Usb Audio Interface

Hey guys,

again one of those “i’m thinking of buying a new gear and need your opinions” threads.
I’ve been using Renoise with onboard sound + ASIO4ALL, but i’m thinking of a more advanced interface.
What I need:

  • 2 Stereo Outputs + Headphone Output (a knob to mix output would be nice)
  • 1-2 Inputs (Combo XLR is just fine)
  • external (i also use a notebook, so it has to be somehow “portable”)
  • budget is around 200€
    My focus is on playback, recording would be secondary for me.
    The question is: USB or Firewire? Is it that much of a difference cocerning latency?

I fancy a Focusrite Saffire 6 (USB). Has anyone experience with that device?
(I’m on Windows btw, if that matters somehow…)

Would just say that i have a FW device, and the one thing that is starting to really bug me, is that you can´t hotplug it. In other words, you have to turn the computer off to connect and disconnect it. Major pain in the ass.

This little thing is a bute!

I use it as my main studio audio interface, but I never hesitate to unplug it, stuff it in a bag and take it with me when I want to record something elsewhere. Decent battery life, or powered by USB or AC (adapter included) 24/96 recording. Also doubles as a full transport/mixer controller (Mackie default) sits on my piano and give me DAW control when I’m away from my main controller.

:w00t: Wow, I didn’t have this thing on my radar at all…
Looks great. Though it exceeds my budget by 100€ i’ll have a closer look at it.
Thanks, mate!

EDIT: I just saw that it has 2 outputs, but those are just mono, right? :unsure:

I think firewire tends to be a bit faster in general, but FW audio interfaces can be very problematic with PCs, and especially laptops (they often simply won’t work). So if you are going for FW, make sure your PC’s FW controller is compatible with the audio interface (the manufacturer’s website should have some info about this).

i have a focusrite usb6. i actually just bought it for my headphones, sennheiser dt770, wich are kinda quiet on the internal audiocard. also i use the midi port for my keyboard. cant say anything highly sophisticated about it besides it works fine. Didnt notice any latency problems and i somehow believe it sounds better than the internal audio card on my pc. the only thing i miss is an on/off button ;)

Thanks for your input, it’s much appreciated. You also adressed an issue i forgot to mention! I have the same problem with my Beyerdynamic DT770. They are quiet too, and if i crank up the volume fader to max, all i get to hear is distorted rubbish. But i think it’s the onboard interface that’s distorting then. So you say it delivers enuogh power for the headphones? Good to know, thanks!

PS: I would have expected that you use AKGs, as a patriot austrian… ;)

Hi, I hope I can ‘borrow’ this thread.

I’m looking at buying a budget hifi usb dac, such as the Pro-Ject USB Box. My main reason is that sound production/Renoise for me is only an occassional hobby whereas I daily listen to various music. I pretty much have no requirement for recoring - another reason why playback is just fine.

Okay, my newbie question is regarding how much a (usb) sound card (or rather, a usb dac) affects the sound performance compared to components like cpu and ram. NOTE: not the audiophile quality per se but really just that sound is ‘floating’ and not crackling. As for now I’m using a fairly old computer and experience problems (sound crackles etc) in Renoise when I’m using a lot (or not even much) vst-instruments and effects. And I’m planning to compile a new small form computer (perhaps mini-itx) which will restrict me to somewhat slow cpus etc. So I would like to know if anybody could enlighten me what components are ‘working hardest’ when it comes to the sound being delivered ‘normal’?

EDIT: I just saw that it has 2 outputs, but those are just mono, right? :unsure:

The outputs can be linked as one stereo pair in any DAW or be set up as individual mono outputs, L & R. There’s also a stereo 1/4" jack for headphones which I have used to power monitors as well.

I am quite confident with it now. At the beginning I had massive problems with the Focusrite Asio drivers for Windows 7; the reason was that you can not connect the audio card to an usb-hub; you have to connect it to a usb-port of the laptop/pc directly.
I am mainly using the two different outputs in a dj-like manner, routing each output to a channel of my mixer. On the other hand I am using it for producing with Renoise. The sound quality is good, quite like the M-Audio Delta series.

Nearly nothing, if you do not buy a soundcard with own DSP.
Most of the crackles from the VSTi is caused by too less CPU+RAM. So if you want a crackle-free pc you have to keep an eye on enough resources of that kind. I had a long time a P4 2.0 Ghz with an highclass internal soundcard, but it helps nothing if it comes to VSTi.

Ah, thanks again! That’s exactly why I wanted two stereo outs… for a DJ /live performance purposes.
I’m still on good ol’ XP, so the drivers are hopefully “mature”.

Concerning that performance question: I agree with Cie, it’s mainly the CPU. If you use an onboard sound chip, it’s internally treated as a PCI device, so you actually have a much higher bandwith than via USB!
My desktop machine is a P4 (3,6 GHz, OCed to 4,0GHz) and if i get crackles, it’s always because of a >80% usage. But it takes like 4-5 VSTis (depends on how hungry for performance they are) and some effects (or a workload monster like ozone for example) to push the CPU that far. RAM never was an issue for me btw…


you`re welcome. only my patriotism is less evolved than my capability of memorizing the names of my gear correctly. beyerdynamics too of course, not sennheiser :badteeth:

I have Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface on Windows 7 64-bit and Focusrite asio drivers worked just great out of the box. Scarlett is connected to active usb hub. Scarlett 2i2 has a USB2.0 compliant port and Saffire seems to have USB 1.1 compliant usb port. Maybe that’s why i haven’t got any problems with asio drivers?!.

I’m going to buy a Roland Quad-Capture interface next (that’s about 200euros). I need couple more line inputs and Roland has a quite nice autolevel setting plus better AD/DA converters than 2i2.

I’ve got an EMU 0202 which sounds pretty much like you describe.

There are 2 stereo outs, one is a 3.5mm stereo jack and the other is a pair of 6.5mm mono outputs.

I bought it about a year ago for a gig because I didnt want to take my MOTU 828 mkII on a plane and so far I have no complaints whatsoever. Cheap (about 90 euros or so) and does what its supposed to. There’s the 0204 as well with 4 outs apparently at about 10 euros more.

Thanks again to all of you for your input!
I got the Saffire 6 now and i’m happy with it. Took me a while to get it working, the drivers from CD were no good and you need to turn the mixer poti to “playback” to hear something… ;) At first i also didn’t understand that it doesn’t install a mixer device - but that is somehow logic, as it has knobs for that…! :rolleyes:
Also the headphones are now sufficently powered; not super loud, but far better than the onboard thing.
And concerning latency: i’m running Renoise with a 64 samples buffer now. It was 512(!)samples before.