Interfaces, drivers, and monitor mixing

I use the same system for Cubase, as I do for Zoom. I know, crazy, huh? The system is running Windows 10 Pro and has available USB-A and C ports, but no Thunderbolt. (That eliminates all the Apollo interfaces, btw – they are significantly gimped over USB, I’ve tried them! Also their plugin prices for the dated SHARC hardware are … I’m sure a good business for them.)

My current setup uses a good-old UR-22 which has been with me for many years, and some external microphone preamp and mixing gear.

However, it would be nice to move most of that into a box. It looks like most interfaces these days have some kind of onboard DSP mixing/monitoring software. However, none of the marketing materials seem to describe how the software interacts with ASIO and WDM drivers. Can I split pairs between WDM and ASIO? Can I use one pair of input channels for WDM while using another for ASIO? Can I partition the output channels into virtual devices? No good answers seem to be easily available.

So, I’m asking here – y’all are using a variety of interfaces with Cubase, so clearly someone will know the answer for each of the interfaces I’m interested in. I’d love pricing to be $500 but $999 isn’t out of the question – it’s more important that I get something with stable, flexible, drivers.

  • Scarlett 18i20 (routing/mixing seems OK, but can it do compression/EQ?)
  • Tascam Series 208i (Seems capable, but is it?)
  • M-audio Air 192 / 14 (Can’t find a routing diagram for this online!)
  • MOTU 8A or UltraLite AVB (Seem to use “generation 4” software)

#1 question: Which of these interfaces, if any, support splitting channels between ASIO vs WDM, and if you do so, how well does it work?

#2 question: Can you record some of the mix channels back into the computer? This would be helpful to send a combination of microphone inputs, instrument inputs, and computer-music-playback back into the Zoom half of the equation.

I’d also include the bigger variants of the UR interfaces, except those, too, are not in stock – this list excludes interfaces not in stock with dealers in the US, that I would otherwise consider. (Like the MOTU Ultralite mk5, or the Steinberg UR-816-C)

This illustration isn’t as helpful as I had hoped, but it shows how I need the routing/mixing to go. I really only need 3 physical ins (mic + stereo) and 4 physical outs (headphones + monitors) but I need more sub-busses and mix-returns, so a more-channel interface is likely needed to actually make that happen.

RME interfaces allow using asio and windows audio at the same time. Take a look at what they offer. I use the Babyface pro fs with a behringer ada8200 for expansion.

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Thanks for the suggestion!

Do the RME drivers allow splitting out multiple separate pairs as separate WDM streams?
Also, looks like the Babyface has no dynamics on its built-in channel? I’m currently using a dbx 286s as my phantom power and pre-amp, but I’ve been hoping to be able to replace that with software. That’s not necessarily a deal killer, though – I can keep it as-is if the rest of the mixing/routing works out.

The Babyface is what I have but I don’t do what you do. My suggestion was to look at RME products to see what would be good for you. Other models do dynamics. You can gave multiple WDM streams which can be looped back so you can record all different streams. Though again I don’t use it like you. I only use loopback feature and wdm to record from windows into Cubase. To get full answers I suggest joining the RME forum as there are much more knowledgeable people who could answer you.

This was an amazingly solid recommendation!

Turns out, Amazon had a Babyface in stock in a warehouse next door, so it showed up within 24 hours of you making the recommendation. I can split up the WDM drivers, and arrange mixes for each channel, and keep ASIO seeing the “raw” devices. The noise floor / detail is very good, too – better than my ears at any normal amount of gain / volume.

Only two problems:

  1. No on-device dynamics. Still using the dbx 286 for that.
  2. STICKER SHOCK! But, you know, we only live once.
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