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Please recommend me an audio interface (music, games and movies only, no recording or production)

Nathanael

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Jun 22, 2020
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Hi folks!

I'm searching for a good audio interface that I could use with my gear. I've made bad experiences with unbalanced connection between my pc and my active monitors.

My gear (at the moment):

-Presonus Eris E5XT active monitors
-SoundMagic HP151 Headphones (32 Ohm)

demandings:

-headphone out
-pre out (balanced) with volume control, no fixed line out, I need volume control for my active monitors
-good sound quality from headphone out and pre out

nice but not must haves:

-a headphone amp that would allow to upgrade to more demanding headphone in the future
-line in so I can connect my turntable via my phono preamplifier to the interface and listen to vinyl via headphones or active monitors, in this case it would be important that the interface works also with the pc turned off and afaik this is a problem with many interfaces

Thanks for all answers!
 

tongpoh

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Best: RME ADI-2 Pro - very expensive but has useful features such as loudness, PEQ, bass/treble controls, state of the art analog input ADC, etc.
Good enough: Motu M4
Hi i on the same boat, i also interest in Motu M4, what about the ultralite mk5 ? will it sound better than M4?
 

f1shb0n3

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Hi i on the same boat, i also interest in Motu M4, what about the ultralite mk5 ? will it sound better than M4?
Both MK5 and M4 have good enough DAC measurements to be considered transparent and both have ESS DAC chips so you probably won’t hear any difference between them when used as a DAC. Technically MK5 measures better as DAC and ADC. Headphone amps on both are insufficient for power hungry headphones.
 

Blumlein 88

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The SMSL SP400 looks like it would fill all your needs. Excellent near SOTA test results, powerful headphone amp, and has both 1/4 inch and balanced headphone jacks plus XLR output.


However it is analog input only. No USB or digital connection.

You could add a low cost good quality DAC like the Topping D10 balanced to feed the SMSL. SMSL is $630 and D10 balanced is $169 so $799 for the pair.

Looking further the Topping EX5 might be a better deal. I think it has everything you need in one box, and cost $350 with excellent results.
 
Last edited:

Backflash

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Oct 13, 2021
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Headphone amps on both are insufficient for power hungry headphones.
If we go by the book "amp must push 110 SPL or it's bad", but for night time listening? I think even my hd600 can live on 20mW with pleasant enough sound.
I think a lot of people look at audio interfaces for "casual" use now, me included. For some reason balanced pre out costs quite a bit more on consumer products with volume knobs like it's some kind of high tech feature. If you game(or even if you use madVR for videos), balanced outs for speakers is a must, GPU under load makes quite strong ground noises, depending on your motherboard it's worse or better. Optical is also an option, but it's a different kind of product selection and a price range. Interface mic in for speaker calibration plus ECM8000 , makes it cheaper than getting UMIK-1 or selecting a DAC with optical, unbalanced outs and a volume control.
Is there an alternative for MOTU m2/m4 in ~$200 price range? Supply seems to be thin for them.
 
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