Focusrite 18i20 - anyone got one?

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by slowpinky, Apr 5, 2013.

  1. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm interested because - it looks like a much better solution to the I/O issues I have than a patch bay or a digital mixer. It seems to be feature laden and is USB too - supposedly the USB version of the Pro 40...

    The F/rite pres have always been ok by me, but thats secondary to conversion quality. You can bypass the pres on all of the inputs just by using 1/4 inch jacks instead of XLR's according to the promos- but there are no reviews around to speak of.

    Anyone?
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2013
  2. ScatMan

    ScatMan Friend of Leo's

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    I have the pro 40. So far it's been rock solid for four years with my iMac.

    The 18i20 is a brand new unit. I did see an interview on YouTube with a Focusrite rep at the NAMM show saying it is basically the USB version of the pro 40.. same pres and w/wordclock.

    I've read some internet chatter speculating as to whether or not the line-ins actually bypass the pres and use different gain circuitry. Seems the Focusrite guys are coy about answering this. Not surprising to me.. Focusrite makes a big deal out of advertising their pres, so why wouldn't they be coy?

    Anyway, my pro 40 manual specs show -10 dB line-ins when the knobs are set to zero. If that's accurate, somewhere above that is unity gain, so the Forusrite pres are effectively if not actually bypassed when connecting an external pre, depending on where that unity gain setting actually is..

    ..and anyway, does spot-on unity gain accuracy matter that much really? If it sounds good and works?
     
  3. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    Scatman steered me to Focusrite when I was shopping for a new interface and I've never had a minute of buyer's remorse. (I went with the Pro 24.) I've been using it almost a year and been totally happy with the audio quality ... the converters certainly stack up well with anything at that price point.
     
  4. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

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    Yeah Woody thats my impression too - I had a Saffire Pro 26 some years ago and loved the sound of it - but couldnt use it with PT (then). I've got an RME Babyface which is a great little interface, and while it boasts 4 inputs - and lovely conversion, for mixing out of the box with outboard gear where I need several digital I/O's running at once - it starts to get finnicky with lots of cable swapping..

    Anyway with the options this thing has and my past experience with F/rite gear, I've pulled the trigger on one - its USB which is interesting - the new Hac Pro I mentioned n another thread has no firewire - but has 2 USB cards including USB 3

    Scatman - yep I agree, cascading pres can sound good if you can keep the noise under control! - but yeah surfing around the net for info, theres not much about the specs or latency - as you say its early days, but mines coming and I'll file a report after I've plugged it in.
     
  5. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    Man, yeah, the RME, thass whut I'm talkin' about. But that's only a dream for bozos like me. ... I bet USB3 will work just fine.
     
  6. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

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    The RME is great for acoustic instruments.. I use it with an audient mico which has more options with tweaking pres ... Great for recording... Limited for post- recording though..
     
  7. peteycaster

    peteycaster Tele-Meister

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    I have the 8i6 which was an upgrade from a Tascam unit. The difference in sound quality was immediately apparent (I'm assuming converters). There was a definate improvement in the pre amps and it gave me the ability to go four channels at once (I also have a DMP3) or even six ins if I had a pre with spdif. Once you get your head around the Mix Control set up they are a great little unit. I believe the 18i6 also has effects for recording (ie. reverb for vocals).

    When I bought mine there was a little bit of negative feedback on the net but all of the problems seemed to be related to pc performance. I had no issues at all but did download the drivers directly from the Focusrite site rather than use the disc.

    I would be very surprised if you regretted buying this unit even though you already have an RME which apparently has good conversion.
     
  8. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks pc - Yeah- looking forward to playing with it - feels like the home studio is shaping up...(some Eve audio monitors would be nice..;)...)

    I had no issues with the Pro 26 - apart from some latency...and some firewire issues which were solved by recording directly to the internal HD...the Saffire mix control at the time(cant remember what it was called) was no problem to get my head around...on the other hand the RME mix control(Totalmix) needs its own dedicated tutorial(very little info in the manual) and is just plain scary! If I can deal with that Im pretty sure the new F/rite software will be fine!:D
     
  9. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

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    The unit arrived yesterday - The build quality is right up there with the more upmarket FRite stuff - and, well , for those of you who like their gear looking nice - its very pretty too..hehe -I should say i got this to OZ for $499.00 US - including shipping - I'm rapt with that..as I said this thing is really more for I/O and combining some hardware processing - and the odd multi track session - thats all..
    Its decked out with Amphenol dual function plugs on all of the preamps - the console section is solid with gain controls for all pres, adequate meter bridge for the built in pres , 1 monitor volume control and two separate phone sends...basically the Pro 40 with USB

    No software with it- simple download from F/rite and after the RME virtual mixer, this one is super simple and clear. Not only that - PT fired up with the 18i20 straight away - it took me 2-3 hours with the RME (yes I am a twit with this stuff)- but I'm getting signal in straight away here..the USB connection is working fine.

