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Old April 20th, 2009, 11:08 AM   #16
 
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UPDATE: According to the Digidesign website, Avid MC3.5 will work with an Mbox2 Mini.

I think I was misunderstood. My preference for PCI soundcards remains Echo and M-Audio. As far as laptop, 3rd party sound hardware goes, where PCI busses aren't available, I can't find anything better than the Digidesign Mbox2's.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 11:44 AM   #17
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Hi Phil

Focusrite Saffire has great sounding preamps. It's a nice unit. The LE is a little cheaper, and BLACK! Woo hoo! My friend has one and he noticed the bump in preamp quality over his Mackie stuff. Of course you can always get a better preamp to go through later, but for general use for TV work this unit is a good bang/buck ratio.

Saffire $349.00
Buy Focusrite Saffire FireWire Audio Interface | Audio Interfaces & Convertors | Audio Interfaces | Musician's Friend

Saffire LE $299.00
Buy Focusrite Saffire LE 6-In/8-Out FireWire Interface | Audio Interfaces & Convertors | Audio Interfaces | Musician's Friend


BTY the MOTU Ultralite is only 70 pounds over your budget (By pounds/dollars conversion).

I would steer clear of USB. You can only record a max of 2 channels at once, and latency is an issue. And for your info, most if not all headphone outs on audio interfaces play whats coming out of the computer/monitors. I found that I needed a little more volume in my headphones, and got a 4 ch $100.00 headphone amp from Presonus "HP4", and found it boosted my signal while allowing for less noise coming through.

Good luck

Chadfish
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Old April 20th, 2009, 11:51 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Bill Ravens View Post
I think I was misunderstood. As far as laptop, 3rd party sound hardware goes, where PCI busses aren't available, I can't find anything better than the Digidesign Mbox2's.
Ah. I read you as damning with faint praise. Have you had experience of current gen Firewire/USB products from M-Audio/Echo?

What is it they're lacking in their external bus products in comparison with Digidesign, given that you'd prefer their internal bus products? You know, just out of interest :)

So, I seem to have collected here no consensus at all. Can't say I'm surprised, but goodness, this isn't getting any easier as a decision!
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Old April 20th, 2009, 12:26 PM   #19
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Personally, having worked a Pro Tools, Digi 002 at my job, I have to say I am not fond of Digidesign's proprietary bent. The quality is adequate, but the fact that you can't buy an interface and just use it on any computer simply sucks. And I find their prices unnecessarily high. Also Pro Tools is a clunky software, even though they are an industry standard (marketing). AND-They still make you mix down anything you do in real time! Believe me for a half hour project - that ain't too cool. Cubase/Nuendo is where it's at IMHO. I'm sure you can find a Digi unit that works fine for your computer, but there are better and cheaper and more universally usable units out there.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 12:55 PM   #20
 
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Apparently, Avid doesn't accept firewire input, even the Digidesign firewire won't work. That's the only reason I choose USB. Echo has some PCIExpress audio cards that look interesting, but, then I'll populate my only PCIe/SATA connection, so that won't fly for me.

I agree with Chad, to the extent that Digidesign and Avid are "proprietary". That's gotten them to lose a large part of their marketshare. They have recognized this and are on a path to correct it. In the meantime, to proclaim Protools as "clunky" is a little closed-minded. Like it or not, every major studio and film house is using Protools or Avid. Without those tools, a pro can forget file transfers to the film or sound house. And that's just a fact of life.
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Old April 20th, 2009, 01:21 PM   #21
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to proclaim Protools as "clunky" is a little closed-minded. Like it or not, every major studio and film house is using Protools or Avid. Without those tools, a pro can forget file transfers to the film or sound house. And that's just a fact of life.
Hi Bill

Nuendo is the most advanced post audio app on the market. It's also used in the film industry. Granted, protools is in more places, but it's not the only app for the job. I was referring to the ease of editing/exporting with protools as being clunky. I'm sure many are used to it and it does what it's supposed to, and sounds fine. But just because more people use something, doesn't make it better. Even so, I don't think Phil is doing a motion picture going to film. He just needs to capture/mix a little audio. Cubase LE comes with the MOTU stuff, and for pro use Cubase 5 (500.00) can more than handle any job he is doing most likely. I'm trying to keep things budget minded for Phil too. Nuendo is hardly budget, but Cubase is. If he were on a mac I might suggest Logic Pro8 also for 500.00 as an app. But given the problems I have seen guys have with Digi's proprietary specificity with various machines, it doesn't seem worth the trouble for simple (low track count) projects. I am sure there are people that buy all the right equipment and have zero probs with Digi hard/software. I just have personal preferences, and those are what I make suggestions from.


