Best Interface for my setup

Hi there!
I am new to recording, so please forgive my potentially stupid questions :slight_smile:
So here is, what I want to do.
Right now, I am running Ubuntu with an internal soundcard configured to use pulseaudio.
For recording, I want to get a second sound card/ audio interface which is fully supported by jackd. I.e., jack should not crash every hour like with my current sound card.
To be able to watch youtube videos, etc. I want to keep the internal card and pulseaudio running at all time and then route the output to the new interface which is connected to headphones and active monitors. I guess the best way to do this would be to use S/PDIF, because jack-sink for pulseaudio is not stable on my system.
Besides to this requirement, I want to be able to record two guitars and a mic at the same time, as well as hyrdogen or an external drum machine like a boss DR.
The guitars are either electric and I run them through two amps with speaker simulation (like line6 pods) or pick off the the dry signal from the guitar and run it through guitarix or a VST plugin (if it works). I guess in the later case I need at least two preamps, while in the first case I need two line-ins, am I right?
So to summarize: I seek an soundcard or audio interface which lets me:

  • record the output from my internal sound card
  • record two guitars, either amplified or dry signal and run it through a software amplifier (but never more than two electric guitars at once)
  • record a mic (vocal or acoustic guitar)
  • record jack-compatible software like hydrogen, mplayer
  • maybe record an external drum machine like boss DR
  • all of the above at the same time in separate channels
  • output a mix of all the above to headphones and/or monitors. Maybe it would come in handy to have the headphones and the monitors output different mixes simultaneously.
The audio interface should be well supported by jackd. It would be cool if it had some volume knobs, hence I would not have to run the mixer software to control what I am hearing. In general, it would be great if the interface also worked without jackd running. Of course, I could not be recording in that case, but I would want to be able to mix the (amplified) guitar inputs and the inputs from my internal soundcard with the volume knobs on the interface to control what I am hearing through the monitors. Is this possible? I think my best option would be an external firewire interface like the saffire pro 14. Would this allow me to do all from my wish list? How is the stability of jackd in combination with firewire/ffado, especially compared to pci cards? If the stability is an issue, which pci card could I use for my purposes and which hardware would I need additionally (preamps, mixer?)? I am quite experienced with linux, but I am looking for the most trouble-free way, and my budget is about 350 euro. Sorry for the long post, I tried to put it as clear as possible. Thanks for all your help! Dan

I don’t have experience with a broad variety of sound cards supported by JACK, but I do have two Mackie Onyx mixers (NOT the i series) with firewire cards. They work very well under JACK. Possibly one of the smaller Onyx mixers with firewire would fit in your budget, possibly new, but if not I’m sure you can get one used in great shape. They’re not expensive, and they’ll allow you to record anything you might want to - mic inputs, line inputs, balanced/unbalanced, plus they all have EQ strips. My mixers have phantom power. If that’s important, you might want to check to see if smaller Onyx mixers have phantom power.

An external mixer like that gives you the added bonus of returns and sends - and it’s still not going to cost an arm and leg.

I’m not sure the i series is supported by FFADO yet, so you might want to avoid those for now.

I don’t know if any other companies make mixers with firewire interfaces and that are supported by FFADO, but you could look around.

Keep looking, asking and researching, though, to find what might work best for you.