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Old 03-01-2010, 10:09 AM
sir_strumalot sir_strumalot is offline
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Default Focusrite or PreSonus? Trying to decide between 2 firewire interfaces

For my $300 budget, I've narrowed it down to the Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 or the PreSonus FireStudio Mobile 10x6. I'm just a hobbyist, and relatively new to recording, mixing, etc. Any pros out there, don't cringe, but I really like GarageBand. (I'm not looking to sell CD's. That, and I've only been playing for 2 years!)

My main requirement is to be able to be able to plug in 2 mics and 2 guitars all at the same time, and record them to individual tracks. Either one of these can do that (unless I've really misunderstood their capabilities!)

Beyond that, I guess it boils down to the included software and/or other included goodies.

If anybody has any insight or opinions, I'm open to suggestion!

Oh, if it matters, I'm on a fast MacBook Pro, 2.4 Ghz running 10.6.2, with 4 GB RAM. It's not the newest rig, as it has ports for Firewire 400 and 800. (New ones no longer come with Firewire 400)

Here's the Focusrite:
Saffire Pro 24

and the PreSonus:
FireStudio Mobile 10 x 6

Thanks!

Jeff
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Old 03-01-2010, 11:56 AM
Fran Guidry Fran Guidry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sir_strumalot View Post
For my $300 budget, I've narrowed it down to the Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 or the PreSonus FireStudio Mobile 10x6. I'm just a hobbyist, and relatively new to recording, mixing, etc. Any pros out there, don't cringe, but I really like GarageBand. (I'm not looking to sell CD's. That, and I've only been playing for 2 years!)

My main requirement is to be able to be able to plug in 2 mics and 2 guitars all at the same time, and record them to individual tracks. Either one of these can do that (unless I've really misunderstood their capabilities!)

Beyond that, I guess it boils down to the included software and/or other included goodies.

If anybody has any insight or opinions, I'm open to suggestion!

...
Jeff
Actually, I think it boils down to driver and connection stability first. These things are a lot less fun when they don't work easily. I think you can get the best feel for this by going to the manufacturer's support site and looking for screams of pain.

I've also used interfaces with marginal preamp gain. This will be an issue if you're using dynamic mics for reasonably quiet sources like acoustic guitars.

Fran
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Old 03-01-2010, 12:40 PM
sir_strumalot sir_strumalot is offline
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Originally Posted by Fran Guidry View Post
Actually, I think it boils down to driver and connection stability first. These things are a lot less fun when they don't work easily. I think you can get the best feel for this by going to the manufacturer's support site and looking for screams of pain.

I've also used interfaces with marginal preamp gain. This will be an issue if you're using dynamic mics for reasonably quiet sources like acoustic guitars.

Fran
Thanks for the tip, Fran! I guess I just assumed that I would plug 'em in and they would work.

Question: You mention using interfaces with marginal preamp gain. Does it appear that these two units have minimal gain? (I wouldn't be able to tell even if the specs jumped up and hit me in the face) I wasn't too worried about my guitar, as I can plug it in. (Taylor 314ce). Or perhaps I should be...?

Thanks again!
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Old 03-01-2010, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by sir_strumalot View Post
...Question: You mention using interfaces with marginal preamp gain. Does it appear that these two units have minimal gain? (I wouldn't be able to tell even if the specs jumped up and hit me in the face) I wasn't too worried about my guitar, as I can plug it in. (Taylor 314ce). Or perhaps I should be...?
Hi s_s…
I believe what Fran expressed concern over was using dynamic mics which have less gain than condenser mics. Not sure what kind of mics you already own (if you do).

Both those interfaces are solid, and flexible. The Presonus has more simultaneous inputs, but from experience, I've recorded some pretty large projects never using more than 2-4 inputs simultaneously. The only exceptions for me were doing choral vocals with 6 mics at once, and a drum kit once with 8 inputs at the same time.

It's pretty amazing what one can record with a pair of XLR inputs...


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Old 03-01-2010, 04:50 PM
sir_strumalot sir_strumalot is offline
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Hi s_s…
I believe what Fran expressed concern over was using dynamic mics which have less gain than condenser mics. Not sure what kind of mics you already own (if you do).

Both those interfaces are solid, and flexible. The Presonus has more simultaneous inputs, but from experience, I've recorded some pretty large projects never using more than 2-4 inputs simultaneously. The only exceptions for me were doing choral vocals with 6 mics at once, and a drum kit once with 8 inputs at the same time.

It's pretty amazing what one can record with a pair of XLR inputs...