Cheers

Chad

FAQ for Nuendo:

What are the main post features of Nuendo?
Since Nuendo can import virtually any media delivery format, this allows for seamless integration with many of today's top video editing packages, such as AVID's Media/Film Composer suites (OMF), and Adobe Premiere (Premiere EDL), and Advanced Authoring Format (AAF), as well as AES31 used by such companies as Euphonix. Nuendo's Libraries allows for instant access to sound effects and music heavily required in any post situation. With it's multiple timelines, including 16mm and 35mm film timelines, Nuendo allows you to spot any event to sub-frame accuracy, from either the beginning or end of the event - perfect for synchronizing audio events to picture. The audio can be easily spotted to the video by enabling the edit mode on the Transport menu. As the cursor is moved in the time or audio part is moved on the project window the video will update on the screen frame by frame. Besides the ability to import digital video files, Nuendo includes support for Sony's 9-Pin control, allowing for frame-accurate sync and machine control with many of today's top VTR decks, including Sony's Betacam and DVcam decks.

Nuendo features various surround-sound formats, essential for any post project, and is the only Steinberg application to include support for optional Dolby Digital and DTS surround encoders, not to mention the built-in Dolby ProLogic encoding. Using Nuendo's Networking functions allows for multiple users to access the same media material and Project files on different systems to work on various parts of a project (dialogue editing, SFX editing and music editing) to be later brought together for the final mix. Sample rates of 192kHz on input and 384kHz on output, and up to 32-bit recording offer truly High Definition sound quality!

I work with digital video, how does Nuendo handle this?
Nuendo allows import and playback of the following video file formats:
- MPEG
- AVI
- DV AVI
- Quicktime movies (both .QT and .MOV)
- WMV (PC only),
- WMV Pro (PC only)
- M1V (mpeg1)
- M2V (mpeg2)
- VOB(DVD ripped mpeg2)
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Old April 20th, 2009, 01:47 PM   #22
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Echo Audiofire 4. The Saffires are just too big and too bulky for what you want, and I can't say I loved their preamps. Chad, I respect your opinion, but comparing it to Mackie doesn't mean much. I like Phonic preamps better than those (other than Mackie's higher end Onyx preamps, but most people mean the VLZs when they say Mackie and yes, anything is better than that). Alesis and Phonic stuff is cheap but preamps are too much hiss. MOTU sounds dull and Presonus is probably the worst I've used. I'm finally at an N12 and if you do studio music recording you'd find it a godsend, but if you are just doing simple multitracking, the audiofire does wonders. However, if you only need stereo in and stereo out, the M-audio transit paired with a DMP3 is your best bet!
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Old April 20th, 2009, 02:12 PM   #23
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Hi Chris.

I agree with you on the mackie stuff, but I'm just saying there was an obvious difference, and the Saffire is in his range..

That N12 looks cool. But for 1,200.00 how much money is going into each preamp? I have to say, I wouldn't mind having a cool console that size. I think it's out of our guys range by far. I'm so used to working on the screen that I only need an audio interface to get the sound in the box. On the other hand (literally) I'm developing arthritis in my right ring finger from holding a mouse all day every day. There is just so much cool stuff out there to get!

YouTube - Yamaha N12 / N-12 Promo
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Old May 1st, 2009, 10:18 PM   #24
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Well, this decision isn't getting any easier :)

No, at the moment, I'm unlikely to have anything to deliver on 35mm film. Online, television and DVD are the targets. 12 channels is far more than I need right now, and I have no way of feeding that many channels anyway. If I found myself on-set with half a dozen radio mics and a couple of booms, I'd look to hiring, since I'd be having to hire all those radios in any case! But four...well, that could be handy. But it seems that I can't get that, I can get two, or 8/10 (in pre-amp terms...that many inputs is available if I forgo the pre-amps).

The laptop (a Dell Studio 17 with various upgrades) is pretty damned heavy, so the Saffires wouldn't be all that much of an extra burden. Chris, when you say you don't like their pre-amps, what do you mean? The transit + DMP3 seems like it would in total, out-bulk the Saffire, though I'd have the option of leaving the DMP3 at home when just needing output. From what I can see, the Transit doesn't have balanced inputs to take from the DMP3- not sure how much this matters for what would be a very short cable run?

Oh, a question- why, unless you're producing a 5.1/7.1 mix, would you need so many outputs? Or is this more a music thing too?
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Old May 2nd, 2009, 01:49 AM   #25
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PHil just read as many reviews as you can and make a decision. The motu and saffire stuff is pretty good for the money you want to spend. You aren't going to find better unless you up your budget. So find the one that has the ins and outs you want and go for it. Try not to cheap out.

Good luck!

