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Audio interfaces for beginners/on a budget


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#1 Funky Dunky

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 11:13 PM

I've posted another thread seeking help to find a recording device on the cheap. As another thought, I understand that if I download Audacity and buy an interface, I can go through a laptop and still keep the setup relatively portable and easy to use.

With this in mind, can anyone recommend a few good quality interfaces at the budget end of the scale? I appreciate that 'quality' and 'budget' makes for something an oxymoron, but I'm a complete noob to this, and just looking for pointers.

Thanks

#2 ambient

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 11:20 PM

Focusrite Scarlett is pretty good and easy to use.

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#3 Funky Dunky

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 12:22 AM

Yeah I had a look at the Scarlett Solo and it comes with a light version of Protools?? I'm sold!

#4 xgsjx

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 07:15 AM

There's also the Presonus iOne & iTwo, which comes with Presonus One DAW.

I tried Protools express before getting Logic. Fine for recording actual instruments, but if VSTis are your thing as well, it's a pain in the stench trench. Deleting Protools is a bit of a process too.
Reaper is probably the best of the free/budget DAWs.

I was in the same position as you.
I ended up getting a NI Komplete Audio 6 as it was on offer & then treated myself to Logic (which has possibly been the best £150 investment ever).

#5 lowdown

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 09:03 AM

Also the Steinberg UR22 (mk2) is worth checking out (£99.00).
It can be used with iPads as well.
A cut down version of Cubase comes with it (also some Synths and various Sounds).

Details and review here.
https://ask.audio/ar...audio-interface
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#6 Skol303

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 01:49 PM

View PostFunky Dunky, on 22 February 2017 - 12:22 AM, said:

Yeah I had a look at the Scarlett Solo and it comes with a light version of Protools?? I'm sold!

Was just about to chip in and recommend the Focusrite Solo but you got there already! :)

Great choice. It's a super little interface for the money.

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 01:57 PM

Check out what Line 6 have to offer. The Line 6 POD Studio GX is new for around £84 (usually around £50 second hand).

Easy to use, Amp and Cab sims, plus Cubase LE.

http://uk.line6.com/pod-studio/gx
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#8 Mornats

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 04:47 PM

It's worth watching this, if only for his point at the beginning that even the budget interfaces can produce really good results (better than the studio equipment he used 10-15 years ago). He also has some good advice about the number of inputs on your interface. If you think you need 4 inputs rather than 2 in the future, then it's probably worth getting one with 4 now for example.


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#9 Funky Dunky

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 12:51 AM

Thanks to everyone who's offered input (pardon the pun) thus far. I'm digging the focusrite thus far, but I have some research to do before I splash the spondulicks. Cheers all.

#10 Sibob

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 01:22 PM

View PostFunky Dunky, on 23 February 2017 - 12:51 AM, said:

Thanks to everyone who's offered input (pardon the pun) thus far. I'm digging the focusrite thus far, but I have some research to do before I splash the spondulicks. Cheers all.

If there's any questions I can answer, please do let me know :)

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#11 RockfordStone

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 04:44 PM

View PostMornats, on 22 February 2017 - 04:47 PM, said:

It's worth watching this, if only for his point at the beginning that even the budget interfaces can produce really good results (better than the studio equipment he used 10-15 years ago). He also has some good advice about the number of inputs on your interface. If you think you need 4 inputs rather than 2 in the future, then it's probably worth getting one with 4 now for example.


on a side note, Graham Cochrane (the guy in the video) is an excellent source for knowledge on youtube when it comes to mixing and recording, i can't recommend him highly enough. his mate Joe Gilder is also very good.

#12 Mornats

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 05:09 PM

View PostRockfordStone, on 28 February 2017 - 04:44 PM, said:


on a side note, Graham Cochrane (the guy in the video) is an excellent source for knowledge on youtube when it comes to mixing and recording, i can't recommend him highly enough. his mate Joe Gilder is also very good.

