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  #1  
Old 05-23-2012, 02:08 PM
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Default Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

I'm in the process of getting my recording rig parts together, and I'm running into a dilemma.

I've narrowed it down to either this mixer board (which only has a stereo output via USB):
http://www.thomann.de/gb/behringer_xenyx_x2222_usb.htm ($300)
(Yes, I know it's a Behringer. No need to post and tell me the brand sucks, k?)

Or the Tascam US-1641 (also discontinued, but I may have found one used): http://tascam.com/product/us-1641/ ($200)

The big difference here is the Behringer will mix on the hardware before recording, and it will output the pre-mixed audio in 2 channels to my laptop (currently running Audacity), whereas the Tascam would output 16 channels.

Here's the problem. First, Audacity won't support 16 simultaneous channels because it doesn't support ASIO. So I will need some other software to record. Secondly, my laptop is rather old (7 years), and frankly not sure if it will meet the requirements needed to record all the tracks simultaneously.

So my dilemma is this: do I get the Behringer and just record 2 channels into Audacity with my current laptop (ie: keep it simple), or do I get the Tascam to record 16 channels (and reduce the likelyhood of having to upgrade in the future), but ALSO have to invest in a new computer AND find some other free recording software.

I dunno, what's your take on it? Is there another interface I should be looking at? My budget is around $300 for the interface.
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Old 05-23-2012, 02:18 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

I would take the interface option. It's not the cheapest, as you say, but it's probably the best way to get a good quality recording. If you feel you can justify the need to edit each input separately in software then I would go that way.

As for recording software, I'm going to suggest Reaper. It's not 'free' but it is incredibly good value and is getting a lot of use by professionals. I believe it is $60 for non-commercial use and you can download a full version for evaluation. I'm seriously considering switching from Logic Pro 8 to Reaper.

http://www.reaper.fm/
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Old 05-23-2012, 05:21 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

The Zoom R16 can be used as a standalone recorder and as an interface. It's slightly outside of your budget, but perhaps there are other, similar devices out there.

It does only have two phantom power inputs. And it's probably not as high quality as the Tascam. I would check over details to make sure that it meets your requirements first.

I will second the Reaper suggestion, though. I believe it has an unlimited free trial. However, it didn't run smoothly on my laptop, so it likely won't run on yours either.

The main issue with the Behringer is that you have to get the mix right. You won't be able to fix it up much later, so if it turns out that your snare is too loud, you've essentially lost the whole thing.

The Tascam would be preferable since, as you say, you won't have to upgrade it later when you have a better laptop. But it does mean having to upgrade the laptop. It would be the better option overall, though (in my opinion).

Also, you do usually (when buying new) get some light version of a DAW included. Even if you buy used, you might get the original CD included.
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Old 05-23-2012, 05:32 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

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Originally Posted by falcifer View Post
The Zoom R16 can be used as a standalone recorder and as an interface. It's slightly outside of your budget, but perhaps there are other, similar devices out there.

It does only have two phantom power inputs. And it's probably not as high quality as the Tascam. I would check over details to make sure that it meets your requirements first.

I will second the Reaper suggestion, though. I believe it has an unlimited free trial. However, it didn't run smoothly on my laptop, so it likely won't run on yours either.

The main issue with the Behringer is that you have to get the mix right. You won't be able to fix it up much later, so if it turns out that your snare is too loud, you've essentially lost the whole thing.

The Tascam would be preferable since, as you say, you won't have to upgrade it later when you have a better laptop. But it does mean having to upgrade the laptop. It would be the better option overall, though (in my opinion).

Also, you do usually (when buying new) get some light version of a DAW included. Even if you buy used, you might get the original CD included.
Thanks for your suggestions. For some reason I thought Reaper had a 30-day trial, although I could be thinking of another DAW. Do you know the difference between the trial and the full version?

The used Tascam I'm looking at doesn't come with any software, just the hardware, which is why I was looking at alternatives since Audacity won't pick up all 16 channels (unless I recompile the source code).

