M-AUDIO - ProFire 610 - High-Definition 6-in/10-out FireWire Audio Interface with Octane Preamp Technology
Designed by the company that revolutionized mobile music production, the ProFire™ 610 FireWire audio interface transforms your Mac or PC into a powerful 6-in/10-out recording studio. Premium digital converters deliver high-definition, 24-bit/192kHz audio throughout the signal path.
While attempting to record two tracks simultaneously in studio today, I was once again dismayed by the apparently malfunctioning second channel on my two channel Firebox. The 48v phantom power switch has also lost its ability to be activated and the unit has a dicey relationship with Garageband in that it sometimes shuts off or introduces audio crackle when I switch between tracks and/or features in the DAW. In other words, it's a poor excuse for an audio interface and I'm ready for something reliable.
After a bit of research, I've decided upon the M-Audio ProFire 610. It apparently has pretty nifty pre-amps, though they aren't tube so I stand behind my recent purchase of the ART Tube Pac. After checking out comparably priced interfaces, it seemed that what the Firebox had that many units do not is a 1 X 1 MIDI port - something that I need in order to utilize my Roland Fantom and virtual instruments in Garageband. Narrowed the choices quite a bit. On top of that, the ProFire 610 has two separate headphone jacks, each with their own volume control. It amazes me that many higher-priced interfaces don't even go this route. It comes in handy when recording tracks simultaneously with another warm body in the room.
Interestingly enough, another unit that I'd balk at if paying retail, is cheaper than what I'd be willing to pay for the M-Audio unit. The Saffire Pro 40 seems to be chock full of goodness with many of the same features as the ProFire 610. Ah - decisions, decisions.
I won't really be able to sell a somewhat defective Firebox - so I'll probably pass it on to my daughter, Casey, when I get her started with a DAW set-up of her own. It won't be perfect, but it will be enough for her to build upon.
Regarding the Rode NT1a (has anyone else noticed that the model name actually spells "rodent"??), I may hold off on that for a spell, as the combination pre-amp and new interface should be enough to give all the mics a boost (apparently, the Firebox has a notoriously low db gain.)
Besides, there are other gear fish to fry. (to be continued.)