Any recommendations for a new (budget) USB audio interface (+ USB filter?) and a pair of monitors

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bgravato
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Re: Any recommendations for a new (budget) USB audio interface (+ USB filter?) and a pair of monitors

Post by bgravato » Thu May 20, 2021 9:41 pm

That's really silent!

I've ordered the Presonus E3.5 BT monitors. Estimated delivery date: next wednesday.

As for recording, I'm not in a hurry, so I might wait a bit longer before ordering an audio interface. I still have some dim hope that I'll find my ART preamp...
If not, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo looks like a good option.

waxcylinder
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Re: Any recommendations for a new (budget) USB audio interface (+ USB filter?) and a pair of monitors

Post by waxcylinder » Thu May 20, 2021 10:20 pm

bgravato wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 9:41 pm
As for recording, I'm not in a hurry, so I might wait a bit longer before ordering an audio interface. I still have some dim hope that I'll find my ART preamp...
I've got one that I don't use any more - but I think that you're a bit too far away to collect it Bruno ;)

Peter.
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Paul2
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Re: Any recommendations for a new (budget) USB audio interface (+ USB filter?) and a pair of monitors

Post by Paul2 » Thu May 20, 2021 10:57 pm

bgravato wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 9:41 pm
That's really silent!
Ridiculously so, had to double check that it was in fact working.

If you do decide to go with the Focusrite, maybe the 2i2 is better than the Solo in the long run?
This guy explains the main difference, other than price of course. :D

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0CgtIUbwlI

bgravato
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Re: Any recommendations for a new (budget) USB audio interface (+ USB filter?) and a pair of monitors

Post by bgravato » Fri May 21, 2021 4:58 pm

waxcylinder wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 10:20 pm
I've got one that I don't use any more - but I think that you're a bit too far away to collect it Bruno ;)
And it got way farther after Brexit, even though neither of us moved an inch ;)

Thank you Peter. No worries! Big house cleaning coming soon, so mine might show up eventually inside some box in the garage or something.

Paul2 wrote:
Thu May 20, 2021 10:57 pm
If you do decide to go with the Focusrite, maybe the 2i2 is better than the Solo in the long run?
Yes, for stereo recording with 2 mics, it is an advantage. Though in the past, when I was using the ART dual preamp, I seldomly connected two mics to it.

If/when I buy it I'll have to check the prices...
A couple of days ago the Solo was 105 euros and the 2i2 was 168 euros (Amazon Spain).
I was just checked again and the 2i2 just dropped to 136 euros.
Camelcamelcamel is telling me the lowest prices ever on amazon were 82 and 124, respectively. Both prices are from last year, probably from black friday or cyber monday.
I think I'll keep an eye on both and if I see another sudden price drop I might go for it.

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Re: Any recommendations for a new (budget) USB audio interface (+ USB filter?) and a pair of monitors

Post by bgravato » Mon May 24, 2021 5:01 pm

Just a follow-up... Got my Presonus Eris E3.5 BT monitors today.

From my preliminary tests, I can say I'm very happy with them.

Connecting the NUC to them via bluetooth (BT) on Linux was very easy and straightforward (Debian Buster, running i3 window manager, bluez+blueman applet for managing bluetooth connection and pulseaudio control for selecting the output device).

Only negative aspect of the BT connection is the (expected) latency, which seems to be somewhere between 100 and 200 ms.
It can be a bit annoying when watching videos.

If I connect the NUC by cable (audio/headphones out on the NUC to RCA inputs on the monitors) there's a lot more noise as expected (and very irregular/varying kind of noise), though I need to raise the volume considerable for the noise to be annoyingly noticeable.
The DAC on the Presonus is definitely better than the one on the NUC (also as expected), so despite the latency I prefer to feed the monitors via BT.


I also did a quick comparison between the Presonus Eris E3.5 and the Edifier R1280T speakers which I also have.
Audio source: Marantz CD player connected via RCA cables.

The Edifier have a much stronger bass, but the Presonus have better detail on the mids/treble and also a more frontstage feeling.

