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Re: quest for an audio interface for laptop music applications

Per recommended the MIDI Mate for my laptop system, which has been working


Actually, your first set of requirements map pretty close to the DigiDesign
mBox system, which is really for recording rather than performance. But you
could use it to perform live...and the cool thing is that you can buy a
conversion program that will convert free VST effects into ProTools ready
effects - VST to RTAS
(http://www.fxpansion.com/product-rtasadapter-main.php. Something to think
about at least.  I've never tried to conrol my VST effects via MIDI while
using ProTool/mBox though.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Rainer Thelonius Balthasar Straschill" <rs@moinlabs.de>
To: "Looper's Delight Mailing List" <Loopers-Delight@loopers-delight.com>
Sent: Saturday, October 22, 2005 9:57 AM
Subject: quest for an audio interface for laptop music applications

I've decided to go laptop. At least to compile one setup that is
entirely laptop. Now I need an USB audio interface - my Phase26 wouldn't
do here. I'm looking for a laptop-based system with maximum portability.

My requriements:

Hard requirements:
(1) at least one phantom-powered mic in and one Hi-Z in or two
phantom-powered mic ins
(2) two analogue 1/4 or XLR outs
(3) headphone out
(4) USB

(5) a pair of SPDI/F connectors
(6) a MIDI pair
(7) possibility to create an effect send/return
(8) no wallwart necessary
(9) bus-powered
(A) symmetrical outs
(B) USB2
(C) ADAT connectors
(D) 24/96

I've come up with a few devices:

M-Audio Fast Track Pro
Edirol UA-25
Mackie Spike
Lexicon Omega
Alesis IO/2
Tascam US-122
Behringer BCA2000
The requirements tracking matrix looks like this:

1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 A B C D Price
M-Audio Fast Track Pro X X X X X
X X X X X X 229
Edirol UA-25 X X X X X
X X X X X X 225
Mackie Spike X X X X X
X X X 229
Lexicon Omega X X X X X
X X 278
Alesis IO/2 X X X X X
X X X X X X 159
Tascam US-122 X X X X
X X X 208
Behringer BCA2000 X X X X X
X X X X X X 195

Ok, so what is the conclusion? The price is a standard in the 200-230
range - the only exceptions being the Alesis and the Lexicon. The
Behringer does win the flexibility price, with its lots of outputs, its
1in-2out-MIDI interface and its ADAT connector. Plus it's the only
device with USB2, hence it can transmit in 24/96 both ways (if that's
what you need). And it's the only device where you could create an
external effects send/return (e.g. to put your favourite
outboard/stompbox stuff into the setup). And it's cheaper than all
competitors safe for the Alesis. The Alesis on the other hand is the
cheapest, and that without standing behind the Edirol/M-Audio/Tascam
competitors that much. Finally, the Lexicon looks the most
"professional", with the most powerful included mixer and micpres that
at least have a fairly "pro" (sic!) name. But you can't power it via the
bus AND it uses a wallwart...

So, I'm as wise as before. Any suggestions? Any experiences with the
three devices I mentioned in the last paragraph? Any words on the other
devices (Edirol, Tascam, Mackie, M-Audio) that should make me
reconsider? Any other products I didn't even think about?