Simple audio interface - Macbook pro

Groov-E

Silver Member
Hi guys,

I checked for similar threads but nothing up to date.

Can anyone recomend an interface for the following setup :

1- 4 pcs kit with max. 2 cymbals+hats+ride, I wish to go with 2 overheads only but figure it might be wise to leave room for kick and snare if needed. I already have a decent kit of mics used for close-micing when recording more officially;

2- Garage Band to start with (should I consider a thunderbolt interface ?)- I tried with cubase when I borrowed my buddy's UR44, kind of a trainwreck in my case as I am not patient when it comes to complicated or counter-intuitive programs as I found cubase to be. Keep in mind I am a super-amateur here;

4- I am not against the idea of 8 inputs just in case, but my gut feeling is to get a good 4 input over a decent 8.

Nothing pro, just recording stuff and send to get some feedback on my parts. I would prefer to keep the budget under 500$ but I can go higher if need be.

This is for personal use, unless I can grow enough to actually try and capture "THE" take and use it on an actual close-to finished product, which I highly doubt will be my case.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
If you are just wanting something to mess around with and don't plan on overdubbing anything, I'd buy a Mackie 1202 and just get a stereo (two-channel) interface.

A used Mackie 1202 will cost you about $100 on Reverb (and these boards are awesome! I have one.). I also have an M-Audio Moble Pre USB stereo interface. Right now, Reverb has one for $20: https://reverb.com/item/10138128-m-audio-mobile-pre-usb

I don't know how well all of this would hook up to a Mac (do they even have USB ports??), but this is a cheap way to mess around with recording. I actually used this with a few PC computers with Reaper. Everything worked out well!

You would have a lot more money for mics then. Mackie is super-quiet and if you can get a good sound before it "hits tape," then you will be that much further ahead.

Here was my little setup for recording a practice with our band. I only used two mics, but you can use up to 4 XLR inputs.

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Best of luck!
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
GarageBand will function very well to acquire four tracks from an audio interface device.

You just have to decide if you're gonna use USB or Thunderbolt (USB devices are generally less expensive). The issue you want to be aware of is "latency". That's when you hit a drum and hear it microseconds later in your headphones (the time it takes the signal to go through the interface, into GarageBand, then back out). Generally, if you don't apply any effects to any tracks, there will not be any audible latency. (And don't fret too much about "zero latency". Even on a live stage there is latency between each musicians' amp, kit, etc.).

To start, I'd check out this page of goodies and see what you think works best for you.

The more expensive units will have better mic pre-amps and better S/N ratio. Also be aware that drums are an instrument that can challenge the best signal chain due to the fact that the transients are very fast and the tonal range goes from 35Hz to 15kHz (kick drum to cymbals).
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
I'm using a Focusrite Scarlett 18i20. That's the big boy of that series and I was considering one of the smaller units, but there really wasn't much difference in price.

It sounds great.

If you want to use thunderbolt the check out the Clarett stuff.

There is better stuff out there...if you want to pay ten times as much.
 

Gottliver

Senior Member
Also, you will need a computer with 2 hardrive's. One runs the software and the second is to record too. Latency is minimized that way. An external hardrive works well. And big RAM is necessary.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Also, you will need a computer with 2 hardrive's. One runs the software and the second is to record too. Latency is minimized that way. An external hardrive works well. And big RAM is necessary.

He's using a MBP. With a asymetric ~2GB/1.3TB transfer speed, and ~37,000 IO/sec, latency is of no concern.

Running out of space, that will be his main issue, and is where some sort of external media will come into play.
 

Groov-E

Silver Member
He's using a MBP. With a asymetric ~2GB/1.3TB transfer speed, and ~37,000 IO/sec, latency is of no concern.

Running out of space, that will be his main issue, and is where some sort of external media will come into play.

An external drive will become necessary at some point anyhow.

That's a cool project.
 

mike d

Silver Member
I have a Presonus Audiobox USB and it works fine for simply recording yourself with GB. The latency is an issue though, especially for e-drums where you have to round-trip the signal just to hear yourself.
 

gconyers

Senior Member
I use a Tascam US-1800 that has 8 xlr inputs. I'm very happy with the results I get from it, but I don't have experience with anything else so I don't know what I'm missing so to speak.

I use a 2013 MBP with a 2.4 ghz i5 processor and 8 gb of RAM. I've never had any issues while recording, but if you ever plan on mixing with a lot of plugins get as much RAM as you can. Also, record to an external drive if possible.
 

