My audio interface is an E-MU tracker Pre. I bought it new around 2008.
I’m tempted to buy a new one, but I’ll be honest here, I’m being a sucker here for a Native Instruments marketing campaign, as what’s got me considering buying a new one is the fact that they’re including Guitar Rig in the deal for free (until 1st June).
Aside from the deal, I might be able to justify the purchase on the grounds that the driver for my E-MU is not written for Windows 10. But how would/should anyone go about comparing a new piece of kit like the current Native Instruments ‘Komplete Audio’ units on sale with an 12 year old piece of kit?
It is an interesting question. I’ve used a Lexicon Lambda for a long time too, and have wondered about a newer budget interface, but it seems like it boils down to the free stuff rather than actual performance. At least with what I do, you end up mangling the original signal to the point the interface is probably not you’re hearing anyway.
Buy Guitar Pro on its own @ £179, which is daft because I could save money by…
Buying one of the audio interfaces (to replace my Emu Tracker-Pre) @ £79 (Komplete Audio 1 - arguably a downgrade), or £109 (Audio 2, essentially a like-for-like, I think), or £189 (Audio 6, which is an upgrade, but only really in terms of the extra ports (SPDIF x 2, which I don’t see me having a need for)…any one of which would include Guitar Pro.
Not buying anything!
As mentioned, buy a new audio interface might help me in terms of reliability. @JayGee mentioned MTBF (which I had to look up, so was a new idea to me!), but there’s also the aspect of getting a new device that has drivers written for Windows 10, which my one doesn’t.
My PC crashes occasionally, usually first thing, but sometimes once or twice during the day. However, the behaviour just prior to, and at, the crash (sluggish mouse, screen goes to black then recovers), and the only vaguely relevant Event Log entry suggests the issue is actually with the NVIDIA Quadro NVS 290 graphics card…a graphics card that behaved perfect well in the PC it came out of (no crashes there).
I could go back to that PC, but this one has twice the RAM (16GB), and is an i7 (the other was an i5).
That’s very unstable behavior and looks like it would be worthwhile to investigate further.
A glitch during a tracking session is something that no one wants to encounter.
Does the motherboard have built-in graphics ? You might want to remove the NVIDIA card and try using the graphics on the motherboard and see if it’s more stable. If the glitches go away, it maybe worthwhile checking drivers or just purchasing a new graphics card if you can’t debug.
I’m using a Focusrite 2i4. It’s a great interface. I’ve had it for more than 3 years. It’s the 2nd generation model. These Focusrites seem to be among the most popular interfaces in the mid to low end price range.
That’s £524. Different model from the one I’m looking at though, and I can’t yet find the 2i4 available online to get a comparison price, but none of the others in that line are anywhere near that price.
I would hold on…and question yourself at this point
So, it seems you have a bit of budget and are thinking about changing your preamp. Ask yourself what is your goal? Are you sure that it is your preamp holding you back - will you make better music with a new one?
To be honest, in that prices range you won’t hear a remarkable difference in quality. So - is there a difference in functionality that will really make an impact on your recordings?
Or, is there some other piece of gear that will make a bigger difference to your music & enjoyment?
Last time I spent a similar amount I was considering replacing my headphones and in the end I decided to buy a few things that I didnt have - some percussion, a mechanical metronome and a camera stand. The metronome has made a difference to my practice and the percussion & stand has enabled me to do things I could not do before. Bringing something new makes a much bigger difference than a minimal gain in sound quality…