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#392855 - 01/28/17 09:55 AM [Beginners Forum] Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner...
PeterGannon Offline
PG Music Staff

Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 13456
I'd be interested in hearing recommendations for the best audio interface for a beginner to DAWS and Band-in-a-Box.

We get asked that question a lot, but the available products are changing so we may not be current.

And a link to the product for sale somewhere like Amazon or musicians friend etc.

Please include some basic information such as name/manufacturer/price and a brief summary of what it has e.g. 2 audio ins, 2 audio outs, 1 MIDI in, 1 MIDI out.

And state if you have used it in Windows or Mac, and if it's a USB connection or something else (FireWire, USB-C)

And of course any "local knowledge" would be appreciated ,
(windows users) such as if it works for you with biab and realband and if you are using the native asio driver or just the default mme.
(Mac users) does it work well for you with biab

I would assume we should concentrate on entry level but a beginner might want something fancy, and if you've got good results please post that too.

Please don't drift the topic to tech support interface issues, as this would be very confusing, and there are other forums here for that.


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PG Music Inc.

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#392866 - 01/28/17 11:27 AM [Beginners Forum] Re: Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner... [Re: PeterGannon]
Charlie Fogle Offline
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Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 4477
Loc: South Carolina
Knowing you will be getting many fine recommendations based on personal experience from many users, that you are asking specifically for hardware recommendations and not software, plus the fact that "Please include some basic information such as name/manufacturer/price and a brief summary of what it has e.g. 2 audio ins, 2 audio outs, 1 MIDI in, 1 MIDI out.

And state if you have used it in Windows or Mac, and if it's a USB connection or something else (FireWire, USB-C)" barely touches the surface of what a beginner may encounter, I will go straight to "local knowledge" and recommend what I feel is indisputably the easiest route for a beginner to use BIAB products to record music.

A stand alone multi track recorder. Multi track recorders today include some variation of DAW software customized to the hardware requirements of the unit so a project can be recorded from start to finish "in the box", they all provide the ability to move tracks back and forth between the hardware recorder and a computer DAW regardless of the operating system of computer.

They are the best of both worlds on one hand freeing a user from possibly learning a difficult DAW software program and having to navigate the actual hardware connections and configurations to make an audio interface work with a DAW.

Of all the available brands and models, I recommend the Tascam DP24 for both features and ease of use. It has very capable proprietary DAW features for effects, editing, mixing and mastering. I recommend it over its sister model the DP32 because the only functional difference are the additional channels. Most will never need and the difference is not worth the additional cost. It can be connected to a computer by USB and recognized the same as a thumb drive or the SD card can be physically removed and read from a reader on a computer. It has hundreds of tracks available but limited to mixing 32 at one time, that is a bit deceptive because tracks can be bounced without degradation prior to any mixdown.

The DP24 is very easy for a novice to operate because you simply select the track you want to record to, or if you are working with a track, select the track and there are physical knobs and graphics for panning, eq, dynamics, sends, and volume.

For ease of use, it is as easy to operate as a recorder as a cassette deck. The transport controls are very similar.

I have both a computer based DAW and a DP24. I have had issues integrating hardware into DAWS, crashes and spent hours getting all the bugs work out before ever thinking about recording. You simply turn the DP24 on, make sure you have recording media inserted, connect instruments and mics and begin recording.

The editing features are basic, but are capable and adequate for a beginner or seasoned mixer. 8 tracks can be recorded at once. I have had my DP24 many years and it has never crashed. Nor did the predecessor, 2488neo I owned. They are very rugged and reliable.


Tascam DP24SD

My two cents worth.

Charlie
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#392869 - 01/28/17 12:03 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner... [Re: PeterGannon]
Matt Finley Offline
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Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 17408
Loc: Hudson Valley & Lake George NY
It is hard for experienced users to answer this since it's probably been so long. Many of us started with something and remain with whatever that choice was, or upgrades within that family. For me, it's Roland and Focusrite for hardware, and SONAR for software, going back many years. I agree with Charlie that many inexpensive hardware interfaces come with bundled DAW-light software, but I don't keep up with those offerings.
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BIAB 2018 Win Audiophile; [& 2018 Mac UltraPak]. Software: Mixcraft, Adobe Audition, Ozone, Encore; Win 10 64 Pro. Hardware: custom i7, 16 Gb; Roland Integra-7, Focusrite 18i20(2), TCE Finalizer, Behringer X-Touch, Adam sub & monitors.

