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USB audio interfaces interest

What USB audio interfaces do you want measurements made of?

  • Swissonic UA-2x2

    Votes: 18 9.8%
  • Midiplus Studio M

    Votes: 2 1.1%
  • Presonus AudioBox iOne

    Votes: 10 5.5%
  • Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen

    Votes: 106 57.9%
  • Audient iD4

    Votes: 43 23.5%
  • Steinberg UR22 MK2

    Votes: 47 25.7%
  • Roland Rubix22

    Votes: 18 9.8%
  • Presonus Studio 24

    Votes: 18 9.8%
  • Mackie Onyx Artist 1.2

    Votes: 5 2.7%
  • Icon Cube 4nano

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    183

P48

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I would really like to see some measurements for Roland, Mackie (Big Knob) and Rode (AI-1). Not just for the ADC but also for the headphone and line outs.

By the way, there are some great videos by Julian Krause on Youtube who reviewed interfaces like the Behringer UMC22 and 202HD, Steinberg UR22 MKII and UR22C, Focusrite Scarlett Solo and 2i2 2nd and 3rd gen, native or Instruments Komplete 1 and 2. He features frequency response, distortion, dynamic range, equivalent input noise and the gain range for the XLR inputs. Sadfully no further measurements on the outputs, yet.
I'm not sure about his specific setup. But he appears to know what he is doing.


So far I would say that the least interface we need to measure is a Scarlett. We do actually need other interfaces to compare!
 
OP
q3cpma

q3cpma

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Thread Starter #102
I would really like to see some measurements for Roland, Mackie (Big Knob) and Rode (AI-1). Not just for the ADC but also for the headphone and line outs.

By the way, there are some great videos by Julian Krause on Youtube who reviewed interfaces like the Behringer UMC22 and 202HD, Steinberg UR22 MKII and UR22C, Focusrite Scarlett Solo and 2i2 2nd and 3rd gen, native or Instruments Komplete 1 and 2. He features frequency response, distortion, dynamic range, equivalent input noise and the gain range for the XLR inputs. Sadfully no further measurements on the outputs, yet.
I'm not sure about his specific setup. But he appears to know what he is doing.


So far I would say that the least interface we need to measure is a Scarlett. We do actually need other interfaces to compare!
The Scarlett was already measured here. So the Audient is next in line, if we follow the poll.
 
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Please do a review from one of the new MOTUs (M2 or M4).

i've ask MOTU about the output impedance of the headphone jack and the RCA outputs. The answered very fast.

Thank you for your interest in our products! The RCA outputs on the rear of the M2 can be controlled by the monitor volume knob on the front of the unit. Only the "monitor" pair of RCA outputs can be controlled by the monitor knob on the M4. The "line out" pair of RCA outputs will output at a fixed volume.

The M2 and M4's headphone output impedance is less than 0.05 ohms. They will drive low and high impedance Headphones because of the low impedance and high voltage supply. If I can be of further assistance, please let me know.

Ryan - MOTU
 
Last edited:

labeelen

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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:

* 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

since I only looked at Thomann (who wouldn't in Europe?), I might've overlooked some less known ones, like the Midiplus.
Nice initiative.

I think the Midiplus Studio is 24 bit / 192Khz

Rgds, Louis
 

L5730

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These new Motu units are beginning to look like very nice prospects for a cheap little Desktop DAC/Headphone amp with included very good quality Mic/Line/Hi-Z (guitar) ADCs. At +£165 shipped in UK, that is pretty competitive.
For those who don't require the oodles of power that the JDS Atom can chuck out, and fancy a semi-decent analogue input, it might be a better purchase for the M2 rather than a D10/Toneboard + Atom and an audio interface for inputs.

Saw the recent review of the Audient ID4.
Driver conflicts are not fun. Yeah, sure, I can understand Amir just not wanting to have to bugger around with installing a driver fro EVERY bit of kit he tests and so goes for ASIO4ALL KernalStream wrapping instead. WASAPI Exclusive maybe just as effective. For most folks not testing umpteen bits of audio gear, installing the device specific ASIO driver shouldn't be a trouble. It seems like it might be.

If Motu can keep their heads above the water wrt Windows and drivers, then they stand in a darn good place to just mop up in the low-cost 'pro' audio segment, plus other segments like enthusiast audio.
 

Severian

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Indeed. I've got a MOTU M4 arriving on Wednesday to take the place of a Modi 3/Atom setup. I am curious about the headphone amp capabilities, but as long as it can drive a pair of AKG K371s - and I'm sure it can - I'll be happy.
 

L5730

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There is a limit, of course, to what headphone amp power can be derived from just the USB 2.0 port (5v, 500mA max.). Compare that to the Atom, or any other dedicated PSU powered headphone amp, and there will be more power available to work with.

With the requirement for48v phantom power (x2) as well as the ADC circuit, there is even less power available. I guess we should be expecting headphone amp power similar or a little better to that or Sabaj Da3 and the like. The argument for those smaller devices is that they do intend to be somewhat portable - the Motu definitely aims at being connected to a computer with more power than a little phone or tablet.
 

