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Comparision Charts 92 Firewire, PCI, USB2 Audio interfaces

The "right" audio intrerface for your studio depends on your CPU, OS, motherboard, and the robustness of its drivers. If we all put our heads together we might be able to deal with making a decision more intelligently. Use all advice given here at your own risk. This forum is only for Firewire and USB (1.1 and 2.0) interfaces.

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Comparision Charts 92 Firewire, PCI, USB2 Audio interfaces

Postby admin on Sat Nov 18, 2006 12:35 pm

Comparision Charts of 92 Firewire, PCI and USB 2.0 Audio interfaces

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The FIREWIRE chart can be found here:

http://tweakheadz.com/audio_interface_fw_comparison_chart.htm

The PCI chart can be found here:

http://tweakheadz.com/audio_interface_pci_comparison_chart.htm

The USB 2.0 Chart is here:

http://www.tweakheadz.com/audio_interface_usb2_comparison_chart.htm


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How to Read the Charts

This handy chart can help you narrow down your choice of a firewire audio interface. It will save you hours of research and will cut through a lot of confusion caused by the inconsistent definitions manufacturers often use. First of all, manufacturers may count inputs and outputs differently. This chart is an attempt to fairly compare the above devices, but is based on interpretation of what constitutes a discrete audio channel.

Analog i/o refers to actual analog input and output channels, not necessarily how many input and output jacks are on the device. The first number is the number of input channels and the second number is the number of output channels. This number includes the mic preamps but does not include headphone outs. If a Mic preamp and a line input share the same channel, that channel is only counted once. This is to give you a true idea of how many analog input and output channels the box has. Likewise if the main output pair has "main outs" and "monitor outs" these channels are only counted once, as they share the same channels.

How many analog inputs you need depends on how many sources you want to record at the same time. Also, if you have a synthesizer or drum machine you need inputs through which to record and monitor these. How many outputs you need depends on how much gear you have that you want to send audio to. If you want to use an FX box, you need to use an output to send it audio and you need two inputs to get it back. If you want to mix your song on an analog mixer you need a lot of outputs. If you are mixerless and are mixing in your software you only need 2 outputs--those to which you connect your monitors.

S/pdif i/o is either yes or no. This is a stereo digital pathway, and may be either coaxial or optical. S/pdif is useful for connecting digital audio devices, like external a/d converters, effects processors, CDR recorders, even some preamps and keyboards that have digital outs.

Preamps refers to the number of microphone preamps the interface has.
ADAT refers to an 8 channel digital input and output. Its is useful for connecting more mic preamps, a second audio interface or computer, a digital mixer, or can be used to add more analog i/o through an 8 channel ad/da converter.

MIDI i/o refers to the number of 16 channel ports there are on the interface. 1/2 means it has one MIDI input and two MIDI outputs. MIDI inputs and outputs are used to connect a MIDI synthesizer, keyboard controller, drum pad controller, and some control surfaces. You need one port for every device you want to connect to the computer. You can always add more via separate MIDI interfaces.

Headphones refers to the number of stereo headphone jacks on the unit.

Word Clock refers the presence of a BNC connector through which word sync signals can be sent to other digital devices. It is important that all digital devices connected through s/pdif or ADAT share the same word sync. For simple setups that may have two digital devices, having a word clock connector is not usually necessary. Sync can be sent along through the s/pdif or ADAT connection. It becomes important in rigs where there may be multiple digital devices where it is impossible to send word sync to all devices.

Prices and specs may change from when this chart was made. You can check the product descriptions at the manufacturers websites for up to date details.
Last edited by admin on Sun Nov 19, 2006 12:23 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Postby nanashiwanderer on Sat Nov 18, 2006 6:29 pm

I saw this, good idea. I'm surprised you didn't through the apogee ensemble on there as well.
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Postby mcatalao on Mon Nov 20, 2006 5:17 am

Tweak,

Just a little error...
The Maudio 1814 has Word clock sync... :)
See you!

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Postby Tweak on Mon Nov 20, 2006 1:25 pm

Thanks! I see it on the breakout cable.
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souncard list and usb...