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#392876 - 01/28/17 01:42 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner... [Re: PeterGannon]
rockstar_not Offline
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Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 7417
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
Peter, I'm responding to this specific request:

"I'd be interested in hearing recommendations for the best audio interface for a beginner to DAWS and Band-in-a-Box."

MIDI I/O is almost not needed any longer because even relatively cheap Casio and Yamaha portable keyboards, as well as very inexpensive keyboard controllers have USB based MIDI I/O.

As for audio interfaces, external interfaces require no screwdrivers or opening of computers - so I would highly recommend an external interface, and for that matter, USB 2.0 at minimum for the speed.

As for the specific interface's mixer software (quite important), I have experience with TASCAM, PreSonus, and Focusrite and of the three, the PreSonus had the easiest to use mixer interface, and the Focusrite the most difficult.

However, I believe the customer support is the best on Focusrite and their software offerings that they give to registered owners is simply outstanding.

Focusrite beginner interfaces are available through Best Buy, for those potentially interested parties that don't want to buy on-line or at a Guitar Sinner (sic) store.

What this also means is that Craigslist and Kijiji is full of Focusrite low-channel count interfaces for less than new prices compared to any other brand.

When I am asked this question, I jump right back to the questioner and ask them what they want to do; why are they interested in the first place?

If they answer that they want to record with a microphone in any way, then for a beginner, I ask if they have other audio gear.

Why, because I need to find out if they have a mixer, with phantom power in particular.

Often times the answer is no, and then I would recommend that they look for an interface with at least one XLR connector as an input with phantom power available.

I ask if they plan to record any kind of keyboard input; whether acoustic or electronic keyboard; portable; controller, etc.
If they say electronic or controller, I ask if it has a USB input. If they say 'yes' then they have a little homework to do - to find out if that USB connection functions as a MIDI input.

(I believe PG's software works to have two different USB devices for IO, one for audio and one for MIDI, correct?)

Then I ask if they want to record in any electric guitar or bass; and here it's to help decide if they need line and instrument level input (most interfaces have a way to do both now).

Very often this puts them in the around $100 Focusrite Scarlett series, or similarly priced PreSonus Audiobox.

Either one is a good choice.

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#392894 - 01/28/17 04:08 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner... [Re: PeterGannon]
PeterGannon Offline
PG Music Staff

Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 13456
Thanks for the inputs so far ...

From Amazon's list of best sellers, it looks like the top 10 are mainly

https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Musical-Instruments-Computer-Recording-Audio-Interfaces/zgbs/musical-instruments/11973691
Focusrite $99, $149, $187
Behringer $39 $49, $59
Presonus $99
=====================================
MIDI Plus (MIDI only) $29
_________________________
Have Fun!
Peter Gannon
PG Music Inc.

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#392899 - 01/28/17 04:41 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner... [Re: PeterGannon]
countryjoe Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 01/20/17
Posts: 41
The akai eie pro best entry level and beyond .

I had the Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd Gen) .

Then whent for the above still have it now,.
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#392900 - 01/28/17 04:45 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner... [Re: PeterGannon]
countryjoe Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 01/20/17
Posts: 41
Takes all my usb devices on the back i.e. keyboard etc.
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#392902 - 01/28/17 04:55 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner... [Re: PeterGannon]
Kev T Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 10/12/16
Posts: 99
Loc: Durham, UK
Another vote here for my past favourite Roland/Cakewalk/Edirol UA25EX which lasted me for many years and was still in full working order when I sold it.
I'm currently using the rack mountable Focusrite 18i20 as I liked the extra inputs and outputs. The Focusrite audio interface was not as easy to understand and set up as the UA25 but once done the results are excellent.

What I would say is to consider carefully what you want out of the system and make sure the manufacturer of the audio interface has a good reputation for supporting and updating the drivers before making any decisions.

I have been interested in recording for almost 50 years now and gone through the whole analog>digital process using Cassette based multitrackers, Fostex M80 Fostex E16 tape based and Fostex D2424 digital recorders but the quality and scope of the new audio interfaces and DAWs and the ability to edit tracks and apply VST effects is stunning.

