Multi-track portable audio interface?

I’m thinking of upgrading a key piece of equipment: my audio interface.

In my workstation I use an M-Audio 2496, which is fine since I have yet to do any recording (with one exception, which is the reason for this post) of anyone else in my “project studio” (term used very loosely).

However, the one exception has been live drums. Also, on-location recording more often requires multiple microphones. It would be great to have a USB 2.0 interface (meaning it’s external and - if it’s not rack mounted - portable, which is really what I’m after) that supports 4 tracks minimum. Currently I have a Tascam US-144 but it only has stereo outs.

4 simultaneous tracks would allow me a much greater degree of flexibility since I wouldn’t have to use my Mackie 802-VLZ3 as a mix-to-stereo device. (I will probably still use it since the pre-amps aren’t bad and it has direct outs from each channel.) In the instance with the tuba recording where I forgot to set the panning of the individual mics, it wouldn’t have mattered since I would have had one track per mic meaning I could have set the panning in Cubase.

Any recommendations?

Edit: so far I’ve only found the PreSonus AudioBox 44VSL. Anyone have any experience with this?

Keep a lookout on

You may find a interface with more channels than you need for little dosh.

Here’s what I do. I have a backpack,and in one compartment goes my laptop, and in another goes my Steinberg MR816CSX. The laptop has a firewire card. I have another little bag with some mics and cables in it. The drums get 4 mics, piano gets a line in, bass gets a line in, and guitar gets a mic on the amp. One to spare for a total of 8. We had a percussionist for a while, and at that time I had another interface with a lightpipe connection to the MR816, giving me 16 channels.

Anyway, it works.

Ahhh the CSXs. That may be an option, but beware, I think they are discontinued.

No good, but thanks for the suggestion. I don’t want a completely self contained recording device. I still want to use Cubase. And that means that I need something with more than 2 outs, unlike both of these devices.

How about a UR28M?

I wish. There are only 2 XLR inputs though. Since I will sometimes use up to 4 condenser mics, I need 4 XLR inputs.

Tascam US-600



I have no experience with that piece, however, it it was me, I would get a rack mounted converter and a 4 space rack. Put the converter in the topmost position and cut a piece of foam to fit the bottom 3. In the foam, cut slot tubes to hold your mics and laptop (if your laptop is less than 19" wide). Drum hardware bag for mic stands and cables. Elegance and simplicity.

Thats me. YMMY

motu ultralite mk3 , it future proof , 10 in’s 12 out’s , latency of 2ms ,rock solid drivers ,can be used as a standalone mixer , I use every single in and out on this little interface and it handles every thing I throw at it ,wel worth spending that little extra for a mobile interface :wink:

plus you have your cue mix with ,7 band eq ,compressor ,limiter ,fft ,spectrum analyser, tuner ,phase ,reverb, it really is hard to beat as a mobile interface !

I think Firewire is falling out of favor. Used to be easy to buy a laptop that had it, now it’s getting difficult. Many had it for HD camcorders, but they all work with USB now. So I’m hoping to hold on to my laptop and the MR816 for as long as they still work. 8 channels without breaking a sweat; most I ever did was 9, but I’m sure I could have gone up to 16 if I had wanted to (the other box was a MOTU 8pre). When it dies, it’ll be something else, such as USB or whatever replaces it. Still it’s cool to be able to track a rehearsal with two bags and some mic stands.

Steinberg just commented that Steinberg is not discontinuing it, some retailers are from their product list.

Completely newbie question: if the interface has 1/4" balanced inputs does that mean I can buy an XLR to 1/4" cable and that’s enough, i.e. I don’t need the transformer that you’d normally use to convert from low to high impedance?


Actually, I have a plastic storage bin filled with a lot of the gear + a gym bag with cables and other miscellaneous cable-ish stuff + a 3 pack of Samson boom stands that came with their own carrying “gig bag” + the metallic hardshell case for the Neumann and C414. (The C1000s are in the storage bin.)

I’m a huge Tascam fan so the fact that you recommended one isn’t a big surprise since, in my opinion, they make great equipment especially for the price point. Unfortunately, this item - on Hello Music at least - is sold out. SamAsh has it for $299. :frowning: But I can get it for “12 months, same as cash” :slight_smile:

Steinberg UR824, 8 great mic pres, expandable to 24 i/o. Or, if you don’t want a rack mount unit, the M-Audio Fast Track Ultra has 4 mic pres, can be usb powered (with limited i/o count), and sounds very good.

Thanks! It’s a bit more than I was hoping to spend, but I’ll definitely try to check it out at SamAsh or Guitar Center some time.

ahhh . major request coming up

Enough for what…?

:laughing: dont forget us "hybrid’ Canadians! :laughing: