Inexpensive USB interface for live gigs

I know there are other threads, but some of my requirements are a little different from those that I saw in the other threads.

I’m using Cantabile and starting to gig with it a bit. I’m looking to minimize further investment (until I see if the project pans out) and am looking for an inexpensive alternative that I can put into my rack. I have multiple interfaces in my home studio, but I really want something dedicated to the live gig.

Ideally it would have 6 outputs, and I’m not all that interested in inputs (don’t play to use it for effects with hardware keyboards. Even better if it has MIDI support (one less interface to carry around).

I’ve looked at the Behringer and some used stuff, but I haven’t seen much in the way of user reviews. I’ve also looked at some of the TASCAM rack mount gear (used), as well as

This Behringer looks interesting (Behringer U-Phoria), but I can’t figure out whether it has 6 distinct outputs, or if the mains are a sum of the other four outputs.

Anyone have any experiences that they’d like to share? Thoughts?


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Hi Patrick,

From looking at it I think it is only 4 outs at a time. You have the main stereo outs and the monitor outs that are switchable between A/B, so 6 mixiable channels in the box but only 4 outs at a time. That’s how it reads to me.


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Be sure to have it externally powered, not bus. I had it bus and probably due to power fluctuations on stage, my soundcard dropped out all the time.

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Your biggest concern for live play is going to be latency. This is the amount of time it takes audio data to get from input to PC and back to output. This is important when using soft synths and samplers, but even moreso when using mics or guitars.

There’s a guy over on gearslutz that is maintaining a pretty awesome database of latency times he has personally tested on many popular interfaces. If you scroll down a bit there is a link to his latest results.

I personally have the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 Gen 2. All the Gen 2 Scarlett interfaces have phenomenal round trip latency for the price. Anything better you have to go thunderbolt or RME, either of which is far more expensive.

Edit: Hahahaha! Can’t believe I didn’t notice the year on this post. Must have been one of the “Suggested Topics” or something. Sorry for the necro-post, folks.


I would suggest NOT an externally powered interface. With my rig I only need to have the laptop powered up and all my keyboards and my interface get their power from USB. It makes for a much simpler rig. And I never had a problem with this…

“Six Outputs” and “Inexpensive” are a difficult pairing.

In general Behringer is “Pretty Good…”—but you have to weigh its shortcomings and decide whether it’s right. That said, it’s in inexpensive lesson.

I’ve had excellent results with Focusrite interfaces, and not been tempted to upgrade, especially for live shows when all anyone can hear is the lead guitar player ahem

If at all possible, you drag your laptop along to the shop, and make sure that your plugins, your host, your Cantabile all play nice together. Especially those of us in Windows Land have to worry about odd hardware interactions that are difficult to track down.

e.g. Memory Moon ME80 which has all KINDS of dropouts under VSTHost, but is rock solid under Cantabile or , which is not something you want to find out at a live show

Quick update -

OK, so after using the Behringer UPhoria, I found that it was a bit unstable and the latency was a bit high. I decided to spend more money and bought a MOTUL Audio Express. I have had fewer issues, and have actually increased the load (e.g., more complex song configuration) . Very happy with it…

Though the Behringer was fine, I also have had issues with their drivers in the past (e.g., not signing them so they couldn’t be installed on Win 10). Hopefully they won’t repeat that mistake, I’m more confident with the MOTU folks (who I’ve met over the years).

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Hm that’s extreme risky.
USB ports tend to fail or output less power and also you cannot rely on the stability of the power signal. I once had my streaming audio stuttering in this situation on stage. Believe me, feels a bit like dying :sweat_smile:

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I have my keyboard and mouse on a little hub. Live I don’t even take that stuff. My laptop has 4 USB ports, I’m pretty lucky there.

Perhaps it’s the experience of owning a Kronos and its two minute boot time (yikes), but I would recommend that anybody who is serious about being on stage with a “computer” in it (embedded or otherwise) powers their kit via a UPS (even laptops to keep them in high power mode). It’s saved my bacon so many times now, I would hate to not have one. The Kronos has not ever gone wonky on me a few times (in four years) in the studio, where it is not UPS powered. I keep meaning to get one for the studio now as well.

Back OT, I would recommend looking at Focusrite interfaces. I have a 2i4 and it is rock solid (they were being sold half price a year or so back, so I got 2 so that I had a spare). Prior to that I was using a Focusrite Diamond Pro 6 for six years without a hitch.

They do a 2i6, but I think they are counting the headphone outputs in the output count (may be an option?) but they are currently selling refurbished 1st gen 18i8’s for around £150, so well worth a look.

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A UPS has been a part of my gear for many years now. My gear has survived when amps and PA’s have fried from surges and low power. I also agree on Focusrite. I have a 2nd gen 18i8 and am very pleased with it. I found through many weeks of research that it is critical to have a powered interface, as opposed to usb power only interface.

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A UPS is a seriously good idea in many cases. Since lately I go to shows with basically a backpack (or small suitcase) I don’t take one because of the size and weight- plus, I know the laptop itself is battery powered and if the rest goes down that’s the backline company’s problem :stuck_out_tongue: Chances are the whole stage went down, not just me so whatever. But if you’re using real keyboards and not just controllers and you have them configured to boot a certain way, I would certainly want one.

We did a show and walked out on stage and realized the guitar player’s ac to his Line6 Helix had been kicked out. We got it back up about 8 seconds before the intro tape was over. So guitarists might want to think about that as well :smiley:

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My UPS saved me once in Canada when the voltage converter to UK power started smoking mid-gig and then failed. UPS kept my rig going seamlessly until one of the crew was able to drop a replacement in. Well worth the relatively small investment.

The other great use is when you’re setting up backstage at a festival on a rolling riser with no access to power until you roll out on stage. UPS gives you a little while to get your sounds set up and make sure everything’s working backstage :slight_smile:



Oooh, that backstage setup tip is worth a $1 million - especially festival type dates where you have limited time to setup, and a reboot of gear would a real time drag…

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I don’t consider it any riskier than any other rig. As long as you run it for plenty of time in rehearsal and it works reliably there then all should be fine. But I’m not naive - I take a second laptop with me, loaded and ready to go.

Anything can break, and I agree that the USB connector is a woeful design, but I’ve not had a failure so far. If I was to use a powered hub that’s one more more box and power supply to fail (and take a backup for) and a couple more USB connections to hope don’t come unstuck.

The simpler the rig the better (and the less risk) in my book.