What Audio/Midi interface for Linux?

Hi all.
I’ve opened a new thread since another one on this matter it’s already been closed.
I actually have an M-Audio Fast Track Pro connected to my laptop via USB port.
It works decently beside the fact the volume must be almost at the max when recording, otherwise the entering signal is too low.
Unfortunately since some time the ON/OFF switch has a problem and I got scratches sound that makes the interface not usable anymore.
So I’m looking for a new one, possibily not expensive.
I’m actually on Linux Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and use Ardour 5.5.0 (I have the 5.12.0 but still have to install).
Time ago I’ve read good things about Focusrite interfaces but I don’t know.
Better have an advice by people using a certain device currently.
Thank you.

Do you want us to list all interfaces currently available that we know works on Linux or are you just looking for information about Focusrite ?

Interfaces are generally divided in categories by IO capacity, how much IO do you need:
2 input and outputs
3 - 6 inputs and outputs
8 inputs and outputs
More than 8 inputs and outputs

Let’s start by narrowing down what you’re recording, how many inputs and outputs you need, and then go from there.

My second thought is that in general, I recommend having a mixer before your interface. It makes your life so much simpler in terms of levels - set the interface to noon, do all the adjustments on the mixer, profit.

As a hobbyist, I have been happy with my Behringer UMC1820. If you don’t need as many inputs, the UMC204HD is also fully compatible.

Thank you for the answers mates. My interface has two inputs and two outputs. Both inputs accept instrument and line, I connect guitar or mic. It also has two inputs for MIDI.
For what I do, two inputs are enough. At the most I can record something in stereo, over than those are even too many. If I can get an interface with more than two inputs for the same price, or a bit more, of the one with a couple inputs, ok but it’s not mandatory.
Two outputs are also fine, I only have the monitors connected and, sometimes, I also connect the outputs to the hi-fi amplifier to check the sound.
If you could put a partial list of the ones compatible with Ubuntu, it would be great.
UHB, I don’t use it very often so a mixer it would be too much for the use I’d make with it.
Gunther, I checked that Behringer: not bad. I also have to order something from Thomann, so it would be useful.
I’ll be waiting for more infos.
In the meanwhile, thank you all

Well I use the Behringer 204HD and it has served me well for almost 3 years of recording in Linux. I am able to get down to 128 frames/3 periods in JACK with it, running on an i7 in Manjaro using the standard kernel. I would highly recommend that interface, or the Focusrite one that you were looking at.

As an aside, have you tried 2 periods? I’m on Manjaro using a relatively old AMDFX 6-core with that same 204HD interface with no problems at 128 frames. After trying the rt kernel for a while, like you I’m finding the standard kernel to be excellent when governor is set to performance mode. All those UMC Behringer interfaces work fantastically on Linux!

I’ll probably get that, then. One question out of curiosity. I use, among the others, condenser mics which require 48V: if I need to record a stereo track using two different mics at the same time, a 48V cardioid and a condenser, I guess the only way is an interface with several inputs with different voltage or a mixer, right?

… do you mean one dynamic and one condenser (phantom powered) microphone? You’ll have to turn on phantom power then (for both inputs) - and the dynamic microphone won’t complain. That’s no problem. (It is only advised to never plug or unplug microphones while phantom power is on.)

Hi Laex, yes.
Thank you for the hint.

I’m using an Arturia Audiofuse.

I like a lot, It has 2 mic/line inputs, 2 line/RIAA imputs, a lot of controls such push buttons, knobs, lights.

Plus adat or spdif input/output.

Pros: excellent quality, doesnt Need software GUI for use, just for configure some options.

Cons: some PCs need to have It connected after boot. Control center doesn’t work in Linux nor in Wine (at least l’m not able).

Another one I use is an old Roland UR80 that Is recognized without any problem.

I bought It used for little since it’s not supported anymore in Windows.

No I haven’t. I read on the LinuxMusicians forums a while ago that if you’re using a USB interface you should use 3 periods? It already dramatically decreased the CPU load, so thanks for this tidbit.

Yes, I was doing the same with 3 periods but then I read on a relatively recent post that Paul suggested 2 periods worked for most devices these days including USB. I think only a few needed to be set to 3 and possibly only because of a badly behaving system. Anyway, yes, moving to 2 periods hasn’t created a slew of x-runs so I’ll take it! I also read somewhere that ASIO on Windows is hard-coded to 2 periods but I might be mistaken…

It certainly created x-run hell for me, so I recommend to the OP, if you buy the UMC204HD, use 3 periods in the buffer size.

Very strange…have you tried running that realtimeconfigquickscan script to see if there are things you can do to optimize your system? I’m assuming for starters that you are running with governor set to performance coupled with a low-latency or realtime kernel?

What’s the script exactly?

It turns out I had the CPU governor set to powersave, which was unfortunate. After my second test, it makes almost no difference - I noticed one x-run over a half hour of playing with Carla with a boatload of plugins.

The default Manjaro 5.8 kernel is a low latency kernel, and I notice pretty similar performance between that and the available RT 5.6 kernel.

On Manjaro: https://aur.archlinux.org/packages/realtimeconfigquickscan-git/

Otherwise, simply follow the instructions here: https://github.com/raboof/realtimeconfigquickscan

Likewise, I’ve moved to the standard kernel after trying out the rt kernel and I am very happy. So you are saying that now you have set governor to “performance” that 2 periods works well for the UMC series?

That script is a godsend. Turns out the cpu monitor thing in Cadence wasn’t actually changing the CPU governor, so I’ll need to remember to do that manually when I boot this machine up, unless there’s a way to change it permanently?

What does this all mean and how do I fix it?
Checking swappiness… 60 - not good
** vm.swappiness is larger than 10
Set swappiness by adding ‘vm.swappiness=10’ to /etc/sysctl.conf and rebooting

There was no /ect/sysctl.conf so I added that one line into the file, rebooted, and got the same error.

EDIT: Apologies to everyone for hijacking the thread.
EDIT2: I tested the performance of this machine with the CPU set to performance on an Ardour project I’ve been mixing … it’s heavy. I think I counted 37 plugins across 13 tracks. Previously, I’d had to set the buffer size to 2048 in order for it to bounce without crossruns, but now I can mix it at 1024 with some headroom in the CPU, which is a huge improvement.

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Create the file /etc/sysctl.d/100-manjaro.conf and add it in there.

Pretty sure that was my fault but I’m not apologizing :wink: