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robertw

USBPre 2 & Alternative Interfaces

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RME stuff works great, but you need a computer to get at it's settings (front panel is really tedious for this, possible in a pinch but a miserable experience, as with MOTU).  I decided I like things a little more straightforward and analog for location recording when possible.

 

If I was building up for a multitrack laptop playback gig again I think this time I'd go with another RME half-rack USB box--TotalMix is very flexible, although a little scary at first. 

 

phil p

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robertw   

RME stuff works great, but you need a computer to get at it's settings (front panel is really tedious for this, possible in a pinch but a miserable experience, as with MOTU).  I decided I like things a little more straightforward and analog for location recording when possible.

 

If I was building up for a multitrack laptop playback gig again I think this time I'd go with another RME half-rack USB box--TotalMix is very flexible, although a little scary at first. 

 

phil p

 

Very much in line with my experience so far.

 

The physical controls on the RME Babyface are fine for casual playback (e.g. listening to music on an airplane), but it's quickly obvious that one should work from a computer (or iPad screen when using one in place of a computer) and Totalmix for anything that requires precision.

 

Having persisted with Totalmix (as you say, it's "a little scary at first"), I quite like it, but I'm wondering whether I'm coming around for objective reasons or due to satisfaction at starting to master a new, but somewhat complicated toy.

 

I do think that RME makes a solid product and that Totalmix, which works with its whole line of interfaces, is powerful software once one figures it out. Basically, I have to decide whether the Babyface + Totalmix is overkill/over-complication for the Babyface's number of inputs/outputs and my needs; and, whether I'd be happier in the end with an interface that is controlled by buttons and knobs rather than from a computer/iPad screen. Hence re-reading the USB Pre 2 manual tomorrow.

 

Appreciated your comments.

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Jay Rose   

FWIW, one particular feature of the Focusrite Scarlet stood out when I needed an i/o that could be used with laptop and iPad:

Balanced Outputs.

 

I occasionally have to feed long cables to XLR mic inputs. Balanced outs meant I could run line-level to the input, throw in a simple resistive pad, and take advantage of the mic inputs' CMNR.

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robertw   

Having read the USBPre 2 manual again, the RME Babyface is going back tomorrow.

 

The problem isn't the RME product, although I have come to the conclusion that Totalmix (despite its merits with RME interfaces with multiple inputs and outputs) is overcomplicated for the Babyface. The problem is my distaste for the tone of RME employees on what RME is pleased to call its "community forum". RME employees can be abrupt with, and talk down to, their customers, and continue to pretend that the Totalmix manual is clear despite widespread complaints that whoever wrote it is a stranger to plain language; and I, on the other hand, can choose to buy someone else's product.

 

The question now is whether I just buy a USBPre 2 or take a harder look at Apogee's Duet for iPad and Mac, and maybe even Apogee's ONE for iPad and Mac. Apogee integration with iOS devices (iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad) is unmatched by any other interface, and one can run the ONE on two AA rechargeable batteries.

 

I want to have another look at Apogee, in part, because yesterday I watched Bentley Motors's new video for its $300,000 Mulsanne, shot with an iPhone and some cheap add-on lenses (and, I should say, a not so cheap stabilization rig), and edited on an iPad with a $5 app.

 

Here's the video (with, interestingly, 467,000 views in four days), with some "making of" footage starting at around 3'20":

 

 

And here's Apple Insider's article on who made the Bentley video and how it was done:

http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/05/17/behind-the-scenes-of-bentleys-iphone-filmed-ipad-air-edited-ad

 

The Bentley video underscores the need to think a bit outside the box, and maybe outside the "usual" vendors, given current developments in technology.

 

Cheers

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Just go Sound Devices and you won't have to question the build quality, sound quality, or customer service. You'll forget the price, but you won't forget these things.

 

Mark O.

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robertw   

robertw: " The question now is whether I just buy a USBPre 2 or take a harder look at Apogee's Duet for iPad and Mac, "

all up to you...

