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What is the best USB interface for $250? (went with Zoom R8 @ $299)

Configure and optimize you computer for Audio.

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braj
KVRAF
 
6488 posts since 4 Feb, 2004

Postby braj; Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:01 am

OK, I ended up ordering the Zoom R8, all around it seemed best suited for my needs and gave me the most flexible device for the cheapest price. I didn't find one bad review of it, though I didn't see any that directly mentioned soft synth performance. No issues regarding latency were mentioned so I think I'm ok. It has input monitoring though so no real worries there. I'm really a little surprised I haven't heard more about this unit before.
I have no talent, here's the proof:

||Soundcloud||

My YouTube channel
braj
KVRAF
 
6488 posts since 4 Feb, 2004

Postby braj; Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:00 am

OK, it is here already, next day fed ex for free, thanks zzounds. Some thoughts so far:

The preamps sound fine to me, even my really cheap mic sounds clear, and being able to add inserts before it hits the DAW is kind of cool, and so is the monitoring.

I'm appreciating the level meter display when used as an interface. I was happy to see contrast setting to make my viewing angle clearer.

It works well with Studio One, though there doesn't seem a way to control pan at all from the device when used as a controller. I don't know if you can scrub at all though beyond bar to bar resolution in Studio One, which seems strange.

The mixer feels nicer than my nanoKontrol, it is easy to switch fader banks.

I wish the drum pads had some functionality when in interface mode.

The ASIO driver only lets one application access the sound card at a time, so when my DAW is running I can't watch Netflix etc. Which I guess is a good thing, keep me from spacing out, though I wouldn't mind if this could be adjusted, though I see no way to do that.

The unit definitely feels plastic, I wouldn't beat up on it too much, but sitting on a desk or taken in a small laptop/netbook bag it should hold up to my uses. It feels really solid otherwise.

It (as an interface anyhow) is very straightforward, I haven't needed the manual yet, though I have to delve into using the unit stand-alone soon and that will have some learning curve.

I had no driver issues so far on my Vista and Win7 machines, it just works.

Playing soft synths sounds fine, no noticeable latency. Latency @ 256 samples with my guitar is noticeable if I compare it to the direct signal, otherwise no problem at all.

The built-in mics do a great job for what they are, and I'm really happy they are on board.

Anyhow, I think it was a good choice for me, and if someone were looking especially for something to compliment a laptop setup, I think this would be perfect: bus powered, all-in-one unit with lots of flexibility. The whole thing is pretty brilliant.
I have no talent, here's the proof:

||Soundcloud||

My YouTube channel
4lb Kitty
KVRAF
 
6189 posts since 24 May, 2009, from USA! USA! USA! Oh, give it up...

Postby 4lb Kitty; Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:07 am

:tu:
Ambient Online | Software Concierge Services
Reaper 4 (Not a fan), Some VSTs, Win8.1 Pro 64, 32GB RAM, 3.25TB total HDD, SSD
braj
KVRAF
 
6488 posts since 4 Feb, 2004

Postby braj; Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:52 am

Oh and it has Cubase 6 LE in the box (I thought it would be V5). Nice! I'm installing it now.
I have no talent, here's the proof:

||Soundcloud||

My YouTube channel
4lb Kitty
KVRAF
 
6189 posts since 24 May, 2009, from USA! USA! USA! Oh, give it up...

Postby 4lb Kitty; Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:57 am

I love Cubase. The only problem is that I'm not sure Cubase LE allows external VSTis.
Ambient Online | Software Concierge Services
Reaper 4 (Not a fan), Some VSTs, Win8.1 Pro 64, 32GB RAM, 3.25TB total HDD, SSD
braj
KVRAF
 
6488 posts since 4 Feb, 2004

Postby braj; Thu Nov 08, 2012 12:17 pm

Yeah I don't think it has that limitation, though I am not up to delving into it right now. I don't know how much I'll use it but nice to have it regardless.
I have no talent, here's the proof:

||Soundcloud||

My YouTube channel
braj
KVRAF
 
6488 posts since 4 Feb, 2004

Postby braj; Thu Nov 08, 2012 12:36 pm

OK, well I did figure out how to switch between Studio One and have the sound released to other apps. When going back to Studio One, I have to wait a few moments for the card to kick back in, it gives me a message that it can't be initialized but a little wait and it is ok.

EDIT: it isn't quite that easy, it doesn't give over the interface so easily. I will have to take the hint and stop browsing the web when I have my DAW open. An upside is that I can still play guitar through the Zoom input with one of its amp sims, so my need to twiddle with a tune while watching Hulu is covered I guess.
I have no talent, here's the proof:

||Soundcloud||

My YouTube channel
braj
KVRAF
 
6488 posts since 4 Feb, 2004

Postby braj; Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:51 pm

Is it bad form for me to keep coming back and saying what a great device this is?