Chad
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Old May 2nd, 2009, 09:39 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Phil Bambridge View Post

The laptop (a Dell Studio 17 with various upgrades) is pretty damned heavy, so the Saffires wouldn't be all that much of an extra burden. Chris, when you say you don't like their pre-amps, what do you mean? The transit + DMP3 seems like it would in total, out-bulk the Saffire, though I'd have the option of leaving the DMP3 at home when just needing output. From what I can see, the Transit doesn't have balanced inputs to take from the DMP3- not sure how much this matters for what would be a very short cable run?

Oh, a question- why, unless you're producing a 5.1/7.1 mix, would you need so many outputs? Or is this more a music thing too?
Their preamps as in, the preamps built into the interface. Anything with a mic in has a mic preamp that is used to boost the signal. They each have tonal qualities and those can make one preamp $50 and another $2000 (but a lot of times price doesn't mean anything other than hype).

Whether or not you used a balanced in only truly matters on long cable runs. I have never had a problem with it because I never run things through patchbays and my DMP3 to transit run is probably no more than 10'-15'. You can look to see the length it gets noticable, but that's usually when you are using a patchbay and a ton of external devices.

Are you asking me why I would need a 5.1 mix on the N12? Well, I don't know why they put that on there either.I got it for a bunch of other reasons music-specific but there is no need for 5.1 when mixing music. I have no clue why they did that... but I guess it's a free added bonus.
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Old May 4th, 2009, 06:58 PM   #27
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I know what pre-amps are, I was after some clarification on what your beef was with those specific pre-amps :) Focusrite seem to get written about in pretty glowing terms on many sites, such as Sound On Sound. I've seen things boasting they could emulate the sound. I have seen a few people mention audible hiss when the gain is really pushed, thought, I'll concede.

I have to admit, that I am starting to lean towards this setup- a fairly inexpensive clean D-A + headphone amp thing (such as that M-Audio Transit or similar, with, say, two outputs), and then a bigger, multi-input device for recording. The way I figure it, when I am recording, I'll have quite a bit more equipment with me anyway, so size and powering is less important. This opens the field to such entrants as the Focusrite Saffire Pro 40, which has 8 pre-amped inputs. It also means that when I am just editing, I have a super-lightweight, compact device that can literally fit in my pocket.

These devices proffering a dozen-plus output channels- it must surely be a musician thing. I think it might be the intention to run them through an external mixer, even though this feels very odd to me, taking things back out into the analogue realm, it's the only explanation I can think of.

The speakers on the laptop- well, they're rather poor. I've used the word atrocious before (and yes, that was already allowing for the fact that no laptop speakers are going to be great), but I discovered why they were sounding broken, rather than just poor quality. The cones of the drivers were, at maximum excursion, impinging upon the underside of the grilles! You could see little circles of abrasion in the centre of them. Using a dremel I was able to remove around 0.5mm more of the plastic grille to give the drivers more room to move, and things are a world of difference. Still dreadful, but bearable.
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Old May 4th, 2009, 07:29 PM   #28
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I know what pre-amps are, I was after some clarification on what your beef was with those specific pre-amps :) Focusrite seem to get written about in pretty glowing terms on many sites, such as Sound On Sound. I've seen things boasting they could emulate the sound. I have seen a few people mention audible hiss when the gain is really pushed, thought, I'll concede.
The ones that emulate sound are the wayyy more Focusrite Liquid Saffire. Not the same exact thing. My beef with the Saffire preamps is they were just normal and had some hiss to it. The DMP3 was a little beefier (in the good sense this time :P) and totally clean. Then again, it's my opinion. Sound is very personal.
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Old May 5th, 2009, 11:52 AM   #29
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I don't mean what do Focusrite sell that can do what you might call pre-amp modelling. I mean other manufacturers who have products that can emulate or model Focusrite's pre-amps. By which I take to mean that they, the third parties, feel there is something desirable about Focusrite's sound that they'd like to copy.

Of course, desirable can be "charmingly distorting" or "amusingly hissy"...sometimes people actively seek out distortion as a way to add character. And I don't want that really.

I've heard rumours/anecdotes that the pres in the Pro 40 are better.
Focusrite Audio Engineering | US Site | Products | Saffire | Saffire PRO 40

I guess I have to try harder to find a local retailer and give them a damn listen- as you say, it's a personal thing.
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Old May 5th, 2009, 07:22 PM   #30
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I don't mean what do Focusrite sell that can do what you might call pre-amp modelling. I mean other manufacturers who have products that can emulate or model Focusrite's pre-amps. By which I take to mean that they, the third parties, feel there is something desirable about Focusrite's sound that they'd like to copy.
I've never heard of a copy of the Focusrite Greens that are in the Saffire. The Reds are their big preamps, but their greens are what they put in there and it isn't why people are copying.
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