Jump to content
AUSTRALIAN DJ FORUMS
PhonicAssassin

USB Audio Interfaces - why are they important and which one to choose?

Recommended Posts

So I've been looking into USB Audio Interfaces of late and there's obviously a lot to choose from.  Now I've never had any issues ripping straight to Audacity from my turntables and mixer before but I'm always looking at ways to improve on the sound quality of my mixes when recording them.  I've had a few recommendations on various brands from professionals in the know but I'm interested to know what everybody else is using and why?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How are you currently recording - straight into the line in on your PC?

The Focusrite Scarlett range is popular for an entry level interface. Have heard good things about the Motu interfaces as well. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, line in into Audacity.  The Scarlett comes highly recommended to me although I've been impressed by the Presonus brand as well from the research that I've done and the fact that it comes with a heap of software too with a considerably more attractive price tag.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tbh if you’re only looking to record from turntables in, a cheap interface with RCA in will do fine, which saves needing adapters. Behringer make one for about $50. I’d only worry about a higher grade interface if you’re looking to use it for other purposes as well (e.g. connecting high end speakers to your computer, producing music). The more expensive interfaces provide a higher sample rates, 32-bit depth, overall higher quality (which you won’t notice unless you have high quality speakers and audio files), and more ins/outs. 
 

The software that normally gets bundled with hardware are ‘lite’ versions which are fine to get going but often need to be upgraded to get full functionality. Exception there is high end cards which provide external processing for VSTs which is a whole different thing which is getting slightly off topic. 
 

For recording DJ mixes I personally ditch the PC entirely and use a portable Tascam recorder. Saves direct to SD card which I can then xfer to the computer later. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I'm wanting to develop a music podcast which is why I'm looking at audio interfaces and I obviously want it to sound as good as possible.  A producer mate is currently recording his show via a Focusrite interface into Audacity on his laptop with great results.  I don't mind upgrading the lite version(s) of the software at a later stage as long as it provides enough usability to get me up and running.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In terms of podcasting, a entry-mid range mic with a stand of some sort (note the correct mic and setup for the scenario you’re trying to capture is the most important thing) and an entry level interface would be sufficient to get going. When considering the listener at the other end, it’s streamed at a low bitrate and people are typically listening on budget earphones while getting the train to/from work, so the difference between audio interfaces is not going to be heard in the final product. Don’t need to spend heaps of money.

 

P.s. Also ensure podcast is mixed correctly before uploading (so annoying trying to listen when mixed poorly).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was more meaning the post-prod mixing, ensuring the mic(s) are balanced correctly with the other audio elements and the overall levels are correct etc... but I guess get the DJ mixing right too!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The AT2020 requires phantom power, so keep that in mind when choosing the interface. The Rode does not need phantom power, as well as being manufactured in Australia 👍

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah I'm leaning towards the Rode as it has an inbuilt pop filter and like you pointed out, its Australian made. Interface-wise I'm leaning towards the PreSonus Studio 24c.It's almost a hundred bucks cheaper than the Focusrite and has an extra feature or two apart from coming with a shit ton of software to boot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 24c only has 2 inputs. If you’re looking to record vocals in separately to your DJ mixer at the same time, you’ll need a third input (L and R channels out of your mixer, with the third for your mic). Otherwise you’ll either need to do one of:

  • Change cables around and record the vocals separately, after the DJ mix is done
  • Route the mic through the DJ mixer, which you lose the ability to balance them in post-prod

The Presonus studio 68c has 4 inputs which would solve the problem, however, it’s nearly double the price. The Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 has 2 * line and 2 * mic/inst inputs which would also do the trick, it’s bus powered (meaning no separate power pack - the 68c needs USB + power) and it’s a bit cheaper. The Focusrite comes bundled with Ableton, and the PreSonus with Studio One (both lite versions). Ultimately, the DAW you use is personal preference, however, there’s lots more online help available for Ableton and the stock instruments and fx are great.

