Top 2 Best Firewire Audio Interfaces (May 2020)
RME Audio Fireface UFX II
- ✔ Ultra-low latency operation with USB and FireWire
- ✔ All inputs and outputs can be used at the same time
- ✔ Direct USB Recording
- ✔ Best low latency performance
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This is one of the most reliable and fully featured interfaces on the market. It runs on good old USB so there’s no trouble running it on MacOS. It’s quite striking how Steinberg has reflected the look of the UFX II in the AXR4. The Fireface UFX has 60 channels of audio! Digitally controlled high-end preamps, reference class converters and full 192 kHz operation.
The Fireface UFX II has 30 ins and 30 outs with 4 digitally controlled mic preamps on the front, another 8 analog on the back and the rest in ADAT, AES/EBU and S/PDIF digital. The latency and performance of RME’s USB technology are second to none and supports audio resolutions up to 192kHz. Along with the excellent monitoring screen, MIDI I/O and wordclock features, you can also plug in a USB stick in the front and record directly to it. Imagine taking an instant mix from a recording session or live show. The internal TotalMix FX software gives full routing access and hardware mixing with DSP effects.
RME Fireface UC
- ✔ Up to 192kHz sample rates
- ✔ Provides revolutionary ultra-low latencies even with multiple channels
- ✔ Class compliant MIDI ports
- ✔ Compatible with Windows 10 and Mac
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This interface boasts excellent parameters, many inputs and outputs (8 in/8 out) and also the ability to connect via USB and FireWire.
But the main thing about the Fireface UCX is the clean untainted sound and stable performance. The included Total Mix FX software, although it looks slightly outdated, has some impressive functionality.
This interface, largely due to its impressively stable handling, is excellent for capturing performances of all kinds. With the abundance of inputs and output it’s suitable for recording drum kits and large ensembles.
That said, for the average home studio, its capabilities are probably overkill. Most home recording does not involve drum tracking. This is generally reserved for bigger studios, hence the price of the Fireface UCX.
The Fireface UC is ostensibly the same as RME’s Fireface 400, providing 36 channels of analogue and digital I/O with only the interface format changed from FireWire to USB 2.0.
The analogue inputs are split across the unit with two mic/line and two instrument/line sockets at the front and the remaining four at the rear on balanced TRS sockets.
Six of the analogue outputs appear as TRS sockets, which can be used for feeding a 5.1 surround system, while at the front is a single TRS socket for either headphone monitoring or an unbalanced stereo monitor path.
There is a single knob and two-digit LED display on the front of the unit that enables control of all output levels (analogue and digital) as well as the four front input gains. The driver interface has a dedicated page for control of the analogue I/O with gain faders, pad switches, phantom power for the mic inputs and impedance switching for the instrument/line inputs.
Also on this page are settings for the overall gain structure of the analogue inputs, TRS outputs and headphone outputs. There are three ranges: 10dBV (unbalanced), +4dBu (balanced) and a Hi Gain (outputs) or Lo Gain (inputs) which offers more headroom for those who work with high-gain level balanced outboard. This is a unique function that really enhances the interconnection flexibility of the unit.
We know many engineers who spend countless hours (which equates to lost revenue) trying to iron out compatibility issues with their interfaces. If one was to add up the cost of these lost hours, the price difference between the Fireface UC and an alternative (cheaper) product disappears and in fact reverses.
We would heartily recommend this unit to anyone looking to buy a non-FireWire interface.