Audio Interface Comparison Chart by TweakHeadz Lab
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ack panel of the Focusrite Pro 24

Firewire Audio
Interface

Comparison Chart

 

also see the PCI Chart and USB 2.0 Chart

Soundcards and Interfaces   1   2   3    4    5    6    
on a budget? See the "best of the cheap"

 

 

 

product

total analog i/o

s/pdif i/o

pre-amps

ADAT i/o

MIDI i/o

head
phone

Word
Clock

appr. street price

forum links

Behringer FCA202

2/2

no

0

no

no

1

100

Echo Audiofire2

2/2

Yes

0

No

1/1

1

no

180

discuss

M-Audio
FW Solo

2/2

Yes

1

no

no

1

200

Behringer Podcastudio

2/2

No

2 (on mixer)

no

no

2

no

200

Focusrite Saffire Pro 24

4/6

Yes

2

ADAT in ONLY

1/1

1

300

discuss

Echo Audiofire 4

4/4

Yes

2

no

1/1

1

no

280

discuss

PreSonus FireStudio Mobile

8/2

Yes

2

no

1/1

1

--

300

Main

Rig
discuss

M-Audio ProFire 610

4/8

Yes

2

no

1/1

2

400

Main

discuss

TC Electronic Impact Twin FW

4/4

Yes

2

Yes

1/1

2

--

400

impact twin

discuss

M-Audio LightBridge

0/2

Yes

0

Yes x4

1/1

1

Yes

400

discuss

Presonus Firestudio Project

8/10

Yes

8

No

1/1

1

--

500

discuss

product

total analog i/o

s/pdif i/o

pre-amps

ADAT i/o

MIDI i/o

head
phone

Word
Clock

appr. street price

forum links

Mackie 820i
8x2 FW interface

9/8 Mixer
includes sends/returns, subs/tape)

No

3

No

No

1

500

820i

discuss

Apogee Duet

2/2

no

2

no

none

1

--

500

Main

discuss

Echo AudioFire 8

8/8

Yes

2

no

1/1

1

Yes

600

discuss

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

8/10

Yes

8

Yes

1/1

2

500

Main

discuss

Motu 8Pre

8/2

No

8

Yes

1/1

1

--

550

discuss
poll

Motu UltraLite Mk3

8/10

Yes

2

No

1/1

1

--

550

discuss
poll

Tascam FW1082

8/2

Yes

4

No

2/2

1

--

575

1

Focusrite Saffire Pro 26

8/8

Yes

8

Yes x2

1/1

2

Yes

650

Main

discuss

Presonus Firestudio Lightpipe

0/2

No

0

Yes x4

1/1

1

Yes

650

discuss

product

total analog i/o

s/pdif i/o

pre-amps

ADAT i/o

MIDI i/o

head
phone

Word
Clock

appr. street price

forum links

Digidesign Mbox2 Pro FW

4/6

Yes

2

No

1/1

2

Yes

700

poll

M-Audio ProFire 2626

8/8

Yes

8

Yes x2

1/1

2

Yes

700

large product image

discuss

M-Audio NRV10

12/4 -mix
10x10 AI

No

5

No

 

1

--

700

discuss

Echo AudioFire 12 FW

12/12

No

No

No

1/1

no

Yes

700

discuss

Mackie Onyx 1220i

(12x2 FW)

18/8 Mixer (includes sends/returns, tape)

no

4

no

no

1

700

1220i

discuss

PreSonus FireStudio

8/8

Yes

8

Yes x2

1/1

1

Yes

700

poll

Presonus Firestudio Tube

16/6

No

10

No

1/1

1

-

700

fs tube

discuss

MOTU 828mk3

10/10

Yes

2

Yes x2

1/1

2

Yes

750

Main

poll

Lexicon Ionix FW810s

8/10

Yes

8

No

1/1

1

---

800

Main

discuss

Motu Traveler Mk3

8/8

Yes + AES

4

Yes x2

1/1

1

Yes

850

poll

Alesis Master Control

8/6

input only

2

Yes x2
inputs only

1/1

2
(unofficial info)

--

900

discuss

product

total analog i/o

s/pdif i/o

pre-amps

ADAT i/o

MIDI i/o

head
phone

Word
Clock

appr. street price

forum links

Steinberg MR816x

8/8

Yes

8

Yes

0

2

Yes

1000

Main

 

Mackie Onyx 1620i

(16x2 FW)

26/10 mixer
(includes sends/returns, subs/tape)