Postby ecc83 on Sun Nov 26, 2006 7:40 am

Hi This is my first post here. I came in via the card list and I have a query.
I have a 2496 in my 3.2G machine and it is great. I see on the list it is not credited with ADAT i/o. Why then does my Samplitude software list 8in and outs for it? I cannot test this because I do not have an ADAT source to feed it (yet). Viz USB, I have a Behringer BCA2000 usb mixer. This gave me LOADS of problems into an old 601mhz pc even with a usb 2.0 card fitted. Now it is plugged into the faster machine it is faultless. The usb2 Berry was one of the first devices on the scene and Germany had not got its driver act together but it is now sorted. NB. not all pc's have Fwire ports and there are issues with add on boards(basically stick to Texas chips) Check out Sound on Sound UK. I have also read that Apple will drop Fwire and also many laptops are only 4pin(no power).
hope I havn't upset anyone
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Postby Tweak on Sun Nov 26, 2006 7:54 am

The M-audio 2496 PCI card does not have ADAT. Look on the back of your card. There is no lightpipe (toslink), just coax s/pdif. I've heard the rumor about Apple dropping firewire. That is all it is, or rather, was. There was speculation that FW would be dropped for the replacements for the G5. But as we see, the Mac Pros are now released with firewire. Thankfully Steve Jobs did not throw us this curveball, but I suspect he may have thought about it.
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More MOTU 8pre info

Postby jworrall on Tue Nov 28, 2006 7:59 pm

Here's some info on the 8pre not available on the web (at least, not so I could understand it) that I got from MOTU:

All 8 analog channels can be used for microphones via XLR or as either line inputs or instrument input (10K ohms impedance) via the 1/4" inputs.

You can use it as a live mixer, but it has to be attached to a computer.

Jim
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Postby mcatalao on Thu Nov 30, 2006 5:10 am

Live Mixer??????

hehe

You can use it AS An 8 PRÉ lika an OCTANE without a computer. That's completely different than a mixer, each channel will still go to the adat out or the analog channel. But they will not be mixed.

If you need something that can do both jobs think about the Mackie ONYX with firewire, or any other copied device... (Forget behringers xenix, they have a stupid 2 chn usb interface... )
See you!

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Postby nanashiwanderer on Thu Nov 30, 2006 6:50 am

There was speculation that FW would be dropped for the replacements for the G5
Apple is the leading proponent of Firewire, so i'd find it unlikeley. However, the speculation is coming from probably the intel switch. Intel does not like firewire, because of the way liscencing has worked out, (its a mess, a lot of people are involved and liscening worked out 1$ per port for manufacturers which is expensive for motherboards). Intel's been pushing the USB2.0 standard, i'm sure intel put some pressure on apple to drop the standard with the switch. However, I doubt apple would its the standard for audio and video, which represents a good portion of apple clients (keep in mind they are only 2.2 % of the market, and the percentage of media professionals using macs is much higher than pc's).

Intels pushed a lot of things, and only ones that are real succesful has been the ones were needed for the market to progress. USB 2.0 won't be needed for market progress in the long run, I think more or less the two standards will co exist, however lowerend machines may drop firewire support. (standards that have failed ATA/133, RD-RAM, BTX).
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soundcards

Postby ecc83 on Thu Nov 30, 2006 3:00 pm

I thought we were supposed to be tolerant and not slag off other people's gear?
What's wrong with two channels, most sound cards have only two analogue i/p's.
The XENYX! series of mixers are NOT usb, just mixers.
The BCA2000 can run multiple outs, and has mic preamps I would have killed for 30yrs ago using ribbon mic's. I managed to build a very quiet mixer (for then) using triodes, dc heating and 65:1 transformers but the top end dropped off at about 12K, still, tape machines were not much better....
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Postby jworrall on Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:58 pm

mcatalao wrote:Live Mixer??????

hehe

You can use it AS An 8 PRÉ lika an OCTANE without a computer. That's completely different than a mixer, each channel will still go to the adat out or the analog channel. But they will not be mixed.

If you need something that can do both jobs think about the Mackie ONYX with firewire, or any other copied device... (Forget behringers xenix, they have a stupid 2 chn usb interface... )


Sorry, I'm a complete newbie and don't understand most of your post, including the humor. Here's my question about the 8pre and MOTU's answer:
First, can it be used as a mixer for live performance, running analog output to a power amplifier?
When connected to a Mac or Windows computer, yes.

