thunderbolt or not. It's from 2017. I know it ha USB...but the thunderbolt I'm unsure. I guess I should add that I want to mic the drums, but nothing too fancy as I only have like 5-6 drum mics. I won't be buying anymore because I'm not a huge drum guy. I like them enough that I want to capture real drums, but that's the extent of it

User avatar
Larry Mal
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 12318
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 4:25 pm
Location: Saint Louis, MO

Re: School me on Audio Interfaces

Post by Larry Mal » Fri Nov 23, 2018 7:44 pm

I'll bet anything that it has Thunderbolt, Apple has been fucking up the Macbooks for some time by taking away useful ports and substituting a mix of nothing or USB fucking C, but I don't think they've troubled themselves to ruin the Macs yet.

5-6 mics on drums is a good amount. One in the kick, one on the snare, one for the hi-hat, a spaced pair for the cymbals and toms, that's a very viable way to record drums especially if you don't have a great sounding environment and would prefer to keep the mics close.

A lot of great drum sounds have been captured that way.
Back in those days, everyone knew that if you were talking about Destiny's Child, you were talking about Beyonce, LaTavia, LeToya, and Larry.

User avatar
jthomas
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 482
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:44 pm
Location: Downeast Maine

Re: School me on Audio Interfaces

Post by jthomas » Sat Nov 24, 2018 7:24 pm

I was looking around YouTube and saw this video. You might find the comparisons interesting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uO3oZZGk4M

User avatar
øøøøøøø
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 12231
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2008 8:26 pm
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Contact:

Re: School me on Audio Interfaces

Post by øøøøøøø » Sun Nov 25, 2018 12:27 am

I remember when I was at exactly this place.

You will learn a lot. Your sense of what's possible will shrink, then (if you keep working), expand.

Most important for a start is to just get something, and work around the limitations of that. Once those limitations become frustrating enough, you'll find ways to scrape together the funds to overcome those limitations. In the meantime, trying to work around them will yield some interesting results provided you let your creativity lead and refuse to let it be denied.

If you can scrape together the money, the UA Apollo series is pretty impressive in its price bracket. If you can't afford one, that's OK. Get whatever you can afford (don't be afraid of 'obsolete' technology, either) and get to work.

The first thing that will frustrate you will be your monitoring and your monitoring environment/room. You'll get frustrated that things don't sound the same in other environments as they do at home, especially the low end. But you'll ask people who know what they're talking about, and get help, and little by little you'll start to put it together.

Enjoy the process!

User avatar
Unicorn Warrior
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 1897
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:58 pm
Location: Kentucky, USA

Re: School me on Audio Interfaces

Post by Unicorn Warrior » Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:18 pm

øøøøøøø wrote:
Sun Nov 25, 2018 12:27 am
I remember when I was at exactly this place.

You will learn a lot. Your sense of what's possible will shrink, then (if you keep working), expand.

Most important for a start is to just get something, and work around the limitations of that. Once those limitations become frustrating enough, you'll find ways to scrape together the funds to overcome those limitations. In the meantime, trying to work around them will yield some interesting results provided you let your creativity lead and refuse to let it be denied.

If you can scrape together the money, the UA Apollo series is pretty impressive in its price bracket. If you can't afford one, that's OK. Get whatever you can afford (don't be afraid of 'obsolete' technology, either) and get to work.

The first thing that will frustrate you will be your monitoring and your monitoring environment/room. You'll get frustrated that things don't sound the same in other environments as they do at home, especially the low end. But you'll ask people who know what they're talking about, and get help, and little by little you'll start to put it together.

Enjoy the process!
Still haven't sprung on Interface and the apollo looks like it could be a possibility. BUT...not the one with only 2 preamps. Wondering if I can make drums happen with multiple takes?

User avatar
Unicorn Warrior
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 1897
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:58 pm
Location: Kentucky, USA

Re: School me on Audio Interfaces

Post by Unicorn Warrior » Sat Mar 09, 2019 2:38 am

Larry Mal wrote:
Fri Nov 23, 2018 7:42 am
If I remember correctly, the Quantum is Thunderbolt based and the Studio 192 is USB.