I'm leaning towards the Tascam at the moment, although the guy selling it hasn't gotten back to me, so it could be sold already. Also, if I have to get a new computer, I'm thinking of picking up a MacMini and using LogicPro, but again --- looking at beaucoup $$$. But at least it won't need to be upgraded for a while.
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Old 05-23-2012, 06:33 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

There isn't any penalty if you use Reaper past the trial period (other than bad karma). It's not crippleware.
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Old 05-23-2012, 06:59 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

The demo version is fully functional. I would highly recommend it but I would still pay for it even if it does function in demo mode unpaid. For a World-class DAW, $60 is incredible and the fact that it you receive two version upgrades and regular incremental updates as well as a fully-functioning and vibrant community makes it more than worth the tiny price. Even the commercial licence cost is tiny - some DAWs (SADiE) are horrendously expensive with little difference in functionality; although sometimes holding the advantage of specifically dedicated hardware systems.
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Old 05-23-2012, 07:35 PM
Retrovertigo Retrovertigo is offline
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

another +1 for Reaper. Love it! i regularly use Protools, Cubase, Sonor, and Reaper and reaper is my favorite. although Protools has a few features that i really like too. but its a trade off.. and reaper wins because they seem like a company of good people as opposed to AVID.

i would go with the interface... your computer will need to be upgraded eventually anyway. (probably sooner than you think!) in this case you'll be ready for the change. also, unless you have 8 additional mic pre's you will only be using 8 channels at a time. the second set of 8 are Line in's. meaning you need a mic pre in front of them to gain up the mic.
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Old 05-23-2012, 07:44 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

OK, so apparently the Tascam 1641 is sold, but I found the model that replaced it, the us-1800 for $289 so I'm going to go with that. It comes with Cubase LE5, but I think I'm going to try Reaper just based on the feedback here.

Offhand, does Reaper support ASIO so when I record 8 mics, it will come into the software as 8 channels instead of one stereo channel?
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Old 05-23-2012, 08:25 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

Reaper supports everything. Audacity can do eight channels too, at least in my experience if the hardware is up to it. I am on a Mac, which may be different. With that said, I use Audacity as a wave editor rather than a DAW - it's clumsy as a full DAW.

EDIT: Apparently Audacity still doesn't have ASIO support (licence restrictions) but can run fine from the standard Windows drivers if the hardware is adequate. It's also possible to compile a version of Audacity with ASIO support but that requires a lot of know-how.
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Old 05-23-2012, 09:07 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

If you love recording and trying new things, having several different tracks of drums to work with POST recording sure makes it fun. Using a mixer and dumping down to a stereo track will obviously not allow you to adjust stuff after it's recorded. However, I'm not sure if your 7 year old laptop will be able to handle recording and playing back multiple channels. Maybe, but I doubt it would be real smooth.
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Old 05-23-2012, 10:43 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

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Originally Posted by Xero Talent View Post
Thanks for your suggestions. For some reason I thought Reaper had a 30-day trial, although I could be thinking of another DAW. Do you know the difference between the trial and the full version?

The used Tascam I'm looking at doesn't come with any software, just the hardware, which is why I was looking at alternatives since Audacity won't pick up all 16 channels (unless I recompile the source code).

I'm leaning towards the Tascam at the moment, although the guy selling it hasn't gotten back to me, so it could be sold already. Also, if I have to get a new computer, I'm thinking of picking up a MacMini and using LogicPro, but again --- looking at beaucoup $$$. But at least it won't need to be upgraded for a while.
I have a MacMini and LogicPro, and I must admit, that's a pretty powerful combination. But I tend to work really differently from everyone else. I use the Zoom R16 as an 8-track recorder by taking the 8 direct outs from my Mackie 1604VLZ mixer and record straight into the R16, when I'm done with that, I take the card out of the R16 and dump those tracks into Logic Pro (or GarageBand) on my MacMini and do the mixdown from there. I use the R16 as a nice field recorder - I can plug it in and record my band and then mixdown later at home on the computer.

I tried the 8-in interface and Cubase when those were relatively new and it was just a big headache to me. I grew up old-skool audio-guy and just want to be able to record something quickly and a Mac with an interface (although the new standard) is just too weird for me to deal with in a live performance situation. It's too weird for a regular session for me too. Perhaps that'll change over time, but not likely for me.
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:38 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

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I have a MacMini and LogicPro, and I must admit, that's a pretty powerful combination. But I tend to work really differently from everyone else. I use the Zoom R16 as an 8-track recorder by taking the 8 direct outs from my Mackie 1604VLZ mixer and record straight into the R16, when I'm done with that, I take the card out of the R16 and dump those tracks into Logic Pro (or GarageBand) on my MacMini and do the mixdown from there. I use the R16 as a nice field recorder - I can plug it in and record my band and then mixdown later at home on the computer.
Ah ok, so you're basically using the R16 as the middle man, rather than recording directly to your MacMini if I understand correct?

