I've heard good things about the blackbird pres and it seems to be my number one choice right now. I like the midi capabilities of some of the other interfaces though. The firestudio pro is my least favorite option due to the inability to run other pres/interfaces with it for extra inputs, but the extra money i would save can go to some new mics.
I'd like to stick around the 500$ range but don't mind spending more for quality. Any suggestions/warnings?
I like the Motu stuff the best. The Mackie may be a good option too.
I'm not so hot for the presonus. I've had friends who had driver issues with them but
they were running PC's. Not sure about macs. M-Audio isnt in the same class as the others.
They're good and solid but I use their 1010LT cards in my DAW and their preamps/frequency
responce isnt in the same league. Saphire/Focusrite makes some quality preamps and it too
would be a good recording option.
You do have some USB and firewire options listed there. I'd choose Firewire over USB for
stability "If" your computer has a good Firewire card. a TX instruments chipset is recomended.
generics can give you problems. If you dont have firewire capibility or an open slot for a firewire card,
like on laptops, I have seen some use a PCIMIA card to run firewire but its not my best recomendation.
As I said my buddy runs a Presonus and uses a PCIMIA card to his laptop and has constant connectivity/driver
issues. I think his problem would be solved if he ran the card on a desktop with a good TX instruments
PCI card from the testing I did for him.
I've been really happy with the focusrite. Huge upgrade in sound from my previous interface (tascam 1800) and it's got lots of great features. The loop back channels are really useful, and the monitor mixing software is really good.
^^^ unless you have both side by side that would be a real tough one to decide.
I know Focusrite uses differential preamps which are superior to other types.
I dont know what the blackbird uses without seeing a schematic. Maybe you
could read through the manuals and find out.
this is not an audio interface, but you mentioned "need something to record demos of my band and some soundtrack demo work at home." I use a Zoom R16 to record our band. I use it as a mixer/recorder and send the outs to my monitors. I know when i was looking for an 8 input interface, I didn't consider this as an option till I got looking at it closer...and I love it, and you can take it anywhere. I use Saffire Pro 24 for my DAW work. They also make a R24 with more inputs.
HW: Privia Pro PX-5S, Casio XW-P1, Juno-G, Lucina, Korg MicroSampler... Epiphone Les Paul, Schecter Hellraiser C-1, Peavey Valve King 112, Mesa Boogie 2x12, Ovation Celebrity, Yamaha P-Bass, Ibanez Gio Bass, Hartke B300... Alesis D5 EDrums, Yamaha HS-80s w sub, Saffire Pro 24 thru Mackie Big Knob; Live: Behringer B315D, Peavey PV118D, Roland KC550, Zoom R-16...etc. SW: Reason 6, Sonar X2, Reaper, Acid Pro, IKMultimedia , UAD1...