Best usb device?

Hey all
I wanted to get some opinions on the best usb interface for a laptop. Are the m audio ones good? I would like to stay in a price range of $150 -200 on ebay. The laptop is a 3ghz 512 ram 60 gig 7200 rpm hard drive. Thanks for any comments.

My son uses a Tascam US-122 and it is great. If two channels at 24/48 are sufficient, it does a fine job. Phantom power is available for your condenser mics too.


Check out Tascam’s website. There are incompatibilities they note when using USB devices some AMD machines. The problems aren’t there with Intel machines.

Hmm…both of our desktops are AMD. Works great with both? I have used it myself mostly with a Dell laptop. It’s a P4 Intel. Works great there too. My sons PC mobo had a USB chipset that the Tascam did not like. A quick trip to Wal-Mart for a Belkin USB 2.0 card fixed that problem.


Thanks for the ideas. The tascam looks pretty good! I have a dell intel so I guess it would be fine. Does the tascam record 4 tracks simultaneously or just 2. I saw it had xlr & line or is that the dual purpose xlr with 1/4’ inserts. Thanks

I had great results with the M-Audio Quattro USB. It has 4 inputs and 4 outs but doesn’t have mike preamps. I used it with my laptop and a small berringer mixer.

The m-audio mobile pre is maybe less expensive, has good pre-amps that the whole thing works off of USB power (not separate) and is totally mobile (hence the name). Gotta love a whole package in one, but it is 16kHz and only has 2 inputs at a time. (works very well for the one-man-band stuff)

Been using it for a year now, absolutely love the portability.


I had trouble with an M-Audio Audiophile USB. It worked well for audio only but when I started adding MIDI it caused n to crash and generally misbehave. It seems it needs 101% of the USB capacity, and not every laptop is totally super with USB bandwidth. So avoid the Audiophile USB. I replaced it with a Tascam US-122 which is so far working very well. There are firewire devices which would avoid all such troubles, but they can be more expensive and not all PCs have firewire. I guess you also need to think about

1) do you already have a mixer or will you need mic and/or guitar inputs; do you need phantom power for mics?
2) is 2 simultaneous recording channels enough or do you need more?
3) some units have direct monitor, to avoid hearing latency delay while recording. Without this you need a separate headphone mixer or a route on your main mixer that lets you hear yourself without feeding the already-recorded stuff back into the new track.
4) Resolution (bits). CDs are 16 bit, some folks can hear that 24 bit is slightly sweeter and cleaner. Therefore many people like to work in 24 bit, then finally re-sample to 16 bit to burn a CD or convert to an MP3.
5) Sample rate. CD is 44.1kHz, many sound cards and external devices offer 44.1, 48 and 96kHz. I can’t hear any difference but some people say they can.

Lots to think about. Good luck.

Quote (jeromee @ Mar. 17 2005,12:28)
Thanks for the ideas. The tascam looks pretty good! I have a dell intel so I guess it would be fine. Does the tascam record 4 tracks simultaneously or just 2. I saw it had xlr & line or is that the dual purpose xlr with 1/4' inserts. Thanks

Hi jeromee,

Been busy. Sorry I'm slow to respond. The US-122 can record only TWO inputs simultaneously. The Line-in, Mic pres are "shared". It's a good unit if that's all you need. Remember too, that thing came out in the USB1.0 days. 2 channels of audio in and 2 out at 24/48 is pushing USB1.0 pretty hard. Add MIDI into the mix and USB1.0 is grunting to keep up. It works great though.


Thanks guys
I am looking at all of your suggestions and am also considering the edirol unit as well. I do have a firewire port so it might be an option. The price of the tascam is very appealing. All of your comments have been a big help! Thanks again

I’ve recently gone from tascam us-122 to presonus firebox, back to usb with the lexicon omega…which works best for me. Believe it or not the firebox started giving me trouble moreso than the usb devices. But yeah, check out the lexicon omega. That reverb plugin that comes with it is grand too.

The case with Windows and all the dang service packs has been with FireWire the same as USB. They somehow invariably screw the pooch with new releases. What once worked is FUBAR after the update. It’s almost like the programmers at MS don’t have any USB or FireWire devices to test with before releasing a new service pack. I figure Bill can afford to get 'em a few toys to test with…

This was the case with the Tascam. Worked GREAT pre SP2, install SP2 and pop, click city. A few days later, Lo!.. on the MS support site. another update! It works again!!

Why do they KEEP doing that to us? :angry:


PS Some guys on the MOTU forum have found the same case with FireWire…