Hi Larry, thanks for responding, and thanks for explaining about the mics. Yeah, I've just got a cheapie ol' Peavey. I'm sure a good entry-level mic probably ought to be on my list next. (That nasty old budget thang, y'understand)

Regarding the number of inputs, did you mean the Focusrite had more inputs? I downloaded both manuals, and the front of both are essentially the same, but on the back, the Focusrite has separate I/O for MIDI, plus separate I/O for SPDIF, as well as an Optical in.

The Presonus has a single MIDI/SPDIF, and uses a DB-9 breakout cable for connecting, but if I understood the manual correctly, only two channels can be recorded at a time.

I just want to make sure I'm understanding the features properly!

But, the Presonus features an additional Firewire port, while the Focusrite has only one.

It's good to hear that with either of these units, that it should be a while before I outgrow them!
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Old 03-01-2010, 04:51 PM
Indolent58 Indolent58 is offline
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I have a Saffire Pro 40 which is similar to the 24 but with more inputs. In my experience the Saffire preamps have plenty of gain. I have used a ribbon mic, which has even less output than a dynamic mic, with no issues. The preamps are very quiet even when cranked up.

I do not have any direct experience with Presonus but when I was reading up on which interface to buy it seemed like Focusrite had the edge in most reviews re preamp quality.

I have plenty of inputs but I rarely record more than two at a time. I still like have the extra inputs because I can leave things plugged in and ready to go rather than having to mess with cables when going from track to track, but this is really just an issue of convenience.
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Old 03-01-2010, 05:07 PM
sir_strumalot sir_strumalot is offline
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Originally Posted by Indolent58 View Post
I have a Saffire Pro 40 which is similar to the 24 but with more inputs. In my experience the Saffire preamps have plenty of gain. I have used a ribbon mic, which has even less output than a dynamic mic, with no issues. The preamps are very quiet even when cranked up.

I do not have any direct experience with Presonus but when I was reading up on which interface to buy it seemed like Focusrite had the edge in most reviews re preamp quality.

I have plenty of inputs but I rarely record more than two at a time. I still like have the extra inputs because I can leave things plugged in and ready to go rather than having to mess with cables when going from track to track, but this is really just an issue of convenience.
I-58, cool! My research also seemed to indicate the preamps were a higher quality. I'm also glad to hear there's plenty of gain.

Also, good point about being able to leave stuff plugged in. Hadn't thought of that!

In the short run, I have no doubt that two inputs will get the bulk of the duty.

Thanks for the feedback!
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Old 03-01-2010, 05:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sir_strumalot View Post
...Regarding the number of inputs, did you mean the Focusrite had more inputs? I downloaded both manuals, and the front of both are essentially the same, but on the back, the Focusrite has separate I/O for MIDI, plus separate I/O for SPDIF, as well as an Optical in.
Hi s_s…
I'll take a look...I was only considering audio input since SPDIF and midi are not of concern to many of us.

They call the Focusrite 16 in/8 out and the Presonus 10 in/6 out.

But as I see it, I could easily plug in a pair of XLR and six 1/4'' into the Presonus, and I could easily plug a pair of XLR and one pair of 1/4'' inputs into the Focusrite.

And the Presonus clearly marks 2 line outputs, and the Focusrite 6 outputs. Unless they are counting headphone jacks, and reconfiguring other hardware via the software, the figures they give are a bit wonky...and I'm not criticizing them. Just pointing out that most of us want simple, straightforward operation.

Outputs are primarily useful for monitors or headphone amps. Other than that most of your mixing and mastering is done in the software...not from the output section of the interface.

Neither can reach their maximum amount of ''in'' or ''out'' without using the supplied software mixers, and perhaps the extra Optical, SPDIF and midi jacks...and that is not a common thing for small home guitar recording use.

If you have a seasoned keyboard player who is sequencing or switching patches via midi, then perhaps midi comes into play. In 8 years of doing recording for dozens of local artists, the midi, spdif and optical sections of my interfaces lay idle.

Either of these units exceeds what you want to do, and in fact that is good since when we only buy exactly what we need and then grow, there is little room for expansion. Both of these leave room for expansion beyond laying down a couple guitar tracks.

I love the Focusrite preamps that were in a unit I once had. Solid and quiet. I've heard great things about the Presonus gear. Either is a good solid unit if Firewire is a must.

Honestly, a great and very flexible recording interface is the Lexicon Omega which has most of what these do in a USB format, that is very capable of producing great recordings, and I've heard some great recordings done on both Lexicon units (the Lambda and the Omega).

The difference is the Omega handles 6 simultaneously recordable inputs (two XLR plus four 1/4'') each with their own volume know. And the monitor is dial-able for reducing latency...

