Choosing a new audio interface

I’ve had a Focusrite 2i4 Gen2 for quite a number of years. I’m looking to upgrade and that model is discontinued.

I need an audio interface with two sets of RCA unbalanced outputs and one set of 1/4’’ balanced, I’m exclusively using this with my Kawai NV10S and VST pianos.

The only two audio interfaces which have the outputs I need seem to be:
Solid State Logic SSL2+
Steinberg UR24C

I prefer the form factor of the Steinberg but wondering if any owners could give me feedback to push me towards one or the other. Again, I’m only using this with a USB connection to my PC to let me output the digital signal from software instruments played under Cantabile to a set of external monitors and back to the line-in of my digital piano. I’m also feeding the second unbalanced RCA output over to a audio receiver.

Also a naive question: I’ve always connected my digital piano to my PC via either USB or a MIDI to USB adapter. The audio adapter is also connected to my PC. I"ve always wondered about the MIDI in/out jacks on the audio interfaces. Can I plug my DP directly into these instead of going into my PC, and what are the advantages?

Have you thought about the 4i4. Whilst it no longer has the RCA jacks, you can get adapter leads to go from balanced TRS to unbalanced RCA.

To answer your other question, yes, you could use the MIDI ports on the USB interface. The question is really whether you have a preference for USB MIDI or “DIN” MIDI.

Some folks do not think that USB MIDI is robust enough for live use, and insist in DIN MIDI connections, But I have never had any issues with USB MIDI (but I am not a frequent gigger).

Hi Jon,
I’m using the Steinberg UR24C since a year or so. Pretty happy with it, although nothing really particular. I find it slightly annoying that it only works with the Steinberg driver and not with general ASIO drivers. However, not a real limitation. I’m using it with midi to USB, never tried midi input. I do not have the cable for that,…

The 4i4 only has to analog output L/R sets. I need three (agree I can use 1/4 to RCA adapters but need three sets in total). The 2i4 and the two adapters I mentioned seem to be unique in this regard in the under $300 price range.

As far as MIDI in/out direct from my NV10S, which I don’t gig with as it weighs around 300 lbs :wink:, my interest is the possibility of eliminating the analog line-in to my piano coming from the Focusrite. I’m mixing the Yamaha HS7 monitor sound with the internal piano sound (both fed from the audio adapter) and am experiencing some periodic ‘popping’ noise which seems to go away when I turn down the analog line in volume and turn up the digital level (two separate adjustments on the NV10S). I’m hoping that if I can eliminate the analog line-in and go direct digital (MIDI out from audio interface to MIDI in on the piano) I can improve the sound quality. I also have a Yamaha P515 in my basement which has an internal audio adapter and the digital signal goes both way via USB. Really nice, but unfortunately it lacks the grand piano action that the NV10S has. This was one of major selling points for the Yamaha N1X, but I preferred the NV10S for action.
All my wiring’s tucked away and I’ll need a longer set of MIDI cables, so I’ll need to confirm with Kawai whether the NV10S supports digital input from an external audio adapter via MIDI in. I’m guessing it doesn’t, but if not, what’s the MIDI in for?

Thanks Joop. I’m leaning a bit towards the Steinberg mostly because I like having the controls and headphone jack on the front. I currently use a Steinberg ASIO driver with my other DP (Yamaha P515) and assuming it’s the same one. If so, that’s worked fine for me and I’d have no problem with it. I’m currently using the Focusrite ASIO driver and it looks like SSL also has their own proprietary driver.

I should clarify: the periodic ‘popping’ is only on the Kawai speakers, not the external monitors and not on headphones connected to the Kawai. I’m not playing at loud volume and the sound is fine when it’s not happening, so doesn’t appear to be a blown speaker. This piano is less than 6 months old but there’s nobody local to look at the electronics so I’ll have to figure it out or just use external monitors. I thought I’d try replacing the audio interface to see if it helps, but the thought of entirely bypassing the analog line in is very intriguing.