Looking for a surround interface

Hi there,

I’ve got some harware trouble and I need advice from people who know more about this stuff than I do.
I’ve been rocking a UR22C for a couple of years now and recently decided to get my hands on a UR44 (non C) to try out working in a Quadro setup (4.0) (for an upcoming theatre piece next year) and immediately ran into some problems.
First of all: I did get 4.0 working in cubase which is great, but there are a lot of things that arent working as I want them yet.
As it turns out the ‘output’ knob on the UR44 only controls the main output stereo pair and there is no way (hardware wise) to control the line outs. I tried getting a monitor controller (Palmer monicon XL to be exact) but that one only summs the inputs and copies them as stereo over the different monitor pair if you want to make use of the main button, and it turns out a lot of non-surround monitor controllers do (and I honestly don’t really feel like paying €500+ for a controller).
Another thing that I noticed is that the UR44 isn’t recognised by windows (basic Wasapi or general asio controller) as being more than stereo, which means I can only play back 4.0 files from cubase (or in any daw environment). I think this is quite dissapointing since this means a lot more hassle when I want to play back reference tracks in surround/4.0.

Now to my question:
I’m looking for a new interface, one that has one knob to attenuate the volume of all the channels at once (I really don’t feel like having to slap on another €500-700 for a surround controller unless I absolutely have to). An interface that is recognised or selectable by windows as being 4.0 (/ 5.1 / 7.1, whatever, but more than 2.0). And lastly I’m not interested in paying €800+,- for an interface (once again, unless I absolutely have to). I work with audio professionally but I don’t run a hollywood level studio that requires a €1400-€2000+ interface because I’d be paying for a large amount of features I wont be needing in the near future.
I’d love to stay with Steinberg if they have an interface that meets these criteria but I don’t know of one that does (I looked at the UR28M for example, but that one apparently isnt able to play back surround outside of a daw environment, just like the UR44). Of course, I may be wrong. So please let me know if that is the case, or let me know if you have any experience with a similar setup/interface!

Many thanks in advance!,
Martijn

Any reason you don’t use Control Room for level control?

Honestly, mostly preference. I just really like having a big knob that turns my entire system volume up and down, it’s the way I’m used to working and I figure it would take me quite a while to adjust.
Another thing is that I use my pc for other things than strictly studio use. If I want to take a break and watch a youtube video I don’t want the audio output to be way too high or too low because the output volume is regulated in the software of my daw.
I also tend to prefer doing most of my studio control hardware wise. That way I dont have to mess with the software level side of things when I get to mastering for example. That way I know that if my knob is set to the right level it should be at the right level, if it’s not there’s something wrong. This is something I would probably overlook if it were set in software, it helps me keep things seperate.

Understood. So just for reference / food for thought:

I have a relatively small setup at home, 5.1 fed from a MOTU 16A. I use Control Room to set the level in Nuendo. In preferences you can set the reference level and enable that with a key command. So the way I have it all set up is with that reference level in Nuendo set I’ve calibrated my speakers to where they are even and feel good / the SPL I want in the room. So any time I need to get back to the calibrated level I just hit a key command.

Then for my Windows duties (YouTube, Spotify, Netflix, Zoom etc) I use Voicemeeter. It’s basically like a mixer and is recognized by Windows as an audio device, so Windows defaults to it as input/output.

The great thing about the MOTU is that it’s multi-client which allows both Voicemeeter and Nuendo to access it at the same time. So I have separate level control for Windows (in Voicemeeter) and Nuendo (Control Room). An implied bonus there is that I can do Zoom reviews by taking my output from Nuendo and in the MOTU 16A mixer software route it back on inputs that Voicemeeter can access, and then send that out to Zoom. So my default template in Nuendo is routed that way and all I have to do to let someone hear my mix is turn that up in Voicemeeter.

Anyway, just something to consider perhaps.

On that note if I were you I’d look into RME and MOTU. They seem like they may be in the budget range you’re looking, and they just might have smaller interfaces with knobs for volume control.

To my knowledge, RME interfaces only has knobs for headphone outputs.
I don’t know of any interface that has a volume control for a surround config.

You could very well be right about RME. I do think though that some who have said they’re “Atmos compatible” for example has included level control over all outputs simultaneously. Whether or not they also have a knob for that I don’t really know.

Maybe it doesn’t exist in the sub $1,500 range.

PS: Actually, didn’t RME have some sort of remote knob or something?

Yes, they have a remote controller they call ARC. It has a rotary dial and a number of push buttons. It is possible you can control the level of multiple channels with the dial, I don’t know.

Thank you for your input!
I did a bit of a deep dive into RME, how it all worked and how to set it up (if it met my criteria). And while it certainly did I felt like the expandability they offered was just out of proportion with what I want to achieve at the moment (however I’m definitely interested in working with that hardware at a later date).
I then stumbled upon a feature in focusrite control that allows you to select the outputs you want to attenuate with the monitor button on the front with a couple of their models. The 18i20 definitely had this feature and I believe the 18i8 also has this.
I messaged a buddy of mine who happens to have the 18i20 as his main interface and asked if he could check for me that this is in fact the thing I’m after. And it did exactly what I wanted it to.
Ordered it. Installed it. And it’s working a treat. Now it’s time to get working on some surround stuff :smiley:

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