I gather the software on the computer does the mixing, and you send it to a power amp.

Jim
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Postby montsamu on Wed Dec 13, 2006 2:09 pm

Phonic Firefly 302 and 808 -- are they out yet? If so, they can be additions to the lower end of that very excellent chart. (Which doesn't have the Phase 24 or X24 from Terratec either -- but this is understandable as zzounds does not carry them, or the Hercules 1612, CME Controllers Matrix, Apogee, Metric Halo, etc.)

I would add:

http://www.zzounds.com/a--3745/item--BEHFCA202
http://www.zzounds.com/a--3745/item--TCEKONNECT8
http://www.zzounds.com/a--3745/item--MDOFWAP2496
http://www.zzounds.com/a--3745/item--MDOFWSOLO
http://www.zzounds.com/a--3745/item--TCEKONNEKT24D
http://www.zzounds.com/a--3745/item--FOCSAFFIRE
http://www.zzounds.com/a--3745/item--MDOPROFIRE

And guess what just showed up in Zzounds firewire audio interface list:

http://www.zzounds.com/a--3745/item--MDONRV10
Last edited by montsamu on Wed Dec 13, 2006 2:18 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Postby montsamu on Wed Dec 13, 2006 2:11 pm

nanashiwanderer wrote:I saw this, good idea. I'm surprised you didn't through the apogee ensemble on there as well.


Zzounds does not carry the apogee ensemble.
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Postby Tweak on Thu Dec 14, 2006 5:34 am

>montsamu

Thanks! I have updated the chart. 35 firewire interfaces. Shows how much the field has grown.
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Postby mcatalao on Thu Dec 14, 2006 5:38 am

jworrall wrote:
mcatalao wrote:Live Mixer??????

hehe

You can use it AS An 8 PRÉ lika an OCTANE without a computer. That's completely different than a mixer, each channel will still go to the adat out or the analog channel. But they will not be mixed.

If you need something that can do both jobs think about the Mackie ONYX with firewire, or any other copied device... (Forget behringers xenix, they have a stupid 2 chn usb interface... )


Sorry, I'm a complete newbie and don't understand most of your post, including the humor. Here's my question about the 8pre and MOTU's answer:
First, can it be used as a mixer for live performance, running analog output to a power amplifier?
When connected to a Mac or Windows computer, yes.

I gather the software on the computer does the mixing, and you send it to a power amp.

Jim


Hi Jim.

You're right saying that you can use the 8pre (or any other audio card, btw) as a mixer, while it is connected to the pc.

Though, i still digress on that aproach.
Usually, a live mixer has a lot of things the MOTU 8 pre doesn't... From the top of my head i can add some i think are important:

1 - Inserts for each channel(Where you can work out 2 or 3 effects, controll dynamics, etc...)
2 - Buses (Where you define your mix, and route the audio path, either for monitoring, or to define a submix, for example).
3 - Built in Effects.
4 - Eq...

You can always try to do every one of this with software, using for example cubase internal mixer. But monitoring for example will be hard to do due to latency, and you'll need the PC, and one with a lot of processing power. I would'nt risk a live performance all ontop of an audio card and a PC.

Finally, you also could use monitoring with an D/A adat card adding 8 outputs to the 8pre...

So, sorry if wasn't eloquent enough in my previous post.
See you!

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Re: soundcards

Postby mcatalao on Thu Dec 14, 2006 5:47 am

ecc83 wrote:I thought we were supposed to be tolerant and not slag off other people's gear?
What's wrong with two channels, most sound cards have only two analogue i/p's.
The XENYX! series of mixers are NOT usb, just mixers.
The BCA2000 can run multiple outs, and has mic preamps I would have killed for 30yrs ago using ribbon mic's. I managed to build a very quiet mixer (for then) using triodes, dc heating and 65:1 transformers but the top end dropped off at about 12K, still, tape machines were not much better....
ecc83


What's the point of using Firewire, or USB2 if you're using 2 channels???

My point is XENYX mixers are a (BAD) copy of ONYX mixers from Mackie. They also bring an odd usb 1 interface 2 in/2out. By opposition Onyx mixers have optional firewire interfaces, with more thant 8 channels.

That's my point on the stupidity of this copy...

But i'm not slagging off other peoples gear, i'm slagging off this particulary product's philosophy, that i don't understand its use.
See you!

