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Best audio interface for recording with Strymon Iridium

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Best audio interface for recording with Strymon Iridium

Postby Francesco Chieffo » Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:07 pm

Hi everybody, I'm a guitarist. A couple of months ago I purchased a Strymon Iridium, recently released amp simulator pedal, for daily practice, live performances and above all home recording, not having found in the various amp modeling softwares, the tone I was looking for.

Since I can't use monitors where I live, I record, practically only with my headphones (ATH-m50x), with a Gibson hollow body through the amp sim and some effects pedals. Until about a week ago I used a Scarlett 2i2. I decided to upgrade to get a clearer and more transparent sound. I purchased an Audient Id14, but although I notice several differences, I am not sure I made the purchase more suitable for my needs. The Audient support explained to me that I would have no advantage, given my needs in terms of inputs and outputs, moving to an Id22, which has the same preamps and whose converters, according to them, have almost imperceptible differences.

I would like to understand if by making a higher investment, I would have an audio interface that allows me to obtain considerably more detailed and transparent sound. I'm thinking of several alternatives:

- SSL 2+ just released, which to be honest doesn't seem like a big upgrade

- Apogee One or Duet, since I use a Mac, but of which I have had conflicting reviews

- Apollo Twin MkII Solo, but not dealing with mixing, I don't know if it would be worthwhile, since as far as I understood its strength lies not only in the preamps and in the AD / DAs, but in the vast series of plugins available, which would entail an additional expense

I am willing to consider other alternatives that I may not be aware of. I don't need expandability and more than one or two inputs.

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Best audio interface for recording with Strymon Iridium

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jan 14, 2020 3:24 pm

I'd be extremely surprised if you found any noticeable difference in detail and transparency and between any of those interfaces.

I would anticipate that any sound quality issues are more likely to be related to the recording technique (especially in respect of too high recording levels), or possibly an issue with the headphone monitoring.

Perhaps you could post a link to an example recording that highlights what you don't like about your current setup.
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Re: Best audio interface for recording with Strymon Iridium

Postby CS70 » Tue Jan 14, 2020 4:15 pm

Francesco Chieffo wrote:I would like to understand if by making a higher investment, I would have an audio interface that allows me to obtain considerably more detailed and transparent sound.

In short, no.

You're doing with interfaces what too many guitarists do with their playing: thinking that different gear will give you better results. :-)

Beyond a (very reasonable) minimal level, it's very rarely the case. The A/D conversion of the ID22 and the Scarlett is very unlikely to be the cause of any lack of "detailed and transparent sound"

That depends primarily on your playing (and of course your guitar needs to be well set up!) and then on your guitar type, setup, and amplification chain (including pedals and effects) and how you set the whole shebang up. Were you to use a microphone, it'd depend also on it and the room - but with the Iridium at least that complication is avoided :)

Yes, you could get some improvement with the A/D conversion of much higher end interfaces, but a guitar signal is mostly sculpted at the source - so long you don't clip the converters you're getting out what you're putting in. :)

Make sure your guitar is well set up, that's often the source of unwanted buzzing and other sounds which can ruin an otherwise good performance. With temperature differences in winter and summer it's not uncommon to have to do a setup, especially if you play very low action.

And also - while the AT50x are excellent for tracking (I have a couple pairs myself) they aren't perhaps the best to judge the sound - I would use something with less of a "sound" for that.
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Re: Best audio interface for recording with Strymon Iridium

Postby Francesco Chieffo » Tue Jan 14, 2020 5:50 pm

Thanks, it's more or less the answer I expected. I do a setup on my guitar, a Gibson Tal Farlow, quite often. Focusrite Scarlett, a 2i2 1st gen, clipped at low volumes and was quite noisy, probably because it was a bit old. In the past I had buzzing problems, which I solved with a Strymon power supply and changing some less silent cables.

I have probably not yet understood the issue of recording levels well. Audient technical support told me that if I wanted I could go up to 0dbs, but that I know the most suitable gain level in the input should be between -24 and -18 dbs. Am I wrong? I often went above it to have more headphone volume, should I buy a headphone amp in that case?

Also I have found that from the headphones output of the Iridium and from the headphones output of the Id14 I get two rather different sounds. It's normal? Does that mean that the circuitry of the Id14 still colors the sound a bit?
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Re: Best audio interface for recording with Strymon Iridium

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jan 14, 2020 6:16 pm

Francesco Chieffo wrote:Focusrite Scarlett, a 2i2 1st gen, clipped at low volumes and was quite noisy, probably because it was a bit old.

It's certainly true that some of the 1st gen Scarletts lacked headroom, and a hot guitar and/or enthusiastic playing could easily overload the preamps. There are plenty of ways around that though, not least by using a decent DI box. I haven't come across complaints of noise with the Scarletts, though, and that surprises me.

In the past I had buzzing problems, which I solved with a Strymon power supply and changing some less silent cables.

Buzzing is a perennial problem when recording guitars, and can take a fair bit of tracking down and solving. The first step when using mains-powered pedals or taking a feed from a mains-powered amp etc, is to rule out ground loops between the source and the interface. After that, you need to find out where the interference is getting into the guitar and/or where it's coming from.

I have probably not yet understood the issue of recording levels well. Audient technical support told me that if I wanted I could go up to 0dbs, but that I know the most suitable gain level in the input should be between -24 and -18 dbs. Am I wrong? I often went above it to have more headphone volume, should I buy a headphone amp in that case?

Technically, you can go up almost to 0dBFS (digital clipping), but the problem with that is any slightly louder transient peak will clip... In the days of analogue, the average signal level was usually kept around 20dB below clipping, with the loudest transient peaks about 10dB below. So that translates to keeping the average level around -20dBFS, and allowing peaks no higher than -10dBFS.

If you need more volume in the headphones, you could try and find more efficient headphones, or invest in separate headphone amp.

Also I have found that from the headphones output of the Iridium and from the headphones output of the Id14 I get two rather different sounds. It's normal?

No... but as to which one is at fault is a harder question. I'd probably trust the ID14 over the strymon... but in what way do they sound different?
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Re: Best audio interface for recording with Strymon Iridium

Postby Chet Leeway » Tue Jan 14, 2020 6:41 pm

Francesco Chieffo wrote:I have probably not yet understood the issue of recording levels well. Audient technical support told me that if I wanted I could go up to 0dbs, but that I know the most suitable gain level in the input should be between -24 and -18 dbs. Am I wrong?

Today Audient launched a couple of new budget interfaces (EVO) which can set the recording levels for you automatically.
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Re: Best audio interface for recording with Strymon Iridium

Postby Francesco Chieffo » Tue Jan 14, 2020 7:56 pm

If you need more volume in the headphones, you could try and find more efficient headphones, or invest in separate headphone amp.

Could you please point me to some good quality ones under $ 100?

No... but as to which one is at fault is a harder question. I'd probably trust the ID14 over the strymon... but in what way do they sound different?

Essentially in eq. To get the same colors I have to use different settings.
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