Multichannel audio interface for Linux

Hi all. I am very frustrated with the lack of multichannel audio interface options for a professional electroacoustic composition, performance, and recording with Linux system. This is really why I haven’t changed yet from OS X to Ubuntu. Does anyone has some new information regarding portable multichannel audio interfaces fully working under Linux systems? Something like Roland Octa Capture is what I need.
Thank you.

8 Channel devices:
Behringer UMC1820
M-Audio M-Track Eight
Presonus 1818VSL (No low latency monitoring under Linux)
Behringer UFX1204 and UFX1604

4 Channel Devices:
Allen & Heath ZEDi-10 FX
Alesis IO4 (Hard to find, Thomann sells these in Europe)
Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6

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I thought the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 and similar did well with Linux.

I have a portable recording system based on a minidsp USBstreamer ( and a Behringer ADA8800, which give 8 channels in and 8 channels out via ADAT optical cables. The USBstreamer is USB class compliant and works with Linux. Any other ADC/DAC with ADAT would work with it too.

The RME fireface UCX is USB 2.0 class compliant so should work out of the box.

I haven’t heard of the Roland Octa Capture before. If it’s new, I guess there will be ALSA support for it eventually…

anahata: did you mean Behringer ADA8200 ? Couldn’t find 8800 on Behringers site. I have one of those 8200’s too. That USBStreamer is very interesting, you can interface any Adat device to Linux with it.

You also need to identify the class of machine you want to use. The options for a desktop system which can handle PCIe cards are quite different from the options with a laptop.

I’m using a MOTU Ultralite AVB, which is an USB class-compliant unit. 8 physical IOs, plus ADAT IO. Then, if you’re into the AVB thing, you can buy more AVB racks and expand your IOs.
Classy thing about the ultralite AVB : you can set the internal DSP through a web interface, which is also OSC-controllable.

I’m using a second generation Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 and it works fine with Linux (except for the internal software controlled mixer for no latency monitoring, which is not yet supported). Recording works even with quite low power systems.

@baptiste: How do you like the interface? How does it perform/sound?

did you mean Behringer ADA8200
Yes, I did, sorry!
That USBStreamer is very interesting, you can interface any Adat device to Linux with it.
Yes, I chose that combination because my home studio system uses an RME Multiface II which includes ADAT I/O, so the Behringer can be used to extend it from 8 to 16 inputs.
MOTU Ultralite AVB, which is an USB class-compliant unit
MOTU has traditionally has zero support for Linux, so it's good to hear of a class compliant unit. Combined with a web interface for the internal DSP, that's really good news for Linux users!

I have absolutely zero complaints. It’s performing the way it should. It’s my first audio interface with such DSP capabilities, so i’m more than happy !
Two things though :

  • for the time being i can’t access the web GUI on linux without plugging the device to my computer or to a router. On windows, you only need the USB cable, i need to investigate this.
  • it can’t be USB-powered, you need the power adapter.

The only frustrating thing comes from the OSC-side : the communication is only client to server, no feedback. I guess there is a way to work around this by using the web API, since the web GUI gets updated when i send OSC commands.

I bought a Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 2nd Gen interface. I can use it with jack & Ardour, where I get 6 inputs and 6 outputs. I didn’t test S/PDIF and MIDI, but all other ins and outs work out-of the box. The two headphone outputs are configured to out1/2 and out3/4, respectively. This is already quite nice.

However, I would like to configure the 6i6’s internal mixer and settings, e.g. to

  • Use latency free monitoring
  • Configure headphone2 to outputs 5/6 (not using S/PDIF here, so I could use these outputs for the headphone)
  • Set the gain of inputs 3 and 4 (which have no gain knob)
  • Control the "INST" and "PAD" settings
The alsamixer only shows " Clock Source", "Internal Validity" and "S/PDIF Validity", though.

@LearDigitalAudio: Did you manage to access the internal mixer or did you just use the device as-is?

I just got a MOTU Ultralite AVB like baptiste and there is no comparison to the quality when comparing it to the UMC204 I have. The GUI thing as he noted is a little annoying but aside from that happy with it.

I recently got hold of two Motu Ultralite AVB cards and think this is a really great step forward for my own need both in live and studio related situations.

One thing I find is a problem is the fact that on linux, the network provided onboard mixer/settings/gui is only accessible through the physical network port but on OSX and Windows, the usb driver provides access to the web-gui through the driver (tunneling somehow)

That means, for me, if I connect my two cards through AVB ethernet cabling I can only manage my cards by purchasing a dedicated AVB switch and use wifi or ethernet to manage them.

Is anyone aware of any reverse engineering attempt or official support for http-tunneling over USB ? I would gladly help to make this function work if possible

I mentioned this as a comment when registering my cards at too but I do not hold my breath.

What does the output of lsusb show? Is there perhaps another USB endpoint providing a communications class device that you would just have to configure to get communication to the interface working?

this is the output from the specific usb port.
i guess the last row is the network handle

/: Bus 03.Port 1: Dev 1, Class=root_hub, Driver=xhci_hcd/2p, 480M
|__ Port 1: Dev 2, If 0, Class=Audio, Driver=snd-usb-audio, 480M
|__ Port 1: Dev 2, If 1, Class=Audio, Driver=snd-usb-audio, 480M
|__ Port 1: Dev 2, If 2, Class=Audio, Driver=snd-usb-audio, 480M
|__ Port 1: Dev 2, If 3, Class=Audio, Driver=snd-usb-audio, 480M
|__ Port 1: Dev 2, If 4, Class=Audio, Driver=snd-usb-audio, 480M
|__ Port 1: Dev 2, If 5, Class=Vendor Specific Class, Driver=, 480M


Yeah, “vendor specific” will mean you need a custom driver, it isn’t a standard class.

If someone is interested, I did speak with some MOTU folks about these interfaces some time ago, they seemed more open to Linux support than in the past, I can see if I can dig up their emails if someone capable of development wants to follow up and see if they would be willing to help with it. No promises though.

seablade, could you say more about what MOTU told you? I just registered my Ultralite AVB through their website and want to contact them soon. I’d like to ask if they could expose the web app over the standard USB Communications Class protocol or Microsoft’s RNDIS protocol (which Linux is compatible with and Android uses for tethering).

Also, there is an issue whereby Linux can’t set the Ultralite AVB’s sample rate and the device defaults to 192 kHz when it starts up. These combine to make an annoying situation when plugging and unplugging the Ultralite AVB.

Other than that the Ultralite AVB works well with GNU/Linux (haven’t tried with Android yet, but it should work) and sounds great.