For albums which are (too) soft on the bass and too "harsh" on the mids/treble I prefer the "warmer"/laid back sound of the Edifier. The Presonus can sound a bit too aggressive, especially on high pitched voices (and other high pitched "harsh" sounds).

On albums which have a stronger bass component (which was the majority of the ones I listened to), the Edifier are too "bassy" and they kind of muffle the rest. The Presonus will offer better/more pleasant detail here and overall are my favourite.

The E4.5 version of the Presonus would probably have a better bass response (I'm guessing more in line with the Edifier R1280T), but I do not regret buying the E3.5. They're already wider that what I wished for, anything bigger would take too much space on my desk. I'm not a big fan of punchy basses anyway, so I'm more than happy with the E3.5.

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Re: Any recommendations for a new (budget) USB audio interface (+ USB filter?) and a pair of monitors

Post by bgravato » Mon May 24, 2021 6:45 pm

A quick web search and I found out pulseaudio has a latency correction feat. I added +250ms to the latency offset on pulseaudio's advanced settings for the E3.5BT and now video and audio seem to be in sync!

Well, most of the time... when playing youtube videos on firefox, it takes a few seconds for video/audio to get in sync after I start playing a video or after skipping forward/backward, but it eventually gets in sync.

Playing youtube videos either on chrome or using mpv/youtube-dl also takes a couple of seconds to get in sync in the beginning (feels quicker than on firefox), but skipping forward/backward works fine and doesn't lose sync.

Playing videos from my disk using mpv player seems to be always in sync from the start and when skipping forward/backward as well.

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Re: Any recommendations for a new (budget) USB audio interface (+ USB filter?) and a pair of monitors

Post by Paul2 » Mon May 24, 2021 10:48 pm

Glad you are enjoying your Presonus speakers.
As you say, they are not perfect, but have a good performance versus price ratio.

Have you set the EQ/tilt on the back to your preference?

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Re: Any recommendations for a new (budget) USB audio interface (+ USB filter?) and a pair of monitors

Post by bgravato » Tue May 25, 2021 2:22 pm

Paul2 wrote:
Mon May 24, 2021 10:48 pm
Have you set the EQ/tilt on the back to your preference?
Yes, but I'm actually happy with the neutral position.

I also experimented connecting the Presonus to the (smart) TV in the living room (line out jack from the TV to RCA inputs) and played some youtube music videos from the TV and then compared to playing the same videos via bluetooth from my phone. The difference was huge! I was expecting differences in the DAC on both systems, but I didn't expect such a huge difference.

My TV also has an optical audio out, so following your previous suggestion, I'm now thinking about buying a small/simple DAC for connecting that optical out to the speakers (Edifier) I have there. The FiiO D3 (D03K) sounds like a good option for under 30 bucks. For that price, I'm not expecting it to be amazin, but it should be a good improvement over the TV's internal DAC, for a very low cost.

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Re: Any recommendations for a new (budget) USB audio interface (+ USB filter?) and a pair of monitors

Post by Paul2 » Tue May 25, 2021 3:18 pm

I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the difference between it and the TV's built in DAC.

Using this exact "no name" unit which I paid like 12 bucks for.
It has optical and coaxial inputs, just using the optical input.
Screen Shot 2021-05-25 at 5.39.49 PM.png
Screen Shot 2021-05-25 at 5.39.49 PM.png (123.48 KiB) Viewed 64 times

bgravato
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Re: Any recommendations for a new (budget) USB audio interface (+ USB filter?) and a pair of monitors

Post by bgravato » Tue May 25, 2021 5:44 pm

Paul2 wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 3:18 pm
Using this exact "no name" unit which I paid like 12 bucks for.
It has optical and coaxial inputs, just using the optical input.
Yes, it was your previous comment that inspired me to get one of this.
I saw "unbranded" ones, selling between 12 and 18 euros, but it's always a bit of an added risk. You never know exactly what you're getting... You might be just throwing some money away...

I might be paying an extra for the same hardware, but it's not a huge difference (well it's twice as much, but at such low price, twice is not that much, is it?). With the branded one I'm a bit more assured that I get what I'm expecting...

I haven't ordered it yet, but it's on my shopping cart :)

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