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#45005 - 11/28/09 09:26 AM [Off-Topic] usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas)
babarton Offline
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Registered: 12/26/06
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I'm being forced to get rid of my old desktop DAW computer and moving to a laptop. I'll miss the e-mu 0404 PCI sound card, but now I'm looking for a usb (or firewire?) audio interface. I'd like to be able to plug in a guitar or a mic (or both?). I'd like to be able to monitor via headphones. I'd like it to be simple to use (I'm still not really sure I really understand the Patchmix software for the e-mu card). I'd like software effects to play with (that was a real nice feature of the 0404). Price range maybe $200 or less (could go higher). I'm running Windoze XP SP2 on the laptop. Anybody using one of these they really like? Anybody have any suggestions? All input appreciated.

thanks,

Bruce
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#45006 - 11/28/09 09:29 AM [Off-Topic] Re: usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas) [Re: babarton]
Mac Offline
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M-Audio Fast Track Pro (USB)

I have a friend who has been using one with PGMusic products and a Toshiba laptop for over a year now.

There were "the usual" startup tweaks that needed to be done, but once we got him through those and once he got the small learning curve on the very easy to operate Control Panel etc. he loves the thing. Same inputs as you want to use, Guitar and Vocals.


--Mac
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#45007 - 11/28/09 01:43 PM [Off-Topic] Re: usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas) [Re: Mac]
WienSam Offline
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TASCAM US-122 USB. You should be able to pick one up on e-Bay second hand. Exactly what you are looking for and it is what I use with no problems whatsoever. It has been superceded now by the US-144 in that TASCAM no longer sells it but if money is a concern, then get one from e-Bay. See below



TASCAM

Ebay
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#45008 - 11/28/09 02:33 PM [Off-Topic] Re: usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas) [Re: WienSam]
Powderman Offline
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Loc: TEXAS, USA
I'm a Tascam user too -

Works good for me
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#45009 - 11/28/09 03:51 PM [Off-Topic] Re: usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas) [Re: Powderman]
babarton Offline
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Registered: 12/26/06
Posts: 353
Loc: Oklahoma, USA
Powderman, Sam, and Mac

Thanks for the input. I've looked at reviews on both of these (m-audio and tascam) on Amazon and Musician's Friend. Those are a real mixed bag. You can tell some of the reviewers just aren't very familiar with computer audio devices. There are people singing the praises of both of these units, others cursing them... I'll try to go to both websites and browse their forums. The Tascam unit is less expensive. The laptop is a HP dv1000, currently has 1G RAM, I'm adding another (up to 2 G). I'm putting a larger (320 G), faster (7200) HD into it (I want to get all the Real Tracks on the HD). What kind and specifications of laptops are you using these with? Have you plugged an electric guitar into them? Used midi keyboard with them? Sam, I'm assuming you've recorded vocals and been happy with the tascam. I'd also seen the Line 6 units, anyone have any experience with those? Again, all help greatly appreciated.

Bruce
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#45010 - 11/28/09 03:59 PM [Off-Topic] Re: usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas) [Re: babarton]
WienSam Offline
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Bruce, I've been running the US-122 for a few years now with several laptops, all of them HP. My current DAW is an HP 2.8GHz EliteBook with 4GB RAM and a 300GB HD running XP Pro SP3 but it worked fine with my old DAW which was nowhere near such high spec. Yes, I have used it primarily for recording vocals but it also works fine with guitar. I don't have a MIDI keyboard but I see no reason why that would be a problem.

HTH
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#45011 - 11/28/09 06:24 PM [Off-Topic] Re: usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas) [Re: WienSam]
Mac Offline
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Be careful about the aging Tascam 122. Good unit, but word on the street is that drivers for newer OS like Vista and especially Win7 are unobtanium. I haven't confirmed this, best to check the Tascam Support Website to see what drivers are published.

M-Audio, on the other hand, is known for great driver development and support, with robust drivers.


