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  • #91
    FYI- Alesis statement

    I emailed Craig about this and he suggested I pass this on you guys.

    We are aware that their is a driver issue that causes a small audio glitch sound when opening certain applications on Mac Intel computers (Safari, iTunes) with the IO 14 and 26. We are currently looking into this issue and will address it with a driver update in the near future. Audio applications such as Cubase LE and other DAW programs appear to function ok when used in a normal manner with just one application opened at a time.

    Thanks,

    Jim Norman
    Alesis Product Manager

    I just recieved the io14. Very easy to setup and was able to hear sound and input sound with in 5 minutes. Haven't tried recording yet, though I have installed cubase LE. When I plug in my headphones (AKG M80's) there is a bit of noise, but then the line is clean. I am also using this interface to evaluate sound while I'm editing video in Final Cut Pro Studio and Soundtrack Live. I ran into the problem where when I open Soundtrack and then try and listen to the audio in Final Cut, the audio disappears. Reopening Final Cut solved the problem, and I haven't messed with it more, but this is a potentially annoying problem. Anyone have any ideas why it happened or is this similar to the sound blip people mentioned when opening more then one program at once?

    Thanks,
    Eric

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    • #92
      FYI- Alesis statement

      I emailed Craig about this and he suggested I pass this on you guys.

      We are aware that their is a driver issue that causes a small audio glitch sound when opening certain applications on Mac Intel computers (Safari, iTunes) with the IO 14 and 26. We are currently looking into this issue and will address it with a driver update in the near future. Audio applications such as Cubase LE and other DAW programs appear to function ok when used in a normal manner with just one application opened at a time.

      Thanks,

      Jim Norman
      Alesis Product Manager


      Always great to hear product manufacturers recognizing the issues that creep up, and only expose themselves when the product gets widely used. Seriously, this is good practice.

      It's also much better than the original response that was posted on page 2 of this thread:

      "I'll take a look into this over here though it sounds like what is being
      experienced is 'normal'. When starting up another program, this is taking
      away system resources that are needed to process the audio and would cause dropouts until the program is closed or the audio is started again.

      Best Regards,
      Justin Baro
      "

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      • #93
        Comparison time. Comparative testing is always a bit difficult to make sure the test conditions are equal, so I stuck a Shure SM58 in front of an ADAM A7 speaker, fixed the mic in place so it wouldn’t move, then played a CD through the speakers. (I chose a DJ mix CD, Monika Kruse’s “On the Nippon Road,” because it has a good balance of deep bass and sparkling highs). I then recorded through the Mackie Onyx Satellite, E-Mu 0404 USB AudioPod, and Alesis io26, recording about a minute of Track 2. I started off with the mic input levels up all the way.

        The first thing I noticed was that the 0404 mic pre had by far the most gain, the io26 the least amount, and the Satellite somewhere in between (see picture). In fact, I had to trim the 0404 gain a bit to avoid overloading the input. You can see that the Alesis peaked at about –18.5dB, the Satellite at –8.5dB, and the 0404 at –2.0dB. I should point out, though, that the mic was about a foot away from the speaker, and I wasn’t listening at a particularly high level. As noted earlier, when just singing into the io26, I was able to drive the input into the red with all but the softest vocals. So, I don’t think it’s correct to think of the Alesis as “low gain” so much as it is to think of the 0404 as high gain, and eminently suited to picking up low-level sounds.

        But this does confirm my initial thoughts that the mic pres in the io26 are not super-high gain, and you’d need additional preamplification if you wanted to bring, say, room mics up to a high level.

        Okay, time for listening tests…but first, I need to normalize these suckers so we’re working from an even playing field, then do some critical listening. I’ll be back shortly.
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        • #94
          Comparison time. Comparative testing is always a bit difficult...


          Craig, can you also make a side comment on the io26 pre's as compared to your recent experience with the Konnekt 24D pre's? Subjective is good enough for me. I'm interested in which ones you'd prefer to use if you had only the two to choose from before tracking.

          Lie to me if you have to.

          Thanks,
          Realitycheckers.com

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          • #95
            Always great to hear product manufacturers recognizing the issues that creep up, and only expose themselves when the product gets widely used. Seriously, this is good practice.

            It's also much better than the original response that was posted on page 2 of this thread...


