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Best USB interface of Native Instruments KA 6 vs. Roland Quad Capture?, [TOS #6: moved from General Audio, was "Audio Interface Decisions
LC155
post Apr 21 2012, 16:45
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Hey guys,

I've recently gone ahead and ordered a AT2035 mic. I knew I needed an audio interface so I could begin recording to the PC, so I did my research. After about a week or so, I came to two choices. The Native Instruments KA 6, and the Roland Quad Capture.

And it's here where I'm stuck. I've found no direct comparison reviews of any sort between the two, and user experience online shows both to be rock solid, stable and with low latency. I'm just wondering if one has higher quality over the other, and if one colours the sound less or something, and so-forth. I'm hoping that someone here has experience with one (or both, ideally) and can give input as to how they found it. I'm dead set on either one at this point, just finding out which one is the problem! The bundled software they come with won't be an issue for me. Just looking for the highest quality USB interface out of those two.

Thanks.

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Ethan Winer
post Apr 21 2012, 17:37
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QUOTE (LC155 @ Apr 21 2012, 11:45) *
user experience online shows both to be rock solid, stable and with low latency. I'm just wondering if one has higher quality over the other

If it were me I'd probably go by price since both are known to be good. In the grand scheme of things, the speakers you use and the room you listen in are literally 100 times more detrimental to "accuracy" and sound quality than the sound card you use.

--Ethan


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I believe in Truth, Justice, and the Scientific Method
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LC155
post Apr 21 2012, 17:50
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Well, that's the thing. Both are pretty much the exact same price.

This post has been edited by db1989: Apr 25 2012, 21:34
Reason for edit: removing pointless full quote of above post
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AudioKitten
post Apr 21 2012, 18:25
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I would select whichever one provides features that will be more useful to you. Would you be more likely to take advantage of the Roland's higher sampling frequency or the Native Instrument's extra inputs?

All things equal I would buy the Roland just because Roland is a much larger company which could mean something if you ever have problems and need the product serviced. That and the Native Instruments product has that tacky smooth top to it and that top mounted knob which look like they could easily be damaged if you were to use them on the road. Especially that top mounted knob; it looks rather luggage unfriendly.
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LC155
post Apr 21 2012, 19:29
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Mmm... Truthfully, I'd probably take more advantage of the Roland's extra bells and whistles (That auto gain adjustment, along with higher sampling frequency). The NI does have some stuff too, like with the monitors and stuff. I'll admit though, they smooth glossy top of the NI doesn't really appeal much too me. Looks like one of those 'eazy-scratch' things, although it'll be sitting at a desk so it won't end up in luggage.

This post has been edited by db1989: Apr 25 2012, 21:35
Reason for edit: as above
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RonaldDumsfeld
post Apr 21 2012, 20:33
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I'd go for the NI box for 2 main reasons.

NI's headline products are software based. Traktor is the industry standard beatmatching/DJ application. They are not going to skimp on the quality of the interface if it risks sales on profitable software.

It's also got significantly connection options. You might not appreciate how useful you will find them now but I'd be very surprised if you didn't find a use for them. I went from 2 in/4 out to 10 in/14 out very quickly.

That said I have no direct experience of either product. I have had other stuff from both companies in the past and had no problems with either.
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LC155
post Apr 21 2012, 21:37
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Couldn't that go the other way too? They might not be as good on the hardware side compared to say, Roland?

That may be true, but I may just upgrade in time if I need be. I'm going to be recording on my own, and I shouldn't need more than two at the most. What do you do with all the additional ports?

This decision is so much harder than it should be. The price drop of the NI is killing me (to bring it closer to the Roland I imagine)

This post has been edited by db1989: Apr 25 2012, 21:35
Reason for edit: as above
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ringenesherre
post Apr 21 2012, 23:53
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QUOTE (LC155 @ Apr 21 2012, 17:45) *
I've recently gone ahead and ordered a AT2035 mic. I knew I needed an audio interface so I could begin recording to the PC, so I did my research. After about a week or so, I came to two choices. The Native Instruments KA 6, and the Roland Quad Capture.


Both interfaces will easily do your job. I'd personally go for the Roland for big name + no tacky shiny top with button.

Slightly off-topic: If all you need is a good USB audio interface with an excellent microphone pre-amp, why not take a look at the cheaper Focusrite Scarlett 2i2? I have mine set up as a pre-amp and ADC for my condenser mic with headphone or 2x genelec monitors and it works like a charm. Build quality is nice, too.

Cheers,
Peter
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RonaldDumsfeld
post Apr 22 2012, 00:18
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As far as I can tell from a quick look at the specs the NI box offers two extra line level input and output channels over the Roland with the only trade off being that you can record on the Roland at a higher sampling rate (192 vs 96).

I never found very high sampling rates very useful. Everything is bigger, takes longer and I couldn't hear any audible difference anyway.

