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Upgrading small interface

clarnibass

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Sep 2, 2021
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Hi

I hope it's the right sub-forum. I read a lot of reviews and found some good info on this forum too, but still not sure and trying to decide between all the very similar options can drive you insane...

After a few years with it, I'm upgrading my Roland Quad Capture, mainly because of one very annoying problem and a few other issues. I found a few interfaces that seem to have what I need. Beyond fixing the issues of the Roland (mainly "ergonomic"), the new interface needs to be stable, not crash (I don't think the Roland ever crashed), well made (e.g. no flimsy buttons falling off) and hopefully better than (or at least as good as) the Roland (which sounds pretty good for what I need, and when I bought it I remember it was considered "good" in the world of cheap small interfaces).
FWIW I use a PC with Windows 10 and AKG K240 headphones (55 Ohm), which I use mostly to hear the playback when recording. I listen to music with decent monitors.

I'm considering four preamp interfaces to "future proof" but in reality I'm not sure I'll need more than two any time soon... if ever. I'm listing the ones available here, local prices, and any compromises in features each has. Whether there are any real advantages or disadvantages with how they sound... I don't know. It is not possible to physically test any of them. For warranty reasons I don't want to order from abroad (after shipping and VAT it's not going to be cheaper anyway).

I mostly record my bass clarinet, either through effect pedals with a piezo pickup (1/4" input) or clean with a large condenser mic. I also need to practice with the pickup with effect pedals, I need it to amplify me without opening any software, etc. (I think all allow it... but not sure?). Having two headphone outs is really nice, a little annoying not having it now (e.g. I record for someone who is here too).

Tascam 102i - $400 - one volume knob for the two headphone outs (not a huge deal), beyond that pretty much matches the features I need
Tascam 208i - $590 - maybe better to have four preamps just in case to not regret it later, otherwise seems identical
Steinberg UR22C - $280 - no individual channel 48V, 48V switch on the back (annoying), one headphone out
Steinberg UR44C - $620 - no individual channel 48V, weirdly unlike the UR22C no DAW/direct knob(?)
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 / 4i4 / 8i6 / 18i8 (all G3) - $265 / $360 / $460 / $620 - the smaller ones have one headphone out, no individual 48V, no DAW/direct knob
Native Instruments KA 6 mk2 - $400 - no individual 48V
Motu M4 - $390 - one headphone out, read about a lot more QC issues than most others, sold by an annoying store and seems to be out of stock everywhere
Black Lion Revolution 2x2 - $625 - outrageous price by local distributor, no individual 48V, one headphone out
Arturia AudioFuse - $930 - perfect in specs but probably more than I want to spend, no "future proofing" with four channels (easier to ignore at lower prices)

Having 48V for each channel is less critical with four preamps when 48V is in pairs, since I can use channels 1 and 3 if I need a condenser and something else at the same time (I've heard that on some interfaces e.g. the Motu M4 occasionally there is a hum if 48V is on without a mic). On the two channels ones with global 48V it could be an issue?

I dismissed the SSL 2+ and Audient iD14 because the inputs are on the back, having them on the front is one of the most important features. Same for PreSonus with the headphone out (and only the 24C model has a DAW/direct knob).

I didn't mention anything about the preamps, sound, headphone amp, etc. because... after reading a lot and seeing many graphs and charts... I'm not sure if those differences really matter between them? The Roland sounds ok already and I imagine none of them would be a downgrade in that sense (maybe I assume wrong?). I rather have the least latency too, but would some of them really be better than others in a significant way? I assume all should be ok...

Thank you
 
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