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Audio Interface recommendations for guitar & high impedance headphones

calt

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Jan 11, 2021
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Hi,

I am looking for recommendations on an all-in-one audio device (if such thing exists):
- that I can plug my guitar into for digital effects & recording (with low latency)
- has balanced outputs for near field monitors
- can drive my headphones with ease (Sennheiser HD600, Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro and soon another closed back similar to these to in impedance/sensitivity)

Getting an RME ADI-2 + RME Babyface and hooking them up with ADAT could be one solution with a lot of features, but also an expensive one and it would have too many cables/connections involved. I like the clean look of devices like the Motu M4, but I read they don't perform as well with high impedance headphones.
 

AnalogSteph

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You'll want to consult @Julian Krause's YT channel... the MOTU M2 actually is among the better headphone drivers in its class. (OPA1688 inside, maximum output into 300 ohms is ~2.6 Vrms. That's generally fine for those under 50.) There's a few other good choices like the UAA Volt Series and even the Arturia Minifuse series, but for a substantial upgrade you'd have to be looking towards an Audient iD4/iD14 MkII (the 22 ohm output impedance should not be bothering 250-300 ohm cans yet, and in return there's a ton of output) or a Focusrite Clarett+. Do note that the Audient instrument inputs have a bit of a reputation for not taking very high levels before going into saturation, which may not be what you want... an external DI may provide a decent workaround to this and seems to be sort of recommended anyway.

Most any interface with decent ASIO drivers can provide roundtrip latency easily low enough for a guitar player. If you need super low driver overhead you'd be looking into either Thunderbolt or USB with custom ASICs / FPGAs, think MOTU Ultralite or RME Babyface terrain minimum. I would expect live guitar effects to be substantially more taxing on the system and with higher inherent delay than just recording clean, so keep that in mind.
 

Trailblazin

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May 12, 2021
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" If you need super low driver overhead you'd be looking into either Thunderbolt or USB with custom ASICs / FPGAs, think MOTU Ultralite or RME Babyface terrain minimum."

Would a MOTU Ultralite MK3 be better than an MOTU M4?

Also would I still need a Headphone amp with the Ultralite?
 

DVDdoug

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I don't know about your headphone issue...

Many audio interfaces have direct-hardware zero latency monitoring (where the monitoring doesn't go through the computer). I'm pretty sure that cheap-little Behringer guitar interface has direct monitoring, but of course no XLR outputs and its headphone amp might be wimpy. And you can still monitor a backing-track from the computer.

But of course, that won't work if you need computer effects in your headphones.
 

stemfencer

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Feb 9, 2021
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Motu M4 (don't get the M2, want the mixer on front). Headphone output is fine, give it a try first, you will be surprised.

If you have issues with headphone output, buy a Topping L50. Main output to your monitors so can use montior knob on M4 and line level outputs to L50 and use volume control on the L50.

Personally I'm using a M4 into a Singxer SA-1 (overkill) with my HD650 and Genelec 8030. Use Amplitube for a my guitar sim but looking to try NeuralDSP soon. I have reasonably capable desktop computer (CPU is 5600X) and you won't get much better delay wise.

Spending more for mk5, not sure what that offers you over the M4 unless you really need that I/O. The only thing I was looking at was RME UCX ii or Babyface just for their drivers and to get latency down. But unless you are in a studio, I think it's overkill for home use.
 
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