let's take the time and let me introduce myself with this first buying guide post.
I'm a 30 years old hobby producer located in Germany. My main focus is on electronic music like Uplifting Trance, Ambient, Chillout and a little bit of D&B.
At the moment my equipment-box looks like this...
DAW + Software:
- FL Studio
- Ableton Live (only the version that comes with my X-Station)
- Some VST Plugins (mostly free ones beside the ones that came bundled with some hardware)
- Korg X5DR
- Novation X-Station 49
- Roland JV-1010
- Yamaha S30
M-Audio Keystudio 25
ESI Midi Mate II
Mixing + Soundcard:
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio PCI Express
On the audio side both of the rack-synths (Korg + Roland) are connected via 1/4" mono jacks to each of the Fostex' Inputs and then routed via optical SPDIF to the input of my soundcard. The X-Station is connected just via USB. The S30 is not connected at all (that's why I post here! ).
On the MIDI side both rack-synths are daisy chained and connected to the PC via the ESI Midi Mate. The X-Station is connected via USB. The S30 is not connected at all.
Now that was my setup - here's my dilemma I'm actually facing:
1) The audio latency of the two rack-synths is quite heavy (I think round about 100-200ms), so recording them "live" in a session is a pita.
2) I don't have enough audio ports to get a proper signal handling. Of course I could hook the S30 on my X-Station but then I'd be nailed down to either use the S30 OR the X-Station as a tone generator because the X-Station can't handle both simultaneously.
3) I don't have enough MIDI ports to get a proper handling there as well. Instead of daisy-chaining all synths I'd rather have a MIDI interface that supports 4 separate dedicated MIDI lines.
That finally leads me to my "buying guide" question for you, folks:
It seems I really need a new MIDI interface and also a new audio interface. I'm not keen in spending thousands of bucks into the latest top-rated gear (as you can see most of my equipment is a bit "aged" and I bought it second hand). But at least a decent bit of quality should be there.
What do you recommend me in terms of a new MIDI interface?
My wishlist would be:
- 4 dedicated MIDI ports
- 1 USB port for connecting to the PC
Nice to have features are:
- low latency (I think the audio latency matters way more than the MIDI latency)
- flexible routing options and maybe autosensing (IN/OUT) for the MIDI ports
What do you recommend me in terms of a new audio interface?
My wishlist here would be:
- ability to record (at least) 4 stereo inputs simultaneously
- low latency (so I can record them live in a session or at least compensate the latency evenly using my DAW tools)
- connected to the PC via USB, Firewire (a PCIE card would also be okay but I tend to like the external solutions more)
- mixing and routing controls in software (preferably for use with the two DAWs I mentioned above)
- hardware controls (knobs, sliders, ...) are not so much my concern
In terms of the MIDI interfaces I found three that might come close to what I want:
- ESI M4U XT (looks quite good and my singe ESI Midi Mate never let me down so far)
- M-Audio MIDISport 4x4 (almost the same price as the ESI, but I read of some failures in the hardware that lead to non-functional devices after some time)
- Miditech MIDIface 4x4 (I don't know much about this, it just seems to be half the price of the other ones)
In terms of the audio interface I'm all yours You can just read what I want to achieve with the interface, so I'm very open for any suggestions from your side. Please just keep in mind that I don't wanna spend thousands of bucks into this gear - so even an interface that's a bit outdated but does the job well when bought second hand, might be of interest.
Edit: After some research I found two audio interfaces that might be of interest:
- MOTU UltraLite Mk3 Hybrid (USB and Firewire with 8 1/4" Inputs and a bunch of great sounding tools + drivers, small footprint and big LCD)
- Mackie Onyx Blackbird 16x16 (Firewire, a bit cheaper than the MOTU, "only" 96kHz sampling rate, not so fancy looking as it holds no LCD, a bit bigger full sized 19" rack)
So for the moment I tend more towards the MOTU, especially as I could try getting one for around 300€ in mint conditions.
Thank you a lot for your input (and sorry for the lengthy post )