first factors for audio interface

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first factors for audio interface

Post by BHArts1 »

Hi, everyone! I have not bought any audio interfaces for any OS yet. I have an (old) MacBook Pro, don't want to use Windows, and would really like to user the Ubuntu Studio with Ardour rather than the other two OSes. The Linux box hardware should be adequate (CPU, RAM, HD space, etc.) Since it seems that none of the Interface sales literature even *mention* Linux, I don't know where to begin. The Focusrite product line looks good but I really want to know what technical facts someone should assemble before committing to a purchase. I am planning to use the configuration for CD-quality production of mostly instrumental music. Comment is invited!

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Re: first factors for audio interface

Post by Linuxmusician01 »

If you really do not want to use the soundcard from your computer then look for a USB audio device that is "class compliant". For most audio devices that work in MacOS the manufacturer will say that in MacOS no drivers are needed because the device is class compliant. That means that the chance is 90% that it will work in Linux.

If I'm not mistaken then Focusrite audio devices work well for most Linux musicians. I use the class compliant Behringer UMC404hd. Don't let the Behringer brandname fool you: most users say that its a good audio device (Midas Preamplifiers).

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Re: first factors for audio interface

Post by Michael Willis »

BHArts1 wrote:Hi, everyone!
Hi! Look here for a compatibility list: ... _interface
BHArts1 wrote:CD-quality
That can be defined as 44.1 kHz, 16 bit, although you may want to record at 48kHz based on ... _interface

Pretty much any modern interface can do either one of those sampling rates, so that doesn't really narrow it down.

As far as hardware capability, you need to decide how many mics/lines you want, whether you need phantom power (if you're going to use condenser mics), as well as if you want midi support or not. You might also consider what kind of signal to noise ratio you are going to get from the preamps. If you're just a hobbyist (like most of us), I'm going to suggest that almost any interface will be sufficient in terms of signal to noise; these days even cheap hardware doesn't produce much noise.

For what it's worth, I bought a used Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (1st gen) on, and I'm plenty happy with it.

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Re: first factors for audio interface

Post by milo »

I have a 2nd gen Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 that works great on all of my computers, running different versions of Linux Mint (17.1 through 19.1). I understand that the interface works well on other distros, but I haven't personally used it on anything but Mint. It was about $150 brand new IIRC, and worth every penny.

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Re: first factors for audio interface

Post by Musicteacher »

"instrumental music" is a wide field. Usage of microphones, condenser-microphones in particular, has been mentioned already.

Another point is usage of virtual instruments and latency. If you want to use virtual instruments, latency will almost always be an issue. If you are reading reviews, have a look at the latency with other systems, especially with mac os (or, even better, i-os, because ios uses usb class compliant, too). if the interface gives low latencies with ios, it is very likely that latencies are low with linux, too.

Another point is online reviews. In those, linux is often mentioned. Thomann is a big online seller, here you can browse the reviews (most in german) for linux, you can use google translate to translate them to english. there are quite some Thomann-customers that use linux.

I have personal experience with the following cards:

- M-Audio Delta 1010LT. This is a pci-card, thus unsuitable for your macbook, and very old (legacy). While support for windows has been dropped, it works perfectly fine with linux, still has acceptable latencies and produces low cpu-load.
- M-Audio Fasttrack pro. USB 1.0-card, legacy, windows-support has been dropped, works fine with linux.
- Behringer UMC 1820. This is very much card for the buck: 200 € for 8 combi-in's, 8 outs, and the possibility to link another card via adat. Very good linux support, low latencies.

So in my personal experience, 3 of 3 cards work with linux, whereas only one of the 3 still works with windows!


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Re: first factors for audio interface

Post by CrocoDuck »

BHArts1 wrote:The Focusrite product line looks good but I really want to know what technical facts someone should assemble before committing to a purchase. I am planning to use the configuration for CD-quality production of mostly instrumental music. Comment is invited!
Focusrite are normally quite good. I had a bad experience with mine (see here) and now I use a Behringher UMC202HD, which I did not review yet but I am OK with it. Perhaps, noisier and a less linear (more THD) than the Scarlett, but I cannot quite tell for real as I cannot do an A/B comparison.

As others have mentioned, CD quality means 44.1 kHz and 16 bit. I think most interfaces will do up to 96 kHz and I believe most are 24 bit now, so you are covered.

For info about Linux compatibility, you can also check the ALSA matrix. Notice that not all compatible models are actually listed on the matrix. As others have said, class compliant devices typically work. You might want to search for Linux compatibility of your desired device on any web search engine before committing to the purchase, just to see if there is some desperate user on some forum unable to make it work.

If you need microphone input, something from the Focusrite Scarlett or U-Phoria series should do the job.

About latency, really the only thing is measuring it. We all have jack_iodelay, so maybe we could share some results if needed.
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Re: first factors for audio interface

Post by Jamesf »

If you only need two inputs at a time (plus MIDI), the Mackie Producer 2.2 is making me pretty happy. It's working nicely at 48KHz/24-bit.
They explicitly support Linux, which was one of the reasons I went that way, and it also comes with a purchase/download code for a nice little collection of plugins.

It's so plug-and-play, I got confused trying to troubleshoot problems that weren't there. Namely, how do I get Pulse to bog off and stop using the thing so Jack can take over? Answer: start Jack.

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