            Well, I wouldn't be too hard on them. I presume that Alesis just isolated the problem, as Jim Norman emailed me only yesterday. People are always going to make guesses as to what the problem is until they find out for sure.
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            • #96
              I own the I|O2 model for basic home recording.
              I'm pretty happy with it, also noticed how greatly is was built. Good preamps, no hiss or noise. I only have 2 complaints actually.
              - ASIO drivers are bad, they bring in too much latency and several recording programs don't recognize them. I had to tweak text parameters for Cubase to accept it. I finally switched back to good old ASIO4ALL.
              - MIDI input has glitches. I use it with a master keyboard to trigger soft synths. It locks up quite often. My keyboard and cables work fine with other synths.
              I'd appreciate if you could test these parts on the bigger brothers.


              I assume you're talking about Windows? I'm testing on the Mac for now, and will move over to Windows later.
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              • #97
                Craig, can you also make a side comment on the io26 pre's as compared to your recent experience with the Konnekt 24D pre's? Subjective is good enough for me. I'm interested in which ones you'd prefer to use if you had only the two to choose from before tracking.

                Lie to me if you have to.


                The Konnekt 24D is installed on my Windows machine (so is the Emu 1820), so see above.
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                • #98
                  Craig, do you think you could do like this person did and record a short sample from a high quality source into the various interfaces you've done reviews on so we can judge for ourselves the quality of the A/D sections?


                  Yes and no. The problem is that the current maximum attachment size for sound files with this forum software is 400k. That's not a very long sample, but I'll try saving some of my files at 320kbps in mono. I'm not sure if you'll be able to hear subtle differences, but we'll find out soon.
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                  • #99
                    I just did some MP3 excerpts at 320kbps, and while they're not as detailed as I'd like, they do get the point across. Listen for yourself; here are my impressions, based on hearing the original AIF files.

                    E-Mu 0404: Less apparent high end than the others by a hair. However, what you can't hear is that the 0404 preamps are exceptionally quiet, and capable of much higher gain.

                    Mackie Onyx Satellite: These have that crystalline Onyx high end which some people call "clear and transparent" while others think it's "brittle and harsh." Vive la difference, as they say. It also seems like the bass might be a little tighter, but not quite as prominent as the other two. I like these preamps a lot.

                    Alesis io26: These preamps are brighter than the E-Mu 0404, but with a somewhat different high end character compared to the Onyx. What's interesting is how well they stack up compared to both the 0404 and the Onyx given that you're getting 8 preamps in the package instead of two.

                    However, it's important to note that none of these preamps have the option to match the input impedance to the mic. As a result, any differences could be due to interactions with the mic and the input stage, not any inherent issues with the circuitry. We'll see what happens with a condenser mic and going in direct.

                    The results help support my contention that these days, there are really only four types of preamps: Crappy consumer stuff, lower middle class "hit the price point" pres, upper middle class (I would put the ones I tested in this category), and designed preamps like the ADL 600 and other tube/rack/etc. gear. Fact is, there's no excuse not to make a decent-sounding preamp these days, so your evaluations will probably be based more on subjective criteria. For example, when recording a really bright acoustic guitar, you might find the 0404 a much better match than the Onyx, which is brighter.
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                    • First up, to all those who wonder “Why do you test with an SM58, anyway? Isn’t that kinda low rent?” Well, it’s a sound that has been burned into my brain, so any deviation from that norm is something I really tend to notice.

                      Anyway, moving on…here’s the same test, but with an Audio-Technica AT3035 condenser mic. This also gave me a chance to check out the phantom power thang.

                      As I suspected, the differences are far less pronounced than with the dynamic. I would still say that the Onyx preamps sound just a bit tighter; listen carefully to the attacks of the synth bass, they’re more defined than with the other two preamps. However, any brightness differential between the Alesis and Emu 0404 USB has disappeared, so I think we may indeed by dealing with slightly different input impedances that, in the previous test, interacted differently with the SM58.

                      Overall, I feel the differences are very slight; listen for yourself - what do you think? Also, I’m not quite sure what to make of the more defined pick attack of the Onyx (I don’t think I’m imagining things), although I do remember Mackie being very proud of the “linear phase” design of the Onyx preamps.

                      Any by the way, in case you’re thinking “Well the MP3 covers up any subtle differences,” that’s true to some extent but even listening to the full-bandwidth AIF files, you’ll hear about the same differences as you’ll hear with the MP3s (if any). In my opinion, any differences among these preamps in terms of sound quality tend to be quantitative rather than qualitative, aside from the extremely low noise of the E-Mu preamps. Bottom line: It's clear to my ears that Alesis did not scrimp on preamp quality to meet the low price point of the io26.