That's going to be one of the first choices you'll be making here- forget about Firewire, Firewire is obsolete. Unless you have a Firewire equipped Mac and don't see yourself ever upgrading that, just move to a newer bus protocol and future proof yourself.

If you have a Thunderbolt equipped Mac, I would recommend Thunderbolt over USB, but not by a whole lot.

Here's one thing that I'm going to suggest: if you get something like the Clarett line:

https://focusrite.com/thunderbolt-audio ... arett-2pre

That's only two inputs but on the back there is an optical in and you can add something like the Focusrite Octopre later:

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... CVEALw_wcB

And those can be found for around $500 if you look. So you would be able to buy a two, four or eight preamp initial box from Focusrite and then add another eight later. That should cover you with a drum kit. I've been giving this some thought because I'm also a drummer and want to get back into recording my own drums down the road.

If you are on a Mac, then Logic is an absolute no-brainer to purchase. There's nothing really "better" out there although there's a lot of great DAWs, but Logic is shoulder to shoulder with any of them and costs far less at $199. Plus, I have not seen Logic have another "version" upgrade since Logic X, so you'll be paying $199 one time and one time only and then they just keep updating it anyway, which you continue to get.

It just doesn't make financial sense to get anything other than Logic and that's the one thing that keeps me on the Mac platform to this day (although nothing is forever).

Let me know the answers to what you are doing regarding USB or Thunderbolt and I might have an offer for you.
I ended up going with the clarett as you reccomended, Larry. I went with the 4pre version. The rep from sweetwater said she had experience with them and the clarett line was significantly better than Scarlett from personal experience.

I will add an octopre if and when it becomes necessary. Somewhat excited as I feel ya going to allow/push me to grow as a musician. On top of that is that I have a baby now and the dream of aquiring top notch gear has taken an indefinite back seat. Having this interface will force me to get along with the gear I already have and hopefully dive more into the music.

Thanks for all suggestions

User avatar
Unicorn Warrior
PAT. # 2.972.923
PAT. # 2.972.923
Posts: 1897
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:58 pm
Location: Kentucky, USA

Re: School me on Audio Interfaces

Post by Unicorn Warrior » Sat Mar 09, 2019 2:39 am

Larry Mal wrote:
Fri Nov 23, 2018 7:42 am
If I remember correctly, the Quantum is Thunderbolt based and the Studio 192 is USB.

That's going to be one of the first choices you'll be making here- forget about Firewire, Firewire is obsolete. Unless you have a Firewire equipped Mac and don't see yourself ever upgrading that, just move to a newer bus protocol and future proof yourself.

If you have a Thunderbolt equipped Mac, I would recommend Thunderbolt over USB, but not by a whole lot.

Here's one thing that I'm going to suggest: if you get something like the Clarett line:

https://focusrite.com/thunderbolt-audio ... arett-2pre

That's only two inputs but on the back there is an optical in and you can add something like the Focusrite Octopre later:

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... CVEALw_wcB

And those can be found for around $500 if you look. So you would be able to buy a two, four or eight preamp initial box from Focusrite and then add another eight later. That should cover you with a drum kit. I've been giving this some thought because I'm also a drummer and want to get back into recording my own drums down the road.

If you are on a Mac, then Logic is an absolute no-brainer to purchase. There's nothing really "better" out there although there's a lot of great DAWs, but Logic is shoulder to shoulder with any of them and costs far less at $199. Plus, I have not seen Logic have another "version" upgrade since Logic X, so you'll be paying $199 one time and one time only and then they just keep updating it anyway, which you continue to get.

It just doesn't make financial sense to get anything other than Logic and that's the one thing that keeps me on the Mac platform to this day (although nothing is forever).

Let me know the answers to what you are doing regarding USB or Thunderbolt and I might have an offer for you.
I ended up going with the clarett as you reccomended, Larry. I went with the 4pre version. The rep from sweetwater said she had experience with them and the clarett line was significantly better than Scarlett from personal experience.

I will add an octopre if and when it becomes necessary. Somewhat excited as I feel it's going to allow/push me to grow as a musician. On top of that is that I have a baby now and the dream of aquiring top notch gear has taken an indefinite back seat. Having this interface will force me to get along with the gear I already have and hopefully dive more into the music.

Thanks for all suggestions guys. This thread has been very helpful

Post Reply