I've wrapped my mind around the drum programming and setting up different tracks, the sampler and playing back my own loops, it is all pretty straightforward. You can add your own audio loops via an SD card, so you could even start some songs on the desktop and drag a bunch of loops into this little guy to make something for live use. All the included effects sound great to my ears, all things considered, and would be really great to have available live.

This would be an awesome unit for a solo artist, you could play back your accompaniment and record your performance all in one little unit.

To my ears the mic effect presets are helpful, and can be tweaked as necessary. I find tweaking the effects easy to deal with, so is all the pan/eq settings etc. even though there are not dedicated knobs it is easy to move track to track and edit everything.

The drum machine sounds could be better but it for me is a nicely glorified metronome, really fun with a good set of included patterns, and I'm finding it great to use for guitar practice, I'm digging the amp sim a lot too. The whole experience is pretty inspiring, it feels nice to have a solid piece of hardware, though of course it is really just a very dedicated computer running software with a dedicated interface and custom controller... anyhow its very limitations make you look for creative ways to get something interesting out of it.

It would easily fit in my guitar bag's front pocket, though I would want to get a netbook neoprene sleeve for it first.

Anyhow this feels definitely like the shuttle to the mother ship, really mobile and powerful, and I'm glad I didn't stick to just the items in the audio interfaces category but found something that gives me a break from the computer, but also connects to the computer and makes what I do 'offline' accessible when I get back to my desk. The SD card is even handy when moving from one computer to another, I can grab stems from my desktop, keep them on the SD card, and put them on my laptop when I go mobile. Anyhow maybe not the biggest deal but it all stays in one place, no extra USB sticks to fiddle with.
I have no talent, here's the proof:

||Soundcloud||

My YouTube channel
4lb Kitty
KVRAF
 
6189 posts since 24 May, 2009, from USA! USA! USA! Oh, give it up...

Postby 4lb Kitty; Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:44 am

I'm back to square one here.

I received my replacement US-1800 today, and I still get static every once in a while (major distortion on audio), and it tends to freeze so that all I can do for sound is restart my computer.

I'm back to considering the Komplete Audio 6.

Any other suggestions for $200-300 or so?
Ambient Online | Software Concierge Services
Reaper 4 (Not a fan), Some VSTs, Win8.1 Pro 64, 32GB RAM, 3.25TB total HDD, SSD
braj
KVRAF
 
6488 posts since 4 Feb, 2004

Postby braj; Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:47 am

4lb Kitty wrote:I'm back to square one here.

I received my replacement US-1800 today, and I still get static every once in a while (major distortion on audio), and it tends to freeze so that all I can do for sound is restart my computer.

I'm back to considering the Komplete Audio 6.

Any other suggestions for $200-300 or so?


Sorry to hear that. The US-1800 was high on my list, I'm glad I didn't go there after hearing your experience. How many inputs do you need?
I have no talent, here's the proof:

||Soundcloud||

My YouTube channel
4lb Kitty
KVRAF
 
6189 posts since 24 May, 2009, from USA! USA! USA! Oh, give it up...

Postby 4lb Kitty; Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:17 am

I really only need two or four, but I'd like something with high-quality mic pres.

I see that the Komplete Audio 6 is bus-powered. Could that be an issue, especially using the +48v?
Ambient Online | Software Concierge Services
Reaper 4 (Not a fan), Some VSTs, Win8.1 Pro 64, 32GB RAM, 3.25TB total HDD, SSD
braj
KVRAF
 
6488 posts since 4 Feb, 2004

Postby braj; Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:20 am

I don't think so, my Zoom does bus powered mics on batteries and USB. It sounds great to me.
I have no talent, here's the proof:

||Soundcloud||

My YouTube channel
4lb Kitty
KVRAF
 
6189 posts since 24 May, 2009, from USA! USA! USA! Oh, give it up...

Postby 4lb Kitty; Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:17 pm

Actually, the problems I was having with the US-1800 were totally electrical interference from other cords and power wires.

I still have a low-level, high-pitched buzz, but I'll work that out in time.

For now, everything is working properly, and I'm happy again. :)

I should, however, mention that the first US-1800 I received was NOT good, though. It had serious connection problems.
Ambient Online | Software Concierge Services
Reaper 4 (Not a fan), Some VSTs, Win8.1 Pro 64, 32GB RAM, 3.25TB total HDD, SSD
namnibor
KVRist
 
