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Modern (fully Windows 10 compatible) USB/PCIe audio interface suggestions

Joined
Jul 13, 2019
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#1
Greetings!

My E-MU 1616m PCIe miraculously worked on Windows 7, 8.1 and 10 1607 through 1809 despite the last official driver release being for Windows Vista. Alas, on Windows 1903 it finally gave up. Right now I've rolled back to 1809, but this is, of course, not a long-term solution.

So I humbly ask for suggestions on a modern (fully Windows 10 compatible) audio interface comparable to 1616m in terms of quality and feature set.
At the very least it must have its own power (not be USB or PCIe bus-powered), separate parametric EQ for each of its outputs (absolutely need to correct for room/monitor resonances), reasonably high-quality DACs, and at least two balanced stereo outputs. Reasonably high-quality ADCs and high-impedance inputs would be nice.

Thanks in advance!

Here are updated and clarified requirements:
Budget: <= 1000 USD
Design: External USB or PCIe board + external module. Thunderbolt/FireWire is technically ok, but would require the hassle of adding the corresponding controllers to PC and having to deal with their peculiarities.
Absolutely required:
  • Fully Windows 10 1903 and up compatible.
  • 2 or more stereo balanced outputs. Multichannel audio not required, but need to be able to route the same stereo signal to separate outputs at the same time (monitors + headphone amp).
  • Own power supply (have had experience with USB-powered sound cards humming, buzzing and what not)
  • Separate parametric EQ for each of the outputs. I reckon this is an unusual requirement for an audio interface/DAC, but I need to be able to correct for my room acoustics and/or monitor response :)
  • Reasonably high-quality DACs. Don't have particular preferences for IC make/model nor circuit design, but distortion should be low, no sound embellishments or enhancements are desired :)
Optional, but nice to have:
  • HIgh-impedance ("instrumental") and/or line inputs with reasonably high-quality ADCs.
  • Digital input(s) (S/PDIF or whatever type is common on modern consumer sources (game consoles, TVs, etc...))
 
Last edited:
Joined
Nov 2, 2018
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#2
Budget would help, since it's a pretty significant consideration. Also, multichannel or just stereo?

For stereo output only the RME ADI-2 DAC is something of a gold standard. No inputs, though. The ADI-2 Pro/FS have inputs, but don't measure as well as the standalone DAC.

For multichannel, I'd start the suggestions with Motu - they seem to represent the best value among higher quality multi-channel interfaces. The 8A has 8 analog outs and ins, plus an optical oubput port, but there are other variants with different I/O configurations- the Ultralite AVB or Ultralite Mk4 have more flexible inputs with mic pres etc. These all have built-in DSP although I'm not completely sure of the extent.

The Okto Research DAC 8 seems to be pretty much state-of-the-art for output with 8 analog outs but only 4x AES/EBU inputs - no analog ins.
 
Joined
Jul 13, 2019
Messages
18
Likes
3
#3
Budget would help, since it's a pretty significant consideration. Also, multichannel or just stereo?

For stereo output only the RME ADI-2 DAC is something of a gold standard. No inputs, though. The ADI-2 Pro/FS have inputs, but don't measure as well as the standalone DAC.

For multichannel, I'd start the suggestions with Motu - they seem to represent the best value among higher quality multi-channel interfaces. The 8A has 8 analog outs and ins, plus an optical oubput port, but there are other variants with different I/O configurations- the Ultralite AVB or Ultralite Mk4 have more flexible inputs with mic pres etc. These all have built-in DSP although I'm not completely sure of the extent.

The Okto Research DAC 8 seems to be pretty much state-of-the-art for output with 8 analog outs but only 4x AES/EBU inputs - no analog ins.
Thanks! Motu has caught my eye too, but want to hear as many opinions as possible. Updated/clarified the requirements in the original post.
 
Joined
Jul 13, 2019
Messages
18
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#4
Ok, I'm slightly stupid, so I only now noticed that this thread is off-topic for this subforum. Can someone please move it to "Audio Electronics and Hardware"?
 
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