Linux USB 2.0 A-to-D 24bit 96kHz 2 XLR with 48v

I am looking for the following:

  • USB 2.0 Interface
  • 24bit 96kHz
  • 2 XLR inputs with 10mA+ 48v phantom power per channel (mic preamp)
  • Low noise floor & high quality
  • Linux support for the above features

Ideally, I would like to support a hardware vendor who supports their Linux drivers, but failing that, I can settle for something that works with Linux.

I have considered the following, but I am doubtful about Linux support:

  • Core Sound Mic2496 V2
  • E-MU 0404 USB
  • Roland UA-25EX
  • M-Audio Fast Track Pro
  • Henry Engineering USB Matchbox II (does not meet requirements)

Off topic from my question, but feel free to comment, I am also considering one the following mics for voice recording, which the most preferred near the top of the list:

  • Shure KSM32
  • Rode NT1A
  • Neumann TLM 102
  • Shure Beta 58A

Thank you very much for your input.

you could get a Zoom H4 for the USB interface (I have used it in linux before with great success before I got a bigger interface. I’m pretty sure it supports 24 bit at 96 khz. Out of what you have listed, the Rode NT1A is the best of em for studio vocals, I think.

Thank you very much. I did not think to check portable recorders for USB interface functionality. This one looks very feature packed! Especially considering the price. There is a slightly improved version of it called the Zoom H4n. It seems to support what I want. I searched the Internet for other references to Linux support and I found this:

So at least the driver works.

I have not used the Rode NT1A in person, but in a video review it seemed to be a bit hot in comparison to other mics. I wonder if it was just his setup…or his voice :stuck_out_tongue: It does seem like a good mic.

I will probably delay my purchase of these things for a week or so in case anything more interesting comes up.

I am also open to suggestions for other studio vocal mics.

By the way, it looks like the Roland/Edirol UA-25EX: should work: Although 24bit 96kHz support might be new or not there yet:

A user reports that Tascam US122L works, although it is obsolete. I wonder if its replacement, the US-122mkII, works just as well.

I guess a problem with some of these reports of USB interfaces working is that they rarely mention if 24bit 96kHz works, or if they used 16bit 44/48kHz.

So if these (including the Zoom H4n) are equal in Linux support, which would be of higher quality?

The problem is you are looking for USB2.0 interfaces. There was no audio ‘class’ for USB2 for quite some time, and as a result most of those interfaces need their own drivers, drivers which often don’t exist in Linux. Some interfaces are USB2, but support USB1.1 Class Compliant operation at a lower feature set(16/48 for example). I can’t comment on the Zoom or other interface though as I haven’t tried them. Whatever you get make sure you have a good return policy in case it doesn’t work.

At the price range you are looking at, I would probably go for the Rode NT2 over the NT1 for vocals. I wouldn’t necessarily count out the Neumann or Shure, though I don’t have hands on experience with either. I was told by some people I trust that the KSM series does tend to overdrive a bit to easy, which would make me lean towards the Neumann over it, but I already have an NT2 and can get some pretty decent clean results from it personally.


As far as USB 2.0 interfaces go, the Edirol UA-101 and UA-1000 are now completely supported for capture & playback (from Linux kernel 2.6.34-rc1), thanks to a new driver by Clemens Ladisch.

These devices have already been partially supported for several years: the only problems I experienced with my UA-1000 were occasional xruns and unpredictably varying latency, both caused by unsynchronised capture and playback streams, and both solved by the new driver.

@colinf: could you recommend these devices highly enough for them to be the answer to “what interface should i buy for my laptop”, a question that we really don’t have a good answer unless you want an RME … .?

I wouldn’t recommend any device that requires an “RC” Kernel unless the OP is an advanced Linux user or comfortable with Kernel compilation, however it’s nice to hear that such support is coming down the pike.

I know Tascam US-122’s are obsolete, but they are plentiful on ebay. In my experience they work terrific with Linux and laptops at low latency, the only caveat is a limit of 24bit 48khz. I have no experience with the “L” or mkII however there is Kernel support for “L” although I’m not certain if Alsa provides a firmware for it.

@GMaq: i agree, but i’m thinking ahead :slight_smile:

I don’t think the UA-1000 is being made any longer: I got mine nearly five years ago, and I’ve been using it with Linux since then, despite the problems I described above. Now they’re solved, it works perfectly well for everything I need (8 channels of live recording and some overdubs, mostly). I usually record at 44.1kHz, but 96kHz works too.