 

Disclosure: I personally use the Scarlett 6i6 and Ableton Live Suite currently.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Store DJ are doing the PreSonus range bundled with Ableton Live Lite as well as Studio One. The 26c is $549

PreSonus Studio 68c 6x6 USB-C Interface w/ Studio One Artist & Ableton Live Lite | USB Audio Interfaces - Store DJ

The Focusrite 4i4 3rd Gen is $509 and comes bundled with Ableton Live Lite and Pro Tools

Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 Gen 3 4-in/4-out USB Audio Interface | USB Audio Interfaces - Store DJ

As I mentioned, my preference is to record all of the voiceover component separately in order to maintain maximum control over the mixing and as such I feel like a two channel unit should suit my needs however it's good to have an extra channel when you need it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My money is on the Scarlett. I've had mine for years and I love it. More outputs is good and depending on your budget you can pick up some with more than others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, LabRat said:

My money is on the Scarlett. I've had mine for years and I love it. More outputs is good and depending on your budget you can pick up some with more than others.

Yeah a producer/DJ mate in the UK swears by the Scarlett.  I'm tossing up between these two.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Gen 3 2-in/2-out USB Audio Interface | USB Audio Interfaces - Store DJ $359

PreSonus Studio 24c 2x2 USB-C Interface w/ Studio One Artist & Ableton Live Lite | USB Audio Interfaces - Store DJ $289

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, PhonicAssassin said:

Store DJ are doing the PreSonus range bundled with Ableton Live Lite as well as Studio One. The 26c is $549

PreSonus Studio 68c 6x6 USB-C Interface w/ Studio One Artist & Ableton Live Lite | USB Audio Interfaces - Store DJ

The Focusrite 4i4 3rd Gen is $509 and comes bundled with Ableton Live Lite and Pro Tools

Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 Gen 3 4-in/4-out USB Audio Interface | USB Audio Interfaces - Store DJ

As I mentioned, my preference is to record all of the voiceover component separately in order to maintain maximum control over the mixing and as such I feel like a two channel unit should suit my needs however it's good to have an extra channel when you need it.

Yeah exactly. An interface with more inputs will allow recording of both the vocals and the DJ mix at the same time into your DAW but as separate tracks, retaining that level of post production control. IMO you both save time and get a more natural sounding outcome this way (feels more like a radio show) compared to recording the vocals over the top afterward. This is the benefit of the 4 inputs. Otherwise either of the 2 input interfaces are sufficient.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 29/03/2021 at 9:25 PM, Mitch said:

Yeah exactly. An interface with more inputs will allow recording of both the vocals and the DJ mix at the same time into your DAW but as separate tracks, retaining that level of post production control. IMO you both save time and get a more natural sounding outcome this way (feels more like a radio show) compared to recording the vocals over the top afterward. This is the benefit of the 4 inputs. Otherwise either of the 2 input interfaces are sufficient.

As I understand it you still only have two built in pre-amps which would be utilised for the mix itself and then your mic would need to go through one of the spare channels without pre-amp.  Would that be correct?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, PhonicAssassin said:

As I understand it you still only have two built in pre-amps which would be utilised for the mix itself and then your mic would need to go through one of the spare channels without pre-amp.  Would that be correct?

In the case of the Scarlett, inputs 1 and 2 have pre-amps, so you’d plug the mic into one of those. Inputs 3 and 4 (on the back) are a fixed level line input with no additional amplification, which is fine for a DJ mix as the signal out from your mixer is already amplified.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Mitch said:

In the case of the Scarlett, inputs 1 and 2 have pre-amps, so you’d plug the mic into one of those. Inputs 3 and 4 (on the back) are a fixed level line input with no additional amplification, which is fine for a DJ mix as the signal out from your mixer is already amplified.

Of course! That makes perfect sense. BTW, just found a Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen for $409 ;) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...