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USB audio interfaces interest

What USB audio interfaces do you want measurements made of?

  • Swissonic UA-2x2

    Votes: 7 13.5%
  • Midiplus Studio M

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Presonus AudioBox iOne

    Votes: 3 5.8%
  • Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen

    Votes: 33 63.5%
  • Audient iD4

    Votes: 15 28.8%
  • Steinberg UR22 MK2

    Votes: 11 21.2%
  • Roland Rubix22

    Votes: 5 9.6%
  • Presonus Studio 24

    Votes: 6 11.5%
  • Mackie Onyx Artist 1.2

    Votes: 1 1.9%
  • Icon Cube 4nano

    Votes: 1 1.9%

  • Total voters
    52
Joined
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#1
As per this post, I made a poll to gauge interest for popular and low-cost USB interfaces that could be used as a casual DAC. Most people now will agree that DAC is mostly a solved problem, needing a good implementation more than a good base D/A chip. This is why products made by big entreprises involved in the professional market for a long time should be more interesting than the "boutique-of-the-day" DACs audiophiles are so fond of; as the cheap Behringer review made by amirm showed.

To weed most of it, I chose reputable brands, and only models having a preamp for easy volume change, symmetrical/balanced output (be it TRS jack or XLR) and at least some specs on the manufacturer website. As said in my first post, I only focused on line output performances, not headphone ones; which might become the way to separate those. A short summary of the chosen models:

* Swissonic UA-2x2 (https://www.thomann.de/intl/swissonic_ua_2x2.htm, 49€)
One of the cheapest interfaces meeting the requirements, along with Behringer's UMC22.
Specs: 24 bits/96 kHz DAC, dynamic range: 108 dB (A-weighted)

* Midiplus Studio M (https://www.thomann.de/intl/midiplus_studio_m.htm, 77€)
Small form factor, ingenious and uncluttered front with a cute LED gain meter. Only model I chose from an almost unknown brand.
Specs at http://www.midiplus.com/html/studioseries.html: 24 bits/96kHz DAC, dynamic range: 104 dB (A-weighted), THD+N: -98 dB

* Mackie Onyx Artist 1.2 (https://www.thomann.de/intl/mackie_onyx_artist_1.2.htm, 79€)
Very cheap interface from Mackie. Didn't manage to find about class compliance, though.
Manuel specs: noise: 24 bits/192 kHz DAC, -85 dBu, THD < 0.001% (THD+N?)

* Presonus AudioBox iOne (https://www.thomann.de/intl/presonus_audiobox_ione.htm, 88€)
Smallest Presonus interface meeting the requirements.
Specs at https://www.presonus.com/products/AudioBox-iOne/tech-specs: 24 bits/96kHz DAC, dynamic range: 105 dB (A-weighted)

* Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen (https://www.thomann.de/intl/focusrite_scarlett_solo_3rd_gen.htm, 114€)
Newest and cheapest Focusrite having balanced outputs. The 2nd Gen lineup required you to buy the 2i2 to get these.
Specs at https://focusrite.com/usb-audio-interface/scarlett/scarlett-solo: 24 bits/192 kHz DAC, dynamic range: 108 dB (A-weighted), THD+N < 0.002%

* Audient iD4 (https://www.thomann.de/intl/audient_id4.htm, 129€)
Cheapest interface from a brand known for its quality. A bit like a cheap MOTU/RME on the QC and design level.
Specs from https://audient.com/products/audio-interfaces/id4/tech-specs/: 24 bits/96kHz DAC, dynamic range: 115 dB (A-weighted), THD+N < 0.0015%

* Steinberg UR22 MK2 (https://www.thomann.de/intl/steinberg_ur22_mk2.htm, 129€)
On the bigger and more "professional" (austere) side. Now owned by Yamaha.
Manual specs: 24 bits/192 kHz DAC, dynamic range: 104 dB (A-weighted), THD+N: 0.005%

* Roland Rubix22 (https://www.thomann.de/intl/roland_rubix22.htm, 139€)
Still got the hitman drab look, but with classy LEDs adding some colours. Hopefully a good successor for those Edirol interfaces.
Specs at https://www.roland.com/global/products/rubix22/specifications/: 24 bits/192 kHz DAC, dynamic range: 109 dB, "residual noise level": -94 dBu

* Presonus Studio 24 (https://www.thomann.de/intl/presonus_studio_24.htm, 139€)
Colourful (blue) case with nice volume meters for the inputs/outputs. Surely more fancy than the Audient on the typical hifi enthusiast desk. Not a fan of the flimsy USB-C connector, though.
Specs at https://www.presonus.com/products/Studio-24/tech-specs: 24 bits/192 kHz DAC, dynamic range: 104 dB (unweighted), THD+N: 0.001%

* Icon Cube 4Nano (https://www.conrad.com/p/audio-interface-icon-cube-4nano-prodrive-iii-monitor-controlling-1656619, 140€)
No nonsense interface from a quite unknown (at least to me) brand.
Specs at https://iconproaudio.com/product/cube-4nano-prodrive: 24 bits/192 kHz DAC, dynamic range: 114 dB, THD+N: -100 dB

I personally use the Swissonic right now, since I'm not Cresus, but any of those might become my next (and probably last) stepping stone. If I forgot to mention an important brand or model, please say so in the comments; since I only looked at Thomann (who wouldn't in Europe?), I might've overlooked some less known ones, like the Midiplus.
 
