USB audio interface (sound card) comparison: M-Audio, PreSonus and Steinberg - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

 
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post #1 of 8 Old 04-01-16, 07:22 PM Thread Starter
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USB audio interface (sound card) comparison: M-Audio, PreSonus and Steinberg

I was looking for a USB sound card (aka audio interface) that had decent THD measurements for low frequencies. The Steinberg UR22mkII seem to beat the competition when I tested it in REW against the other interfaces listed below. I chose the three I tested because they were all locally available at Guitar Center or Best Buy.

Comparing:
1. M-Audio M-Track Plus
2. Presonus AudioBox iTwo
3. Steinberg UR22mkII



Test procedure:
1. Set mix knobs to playback/USB/DAW (e.g. ensure they are NOT set to input so as to prevent oscillating/unstable loop back test).
2. Set mic input to middle (when possible unless there was some oscillations, then slightly adjusted output volume and mic input until loop back measurement was stable as pictured above)
3. Ensured +48V was turned on (since I plan to use it), although no current should be flowing in the circuit since I'm using an XLR->phono cable for the test. The phono end was plugged into Output Left (1), XLR end into the left (1) mic input.
4. Updated firmware and downloaded the latest driver for each card
5. Disabled all enhancements under Windows 10 sound settings.
6. Opened the individual sound cards toolbox/application and set it for 48kHz or 96kHz and 512 samples and set the REW ASIO setting to match the sampling frequency.
7. Used ASIO4ALL driver for the test (since I plan to use the USB audio interface with HDMI loop back), but left the default ASIO4ALL latency settings (32 in/32 out)
8. Adjusted volume so that input was between -23-24dB, while leaving the mic knob in middle (final volume settings are as pictured).
9. Did 48kHz and 96kHz calibration tests for each USB audio interface.

Results:
Please take a look at the REW file on my google drive. The Steinberg UR22mkII seems to be of much better quality than the other three, especially in low frequency flatness and noise level. I plan to keep the Steinberg and return the other two, but I'm open to suggestions here.

Please only recommend great interfaces that are less than $350 new and can be purchased at BH Photo, Best Buy or Guitar Center. I do want the lowest noise floor possible (for under $350). I'm only concerned with cards that work with Windows 10 and below.

I'm really glad I tested the AudioBox iTwo I bought from Best Buy. Had no idea how much better cleaner the mic input could be (for the low-end) until I tested it against the Steinberg UR22mkII.

REW File:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B1...ExseVpzczRPWVE

Top Result:



Steinberg UR22mkII, 96kHz

Sample rate: 96000 Hz
-3 dB points: 4.8 Hz, 48.000 kHz
Input device: ASIO4ALL v2
Input: 1: Steinberg UR22mkII 1
Channel: Left
Input volume: no control
Input RMS target: -12.0 dB
Actual RMS at 1 kHz: -23.6 dB
Output device: ASIO4ALL v2
Output: 1: Steinberg UR22mkII 1
Sweep level: -12.0 dB
20 Hz .. 20 kHz flatness: +0.2, -0.3 dB



Steinberg UR22mkII, 48kHz, 512 samples

Sample rate: 48000 Hz
-3 dB points: 4.4 Hz, 24.000 kHz
Input device: ASIO4ALL v2
Input: 1: Steinberg UR22mkII 1
Channel: Left
Input volume: no control
Input RMS target: -12.0 dB
Actual RMS at 1 kHz: -23.1 dB
Output device: ASIO4ALL v2
Output: 1: Steinberg UR22mkII 1
Sweep level: -12.0 dB
20 Hz .. 20 kHz flatness: +0.0, -0.2 dB
Attached Thumbnails
USB audio interface (sound card) comparison:  M-Audio, PreSonus and Steinberg-interfaces-tested-small.jpg  

USB audio interface (sound card) comparison:  M-Audio, PreSonus and Steinberg-steinberg-ur22mkii-96khz-thd.jpg  

USB audio interface (sound card) comparison:  M-Audio, PreSonus and Steinberg-steinberg-ur22mkii-96khz-freq.jpg  

USB audio interface (sound card) comparison:  M-Audio, PreSonus and Steinberg-steinberg-ur22mkii-48khz-thd.jpg  

USB audio interface (sound card) comparison:  M-Audio, PreSonus and Steinberg-presonus-audiobox-itwo-96khz-thd.jpg  

USB audio interface (sound card) comparison:  M-Audio, PreSonus and Steinberg-m-audio-m-track-plus-96khz-thd.jpg  



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post #2 of 8 Old 04-01-16, 07:29 PM Thread Starter
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Re: USB audio interface (sound card) comparison: M-Audio, PreSonus and Steinberg

Here are some pics of the Steinberg UR22mkII. Looks really well made, even has polyester Nichicon capacitors! Much nicer than the "i" USB audio devices that will likely have no brand electrolytic caps that will have a much shorter lifespan. Got to love Yamaha/Steinberg.
Attached Thumbnails
USB audio interface (sound card) comparison:  M-Audio, PreSonus and Steinberg-inside-ur22mkii.jpg  



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Last edited by etc6849; 04-01-16 at 09:41 PM.
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post #3 of 8 Old 04-01-16, 08:45 PM
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Re: USB audio interface (sound card) comparison: M-Audio, PreSonus and Steinberg

You have been very thorough. Thanks for sharing the results of your in-depth analysis.