--Mac
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#45012 - 11/28/09 07:37 PM [Off-Topic] Re: usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas) [Re: Mac]
WienSam Offline
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#45013 - 11/29/09 11:23 AM [Off-Topic] Re: usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas) [Re: WienSam]
Mac Offline
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Where's WIN7?
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#45014 - 11/29/09 11:31 AM [Off-Topic] Re: usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas) [Re: Mac]
WienSam Offline
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They don't mention Win7
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#45015 - 11/29/09 11:40 AM [Off-Topic] Re: usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas) [Re: WienSam]
Mac Offline
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Yeah.

They don't.

Anyone considering purchase for use w/Win7, which all the new machines are shipping with, should take notice.

This isn't the only company that has not released any Win drivers for their soundcards. E-MU tells people to "try the Vista drivers" -- which apparently work somewhat but have problems when certain things, like Windows Sounds, are invoked. Caveat Emptor.


--Mac
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#45016 - 11/29/09 01:11 PM [Off-Topic] Re: usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas) [Re: Mac]
babarton Offline
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Registered: 12/26/06
Posts: 353
Loc: Oklahoma, USA
I appreciate the input. It looks like the Tascam unit is now an updated US-122MKII, but their website is lacking in info about drivers. On the other hand, it looks like their unit has two separate mic plugs and two ¼” input plugs, where the m-audio has two “hybrid” plugs (you plug either an XLR OR a ¼” plug into one of these). This may be a stupid question, but with the Tascam, can you record two mics AND two ¼” inputs simultaneously? If so, will these all record to a single track (in Real Band, for instance), or would you be able to record L & R channels on two separate tracks simultaneously? Both of these look like good units and would seem to do what I am looking for. I’ve had several m-audio products (keyboard, jamlab, usb uno) and have been satisfied with all of them. It also seems that lots of people on the PG forums speak highly of their interfaces, suggesting they “get along well” with PG products.
Bruce
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#45017 - 11/29/09 01:19 PM [Off-Topic] Re: usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas) [Re: babarton]
Mac Offline
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Just a matter of design choice in the type of plug connections used.

Both units are only a single stereo channel inputm regardless of the number of apparent physical connections.

That means that you can only record to two mono tracks at a time, at most. For example, a mic into one channel and a guitar into the other.

The use of the single combination XLR/quarter inch jack is just a better space saving situation. It is still an either/or situation with either unit. Nothing to be gained by having the plugs separated.

If you want or need to record to more than one stereo channel (or divide that into two mono channels) then you have to forego USB connection, as it doesn't have the needed bandwidth and look into a multiple-input soundcard situation. More money. More complication. If you don't have a computer with a PCI slot available, such as a laptop or one of the smaller desktops, then FireWire connect is the choice for multiple channel input at this time. That also has its complications. For instance, if your computer has a FireWire port on it, you should first make sure that it is using the TI FireWire interface or the soundcard may not work.


--Mac
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#45018 - 11/29/09 01:49 PM [Off-Topic] Re: usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas) [Re: Mac]
babarton Offline
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Registered: 12/26/06
Posts: 353
Loc: Oklahoma, USA
Thanks, Mac. That's kind of what I expected about the separate input plugs (still can only record to a single stereo track). I think, taking it all into consideration, that this Fast Track Pro may be the choice for me. Mac, do you know about midi keyboard input on this unit - would that be able to record to a seperate track in Real Band? For instance, if I had a guitarist, a singer, and a keyboardist playing at the same time, would I be able to record the guitarist to the L on an audio channel, the singer to the R on the same audio channel, and the midi keyboard to a separate midi channel simultaneously?, or would this be either audio OR midi, but not both at the same time?

thanks,

Bruce
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#45019 - 11/29/09 03:05 PM [Off-Topic] Re: usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas) [Re: babarton]
Mac Offline
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Registered: 05/29/00
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Loc: Chesapeake, Virginia USA
Quote:

Thanks, Mac. That's kind of what I expected about the separate input plugs (still can only record to a single stereo track). I think, taking it all into consideration, that this Fast Track Pro may be the choice for me. Mac, do you know about midi keyboard input on this unit - would that be able to record to a seperate track in Real Band? For instance, if I had a guitarist, a singer, and a keyboardist playing at the same time, would I be able to record the guitarist to the L on an audio channel, the singer to the R on the same audio channel, and the midi keyboard to a separate midi channel simultaneously?, or would this be either audio OR midi, but not both at the same time?

