Trying to pick out a reliable audio interface. Thoughts?

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unofficial proponent of nothing
Member Since: Mar 25, 2008

Hey everyone. Just wondering if you can help me decide on an audio interface.

I use a macbook pro now, and getting into using ableton mainly. I'm just one dude, so my needs are modest.

At the moment i'm looking for:

- something under $400.
- 4ins/2outs minimum. 1 phones (separate volume knob pref)
- firewire (i keep hearing horrible things about usb 2.0 and audio dropouts)
- option to put mics and/or instruments directly in.
- must have midi in
- bus powered & wall-powered (pref on/off switch on front)
- solid drivers on mac
- not alesis as i KNOW that they suck, first hand. will never buy from them again.

I've been looking at these ones:
m-audio profire 610 - url:

echo audiofire4 - url:

presonus firebox - url:

On paper, and from reading the manuals, they are all potential winners, but from what i've heard on forums, the m-audio is very unreliable, the presonus occasionally unreliable.

The echo is the only one i've heard consitently good things about, so at the moment it is the most likely candidate.

Anyone care to offer their own experiences, or perhaps another suggestion?

*edit: I thought i'd add... I am prepared to spend more if it means quality drivers. I haven't ruled out stepping up to a MOTU ultralite, if you guys think it would be much better.

Thanks for your time,

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Abomb Muchbaby
Since: Jul 02, 2009

Aug 10, 2009 07:27 am

The first thing I would do is do some research and make sure that your interface is compatible with your software. Sounds like you know what software you want to use, but I would make sure. I have a presonus firepod, and it has been great. I have never had any problems with it. It's basically the same thing as the firebox, just with a few more inputs. And I too have heard bad things about the usb 2 but I can't say that I have any experience.

One last thing, I can't remember for sure, but I think that when I bought my interface, I remember the 2 input or 4 input ones being almost as expensive as my 8 input. I would just say that if you think you can use 8 at any point, it might make sense to go with a bigger one for a little more. That is, if they really are close in price.

unofficial proponent of nothing
Since: Mar 25, 2008

Aug 10, 2009 08:30 am

Hey Adam, thank you for the input.

I shall continue doing some research for sure. From the response i'm seeing on the ableton forums, it is going to be a choice between the echo or the MOTU. Both seem to have reliable mac drivers.

You make a fair point about going for a bigger interface, but I've sold a lot of my analog gear (synths, samplers) in favour of a laptop based set-up for electronic music, so i'm not sure if at the moment I could justify it...

Anyone else care to share their experiences?



Czar of Turd Polish
Since: Jun 20, 2006

Aug 10, 2009 12:00 pm

I have used USB interfaces for years now, the only issues I have are...

1) I have to turn off the wireless NIC on my laptop.
2) My new X58 motherboard runs much better with a seperate USB add-in card. My old desktop ran it fine.

Now, as far as reliable and on top of their drivers. Echo, hands down imo. I ran their Layla setup for years on Win2K and WinXP on about 4 different machines and had absolutely 0 problems. No lockups or hiccups and their buffer had 16MB of memory which was fantastic when it came to mixdown.

Big supporter of the Echo products this guy is.

unofficial proponent of nothing
Since: Mar 25, 2008

Aug 10, 2009 10:02 pm

Hey CptTripps,

Good to hear some pros for usb interfaces. On my MBP i have to use a dorky firewire adaptor to go from the smaller size to the bigger one.

So I'm going to give the Echo Audiofire4 a go. Might come back and let you guys know if it's a good one.

Speaking of, this post I found very interesting. Maybe a bit dated now but still good to see what other people are thinking about interfaces:

Since: Nov 27, 2007

Aug 10, 2009 11:33 pm

dont buy a Lexicon Omega man. you'll regret that choice.

i have a Tascam US1641. its never given me any problems at all......touch wood.

Czar of Turd Polish
Since: Jun 20, 2006

Aug 11, 2009 01:13 pm

Pretty cool list they made.

One of these days I will ditch my Line6 UX8 (replace with UX2) and pick up 16+ channels of Motu or Echo. Love the routing of the Motu but love the rock solid Echo drivers. Maybe one of each!!! :)

Let us know how that Audiofire4 treats you.

Since: Sep 03, 2008

Aug 15, 2009 06:58 pm

Can't go wrong with echo,very stable,great sound and from personal experience,awsome customer service. I use a saffire pro 40 right now but will be going back to Echo soon. Good luck.

Since: Dec 04, 2007

Sep 03, 2009 03:30 am

Another huge plus here for Echo as well. I've been using an Audiofire 4 myself (which is firewire as opposed to USB, had to get a firewire PCI card for my comp though, since it's a bit dated) Been using it for maybe a full year by now, and zero problems.

You may want to lock the sample rate in the software console. Also there's a toggle in the console you have to select to enable the +48v phantom power to the XLR inputs. It's a minor thing for me (would have preferred a hardware button) but no problems at all, and everything works as it should.

But yeah, had this thing running nonstop at my old place (I forget to switch it off) And I think I haven't even touched it since I moved up here back in June. Of course, we've had a couple minor power outages due to storms. It does get a wee bit warm, but nowhere near egg-frying temperatures. ;)

Echo in a word, reliability.

Mountain Top Recording
Since: Sep 11, 2009

Sep 14, 2009 11:58 am

mmmm I have been using the Lexicon Omega for about 3 years now and have had only very minor issues. The Qbase LE software is fantastic and does almost anything you could want. The output quality is top notch.

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