The UA-101 seems very similar, apart from having only two mic inputs rather than four, and being half the size: there are a few other minor differences, but the two devices are alike enough to share the same kernel driver.

The driver doesn’t support the internal DSP mixer/router of the device: if I’m doing more than single-instrument overdubs I usually use a separate mixer for monitoring anyway, so that’s not an issue for me. There’s a ‘Direct Monitor’ control on the front that adjusts the level of all the inputs into the headphone output, which is enough for the simple case.

So I’d say the answer to the question is ‘yes, I would recommend these devices’ if you:

  • need a USB 2.0 device
  • have kernel 2.6.34 or newer
  • don't need to adjust the default routing

I am a computer programmer and have used Linux almost exclusively for the past 4-5 years with the exception of a few road trips with my Sony Vaio P with Vista on it. I do not know C well enough to create any significant amount of new code, but I can hack a few things in it, such as making changes to hard coded arrays in ALSA drivers to recognize a new device and have it run existing code.

Fedora 13 beta has kernel 2.6.34, and I know Linux and Fedora well enough to make due with a beta. When Fedora 13 is released on May 18th (assuming that they do not change the schedule again), then you will have a Linux distribution that will work with this hardware without modifying a kernel, unless real time code needs to be added.

The Edirol UA-101 is a bit more than what I need, but at the same time, the idea of bypassing a hardware mixer and feeding more than 2 channels directly into a software mixer / recorder is very appealing to me. I noticed that I can buy the device with the Edirol name on it or a newer bundle with the Cakewalk name on it. The Edirol UA-1000 is nicer with its 2 additional mic preamps, but I prefer buying a current hardware platform.

So it looks like my purchase should be a Edirol UA-101.

I am still doing research on mics. Basically, I am looking for something that picks up natural, accurate, and detailed sound across the whole spectrum. I plan on making EQ adjustments in software for different tones as needed. The Rode NT2 looks like a good choice. I also am adding the Audio-Technica AT4040 and the Oktava Mod MJE-K47H capsule (with a Nady CM 90 body) to the list of contenders. If anyone has any experience with those, I would like some feedback.

I want to thank everyone in this thread for helping me. Although I have not used Ardour or have downloaded it yet, I plan on making a $20 donation as a way of saying thanks to everyone. You have been helpful already!

The AT4040 is another good choice, it has a very crisp sound to it. I think I like the sound of my NT2 over the AT4040 from my memory of it, and especially the flexibility of the NT2 is in its favor as it is a multi-pattern mic, but I have nothing against the AT4040 either for most things. I haven’t done a side by side comparison of those though, I ahve to trust my memory between different projects.


take a look to the alesis io|2, a cheep (~130€) device. i have one, and i can say its collaborate good with my linux laptop.

the quality is really good. its a stable aluminium device with all needed inputs and outputs.
you need no software mixer, because you can make all i/o level adjustments direct on the device with real rotary s in your hand.
it works with 24 bit, 48 khz.
imo, this is enough to make good quality home recordings.

you get:

  • 2 mics/line inputs with switchable 48v phantom.
  • inserts for each input. ( e.g. to insert a dynamic effect )
  • a gain control poti for each input with led meters.
  • a phone jack with volume poti
  • switchable digital inputs. select between analog OR digital inputs
  • monitor mix poti. mix the signal between usb and direct in. good for monitoring without any latency
  • two 6,3 mm output jacks
  • midi i/o

i also have a rme multiface2. but to make fast and simple track after track records with less wiring, i mostly use the io|2.

Can the levels on inputs 3-8 be adjusted on the Edirol UA-101 prior to A/D conversion? I would like to be able to adjust the levels prior to A/D conversion to preserve as much of the dynamic range as possible. Maybe I could just adjust the output on the preamp going into this… It looks like the UA-1000 has hardware level control of all of the inputs, but it is no longer sold.

It looks like I can adjust all of the levels on the Alesis iO|2. I wonder what the noise floor is like with and without the built-in mic preamp. It is not 96kHz, so it is lower on my list.

The Edirol UA-25EX looks like it is higher in quality. Does anyone have any experience with it in 24-bit/96kHz? If it works with the stock kernel, then maybe it can be one of the USB devices to recommend.

