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Author Topic: Interface RME Babyface Pro vs USB Pre2  (Read 2169 times)

Nathan Riddle

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Interface RME Babyface Pro vs USB Pre2
« on: August 01, 2019, 07:49:47 am »

I'm somewhat in the market for a nice pro interface.

I've been using the UMC404HD that Ivan recommends for sub-top alignment and general tuning work. It works great, 5v phantom power, plenty of IO, robust, cheap, etc.

But I'd like to be able to do distortion measurements or more thorough measurements without getting into Langston's audio precision territory.

I think I have it narrowed to two, but am open to other options. I'm leaning towards the RME because of Langston's review & that it is used-mint on ebay for $550.


$750new RME Babyface Pro:
Pros:
Reviewed by Langston
"world class" everything
+19dBu output
Internal mixer

Cons:
Not exactly a 'road worthy interface'
Stupid name
Internal mixer


$895new Sound Devices USB Pre2:
Pros:
Internal loopback
Rugged
Simple to use

Cons:
+18dBu output
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Sam Feine

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Re: Interface RME Babyface Pro vs USB Pre2
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2019, 04:14:40 pm »

I own a USB Pre 2 which I use frequently for measurement and alignment work.
Sound quality wise it is great, it is also built very well and has some of the best metering I have found in an interface.
It also has a built in loop back feature which is rather handy and I have found that with a usb power bank I can run it as a stand alone "DI" box for connecting a phone or other consumer line level source.

That said I plan to replace it with a Babyface Pro.

I have found that even when using the USB Pre 2 with Sound Device's ASIO driver I often end up with dropouts and general instability issues (with windows machines, the mac usb class complaint drivers work great with it).
This alone is the largest reason I plan to change over to an RME which historically have had rock solid drivers whenever I have used them.

The RME also has recallable head amps on the mic inputs which is a big plus for when repeatability is desired for measurement work.

Plus the RME still has full size XLR inputs and outputs which is nice.
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: Interface RME Babyface Pro vs USB Pre2
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2019, 09:09:32 am »

I own a USB Pre 2 which I use frequently for measurement and alignment work.
Sound quality wise it is great, it is also built very well and has some of the best metering I have found in an interface.
It also has a built in loop back feature which is rather handy and I have found that with a usb power bank I can run it as a stand alone "DI" box for connecting a phone or other consumer line level source.

That said I plan to replace it with a Babyface Pro.

I have found that even when using the USB Pre 2 with Sound Device's ASIO driver I often end up with dropouts and general instability issues (with windows machines, the mac usb class complaint drivers work great with it).
This alone is the largest reason I plan to change over to an RME which historically have had rock solid drivers whenever I have used them.

The RME also has recallable head amps on the mic inputs which is a big plus for when repeatability is desired for measurement work.

Plus the RME still has full size XLR inputs and outputs which is nice.

Thanks, Sam!

I think that settles my mind. I got a message from a dealer too who can possibly get me a great price.

I did not know about the recallable preamps, but that is super nice. I don't want to have to re-calibrate every time I switch between the ISEMcon emx-7150 and measuring a device.
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Mark Wilkinson

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Re: Interface RME Babyface Pro vs USB Pre2
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2019, 09:48:55 am »

Thanks, Sam!

I think that settles my mind. I got a message from a dealer too who can possibly get me a great price.

I did not know about the recallable preamps, but that is super nice. I don't want to have to re-calibrate every time I switch between the ISEMcon emx-7150 and measuring a device.

Hi Nathan,  another happy camper here with Baby face pro.
The preamps are recallable, as is the whole setup really.  What's cool is how if you switch it from one computer to another, it configures according to the computer.  IOW, I use it as a measurement soundcard with my laptop, and as a DAC with a NUC music server, and as a piece of bench test equip with my desktop.  Whichever computer I plug it into, it automatically  configures for that use.
It has a pretty nice built in mixer, and some good analytic software too.
And this is kinda an off beat reason for liking it, but I've found the flat form factor works.  The XLR ins and outs are both at the top of the unit, and a simple XLR y-connector makes a clutter free loop back.
On the Rational Acoustics forum, there have been requests for Smaart to auto config it, since RA sells it.  RA said it's on the to do list.
That would be another big plus if it ever happens.
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Al Rettich

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Re: Interface RME Babyface Pro vs USB Pre2
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2019, 07:43:37 am »

Honestly, if I was needing a new I/O for smaart Id consider the Roland OCTA-Capture!
I'm somewhat in the market for a nice pro interface.

I've been using the UMC404HD that Ivan recommends for sub-top alignment and general tuning work. It works great, 5v phantom power, plenty of IO, robust, cheap, etc.

But I'd like to be able to do distortion measurements or more thorough measurements without getting into Langston's audio precision territory.

I think I have it narrowed to two, but am open to other options. I'm leaning towards the RME because of Langston's review & that it is used-mint on ebay for $550.


$750new RME Babyface Pro:
Pros:
Reviewed by Langston
"world class" everything
+19dBu output
Internal mixer

Cons:
Not exactly a 'road worthy interface'
Stupid name
Internal mixer


$895new Sound Devices USB Pre2:
Pros:
Internal loopback
Rugged
Simple to use

Cons:
+18dBu output
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Frank Koenig

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Re: Interface RME Babyface Pro vs USB Pre2
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2019, 08:49:08 pm »

After my measurement snafu with the M-audio interface, and against the advice of some on the forum, I went a bought the Sound Devices USB Pre2. Silly me but I always liked Sound Devices gear and the RME just struck me as too much of a bedroom recording studio piece. The button and menu UI on the RME put me off a bit, too. I can use those things but feel like each new one I have to learn takes a little piece of my soul. Anyway...

