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Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

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Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby MitchT » Sun Aug 25, 2019 4:11 pm

I'm looking for an interface that will enable me to record stereo audio from an old synth/workstation (with a stereo output) into Logic Pro. NB. I have a late 2017 MacBook Pro running Logic Pro X.

I have an Edirol UA-1X which I bought many years ago but I always had problems with a weird "oscillating" interference on the recording. A search online indicates that this is a common issue on these units rather than something that's wrong with my set-up. The interference sounds like this...
https://soundcloud.com/mitch-tmsn/audio ... what-is-it

I need a device costing as little as possible - ideally less than £100 - which will enable me to record a clean signal. Any advice would be gratefully received!
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Re: Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby DGL. » Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:12 pm

Not THE cheapest (as they do a cheaper version) but I have a Behringer UMC204HD, under £80, 24bit/192KHz (if that's important) 2 ins (with hiZ option and combo jacks), 4 outs, MIDI and direct monitoring. Generally get's excellent reviews, even without taking price into account.

https://www.thomann.de/gb/behringer_u_p ... c204hd.htm
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Re: Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby MitchT » Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:32 pm

Interesting, thanks.

I've also read some good things about the Audient ID4 which is a little over my £100 threshold but potentially worth stretching my budget for.
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Re: Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby blinddrew » Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:37 pm

Well, the cheapest way to get a pair of line level signals in is probably a Behringer UCA-202, which you can pick up for about £20. But it is a very limited device (by design).
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Re: Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby ef37a » Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:00 pm

blinddrew wrote:Well, the cheapest way to get a pair of line level signals in is probably a Behringer UCA-202, which you can pick up for about £20. But it is a very limited device (by design).

From the slightly ridiculous* to the rather sublime? You can find second hand and possible new Native Instruments KA6 Mk1 interfaces around the £100 mark.

Even at its original price of £170ish, there were few interfaces to touch it for driver stability. You said you had "niggles" with an Edirol AI? Many people do, with all sorts of interface/pc/mac combinations but I can promise you 99% that the KA6 will just plug in and GO!

*But, bloody good for the price and very handy for tape dubbing and the like.
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Re: Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby DGL. » Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:09 pm

ef37a wrote:
blinddrew wrote:Well, the cheapest way to get a pair of line level signals in is probably a Behringer UCA-202, which you can pick up for about £20. But it is a very limited device (by design).

From the slightly ridiculous*

*But, bloody good for the price and very handy for tape dubbing and the like.

and if you go for the UFO-202 you get a RIAA phono pre-amp as well, which due to the input being tied to the output ala "direct monitoring" (with no switch to disable like on the other models) can be used as a standalone phono pre-amp with just USB power required, something they suprisingly don't tell you in the manual (I saw Techmoan using one for just this purpose) as for the price paid getting a phono pre-amp on it's own is difficult!
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Re: Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby MitchT » Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:54 pm

ef37a wrote:You said you had "niggles" with an Edirol AI?
The "niggles" were basically an annoying "oscillating" sound that I couldn't get rid of and which was recorded with the audio that I was trying to capture. I posted a link to a sample of this in my original post. Otherwise it would have been perfect for my needs.

Essentially I just need something simple that enables me to record audio from the stereo outputs of my synth/workstation, straight to an audio track in Logic Pro. I'm not bothered about loads of features - just to be able to make a digital capture of whatever's coming out of my synth - but I do want top notch sound quality.
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Re: Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby MitchT » Sun Aug 25, 2019 6:59 pm

blinddrew wrote:Well, the cheapest way to get a pair of line level signals in is probably a Behringer UCA-202, which you can pick up for about £20. But it is a very limited device (by design).
I believe this is fundamentally the same device as the Edirol UA-1X - it looks almost identical, albeit a different colour - so I'd be concerned that the same fault would be on this device too. In fact, I think the articles I read about the problem I've experienced with the Edirol device mentioned this one too. Otherwise this would be perfect in fulfilling what I want to achieve.
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Re: Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby Wonks » Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:08 pm

Sounded rather like a feedback loop causing oscillations. It may just be a faulty unit, but it does sound rather like you are looping back an output into an input, probably in the control/mixing software.

If you set up a new interface in the same way, you may get the same effect. So it's still worth checking over the set-up to make sure that you aren't mixing the output signal back into an input.

But it's only a 16-bit interface, so well worth upgrading to one which can do 24-bit recordings.

There are lots of decent one mic preamp/one line input interfaces around that £100 mark, but you may have to spend a bit over that for a decent two input interface.

The Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 Mk 3 will give very good quality two input recordings for just under £150, but there are lots of other decent interfaces for similar money.
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Re: Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby James Perrett » Sun Aug 25, 2019 8:41 pm

blinddrew wrote:Well, the cheapest way to get a pair of line level signals in is probably a Behringer UCA-202, which you can pick up for about £20. But it is a very limited device (by design).

In my experience there are just too many compromises with them. The inputs are fixed level and too sensitive for even typical hifi levels while the one I had suffered from idle tones - a constant warble around 800Hz to 1kHz at about -85dBFS which, once you knew it was there, became very annoying.

While they're not as much of a bargain as they were last year, I'm still happy with my Zoom U44. Its slightly smaller sibling, the U24, can be found for £89. The mic preamps are a little noisy (compared to the Audient preamps on my live recording rig) but the line inputs are fine.
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Re: Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby MitchT » Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:52 pm

Wonks wrote:Sounded rather like a feedback loop causing oscillations. It may just be a faulty unit, but it does sound rather like you are looping back an output into an input, probably in the control/mixing software.