    Reading the reviews - reports on the audio seem positive.

    But I'm writing music for a new project right now so I'll try and get some music onto it soon. I'll be putting down some tracks on steel acoustic using a Rode K2 and an At 4033 or one of my smaller condensers...

    I'll get back to you with sound...
     
  10. ScatMan

    ScatMan Friend of Leo's

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    I'm looking forward to hearing it.
     
  11. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

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    This project is slow in coming along so I busked a version of 'Falling Grace" on my little Blueridge Acoustic using the 18i20 and the mic setup I had at the time - A small condenser and an SP C3 in cardioid...theres some PC noise at the front - its not the unit...

    old strings too....not good! but its not baaaad sounding.

    https://soundcloud.com/gator3/fall
     
  12. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    I'd say it's quite gooood sounding!
     
  13. ScatMan

    ScatMan Friend of Leo's

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    Nice playing there slowpinky! Since this is the recording forum, I'm curious about a few things..

    The recording is very low volume. Did you record with very low gain?.. and if so, did you do that on purpose to test the interface's noise floor? I can't hear any noise even at that low level.

    and..do you guys have a lot of flys that need to be swatted in OZ?.. 'cause there is a humongous "TWACK" sound @ 3:25 that sounds like someone is using a fly swatter to kill a fly. ;)
     
  14. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

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    Haha - I dont know what that noise was! It came from mainly from the small condenser - I'm figuring I hit it turning slightly -but I dont remember..I thought about editing it out but WTH :D-

    Anyway that was the first chance I had to record with it and yeah the volume is low...this wasnt ideal...I just used the internal pre's dialled at about 1/2 way and I was kind of interested to hear any internal noise from the unit - but actually I was sitting almost right on top of the PC and you can hear that at the beginning of the recording - normally when Im working at home I sit away from the desk in the middle of the room but I was doing some other stuff on the computer at the time.
    The other thing was the proximity effect from the C3 especially with the old strings...not great either..so I moved it back to over 2 feet away.
    I was running both mics from the inputs at the front - dont know if they have higher impedance than the others (I'll check that out -but there's no Z or impedance markings under the input) - but it meant I couldnt use the K2 becaue phantom runs 1-4 5-8 - and I had just plugged in all of my outboard stuff in around the back..


    Thanks mate!
     
  15. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

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    I've been recording acoustic (Blueridge Bluegrass cutaway) a bit more with the 18i20 lately - this time using 2 pencil mics (omni) - a matched pair of SP C4's which were the first recording mics I bought 8 or 9 years ago.. ..they are pretty clean - I used them flat because there was a persistent mid range bump - hard to get rid of except by shuffling around a lot.
    I just tried putting one centre to the 12 th fret - 12-16 inches away - the other off axis(it would have been in cardioid mode) slightly facing from the 5th fret toward my RH. The strings were new this time , but I still kept getting an irritating hump at about 200-250hz . Shifting the mic toward the 9th fret a little more and the mid hump abated somewhat. Im thinking the FR has some mid colour - this is in comparison to my RME babyface which is very clean sounding over the range. Listening back through the monitors the signal was acceptably strong with pres up to 3 o'clock . Just for an experiment I routed both mics through an ART Pro MPAii - to see if I could bypass the pres in the FR - seemed to work because - whether the internal pres were out of the picture or the pres were cascading, the signal took on a brighter and clearer tone especially in the bottom end of the guitar.

    I'll put some more stuff up soon - but my verdict so far is that using the Scarlett is very simple. The sound isnt startling - but its got more character (colour) and presence than my old 003.
    If I say it has less clarity and evenness over the whole range than the RME it has to be with the caveat that the mics are not the greatest reference points - and I think its normally difficult to get clean lows from a small body acoustic . The pre's are fine - and I'm keen to try it with some better mics and/or keep messing with the placement. I do move around alot when I play so that doesnt help much.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2013
  16. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

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    Addition to the last post - the 18i20 is great and much better since I've discovered that there seems to be a problem in each of the C4's omni caps - so I recorded something with one of the only other pair of small condensers I own , an sE1a. allowing for the brightness of the mic , there was more gain, and clarity and the mid -hump has gone -and this was in cardioid mode.
     
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