More Edirol tinkering and Firebox finale
Testing the limits of my attention span today I continued trying out the Edirol UA-1EX. Though I originally bought it only for softsynth use on the laptop, I thought I should at least give the inputs a chance. I loaded up REAPER today and did some recording with it and it worked way better than I expected. The first test: direct monitoring was fine. There was a small amount of latency at first. Not enough to hear an actual delay, but enough that there was a slight doubling/chorus effect as I listened to the vocals from my mic. I reduced the buffer amount in the driver control panel to the absolute minimum and it sounded better, though I did experience a few dropouts while playing around. Some tweaking in there to find the right level will be needed.
I went from the MXL v67 mic -> Bluetube -> Edirol UA-1EX and it sounded good to me. I was monitoring using my Sennheiser HD 280 headphones and not my Event 20/20 monitors so I can't tell exactly how it stands up yet compared to other audio, but in the headphones it certainly sounded good enough.
I'm a little unclear about how to properly use the input gain dial. I'm enough of an audiophile to know that I probably want my fancy Bluetube preamp doing the amplification and not whatever's in the little $80 UA-1EX. But is setting the dial all the way to the max (poorly) amplifying things or is that just providing 100% of the signal from the input? There's no medium notch on it to indicate where it begins amplifying which is what I'm used to on mixing boards. Guess I'll check the manual.
So the conclusion of all this nerdy gear talk is that the Edirol UA-1EX is staying and may actually get used as a makeshift mobile recording unit along with lugging around my Bluetube. The preamps on the Presonus Firebox are disappointing however and it's getting returned. I can't justify paying for preamps that won't totally replace the Bluetube.
It sounds like the preamp limitation on the Firebox is due to Firewire's power constraints so I have no idea how it stacks up against other Firewire audio devices. I assume they all have similar limitations and will need external power for beefier pre's. I will say this for the Firebox: it sounds really good and it's a sturdy little unit. Latency wasn't an issue, the drivers worked great, they have fantastic support and they pretend to like my music.
I may think Firewire itself is a little stupid now though, which was my suspicion all along.