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USB/Firewire Audio Recording Interfaces

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  • USB/Firewire Audio Recording Interfaces

    Hey folks,

    I'm considering purchasing a Firewire audio recording interface so that I can not only connect 2 Audix i5 mics for stereo recording my 1978 Marshall JMP 2203, but also plug in my guitar for amp modeling software whenever I return to my apartment.

    Any of you had experience with the gear below? I think the only difference I see between a Saffire Pro 14 and 24 are the 2 extra Line Out jacks + on/off switch. I don't see a difference between the 24 & 24 DSP besides a $100 difference. The Echo AudioFire4 seems like a $50 more expensive version of the Saffire Pro 14.


    $249.99 - Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 Audio interface:

    $299.99 - Focusrite Saffire Pro 24:

    $399.99 - Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 DSP:


    $299.99 - Echo AudioFire4 FireWire Audio Interface:

    $399.99 - TC Electronic Impact Twin Next Generation Firewire Interface:


    Feel free to recommend others. I'll also ask the guys at Guitar Center later today.


  • #2

    I decided to go with the Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 Audio interface.

    Here's my first recording!


    • WRGKMC
      WRGKMC commented
      Editing a comment

      The difference is the number of channels you can record simultaneously. The one you chose has 2 mic/line preamp inputs on the front, two line inputs on the back which is in reality 4 analog inputs. It has two spidf inputs which can only be used with something like a preamp that has already converted the signal to digital (SPIDF is a digital input) There are two loop back inputs which are likely used to connect to a mixer or to hardware rack effects units.  Don't think that will work as actual inputs for recording.  They call that 8 inputs but in reality you really only have 4 analog inputs and only two of them have mic preamps and phantom power.

      The saffire 24 has (Inputs 5-14) which are digital inputs. If you don't have a secondary device that converts them to digital, then you can't use those channels so its a waste of money buying the more expensive model.

      4 channels for personal recording is fine. You just wont be able to record more than 4 instruments at once unless one has an SPIDF output.  I grew out of a 4 channel unit long ago when I got into recording a while band. I used 8 for a long time but even that required me to use a mixer on the drums and mix them to two channels. Later I bought a second interface of the same kind and ran them in tandem for 16 tracks. This allowed my to track the drums to 8 separate channels at the same time, and I had 8 channels left over to record guitars, bass, and vocals.

      For solo stuff, the saffire will be fine. You have the ability to record a Guitar, Vocals and drum machine through the 4 channels at the same time. You could also record a buddy at the same time if you wanted. Live drums would be limited to a stereo mic setup or mixer input. You can multitrack the rest of the parts.

      As far as being able to use modeling software, its really dependent on the speed of your computer bus. If you have a dual or quad processor CPU you may be able to get the latency and buffers low enough so there isn't a big time lag between what you play and what you hear. I been using a dual processor for my DAW and even with the thing optimized to the max I wouldn't be able to get the latency set much lower than 100 ms without dropouts or digital crackle from my sound cards tracking. That's enough to make the delay noticeable and when multitracking the notes I play don't align dead on the beat, something you must have for a tight recording.

      I do use modelers occasionally as plugins mixing tracks that need more gain/drive. I tracked a band recently where I split the guitarists signal and recorded a dry signal and a miced amp. It took me two days of tweaking to get the dry channel to sound as good as the miced amp and even then it had issues. The big problem is a dry guitar plugged in has a really big dynamic range. Loud notes are really loud and soft notes disappear. I had to compress the crap out of the tracks and limit them so I had a strong consistent signal before I used the amp modeler. It could then produce steady clipping using a modeled amps gain. If the player had a consistent pick hand, I could have used less compression but all he heard was what was coming from his amp so he didn't know how poorly his light pick attacks really sounded. When I was done, I had hiss in the background from gaining the track up using plugins which I had to hide using an EQ to roll off the highs. As an end result, the track sounded smaller, noisier and more congested in comparison to the miced amp.

      In my case I just use real hardware rack guitar preamp/effects for solo recording. You can buy 6 of them used cheaper than it costs to buy one modeling program. They sound as good as a miced amp and you have the hands on tweakability of twisting knobs for your tone. You do have to add reverb to emulate room tone of a miced amp, but that's really not a big deal. The only drawback is they do take up space. I simply made a small wood rack cab and have them all plugged into a patch bay.

      I can pick and choose which ones I want to use with patch cords. Have two Digitec, A Yamaha, Two Boss, An ART, a Rocktec and an old Rexx 601 preamp. I bought each for under $50 used and with them its like having 8 different amps to play through, and if I run them in tandem, and tweak them all differently I can have unlimited tones to choose from. I also have a bunch of Effects units for reverb, chorus echo etc so I often apply those sounds before tracking as well, the same way as a guitarist would dialing his sound up in an amp.

      I recently bought the matching midi pedals for my ART 2000. It neat because it has two assignable expression pedals. I can program them to vary any of the effects and I can switch the order of the effects as well. It was a top of the line unit back in its day. The on board drive settings are a bit retro but I can still get some cool sounds from it with its built in tube preamp. The Rexx is a really rare bird. It was designed to be plugged into a dual power amp and stereo cab. The knobs pull out on it for different gains and frequency sweeps. I can dial that thing up for some excellent guitar tones and mainly use it for adding lead parts on my solo stuff.

      There are tons of these older rack preamps out there. You have to do some digging on EBay and spring for them when you come across them. Can't best them for solo recording though. Just plug and play.

  • #3

    I bought a Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 for my live keyboard rig (Mainstage based).  It works for this purpose, but for recording, I found it noticeably inferior to my 2003 era MOTU 896HD. Not surprising, since the 896HD is considerably more, but I was pretty shocked at much poorer the Focusrite sounded.


    Just my $.02

    HUGE sound generation & capture facility
    Eno River Basin


    • Rudolf von Hagenwil
      Editing a comment


      I will record an Artist in Atlanta in a few days online, he has an Focusrite.

      I will hear if it is indeed inferiors in sonics, if so he must get a better interface.