Best usb audio interface under $150?
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Old 14-10-2012, 11:40 AM   #1
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Best usb audio interface under $150?

I used the search function but couldn't find anything this specific (I want this to be a specific thread) so yeah - mods bare with me

Basically what I need at the moment is something to use to record vinyls from my TT into my computer, but I plan on getting a hardware synth (probably DSI Mopho or Doepfer DE) and other audio-recordy-soundcard-requirery-thingies down the track so I need more than a usb phono preamp.

It's also very tricky because my current 'monitor' setup involves sound going from my headphone out on the laptop to an RCA adapter to L/R RCA in on an old home stereo system-type amplifier to my speakers via 14 gauge speaker cable.

I don't really know if this is possible (after a fair bit of looking) but what I need is something with RCA or headphone Ins (so I can connect my old TT and record it into the computer via usb) and RCA or headphone Outs so I can go from the interface to my old speaker amplifier. I realise that buying new actual studio monitors like rokits or something would make this part a lot easier but that is waaayyy out of the question for the moment.

Also midi I/O would be very good and possibly an instrument In or two.

Bare in mind I only have a very very minimal understanding of how audio interfaces work/what they should be used for specifically. I've been reading about them a fair bit but am still relatively confused so any straightforward information on audio interfaces you can give me would be EXTREMELY appreciated!!


my budget is very strict - $150 is pushing it but I understand I may have to fork out more for exactly what I want (fearing I may have to somehow dally up a combination of a preamp and an audio interface or something)

any help at all is majorly appreciated! thank you!!!! and sorry for the tl;dr - I tried to keep it concise, I really did :'(

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Old 14-10-2012, 12:05 PM   #2
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Re: Best usb audio interface under $150?

Audio interface = replaces your soundcard. That's essentially it. Gives you better A/D conversion, appropriate inputs/outputs for music production and takes some load off your computer.

$150 isn't going to get you much man, I won't lie. Look on eBay for second hand.

Otherwise, the closest thing that might be ok near your price range would be something along the lines of:

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But seriously, save more, get something better.

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Old 14-10-2012, 02:00 PM   #3
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Re: Best usb audio interface under $150?

Thanks! So with that one for example, I could plug my TT into one of the instrument Ins with the help of an rca > headphone adapter and then have audio go out to my amp? I don't really know what kind of plugs are what but I'm pretty sure you're meant to plug a 1/4" jack into the instrument In's? And then could I send midi from my midi keyboard into it? Thanks for your help!!!!!

also, what determines a 'better' audio interface other than sound quality? Because if it's just sound quality then I can cope with something moderately okay for now. If I did want to pay for a good sounding interface, how much more damage would it do approx?

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Old 14-10-2012, 05:33 PM   #4
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Re: Best usb audio interface under $150?

Save another $100.00 and get a Motu 828MKII, used/eBay.

Incredible quality, plenty of I/O, built like a tank, often overlooked.

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Old 14-10-2012, 05:38 PM   #5
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Re: Best usb audio interface under $150?

yeah, ebay is the way to go. just trawl audio interface as your search on there and have a look what's going in your price range. you'll be surprised at he quality you can get for that money
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Old 15-10-2012, 06:55 AM   #6
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Re: Best usb audio interface under $150?

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Originally Posted by RFJ View Post
Save another $100.00 and get a Motu 828MKII, used/eBay.

Incredible quality, plenty of I/O, built like a tank, often overlooked.
There isn't any way in hell he'll get an 828mkII to Aus for $250. I have one, bought the cheapest I could and paid ~$450 for it. And I put in the yards to get that. Also, he asked for USB. The MOTU is FireWire.

OP - more money = better audio to digital/digital to audio conversion. It also means more inputs and outputs (generally) and probably a more stable product, amongst other things.

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Old 15-10-2012, 07:36 AM   #7
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Re: Best usb audio interface under $150?

Yeah I know he said USB but he was also looking for quality. I loved my 828 and that's why I recommended it and will continue to do so whenever someone comes on and asks for a quality interface on the cheap.

I didn't know there was such a difference in price here in the US though tbh.

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Old 15-10-2012, 08:36 AM   #8
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Re: Best usb audio interface under $150?

I'm glad this thread came up

I don't know if anyone ever heard of or tried the [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
(USB ports) but I've only read good reviews about. I don't really know if it's worth the price but supposedly it's really made for computer-based music production...

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Old 15-10-2012, 09:49 AM   #9
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Re: Best usb audio interface under $150?

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Originally Posted by RFJ View Post
Yeah I know he said USB but he was also looking for quality. I loved my 828 and that's why I recommended it and will continue to do so whenever someone comes on and asks for a quality interface on the cheap.

I didn't know there was such a difference in price here in the US though tbh.

I just looked, everything's over $400 from the US. Remember you guys like to sting us hard for postage. But yeah, I'll back you on the 828 being awesome. User friendly, great sound, strong as an ox. And they have a big following. Only reason I think they're that cheap is because they've been replaced with the mk3 and ultralite etc.

What have you got now?

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Old 15-10-2012, 01:06 PM   #10
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Re: Best usb audio interface under $150?

Okay I've made a list of the ones I'm interested that are in or close to my price range:

Focusrite Scarlet 2i4
Focusrite Saffire 6
Akai EIE
Native Instruments Konplete Audio 6
Roland UA-22 Dual Capture
AVID Fast Track C400

Can anyone say anything negative at all about any of those? I can get all the positive stuff I need from the manufacturers' site

Thank you everyone for your help so far!! I love idmf for this kind of stuff

edit: I read a couple reviews about the 828 and it sounds pretty great but it's just too far out of my price range - there's no way I could justify all that I/O

Last edited by fimpson; 15-10-2012 at 01:10 PM..

