Old 10-13-2006, 04:03 AM   #1
Slackjaw
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Default Recommend Inexpensive Laptop IO

Greetings all -

I'm a long time recorder, but new to the PC based world. I've been sampling the various inexpensive/free DAW software and really like Reaper. I tend to like independent software with forums like these. So Reaper it is, unless I find a strong reason to go elsewhere.

My PC is a laptop, USB only but could add interfaces via PCMCIA or a PCMCIA Firewire if that's the need.

What I want to do is to be able to buy the IO I need to test things out. Four channels in seems to be the challenge. I see a lot of 2 channel in, but a big leap to the 4. If this all works out then sometime I might buy a Firepod or something along those lines. In the meantime I need a solution for four blanaced 1/4 ins that I can use with the laptop.

I did see many posts similar to this one, but it all seemed PCI based. One solution I see is the M-Audio Quattro. Discontinued, and can be had for ~$100 clams.

Any input is appreciated.
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Old 10-13-2006, 05:05 AM   #2
manning1
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music123.com and zzounds.com have a LOT of interfaces.
be aware sometimes for large projects the internal laptop hard drives can be a limiting factor. it depends on your config.
if were me i might look at one of the new firewire mixers if you got the dineros that let you record to seperate discreet tracks.
i think someone on here is happy with phonic if you read the threads.
it might help to post your laptop model also and your needs as to track/plug in counts.
lots of pros use RME and fancy outboard convertors . it depends on your budget.
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Old 10-13-2006, 02:30 PM   #3
ahoova
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slackjaw
Greetings all -

I'm a long time recorder, but new to the PC based world. I've been sampling the various inexpensive/free DAW software and really like Reaper. I tend to like independent software with forums like these. So Reaper it is, unless I find a strong reason to go elsewhere.

My PC is a laptop, USB only but could add interfaces via PCMCIA or a PCMCIA Firewire if that's the need.

What I want to do is to be able to buy the IO I need to test things out. Four channels in seems to be the challenge. I see a lot of 2 channel in, but a big leap to the 4. If this all works out then sometime I might buy a Firepod or something along those lines. In the meantime I need a solution for four blanaced 1/4 ins that I can use with the laptop.

I did see many posts similar to this one, but it all seemed PCI based. One solution I see is the M-Audio Quattro. Discontinued, and can be had for ~$100 clams.

Any input is appreciated.
I'd go with this 0404 card from E-mu. Its USB2 buss powered and portable and about $200 at most e-tailers

http://www.emu.com/products/product....&product=15185
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Old 10-13-2006, 04:52 PM   #4
Slackjaw
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Thanks guys. I appreciate the responses.

I am not sure if I was clear in my original post.

I am no stranger to music123, musiciansfriend, AMS, etc. I have seen many IO devices to browse through.

The 0404 device appears to be a two input. I need a minimum of four.

I also indicated that as a spare change project until I validate that it's what I want to do, buying cutting edge hardware is unlikely. I have seen the Phonic boards, but replacing my board with a comarable Phonic is a $750 nut that I'm not going to crack for my "experiment".

What I am seeking is a low-budget plan for IO that can handle 4 inputs. Even at 16/44.1 I am OK. This is all only validation. If I get hooked then I'll buy a Firepod or something. But until then I can't justify it.

What about the M-Audio Quattro?
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Old 10-13-2006, 08:27 PM   #5
ahoova
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M Audio is solid. I own a FW 1814 myself and it sounds very good. I also have an e-mu 1820 and I prefer its sound by far (better stereo imaging and low end for my ears).

If you have the dough, consider the e-mu 1616M. Its got the 4 balanced inputs and laptop connectivity!

http://www.emu.com/products/product....&product=13552
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Old 10-14-2006, 05:56 AM   #6
Slackjaw
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Hey guys -

I went ahead and purchased the somewhat vintage M-Audio Quattro. It definitley has its limitations, but as I indicated I am looking for something to tinker with while I play around with the DAW concept. If it all works out, I'll invest in some current technology. In the meantime, a new sealed Quattro for $99 seems like the ticket. It will give me 4 inputs and 2 outputs at 24/48 which is more than adequate for this experimental stage.

In the interest of helping anyone else in a similar place here is what I've found. The Quattro is a USB 1.1 device that can provide 4 ins and 4 outs. However, using all of these at the same time requires dropping to 16/44. If you only need two outs running you can get 24/48 which I feel is quite acceptable for basement budget hobbyists. Purists might debate me on this, but considering that once upon a not-too-long ago time this was all that was available to the home studio I am content in knowing that it will be "good enough" for my just messing around for my own entertainment. I found one new and sealed on eBay for $99. Based on recent completed auctions, used ones in mint condition go for $75 - $100. Which means if I use it for a few months and then commit to making a larger investment for a current technology I'll lose $25 bucks or less.

So anyway, I'll post my results when I get things running. I am a bit leary of the USB 1.1 thing, but from the many, many reviews I have read most folks seem to have been very satisfied.
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Old 10-14-2006, 04:20 PM   #7
Justin
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4 in, 2 out, 24/48khz should be great... how many preamps?
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Old 10-14-2006, 08:27 PM   #8
Slackjaw
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Hey Justin -

Frankly, the Quattro looks "too good to be true" and therefore it probably is. It has a 4 in, 4 out, and all of the ins are 1/4 balanced. With the board I have I really have no need for the mic preamps anyway. At least I don't think so at this point.

I have read a lot of reviews and many folks have had serious issues getting this IO to work 100%. My position is that the other half of people do get it to work, and for $99 clams I'll take the chance. If it doesn't work out, then I'll pass it along via eBay for a minimal loss for somebody else to try out.

Specifications:
•Multitrack recording and mixing without PCI card installation
•Zero-latency direct monitoring.
•Balanced 1/4" TRS connectors.
•Selectable input and output levels support guitar/keyboard/line inputs

•1x1 USB MIDI interface

•Includes software drivers for ASIO 2, MME, Sound Manager and Microsoft DX

Performance Specs:
•Dynamic Range (Direct Line In to Line Out): 105dB
•THD+N (Direct Line In to Line Out): <0.002%
•Dynamic Range (Mic In to Line Out): 107dB
•THD+N (Mic In to Line Out): <0.002%Studiophile BX5

Recording Configurations:
•16-bit /44.1 kHz = 4-in / 4-out
•24-bit /44.1 kHz = 4-in / 2-out or 2-in / 4-out
•24-bit /48 kHz = 4-in / 2-out or 2-in / 4-out
•24-bit /96 kHz = 2-in OR 2 out

<img>http://i18.ebayimg.com/02/i/07/b4/88/5a_1.JPG</img>

Last edited by Slackjaw; 10-14-2006 at 08:32 PM.
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Old 10-14-2006, 08:50 PM   #9
ahoova
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Biggest challenge is setting up adequate monitoring feeds using the limited feature set, but with an external mixer, you should be good.

Good luck to you. Reaper is great.
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Old 11-04-2006, 06:40 AM   #10
Slackjaw
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Update of M-Audio Quattro:

So I've been using the Quattro in 4 in 2 out 24/48 mode and it has been pretty much flawless. When I initially saw the unit sealed in the box on eBay for $99 I was not sure what to expect. After all this is a USB 1.1 device. I read a lot of reviews and some had no trouble and some had unusable trouble.

So although your mileage may vary, I think the Quattro is a great little I/O for those getting started and wanting to try something out before making a deep plunge into expensive hardware.
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Old 11-04-2006, 06:41 AM   #11
Slackjaw
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Oh yeah...

If you have an addictive personality type you may want to stay away from Ninjam!
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