No

8

No

No

1

1000

1620i

discuss

Yamaha N8

10/2 Mix
AI
over FW

No

4

No

1/1

2

--

1000

discuss

MOTU 896mk3

8/10

AES+
S/pdif

8

Yes X2

no

2

Yes

1000

Main

discuss

Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56

8/10

Yes

8

Yes X2

1/1

2

Yes

1000

discuss

Tascam FW1884

8/8

Yes

8

Yes

4/4

1

Yes

1100

discuss
poll

Steinberg MR816CSX

8/8

Yes

8

Yes

0

2

Yes

1200

Main

discuss

Digidesign 003 LE

8/8

Yes

4

Yes

1/2

2

Yes

1200

discuss
poll

M-audio Project Mix

8/4

Yes

8

Yes

1/1

2

Yes

1250

discuss
poll

RME Fireface 400

8/8

Yes

2

Yes

2/2

1

Yes

1300

1  2

product

total analog i/o

s/pdif i/o

pre-amps

ADAT i/o

MIDI i/o

head
phone

Word
Clock

appr. street price

 

RME Fireface 800

8/8

Yes

4

Yes x2

1/1

1

Yes

1700

1
poll

Mackie 1640i

16x16 FW

26x14 mixer
16x16 interface

no

16

no

no

1

1700

1640i

1

2

Presonus Studio Live

22/12

Yes (out only)

16

no

none

1

--

2000

discuss

2

Apogee Ensemble

8/8

yes

4

Yes

none

2

Yes

2000

Main

discuss

Allen&Heath
Zed R16

20/6
unverified docs not clear

Yes

16

Yes x2

 

 

2000

discuss

Digidesign Digi 003

8/8

Yes

4

Yes

1/2

2

Yes

2200

poll

product

total analog i/o

s/pdif i/o

pre-amps

ADAT i/o

MIDI i/o

head
phone

Word
Clock

appr. street price

 

 

 

 

How to Read this Chart

This handy chart can help you narrow down your choice of a firewire audio interface.  It can save you hours of research and will cut through some of the confusion caused by the inconsistent definitions manufacturers often use.  Manufacturers may count inputs and outputs differently.  This chart is an attempt to fairly compare the above devices, based on an interpretation of what constitutes a discrete audio channel.

Analog i/o refers to actual analog input and output channels, not necessarily how many input and output jacks are on the device.  The first number is the number of input channels and the second number is the number of output channels.  This number includes the mic preamps but does not include headphone outs.  If a Mic preamp and a line input share the same channel, that channel is only counted once.  This is to give you a true idea of how many analog input and output channels the box has.  Likewise if the main output pair has "main outs" and "monitor outs" these channels are only counted once, as they "share" the same channels. 

Note that Mixer/Interface combination units are really mixers with an audio interface.  The mixer might have 16x8 i/o but the interface may only be 16x2 (16 outputs to the computer and only 2 channels returning.  Don't assume because you see 16 faders you can mix 16 separate channels playing back on the computer.

How many analog inputs you need depends on how many sources you want to record at the same time.  Also, if you have a synthesizer or drum machine you need inputs through which to record and monitor these. How many outputs you need depends on how much gear you have that you want to send audio to.  If you want to use an FX box, you need to use an output to send it audio and you need two inputs to get it back.  If you want to mix your song on an analog mixer you need a lot of outputs.  If you are mixerless and are mixing in your software you only need 2 outputs--those to which you connect your monitors.

S/pdif i/o is either yes or no.  This is a stereo digital pathway, and may be either coaxial or optical.  S/pdif is useful for connecting digital audio devices, like external a/d converters, effects processors, CDR recorders, even some preamps and keyboards that have digital outs.

Preamps refers to the number of microphone preamps the interface has.  Usually these can double as instrument inputs (guitar, bass, etc.)  But check on that before you buy.  Also some interfaces (but not all) will have insert jacks or send outputs for connecting compressors and other processors.  You might want to check on that too when evaluating an audio interface.

ADAT refers to an 8 channel digital input and output.  It is useful for connecting more mic preamps, a second audio interface or computer, a digital mixer, or can be used to add more analog i/o through an 8 channel ad/da converter.  When you see ADAT x2 in the chart that means the device has two ADAT ports in and out or 16 channels in and out.  (Sometimes two ADAT ports may be used for eight channels at a high sample rate like 96kHz)

MIDI i/o refers to the number of 16 channel ports there are on the interface.  1/2 means it has one MIDI input and two MIDI outputs.  MIDI inputs and outputs are used to connect a MIDI synthesizer, keyboard controller, drum pad controller, and some control surfaces.  You need one port for every device you want to connect to the computer.  You can always add more via separate MIDI interfaces.

 

Headphones refers to the number of stereo headphone jacks on the unit.