thanks,

Bruce




Yes, you can quite easily do that. MIDI is a separate entity, being only data such as note-on, note-off, etc. As a result, MIDI is very small in size as compared to audio data, matter of fact, you could hook up to 16 separate MIDI controllers at the same time as the two Audio Inputs, programming each controller to send on only one of the 16 MIDI channels apiece, resulting in 16 separate simultaneous tracks of MIDI along with those two tracks of Audio. But there may be throughput problems with that many MIDI devices "daisy-chained" into the one MIDI input. You could easily record two MIDI instruments at the same time as two Audio inputs, though, and even add a set of MIDI drums in there via the USB, I should think. I do that all the time here and have done so since around '95. But my sound devices are not USB input. Not yet, anyway.

Just recently completed a project for a young jazz singer in which we used all MIDI instruments, my keyboard as piano, along with MIDI guitar playing Acoustic Bass patch and a drummer playing a Roland MIDI drumset. Her singing was the only audio channel. We intentionally recorded it realtime live without separate multitracking or punchins, to get that live jazz trio feel. People who have heard the pre-release tell us that they are surprised to find out it is MIDI backing. It also allowed me to change the synths and patches after the initial tracks were recorded, looking for better sound and matches, things like that. For example, the sound of the Roland MIDI hardware box was good, but when I dropped some other drum samples in there instead using Gigasamples, it really lit up, what with all those more velocity layers and such being available. Now the drummer is not satisfied with the sound of his kit anymorem especially the brushes (grin).

--Mac
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#45020 - 11/29/09 03:20 PM [Off-Topic] Re: usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas) [Re: Mac]
WienSam Offline
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Bruce, the TASCAM is an either/or (MIDI / XLR / guitar jack). There is a switch that sets it. However, you can record the left channel to one track and the right channel to a scond track. Seems you need more simultaneous inputs (like 3 inputs?), in which case Mac's solution is better
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#45021 - 11/29/09 03:42 PM [Off-Topic] Re: usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas) [Re: WienSam]
Mac Offline
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I just called my buddy with the Fast Track Pro to see if he's ever tried recording MIDI and Audio at the same time. He wasn't home at the time. I doubt that he has, although he does have a MIDI guitar there, he usually records his beloved ES-175 as audio. I'll try him again later.

However, after perusing the online M-Audio .pdf User Manual for the Fast Track Pro, I see no reason why one shouldn't be able to record MIDI and Audio at the same time, at least there is no switch as on the Tascam unit. It should be possible.


--Mac
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#45022 - 11/29/09 03:53 PM [Off-Topic] Re: usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas) [Re: Mac]
rockstar_not Offline
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Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 7448
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
For anyone trying to contact M-Audio technical support - let me know if you actually get through. I can't. I set up an account years ago and of course forgot my password.

Password resets are so buggy, that M-Audio has a page on what to do when you get a buggy password reset: http://www.m-audio.com/index.php?do=support.faq&ID=00bf1e831cad948bf1068450d9374f3e

Problem is - that process doesn't work either.

Right now, I'm support-less with my M-Audio products (Fast Track and Oxygen 49)

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#45023 - 11/29/09 04:04 PM [Off-Topic] Re: usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas) [Re: Mac]
babarton Offline
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Registered: 12/26/06
Posts: 353
Loc: Oklahoma, USA
Thanks again. Mac, you'd commented that usb limited you to one stereo channel - what about a device like this m-audio Fast Track Ultra

http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/FastTrackUltra.html

Couldn't this record to more than one track at once? Or would all those inputs just be recorded to a single stereo track? Maybe I'm missing the boat on all of this? I don't really have the need for all this input, but I'm just curious and think maybe I'm just not getting it. Or are you saying that usb just doesn't provide enough throughput to reliably perform with a device like this - resulting in drop outs or "pops", crashing your system, or some other such catastrophe?

Don't mean to be a pest about this, but like I said, I'd just like to feel like I understand this.

thanks again,

Bruce
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#45024 - 11/29/09 04:20 PM [Off-Topic] Re: usb audio interface recommendations (GAS for X-Mas) [Re: babarton]
WienSam Offline
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Loc: A corner of Vienna, Austria, t...
One stereo channel or two mono channels
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