Your opinion on USB audio interfaces to avoid

I’m considering building a C3 performance host on one of these…

Intel NUC

Due to the ports available, this means moving to a USB interface which I would normally avoid like the plague. I realize they are becoming widespread in use but am interested to hear opinions on ones you would kick to the trashcan from experience.

Many Thanks


Good experience here, with the MOTU Ultralite Mk3 on a similar platform (Gigabyte Brix).


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The suggestion I would make if you are planning to use it live, and only need the standard stereo outs…is a USB (with ASIO drivers) mixer…other than that the Focusrite gear is decent for the money as are the ones from Presonus and Steinberg. RME are about the best but you pay BIG-TIIME!!

Avoid M-Audio, Roland and Behringer. JMO!!! ymmv :wink:

I get solid performance from both the MOTU Ultralite mk3 hybrid and from the MOTU 828 mk3 hybrid units I have.


Agreed! Not reliable, noisy…


See this fine thread: What Audio Interface do you use live?

Lots of info here.

Personally, I love my RME Babyface! With a Behringer ADA8200 connected via ADAT to the Babyface, I get loads of individual outputs, but at the cost of shlepping along a 19 inch rack for my audio interface. That’s why I have recently added a MOTU Ultralite mk3 to my setup - just a half-19-inch box with 10 individual outputs; and I just need a little laptop bag to carry it to the gig with its adapter cables (to XLR). Also in the box as a backup: Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 (4 outputs).

Tried the Presonus AudioBox as a relatively affordable backup solution, but the latency performance wasn’t very good.



I would avoid the m-audio as mentioned. never had good luck with the cheap focusrite Scarlett either. My experience with presonus has been good when they work but the FireWire ports were a joke and broke easily. Had a usb box where the pre amps broke before a year. Would highly highly recommend motu. The mark of the unicorn are rock solid units.

I had initially tried using a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 to blend some VST instruments & FX into my 8Gb/256ssd/i7/Win8.1 setup, but the RTL (lag/latency) was crippling no matter what buffer settings. I gave up and used midi only, with the Null-Audio driver. Recently I bit the bullet and got an RME Fireface UC. Wow what a difference! I can run at 48k/128 using 4 VST instruments and 4 FX simultaneously along with midi hardware and get less than 5ms delay.

~ vonnor

Thanks Gents for all that - much appreciated.

  • Hadn’t considered MOTU - (big fan of RME ($$$$$!!!) for DAW environment) but the ultralite looks really attractive.

  • @Neil_Durant - wasn’t aware of the Giga HTPC box, thanks for mentioning it.


I’ve just started using a Novation AudioHub2x4 - mainly because it has a built in 3 port USB hub. ( I use a surface pro as my principal machine and with only one poorly powered USB port this novation box is very handy. )

Seems solid enough (has Focusrite hardware inside) and sounds reasonable. Good value…

My needs aren’t as sophisticated as some of you guys however…!! :slight_smile:

I have two PreSonus units. And AudioBox USB for my home computer, and an AudioBox 22VSL for my gigging setup. There are definitely times when I can feel the latency in the AudioBox USB, but the 22VSL unit is not noticeable.

When you are setting up your audio in Native Instrument products you can see the latency. The 22VSL is typically under 7ms on my i7 4GHz computer with a 128 Byte buffer. My studio computer is typically double that, but I have to use a 256 Byte buffer because it is not as powerful.

You can also easily test your unit. For example: If you send pulses to you left channel, and then patch the L Out to the R IN and use a program such as Audacity to record both, you can measure the number of samples offset and calculate the latency from there.

And I stay away from Behringer like the plague.

I have a similar setup to Rick. I use firewire at home, however. My laptop only has USB. I appreciate that Rick addressed the most important factor of any usb audio, being the CPU specs and the buffer size. Some condemn an audio interface based on a misunderstanding of the importance of buffer size and CPU capability. I have ceased purchasing M-Audio products. The firewire Solo was never quite stable (years ago) the Axiom 25 had dead pads (well known to other users). I know this is only 2 instances with M-Audio but because they were 2 different products, I am no longer trusting them. Since then I have enjoyed flawless performance with MPK controllers, and audio interfaces such as the Peavey USB-P interface (don’t let the name fool you, almost all owners of this interface are unwilling to sell it, or return it), VSL22 by presonus, and my least favorite the Yamaha Audiogram (due to drop outs mainly). My buffer size is 512, which is fine, with a latency of 12ms only noticeable when combining a hardware synth with a software. I program a subtle delay in the hardware, in those cases. If a 12ms delay messes up your playing, you must be one fast player! Put your money into your computer hardware primarily for USB interfaces. More than one sustaining low note will tax the system most.

By the way, my opinion is the only right opinion. Just sayin’.

@WeepingBoil @Howifeel
Thanks again for all that info - I also didn’t want to go the M-Audio direction, too much bad press in the DAW world. Currently I drive C2 on a 3U i7 rack mount case with an RME 4/4 analog card - massively stable with 5-7 ms buffer and massive in general which is the reason for the original question.

Just an observation for you laptop users - and no offense to those who use them - (!)

I could never get comfortable with one on stage - almost every time, usually between “Heart of the Sunrise” and “Free Bird” I would have the urge to open an Excel spreadsheet and review last quarters financials.

And then there’s this:

Her: “wow you are some kind of keyboard player and really hot! Wanna come over to my place and show me your performance in person?”

Me: “yeah babe - be right with you, just need to get this HP out of suspend mode and… wait I think my wireless mouse went dead…”

Her: I’m outta here:



I use Cantabile for guitar. I’ve been using the interface on my POD HD500X. Good latency (5.8), but the audio engine in Cantabile randomly stops working. I’m using an i5 laptop with Win10, 8gb and an ssd drive. I’ve had to stop using Cantabile till I can resolve the issue. I think it’s a Line6 driver vs Win10 problem, but won’t be able to test further till I get a proper interface. Thinking Scarlet.

Brad, if you read this, I haven’t reported the problem because I’m waiting to hear on two other issues and don’t want to monopolize your time, but there it is!

I’ve used E-MU, MOTU, Focusrite, Roland, and Behringer… To me, none of those are reliable enough for a massive live show. I would only recommend RME for live shows. If your PC is in order, it cannot fail.

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Hi Torsten, was the latency issue you experienced with the presonus audiobox only on the audio or midi as well?

Hey Chris,

my issue was with audio performance: at 128 samples (which is my standard buffer size for live playing, given that I use virtual guitar amps), I had lots of audio crackling, which just isn’t there with my RME Babyface and my MOTU Ultralite. Can’t say anything about MIDI performance - sent the audiobox back after testing audio. But usually, MIDI timing is rarely an issue with current interfaces.



Thanks Torsten. I use 99% midi and a mic for one or two vocoder songs. Should be ok then.

Hi everyone,
I bought a Behringer c-2 2 microphones set, but I could not make it work with Yamaha audiogram 3 (it has 48 phantom power) what is the problem? it does not get any signal.
Thank you in advance