Audio Interface

So it looks like I will be buying a new laptop sometime soon. My current laptop is not supported for Windows 10, although it seems there are plenty who have upgraded to 10 with no problems… and I am still fine with the performance I am getting. But it’s probably time.

One particular thing i do love about my current laptop is that I am able to use an Echo Audio PCMCIA card, which just stays plugged into the laptop, rather than carrying a separate audio interface. So I am looking for a new audio interface. I know many here recommend and use RME among others and I appreciate the importance of quality interface.

However, I only need a stereo output, basically just a DAC. I don’t need any inputs and most definitely not any mic pres and don’t want to pay for that or have the unnecessary bulk to carry around. So I have been looking at IK iRig I/O, Apogee Jam+, as well as even possibly Audioquest Dragonfly. In contacting tech support for all of these regarding drivers etc, all of them responded along the lines of using WASAPI or asio4all and that as just a DAC, any latency would be a factor of laptop and software, not their device.

Was wondering what insight anyone might have about this?

Then you could perhaps consider an RME BabyFace Pro ?

It’s pretty much impossible to do better than RMI for latency. Also, I believe RME supports the ability to open from multiple applications which means you can easily use multiple instances of GP with it (someone should confirm this though)

Absolutely, I confirm this for Windows too ! But I also use the MIDI interfaces of my RME and it can also be opened several times and thus be available in all the GP instances.

@David-san @dhj I always appreciate the help and don’t mean this to come off in any way negatively… but that’s not addressing my question. The Babyface is exactly what I was saying I was trying to avoid. I get the quality of it… but I don’t need ANY mic pres, much less any inputs, and would like not to be paying for those features or having the bulk to carry around. I am not using multiple instances of GP and have no plans to. I simply need a stereo DAC.

All three tech support reps for iRig, Jam+ and Dragonfly said basically that using their devices as just a DAC, any latency would be a function of laptop specs and the software, not their devices. I’m wondering if this can be true? Latency is all I am concerned about. I understand there is also the actual audio quality of the DAC, but I suspect these companies will deliver well enough in that department for live use, for me.

The device driver used for the device will have a huge impact on the latency and if latency is the key consideration, then RME drivers are famous for their extremely low latency and they are most certainly going to behave far better than lower end items.

Obviously, the price and other physical aspects have to work for you.

If you want to spare money, don’t do a double blind test on a piano plugin with an RME among the competitors! That’s how I spent twice as much as what I initially wanted to spend for my audio interface. But I am now the very happy owner of an RME UCX :star_struck: (in fact I now even own two UCX :grimacing:)

OK, so you don’t/won’t need mic pres. I’d suggest the simplest audio i/f from a manufacturer who provides good (low latency, stable) drivers for Win10.

Also, since you won’t be using the mic pres with phantom power, you won’t have to worry about using a buss-powered (via USB) interface.

Something simple like PreSonus’ AudioBox iOne (for USB or iPad). I’m using the AudioBox 44VSL, which has great build quality and solid, decently low-latency Win10 drivers.

$110 at Sweetwater.

Is it also compatible with USB 3 ? I would need a cheaper audio interface for travelling…

It’s a USB 2.0 interface, so it’ll come with a USB-A cable. That should plug in to a USB 3.0 plug fine, but you would need a patch/converter cable to connect to a USB 3.1 (USB-C) port.

Just be aware that it will bring the entire USB 3 hub down to USB 2 speeds. If that’s not an issue, it should work fine.

[Crosses fingers and finds couch to duck behind.]

Yes understood… and I was clearly making the same point to the tech support guys… but that was the answer I got from all three of them! Perhaps because they don’t have their own drivers and use WASAPI or ASIO4ALL they consider it all to be extraneous to their device?

i thought I read somewhere that WASAPI on recent Windows 10 is on par with ASIO. Is there no chance that iRig using WASAPI can deliver? IK seems a pretty together company.

Thanks, seems like a great option!

Than you for your answer, but I didn’t want to know if it plugs right, this is obvious, but if it works great on USB 3. Having only USB 3, and no USB 2, I have to take care about this. And among the candidate I had the opportunity to test at the time I bought my audio Interface, only Audient and RME could properly deal with USB 3. USB 3 is supposed to be compatible with USB 2, but it was obviously not that true. (Finally from the two remaining candidates, I bought RME because of the sound quality tested on a piano plugin.)

You’ll love the RME.

I checked PreSonus Knowledge Base, and there was a post that got down to which USB 3 chipset was used by your PC manufacturer.

If the best answer is “it oughta/might work”, well, that’s not good enough for production work.

The older AudioBox USB interfaces are USB 1.1, which would kill hub speed even more. At least the new iOne and iTwo interfaces are USB 2.

And, heh, they might work!

@David-san I am looking for much the same requirement, then I saw the price.
£600 is a lot of money for a little box.

Given the overall quality, it is perhaps a lot of money, but it is not that expensive.:grimacing: :innocent: I have an RME UCX, which is even more expensive, but I am very happy with it and I would buy it again. But of course there are less expensive audio interfaces. For a serious use, I would prefer a used RME than a new entry level audio interface.

Right now, it’s a toss-up between the Focusrite Solo, Studio One iOne or the Mackie Onyx Artist.
All sub £100. The only disappointment is none of these (including the more expensive boxes) have proper balanced XLR outputs. I’m not bothered about multi outs, or any inputs, I just want a good clean stereo pair.

I use a Mackie Onyx 2.2 Producer with my Win10 laptop. Got it used for under $100. Seems to work well once you tweak the buffer settings in the Mackie driver application.

The RME Babyface Pro has balanced XLR stereo output, but of course, it is much more expensive.

At that price I would expect it to have gold-plated knobs. :grin:

If at least there were knobs at all. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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