Word Clock refers the presence of a BNC connector through which word sync signals can be sent to other digital devices. It is important that all digital devices connected through s/pdif or ADAT share the same word sync.   For simple setups that may have two digital devices, having a word clock connector is not usually necessary.  Sync can be sent along through the s/pdif or ADAT connection. It becomes important in rigs where there may be multiple digital devices where it is impossible to send word sync to all devices. 

Prices and specs may change from when this chart was made.  You can check the product descriptions at the manufacturers websites for up to date details.

 

 

No Longer Available at zZounds

Phonic Firefly 302 Plus

2/2

yes

1

no

1/1

1

no

150

Presonus Inspire

4/2

no

2

no

no

1

--

200

discuss

Onyx Satellite

2/6

No

2

no

no

2

--

180

discuss

Yamaha GO46

2/4

Yes

2

no

1/1

1

--

200

Alesis IO14

4/2

Yes

4

input only

1/1

2

--

200

Focusrite Saffire

2/8

Yes

2

no

1/1

2

--

350

discuss

Focusrite Saffire LE

4/6

Yes

2

no

1/1

1

--

300

discuss

                   

Edirol FA101

8/8

Yes

2

no

1/1

1

--

380

poll

                   

Tascam FireOne

2/2

no

2

no

1/1

2

300

PreSonus Firepod

8/8

Yes

8

no

1/1

1

--

400

Tapco  Link

2/2

Yes

2

no

no

1

no

200

TC Electronic Konnekt6

2/2

No

1

No

no

1

--

230
200

PreSonus Firebox

4/6

Yes

2

no

1/1

1

--

300

Focusrite Saffire Pro 10

8/8

Yes

8

1/1

2

400

Main

Presonus FP10-Megastudio

8/8

Yes

8

No

1/1

1

--

650

Mackie Onyx 400f

8/8

Yes

4

No

1/1

2

Yes

780

                   

M-Audio FW 1814

8/4

Yes

2

Yes

1/1

2

Yes

500

Konnekt Live FW

4/4

Yes

2

Yes

1/1

2

--

700

Alesis IO26

8/8

Yes

8

input only
x2

1/1

2

400

MOTU 828mk2

10/10

Yes

2

Yes

1/1

1

Yes

680

Digidesign Digi 002 LE

8/8

Yes

4

Yes

1/2

1

1000

MOTU Traveler

8/8

Yes +AES

4

Yes

1/1

1

Yes

850

TC Konnekt X32

0/2

s/pdif
x8+AES x8

0

Yes 2x
-or- 6xTOS in
4x TOS out

0

1

Yes

1100

Yamaha N12

14/4 Mix
AI over FW

no

8

no

1/1

2

--

1500

                   

Onyx 1200F

12/8

Yes
+AES

12

Yes x2

2/2

4

Yes

1700

Edirol FA66

4/4

Yes

2

No

1/1

1

280

Main

 

Konnekt 8

2/2 plus 2 monitor ch

Yes

2

No

1/1

2

--

280

 

Konnekt 24D

4/4

Yes

2

Yes

1/1

2

--

450
400

TC electronic Konnekt 48

12/10

Yes x2

4

Yes+TOS

1/1

2

Yes

1050
800

discuss

Korg Zero8

20/6

Yes (out only)

2 XLR 3-31 (TRS)

no

1/1

1

No

1900

                   
                   

 

Threads

If you want to comment or report errors on this chart, please post in this thread

Poll:  Best Soundcard/ Audio Interface Over $1000

Poll:  The Better Firewire interface for a Mac $300-$500 is...

How is Firewire these days, any drawbacks?

FAQ: What is the latency issue?

MOTU 8Pre, the next thing?

MOTU Ultralite Review

Tascam FW-1082

Are there no good interfaces under $300

Firepod vs Mbox

MOTU HD192 vs RME Fireface

Mixer or Firewire?

Firewire--How does it work?

Project Mix

 

Links

The Best Soundcard for my Home Studio

Review of the EMU 1820M

Review of the Delta 1010

Review of the MOTU 828mk2

Soundcards and Interfaces   1   2   3    4    5    6 

 

 

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SoundCards and
Audio Interfaces

Audio Interfaces- Page 1
Audio Interfaces--Page 2
Firewire Audio Interface Chart-Page 3
PCI Audio Interface Chart-Page 4
USB 2.0 Audio Interface Chart--Page 5
Audio Interfaces- Page 6
Audio Interfaces: The Best of the Low Cost
Audio Interfaces for your Mac
MOTU 896Mk3 Review
MOTU 828mk2 Review
MOTU UltraLite
Emu1820M
Delta 1010
Audio Interfaces Prices

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