USB Interface

What are the thoughts on USB audio interfaces for Cubase? I’m looking to get around my firewire problem with my MacBook Pro. What are the most reliable units and what are the limitations of having a buss-powered unit? Should I only be looking at USB 2.0 or is the 1.1 spec still relative?

Thanks all!

Hi SuStudio – I think anything you would be looking at these days would be USB 2, there’s nothing out yet afaik on USB 3.

I’m looking for a new soundcard too, considering the m-audio fast track ultra 8r which gets pretty good reviews for clean sound and low latencies. I’m also looking at firewire, especially the focusrite saffire pro 24 dsp. Everything depends pretty much on your budget – maybe the top of the line on USB would be the RME Fireface UC, but outside my budget :open_mouth:

Here’s a handy shopping list: There’s lots of good discussion on interfaces over at

Good luck!

Thanks IcyB, I’ll check that out. Right now I have the Saffire Pro24 DSP but it doesn’t play too nice with my MacBook Pro’s firewire chipset (non-T/I) and causes a tremendous amount of heat on the CPU. Firewire seems to be a bit of a headache too where you can’t just plug in and out of the computer without possible damage to the unit…at least according to Focusrite. This is why I’m looking for a simpler solution with USB. I am considering the Focusrite USB6 but that’s the 1.1 USB spec. I suppose it doesn’t matter if you direct monitor while tracking and it seems like a very popular unit. It’s buss powered too.

The new Focusrite Scarletts look pretty nice. Better in/out features than the USB6 for not much more money.

You could go the Expresscard TI firewire route if you have that option, too.

The Scarlett looks good but it’s not buss powered which I think is a pretty good feature when recording on the go. I’m not too needy of optical inputs as I just need something to capture 1 or 2 inputs. The drag about the Saffire USB6 is that it’s USB 1.1 compliant which I fear might be a tracking problem latency-wise and I don’t see a software utility for this unit like the Scarlett or the Pro24 that allows for direct monitoring.

Regarding the Expresscard…I’m on a 15" MBP which Apple decided to skimp on with this option. If I had to do it over again, I’d get a 17" with an i5 chip for less CPU cooking and more I/O options.

You should be ok with the usb 1.1 since you wouldn’t be recording lots of simultaneous inputs. Looks like the Saffire 6 is made to do that job for one or two inputs that work fine within the usb 1 bandwidth.

The Scarletts do look nice … I’m adding them to my short list, didn’t know about them. They’re so new to the market can’t find any reviews.

My Sweetwater rep suggested the Scarlett too but I’m still testing out the Pro24 as I wasn’t having the heating issues I was previously. USB seems to be a bit more user-friendly with the hot-swappable option as I don’t have a dedicated machine for music so things are usually up and humming when the mood strikes. Icy, you’re running an i7, do you monitor your CPU heat? I understand that this is more of an Intel issue than a Mac/firewire.

I’ve had this PC for just about 3 weeks now, haven’t got around to installing temp reader – I have Core Temp application on my quad core at work. I don’t know much about CPU temp monitoring or adjustments and don’t plan on overclocking … saw your post on the high temperature readings you got with the firewire install. Did you resolve that? I’m looking at the Saffire 24 DSP too, but I would also have to install a TI firewire card … the usb 2 would be a lot less hassle and a bit cheaper. The Scarlett is very interesting, but not much info on it yet on the internet.

There’s really no resolution with the i7 chip but the good news is that the temp hasn’t gone over 180F degrees and Intel has a max temp rating of 212F on this series. I ran the Pro24 last night buss powered and it stayed around 175F…a few degrees less than when I ran it on its own power…go figure! This unit does have some nice features but I still think firewire is more of a hassle than USB at least with the hot-swappable issue. My Sweetwater rep sent me a short list of comparable units that I’m also checking out such as:

Roland Octacapture
Motu UltraLite3 Hybrid

The Motu looks great and has perfect reviews but I’d never trust a Motu on a PC.

I checked my temperatures – under average load I get 28 to 38 C. I ran the full windows experience index test to push the CPU and got a top temp reading on one of the cores of 60 C, or 140 F at top load ranges. Core Temp shows my max would be 98 C.

I have seen good reviews about the Motu hybrid for Macs. Don’t know about the Roland or the PTM. On the PC I’m narrowing down to the Saffire pro 24 dsp or the Scarlett.

How about the Apogee Duet2 USB, sounds great for Macs.

RME Babyface.
I simply can’t say enough good things about it. It’s outstanding.
The TotalMix FX software makes it a slam dunk.

I had a MOTU UltraLite, and while it had pretty good quality sound, I soon came to hate it.
It would get the “crunchies” like in this video:
And this happened on several different PC’s all using the MOTU’s recommended Keyspan F/W PCI card with the TI chipset.
(Fortunately, it never did the white noise blast or I would have just taken it out and run over it with my truck.)

And also after only a year the LCD backlight went out on it.
They expected me to ship it to them and pay $100 to have it fixed.

This isn’t an isolated phenomenon. A friend in Colorado had to send his 828 in twice to fix the backlight…they finally had to send him a new 828.

MOTU is absolute pure sh** as far as I’m concerned.


I totally agree, there’s nothing like RME. I love my Babyface, it’s totally outstanding.

hi all,
just to share wit everyone… i just bought the Focurite Sapphire 8i6 yesterday, spent all night testing it… n im so happy today :slight_smile: , everthing is good so far, it has been very very good actually :laughing: xcpt for the part that im still learning to use the Sapphire Mix Control…
i have No latency issue for vocal, guitar or anything so far… the defaut Mix Control latency setup (10ms)was good enough, but to make it "perfect i set it to 5-6ms…
i really must say its really worth the penny upgrade with my small budget… RME may better but for more$$$

Fyi, my old interface was Lexicon alpha which was usb 1.1, ive review n tested a few interface before deciding to go for this Sapphire, My first Focusrite!! and im stil smilling up till now… it may need the extra power for the unit compare to the lexicon, but i guess the extra power may actually gives the unit more “UMPPHHH”…