For those starting out (and on a tight budget) I would still recommend the Roland USB interfaces. The UA range can still be found reasonably cheap on eBay. For more inputs try their Quad or Octo interfaces.
They have a great range of facilities for the price.
_________________________
BIAB 2018 (509) Ultra Plus (ext HD), 49PAK, PAK1,2 & 3, Win 7 64bit PC, REAPER, Ozone, Adobe Audition CS6, EZ Drummer2 + EZ Keys, Behringer x32 Compact desk, Focusrite 18i/20, SE Gemini/Rode NT2/Shure mics

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#392905 - 01/28/17 05:04 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner... [Re: PeterGannon]
countryjoe Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 01/20/17
Posts: 41
kev

My mate has the Focusrite 18i20 ,.

Though that is in his studio on hire to bands.

I would have thought for our home use and most on the forum.

one two cannels would be enough.

I play guitar and keyboards .

So I am either recording one or the other.

Focusrite 18i20 ....My mate has a few in the studio this is not his holy grail one.

The studio is a community grant thing for youth bands,.



Edited by countryjoe (01/28/17 05:04 PM)
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biab 2017 everything all add ons ,win 7 i7 16gb, akai eie pro..,rode NT 1000, sonar pro,izo 7, lurssen mastering, Warm WA12 single channel microphone preamp, all waves bundle

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#392963 - 01/29/17 02:20 AM [Beginners Forum] Re: Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner... [Re: PeterGannon]
jacko_karel Offline
DonCarlos

Registered: 09/26/07
Posts: 94
Loc: Czech, Lazníky
Users also often ask for it. Other veterans can contribute their experience?
Especially for the possibility to use the guitar as a MIDI guitar

Thanks Karel
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Czech Republic Dealer PG Music, Inc; Band Leader Groups Jazz za Bukem and Hot Jazz Sutrs; BIAB 2017 Win10; BIAB 2016 MAC 10.7; Roland GK-3 Divided Pickup; Roland GR-20 Guitar Synth; MOTU UltraLite mk3 (Firewire); Roland USB MIDI Interface UM-ONE mk2

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#392966 - 01/29/17 03:41 AM [Beginners Forum] Re: Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner... [Re: countryjoe]
Kev T Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 10/12/16
Posts: 99
Loc: Durham, UK
Originally Posted By: countryjoe
kev

My mate has the Focusrite 18i20 ,.

Though that is in his studio on hire to bands.

I would have thought for our home use and most on the forum.

one two cannels would be enough.

I play guitar and keyboards .

So I am either recording one or the other.

Focusrite 18i20 ....My mate has a few in the studio this is not his holy grail one.

The studio is a community grant thing for youth bands,.



Hi Countryjoe,

I wasn't really advocating the 18i20 particularly for beginners (although it's still a good mid price choice) however Focusrite do plenty of smaller units with less inputs, like the Scarlett 2i2, 2i4, 6i6 etc.
I understand that Focusrite now offer free copy of ProTools First and Ableton light with most of their models.

https://uk.focusrite.com/scarlett-range?reload=1#

All depends on budget too I guess.

Best wishes
Kev
_________________________
BIAB 2018 (509) Ultra Plus (ext HD), 49PAK, PAK1,2 & 3, Win 7 64bit PC, REAPER, Ozone, Adobe Audition CS6, EZ Drummer2 + EZ Keys, Behringer x32 Compact desk, Focusrite 18i/20, SE Gemini/Rode NT2/Shure mics

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#392979 - 01/29/17 05:19 AM [Beginners Forum] Re: Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner... [Re: PeterGannon]
90 dB Offline
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#393014 - 01/29/17 08:33 AM [Beginners Forum] Re: Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner... [Re: PeterGannon]
rockstar_not Offline
Veteran

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 7417
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
Peter as you pointed out in your post, it's difficult to keep up with the market offerings as they change so rapidly.

It might be best to offer a guide based on questions as to what the beginner has interest in, and leave model specifics out of it.

For example, Sweetwater's excellent guide: https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/audio-interface-buying-guide/

I currently run a Focusrite 18i8, but I wouldn't recommend it for a beginner.

Specifics for IO are what's most important in my opinion.

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#393146 - 01/29/17 07:37 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner... [Re: PeterGannon]
Guitarhacker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 04/03/09
Posts: 5735
There's new stuff coming out all the time and old stuff being discontinued. It's really hard to stay current on what's out there.

I can tell you what I have but each person needs to decide what they want and need based on their unique situation.

I use a Focusrite Saffire. It's not made anymore. But it still works like it's supposed to work.

To someone just getting started, I'd recommend they look at this list, then decide for themselves keeping this in mind. You probably have a budget. BUT.... remember that the interface you buy is going to be the heart of your studio. So if there's one area I don't recommend skimping and going cheap on, it's the interface. Buy a good one and you will never regret it. Save a few more weeks if you need, in order to get a good interface.

The interface should be:

1. USB connected
2. External .... that way it can be moved between several computers
3. Use ASIO drivers .... better for music and DAWs
4. Have phantom power for condenser mics
5. Have built in pre-amps for audio
6. Have the number of inputs needed now and for the future
7. have the number of outputs needed.
8. Have built in DSP FX and a software control panel
9. Have the controls laid out for easy use and access.
10. It should be manufactured by a company that has been in the business for a while, has a good reputation, and provides good support after the sale.


These are good starting points. Many of the Focusrite, Presonus, Roland, M-Audio and other interfaces meet all of those requirements. The best advice is to get educated and ask questions before you lay your money down. Find people who have the interface you are thinking about buying and ask them about it. And always buy from a store that offers a 30 to 45 day 100% money back guarantee with no questions asked.



Interfaces to AVOID like the plague tend to have the following features:

Anything that uses proprietary codex and driver wrappers.
Interfaces that are multi-function devices.
Interfaces built into mics and cords.

In the years I have worked with music and interfaces and helped newbies get started, the better interfaces tend to be the easiest to get started with and the ones that fall into the second "ones to avoid" are the ones that are problematic for many of the folks who bought them for one reason or another.

My 2 cents worth
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#393153 - 01/29/17 08:22 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner... [Re: PeterGannon]
rockstar_not Offline
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Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 7417
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
Herb, I agree with every one of your points except the one that states that it should have internal DSP/FX. That's actually pretty rare and for the most part unnecessary with modern computer CPU processing power. In fact, I can't think of any current offerings with built-in DSP that are in a beginner budget range.

Can you name an external interface with internal DSP/FX? I can't think of one.

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#393370 - 01/30/17 04:17 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner... [Re: rockstar_not]
Guitarhacker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 04/03/09
Posts: 5735
Originally Posted By: rockstar_not
Herb, I agree with every one of your points except the one that states that it should have internal DSP/FX. That's actually pretty rare and for the most part unnecessary with modern computer CPU processing power. In fact, I can't think of any current offerings with built-in DSP that are in a beginner budget range.

Can you name an external interface with internal DSP/FX? I can't think of one.



Should have clarified that a bit.... Yeah it's not really necessary because all DAWs can do that easily. My Focusrite Saffire came with it but that probably isn't what many would consider a "beginner interface" either.
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Add nothing that adds nothing to the music

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#393388 - 01/30/17 06:48 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner... [Re: Guitarhacker]
pghboemike Offline
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Registered: 07/13/02
Posts: 2447
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#393448 - 01/31/17 04:30 AM [Beginners Forum] Re: Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner... [Re: pghboemike]
Guitarhacker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 04/03/09
Posts: 5735
Originally Posted By: pghboemike


Good advice in the video.... and the budget is reasonable.
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#394617 - 02/06/17 06:32 AM [Beginners Forum] Re: Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner... [Re: PeterGannon]
Islansoul Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 05/15/15
Posts: 771
Loc: St. Petersburg , FL
Stay clear away from the Tascam Us-1800. That thing has terrible preamps built in.


Edited by Islansoul (02/06/17 06:32 AM)
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#394708 - 02/06/17 04:32 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: Best audio interface recommendation for a beginner... [Re: PeterGannon]
rharv Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/30/00
Posts: 18914
Loc: Marysville, Mi. USA
I love the above type of post.
Valuable info given quickly and simply.

One of my friends asked me if he needed a mixer to do what he wanted to do. Then mentioned he had a Realistic mixer to use if he did need one.

I told him yes, he needed a mixer to do that, and though it was cool he had a mixer laying around, he still needed a mixer.

He got it right away.
His response -
So don't even bother hooking it up?

correct.
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