The Lambda is a baby brother with two XLR and two Line in (both with choice of XLR or instrument inserts on the mic channels with a physical pad to match line levels on the Omega).

I think the Omega is a hidden gem in the interface world...don't know how they have kept pace with the recording platforms but they claim to be both OSX and Vista compatible. In the past they have always hung right in there with the upgrades on the Mac side of things as far as the Intel duo-core processing...etc.

Omega - click

My gigging partner owns a Lambda...


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Old 03-01-2010, 06:13 PM
sir_strumalot sir_strumalot is offline
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Yeah, Larry, I have to agree; trying to compare units to units is so darned difficult. As I've mentioned, I've got the manuals on both, and when I go to the specs section, they don't even list the same type of items.

When it comes down to it, I may just flip a coin...until you mentioned the Omega. I did look at it before, but was concerned about USB and latency. Looking at the link you sent, I do have to hand it to Lexicon on one count. They plainly state "...gives you the freedom to record up to 4 tracks at once and mix without the need for additional mixing hardware."

No other interface plainly states that in the sales pitch.

Guess it's time to think some more...
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Old 03-01-2010, 06:47 PM
sir_strumalot sir_strumalot is offline
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Originally Posted by ljguitar View Post

But as I see it, I could easily plug in a pair of XLR and six 1/4'' into the Presonus...
I'm confused. I'm looking at the back of the PreSonus, and there are a total of 8 1/4" ports. Looking at them from left to right:
  • A group of four, numbered 5, 3, 6, 4, with the label "Line Out - TRS"
  • A group of two, numbered 1, 2, with the label "Main Out"
  • A group of two, numbered 3, 4, with the label "Line In"

Am I wrong, or is that only two inputs on the back? (And with two combi's on the front, for a total of four? Same as the Focusrite.) I think.
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Old 03-01-2010, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by sir_strumalot View Post
I'm confused. I'm looking at the back of the PreSonus, and there are a total of 8 1/4" ports. Looking at them from left to right:
  • A group of four, numbered 5, 3, 6, 4, with the label "Line Out - TRS"
  • A group of two, numbered 1, 2, with the label "Main Out"
  • A group of two, numbered 3, 4, with the label "Line In"

Am I wrong, or is that only two inputs on the back? (And with two combi's on the front, for a total of four? Same as the Focusrite.) I think.
Hi s_s…
The Presonus with the link you provided to M's Friend has 6 1/4'' line inputs on the back. The Focusrite has a pair of 1/4'' inputs. both have a pair of XLR
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Old 03-02-2010, 05:27 AM
sir_strumalot sir_strumalot is offline
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Hi s_s…
The Presonus with the link you provided to M's Friend has 6 1/4'' line inputs on the back. The Focusrite has a pair of 1/4'' inputs. both have a pair of XLR
Oh man, I'm a bonehead.
I downloaded the manual for the FireBox, not the FireStudio.

Sorry for the confusion.

<goes off to drink LOTS more coffee...>
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Old 04-01-2010, 11:01 PM
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Eric Skye here on the forum just picked up a Presonus Mobile, I think he has been pretty pleased with it so far. In addition here is a good discussion on the unit.

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/new-p...interface.html

I was looking at the Apogee Duet but i may go for one of these instead, is the quality is what these guys say.

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Old 04-02-2010, 08:18 AM
sir_strumalot sir_strumalot is offline
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Kind of left this thread hanging. So, to wrap up, I picked up a new Saffire Pro 24. I'm very happy with it! It works great, nice and clean, and plays well with GarageBand.

My latest purchase was a Harmony G-XT. And that is a great piece! I've used a Digitech Vocalist Live 4, and that was pretty good, but the Harmony has, imho, a much better, natural sound. I also like the interface better. (I realize the VL4 is twice the price with far more options) Another big plus in my book is the USB connection for updating the device via your computer.

Anyway, a big thumbs up for the Saffire Pro 24 and Harmony G-XT.

Next purchase: A Shure SM-58, to replace this, uh, inexpensive Peavey. (Hey, it was a gift!)

-Jeff
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:39 AM
sdelsolray sdelsolray is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sir_strumalot View Post
...

My main requirement is to be able to be able to plug in 2 mics and 2 guitars all at the same time, and record them to individual tracks. Either one of these can do that (unless I've really misunderstood their capabilities!)
...
Quote:
Originally Posted by sir_strumalot View Post
Kind of left this thread hanging. So, to wrap up, I picked up a new Saffire Pro 24.
...
You may need additional equipment to record two mics and two guitars, at the same time, with the Saffire Pro 24.
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