Being able to cue is the most obvious answer to your second question. The ability to listen to one stereo program whilst playing another. (*1). You might think that is only useful to Djs but it's a very useful feature for everyone when you get used to it. You can be playing back one program whilst searching for the next sample you want to play or talking on a headset without interrupting the currently playing program for example.

Likewise with the extra inputs. With the Roland you can play and record your voice and a guitar - with the NI you could add a rhythm track or even just a click track to keep yourself in time(*1).

I started out like you with a simple device (2 in/4 out). Now I use a multiple channel interface much like a sophisticated switch or the controls on an old fashioned integrated amp or receiver. Leave everything permanently connected and switch between them as circumstances dictate. Output to desktop monitors, floorstanding speakers and a sub, another pair of speakers in different room, headphones/headset, various old recorders and a return loop for instant one click recording of any input or output pair. Likewise with the inputs. Record decks, various recorders, various mics, an instrument, headset, even the radio TV and PC. Basically anything that can produce a noise is connected to anything that can reproduce that noise and they can all operate simultaneously and independently. Not only that it's possible to add mix and effects and/or EQ to any channel. One example of the usefulness of this might be you wanting to add some comfort reverb to your vocals whilst singing but not record that reverb. The possibilities are endless and limited only by your imagination

Obviously I could quote examples that have proven useful to myself all night but of course everyone's requirements and expectations are different. I take the trouble to write this because I was delighted to make the discovery myself and would like to share. If you are absolutely certain you will never need anything except a stereo in/stereo out box get the Roland but, like I said before, I'd be surprised if you didn't find an use for those extra channels for a very similar price.

(*1) Both boxes do offer SPDIF I/O on co-ax as well as line so if you have a suitable device you might be able to use that for cueing or backing tracks. Depends.
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LC155
post Apr 22 2012, 15:53
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Thanks for that, all very interesting points! I'll admit, I was swayed on the Roland at first, but now I may be reconsidering...

Just one thing, you said to go with the Roland if I wasn't going to use the extra connectivity options. Why is that? Just for the little extra useful features it has like the auto sens?

This post has been edited by db1989: Apr 25 2012, 21:35
Reason for edit: as above, especially for such a large post
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RonaldDumsfeld
post Apr 22 2012, 17:00
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No. I simply didn't express myself very well.

What i meant was - If you were stuck on the Roland then it would probably serve you very well but, for what it's worth, I'd go for the NI every time.
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LC155
post Apr 22 2012, 20:19
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QUOTE (RonaldDumsfeld @ Apr 22 2012, 17:00) *
No. I simply didn't express myself very well.

What i meant was - If you were stuck on the Roland then it would probably serve you very well but, for what it's worth, I'd go for the NI every time.


Ah, I see.

And I'm going to guess the pre amps on both are probably pretty much the same quality? I know the roland has VS preamps, the same as their more expensive octa-capture model. Unsure on the KA preamps.

So far there are 3 known main issues: (With the KA6)

1) If you're using two condenser mics (input 1+2), which both need phantom power, it MIGHT be the case, that the KA6 doesn't have enough power for both mics, so you only get sound from one mic and the sound from the other mic gets "killed": http://www.native-instruments.com/forum/showthread.php?t=146 380

2) With the DIRECT MONITORING feature (which you can do directly on the unit with some knobs), you cannot monitor inputs 3+4 directly. You can only route input 1+2 to output 1+2, 3+4 or 1+2 and 3+4: http://www.native-instruments.com/forum/showthread.php?t=147 872&highlight=ka6+monitoring

3) There are problems when using the KA6 with an USB 3.0 port. So it's saver to have a free USB 2.0 port: http://www.native-instruments.com/forum/showthread.php?t=139 288

Now whilst these are probably null issues for me (except maybe the first one, but I'm unsure), I can't find much on the Roland in terms of issues. Anyone else had better luck?

This post has been edited by LC155: Apr 22 2012, 21:12
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LC155
post Apr 25 2012, 21:32
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Well, I found this amazon review from just a couple of days ago:

QUOTE
Bought from Amazon with their usual good service and the recording quality at normal levels is excellent. However i conducted some tests with nothing plugged into the unit and found the following:- if you turn the gain up past 3 oclock the amps are very noisy. Also if you switch the Hi-Z switch to the "on" position and increase the gain past 1 oclock there is a low level buzz that quickly gets worse as you increase the gain. The unit also became microphonic at this setting. I have returned the unit to Amazon for a refund. I normally rate Roland products very highly and was very dissapointed with the Quad Capture.


If anyone owns this (or the octo, since it's the same thing) and can test for this, please do.
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LC155
post May 3 2012, 18:33
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I think I can give an update:

I might just go with the Roland. It has a a buzzing issue when HI-Z is on and the first input gain is up full, but that's all.

It seems that the KA6 cannot power two condenser mics at the same time (depending on which mics). For a near perfect interface, that kind of failure is unacceptable, imo.
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