I am looking for a possible replacement USB audio interface that has to be compatible to Linux (exclusively using Linux, I have no Windows, no Mac nearby). Currently I am using a Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (1st Gen) which I am mostly happy with, but I would love to have:
Linux should be well supported. This is my absolute main concern. As mandatory mixer app which only runs on Mac or Windows as the only means to change mixer settings/routing doesn’t work for me.
a little more analog output channels, maybe to route audio from the computer to external devices (synths, effects, external recorders) for further processing, or to create CV signals for my analog synths (hence, DC-coupled outputs would be nice, though I could live without them)
option to run standalone without the PC running (sometimes, I am just jamming along on my synths). Again, not mandatory, but would be a nice-to-have-feature.
The 1st Gen 18i8 only has 2 TRS Main Outs, plus there are 2 headphone outputs. Then there is the S/PDIF output, which is of no use to me. So, with the Main Outs going to my speakers, and 1 headphone output used for, well, headphones, there is only the other headphone output left, and I have to split out the two stereo channels if I want to use the two channels for individual signals.
Currently I see 3 possible replacements:
Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 3rd Generation, which has 4 additional Line outputs on the back, though not DC-coupled. But I know that the Scarlett is well supported on Linux
Presonus Studio 1810c, which has a similar amount of (DC-coupled!) additional outputs, and seems to have OK-ish Linux support, and lives in a similar price-range as the Focusrite. Are there any users here using the 1810c on Linux?
MOTU Ultralite Mk5 which seem to check all my boxes, at a higher price point, which I would be willing to pay, if I knew that it would also be usable from Linux. I read in several places though that MOTU seems to have killed (or “not yet activated”, whatever that means) the web interface that was present in previous versions of the Ultralite. From my web searches it seems that now there is only a Mac/Windows control app left… are there any active Linux users using the Ultralite Mk5 that could report here?
I am also happy to learn about other options. I know that there are a few happy Behringer users on this forum, but so far I could not find a device matching my needs. Maybe I didn’t look close enough?
Presonus 1810c user here. It’s a good interface, works well on Linux. There is a small annoyance that the kernel module has to be reloaded to switch between sample rate states, but the preamps sound good and it has decent output options.
I use a Behringer UMC1820 and A Behringer ADA8200. Quality to rival the big money interfaces. 18 in 18 out, two headphone outs. The UMC 1820 is plug and play. The ADA8200 because it is optical only shows two inputs. You have to manual configure it from the terminal. Let me know if you go this way and I will send you the instructions.
I also have a UMC1820. There is no internal routing or mixing software for it. The setup is pure hardware, so all the inputs and outputs are exposed to ALSA, and the ports are connected via applications, i.e. Ardour or JACK. It is plug-and-play and essentially future-proof due to being USB 2.0 Class Compliant. You cannot use it as a standalone device because it requires the PC to connect the inputs and outputs. It operates just like the PC’s built-in soundcard does in terms of routing and usage, but with more in/outs and better quality A/D conversion.
Looking closer at the front/rear panel shots of the Behringer UMC1820, am I correct that when you say “It’s all hardware”, it means that the only way to set what to hear on the headphone ports is the push buttons next to them?
I guess in this case I am too used to the Focusrite way where you can create dedicated mixes of any of the analog input signals or PCM streams from the PC using firmware functionality (i.e. alsamixer) to then be routed to any of the outputs or headphone ports. These mixes/routings can even be stored to be used standalone, i.e. with the PC shut down.
So, IIUC with the Behringer UCM I would have to actually patch chords virtually (using Jack/Ardour) and physically (connect an output port to another input) to do something similar?
Also, it seems that while the Presonus Studio 1810c offers similar functionality from their Universal Control application, the Linux driver (which was reverse engineered by a single user of the device) does not (yet) support this.
Anyway, thanks for the valuable input so far! Still curious to learn more about the MOTU Ultralite Mk5 on Linux, though…
The buttons let you toggle between outputs 1/2 or 3/4. What is routed to 1/2 or 3/4 is determined by whatever software you are running and how you have it setup.
You could achieve something similar with the routing options in Ardour or JACK, but unlike the Focusrite, which I imagine produces no latency from the inputs to the outputs if you connect them via the internal mixer, the UMC1820 by design will have latency in Ardour or JACK mixing setups because the audio signal has to pass through the CPU before it is sent to the outputs.
No physical connection of cables from the outputs back to the inputs are needed on the UMC1820 for routing. I can’t think of a use case where that would be beneficial except perhaps to measure the device’s latency or for re-amping. Physical cables aren’t a potential hack to get it to operate in standalone mode. It simply cannot function that way.
Behringer xr18 here, Linux driver from behringer works well as does the xair app. Thought with 18 I/Os it would be far more than I need but as time has passed I’ve bought more gear and used most of them. Funny how that happens… Never had any issues with it in 3 years. You can use it stand alone, almost, in that it has an android and iOS app for mixer control when away from pc. Been used for online sessions over jamulus, daw production via Ardour and live gig sessions and performance is good in each situation IMHO. It has a huge range of routing capabilities plus builtin effects. I still haven’t used half of them. Bit of a steep learning curve initially but there are useful YouTube tutorials.
There are three of us in our ‘band’ and we each bought one. Basically a mixer that’s also an AI.
Hope that helps.
i am using Behringer X32. As it indicates 32 channel in. Initial routing requires a bit of learning … but there are plenty youtube videos.
Works well with Jack ! Default recording is without X32 effects.
To get the full potential of the X32 takes quite a bit of effort.
Thanks for the suggestion, the XR18 looks like a device I definitely had not yet on my list, but it seems to check all the boxes. Except maybe for the not-so-familiar form factor if you are more accustomed to desktop box to 19"-ish classic audio interfaces. Will definitely take a closer look here.
I wonder why they don’t offer similar Audio Interface functionality in the XR16 and XR12 models though? With those it seems you can only use the USB connection to “store stereo WAV files”.
The XR18 is a great device (and I hear you on the XR12 and 16; odd they don’t have USB audio interfaces).
Note that whilst you have 18 in and out on the USB, and a very flexible (sometimes a bit bewildering) mixing matrix on the unit which is well supported by a Linux app, it is, primarily, designed as a standalone mixer.
This means it focuses on physical inputs (which it has 18 of) and has a limited number of outputs: a main stereo pair, plus 6 mono aux output and a headphone out, which may not be enough for your requirements.
Typically you would be running the main outs to your mixing monitors or (in a live band situation) to the PA. The 6 remaining aux outputs map to 6 internal aux buses, for things like sub-mixes. They can be stereo-paired where needed.
If that is enough for you, then it’s a great device, which I have also used for years for all sorts of things including live bands and stage performances.
I finally bought a used Behringer X Air XR18 digital mixer. While DC coupled inputs and outputs would have been a killer feature for use with my modular synth, the Linux support of Behringer and the flexibility of the XR18 convinced me. After a quick test tonight, I think it was the right decision.
Thanks again for all the great suggestions and tips in this thread!