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DACport Pro - for MainStage live use


analogman1
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Hey folks!

 

With things heating up again soon in terms of performance, I've been creating some new MainStage concerts for live use.

 

I typically use the headphone output of my Mac.

(years ago I had used a MOTU Ultralite interface but it proved to be too fiddly, live...)

 

Now I'm again considering a quality dedicated audio interface.

 

I've recently stumbled across this:

https://centrance.com/dacport-pro/

 

I was wondering what the advantages are over a regular USB audio interface...

It's about $370.00 SO not inexpensive...for that price, I can get a decent audio interface.

 

Your expert opinions are sought after and MUCH appreciated!

 

Tom

Tom

Nord Electro 5D, Modal Cobalt 8, Yamaha upright piano, numerous plug-ins...

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"Most laptops have noisy audio jacks and cannot deliver high quality audio" says them on their website. I beg to differ, at least on the Mac side. You need more than a stereo output, I take it? Otherwise, imo the headphone out is fine. A DI box will get you XLRs if you need them.

 

I too had a MOTU interface (Microbook IIc) that disconnected on a gig, so I went to the headphone jack and a Rolls PM55P. The MOTU was nice, and gave me control of my in-ears mix from my keyboard, but reliability is key so it had to go. I never needed more than stereo outputs anyway.

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I have an SSL2 audio interface for the home studio, but for live performances, I prefer using more solid, built-like-a-tank devices.

I've recently stumbled across this:

https://centrance.com/dacport-pro/ ... advantages are over a regular USB audio interface ... about $370.00 SO not inexpensive...for that price, I can get a decent audio interface.

That looks like a nice piece of kit. Build looks robust/ high quality - like it could live comfortably on-stage or in-studio. I like the volume knob and VU meters, plus the fixed/variable output might be useful. For the price, also take a look at the Key Largo Mixer https://www.radialeng.com/product/key-largo

 

My US$300 budget setup:

1. Mackie MDB-USB DI Box

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MDBUSB--mackie-mdb-usb-stereo-usb-direct-box

 

2. Yamaha MG-06X Mixer

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MG06X--yamaha-mg06x-6-channel-mixer-with-effects

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Hey folks!

 

With things heating up again soon in terms of performance, I've been creating some new MainStage concerts for live use.

 

I typically use the headphone output of my Mac.

(years ago I had used a MOTU Ultralite interface but it proved to be too fiddly, live...)

 

Now I'm again considering a quality dedicated audio interface.

 

I've recently stumbled across this:

https://centrance.com/dacport-pro/

 

I was wondering what the advantages are over a regular USB audio interface...

It's about $370.00 SO not inexpensive...for that price, I can get a decent audio interface.

 

Your expert opinions are sought after and MUCH appreciated!

 

Tom

Well, I started using an outboard interface because I had a noisy headphone output on my Dell Windows laptop. When I switched to a MacOS laptop using MainStage I kept using it. Later I upgraded to a Focusrite low cost interface. On the odd occasion I forgot to bring the Focusrite to a gig I used the headphone audio outs with a DI. It sounded a little "dull" to my ears compared to the Focusrite, but no one else noticed.

 

The main benefit of an outboard interface as far as I can tell is it shifts the audio processing load off the CPU to the outboard DAC and may give a more transparent sound. For me having big round analog knob to grab on to to micro tune where I sit in the mix is the main advantage of an audio interface.

MainStage 3 | Axiom 61 2nd Gen | Pianoteq | B5 | XK3c | EV ZLX 12P

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I still use an ancient Radial USB PRO, mostly because it has isolation switches to help alleviate ground hum, without need for a separate DI stage. The Key Largo has the same helpful feature.

 

I've thought of switching to MOTU or UA actually because I like the idea of using a dc coupled interface to interface with analog gear freely. I might need additional ground hum isolation if I go that route, methinks.

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The main benefit of an outboard interface as far as I can tell is it shifts the audio processing load off the CPU to the outboard DAC and may give a more transparent sound.

You think the computer looks to see if the headphone ouput is connected or not, then shuts off its sound card to lessen CPU "processing load"? Or it senses an outboard DAC and does the same? I've not heard of that behavior.

 

How about a reality check? On a gig, and if you don't need more than stereo output, I can think of no reason to use an outboard DAC, at least where Macs are concerned. I'm sure you'll measure better specs with a good DAC, but the improvements will very likely not be noticeable in a typical band mix. And having an external DAC adds two more potential failure points - the DAC and the USB cable connecting it. Analogman1 said in his first post here that he switched to the headphone out because "I had used a MOTU Ultralite interface but it proved to be too fiddly, live." So now we're gonna take a chance with another interface? Of course it might work fine, but for myself, when I'm on a gig I now much prefer the peace of mind of my laptop's built-in audio.

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I really like having a dedicate I/O device because it gives you so much more flexibility. Using a UR44 right now but considering upgrading to more inputs. A UR44 is less money than the product you're looking at. But there's many that might fit the bill.

 

1. Gives you the ability to run other instruments through your VST's. For example, if you play guitar for a couple songs, they can run right into the I/O device.

2. Gives you the ability to run other keyboards in your rig back through your channel strips. I actually do this all the time and that way I have meters and a mixer right on the computer.

3. Gives you instant stereo IEMs from the headphone jack. You can run your monitor aux to the inputs of the I/O device and then mix your own Aux mix. Saves on monitor floor space too.

4. I've actually run a microphone into it and used the Arturia Vocoder V...pretty cool. There's a lot of other killer vocal processing that you can do with the normal Logic VSTs

5. I/O devices are pretty bulletproof; I've never had one break at a gig and I've been using Mainstage for nearly a decade now. I'm on my 3rd one but I've upgraded primarily because older products have been orphaned and then wouldn't work with the next IOS upgrade.

6. Although I don't do it this way: You could route separate outs to different locations if you wanted to a. Send a Click to the band that didn't go to the mains or b. Send specific patches to say...a leslie speaker.

 

You may not want to do any of these things now, but given that you can get this capability with less money, I don't know why you wouldn't. I'm sure there's other uses I haven't thought of either.

You want me to start this song too slow or too fast?

 

Forte7, Nord Stage 3, XK3c, OB-6, Arturia Collection, Mainstage, MotionSound KBR3D. A bunch of MusicMan Guitars, Line6 stuff

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