Help me choose an XP-compatible interface please!

Hi - I’ve got an XP laptop I’m going to try to use for audio recording and looking to buy an interface.

What my ideal interface (spending US$ 300 or so) would have:

1 Good preamps, I’m not expecting excellent or boutique-quality for this amount of money. A two mic input (at least one with phantom power) is really all that is needed, with a separate headphone out that has a dedicated volume control.

  1. But it would be extra nice if it had MIDI input as well.

  2. Zero-latency monitoring would be nice, and being greedy, so would some zero-latency reverb, so the singer could hear some comfort reverb in the cans. I actually have a throwaway reverb box that I could use to get acceptable reverb to the cans, but if this were included in the interface, that would be much nicer.

  3. An included stripped down version of Cubase would be great too (AI or LE) - I have Cubase 6.50 on my main desktop DAW.

I looked at the Steinberg UR and CI interfaces, but they aren’t offered for Cubase XP. Similarly, for NI KA6.

I’m currently looking at the following three interfaces:

** Akai EIE Pro (no onboard DSP)
** Alesis IO4 (no onboard DSP)
** Roland Quad Capture (no Steinberg software)

Would anyone have any suggestions on any of this?

Thanks! :smiley:

Does it have a firewire port? if so the TC Electronic Konnekt 24d would be a very cheap way to go. I just bought a second one on ebay for $60. It’s old and discontinued but the software fro it continues to be supported. Has lovely reverb included and direct monitoring via its control panel, and it will take power from a 6pin firewire port.

I know it’s not highly likely you there’s a firewire port on an xp laptop, but I thought I’d mention it.

Edit: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may07/articles/konnekt24d.htm

Edit: Oh yeah, it did include Cubase LE, whatever was current in 2007. They sent me a CD upon request about a year and half ago.

Yeah, let us know if your laptop has a TI chipset firewire port.

Hi SteveinChicago and beatpete - thanks much. My laptop does have Firewire (a 4 pin), I think probably not a TI (I ran Belarc Advisor, it doesn’t mention TI at all under the IEEE1394 section. It mentions a Broadcom Gigabit controller, I don’t know if that is the chip or not, but in any case Texas Instruments is not mentioned.

And in XP’s “Device Manager” it just says OHCI compliant. So as there seems to be some doubt, I suppose I should stay away from Firewire interfaces?

I feel so fickle, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s the quality of the preamps that is important, not the connectivity (since really this is just for a vocalist recording remotely). Sure MIDI I/O, 4 mic inputs, inserts etc. might be great, but if I only have a few $hundred to spend, the preamp quality has got to suffer if they’re throwing that other stuff in for the same price, right?

Looking at the Alva Nanoface now. Nice preamps, according to SOS review http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jan13/articles/alva-nanoface.htm . I guess I’d need to use Reaper or something, as it doesn’t come with DAW software.

Hi Alexis,
How old is this laptop?
The Presonus Audiobox VSL series USB interfaces have XP drivers and zero latency monitoring. It also has some DSP.
If the laptop is as old as desktop you have listed in your signature then I would recommend a USB audio interface.
Older USB chip sets from Intel (pre-ICH8) had bandwidth and compatibility problems.

On an older system I’d stick to firewire but only if it is has an on board Texas instruments chipset or a way to add it via a cardbus or xpress slot.

Firewire interfaces are are now “older” products may still have older versions of Cubase LE bundled. Especially if the dealer has had the product sitting on the shelf for a while.

If you end up using another DAW on this for recording such as reaper just make sure to use Broadcast wave and/or consolidate your audio files into stems so you get them into Cubase on the desktop easier.

Thanks Chris

How about this:
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec10/articles/mackie-onyx-blackjack.htm

Hi Chris, thanks much, and it’s a Dell Latitude D630 running XP SP3. I ran the DPC latency test on it, and amazingly enough, everything was green, average around 300 microseconds. So a USB interface it is, thanks for the heads up on the Presonus:

http://www.soundonsound.com/news?NewsID=14229

http://www.presonus.com/products/AudioBox-22VSL

I see it’s good for XP 32 bit, so it’s on my short list now. DSP and MIDI a plus as well.

FInally: I’ve started realizing that it’s not going to be trivial to bring the vocals from Reaper, with lanes of the different takes, back to Cubase on the desktop. I think I’ll be able to figure it out, but will definitely read up on it on the Reaper site (“export options”) well ahead of time. Thanks again!

Thank you Stroph, much appreciated!

Looks like another great unit. Looks like at this point I’m going to have to decide between the Blackjack, the Presonus AudioBox 22VSL, the Akai EIE Pro, and the Alva Nanoface.

The key things for me are: a) avoiding a preamp quality inferior enough that it stands out from the others, and b) being able to record with low enough latency that singing while monitoring on cans is OK (currently my total I/O latency in Cubase is about 12 msec at 256 sample buffer size, and that works just fine).

Extras that can help shift the balance are DSP, MIDI I/O. Finally, if it doesn’t compromise these key factors just mentioned, I/O connectivity could be a tie breaker … but I’d much rather have a higher quality interface than one with a lot of I/O that isn’t.

Thanks again - I guess it’s decision time!