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Old 15-10-2012, 04:58 PM   #11
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Re: Best usb audio interface under $150?

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I just looked, everything's over $400 from the US. Remember you guys like to sting us hard for postage. But yeah, I'll back you on the 828 being awesome. User friendly, great sound, strong as an ox. And they have a big following. Only reason I think they're that cheap is because they've been replaced with the mk3 and ultralite etc.

What have you got now?
Well right now I'm running a, um, maudio fast track pro. My old 828 was a casualty of addiction. Wish I never would have sold it looking back, but it's that way with lots of things I sold back then.

Anyway you want to know what I think?

I think that many people think that the interface if it's higher quality will make their tracks sound "pro." (I'm not talking to you fimpson, or anyone else in this thread, just talking in general) While, yes, a better interface will improve the quality of your recordings and monitoring, that is but one small piece to the puzzle. The larger and more important pieces are found in the mixing stage. I'm no expert and still have miles to go but the quality of my stuff improved greatly when I learned the basics of how to properly mix a track. I get fairly close to "pro" results with my $80 used interface now that I have put the time into other areas.

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Old 16-10-2012, 03:48 AM   #12
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Re: Best usb audio interface under $150?

That's good to hear, RFJ, because I haven't gotten a USB audio interface yet and I just can't fathom spending a lot on that. I really want to start as cheaply as possible and later upgrade bits as I can afford.
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Old 16-10-2012, 03:53 AM   #13
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Re: Best usb audio interface under $150?

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That's good to hear, RFJ, because I haven't gotten a USB audio interface yet and I just can't fathom spending a lot on that. I really want to start as cheaply as possible and later upgrade bits as I can afford.
I've been through three audio interfaces in the past couple of years and I've got to say I wish I would not have fucked around and just bought something good in the first place. I went from the sub 100 USD dollar range to the 200 dollar range then pulled the trigger on a used MOTU interface (the 828 that RFJ mentions) and WOW...big difference in clarity and volume.

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Old 16-10-2012, 03:56 AM   #14
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Re: Best usb audio interface under $150?

I'll keep that in mind. I actually have to get a better computer first. Mine is way too anemic for doing audio production seriously.
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Old 16-10-2012, 03:57 AM   #15
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Re: Best usb audio interface under $150?

^Any one of those on fimpsons list there should do.

Focusrite is where I would go if I was to pick from that selection due to the preamps.

But if you want to go dirt cheap a lower end maudio will do just fine so long as you know what you are doing as related to what I said earlier.

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Old 16-10-2012, 04:44 AM   #16
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Re: Best usb audio interface under $150?

Saffire 6 for sure.
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Old 16-10-2012, 05:34 AM   #17
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Re: Best usb audio interface under $150?

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Focusrite Saffire 6

Does anyone have any SPECIFICALLY NEGATIVE things to say about any of those? Negative things are very helpful
I don't know anything about the others but I have the Saffire 6.

I like it but it is currently being tempermental. If I open up Live and then want to watch a video on youtube or listen to something from WMP it won't play the audio from it. But if I open up one of them before I start Live it won't do my 48k/24bit audio settings for Live when I open it up. Only complaint currently and it's more something I've probably done, which it used to do without problems.

Other than that it has 1/2 IN - 1/2 OUT(1/4"), an extra 1/2 OUT(RCA) and a 3/4 OUT(RCA). I'm currently routing audio out of Live through the 3/4 channels to my external effects stuff and back in on the 1/2 channels.

I'm sure the other AI's have something like that but if you want to route out and back look for 3/4 channels. =D I'm so happy I did because I don't have to upgrade again, just to get my stuff work(it was luck I guess).

Moved this from the Hardware thread

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Old 16-10-2012, 07:45 AM   #18
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Re: Best usb audio interface under $150?

Yeah I was pretty firmly decided on the 2i4 until I bumped into the Saffire 6 and realised they have basically exactly the same layout and I/O as each other. I saw some people saying, though, that the Saffire only has usb 1 but the newer version has usb 2 making it basically the same thing as the 2i4 except the 2i4 has a durable red aluminium unibody thingy and is $50 dearer. There might be slight differences in sound quality but I doubt it because as far as I know the preamps are the same.

Bx3, how do you go about fixing that problem when it happens? do you just pull it out and plug it in again? Sounds like a bit of a hassle. Do most audio interfaces tend to integrate themselves with DAWs in that way?

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Old 16-10-2012, 08:31 AM   #19
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Re: Best usb audio interface under $150?

I'm too lazy to find a fix, actually decided to DL the driver for it. I can't remember if I actually installed it or if it's a previous one I have currently.

As it's happening currently, if I shut off live and refresh whatever media player I'm trying to use it will work afterwards. And if I have it going before Live is launched, it just drops my 48k to 44.1. No big deal.

I'll see about this driver in just a moment and see if it fixes the issue, if not, then back to not caring again.

EDIT - The driver has the option to install for USB 1.1 or USB 2.0 and the driver didn't fix anything so yea....

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Old 16-10-2012, 08:34 AM   #20
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Re: Best usb audio interface under $150?

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I'm too lazy to find a fix, actually decided to DL the driver for it. I can't remember if I actually installed it or if it's a later one I have currently.

As it's happening currently, if I shut off live and refresh whatever media player I'm trying to use it will work afterwards. And if I have it going before Live is launched, it just drops my 48k to 44.1. No big deal.

I'll see about this driver in just a moment and see if it fixes the issue, if not, then back to not caring again.
But doesn't that have to do with Live's settings? I have kind of the same problem in FL Studio (without even using an audio interface) and it's actually in it's default settings. I don't remember what it was exactly but I think it was something in the audio driver's settings in FL Studio...

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