Obviously.

 

I'm laying out my considerations because other people, now or in the future, may find it helpful, regardless of whether they agree with any particular thing that I say. Not to mention that other people have contributed valuable insights.

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robertw   

Just go Sound Devices and you won't have to question the build quality, sound quality, or customer service. You'll forget the price, but you won't forget these things.

 

Mark O.

Well said.

 

The USBPre 2 was my initial inclination (the "obvious choice", as I put it in the first post), and may well be where I end up, although perhaps after a bit of a journey  :)

 

Cheers

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robertw   

I replaced the RME Babyface with a Sound Devices USBPre 2.

 

I am much, much happier. I have no reservations about the Babyface's performance when it comes to sound, but the USBPre 2 is better built, there are no breakout cables to mess with and, because the controls are all analogue, it does not require getting one's head around a software package. Whatever the merits of RME's Totalmix for recording and live performances on multi-channel devices, it is overcomplicated overkill for a two channel interface. In addition, if I run into a problem with the USBPre 2, I'm confident that I can make a call to, or send an email to, Wisconsin, and that I'll get some help. From what I've seen of RME, including the attitude of its employees on their own forum, I have no such confidence about RME products.

 

I could go into the differences between the two products in detail, but it comes down to this. I would buy a USBPre 2 rather than take an RME Babyface for free. For me, the difference is that dramatic.

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I have used RME for 15 years and have had zero problems with their stuff. Matthias is a great guy and have always been respectful. Rme baby face is a great product and surpasses the usbpre2 in sound quality.

I don't know what experience you had with them but I can assure you their products and support is great.

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robertw   

Hi Rado,

 

I started this thread with the intention of having a wide-ranging discussion about what's available in terms of interfaces. Several people, including you, have expressed views, which is great.

 

Having tried the RME Babyface daily for three weeks, and having now had a chance to compare it to the USBPre 2, I've expressed my own view.

 

As I said, I have no reservations about the sound quality of the Babyface, but I can't discern any meaningful sound difference between the Babyface and the USBPre 2, and, in my view, on every other consideration the USBPre 2 is a more attractive product. Personally, having now used both interfaces, I don't think that it's even close.

 

I also stand by my view that RME's attitude on its own forum suggests that RME employees don't understand that they make their living from the people who buy RME products.

 

I hope that people down the road, looking for an interface, may come across this thread and find the various views that have been expressed useful - yours and that of others as well as mine. I would certainly like to have had access to this kind of discussion before I made my own decision.

 

Cheers.

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JustinC   

I own a USBPre2 and primarily use it with PCs, love the fact that's it a class-compliant audio device. I can plug it straight into a foreign PC and get balanced audio out immediately without having to install drivers. 

 

Also works in a pinch as a preamp for the other 2 channels on my 744T although there's less headroom than the pres on the 744t.

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Sebben   

I agree with you assessment to RME support forums, I just bought and interface from them, and they treat you like S#$t when you ask questions.

 

I just wish that sound devices had a 5.1 interface, unfortunately they don't so I will have to stick with RME it seems.

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As always, this forum is a fantastic resource. Thanks for creating this thread and for (almost) all the helpful posts. I was pretty much sold on the USB Pre 2 before reading this, but this completely seals the deal. Threads like this are a fantastic example of why discussion should never be limited due to past similar discussions or the ability to contact a particular manufacturer. Looks like I'm adding another SD product to the family!

 

Now to try and find a used one... ;)

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On April 24, 2014 at 11:05 PM, robertw said:

.. and is actively developing its product, which Sound Devices is not...

Is it published that Sound Devices is not developing upgrades or alternates for the USBpre2?

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Just wanted to pipe in with a frugal solution I found works for me. I don't record to my computer enough to warrant a dedicated set of expensive preamps, so I bought a Hosa AES to SPDIF converter box (~$100). So I just go AES out of my 633 and SPDIF into my Mac. It's not especially elegant, but it's a pretty straightforward all digital signal that works great with Pro Tools.

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