My favorite interface for REW is Roland's UA-55 Quad Capture. It has a digital reading of the mic input gain for each channel in the driver control panel, so once an initial SPL calibration is done with a favorite test mic, one can set that gain, use any input signal to get a desired signal level (-20 dB, for instance), set the SPL to the known SPL level for that signal level (85 dB SPL), finish the cal, and it is done without needing the SPL meter again.

The Steinberg unit looks like a good choice. Good luck!
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post #4 of 8 Old 04-01-16, 09:43 PM Thread Starter
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Re: USB audio interface (sound card) comparison: M-Audio, PreSonus and Steinberg

This sounds interesting! I'm guessing this feature wouldn't help me as I need to use the ASIO4ALL driver (which I'm guessing would bypass the control panel you speak of)?

Quote:
AudiocRaver wrote: View Post
You have been very thorough. Thanks for sharing the results of your in-depth analysis.

My favorite interface for REW is Roland's UA-55 Quad Capture. It has a digital reading of the mic input gain for each channel in the driver control panel, so once an initial SPL calibration is done with a favorite test mic, one can set that gain, use any input signal to get a desired signal level (-20 dB, for instance), set the SPL to the known SPL level for that signal level (85 dB SPL), finish the cal, and it is done without needing the SPL meter again.

The Steinberg unit looks like a good choice. Good luck!


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post #5 of 8 Old 04-01-16, 10:19 PM
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Re: USB audio interface (sound card) comparison: M-Audio, PreSonus and Steinberg

Quote:
etc6849 wrote: View Post
This sounds interesting! I'm guessing this feature wouldn't help me as I need to use the ASIO4ALL driver (which I'm guessing would bypass the control panel you speak of)?
No, the control I mentioned is for each of the mic input gain controls, which ASIO4ALL never touches. I use ASIO4ALL, too.
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post #6 of 8 Old 04-02-16, 05:30 AM
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Re: USB audio interface (sound card) comparison: M-Audio, PreSonus and Steinberg

Hopefully mkII has fixed the UR22's low frequency noise problems.
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post #7 of 8 Old 04-02-16, 10:51 AM Thread Starter
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Re: USB audio interface (sound card) comparison: M-Audio, PreSonus and Steinberg

Hi John a big thanks for your wonderful software!

Looking at the steinberg forums, I am very glad I bought the mkII. Seems the UR22 has everything from noise issues to audio dropouts?!? Yamaha should make this right for you and others who own the first gen UR22.

To address some of these:
1. Works fine from my USB 3.0 port.
2. UR22mkII has an external 5V power supply hookup, but I'm not using it. I measured my noise floor in REW to be below -125dB at mid mic volume as outlined below.
3. No dropouts yet, but I've only had it a day.

Only two issues:
1. I did have to create a shortcut under Windows 10 to "C:\Program Files (x86)\Yamaha\Yamaha Steinberg USB Driver\ysusb_cp.exe" since nothing was installed in my start menu.
2. Not sure if 192k is working properly when using the ASIO4ALL driver. I haven't studied this yet and will probably use 96kHz for all my measurements.

Noise Test:
To test noise floor, I did several RTA captures while adjusting mic 1 volume (had all other volumes on their minimum setting). Using ASIO4ALL and REW set to 96kHz, with 48V on, nothing connected to the UR22mkII except the USB cable, and mix knob on the UR22mkII is on USB. No inputs were grounded and no external power was applied to the UR22mkII.

File is here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B1...nEwMlVsbk9rVkU

With mic on MAX, I see some noise on the RTA capture (quickly goes below -100dB though with volume knob at 270 degrees).
65536-point spectrum using Rectangular window and no averaging
Input RMS 38.5 dB
Distortion at 21,739.7 Hz, -98.4 dB FS based on 1 harmonics:
THD 50.3 %
THD+N 100.0 %
2nd harmonic 50.3%

65536-point spectrum using Rectangular window and no averaging
Input RMS 38.6 dB
Distortion at 10.0 Hz, -98.1 dB FS based on 8 harmonics:
THD 160.4 %
THD+N 100.0 %
2nd harmonic 68.9%
3rd harmonic 35.0%
4th harmonic 34.7%
5th harmonic 74.2%
6th harmonic 72.6%
7th harmonic 63.1%
8th harmonic 46.1%
9th harmonic 40.9%

Same test, but with mic 1 volume at mid level, noise is well below -125dB, pretty nice!


Quote:
JohnM wrote: View Post
Hopefully mkII has fixed the UR22's low frequency noise problems.
Attached Thumbnails
USB audio interface (sound card) comparison:  M-Audio, PreSonus and Steinberg-noise-test-ur22mkii-mic-input-1-volume-mid-level.jpg  

USB audio interface (sound card) comparison:  M-Audio, PreSonus and Steinberg-noise-test-ur22mkii-mic-input-1-volume-max2.jpg  

USB audio interface (sound card) comparison:  M-Audio, PreSonus and Steinberg-noise-test-ur22mkii-mic-input-1-volume-max.jpg  



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Last edited by etc6849; 04-02-16 at 11:02 AM.
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post #8 of 8 Old 05-26-17, 11:16 AM
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Re: USB audio interface (sound card) comparison: M-Audio, PreSonus and Steinberg

Quote:
etc6849 wrote: View Post
I was looking for a USB sound card (aka audio interface) that had decent THD measurements for low frequencies. (...)
Hi
Did you do a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 REW measurement?
I'm looking for an interface preferentially with RCA output, but I'm between Scarlett 2i4 and UR22.
Thanks.
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