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Use a firewire audio interface as a headphone amp?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by ogwa, Mar 16, 2008.

  1. ogwa


    Jan 11, 2003
    Hi All,

    I'm looking into getting a firewire audio interface for a recording a few tracks of bass, guitars and vocals. So far I've narrowed it down to one of the following:

    Presonus Firebox
    M-audio Firewire 410 - (There seem to be some OS x driver issues with this I think).
    Edirol FA-66
    Echo Audiofire 4

    These all seem to go for around £180 - £200 in the UK.
    Haven't decided which yet, and I'm still open to other suggestions - I use a Mac btw.

    I also need to get a headphone amp for late night bass practice, and I'm wondering if any of the above mentioned devices will function decently as a standalone headphone amp, specifically when not connected to a computer.

    Anyone else do this? How well does it work?

    My bass stack will live in a different room to my computer most of the time, so I want to know if this will work - I would probably connect the DI out from my bass head into the interface, just as I would when recording.

    I was thinking of getting a Cafe Walter headphone amp just for practice purposes but it seems a waste if my firewire interface / preamp would do the same job.
    To get one of these shipped over from the US would run me about £120 I think, so I'd be happy to hear that one of these firewire interfaces can do double duty for me.
  2. CBBass123

    CBBass123 Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2005
    Wow...I was looking for the same exact uses as you...Neighbors just had baby...need to practice with headphones, and would like to record couple tracks as well...Was lookin into M audio fast track but not sure. Subscribed.. Plus which headphones are best for bass guitar??
  3. All of those would work for your purpose (I have an Edirol Fa-101 sitting here as I write this) including as a headphone amp. The pres on the Echo will be the best sounding out of all of them, followed by the Firebox and then the Edirol and 410. All of them are a bit noisy if you crank them.

    As far as OS X is concerned M-Audio's drivers can be kind of buggy. I had an 1814 for awhile that I had to get rid of it because it kept crashing in OS X. The issue is that the M-Audio variants use a non-standard BridgeCo firewire interface chip which has some special firmware in it. All the Echo/Roland/Presonus stuff uses the standard BridgeCo chip so they should (in theory) be supported by the driver that ships with OS X - which might ease the compatibility worries a bit. M-Audio likes to lock its hardware down with the drivers but the upside is you get to use Pro Tools.

    If you aren't using Pro Tools my first choice for ease of use would be the Echo followed by the Edirol. Both will come right up without installing any drivers. I'd pick the Echo over the Roland because the A/D quality is higher and because I have an old Mona that is still supported after like 9 years and sounds great. They even wrote new drivers for Vista for it after it had been out of production for half a decade, so they really look after their customers. The Edirol would also be a good buy because they're sturdy and cheap used.

    Also, if you're using OS X and need a DAW check out Ardour (ardour.org). I use it on Linux with the Edirol and it's fantastic.
  4. hunta


    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    I'd second the Echo.
  5. ogwa


    Jan 11, 2003
    I just read through the manual for the echo audiofire - it does specifically say it works without a computer connection, so I'm going to go for it.

    Thanks for the recommendations everyone.
  6. emils


    Jul 28, 2005
    I have a Tascam FW-1804 that I use for recording as well as for headphone practice. Play a track in I-tunes and play along...great fun.
  7. As an option to that idea, check these out:


    I bought the Mk1, battery powered with charger and use a mono->stereo adapter direct out from my sansamp feeding it, and then using my cans for late nite practice, ie. you dont need any power connected, battery in sansamp, and you are good to go and neighbours will love you.


  8. I had the same problem and went with the Firebox. I have no regrets. I almost went for the M-Audio, but one of the guys in my band has an M-Audio one and he's always having trouble with volume and stuff...

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