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Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby Martin Walker » Sun Dec 01, 2019 8:59 pm

Hi folks,

I've been having some weird PC lockup issues for the last few days. The symptoms are:

1. Occasionally intermittent frozen mouse/100% CPU activity, happening for a few seconds then returning to normal for some seconds, then locking up again. This typically happens ten or 20 times during the first few minutes that I have my PC switched on. No sign of any CPU activity link to specific software application or process.

2. Invariably after five minutes or so these stop/start episodes stop, and then everything continues as normal, for as many hours as I have the PC switched on, which suggests some sort of 'warmup' issue.

3. I also noticed random clicks and pops across various input channels of my ancient (yet still excellent) Emu 1820M interface, and acting on a hunch I today unplugged its Audiodock before switch-on, leaving its 1010 PCI card still installed. I've now rebooted three or four times, and haven't had a single glitch, so I'm beginning to think this is my 1820M Audiodock finally on its way out. Any thoughts/insights welcome, but I'm almost resigned to replacing it after its sterling ten-year tenure.

So, I'll probably need to buy another 8-in/8-out audio interface smart-ish. A couple of mic/instrument inputs would be handy but not essential, but it's mainly for synth connection, so line inputs would be fine. Probably USB 2.0 connectivity (internal cards seem to be a dying breed), with some sort of coaxial/optical digital I/O (primarily to connect up my Lavry DA10 converter and Audient Mico stereo preamp) and preferably with a couple of MIDI Ins and Outs, ideally in 1u rackmount format. Oh, and (this is the first time I've admitted this in public) I'm still using Windows 7 :oops:

It occurs to me that if I'm quick I may scrape into some Black Friday special offer. Any suggestions?

Many thanks!


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Re: Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby n o i s e f l e ur » Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:15 pm

RME Fireface UCX.

But it'll cost ya!

ETA: There's the cheaper UC to consider too, but I opted for the UCX when moving on / up from my EMU PCI card. Better converters and a few other advantages which seemed important at the time but I've either never actually needed (like Firewire) or have forgotten the details of in the mists of time.

ETA 2: Oops, didn't see the requirement for a couple of MIDI I/O. UCX only has the one, and it's on one of their frankly terrible breakout cables - those things really aren't very secure.
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Re: Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby Martin Walker » Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:39 pm

Thanks for the quick comeback n o i s e f l e ur!

Yep, if I could justify £1000 that's what probably what I'd go for (I've looked at RME on various occasions in the past, but most models invariably offer far more I/O capability than I really need).

I'll have a look at the RME Fireface UC to see what you can get for £800 though ;)


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Re: Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby Folderol » Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:43 pm

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Re: Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby Eddy Deegan » Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:49 pm

No experience of them myself, but the Presonus Studio 1824c looks to tick most of the boxes and looks fairly priced at a smidgen over £400: https://www.thomann.de/gb/presonus_studio_1824c.htm .. more I/O than you specified but has 8 mic/line-ins and 10 line outs in the right footprint.

I also saw the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (3rd Gen): https://www.thomann.de/gb/focusrite_sca ... rd_gen.htm though strangely I couldn't find info about it on the Focusrite website itself!
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Re: Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby Martin Walker » Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:50 pm

Thanks Will,

The Maudio M-Track Eight is certainly a hell of a lot cheaper at £300! :thumbup:

Somewhere in between would be good ;)


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Re: Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby Martin Walker » Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:54 pm

Thanks for those two Eddy - both look to be more in my price range ;)


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Re: Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:04 pm

If you want to stick to an internal card, I'm still very happy with my RME AIO and would recommend it enthusiastically.

You'd get AES and SPDIF I/O for your Mico and Lavry.

And two analogue Line I/Os as standard, with the option of adding another four with the expansion card...

... And if you need more i/o you can hook in an ADAT preamp, like the Audient ASP800 or 880 if budget allows, or an Octopre, or the Behringer ADA8200 as the budget option which would be perfectly okay for synths. That lot should come in under £800 I think.

And if you want even more channels later (and/or more channels at higher sample rates), you could add the RayDat card in concert.
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Re: Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby James Perrett » Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:24 pm

My personal choice would be to go for an RME Digiface USB interface which will send and receive optical signals from your Mico and DA10 and then partner it with the 8 channel A/D and D/A of your choice. As Hugh says, the Behringer ADA8200 is perfectly serviceable for many things but you can also pick up a used Focusrite Octopre or similar box for under £200.

That way you get the legendary RME driver support and Totalmix without breaking the bank. Some places seem to be selling the Digiface USB for under £300 although they tend to be the ones that source their gear from Europe rather than through the UK distributor so I'm not sure what the warranty situation would be.
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Re: Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby Ramirez » Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:25 pm

I was tempted by the Focusrite Clarett USB range and the Audient stuff before settling on an RME Babyface Pro (the RME doesn’t meet you I/O requirements without an ADAT expander though, and has just been superseeded by theBabyface Pro FS version)

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Re: Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby n o i s e f l e ur » Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:38 pm

Martin Walker wrote:Thanks for the quick comeback n o i s e f l e ur!

Yep, if I could justify £1000 that's what probably what I'd go for (I've looked at RME on various occasions in the past, but most models invariably offer far more I/O capability than I really need).

