Can someone recommend a PC interface?

I just bought a Rode condenser microphone that needs phantom power, so my 12 channel mixer is going to be up for sale. But being a solo concert guitarist, I never use more than two channels anyway. Can someone recommend a device that I can use to record my acoustic guitar on a computer. I’m thinking of two to four channels with phantom power, and hopefully a strong, clean signal. I would like a USB connection to my PC, since a 1/8" plug to the Line-in on the sound card might be tricky in Win 7. Can someone recommend a product. (I’m on a budget but am willing to eat bread for a month!)

You would think we would be able to whip out a model or part number, but you hit the magic device nobody makes. Lots of people make small USB computer interfaces with microphone amplifier and Phantom Power, but nobody makes one with generous volume. “How do I make my microphone louder” is a very common complaint. Many of them aren’t mixers, either, so plugging your microphone into channel 1 of 2 means you’re stuck recording Left of a stereo show.

If your mixer in all other respects works OK, I might recommend adding a Phantom Power inserter.


If you want to try it anyway, I’ve been happy with a Behringer UM2.


Not exactly dirt cheap, but very good, is the 2nd generation Focusrite 2i2. The first generation wasn’t bad, but the instrument input clipped with hot electric guitars.

Also good, and a lot cheaper is a Behringer. I can’t look up the numbers atm, as Behringer’s site is in maintenance and Thomann’s seems to have a problem too…

I’ll have a look later.

These little units are the perfect storm of convenience, small size, ease of use and low cost. But. Because they are being used by inexperienced performers, they usually feature low volume. Low volume is “safe.” People recording low volume usually assume they’re doing something wrong or are willing to make changes to their recording performance to make up for it. If it’s not too dreadful, low volume can be made up in post processing.

High volume can cause overload and distortion. That’s the unit you send back even if you’re simply not using it correctly. So it’s no contest.

People who use mixers usually have a much better appreciation of volume adjustment and have a reasonable idea where the volume meters should be. In one USB interface case, the sole volume indication is the knob turns green.

For a very long time Bruno, a classic guitar player was the longest post on the forum. He started out with a cheap USB microphone and over several months graduated to a much larger and comprehensive system. The longest forum post, 39 chapters, is Ian who just wanted to record an audiobook from his apartment in Hollywood.

Both seemingly dead simple jobs.

If you have a system that’s close to working right now, I would keep it and make whatever changes you need rather than starting over. What’s the mixer?


I can give you an idea of the problem. My voice is penetrating enough to go through soundproof walls and is recognized as a non-lethal weapon by the State of California, and yet, given a relatively standard setup and conventional dynamic microphone, does not overload my UM2.

Flash forward, you may be trying to record a double pianissimo, expressive guitar passage using a similar setup. It hasn’t got a chance. Microphone systems overload, but they have quiet problems, too. There’s a thing called noise floor. There’s a constant, tiny ffffffffff sound in all microphone systems. Your job is to make the show so loud nobody notices it.

This juggling act is much easier to do with a full mixer and good meters than a consumer level USB interface.


Behringer’s site is back.

Interesting is the BEHRINGER UMC202HD 2x2 at around 60$. 2 channels, Midas preamps…

Can you tell if it will allow you to record your microphone as a mono track, and I suppose do it without ASIO?


Right to the point, Koz.

1 channel recording works with these. But you’re right, these are ASIO devices. Both also work in USB audio class compliant mode and thus should work with Audacity.

Sorry, I’m so used to not having that problem with a Mac that I forget about the lack of ASIO support with Audacity.