I ordered a larger SSD (drive) and more memory for my fanless PC (Logisys LG-PCO635F) today. I am on Fedora 8 since the et131x driver is crap; literally: It is in the Linux staging tree and Fedora does not provide compiled drivers for it. Assuming that I get that working, I will make a purchase. At the moment, I am leaning towards the Edirol UA-25EX since I can probably effectively use all of its inputs and it seems to be more professional, but I will only order it once I get my system working on a new kernel so that I can focus my return window on getting the the Edirol UA-25EX to work.

I just found the page. I found it via a forum post, which I should have found before. For the benefit of others, could a FAQ link be featured more predominantly on this site?

The FAQ page mentions that RME and M-Audio have supported Linux by offering cooperation in the development of Linux drivers, but I do not see a USB 2.0 product by either of them that does what I need. I would prefer to support a company that supports Linux, even if their product is a little more than what I need at the moment. Maybe I should just get a 2 input USB interface that I need, and buy one of their PCI interfaces when I need it and have a desktop to put it in.

I also found, but the Edirol UA-25EX is not listed there. I guess that it is out of date.

If I get my own mic preamp and drop the requirement for XLR and a preamp on the USB 2.0 interface, do I get more hardware to choose from?

At the moment, I am on the fence between the Edirol UA-25EX and Edirol UA-101. I would prefer the UA-101 if I knew that the attenuator for inputs 3-8 worked under Linux.

If firewire is a option, then you could consider the Echo AudioFire range. The AudioFire8 is described as fully supported by the FFADO team ( and the Echo company has evidently been cooperative with the FFADO efforts.

I have the AudioFire 8 - 8 analogue inputs, 24/96. Two of the inputs are through a combined XLR / phone connector, with preamp and phantom.

(As I understand it, the very most recent versions of the AF8 may need to have their device ID’s added to the ffado device definitions. I think this is fairly trivial to do. Follow links under Device Support at the ffado site).

I know this is not what you asked - just trying to be helpful!


@PaulH: Thanks. My system does not have FireWire, so I cannot use it, but that is good to know if I have the opportunity to buy or recommend an interface for a system that does have FireWire.

My SSD and memory upgrade should be here by 4/26/2010. When I get Fedora 13 + kmod-staging installed and working, I will try the Edirol UA-101 unless someone states that the attenuators for inputs 3-8 cannot be adjusted under Linux.

As far as I can see, inputs 3-8 of the UA-101 are line level only: the only gain adjustments on them are DIP switches on the rear panel to switch them (in pairs) between +4dBu (professional) and -10dBV (consumer) levels. If whatever you want to plug in there doesn’t output at one or other of those levels you will need a preamp or mixer of some sort.

@colinf Thanks for the reply.

So from a quality perspective, as long as I have a good preamp, then fixed gain should not be an issue.

For what it is worth, for the mics, I decided to go with a pair of Rode NT1a modded by Michael Joly (OktavaMod MJE-K47):
I hope to look forward to a low noise floor mic with a more open headbasket.

I just brought an UA 25EX and use it on Ubuntu 9.10

Just say what you need and I can test it…

It worked out of the box, no configuration needed.
The advanced button (16bit - 24bit switch) works as long as you re-plug the usb cable to get the new configuration. Same with the samplerate.
using aplay -v I managed to play a 24/96 wav file without problems.
Recording works in 24bit also (jack says 24bit)

Jack worked without any problems/special configuration, I also had an M-Audio Fast Track usb ( ) worked out of the box in 16bit, but jack gave errors when trying to start it so I returned and changed with the ua-25ex.

Latency in Ardour (upper right corner) says 11ms in normal kernel and I did not had any xruns.

the exact product I have is:

I’m really new in this music stuff so if you need any particular test for this unit I will be happy to do it.

That looks perfect to what I need.
Can you record two channels at a time only? or can you plug in via lightpipe at the back and add another 8 channels.

I would love this unit so much if I could plug this ( ) into it and get a total of 10 channels recording at 44.1 at the same time.

Thats all I would ever need.
Those pre-amps are awesome for drums and such.

Also, does anyone know if the RME Babyface ( ) works.
Because if that does, that solves all my audio problems period.

Or this guy
The RME Fireface UC
( )

EDIT: ok after some searching it doesn’t seem the RME USB stuff will work.
Is there any place I can donate money to having drivers made so they will?
I’m done with using apple products and windows OS’s.
I would rather put my money into projects I can feel good about.