I'll have a look at the RME Fireface UC to see what you can get for £800 though ;)


Martin

Yeah, I knew it was a somewhat spendy suggestion in comparison to the EMU - but apart from the MIDI it seemed to fit the bill. It's really all about those drivers though, and the Totalmix . . . and the DigiCheck, Totalmix Remote . . . and did I mention THOSE DRIVERS already? :D

Some of the other lads have made excellent suggestions on how to get in on the RME act, and I can only reiterate how much of a step up it was for me coming from a similar generation EMU to your own. Best latency I ever managed was a highly-optimistically-reported-by-driver 12ms versus around 4ms from the UCX. And thats USB2 versus PCI. I'd imagine you might have got better performance though, as my PC back then was a complete POS for audio, in fairness to the EMU.
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Re: Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby The Elf » Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:19 pm

Three letters R - M - E.
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Re: Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby resistorman » Mon Dec 02, 2019 1:33 am

A used RME UFX? Especially since you’re on win7. Drivers! They’re going for around $850 US on Reverb. Really solid gear.
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Re: Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby Eddy Deegan » Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:48 am

The recommendation to Martin seems evident ;)
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Re: Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby ef37a » Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:54 am

NEVER thought I would be suggesting a PC fix to Martin Walker!

But, have you pulled the PCI card, removed drivers and associated software and started afresh? I would give the edge connectors a buff while the card is out as well.

However, your finding that the problem could be heat related does indicate a fault. Is it practical to squirt some freezer at the card in situ? If cooling it causes craziness, time to bin.

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Re: Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby Martin Walker » Tue Dec 03, 2019 11:31 pm

Thanks for all the suggestions folks! :thumbup:

I have been looking at the Focusrite Scarlett series first suggested by Eddy (good pricing and audio performance it seems, in a convenient all-in-one package), and then revisited the RME website to investigate the suggestions made by Hugh and James et al (renowned driver stability, low latency performance and longevity, but at a price!)

When I looked at Hugh's RME AIO the spec sounded wonderful, but it's basically a core card with plenty of digital I/O options to which you can attach further analogue I/O. As Hugh mentions, this would be perfect to attach my Audient Mico and Lavry DA10, but this made me realise that this is exactly what my existing Emu PCI card does.

Which led me on to Dave's (ef37a) comment about investigating this Emu PCI card. Actually, as I mentioned above, the Emu PCI card still seems to be working fine - it was the external Emu Audiodock with the analogue I/O that I suspected, and have now confirmed as the culprit. Having unplugged it on Sunday, I've been using the Emu PCI card along with the Audient Mico and Lavry DA10 for A/D and D/A duties ever since with not a single hiccup!

This in turn makes me wonder whether simply buying an ADAT preamp for more analogue I/O would be the simplest (and cheapest) solution at the moment, since I've already got suitable unused ADAT I/O on the Emu PCI card. I could later buy myself an RME AIO or even James' RME Digiface USB, and still be able to connect up the Mico, DA10 and ADAT preamp.

Decisions, decisions!


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Re: Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby ef37a » Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:13 am

Glad to have been of some small help Martin.
That breakout box would be even easier to tackle with freezer. Likely there is a processor in it and changing that, if it is the culprit might be tricky but worth investigating? Might be something as simple as a 78 regulator?

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Re: Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby Ramirez » Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:22 am

Martin Walker wrote:...This in turn makes me wonder whether simply buying an ADAT preamp for more analogue I/O would be the simplest (and cheapest) solution at the moment, since I've already got suitable unused ADAT I/O on the Emu PCI card. I could later buy myself an RME AIO or even James' RME Digiface USB, and still be able to connect up the Mico, DA10 and ADAT preamp.

Decisions, decisions!


Martin

The larger Scarlett/Clarett USB can be configured as a very nicely featured ADAT expander, giving you 8 decent preamps and 8 outputs as well as 2 independent headphone amps. It also gives you a good backup interface (or could in time become your main interface)
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Re: Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby The Elf » Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:36 am

Martin Walker wrote:...revisited the RME website to investigate the suggestions made by Hugh and James et al (renowned driver stability, low latency performance and longevity, but at a price!)
These are only side -reasons for me choosing RME. TotalMix is the jewel that keeps me going back to RME - once you have it you do not want to live without it!
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Re: Martin Walker - 8-in/8-out audio interface suggestions

Postby Martin Walker » Sun Dec 08, 2019 4:54 pm

Martin Walker wrote:Thanks for the quick comeback n o i s e f l e ur!

Yep, if I could justify £1000 that's what probably what I'd go for (I've looked at RME on various occasions in the past, but most models invariably offer far more I/O capability than I really need).

I'll have a look at the RME Fireface UC to see what you can get for £800 though ;)

Well this is an ironic admission - after going round the houses for a week I've just ordered an RME Fireface UC :headbang:

I've heard SO many claims of low latency driver excellence, TotalMix fabulosity, and downright longevity (buy RME and you have a product that will last you to the end of time - that sort of thing ;)) that I was swayed to RME fairly quickly. However, even then the range of choices was enormous!

I like James Perrett's suggestion of the Digiface USB - comparatively low cost yet amazing expandability, but the initial low cost was offset by the extra cost of a ADAT Preamp unit to add analogue - with the lovely Audient ASP800 you were talking about £800 in total.

For a long time I was convinced by Hugh Robjohns' HDSPe AIO, which at around £500 offered a range of analogue, digital and MIDI I/O, and which I could expand with the 4-input RME AI4S-192 AIO Input Expansion, giving me RME quality/drivers for a total of around £660.

However, the crunch came when I found an outlet selling the RME Fireface UC for just £50 more, to giving me 1 x ADAT, 1 x S/PDIF coaxial, 1 x wordclock, 2 x MIDI in/out, 2 mic/line, 2 line/instrument, 4 line inputs, 6 line outputs, and headphone output, all in a tasteful 1/2 rack blue enclosure.

So, I've just ordered it - £705 inc VAT, and it will be delivered on Tuesday 10th 8-)

Thanks for all the advice folks, and a happy outcome for me! :thumbup:


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