Have you tried recording directly to LogicPro on you Mac Mini? If so, was there any issues in latency or performance? I'm looking at running 8 channels simultaneously, and wondering if the Mini can handle it.
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Old 05-24-2012, 03:53 PM
jornthedrummer jornthedrummer is offline
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

A Mac Mini can take the maximum capacity of the firewire connection, 32 channels, so no problem there.

If you can afford a bit more you should get a Mackie 1640i or Presonus StudioLive 1642.
Then you will get a full blown 16 channel mixer were you can record all 16 channels and use if for mixing as well.
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Old 05-24-2012, 04:25 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

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Originally Posted by jornthedrummer View Post
A Mac Mini can take the maximum capacity of the firewire connection, 32 channels, so no problem there.

If you can afford a bit more you should get a Mackie 1640i or Presonus StudioLive 1642.
Then you will get a full blown 16 channel mixer were you can record all 16 channels and use if for mixing as well.
No way. 32 channels is highly doubtful on a Mac Mini, unless you've upgraded the hard drive from 5400 rpm to 7200 (which is $149 extra). Just because the FW connection is there, doesn't mean it can be used to its full potential this way.

Running 8 channels is probably feasible on a 5400 hard drive, but you'll notice system instability when your track count increases. Add lots of plug-ins, or overdub more tracks, it's practically guaranteed you'll run into problems. Long story short, if you want to mix a lot of tracks (and who doesn't after you've recorded sweet sounding drums?), a 7200 rpm hard drive is non-negotiable. If you already have a monitor, a Mac Mini is a good buy. If you don't have a monitor, and want to get into an Apple computer, the iMacs are the best bang for the buck.

For an interface, check out the Fast Track Ultra 8R. Connects via USB, costs $500, and no external mixer needed (more affordable than the Zoom R16 plus Mackie mixer combo).
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Old 05-24-2012, 04:53 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

So here's a simpleton question.

If I'm recording through the Tascam 1800 into the computer, those are just raw drum sounds. Once the raw track is recorded, I can then mix/EQ after the fact in my DAW... is this correct?

Or do I need a mixer on top of the Tascam to mix/EQ the drum sounds before the go into the computer?

I thought that I could do the mix/EQ after the raw sounds were captured in the DAW, but I could be wrong.
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Old 05-24-2012, 04:59 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

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So here's a simpleton question.

If I'm recording through the Tascam 1800 into the computer, those are just raw drum sounds. Once the raw track is recorded, I can then mix after the fact in my DAW, correct?

Or do I need a mixer on top of the Tascam to mix the drum sounds before the go into the computer?

I thought that I could do the mix/EQ after the raw sounds were captured in the DAW, but I could be wrong.
Yep, you've got the general idea. Your computer has essentially replaced the mixing board. The DAW software is a virtual mixing board with effects.

You might want to pick up a book on digital recording, rather than piece together information from asking questions here. It will save time (and probably money).
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Old 05-24-2012, 05:01 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

The DAW can handle everything. Mixing, editing, comping, effects. The lot.
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Old 05-24-2012, 05:12 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

Cheers, thanks for your help everyone. I'm pretty sure I have the right idea, I just wanted confirmation that I was going down the right path :)
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Old 05-25-2012, 03:10 AM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

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Ah ok, so you're basically using the R16 as the middle man, rather than recording directly to your MacMini if I understand correct?

Have you tried recording directly to LogicPro on you Mac Mini? If so, was there any issues in latency or performance? I'm looking at running 8 channels simultaneously, and wondering if the Mini can handle it.
Actually, I'll overdub vocals straight into the MacMini, but I haven't actually tracked into the mac yet. My instruments live on one side of the house, and the mac lives in another. Using the R16 just makes everything easier for me, even though I'm adding a step. I'd like to get another mac to live next to my drumset, because this macmini is also used for all my photo editing and other business.
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Old 05-25-2012, 06:47 AM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

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Originally Posted by brentcn View Post
No way. ).
Brenton it has been done and it works

See
http://forums.presonus.com/posts/list/10966.page

I am not claiming its the ideal situation, but it works.
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Old 05-28-2012, 05:03 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

I picked up the Tascam US1800 over the weekend, and installed Reaper.

Now just waiting for my mic kit to arrive to start playing with it.