                      (By the way, the Emu 0404 is NOT the PCI-based 0404, but the new USB 0404 that just came out. It is a newer design than the PCI cards, and interfaces to the computer via USB 2.0.)
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                      • I just did some MP3 excerpts at 320kbps, and while they’re not as detailed as I’d like

                        Awesome! Thanks!

                        Yeah, the MP3 format is not so good. I've seen some others use Rapidshare to host bigger files. That might be helpful if you want to present the original, uncompressed files.

                        However, it's important to note that none of these preamps have the option to match the input impedance to the mic.

                        What about going direct in from the source to the pre's? Then you wouldn't have to worry about impedance matching as much and we still would get to hear the character of the pre's.

                        For example, when recording a really bright acoustic guitar

                        Ooh, ooh -- pretty please? Especially if you could find a sterling recording of just female voice and acoustic guitar and go direct. I've found that it's easiest to tell the difference in any digital audio gear with that particular type of source material.

                        Thanks for all the effort on your part. It really helps make the buying decision easier.

                        - Mike

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                        • Have you tested or compared any of these with the Focusrite Saffire (LE or original)? I really like the Saffire preamps, but would be interested in hearing your take on how they compare.

                          Out of all the firewire audio interfaces I have tried so far, the Saffire really seems to shine through to me. And, they have addressed the issue with the bus powering from Macbook Pro, which was something I was looking for. (When I contacted Alesis support about this, they said... maybe it will work, maybe not. If it doesn't you can always use the power adapter. A very dissapointing response since I obviously was specifically interested in confirming I would be able to use it bus powered. It sounds to me like they have not addressed the issue or tested with the new Macbook pros.)

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                          • Have you tested or compared any of these with the Focusrite Saffire (LE or original)? I really like the Saffire preamps, but would be interested in hearing your take on how they compare.


                            Sorry, I don't have any Focusrite gear here for comparison.

                            As to MacBook Pros, there are a lot of issues with that particular computer and Firewire...check out the Konnekt 24D thread. The io26 is a piece of gear with a lot of circuitry inside, so it wouldn't surprise me that it presents some fairly hefty requirements to the Firewire bus. But at least kudos to Focusrite for coming up with a solution for their gear.
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                            • For this test, I took the outputs of the Alesis Masterlink and went directly into the line inputs of each of the three interfaces. I recorded a snippet from Angelique Kidjo’s CD “Oyaya!” because, well, I like it.

                              I then recorded into Peak 5.2 (as I had with all the other examples), cropped to 9 seconds, and normalized to 0 so that there perceived levels would be the same. And listened really carefully.

                              I couldn’t hear any significant difference. In fact I’m not sure I heard any difference at all. I then converted them all to mono 320kbps MP3 files, and couldn’t hear any difference there either.

                              By going into the line ins, I assume this bypasses the mic pres altogether, and therefore the only variable in play is the A/D converter. Based on that, all I can say is, if you can hear any difference among these three files…let me know! I’m not hearing anything, even with the full-res files.
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                              • We're not done yet, as I need to check out the Windows side of things. But so far, I'd say that the io26 mic pres are definitely good quality. I do think the Onyx pres have a tiny bit more of lower midrange definition, but they do have a particular "sound" that some people like and some don't.

                                Compared to the E-Mu 0404 USB, I'd say the E-Mu has slightly higher-grade pres, at least on paper (specs etc.). Sonic differences are minor, though, except at very high-gain settings, where the E-Mu seems a bit quieter. The noise of both was small enough to make it impossible to measure, so this is a subjective call. But as to price, the 0404 USB has two pres for about $300 list, and the io26, eight pres for about $600 list (about $200 and $400 street, respectively). Now obviously, there's more to these than just preamps, but when you consider that the io26 has dual ADAT ins, phono in, and really good construction, I gotta say this one cost-effective package...you're getting a huge bang for the buck.

                                (In the interest of completeness, the 0404 USB has a universal adapter with snap-on plugs that literally let you use the thing anywhere in the world; it also comes with a large amount of bundled software, and the headphone out is a Class A amp that sounds excellent. Just though you oughta know about the price differential. As to the Satellite, it basically has only two ins but it has a unique design where you can lift out the "guts" as a mobile interface, while leaving it patched into your desktop studio configuration.)
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