The USB Pre2 and its drivers appear to work fine so far and overall I'm pretty pleased. Having to take the rubber plug out of the back and mess with DIP switches to set phantom power and pad is a bit disappointing but I hope not to have to do it too often.

But here's the thing I want to alert others about. The "loop back" feature, that internally connects one of the DAC outputs to one of the ADC inputs introduces some small error. If I use a Y-cord between the two inputs I get a "perfect" impulse response, using ARTA or Smaart, in which all the samples except one are equal to zero. If I repeat the experiment using the internal loop-back I get several samples of spread that, in the frequency domain, manifest as a little roll-off and corresponding phase shift at high frequencies. Now in an actual electroacoustic measurement this error is negligible, and certainly for at-the-gig verification use is completely immaterial. But you should know that it's there and anyone wanting to do "laboratory grade" measurements should use the two inputs in a parallel measurement and reference channel configuration.

I'm somewhat surprised that Sound Devices allowed this given what perfectionists they appear to be about everything else. I think it should be technically feasible to have the internal connection be as transparent as a Y-cord, but for some reason it isn't.

--Frank
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: Interface RME Babyface Pro vs USB Pre2
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2019, 11:01:58 pm »

After my measurement snafu with the M-audio interface, and against the advice of some on the forum, I went a bought the Sound Devices USB Pre2. Silly me but I always liked Sound Devices gear and the RME just struck me as too much of a bedroom recording studio piece. The button and menu UI on the RME put me off a bit, too. I can use those things but feel like each new one I have to learn takes a little piece of my soul. Anyway...

The USB Pre2 and its drivers appear to work fine so far and overall I'm pretty pleased. Having to take the rubber plug out of the back and mess with DIP switches to set phantom power and pad is a bit disappointing but I hope not to have to do it too often.

But here's the thing I want to alert others about. The "loop back" feature, that internally connects one of the DAC outputs to one of the ADC inputs introduces some small error. If I use a Y-cord between the two inputs I get a "perfect" impulse response, using ARTA or Smaart, in which all the samples except one are equal to zero. If I repeat the experiment using the internal loop-back I get several samples of spread that, in the frequency domain, manifest as a little roll-off and corresponding phase shift at high frequencies. Now in an actual electroacoustic measurement this error is negligible, and certainly for at-the-gig verification use is completely immaterial. But you should know that it's there and anyone wanting to do "laboratory grade" measurements should use the two inputs in a parallel measurement and reference channel configuration.

I'm somewhat surprised that Sound Devices allowed this given what perfectionists they appear to be about everything else. I think it should be technically feasible to have the internal connection be as transparent as a Y-cord, but for some reason it isn't.

--Frank

Good find Frank, thanks for the heads up!

I just spent the evening with my RME that Mike Harris sold me (at a killer price, hit him up if looking for one).

I found an interesting thing. I need to look into it further, but when using a xlr Y cable for the loopback I noticed a drop in volume when plugging into the xlr inputs. I figured the inputs would be High enough impediance to not notice a difference. Or at least would be much less.

Anyways calculations:
Out: 300ohm
In: 2000ohm
3dB change

Seems about right what I heard from the speaker. I didn't measure this, I did consider it though, haha.
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Sam Feine

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Re: Interface RME Babyface Pro vs USB Pre2
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2019, 08:44:54 am »

Good find Frank, thanks for the heads up!

I just spent the evening with my RME that Mike Harris sold me (at a killer price, hit him up if looking for one).

I found an interesting thing. I need to look into it further, but when using a xlr Y cable for the loopback I noticed a drop in volume when plugging into the xlr inputs. I figured the inputs would be High enough impediance to not notice a difference. Or at least would be much less.

Anyways calculations:
Out: 300ohm
In: 2000ohm
3dB change

Seems about right what I heard from the speaker. I didn't measure this, I did consider it though, haha.

I have taken to using the built in loopback in the RME mixer. It is something of a hidden feature in the software and I didn't know about it until someone showed it to me.
the feature is somewhat limited because it will always connect the output signal to the corresponding input channel (ch2 out -> ch2 in) but it means that I don't have to make a manual loop back with an XLR.

To access the feature, take the output out of stereo mode and click the "loopback" button on the channel you want to loopback (ch 2 for me).
I found that it took some playing around to get everything working right but putting the software mixer into matrix view helped a lot.

-Sam
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Riley Casey

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Re: Interface RME Babyface Pro vs USB Pre2
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2019, 10:25:26 am »

In the "other options" category look at a Behringer XR18.  18x18 USB interface with a mixer thrown in.

Mark Wilkinson

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Re: Interface RME Babyface Pro vs USB Pre2
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2019, 06:49:37 pm »

In the "other options" category look at a Behringer XR18.  18x18 USB interface with a mixer thrown in.

Strongly second this....

I know i spoke for the babyface pro in prior posts, and still do if you're also looking for a 'reference' kinda soundcard.

But the Beh XR18, with recallable preamps...which is a biggie, especially now that Smaart 8 doesn't want to give SPL readings without any calibration.
Add in the fact it's a unit that can be used elsewhere,... well it makes a ton of sense imo.
I use a x-32 rack simply cause I have a spare, but if I didn't have it...XR18 would be my choice.

I don't think there is 2c worth of difference in the quality of Smaart or Systune measurements, whether with the rme, or any of the Beh's all the way down to the UMC 202/404s.
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Re: Interface RME Babyface Pro vs USB Pre2
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2019, 06:49:37 pm »


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