Audio Interfaces Under Linux

66 replies [Last post]
AP_in_DC
AP_in_DC's picture
User offline. Last seen 16 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2014-08-28
Posts:

It may be time to edit the Requirements web page, where audio interfaces under Linux are recommended.

Among the top choices shown on that page are four M-Audio DELTA models that are considered "legacy" by the manufacturer, and as such are no longer available other than on the used or NOS market. As Ardour evolves, I would certainly like to use it on latest/greatest proven hardware, rather than an interface already a decade old.

I'm seeing some good things mentioned about the affordable U-Phoria line from Behringer, and I'm hoping those are suitable to function with Ardour.

paul
paul's picture
User offline. Last seen 1 hour 52 min ago. Offline
Joined: 2006-03-16
Posts:

There are some very important developments in the audio interface that do need to be written up. One of them is that the situation with PCI(x|e) drivers is mostly unchanged. Another is that more and more USB devices actually work, and work with the audio class driver on Linux. Another is that firewire audio is basically dead.

seablade
User offline. Last seen 6 hours 44 min ago. Offline
Joined: 2007-01-22
Posts:

Not sure I would personally recommend much of anything from Behringer. Their x32 is the only product from them that has been standout, which in their case means as reliable as most other manufacturers rather than, if you buy one buy two because it will die, which is the standard from Behringer.

That being said there are certainly more options out there now. Not sure if anything has really come out to replace the Delta or similar interfaces in the PCI world honestly, as Paul mentioned, that situation really is relatively unchanged to my knowledge, and the fact is that many manufacturers just aren't focusing on that area. USB has become a much larger area these days though, and while I won't agree Firewire audio is dead, I will say that it is certainly on it's way out at this point.

Seablade

mashworth
User offline. Last seen 20 weeks 4 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2015-02-19
Posts:

I use a Soundcraft Si Expression with the addition of a MADI-USB card.
This may help: https://community.ardour.org/node/8717

The Soundcraft Impact is coming out this summer and I believe the card comes with it. The Impact has a lot more bang for the buck. I'd love to try one out.

pseudonomous
User offline. Last seen 7 weeks 3 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2013-07-04
Posts:

Something worth pointing out about PCI interfaces is that contemporary intel chipset boards don't come with legacy PCI controllers anymore, even if they appear to have PCI slots. PCI slots are provided by PCIe to PCI bridges, which are prone to cause problems with duplex operation on some cards. (I know this is true of the M-Aduio Delta 1010 and Delta 1010 LT cards, from personal experience, I've heard of trouble with avid cards on windows as well).

So this is a new thing to be careful about when you're buying a soundcard or motherboard.

lapincitrom
User offline. Last seen 2 years 23 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2013-08-28
Posts:

Could you please update hardware requirement page?

I had the same consideration than AP_in_DC, about audio/midi hardware interfaces production, the Ardour page on hardware speaks about discontinued products (http://ardour.org/requirements.html)
A friend of mine is a professional musician, he is not a Linux's geek but a simple user. Consequently he give some money for the wonderful Ardour project.
Now he want to develop a more professional approach and buy a semi-pro USB audio/midi hardware interfaces.
So to help him, if I consider recommanded Roland products on http://www.roland.com/categories/production/audio_midi_interfaces/, I identify two old products:

  1. Out in 2011, Roland Octa-Capture (UA-1010 - http://www.roland.com/products/en/UA-1010/index.html)
  2. Out in 2012, Roland Studio-Capture (UA-1610 - http://www.roland.com/products/en/UA-1610/index.html)

Unfortunately, no information about these old flagship products on

  • http://alsa-project.org/main/index.php/Matrix:Vendor-Roland_Edirol
  • http://wiki.linuxaudio.org/wiki/hardware_support
  • http://www.linuxmao.org/Cartes+son?structure=Accueil+Materiel

Or could you suggest other similar products?
Thanks in advance!

paul
paul's picture
User offline. Last seen 1 hour 52 min ago. Offline
Joined: 2006-03-16
Posts:

It is impossible to track all products. The Linux audio world is so small that the number of people likely to try out a particular device is tiny, and often close to zero. We do what we can, but increasingly the answer is (thankfully) shifting towards "USB2 class compliant audio devices can just be assumed to work". Unfortunately it will never be a guarantee.

x42
x42's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 hours 1 min ago. Offline
Joined: 2006-11-05
Posts:

@lapincitrom alsa-project.org and wiki.linuxaudio.org are crowed sourced and publicly editable. (I don't know about linuxmao, but it has a signup form). If the device is not listed that means that nobody has yet bothered to find out and report back.

As for recommending a similar device, the Presonus Audiobox 1818VSL comes to mind.

mhartzel
User offline. Last seen 1 hour 35 min ago. Offline
Joined: 2013-10-15
Posts:

I have a Presonus AudioBox 1818VSL and all features but it's DSP based internal mixer works with Linux. This means in practice that all inputs and outputs of the device will work in Linux, but there is no realtime EQ's and no internal lowlatency passthrough for the audio.