40 posts since 25 Sep, 2012, from USA

Postby namnibor; Thu Dec 06, 2012 4:04 am

Yes, I am reviving this thread and hope this may be of help to others. Firstly, not using the R24 as an interface but work it into my DAW by having line outs of R24 going into one of my all hardware synth pre-mixer, which in-turn that mixer goes into my audio interface and DAW. (I only use midi to daisychain synths/control while recording primarily audio, so that means of course, I have line outs from each synth rack module or keyboard running into my pre-mixer, again feeding into audi interface into DAW.
Although still learning many new things on the R24, I find having ability to have sample tracks I have played in-que to bring in and out and together with faders gives me great control over even more experimentation. The fact the R24 does not have midi or clock source other than a click track/metronome is not an issue for my type of work flow. Being able to play back track or tracks WHILE recording a new one before even placing anything into DAW through aforementioned pre-mixer then DAW is extremely flexible.
NOTE: If you want a stereo pair of tracks, these L/R tracks MUST be linked at the VERY START as a stereo linked pair as the Zoom will not allow this to be rendored later, and going a bit deeper but easy once you do it, can indeed bounce tracks but with having 24 tracks, have not had need to do this yet as I have percussion avail to me from Waldorf Q, either of my Virus KB or KC, BUT the R24 comes with a flash drive FULL of Big Fish Audio drum samples that sound quite good. Built-in mics DO pick-up sounds of the river close to me, nature, etc and are pretty sensative.
Wanted to share also that the Zoom R24 manual is obviously written from the engineer stance rather than we musicians so I made an inexpensive investment in a tutorial DVD for the R24 from ProAudioDVD.com, of which, he has tutorials that get you familiar with many functions on other Zoom R-Series...it should be included with the Zoom, it's THAT great!
(Sorry so lengthy but almost done)
a rather recluse but respectable pro musician gave me some great tips that solve many problems mentioned in these threads. 1)If at all possible, have a seperate DAW pc/mac dedicated to your DAW that only time connected to internet is for updates and registering products and only asking for audio interface rebooting requirements if you are running your DAW while "watching NETFLIX or HULU, et al...", and if using usb audio interface, always use the SAME usb port you originally set it up on. 2) He turned me onto not only using a rack mounted Furman Power Conditioner for those synth modules and couple mixers, but in addition, using a rather cool and handy Furman SS-6B power solution that has a 15 FOOT LONG heavy duty grounded line to a metal, 6-plug outlet that not only is a surge protector, but uses VERY SAME power conditioner, RFI and EMI protection that Furman's rack units use...it's a cheap $35. usd investment because alternating current and our power grids have not increased infrastructure for growing populace and more electrical use rather, the pulse rate of alternating current has been "stepped-up" which our electronic gear relies on electrical stability and even with proper grounds, your runof mill surge protector power strips just do not cut it. 3)On same topic; make sure your instrument and midi cables are quality shielded lines to prevent probelms even if some lines inevitably cross/overlap. 4) may go without saying but just as it is important while running your DAW to have your antivirus on "silent mode" and system tweaked so DAW has all available resources with no interuptions; having internet, whether wireless, DSL, etc, disabled cures ALOT problems with drop outs and such--even a wireless keyboard or mouse can at least on a pc, be a fly in your ointment.
Lastly, on the Zoom R24, a buddy of mine uses two daisychained to simultaneously record 16 channels simultaneously for all of his band's practice sessions. Each Zoom R24 has great preamps on 6 of the 8 channels recording simultaneously, having drums properly mic'd, and two of inputs having a "high-z instrument inputs" for like guitar/bass with puch of a button. Using up to 32 GB SDHC cards gives many hours of recording and since it records in .wav format, it's easy to drop tracks from SDHC card into your DAW or even slices of stuff but have not got into the editing that deep yet, nor use of effects from Zoom as most of my synths have plethora of effect options, leaving even more processing power to your DAW PC rather than using plug-in effects.
Again, I appologize for long post. I am a recently Disabled Veteran/USAF with decade of formal piano and reed, learned synthesis on a Korg MS-20 back in '82 then added an SCI Prophet once mastering sound design. So, in building-up an all hardware syth studio over past few years, have alot of catching-up with midi, learning Reaper and possibly Studio One if I get the PreSonus Firestudio Mobile interface, and learning to navigate all the tools of each synth so can free brain for pure creativity.
Wanted to express how happy I am with the Zoom R24 because it is a versatile piece of gear with a slight learning curve (the DVD shed light in great way), and Zoom has been great on OS updates fic=xing user reported bugs, refining a great tool, esp. great for working outside the DAW. Yes, the screen is rather small with alot of ino but the sound quality is simply amazing as it captures all the many modulation routings, filters, etc. without adding any perceivable noise whatsoever.
Hope this helps anyone to some degree as cultural creatives.
Albert.VST
KVRist
 
182 posts since 25 Apr, 2011

Postby Albert.VST; Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:05 am

I'm looking into the same, for my new to build PC.
From features (2in 4out balanced, MIDI I/O, 96kHz) the shortlist is;
AVID (former M-Audio) FastTrack C400
NI Komplete Audio 6

But both lack Win 8 drivers, and are reported to be slow on developping.
Alternatives?
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