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Author Topic: Portable Audio/MIDI interfaces  (Read 1908 times)

timecutter

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Portable Audio/MIDI interfaces
« on: June 15, 2009, 08:28:07 pm »


Hello tribal brothers & sisters,

What portable audio interfaces are ya'll loving or hating for use with a Zendrum in a Mac laptop setup?  I'm looking for suggestions for a small (half-rack) audio/MIDI interface with at least four inputs (two mic preamps),  MIDI in/out; I don't need lots of outputs.  There are a lot of inexpensive contenders out there, both Firewire and USB2.  I tend to trust firewire better, though I wish firewire connectors to the laptop were less prone to jostling.  If folks are using USB 2 interfaces successfully I'd like to hear about it.

I've been real happy for years with my MOTU 828 mkII, but I'd like to leave that racked up in the home studio and go with something smaller now that I'm shifting to a MacBook setup.   There are a lot of inexpensive firewire and USB 2 interfaces out there that will do what I need.  I wonder what others have had good luck with. 


Here's some of the stuff I've been looking at.
The MOTU Ultralite looks great:  its $550.  http://www.motu.com/products/motuaudio/ultralite-mk3
The M-Audio ProFire610 is $400.  http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/ProFire610/
The M-Audio FastTrack Pro is a USB interface: $200  http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/FastTrackPro.html  Looks plastic.
Edirol makes both USB & FW units: $200 - $300
Presonus, Focusrite, Native Instruments, TC Electronics and others -some of 'em less than $300.

Any thoughts or suggestions welcome.

peace,

Mark




 





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Zendrumdude

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Re: Portable Audio/MIDI interfaces
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2009, 09:15:10 am »

Mark,

I have been really happy with my Ultralite.  It has tons of input/output options, and can basically be the entire front end of a PA if need be!  (Effects, mixing, mic preamps, etc.)  It is pricy, though.  And yeah, Firewire is a loose connection at best!  Firewire 800 seems better... I have been toying with the idea of using an 800 to 400 adaptor and running the Ultralite into my macBook Pro's 800 slot for safety (still has to be 400 on the MOTU though).

Jer
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Zendrumdude

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Re: Portable Audio/MIDI interfaces
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2009, 03:35:14 pm »

Jeff,

I have one like that and it works fine for getting the midi from the Zendrum INTO your computer.  What it DOESN'T do, however, is get the audio OUT... that's what you're paying for in units like the Ultralite.  I believe, however, that some guys simply run out of their computer's headphone jack (Mayor Tom, you out there?).  I myself have not tried this, as I am under the impression that audio quality and low latency are factors of a fantastic midi/audio interface.  Not an expert, though!!!

Jer
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john emrich

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Re: Portable Audio/MIDI interfaces
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2009, 08:43:55 pm »

The headphone out on the Macbook Pro is not bad.  I have used it with good results.  I have not been able to get good results with PC laptops.

John
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John Emrich
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Re: Portable Audio/MIDI interfaces
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2009, 10:50:24 pm »

+1 for the ultralite.  Mine has been a workhorse for the past three years or so.  Never disappointed.
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jeff sanders

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Re: Portable Audio/MIDI interfaces
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2009, 12:52:41 pm »

Jeff,

I have one like that and it works fine for getting the midi from the Zendrum INTO your computer.  What it DOESN'T do, however, is get the audio OUT... that's what you're paying for in units like the Ultralite.  I believe, however, that some guys simply run out of their computer's headphone jack (Mayor Tom, you out there?).  I myself have not tried this, as I am under the impression that audio quality and low latency are factors of a fantastic midi/audio interface.  Not an expert, though!!!

Jer

ahhhh i see.  heres a tidbit that maybe relevant. i been messing with the bfd2 and battery 3 demos on my 2.33 white plastic imac lately and noticed that the factory default for my built-in audio in bat3 goes to 30ms and my motu 828mk3 goes to 12ms when im in the output select menu. i too am no expert but i dont notice anything outstandingly different in the response nor the audio quality but keep in mind in not going through a professional pa system where it maybe more revealing.

thanks jer
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timecutter

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Re: Portable Audio/MIDI interfaces
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2009, 11:29:10 pm »




I've wondered about using the headphone out jack on the MacBook Pro.   I've tried it, plugging the output directly into a PA system, and it worked.  I didn't detect a difference in sound quality, but conditions weren't really conducive to a clean test.   

Here's a couple of questions - for anybody who might know:

Does the use of an external firewire audio interface reduce the workload inside the Mac?   Does the external audio interface off-load some of the AD/DA conversion from the CPU?   If not, I wonder:  does the use of an external audio interface introduce an extra DA/AD conversion? 

Thanks for your input everybody.

Mark
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Zendrumdude

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Re: Portable Audio/MIDI interfaces
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2009, 09:19:06 am »

Mark,

John E is the real expert here, but in a nutshell, as I understand it, YES, an outboard interface takes care of audio processing and D/A.  Additionally, it provides hotter balanced signals, flexible routing, and really pads the pocket of my credit card company.

Jer
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timecutter

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Re: Portable Audio/MIDI interfaces
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2009, 12:08:47 pm »


yes, that's what I thought - I'm happy with my MOTU 828, but tired of plugging & unplugging the studio setup at home...I'll probably spring for the Ultralight, but I'm tempted by those low budget items...

I hear you on the hotter signals, routing (click track to headphones!) and the credit card company

Mark


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Kelsin

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Re: Portable Audio/MIDI interfaces
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2009, 01:20:24 pm »

My personal experience won't help here since I use the Apogee Duet (and LOVE it) but my co-worker uses a MAudio Fast Track Pro with his live setup and likes it a lot. It's a really solid little unit with a ton of features and nice price.
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