Yep, +1 to that
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#13 RockfordStone

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 05:20 PM

View PostMornats, on 02 March 2017 - 05:09 PM, said:

Yep, +1 to that
he can be a bit "goddy" at times, but he speaks on a level that is easy to understand, excellent resource his channel

#14 bazztard

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 03:30 AM

get the Scarlett, but forget about the Pro Tools lite software, utter crap. get Reaper, free to try and only $60 for a 2-3 year licence.
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#15 Dad3353

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 12:41 PM

View Postbazztard, on 03 March 2017 - 03:30 AM, said:

...Reaper, free to try and only $60 for a 2-3 year licence.

??? Licence is not time-limited, methinks..?
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Posted 03 March 2017 - 06:52 PM

not as I have experienced , I even changed computers after 3 years and lost the activation code , an email later and they sent me another for the new computer , quality support and a top DAW
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#17 Mornats

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 07:01 PM

It's not time limited but it's good for (I think) 2 major version numbers. i.e. from Reaper v4 to v6. It's worth noting that Reaper gets updated a lot with bug fixes and feature enhancements and even brand new features. Version 5.2 added a notation editor so big features aren't reserved a big version release either. I'll simply pay the licence fee again when it's time, no question.
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#18 Dad3353

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 07:35 PM

+1 ^
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#19 Mcgiver69

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Posted 07 April 2017 - 11:24 PM

Or you could try Tracktion T5, it's totally free and fully featured. Unlimited tracks, buses, etc.
https://www.tracktio...products/t5-daw
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Posted 08 April 2017 - 10:31 AM

 Dad3353, on 03 March 2017 - 12:41 PM, said:

??? Licence is not time-limited, methinks..?

they say a licence lasts two full versions, so if u came in at V5.23 it will last until V7.23, no idea of what that is in years
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#21 Dad3353

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 11:39 AM

 bazztard, on 08 April 2017 - 10:31 AM, said:

they say a licence lasts two full versions, so if u came in at V5.23 it will last until V7.23, no idea of what that is in years

From Wikipedia...

Quote

Version historyer 23, 2005 as freeware
1.0 – released on August 23, 2006as shareware
2.0 – October 10, 2007
2.43 – July 30, 2008: Beta Mac OS X and Windows x64 support.
2.56 – March 2, 2009: Finalized Mac OS X and Windows x64 ports.
3.0 – May 22, 2009
4.0 – August 3, 2011
Work on Linux support began.
5.0 – August 12, 2015
Beta-quality Linux support

... so about 8-10 years..? That'll see me out, I reckon. :mellow:

Wikipedia: Reaper ...
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#22 Al Krow

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 12:18 PM

Really helpful thread, thanks guys, as I'm coming new to home recording, too.

Had a listen to the recommended YouTube clip and the point the chap made about having two headphones out for recording someone besides yourself made really good sense. Our Retros guitarist, sadly now departed for an overseas job posting, who recorded both our showreels and I think did a really good job (links in my footer if you're interested) on his mac certainly made good use of having this feature on his mac recording rig.

However I've got a windows PC rather than a mac so am looking at the Focusrite range, as I think the OP decided on, and which seems to be very well regarded. The first model that has the two headphones out feature is the 6i6.

This comes with both Pro Tools | First and Ableton Lite. What are folks' views on either software package in terms of a complete newbie like myself getting to grips with them? Which one would you recommend investing the time in getting up to speed with?
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#23 Mornats

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 01:17 PM

Hey Al, you may have seen this already but it's worth checking this out: http://basschat.co.u...home-recording/

Regards to the two DAWs you get with the Focusrite, these are cut-down versions of the full software so there'll be some limitations to them (there should be a good comparison chart on their respective websites).

Protools is one of the industry standard DAWs however it's quite expensive and they've gone down the subscription route which starts at £23 a month (or around £600 for a perpetual licence. Ableton is popular too.

You can probably get an upgrade price from the cut down versions.

