Join G. W. Childs for an in-depth discussion in this video Picking the right audio interface, part of Reason and Record for Live Performance.
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The second major purchase you're going to make is an audio interface. There's a lot to think about when purchasing an audio interface, not just because you're going to be using this onstage, but also, you'll most likely be using it in the studio as well. So you want to get something that fits both cases, or, if you've got the money, just get one that's separately, for live performance. The things to consider first though are, are you going to be doing live vocals, any kind of direct monitoring? So do you want voice going into it? Do you want guitar going into it? That kind of thing. If that's the case, then you may want to think about something with my preamps.
the other thing that you can think about, too, is how many outputs you're going to need. So, are you going to be sending a sub-mixed, mix out to the sound guy, meaning, will you be having multiple outputs coming, so the sound guy has control over the drum levels, things like that, or are you going to just do all the mixing yourself? Me personally, I like to have both options, especially if the sound guy seems really good. I'll go ahead and just kind of leave the mix in his hands and just kind of send separate outputs of things that I think are important. The other thing to consider would be FireWire or USB.
Actually a lot of people kind of like to bicker about this, but in reality, if it gets the job done, it doesn't really matter. I tend to go with FireWire, because I'm on a Mac and I've got a FireWire 800 port on my MacBook Pro, which has a little bit better throughput. You have to worry about any dropouts or anything like that. But USB 2.0 is plenty fast and there's plenty of good audio interfaces out there. Of course, if you're going to be doing any kind of Pro tools onstage, of course, you have to go with Digi hardware at that point, so you can blow that port out, unless you go with something like the M-Audio stuff, which you can do Pro Tools Empowered.
I'd probably rather go with the full version of Pro tools, if it was me. One thing I would say is use the audio interface a lot before the show. Don't do a deal where you've bought it and you're having to install drivers the night before the show. You want to run through several practices with your new audio interface. Dial it in, get to know it. I'd say, have it for at least a month before you do a show. Because there are all sorts of options with audio interfaces, and you don't know, if you've selected something the night before you don't know what it does, so later on, when you're playing and it's doing something strange and you don't know why it's happening, remember, when you're onstage with the laptop, you're essentially having to be your own engineer.
So, definitely be informed about your audio interfaces. When you buy an audio interface, also make sure that you do have the newest drivers and that you've tested them out way ahead of time. Another thing that you can do too, before you install the newest drivers, is verify online that people aren't having issues with that driver update, or that that driver update doesn't have issues with your operating system. In fact, if it was me, I would choose an audio interface, research it first, and then buy the audio interface. You do get what you pay for with audio interfaces.
There's a lot of different prices in audio interfaces out there right now, and if it's really, really cheap, most likely it's a cheap interface as well. The converters cost more money, and also the programming costs more money, so definitely consider that. In the end, just make sure you get yourself an audio interface that you trust, from a company that you trust, one that you feel good about, and one that's been proven for performance, in general. Like I said, if you check around first, check out and see what other people are using, do your research, get the newest drivers, you should have no problems.
- Building a creative base for a live performance
- Choosing and setting up equipment for a live performance
- Tweaking the MIDI controller with Remote
- Creating patches in the Combinator
- Importing and editing loops
- Integrating with ProTools, Cubase, and Ableton Live through ReWire