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So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

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So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby Taxman » Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:49 am

Hello Everyone,

I need your brains.

I make music without a computer (tape and Portastudios). My needs are simple, all I would require is an interface to get my stereo mix on 1/4 inch tape into my Mac. That’s it.

So my question is could quality results be attained with something like a Focusrite Scarlett, or should I really be looking at Audient or Apogee etc. with better AD conversion?

Cheers, Sam
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Re: So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby ef37a » Sat Nov 09, 2019 8:45 am

Taxman wrote:Hello Everyone,

I need your brains.

I make music without a computer (tape and Portastudios). My needs are simple, all I would require is an interface to get my stereo mix on 1/4 inch tape into my Mac. That’s it.

So my question is could quality results be attained with something like a Focusrite Scarlett, or should I really be looking at Audient or Apogee etc. with better AD conversion?

Cheers, Sam

Sorry Sam but I had to stifle a laugh. "Quality converters" from TAPE!?
You could probably use the 25quid Behringer UCA202/222 and never notice a difference. Still, we can do better. To put spoke in the march of Focusrite, look at the budget Tascam interfaces reviewed in SOS not so long ago. If you can find a second hand Native Instruments KA6 mk1, that will suit you sir!

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Re: So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby Taxman » Sat Nov 09, 2019 9:17 am

Okay thanks Dave. Suits you Sir! Ooh!

Why the stifled laugh?! I’m going from my Tascam DP32 to Revox A77. I like the way it sounds and would like to then get that back in a computer. Berry/Tascam still the way to go or could it get better?
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Re: So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby fatbenelton » Sat Nov 09, 2019 9:25 am

A small Focusrite interface would probably do a great job but if you did want to explore apogee etc you don’t necessarily have to spend £1000’s.

A used apogee element 24 for example, can be had for around £300 and it has the same convertors as the Ensemble but just 2 in and no physical controls.
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Re: So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby fatbenelton » Sat Nov 09, 2019 9:28 am

Oops - having just checked it looks closer to £350/£400.

That said, I got mine for £325 - sounds lovely!
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Re: So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby Taxman » Sat Nov 09, 2019 9:49 am

Thank you very much fatbenelton. Will have a butchers.
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Re: So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Nov 09, 2019 10:04 am

I think Dave's point is that budget 24 bit convertors will exceed the quality of even the best tape (envy you your A77 BTW, sold mine years ago and still regret doing so).

General consensus on here seems to be that convertor quality is very low on the list of things that affect the sound of a modern interface.
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Re: So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby Arpangel » Sat Nov 09, 2019 10:15 am

I'm in exactly the same position, I use a Tascam portastudio plugged straight into a Motu 828MK11, it works, as I'm sure a Behringer would, my Motu is worth about £70.
Even this would do the job, for the price of a take-away curry.

https://www.gear4music.com/Recording-and-Computers/Behringer-U-Control-UCA222-USB-Audio-Interface/AML
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Re: So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby Taxman » Sat Nov 09, 2019 10:17 am

Thanks, Sam. I’ll have an investigate and check out the consensus.

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Re: So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby Taxman » Sat Nov 09, 2019 10:25 am

This is all very enlightening!
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Re: So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby blinddrew » Sat Nov 09, 2019 10:29 am

Arpangel wrote:I'm in exactly the same position, I use a Tascam portastudio plugged straight into a Motu 828MK11, it works, as I'm sure a Behringer would, my Motu is worth about £70.
Even this would do the job, for the price of a take-away curry.

https://www.gear4music.com/Recording-and-Computers/Behringer-U-Control-UCA222-USB-Audio-Interface/AML
Those little berries would theoretically do the job (16 bit being more than enough dynamic range for tape) but for the sake of a few quid i'd up to something 24 bit. We never know how our muse might vary and having something with a couple of mic inputs (and maybe midi too) may suddenly come in useful.
A Behringer UMC404 gives you all that for just over a ton. A 202 or subzero equivalent will lose the midi but cost you half that.
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Re: So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby Taxman » Sat Nov 09, 2019 10:52 am

Thank you Drew. More delicious food for thought.
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Re: So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby Wonks » Sat Nov 09, 2019 11:03 am

Use a 24 bit format for recording, and don't push the recording level too hard. An average RMS reading of -20dBFS will be fine. Peaks no higher than -8dDFS. You can't push digital like you can tape, so you need to leave headroom, (at least for the initial ' archive'' recordings). You can always process them further if you plan to put them on CD or an mp3 format, but get the main transfer in cleanly.

What are your plans for the recordings after transfer?
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Re: So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby Taxman » Sat Nov 09, 2019 11:41 am

Thanks Wonks. I’ll mostly be giving an album to friends and family. Perhaps if I’m bold enough I may send it out into the world.
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Re: So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby Jumpeyspyder » Sat Nov 09, 2019 12:08 pm

Taxman wrote:Why the stifled laugh?!
In your first post you mentioned the word 'Portastudio', this puts most people on this forum in mind of an aging 4 track casette recorder where the audio quality is pretty poor.