I wrote a post with my initial experiences with the device here: http://www.linuxmusicians.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=7543&sid=2a6d0812d85da383542d8a05c8054143&start=15#p53848

Since then I have been able to test the Adat input and output and they seem to work, but I was not able to get the devices clock to synchronize to the incoming Adat signal and this caused clicks and pops when I recorded the Adat signal. I was able to select Adat as the clock source in Qasmixer (or was it QASHctl ?) but the setting didn't really change the clock source. Hopefully a future alsa version has this working.

paul
paul's picture
User offline. Last seen 1 hour 52 min ago. Offline
Joined: 2006-03-16
Posts:

In my experience, ADAT clock sync is tremendously buggy, on many different devices. I stopped trying to use it between different manufacturers yeara ago.

seablade
User offline. Last seen 6 hours 44 min ago. Offline
Joined: 2007-01-22
Posts:

@paul

Depends on the hardware. I have used it often between various hardware, but yes some hardware seems to have problems with it.

For instance I ran for a long time with just ADAT sync between an external AD/DA and an RME without issue, but going between the same AD/DA and a Yamaha LS9 gave a friend of mine some problems.

Seablade

x42
x42's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 hours 1 min ago. Offline
Joined: 2006-11-05
Posts:

ADAT sync with the 1818VSL works fine here using alsamixer to select the sync source.

Early versions of the alsa driver ('round 2.6.39, 3.0) had a bug that did not allow to set the sync source properly, but that's long gone.

mhartzel
User offline. Last seen 1 hour 35 min ago. Offline
Joined: 2013-10-15
Posts:

Thanks for the info, I must try again with a newer Linux distro, maybe Adat sync then works :)

pschindler
User offline. Last seen 2 years 14 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2013-03-11
Posts:

One more USB interface that just works out of the box: Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6

allank
allank's picture
User offline. Last seen 4 days 16 hours ago. Offline
Joined: 2006-12-07
Posts:

This is a bit more niche.. but I use an Allen & Heath Zed R16 and it runs flawlessly with ffado... In kxstudio I run comfortably at 128 periods with buffers = 3 ... (p128 n3) .... In gentoo I could run it at 64 periods... - depends on how low latency you require..
No issues with recording 16 channels.. although that is probably more i/o related on the machine rather than anything else..

Having MIDI control on the console is great and the routing is great as you can setup the analog eq as an insert...

I haven't tried ADAT sync (I just don't have any other ADAT gear) .

soundpro69
User offline. Last seen 1 year 32 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2009-04-08
Posts:

There are exactly zero interfaces with eight microphone inputs that will work with GNU/Linux. Zero. I was forced to give up on this years ago. I bought a Saphire Pro 40 and could never make the thing work. I hear they changed the hardware recently too (making it less compatible)...
In the USB 2 (or USB 3 or Thunderbolt) realm there seems to be nothing where I can record six or eight independent microphone channels all at once under GNU/Linux.
I'm a fan. But unfortunately, with no hardware, I can only be a spectator fan...
Is there anything new?
Thank you all for the good work!

paul
paul's picture
User offline. Last seen 1 hour 52 min ago. Offline
Joined: 2006-03-16
Posts:

Do you mean "precisely 8" ? Because if you mean "8 or more", then your claim is wrong. Even the very mainstream Behringer/Midas X32 Just Works (TM) on Linux.

anahata
anahata's picture
User offline. Last seen 32 min 11 sec ago. Offline
Joined: 2010-10-27
Posts:

There are exactly zero interfaces with eight microphone inputs that will work with GNU/Linux

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20?
And if you combine products, lots of other options. I've been using RME MultiFace 2 with external 8 channel mic preamp to get 8 mic inputs for years, and now with a Behringer ADA8200 to get another 8 mic inputs by ADAT connection to the Multiface.

I'd be using the Focusrite now, but after sending back two units in a row that both had a noisy input channel, I gave up on them.

GMaq
GMaq's picture
User offline. Last seen 3 hours 26 min ago. Offline
Joined: 2007-12-11
Posts:

@soundpro69,
Hmmm then it's very strange that the Presonus 1818VSL USB-2 interface I've been using for 2 years has been working with 8 independent mic inputs... somebody better warn the Presonus people!
:)

mhartzel
User offline. Last seen 1 hour 35 min ago. Offline
Joined: 2013-10-15
Posts:

One more: Behringer UFX1604, its a mixer, USB - audio interface and recorder. And works with Linux :)

I've been holding myself back from buying its little brother UFX1204 for a couple of months, but I'm near breaking point :) It's only 375 euros, and the sound examples I've heard are very clean, clear and low noise:

https://soundcloud.com/rayortega/sets/behringer-xenyx-ufx1204

mhartzel
User offline. Last seen 1 hour 35 min ago. Offline
Joined: 2013-10-15
Posts:

I forgot to say that the UFX1604 and 1204 are both also class compliant 16 channel USB audio interfaces, so they work with Linux :)

allank
allank's picture
User offline. Last seen 4 days 16 hours ago. Offline
Joined: 2006-12-07
Posts:

A&H Zed R-16 has 16 mic interfaces.. Haven't tested with the new ALSA kernel firewire drivers, but solid as a rock with FFADO.

anahata
anahata's picture
User offline. Last seen 32 min 11 sec ago. Offline
Joined: 2010-10-27
Posts:

I'm puzzled to see so many new Firewire based audio interfaces. Obviously the reports in recent years of the death of Firewire were (as Mark Twain famously put it) "an exaggeration". Does anybody know why it's still sometimes used in preference to USB2 and USB3?

ombresaco
User offline. Last seen 1 day 16 hours ago. Offline
Joined: 2015-07-22
Posts:

I saw you have asked about u-phoria. I have Behringer UMC404HD under ubuntu, and I have had no problem with it.

Two issues:

I had upgrade my user account for jack (no related to the audio interface)
The only issue related to the audio interface, is a small problem when I configure jack with low latency (15ms or less), and I get some xruns. But, the hardware monitoring is very good, so, I record into a muted track, and use the hardware monitoring without any problem.

when I want record MIDI, I put the latency very low, so I have a lot of false xruns wich do not affect to midi recording.

seablade
User offline. Last seen 6 hours 44 min ago. Offline
Joined: 2007-01-22
Posts:

@anahata

Performance of audio interfaces tended to be much better with Firewire than USB2, especially early on when the CPU usage of USB could cause issues. Along with this if using a HD on the same BUS (Not port) of USB things could go downhill fast.

USB3 is likely a different story, as it has more then enough bandwidth to keep up with high channel counts easily as well as using sizeable chunks for HD etc. without running out of bandwidth. I have not done any side by side test etc. to them though.

Finally for higher channel count solutions these days you are starting to see the emergence of network based infrastructures (Dante, AVB, Ravenna, etc. with AES67 starting to provide interoperability -- note the STARTING) that honestly I am using Dante more often than anything to track larger channel counts. That being said I haven't seen a good solution for Linux to tie into the live consoles and systems for this purpose yet. There was some work for AES67 interoperability on linux some time ago but I got the impression, not having tested it yet myself, that it kind of stalled. Audinate thus far has flat out refused to bring Dante to Linux sadly, so options like AVB and Ravenna utilizing the interoperability of AES67 to communicate with Dante could be an option that I haven't explored yet. At any rate this is a method starting to pick up for tracking live concerts as well, and honestly I am not sure i would complain if it started replacing both USB and FW for audio (See MOTU's AVB interfaces for instance as an example of the start of this, or Focusrite Rednet).

Seablade

dsreyes1014
User offline. Last seen 1 week 4 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2012-01-25
Posts:

Is it possible to feature request this into JACK1 instead of waiting for propietary softwares to be released for Linux? The Focusrite Rednet product line looks really good using this Dante protocol.

anahata
anahata's picture
User offline. Last seen 32 min 11 sec ago. Offline
Joined: 2010-10-27
Posts:

Jack doesn't have hardware drivers; it communicates with the outside world via ALSA, so unless I am much mistaken what you are asking for is an ALSA driver for AES67. Possibly ALSA drivers for Dante etc. too, but AES67 would be the easiest because its documentation is public and open, and it's a simple audio-only standard that hopefully will be implemented by other manufacturers alongside their proprietary bells and whistles.

mike@overtonedsp
User offline. Last seen 6 days 22 hours ago. Offline
Joined: 2015-10-20
Posts:

Possibly ALSA drivers for Dante etc. too

Dante is patented so I would imagine it can't just be added to ALSA / JACK (at least it would be hard to imagine how this could be done within a GPL context)

dsreyes1014
User offline. Last seen 1 week 4 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2012-01-25
Posts:

Hmmm..is NetJack1 comparable to something like this?

seablade
User offline. Last seen 6 hours 44 min ago. Offline
Joined: 2007-01-22
Posts:

@dsreyes1014

Netjack could be considered comparable, but is missing the discovery mechanisms that make things like Dante great. For instance I install a live sound network with Dante, and the moment I turn on the network, the auto-discovery and patching go into effect to make sure everything communicates with each other automatically once I manually set up the routing once.

AES67 has an interoperability method in it, that Dante is looking to work with(I believe first steps are in the wild now IIRC), and works with things like Ravenna, and hopefully AVB soon(? I haven't kept up with AVB as much as I should have), so it would be good to tie things into AES67 support at this point I think. As Mike mentioned, legal issues may make supporting Dante difficult in Linux, and if Audinate won't help would have to be reverse engineered to start with, and honestly is likely to be a headache. Having a comparable system with AES67 support though that Dante can talk to may be a decent middle ground.

dsreyes1014
User offline. Last seen 1 week 4 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2012-01-25
Posts:

@seablade

Thanks for clearing it up a little bit more I'll start a new thread for this discussion because this really interests me and might be helpful info for googlers.