Which 2- or 4-channel in/2-out MIDI audio interface?

Talk about your MIDI interfaces, microphones, keyboards...

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nightmorph
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Which 2- or 4-channel in/2-out MIDI audio interface?

Post by nightmorph »

I need a decent interface to record audio into my laptop. I've been using the internal Intel HDA chip, but it doesn't produce good quality sounds, and audio recorded into it is noisy and muffled.

I want to simultaneously record/playback 2 channels of 24-bit audio at 48khz (or higher). The device also needs to supply a MIDI I/O port. The interface needs to run with very low-latency (under 10ms, no xruns) on Ubuntu 11.04, without weird configuration or hacks.

On down the road, I'd like to be able to add a hardware synthesizer or microphone, which is another set of inputs, but for now, I only record 2 channels. My piano has RCA outputs and headphone/line/3.5mm jacks.

Cost: less than $300, ideally less than $200 or even under $100. Doesn't have to be new, if it will cut costs.

I don't care of it's USB1.1, USB2, or FireWire, though FireWire might be preferred. My laptop only has 3 USB ports, and I have 4 devices:

- monome
- MPD18
- E-Mu 1x1 MIDI
- nanokontrol

I have a powered USB hub, but I'm reluctant to attach anything to it that needs low-latency I/O. Also, it would mean more cables and adapters, which I'm trying to avoid. A USB audio interface would still require the hub, even if it supplies a MIDI port.

While my laptop does not have FireWire, I found a CardBus adapter with a Texas Instruments FireWire chipset. The downside is that CardBus doesn't provide power, so the interface would have to be hooked up to an outlet, which limits its portability.

What are your suggestions? Thanks!
steevc
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Re: Which 2- or 4-channel in/2-out MIDI audio interface?

Post by steevc »

Some people here have the Edirol FA-66

http://www.roland.com/products/en/FA-66/

It's a Firewire interface that may meet your needs, but you'll probably have to go second hand to meet your budget. USB1.1 doesn't have the bandwidth for more than 2 inputs and most USB2 devices are not supported on Linux.

For those who have one, we could do with some details on the wiki about how it should be configured

http://wiki.linuxmusicians.com/doku.php ... are_matrix
Steve
Sounds - http://soundcloud.com/steevc
Blog - http://studiospoon.blogspot.co.uk/
Recording via M-Audio Delta 66 (+Omni i/o) and Zoom H4. Got Korg nanoKONTROL and M-Audio Uno for my Casio keyboard.
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nightmorph
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Re: Which 2- or 4-channel in/2-out MIDI audio interface?

Post by nightmorph »

I ended up buying an Echo AudioFire 2 a few days ago. I talked to one of the developers on #ffado, got some answers to concerns I had, and got a buddy of mine to try out some of the newest code with his AF2. Everything seems to work perfectly at very low latencies. Mine is still in the mail, so I'm still looking forward to working with it and running some tests.
steevc
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Re: Which 2- or 4-channel in/2-out MIDI audio interface?

Post by steevc »

nightmorph wrote:I ended up buying an Echo AudioFire 2 a few days ago. I talked to one of the developers on #ffado, got some answers to concerns I had, and got a buddy of mine to try out some of the newest code with his AF2. Everything seems to work perfectly at very low latencies. Mine is still in the mail, so I'm still looking forward to working with it and running some tests.
I'd not looked into the AudioFire interfaces. The 4 looks interesting to me and the ffado site says they are all supported.

What answers did you get from the developer? I'll be interested to hear how you get on with it.

Cool blog post. I'm still trying to understand what sort of latency I should expect. Seems I can't get much better than 50ms from my Zoom H4 without lots of xruns, but I just discovered that I can monitor directly on it, so need to try that.
Steve
Sounds - http://soundcloud.com/steevc
Blog - http://studiospoon.blogspot.co.uk/
Recording via M-Audio Delta 66 (+Omni i/o) and Zoom H4. Got Korg nanoKONTROL and M-Audio Uno for my Casio keyboard.
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nightmorph
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Re: Which 2- or 4-channel in/2-out MIDI audio interface?

Post by nightmorph »

steevc wrote:I'd not looked into the AudioFire interfaces. The 4 looks interesting to me and the ffado site says they are all supported.

What answers did you get from the developer? I'll be interested to hear how you get on with it.
Basically that everything should just work, now that a few long-standing bugs were fixed. It requires certain versions of libffado and libraw1394, which you can find on this ppa. The ppa's owner reports that everything he's tried so far (the MIDI port hasn't been tested) works just fine with the stock Natty kernel.

My AudioFire2 arrived yesterday, so I'll run my own tests as soon as I can.
Thad E Ginathom
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Re: Which 2- or 4-channel in/2-out MIDI audio interface?

Post by Thad E Ginathom »

I have an Echo Audiofire2 and it works fine with Ubuntu and KXStudio.

When I say "works fine"...

-- Before I discovered KXStudio, it was a nightmare, even with Ubuntu "Studio," getting any sort of reliability at all. Ubuntu seems to have been designed not to work with Firewire audio! KXStudio, somehow, puts the package together in such a way that it just works with just about no worrying about interupts, priorities, etc etc. It works even without a RT kernel. Actual, it works even with a generic kernel in 10.04, but my normal day is KXStudio's pre-emptive kernel and 11.04. Even non-jack applications are handled nicely.

-- I am not a musician and don't do studio work (though who doesn't enjoy playing with the toys?) and I use the box more-or-less as a stereo in/out sound card. My recording, so far, is limited to digitisation of tape/vinyl.

-- I have not used the Audiofire2's digital i/o, nor its midi capability so can't comment on them.

-- Certainly FFADO support is there for the box. The FFADO mixer application has most, but not all of the facilities provided by Echo's own application in Windows.

These provisos, and my lack of familiarity with wikki protocol, make me reluctant to add an entry to the Wikki, which I'm sure would help potential Echo Audiofire buyers. This post may not help as much: I hope it helps a bit :)
steevc
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Re: Which 2- or 4-channel in/2-out MIDI audio interface?

Post by steevc »

@Thad, I've created a page on the wiki. We can add more detail if required, but there is a link to your post. I don't see much point in duplicating information.

http://wiki.linuxmusicians.com/doku.php ... udiofire_2
Steve
Sounds - http://soundcloud.com/steevc
Blog - http://studiospoon.blogspot.co.uk/
Recording via M-Audio Delta 66 (+Omni i/o) and Zoom H4. Got Korg nanoKONTROL and M-Audio Uno for my Casio keyboard.
Thad E Ginathom
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Re: Which 2- or 4-channel in/2-out MIDI audio interface?

Post by Thad E Ginathom »

Cheers :)

s/intergace/interface/ --- always easy to spot the mistakes of others, and impossible to see one's own ;)

The firmware update function is one of the things the FFADO mixer would not do.
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