Severian

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Yeah, I do wish it had a separate power supply. The USB power from my PC is very noisy too. I'm hoping that it's not an issue after I get my speaker system switched over to balanced interconnects.
 

L5730

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For £50 there is the ifi Defender which when combined with a 5v PSU will disconnect the ground and power connections to the computer, leaving only the D+/D- as the connections for communication.
That should clean up all the power issues from your computer ;)
 

Severian

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For £50 there is the ifi Defender which when combined with a 5v PSU will disconnect the ground and power connections to the computer, leaving only the D+/D- as the connections for communication.
That should clean up all the power issues from your computer ;)
I actually have one of those and it is fairly effective! It doesn't get as quiet as an optical connection, but it does clean up all of the screeching, clicks, and whirrs that track my PC's activity. It is necessary even for USB audio devices that have their own power supplies.
 

Severian

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My initial assessment is that the MOTU M4 is a great device. I don't think I'm in a position to opine on the fidelity of its monitor outputs since my system is heavily SINAD-limited downstream by a DSP and PA power amps, but certainly it sounds good to my ears. I'm currently using the unbalanced RCA monitor outputs and the signal seems to be somewhat lower voltage than my Atom's preamp outputs, so I do have to turn up the gain on my power amps a few clicks to achieve similar SPL. That's a little unfortunate because it raises the noise floor. However, my next upgrade will be a DSP with balanced I/O so this is a temporary issue.

The headphone amp can power my HD6XXs to a good listening level for typical rock music around 3 o'clock and I don't hear distortion. For quieter recordings, one would probably max out the volume and still be wanting a bit more. Of course it's more than enough power for the much easier to drive K371s I also tested out, and they sound excellent. Fortunately the M4's line outs allow the use of an external headphone amp if needed.

As predicted, the USB noise from my PC is a serious issue and would be unbearable if I didn't have the iFi Defender, which thankfully takes care of it. It is very frustrating to me that there isn't more that desktop PC users can do to get good sound over USB. I have a good quality PSU and my motherboard even has two USB ports that claim to allow disabling of bus power specifically for audio devices, which makes no difference at all. I've never found good information on how to improve the grounding of a properly-assembled desktop.
 

L5730

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SSL have a couple of new interfaces SSL2 and SSL 2+.
Both are USB-C, 2 input (Mic, Line, Hi-Z) devices with independently switchable phantom power, as well as MIDI I/O. But the 2+ adds a second headphone and line output. Nice big chunky knobs and looks rather industrial. Like someone took a hacksaw to a console and stole a bit to make a new interface.

I think the Moto M4 is more flexible as a home/small studio interface, but still doesn't have a pure digital I/O (ADAT, S/PDIF) connection.

RME Babyface Pro FS is looking like over 3x the price of the M4! It does seem to have just about everything one could want for future proofing and solid, reliable supported drivers for Windows.
 

pkane

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Explain? According to the test results, motu m2 / m4 turned out to be a budget card?

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/gea...ps-means-audio-diffmaker-61.html#post14458618
M4 actually produced a much better result than M2 in these tests. Since I was the one who submitted the M2 loopback for another user, I have to say that I'm not 100% certain of how it was generated by the owner, and whether something else was at play to produce a worse result (like some setting or misconfiguration). Until someone else produces an M2 loopback recording, I wouldn't rely on the results for M2 on Gearslutz.
 
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I have an Apogee Quartet (2013) which is not on the list. Actually wanna see how it fair against current competition.
 
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I know this may sound like a waste of time, but a measurement of the good old E-MU 0404USB. Spec-wise it holds very well against more recent competitors, so it's a good baseline to see how are modern cards doing (many of them are not doing better at all, some may be comparable but hard to say without a proper measurement).

After the Motu M2 I guess the Clarett 2Pre will be nice to compare.
 

Xyrium

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The old 0404...nice. I had the 1212 PCI card and the 1616M. Here's a shot of their final days, this goes back something like 13 years ago I believe. Last shot of it in action as well....
IMG_3799.JPG IMG_3756.JPG
 
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The 1212 has still astounding performance, a pity the drivers didn't age well as much as the board. I had one for a while but it was too complicate to manage under Linux (and it was the PCI version) so I sold it. I still have a 0404 for which I'd like to find a decent replacement (mostly for measurements).
 

Blumlein 88

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I know this may sound like a waste of time, but a measurement of the good old E-MU 0404USB. Spec-wise it holds very well against more recent competitors, so it's a good baseline to see how are modern cards doing (many of them are not doing better at all, some may be comparable but hard to say without a proper measurement).

After the Motu M2 I guess the Clarett 2Pre will be nice to compare.
Archimago used the Emu for measurements. If you'll look there he compared it to a Forte he replaced it with. Few devices do better than it at the affordable end of the market.
 
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