Anyway, if you're wanting to delve more into the software and learn it then compare the full versions of each first as you're likely to upgrade at some point once you start hitting any limitations in the lite versions. Or it could be that the lite versions do everything you need for recording a band :)

You can also consider alternatives. Reaper gets a lot of recommendations (this is my DAW of choice). You can check out the trial that doesn't expire, and grab a (very cheap) licence if you like it. Some say it's not too intuitive for a newbie but I stepped up from GarageBand to Reaper without problem and found it could do pretty much everything I ever wanted it to do :)
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#24 Al Krow

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 01:40 PM

Cheers Mornats - and thanks for reminding me of that link, I'll have another read through at some point soon.

At #4, I see it is quite enthusiastic about all three of the DAWs we are discussing, so that is encouraging.

But thanks for pointing out the subscription / expense of Protools. £600 PA forever is a lot more than I would be looking to pay! So I think it is going to boil down to a choice between Ableton and Reaper for me:

Ableton Live: Arguably the best DAW for live performance and DJing, but can equally be used for regular composition and production. Compact interface helps beginners to get started.

REAPER: The best-priced DAW by far (just $60 for a starter license) and powerful/flexible enough to compete with any of the major brand names. The demo version is available as an unlimited and uncrippled free trial - meaning you can try the full version of the software for as long as you like, before buying it. Can’t argue with that.

What made you decide to go for Reaper? It does seem to be good value in terms of getting the full version!
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#25 SubsonicSimpleton

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 01:59 PM

Take a close look at the restrictions in the 'lite' versions and cost of ownership of the full versions - personally I would recommend going with Reaper, because the demo isn't crippled and the licensing is very affordable and doesn't come with problematic copy protection BS (no requirement to be online or use special dongles), the developers are continually updating and implementing bugfixes and as a software package it runs very efficiently. I also like the fact that the team that make Reaper are not a big commercial entity, so I don't have to pay for anything other than the software, and the money is going direct to the people that make it.

If you want multiple headphone outs you can also look at a headphone distribution amp that will drive multiple sets of cans (behringer make one that will drive 4 sets of cans for about twenty quid which is quite serviceable for tracking purposes, and gives you the flexibility to send a cue mix at line level some distance from the interface itself and can also be useful in situations where you don't want to monitor the same mix as the performer(you do need more than 2 outs from your interface if you want to do this though, as usually the headphone output mirrors the main outputs))

#26 Al Krow

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 07:49 PM

Cheers - seems like Reaper is the way to go, quite a lot of positive (and no negative) comment about it on this thread and one the most affordable options to boot.
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#27 xgsjx

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Posted 31 August 2017 - 05:43 PM

Reaper can take a little setting up, but there's plenty of things online to help you & once it's done, it's done.
If I didn't have Logic, then Reaper would be my "go to" DAW.

#28 SimonEdward

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Posted 31 August 2017 - 06:38 PM

Reaper DAW was recommended to me by Basschat members back in 2014 ... and I made the move up (?) from tape based 8-track.

I paid for a license from version 4, and never looked back; I wrote a post on my blog about why I Love Reaper, which I thought I'd share >> https://infinitybass...ove-reaper-daw/

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#29 Sibob

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 10:20 AM

View PostAl Krow, on 27 August 2017 - 07:49 PM, said:

Cheers - seems like Reaper is the way to go, quite a lot of positive (and no negative) comment about it on this thread and one the most affordable options to boot.

The only real 'negative' with Reaper is that it has a lot of advanced features/options exposed all the time (just take a look at track output options), whereas something like Logic can run in a 'basic' mode to just expose the features a beginner might need. You can certainly work around it, but it does make some sections of the GUI more cluttered and harder to understand than say Garageband or Logic in 'basic' mode.

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#30 Al Krow

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 10:55 AM

View PostSibob, on 06 September 2017 - 10:20 AM, said:



The only real 'negative' with Reaper is that it has a lot of advanced features/options exposed all the time (just take a look at track output options), whereas something like Logic can run in a 'basic' mode to just expose the features a beginner might need. You can certainly work around it, but it does make some sections of the GUI more cluttered and harder to understand than say Garageband or Logic in 'basic' mode.

Si

Cheers Si. But am I correct that Logic and Garageband are only available on Mac, so for those of us on Windows PCs, Reaper probably is the best entry level option?

Edited by Al Krow, 06 September 2017 - 10:58 AM.

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