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Postby jworrall on Sat Dec 16, 2006 6:04 pm

mcatalao wrote:Usually, a live mixer has a lot of things the MOTU 8 pre doesn't... From the top of my head i can add some i think are important:

1 - Inserts for each channel(Where you can work out 2 or 3 effects, controll dynamics, etc...)
2 - Buses (Where you define your mix, and route the audio path, either for monitoring, or to define a submix, for example).
3 - Built in Effects.
4 - Eq...

You can always try to do every one of this with software, using for example cubase internal mixer. But monitoring for example will be hard to do due to latency, and you'll need the PC, and one with a lot of processing power. I would'nt risk a live performance all ontop of an audio card and a PC.

I do agree that it is a bit worrisome betting a live performance on a computer. However, we used the 8pre in a performance that way, with 7 input channels, using an old and relatively slow laptop, and had no trouble. I was able to adjust the buffer size so that latency was not noticeable and the computer could still keep up.

Busses, effects, eq, were all handled with software provided (AudioDesk).

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure a quality dedicated mixer is preferable, I'm just saying the 8pre and AudioDesk did do the job for us. I wrote a limited review: http://studio-central.com/phpbb/viewtop ... 717#250717
Jim
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Postby maynard on Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:53 pm

could BUS power be added to the chart? this is a really important feature for me with the firewire devices.
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Postby Spy! on Sun Jan 07, 2007 4:59 am

Greetings all,
jworrall wrote:
mcatalao wrote:Usually, a live mixer has a lot of things the MOTU 8 pre doesn't... From the top of my head i can add some i think are important:

1 - Inserts for each channel(Where you can work out 2 or 3 effects, controll dynamics, etc...)
2 - Buses (Where you define your mix, and route the audio path, either for monitoring, or to define a submix, for example).
3 - Built in Effects.
4 - Eq...

You can always try to do every one of this with software, using for example cubase internal mixer. But monitoring for example will be hard to do due to latency, and you'll need the PC, and one with a lot of processing power. I would'nt risk a live performance all ontop of an audio card and a PC.

I do agree that it is a bit worrisome betting a live performance on a computer. However, we used the 8pre in a performance that way, with 7 input channels, using an old and relatively slow laptop, and had no trouble. I was able to adjust the buffer size so that latency was not noticeable and the computer could still keep up.

Busses, effects, eq, were all handled with software provided (AudioDesk).

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure a quality dedicated mixer is preferable, I'm just saying the 8pre and AudioDesk did do the job for us. I wrote a limited review: http://studio-central.com/phpbb/viewtop ... 717#250717
Jim

Further to what Jim has said, like a lot (if not all) of MOTU's interfaces, the 8pre comes with CueMix, which gives you almost zero latency monitoring to a choice of busses - one per stereo output - in this case (assuming analogue only) 4.

It obviously can be used in a live situation - Jim has proved this - however, I agree that it's not the be all and end all compared to a hardware console with all the things that mcatalao mentions. For what it is and what it does I think the asking price is very fair (if not favourable) and you'd be hard pressed to find the equivalent console (with mc's extras) for the same price, even second-hand.
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Postby doogiehowser on Thu Feb 08, 2007 12:53 am

Tweak, there's a mistake for the Konnekt 8. It only has 2 analog line inputs, not 4.

(note: there are 2 more line inputs on the back for monitoring purposes only, however you cannot record on these)
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Postby Tweak on Thu Feb 08, 2007 2:25 am

Thanks for that. I'll fix it asap.
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Postby PianoPete on Tue Apr 03, 2007 1:27 pm

Tweak the firewire audio interface comparison chart lists the M-Audio Firewire Audiophile 2496 Audio Interface as not having midi in/out but according to the product descriprion in the link it does.
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Postby McMxxCiV on Sun Aug 05, 2007 3:23 pm

As far as I know - that is: as far I've not been imagining over a year of perfect midi functionality - the Firewire Audiophile does indeed have a 1/1 midi in/out.
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Postby Tweak on Sun Aug 05, 2007 6:24 pm

Right. I missed Pete's post. Will be fixed asap. Thanks!
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Postby McMxxCiV on Mon Aug 06, 2007 2:17 am

You're welcome.
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