Last edited:
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#10
A picture is worth a thousand words:
Is this with the gain to the max or what?

Didn't consider the Mackie because I don't know them very much and their speakers aren't well spoken of. The Yamahas are considered very good (personally, Yamaha is one of the only brands I blindly trust) but I obviously won't include such a big and complicated mixing table-like interface as a "casual hifi DAC".
 

JohnYang1997

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#11
What is this for? Are you only use the dac? Or adc is also important?
If you only use the dac. Why not choose a normal dac. Topping d30 or something. Modded smsl m3 is pretty good too. Tune the level to -6db to -12db. You can have really amazing low distortion figure.
 
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#12
If you only use the dac. Why not choose a normal dac. Topping d30 or something. Modded smsl m3 is pretty good too. Tune the level to -6db to -12db. You can have really amazing low distortion figure.
Because balanced output is a must when you use monitors accepting it, because I find it easier to trust stuff that is not marketed toward audiophiles and because I don't see the reason to pay more for no real performance advantages.

Also, If you can find something that can rival that Swissonic or the Behringer UMC202 (balanced output, preamp) for the same price, I'm interested.
 
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JohnYang1997

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#13
Because balanced output is a must when you use monitors accepting it, because I find it easier to trust stuff that is not marketed toward audiophiles and because I don't see the reason to pay more for no real performance advantages.

Also, If you can find something that can rival that Swissonic or the Behringer UMC202 (balanced output, preamp) for the same price, I'm interested.
Ok. So since balanced out is a must. There aren't really choices. But thing is, you don't need balanced out for monitors. What exactly are you measuring?
If you are measuring the frequency response and distortion of active speakers. Anything that's recommended here will do the job. There are many measurements here, that's the point of this forum. Speakers tend to have distortion over 0.01% mostly 0.1% at all frequency even at low volume. At low frequency it's easily over 1%.

Also the ones I recommended are around 100 dollars. And you can get as low as 0.00005% thd at 1khz at 500mV.

So in conclusion, depends on what you are really doing and what's the ideal performance.
 
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#15
Ok. So since balanced out is a must. There aren't really choices. But thing is, you don't need balanced out for monitors. What exactly are you measuring?
If you are measuring the frequency response and distortion of active speakers. Anything that's recommended here will do the job. There are many measurements here, that's the point of this forum. Speakers tend to have distortion over 0.01% mostly 0.1% at all frequency even at low volume. At low frequency it's easily over 1%.

Also the ones I recommended are around 100 dollars. And you can get as low as 0.00005% thd at 1khz at 500mV.

So in conclusion, depends on what you are really doing and what's the ideal performance.
I'll say it another way: the Swissonic is 50€ and the Behringer 65€, find me a reason to use the $100 (which will mean 100€ or more here) ones you propose.
 

JohnYang1997

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#16
I'll say it another way: the Swissonic is 50€ and the Behringer 65€, find me a reason to use the $100 (which will mean 100€ or more here) ones you propose.
Ok then. Choose the cheapest one. It will certainly work.
It was just because I also see other ones at 100 dollar range.
 
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#17
Maybe add this one:

- Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6

I own a Mk1, but Mk2 is also released. I think it's also a quite popular, affordable recording/DJing interface. I could send it to Amir, but I don't know how much shipping this thing back and forth would be (from the EU).

A little more expensive than the others listed here.

Also note that in some cases they just list: D/A-Converter with xdB Dynamic Range. I don't know what to think of such Information in the description of the final product. So we just know what to expect at most, but it could actually be a lot worse than that. I'd rather see more conservative numbers but from the actual implementation. Especially from brands marketing to "professionals".
 
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#18
I thought about adding the 2, but since I couldn't find any measurements I didn't. Where did you find this "dynamic range" figure?
 
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#19
The german description of the Swissonic UA-2x2 sounds like they just repeat the DAC and ADC Spec sheet numbers.
 

amirm

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#20
I own a Mk1, but Mk2 is also released. I think it's also a quite popular, affordable recording/DJing interface. I could send it to Amir, but I don't know how much shipping this thing back and forth would be (from the EU).
Definitely not worth it to send back and forth. For anything cheap like these, if you all donate the shipping cost you would incur from your end if you sent yours, I will purchase it locally and hope to sell it and not cost me more than what you donated.
 
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