Taxman wrote:I’m going from my Tascam DP32 to Revox A77. I like the way it sounds and would like to then get that back in a computer. Berry/Tascam still the way to go or could it get better?

Since you have a digital mutitrack, you could ''master" to the Revox then record the 2 track back to the DP32.
I've not checked the manual, but It looks like the DP32 has a USB connection and an SD card you should be able to transfer the stereo file to your mac using either of these ?
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Re: So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby James Perrett » Sat Nov 09, 2019 12:11 pm

ef37a wrote:Sorry Sam but I had to stifle a laugh. "Quality converters" from TAPE!?
You could probably use the 25quid Behringer UCA202/222 and never notice a difference.

As you know, I tried one of those Behringers and it simply wasn't good enough - even for cassettes let alone reel to reel. By the time you've bought attenuators for it and the necessary noise reduction software you'll have spent more than a decent interface would cost.
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Re: So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby Taxman » Sat Nov 09, 2019 12:37 pm

Jumpeyspyder wrote:
Taxman wrote:Why the stifled laugh?!
In your first post you mentioned the word 'Portastudio', this puts most people on this forum in mind of an aging 4 track casette recorder where the audio quality is pretty poor.

Taxman wrote:I’m going from my Tascam DP32 to Revox A77. I like the way it sounds and would like to then get that back in a computer. Berry/Tascam still the way to go or could it get better?

Since you have a digital mutitrack, you could ''master" to the Revox then record the 2 track back to the DP32.
I've not checked the manual, but It looks like the DP32 has a USB connection and an SD card you should be able to transfer the stereo file to your mac using either of these ?

Yep, fair call!!

Holy Moly l didn’t think of that! That may actually be perfect.
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Re: So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby ef37a » Sat Nov 09, 2019 12:51 pm

James Perrett wrote:
ef37a wrote:Sorry Sam but I had to stifle a laugh. "Quality converters" from TAPE!?
You could probably use the 25quid Behringer UCA202/222 and never notice a difference.

As you know, I tried one of those Behringers and it simply wasn't good enough - even for cassettes let alone reel to reel. By the time you've bought attenuators for it and the necessary noise reduction software you'll have spent more than a decent interface would cost.

I find that strange James? Yes the 202 is 16 bits but I have had 3 and they all returned a noise floor better than -80dB fs, better than even Dolby B cassette.

Yes again they are neg ten devices but I never had any problem with any of my cassette machines, all of good quality one being a Sony Dolby S jobby.

Most hi fi amps/recievers chuck out around 150mV average and again mine gives no problems nor have I ever read of any except yours. And they must have sold "Farsands!"
(as an example, peeps were VERY quick to pick up on the headroom limitations of the first F'rite 2i2s)

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Re: So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby James Perrett » Sat Nov 09, 2019 3:23 pm

ef37a wrote:
James Perrett wrote:As you know, I tried one of those Behringers and it simply wasn't good enough - even for cassettes let alone reel to reel. By the time you've bought attenuators for it and the necessary noise reduction software you'll have spent more than a decent interface would cost.

I find that strange James? Yes the 202 is 16 bits but I have had 3 and they all returned a noise floor better than -80dB fs, better than even Dolby B cassette.

Maybe I had a bad one but it couldn't handle recording disco 12" singles from a Rotel receiver or loudly recorded tapes from an Aiwa deck. And the idle tones became annoying even if they were below the level of tape hiss. I'm much happier with the Zoom that replaced it but I would probably have been equally happy with the KA6 or something similar - I like having SPDIF just in case I want to record something really critical with a decent A/D convertor.
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Re: So, Which Interface Do I Actually Need?

Postby ef37a » Sat Nov 09, 2019 3:43 pm

James Perrett wrote:
ef37a wrote:
James Perrett wrote:As you know, I tried one of those Behringers and it simply wasn't good enough - even for cassettes let alone reel to reel. By the time you've bought attenuators for it and the necessary noise reduction software you'll have spent more than a decent interface would cost.

I find that strange James? Yes the 202 is 16 bits but I have had 3 and they all returned a noise floor better than -80dB fs, better than even Dolby B cassette.

Maybe I had a bad one but it couldn't handle recording disco 12" singles from a Rotel receiver or loudly recorded tapes from an Aiwa deck. And the idle tones became annoying even if they were below the level of tape hiss. I'm much happier with the Zoom that replaced it but I would probably have been equally happy with the KA6 or something similar - I like having SPDIF just in case I want to record something really critical with a decent A/D convertor.

None of my 202s suffered the dreaded "16 bit whine" that is so common on the 16 bit converters in early mixers (I have a Mk1 A&H zed10 that does it) .

Granny's and eggs aside, are you sure you backed off the recording gain in Windows Jame?

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