If you set up a new interface in the same way, you may get the same effect. So it's still worth checking over the set-up to make sure that you aren't mixing the output signal back into an input.
I did wonder if it was something like that but I wouldn't know what to change in the settings to try to fix it and research online suggested many others were having the same issue with this unit which made me think maybe it was just the unit.

I've had the interface a long time and experienced the issue in Logic Pro 7 on a G5 Power Mac, Logic Pro 8 on a 2008 MacBook Pro and Logic Pro X on my late 2017 MacBook Pro as well as when trying to record into Quick Time.

Wonks wrote:But it's only a 16-bit interface, so well worth upgrading to one which can do 24-bit recordings.
Definitely something for the future, though at the moment I'm just wanting to record a reasonably good demo, so if I could fix the issue without spending any money that would be enough.

Wonks wrote:There are lots of decent one mic preamp/one line input interfaces around that £100 mark, but you may have to spend a bit over that for a decent two input interface.

The Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 Mk 3 will give very good quality two input recordings for just under £150, but there are lots of other decent interfaces for similar money.
I'd be happy enough with second hand so something that was over budget new would definitely be on my radar.
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Re: Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:43 pm

MitchT wrote:I'd be happy enough with second hand so something that was over budget new would definitely be on my radar.

Sensible. At this end of the market increasing the amount you can spend plus buying second hand (with due diligence, of course) reaps serious rewards.

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Re: Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby ef37a » Sun Aug 25, 2019 11:59 pm

I would say yes, the Edirol unit looks very similar to the uca but not really quite the same.
I have had 2 UCAs and now have the UFO and I have never had a problem with any of them. I will agree they are neg ten devices and will overload at much over one volt rms in but that has never been a problem for me with cassette outs or those on video machines. I don't think many synths are all that hot either?

I checked my UFO an hour ago and a recording from a freeview recorder was hitting around -20dB fs (the Elgar on BBC4) and when I pulled the plugs the noise was at -84.3dB fs. Switched to RIAA it worsened to -78.3dB, not bad for just over a score?
Yes, 16 bits only but good enough for synths?

However, they ARE very budget devices. If the best converter quality is sought at the £100 area, I repeat, the NI KA6 is probably the best AI around. Yes, more bells and whistles than needed but that tends to go with the territory.

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Re: Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby John Egan » Mon Aug 26, 2019 9:09 am

I think the Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2x2 second hand is worth a go. The quality is good, the unit is very tough and compact and it works with just USB power. I have used one for a few years without problem
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Re: Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby MitchT » Mon Aug 26, 2019 10:58 am

The problem with the slightly better devices is that they appear to lack a simple stereo input. All I want is to capture music from the stereo L&R outputs on my synth. In that sense the Edirol UA-1X is perfect - I just need the same ability but without the interference.
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Re: Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby ef37a » Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:11 am

MitchT wrote:The problem with the slightly better devices is that they appear to lack a simple stereo input. All I want is to capture music from the stereo L&R outputs on my synth. In that sense the Edirol UA-1X is perfect - I just need the same ability but without the interference.

Lost me a bit there Mitch? Whatever the synth comes out on 'Zon will have an adaptor cable for it to go to any AI input configuration.

In the case of the UCA, if the synth is 3.5mm stereo jack a cable to 2X RCA will be about two quid. 6.35mm jack about the same.

The KA6 and most other AIs want the bigger jacks, the KA is balanced in but your synth is not balanced out so stereo jack to 2x TS jacks (often called a "jack splitter cable".

But rest assured, no matter what the connection regime of each device, a suitable cable will be available at very low cost.

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Re: Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby MitchT » Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:16 am

It's not the cables I'm concerned about, it's the fact that the better interfaces all seem to have "Input 1" and "Input 2" (as opposed to one input with "L" and "R" sockets) which suggests that they're for recording two mono signals rather than one stereo signal.

You'll have to forgive me - I have no technical training in these matters - I'm just a non musical bod who cobbles tunes together in his spare time.

I've seen the terms "balanced" and "unbalanced" many times but I haven't a clue what they mean.
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Re: Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby Wonks » Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:17 am

You'll find there aren't dedicated stereo inputs on any decent modern audio interface. You simply use two line inputs, which you set up in your DAW to record as a stereo track.

The physical connections on the Edirol are RCA connections, whilst those on almost every other interface will be TRS jacks, which can accept both TS jacks (unbalanced) and TRS jacks (balanced). TS/TRS jacks are a far better solution for constant connecting and reconnection, plus a balanced connection will give you far less problems with hum in your studio set-up, which is why they are used in preference to RCA phono connectors.

These are more suited to short distance permanent connections with unbalanced-only cables, where the short distances involved minimise noise pick-up.

If your keyboard only has RCA phono connectors, then RCA to 1/4" T/S jack cables are widely available, of varying lengths.

e.g. https://www.studiospares.com/Cables-Lea ... sanI/NaqA=

But eBay or Amazon will find you many others.
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Re: Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby Stratman57 » Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:25 am

Plus 1 for the Zoom U44, I bought one to use when I'm doing theatre workshops. Bus or battery powered, and will work with Zoom's H6 mic accessories.

Regards, Simon.
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Re: Cheapest way to get good quality audio into Logic Pro?

Postby MitchT » Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:28 am

I have loads of really good cables from the days when I lived in a decent sized house and had room to set all my synths up and run them into a console, so they're not an issue. If I can set up a good interface to capture stereo audio via two inputs then that should be fine. I just wanted to clarify that the interfaces highlighted in this thread will do the very simple job that needs doing.
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