I. need. soundcard. for. guitar.
January 5, 2010 5:22 PM   Subscribe

What's the best soundcard to record guitar and voice on a mac under $1000 CAD?

I am asking for a friend who wants to invest in a good soundcard. He plays mostly acoustic guitar, which he records through a Neumann (km183 or 184, I can't remember) most of the time, but also sometimes using pickups, to his iMac running Logic Pro 8. He also sings. Most of the time he would record a guitar track or two and then add voice, but it should be possible to record both simultaneously as well.

I've used a variety of soundcards that usually have tons of ins and outs (MOTU mk3, Digi 003) but I wonder if there are high quality soundcards with only about 4 ins (and no need for more than 4 outs) but awesome preamps. Anything that's particularly appealing for a good guitarist? Firewire would be prefered but not mandatory. He's ready to go up to about $1000.
posted by ddaavviidd to Technology (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Maybe a used Mobile I/O ULN-2? The pres are amazing and if you don't get the +dsp, I think you could keep it in that price range.
posted by umbú at 6:32 PM on January 5, 2010

I'm no expert, but the Apogee Duet is widely lauded as having brilliant converters. It might fall short on the input side, however, if your friend is planning on recording the acoustic sound on the Neumann AND the pickup AND singing at the same time. The Duet is Firewire. A few friends of mine use these and they all rave about the sound quality and the seamless integration with Logic.
posted by tim_in_oz at 6:35 PM on January 5, 2010

I have a Presonus Firebox that I'm extremely happy with. 2 XLR/instrument inputs, and 2 more line-level inputs, along with a few other ins and outs.
posted by DMan at 8:56 PM on January 5, 2010

mobile i/o and apogee are in a league presonus can't touch. that said, i have used them all and ultimately fell for the sound of the RME devices. He can pick up an RME FireFace 400 for around that price point. Mobile I/O, Apogee Ensemble, Apogee Duet (if he only needs 2), are all fantastic. If he values the sound quality of his guitars and mics then don't let him skimp on the audio interface. MOTU, Presonus, M-Audio, Lexicon, etc. all offer nice features and UI but in the end, the sound is what matters.
posted by Señor Pantalones at 11:26 PM on January 5, 2010

Apogee Duet. OH. MY. GOD. YES. There are definitely cheaper alternatives out there, but nothing under $2,000 that I have heard sounds better, and the Duet is only $500 U.S. Also, the design of the Duet is superb. It's basically a giant volume knob. Press it and it becomes a knob to increase/decrease input volume. Press it again and it's output volume. For me, however, once I had the input volume set, I never touched that setting again... but it's the most handy thing ever as a volume knob on my desktop... and like I said, the D/A converters on the thing are amazing.

The only catch: it's firewire only.
posted by 2oh1 at 12:02 PM on January 6, 2010

By the way - I am in no way affiliated with Apogee. I'm just a guy who has spent thousands and thousands of dollars over the last 15 years on a home studio. Once I hooked up my Apogee Duet, I could hear things I've never heard before in music I knew very well - through my same monitors. If the Duet cost $1,000 I'd still speak really highly of it... but at U.S. $500, it's a frigging steal.
posted by 2oh1 at 12:07 PM on January 6, 2010

What are feelings on the Focusrite Saffire 4 In compared to the Duet? You have focusrite preamps, midi, 2 Hiz, firewire, and a decent software package.

I was considering the Duet, but need the old midi input for a synth.

The price is right at 350.
posted by M83 at 5:48 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So I recommended the Apogee Duet and the mk3, but the friend wanted more than 2 ins, so I think he'll go with the MOTU. Thanks all!
posted by ddaavviidd at 1:40 PM on January 12, 2010

there are plenty of clever metaphors floating around for what he's doing but the general idea is that using the non-audiophile MOTU ADCs to record a roughly $2k mic and who knows how much $ guitar is pretty illogical.
posted by Señor Pantalones at 8:38 PM on January 15, 2010

I ended up buying the Apogee Duet. I love it. It is so easy to use and quite sturdy. Even the octopus doesn't bother me. It is working out great for scratch tracks and even for studio tracks not involving a mic.
posted by M83 at 3:17 PM on April 28, 2010

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