I love getting new gear :)
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Old 05-28-2012, 07:36 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

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Originally Posted by jornthedrummer View Post
Brenton it has been done and it works

See
http://forums.presonus.com/posts/list/10966.page

I am not claiming its the ideal situation, but it works.
Thanks for the read! Well, yes, you can technically record 32 tracks onto a 5400rpm hard drive (which is pretty amazing!), but mixing and overdubbing are another matter. And, the OP is concerned about being able to mix the audio he's recorded, and he probably will want to overdub plenty, so the hard drive speed must be considered.

Basically, it's not the data collection that's a problem for a 5400rpm hard drive, it's all the back-and-forth.
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:03 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

Bumping this thread with a question on the output from the Tascam 1800. In http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_bvU...74O5g&index=11 it says "up to 16 inputs and 4 outputs ...", which is what confuses me, aren't all 16 channels recorded separately into the e.g a computer? Or does it mean that 4 different outputs can be used simultaneously, e.g usb+midi+line out, while monitoring through headphones?

Are there any devices similar to Tascam 1800 that you would recommend instead?

Last edited by Sjogras; 05-15-2013 at 10:15 PM.
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Old 05-16-2013, 01:18 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

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Bumping this thread with a question on the output from the Tascam 1800. In http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_bvU...74O5g&index=11 it says "up to 16 inputs and 4 outputs ...", which is what confuses me, aren't all 16 channels recorded separately into the e.g a computer? Or does it mean that 4 different outputs can be used simultaneously, e.g usb+midi+line out, while monitoring through headphones?

Are there any devices similar to Tascam 1800 that you would recommend instead?
16 inputs meaning 16 simultaneous tracks can be recorded at a time. Those are inputs.
The 4 outputs are balanced line outs, plus seperate L/R monitor outputs. The Balanced Line Out output signals sent from the computer to the unit by USB. Use your DAW to set which signals to output. Connect these outputs to an external mixer, recorder or other device (ie: use these outputs for personal headphone mixes).

The TASCAM 1800 is the absolute best bang for the buck. There isn't anything I would recommend over it.
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Old 05-16-2013, 03:46 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

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The demo version is fully functional. I would highly recommend it but I would still pay for it even if it does function in demo mode unpaid. For a World-class DAW, $60 is incredible and the fact that it you receive two version upgrades and regular incremental updates as well as a fully-functioning and vibrant community makes it more than worth the tiny price. Even the commercial licence cost is tiny - some DAWs (SADiE) are horrendously expensive with little difference in functionality; although sometimes holding the advantage of specifically dedicated hardware systems.
+1 Reaper is fantastic....and a monster bargain at 60 bux

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Old 05-16-2013, 07:58 PM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

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+1 Reaper is fantastic....and a monster bargain at 60 bux

F
I've been using Reaper now for some considerable time and it really has lived up to all my expectations. I've followed it since the early days and made the commitment to use it as my main system around this time last year. I have almost nothing bad to say about it. I still operate in 'Logic-Mode' sometimes (I used that almost exclusively for about seven years) but Reaper is intuitive and well-designed, inexpensive, comes with good basic plugins and is easily expandable. A great DAW.
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Old 05-20-2013, 09:31 AM
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Default Re: Recording gear dilemma: 2 chan mixer or 16 chan interface?

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Originally Posted by Xero Talent View Post
16 inputs meaning 16 simultaneous tracks can be recorded at a time. Those are inputs.
The 4 outputs are balanced line outs, plus seperate L/R monitor outputs. The Balanced Line Out output signals sent from the computer to the unit by USB. Use your DAW to set which signals to output. Connect these outputs to an external mixer, recorder or other device (ie: use these outputs for personal headphone mixes).

The TASCAM 1800 is the absolute best bang for the buck. There isn't anything I would recommend over it.
I've been using a US-1641 for a few years now, and I was about to steer you to the 1800, but you got there on your own. For anyone wondering, the separate monitor outs allow you to overdub without latency issues, since you are hearing yourself directly through the hardware. If you monitor out of the mains, you get a big bunch of delay. As far as I can tell, the DAW corrects the incoming signal to allow for the actual latency (Cubase LE5, in my case), so you can overdub as accurately as you could with tape.

If you have a second computer, put Audacity on that one, and send the main outs into that one for mastering. I'm doing this with a mixer in between the two computers so I can stick some old effects boxes into the mix, and it also functions as a replacement for my old tape deck.
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