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USB Audio Interfaces - M-Audio Fast Track Pro, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 or PreSonus AudioBox 22VSL?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hello,
I am currently looking for USB audio interfaces to act as a USB DAC/amp and for future recording. My choices are the M-Audio Fast Track Pro, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and the PreSonus Audiobox 22VSL. Which of the three is better in terms of driving capability and DAC performance? Headphones used will be a Hifiman HE-300 and an Ultrasone Pro 900 (which I hope to acquire soon).


The Scarlett is the cheapest of the bunch, and also comes with a less feature-filled suite than the other two. PreSonus and M-Audio's suites are great, but M-Audio comes with the best, IMO, due to inTone adding virtual instruments.

However, my top priority would still be the dynamics of the headphone amp and the DAC section. Which is better among the three?

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 11

Hello,

I have the same question as WoahReQQuiem. It would be great if you could help.

 

Thanks in advance.

post #3 of 11

I have not used any of those specific models, but I've played with a few M-Audio and Focusrite products. In general, I prefer the sound from M-Audio, but their drivers can be a pain to get working properly (and often require reinstalling for no reason). Focusrite on the other hand has always been very stable and reliable for me. 

post #4 of 11

If you are looking to do some recording, out of these I would recommend the Focusrite. Though I would recommend spending a little more and getting the Focusrite Saffire 6 USB, The Saffire mic pre-amps are excellent for the price, transparent with very little noise. I have used some of the M-Audio pre-amps but have never been happy with their performance. I found them noisy and colored, and they did not pull enough gain. The PreSonus is ok but I preferred the Focusrite. 

post #5 of 11

Thank you Armaegis & JoelMC.I think I prefer the Focusrite Saffire 6 from the reviews I've read.but I've got some other questions that hope you answer me kindly.

 

1.I want to get a Akg k240 studio to use with the Focusrite.I have read somewhere that Focusrit Headphone amps are cold sounded and K240s bass is a little bit recessed too.do you think K240s are a good choice for Dark / Drone ambient & Noise music listening / creating or no, I should buy an external headphone amp or even another headphone?

 

2.maybe, next year, i buy a better headphone like Sennheiser HD600 / HD580 or AKG K701/K501.Do you think the audio interface would be enough for that headphones or not.If not, should I buy an external DAC or an external headphone amp or what?

 

3.I want to use the Focusrite for my field recordings too.In some forums I've read that focusrite needs a lot of power to work properly.I wonder if it works good with a laptop or not?

 

4.Do you think Focusrite satisfies me for some years or not.I think yes, because I don't need so many channels or MIDI in/out, but what do you think about it sonically?

 

I know it is a little bit long, but I live in a country that doesn't have a proper place to buy headphones & so this forum is the only place that I can get help.So thank you very much for your time.

post #6 of 11

I use a Saffire Pro 40 in one of my mobile recording rigs and the headphone amp doesn't have trouble driving any of my headphones, including my AKG K702s. Does it drive them as well or sound as good as a dedicated headphone amp meant for high quality listening? No it doesn't, but Focusrite is known for quality pre-amps and this device is meant for recording and the headphone amp is there for monitoring.

The Focusrite gear is rock solid and should work well for field recording. I use my Saffire Pro 40 with a MacBook Pro running Pro Tools 10, and in April did over 30 live event recordings without a single glitch. If you are concerned that your USB will not be able to supply enough power you could check out the Saffire Pro 14, which uses a power adapter. Though this of course adds more to the cost. The Focusrite is a quality piece of gear and should satisfy you for some time. But if you are looking for a higher quality recording interface for field recording that you will definitely not outgrow, I also highly recommend the Sound Devices USBPre 2. It is a fantastic piece of gear, but costs more than three times as much.

The Gearslutz forum is a great resource for information on recording and recording gear, I suggest checking there as well.
 

post #7 of 11

I actually have the Saffire 6 usb and wrote a review here on the headphone/dac portion - http://www.head-fi.org/t/472484/review-focusrite-saffire-6-usb

post #8 of 11

Thank you dear JoelMC.

Now I have two choices, Saffire 6 (200 $ / Usb 2.0) & Saffire Pro 14 (250 $ / Firewire)(and maybe Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 (250 $ / Usb 2.0)) by the way, when you say "Does it drive them as well or sound as good as a dedicated headphone amp meant for high quality listening? No it doesn't", you mean a little headphone amp like some Fiio models or higher class headphone amps?

 

Thank you dear Armaegis.

I had read your review some days ago, and when I said "I have read somewhere that Focusrit Headphone amps are cold sounded", i was mentioning to your nice review.But, do you think this coldness when pairs with an Akg k240s, sounds good enough for ambient music or not? (You know, ambient music needs a precise deep bass response.)

 

Thank you in advance.

post #9 of 11

I think Armaegis' review is fairly good. I agree that it can sound a little on what I guess you could term the 'cold' side. When using it with my K702s I notice a difference between the Focusrite and my Nuforce Icon HD, which I use for home listening. The Nuforce sounds clearer and more detailed with a lower noise floor. I have also used DAC/Amps by Grace and Benchmark and they also had a more detailed sound that was superior to the Focusrite interfaces. I have not tried one of the Fiio amps, so could not comment on how it could compare to that.
 

post #10 of 11

Merci JoelMC for your help.

 

I know that Focusrite Amp/Dac doesn't sound as good as your Nuforce Icon HD. Focusrite is only 200$, while your Nuforce is 350$ and it is a dedicated DAC/Amp. when I was mentioning Fiio, I was talking about it's cheap models, something like FiiO E5 or FiiO E6. Anyway, unfortunately I can't spend more than this now, so I think I would get the Focusrite.Thanks for your time.

post #11 of 11

I think you will be happy with the Focusrite, I have been very pleased with mine. For its price it is an excellent piece of gear.
 

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