Gottliver

Senior Member
He's using a MBP. With a asymetric ~2GB/1.3TB transfer speed, and ~37,000 IO/sec, latency is of no concern.

Running out of space, that will be his main issue, and is where some sort of external media will come into play.

In theory. But the computer is running its operating system, and any other programs that may be open at the time which takes a toll on its processors. Separating the software from the recorded data is basic tenant in digital recording. Plus a 1TB external harddrive is pretty cheap these days. I have an MBP and i keep it clean, it does get sluggish once in a while.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I think you might as well get an 8-input device. The price difference between a 4-input and an 8-input isn't that big. I second the vote for the Focusrite 18i20, or the PreSonus 1818 (?). I've used both of those and the Zoom R16. For doing stuff to get into GarageBand, any of those would be great.

The non-computer option is very attractive though. So I'd lean towards the Zoom. When you're trying to work fast, having to use a computer sometimes is just a PITA.

Cymatic Audio makes a cool device called the uTrack24, which records up to 24-tracks simultaneously if you have a mixing console that has channel inserts for each channel. Very cool, but it's designed for recording a live band performance since it's not set-up initially to do over-dubs. But you can also use it as a USB interface into a computer, so I guess in that mode you can do overdubs.

Or if you want to go super-simple, get a 2-input box, like the Behringer U-Phoria (I got one for $50 when it was new). For just recording drums with two mics, like a mic in the bass drum and one overhead, you'd be surprised at how good a recording you can make with that, especially when a lot of hits were made that way.

Even simpler, and I just got into this, Focusrite makes an iOS single-input interface called the iTrack One Pre. Which means I can plug in a cool microphone, or an output from my live mixer, straight into my iPhone, and when I shoot a video, your audio comes in that way. I'm still getting the hang of it, but it sure makes making a iPhone video with good audio easy. I thought it would be a good way to post a good sounding video right to Facebook from my phone - or even send it as a message to someone. It eliminates having to make your video, then upload it to Youtube, then send out the link to everyone you want to see it. You can skip all that and just send it straight from your phone!
 

calan

Silver Member
I'm in the camp that thinks anything less than 8 XLR inputs isn't enough. This isn't to say you can't get a good sound from the OH/Kick/Snare method, but invariably you're going to want more inputs for something... maybe even a person or two playing along with you. I'd rather have them and not use them than find myself wanting them later

Sub mixing into a couple of those inputs was mentioned earlier, and is a fine way of going about things if you don't care much about isolated overdubs.

I tend to prefer Focusrite products as I think they have the best Pre's for the money.

I have a 2i4 at home for roughing out ideas by myself... ekit in stereo, a vocal mic, direct in some bass if I'm feeling bold. I used an 18i20 in my rehearsal space for years. I've slaved another 18i20 together using the ADAT connection and done a couple albums with it. I used it often for recording rehearsal and capturing song ideas that I could chop up and restructure later.

Shameless plug: I'm selling my 18i20 if you're interested.

Which brings me to my next great option: The Behringer X series. I don't think the Pre's sound quite as good as the Focusrite, but they're still more than adequate for my purposes. A fully functional live mixer with useful comp, gate, and several useful built in effects, amazing signal routing options, and incredibly easy to use digital interface. It also can send all of those signals to your DAW pre-fader, post-fader, pre-fx, raw input, whatever you want. Plus being able to adjust settings remotely via phone or tablet is handy.

I feel future proof with this thing. Great recording interface. Great live console. Could grab a split box and easily use this things for independent stage monitoring. Greatly condensed my rack.

As far as all these serious computing options go, I have a 2009 PowerMac at home and my rehearsal space that have identical specs: 2.66 Ghz Quad Cores with 8g Ram. I've never had them so much as hiccup while recording. They can get a little slow mixing if I'm really laying on plug-ins and effects, but for your basic mixing needs you don't need a lot of power to use GB. If you're going to need to run pro software with an end result of commercial publication, then yeah, more robust hardware becomes necessary.
 

Rosemarydrumco

Senior Member
I record with a zen studio and pro tools directly on my hard drive. Latency really isn’t an issue at all. The tech has come a long way. Most of the time if you are using a MacBook you’d be using some type of portable drive any which is usually 5500 Rpm anyways which really isn’t fast enough.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Yeah, latency is a thing of the past unless you're doing something really weird.
 
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