USB interface recommendations

Goin mobile

I finally got myself a laptop I want to use for mobile recording and so I’m soliciting your recommendations for a USB audio interface. I need 2 channels, phantom power and 24bit. I intend to use an external usb drive for storage. I’ve had very good service from the M-Audio PCI card in my desktop computer, so I tend to gravitate towards M-Audio, but I know there’s others out there. Opinions? Experiences?

Hi Cap:
I’ve seen a Lexicon USB/Firewire?? four-channel audio device at the local Musicstop, over here… It’s been available sense the mid summer, at least around here… It looks fully equipped, Mic/line and Phantom powered, and all… I know it should be a respectable piece of hardware… knowing Lexicon, as a brand name… Well… I don’t know the model number of it, though… It might be something worth investigating…


Did you know that Creative who make the Soundblaster Audigy and X-FI own E-MU ?

the M Audio range seems to be direct competition with the E-MU range - check them both out

EDIROL make some fine units and as EDIROL is ROLAND they should be good -

one thing to remember is for the specs you want you will not be able to run it direct from the laptop so a WALL WART PSU will be required to run the USB soundcard -

i have a USB hard drive running on a borrowed Sony Vaio with XP (which only has USB1 installrd) AND IT IS NOT SO GOOD- - OK for small transfers but locks up when asked to shift a lot of data around - even with USB2 i think a USB drive will be far to slow for realtime recording -

there is another option, that is to buy a USB drive shell (ie a USB drive without a drive in it) then get the fastest drive you can to put in it, this way you overcome the cheap slow drive that will be hidden inside a sealed unit -

i have a Fostex 16 track hard disk unit for mobile use as it has ADAT outputs and fits in with the rest of my studio - but i do like the look of the new top of the range Creative X-FI - but having spent up buying a RME hammerfall it will be a while before i can indulge again -

Dr J

Thanks Bill and Dr J. I seem to recall some issues with the Lexicon from when I worked at Guitar Satan, but I’m not certain (I may be thinking of the Tascam?), I’ll look up some reviews. Yes I know about the E-Mu/Creative connection, but to be honest, the fact that Creative owns E-Mu makes me hesitant to consider them. In pro audio land, Creative drivers are are considered to be “invasive.”

This M-Audio interface is powered by the USB connector and has phantom power BUT is only 16bit. For a few more bucks, you can get 24bit/96k mobile recording to your USB from this unit from M-Audio and still it gets its power from your computer USB.

Lastly, if you want something a little more flexible, you might want to look at the Zoom H4. It has the ability to be used as a USB interface (24bit/96k) OR as an on-location field recorder OR as a portable 4 track recorder. AND it has built in 48 or 24 volt phantom power AND it also has built in condenser microphones (X/Y configuration) so you don’t need to carry microphones while on location AND it records for up to 4 hours on two AA batteries AND it uses standard (inexpensive) SD memory for capturing audio on location. It is a swiss army knife answer to portable recording. YOu can buy them anywhere for about $299.

Keep in mind that if all you want is an interface, get the more rugged M-Audio equipment. I’m not sure the Zoom H4 is up to heavy duty use. But I baby my equipment so that is not a problem for me.

take care,


I’ve had a Tascam US-122 for a few years now… handy little gadget. No problems ever.


Edirol UA-25

Great solid unit, great drivers, great reviews

I got mine used on eBay for $150

For that last few years I’ve been using a M-Audio audiophile USB audio interface with my laptop. My son is using an Edirol FA-101 with a firewire interface to his laptop. We have Dell laptops that are similar, although mine should have a litte performance edge. His system can always handle more tracks than mine before crackles and dropouts start happening. I am pretty well convinced that the firewire interface places less burden on his system than the USB interface does on mine. And I believe that this is still important even if you only record one or two tracks at a time when the number of playback tracks and plugins gets large. If I were buying a new audio interface for myself now, I would buy a PCMCIA firewire card for my computer and get a firewire audio interface. The cards only cost about $20 on ebay. On the other hand, if you are going to record to an external drive I would consider getting a firewire drive and putting your audio interface on the USB bus (as you originally proposed). It seems to me that you are headed for difficulties if your audio card is going to share the USB bus with your hard drive.

Based on the reading that I have done, there are two reasons that manufacturers use USB instead of firewire for connecting external audio interfaces to computers - USB is slightly cheaper, and it is more ubiquitous on computers. However, you seldom see USB connectivity for audio interfaces that can handle more than 4 tracks of input simultaneously. There are good reasons for this – firewire throughput in real world usage is better.


EDIT: Just reading another thread…reminded me that you have to check a prospective PCMCIA card’s firewire chipset for compatibility with attached devices(one of the downside aspects of use of firewire).

When I boughtmy laptop, I made sure it had builtin firewire; not just for an audio interface, but for external harddrives. In fact, I do not use the firewire for the audio interface but instead use the USB for the Audio interface and the firewire for the external harddrive. I did not like the idea of the firewire sharing the interface with both the audio interface and the harddrive. It has worked very well as long as I do not add things to the USB interface (like an external USB mouse…etc). I have read bad things about adding a firewire PCMCIA card (something about shared resources with the internal drives…). Anyway, you mentioned that you were looking for just 2 channels and any decent USB interface should be able to handle that easily.

BTW… check out the Zoom… it is too cool for words and really handy!


Quote (DrGuitar @ Jan. 04 2007,21:25)
When I boughtmy laptop, I made sure it had builtin firewire; not just for an audio interface, but for external harddrives. In fact, I do not use the firewire for the audio interface but instead use the USB for the Audio interface and the firewire for the external harddrive.

I have external harddrive via usb2 and interface via firewire with my laptop. Seems to work well that way too.

Check out the samsontech c01u usb microphone.