I’m currently looking for an audio interface with the following features:
- USB Class Compliant so that it can be used with an iPad or iPhone.
- Two line inputs configured as a L and R pair with gain control.
- Some kind of level/clipping indicator for the inputs, it’s fine if that’s just a single LED per input channel.
- A decent headphone output with a volume control.
- Direct monitoring of the L and R pair in stereo on the headphone output *without having to connect the interface to a USB host device.
I’ve actually almost found this in the PreSonus AudioBox iTwo Studio, but sadly the direct monitoring is only in mono.
The reason that I’m looking for a device that allows monitoring in stereo through its headphone output is that I’d like to be able to use the unit as a final headphone pre-amp as well as an audio interface for recording the final mix.
You might be wondering why I don’t just use the headphone output on my little mixer; the reason for this is the output of the mixer goes through a stereo compressor.
I’d love to get any suggestions for a device you feel might work in this context. I don’t mind a bigger interface with more inputs with stand-alone mixing features that would allow me to get the same result as long as it will work with iOS.
An Alesis Multi Mix. A used Multi Mix 8 is less than 100 USD in my parts. I have even seen them for around 50 USD.
They are class compliant, but I have no iOS device to test it with.
I can only really recommend RME interfaces for the sound quality. I think the babyface might do what you’re looking for. But i also use an Alesis IO4 as a cheap throw around interface and it also does what you ask for. The sound quality is OK. Good enough for most applications.
The nice thing about the Alesis is it has all controls on the unit itself so there is no software to make settings. And it kinda also functions like a standalone mixer.
You might also go for the IO2
Zoom H6, great recording device and works great as a class compliant audio interface
You can also get a better value with the h5 maybe.
The problem with the ipad is that it doesn’t deliver enough current for most audio interfaces, so you’ll need a good powered hub or an interface with it’s own power brick.
Not sure about the monitoring thins, but since it’s primarily a recording device, it should work.
I know I need a powered hub, that’s not an issue. The iTwo solves this slightly more elegantly which is nice, bit that’s not a huge deal.
Getting a Zoom is actually not a bad idea at all. The audio quality on the higher-end models is supposed to be pretty good, right?
The Alesis MultiMix 4 USB should indeed do the job. Good suggestion. I’m a bit worried about the sound quality on that one though. A quick search suggests that this would work fine with iOS.
RME is of course awesome, but the Babyface is also pushing it a bit in terms of price and features.
It looks like the IO2 has the exact same issue as the iTwo; the direct monitoring turns both input channels into mono mixes without a way to pan one all the way left and the other all the way right.
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 has all the features your looking for.
(For iOS you need a powered usb hub).
I wouldn’t have suggested a Multi Mix if my experience with it involved bad sound.
Not high end, but not high priced either.
@cj55 Have you tried it? Does it do the direct monitoring thing in stereo?
To answer my own question from the manual:
“With the STEREO/MONO switch set to STEREO, Input 1 is routed to the left input channel and Input 2 to the right, and this will be the correct setting if you are recording a stereo source. In MONO mode, both inputs are routed equally to both channels, and will appear in the centre of the stereo image.”
Sounds good. I’m going to order one and give it a try.
Yes, I had a Scarlett 2i4 some time ago. And now I’m not shure anymore if you can use it standalone without a host. I have tried it with iOS and a powered hub, wich works great.
Now I have a Scarlett 18i20, which is great for standalone use.
Focusrite interfaces are good. I’ve got a Scarlett 18i6 which works with an ipad, standalone, or with my laptop. Has its own power supply which is useful when I don’t feel like powering up the computer. Good support, too. The info on their website is a bit misleading about ‘standalone’ mode for these interfaces, but if you email them they’re happy to answer questions.
Today, I’m feeling like being the local heretic
@fcd72 That Behringer U-PHORIA UMC202 has the exact same problem as I had with the iTwo; the “direct monitoring” feature is limited to placing the two inputs as mono signals in the middle of the stereo output mix. That’s pretty useless when you’re feeding a final stereo mix into it (which is admittedly not the primary purpose these interfaces are designed for).
I’ve found that the audio quality of the Behringer gear I’ve used is actually consistently pretty damn decent. Even something as cheap as the U-CONTROL UCA202, which I’ve been using up until now is impressively good.
Looks Like the U-PHORIA UMC204 does include a Mono/Stereo selector switch for the direct monitor mix just as on the Scarlett 2i4
Short note regarding the Behringer UMC202: 3 of them are deployed for sending and analyzing test-tones for the factory testing of new modules. They are very well-built, the PCB is competently laid-out, and they use decent parts (PCM2902 codec with 90dB SNR, NJM2122 op amps for the pre-amp). Looks like they source the pots from the same place as me You can blame Behringer for ripping off aesthetics/UI layouts (and possibly circuitry?) from other brands, maybe for having less strict QA procedures, but I haven’t seen as of today shoddy engineering or shameful cost-cutting inside.
In terms of features, the UMC204 actually looks slightly cooler than the 2i4 because it has some kind of effects insert on the back. There doesn’t seem to be any way to control the level on that though, so I’m wondering how useful it could be…
@pichenettes I love how the datasheet of the NJM2122 lists suggests its usage in portable MiniDisk and DAT.
RME +1. It will last, and far more important, work.
so im not the HereticOfTheDay™ ???