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Audio interface ? stand alone

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Audio interface ? stand alone

Postby ben howes » Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:18 am

Hello, sorry to ask this very basic question.

I want a mic pre with 48v to use during drum practise. I also want a midi interface and a headphone amp. I might one day want to record to pc but not right now.

I reckon a usb interface might cover these bases but I don't want to power up a pc every time I practise. If the device has its own power supply, could I use it as a pre and headphone amp without connection to computer?
If this all sounds daft I'll buy a cheap mixer and a separate usb interface.
Thanks
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Re: Audio interface ? stand alone

Postby Arpangel » Wed Dec 04, 2019 1:05 pm

I have an old Motu 828 MK11 that does all you want, there is a new range of smaller Motu interfaces just released, I'm sure they can do stand alone operation. They are easy to use, good sound, and tend to work with most computers.
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Re: Audio interface ? stand alone

Postby CS70 » Thu Dec 05, 2019 4:29 pm

ben howes wrote:I want a mic pre with 48v to use during drum practise. I also want a midi interface and a headphone amp.

By definition an audio interface is something that bridges musical equipment with a computer, translating either analog signals or other digital signals not originally intended for general purpose computers to a data stream understandable by a GPC. Often interfaces contain also preamps and A/D or D/A converters, a little bit of monitor controlling and other useful features but the key element is the fact that they can talk USB, Thunderbolt, etc.

So an interface makes little sense without a computer :)

If what you want to do is to record without a computer, a portable recorder with a line input will allow you to record the signal of whatever external preamp you want to use.
There are also A/D kits for smartphones that allow you to connect a mic (not sure about line) and do essentially the same job. There's also rackmount recorders which have analog inputs and record directly on a USB stick or a SD card. There's digital mixers doing just the same.

Quality wise what matters when you use an external preamp is the quality of A/D conversion but for regular mics and gain ranges nowadays your average product is pretty usable.

Beware that once you start recording, especially drums, you will want to add more channels :)

Not sure what do you want from a MIDI interface if you're not gonna use a computer? Do you want to run a synth from an electronic kit?
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Re: Audio interface ? stand alone

Postby ef37a » Thu Dec 05, 2019 5:53 pm

But the facility can be very useful CS70.

My son in France need to amp up a mic to drive a small PA speaker (not his) on stage but he wanted local volume control.
I sent him my old M-Audio Fast track pro interface and 9V wall rat.

The Pro will act as a stand alone mic pre, line/high Z and S/PDIF converter both ways.

I was drawn to the advert of the MOTU M2 in SOS this month and after looking up the spec' thought "they will want one at least of my limbs for this!" Not so, seem to run about £170. Not the connectivity of the KA6 but about the same price and a spec stepup for sure.
Saddly neither converter has a power input. The M2 might work stand alone from a USB power supply but I doubt it.

BTW. Don't see many MOTU reviews in SOS?

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Re: Audio interface ? stand alone

Postby Sam Inglis » Thu Dec 05, 2019 6:05 pm

Lots of audio interfaces will work as stand-alone preamps or ADAT expanders, though it's sometimes necessary to connect a computer to set them up first. The Arturia AudioFuse 8Pre that I reviewed recently is a good example.
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Re: Audio interface ? stand alone

Postby blinddrew » Thu Dec 05, 2019 6:29 pm

At the budget end the Tascam US16x08 will work as an 8-channel pre-amp if no PC is connected but I'm not sure what happens on the midi side of things.
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Re: Audio interface ? stand alone

Postby CS70 » Thu Dec 05, 2019 7:20 pm

ef37a wrote:But the facility can be very useful CS70.

Yes, was thinking why paying for something you don't really use.. but I'd missed the "one day will want to record with PC" so good point!
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Re: Audio interface ? stand alone

Postby ben howes » Fri Dec 06, 2019 12:16 am

Hi, thanks for your responses. Here's just a little detail here, for fun.
The set up is a 2Box electronic drum kit. I play this in my semi detached house. I couldn't tolerate the electronic hi hat so I use zildjain L80 low volume hats and ride (acoustic cymbals drilled to resemble a seive - surprisingly effective)
Now the drums are in the cans but cymbals have to acoustically leak in, so why not stick a mic on the hats, mix it in. Also handy to mix in audio tracks too.
So, mixer with a pre.
Now then, the 2box module has midi. Why not use a sequencer to play some percussion grooves, or maybe use the kit to trigger a VST instrument?
And, if the band want a guide drum track to start recording to, why not record the e drums at home?
So now I can see I could use both a basic mixer and a low cost interface with midi. My query was really about getting away with one device but I think it will be too limiting.
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