Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Saffire or Scarlett

We’ve been down this road a few times, but I’m getting into my slow season & would really like to do some recording. I’m used to a Tascam cassette porta-studio & I know they make one in a CD version, but some of you have suggested that an interface is the way to go. I tried one once and didn’t like it, so I took it back, but I don’t think I gave it enough time. It was a pre-sonus 2i2. I’m willing to try harder this time & give it a better chance.

I have windows vista home premium (maybe I should upgrade the computer first :blush: ). I’ve been doing research & I’ll need moniters, interface, cables & such. I have an Audio Technica ATM 10a condensor mic & a Shure SM 58 mic (more for vocals). I would like to record lead guitar, mandolin, rythym guitar & mandolin chops, maybe a bass track & some vocals. No drums or electric guitars.

So my question is this to anyone with a little experience: What would you purchase if you were in my boots? I’m kinda leaning towards a Focusrite Saffpro 14 or a Scarlett 6i6. What are the differences between Scarlett & Saffire? Do I need this much of an interface or more? Would another brand be better?

Also, these come with software (ableton). Will this be enough or will I need more software?

As far as moniters go, I’ve heard good things about the M-Audio BX5 desktops. Is there something else that anyone would recommend?

My preference would be to get another porta-studio (CD) & be done, but I know this is 2013, so I’m willing to try something new. One requirement: PLEASE KEEP IT SIMPLE (as can be anyway).

My budget is $500.00 to $800.00 depending on whether I need to upgrade the computer. If that’s the case, I’ll have to talk with my banker & convince her that she needs a new computer (It’s for the good of the family).

Thanks in advance … J.W.

Hi J.W.,
Sorry my answer will be short, but I am having neck/back issues and can’t stay at the PC for long. As far as monitors go, you don’t absolutely have to have them as much as headphones (which are essential). Monitors are certainly nice though.

One thing to watch for, unless you know you have a firewire input on your PC, you probably want to get a USB one (I think the affire 14 is firewire). I haven’t ever felt a strong desire for more than my 2 inputs. Here’s one that does 2 inputs and USB it for $149: … -interface
There’s one for $40 more that does midi and such. As far as I am concerned, I want fairly basic functionality, but good quality sound, and I think you are on a similar path.

There are some interesting packages with mics/monitors mics stands etc.

Don’t get to worried about the bundled software. You can always get Audacity (free) or Reaper ($60).

Glad to hear you are getting going on it. I think you’ll like it.

I did a bit more surfing. I have run into several interfaces (including a few focusrite) that say XP and Win7 are supported, but vista is “not officially supported.” It might be worth checking on the home recording forum for Vista issues.

Thanks for the info Mike. I’ll look into it. I’ve seen the bundles & wonder how the quality is on the cables & mic.

Which is easier to use, audacity or reaper? I’m not familiar with either one. I’ve heard of cubase & protools, but don’t know anything about them either. :bulb: Since I don’t know anything about any of the interfaces or daw’s, I may call Sweetwater in Ft Wayne & purchase something from them. They specialize in recording & recording equipment & are very willing to help. Really good tech support. They sell everything we’ve talked about & much more. I’ll let you know.

I have a nice set of Denon headphones, so I could get by without monitors for now.

Thanks again & I hope you get to feeling better.

I appreciate the wishes for feeling better. I got some xrays done this morning, and there weren’t any bone issues, so that is good news. I have some medications that are helping out with the pain and allowing me to get some sleep (it’s been a few days). Long and short of it, all is much better. They are going to follow up later to hopefully identify any problems.

I can’t personally comment on audacity, but others report that it’s fairly easy to use. Reaper (which I use) is not difficult. There will always be a learning curve with anything that has the capabilities of these DAWs. But then again, you don’t have to learn everything there is to know. Whenever you get to the point of getting things up and running, I suspect you will be able to get some help from the people around here. If you get something that I know anything about, I’d be glad to help in any way I can.

As far as cheap mics… I am amazed at the sound quality of modern bargain mics. I needed to record something quickly a while back. I was going to get 2 nice condensers, but couldn’t settle on the models, so I bought a pair of MXLs for about $100. The long and short of it, I have never felt a need to upgrade them. They are fantastic with instruments to my ear. They aren’t great for vocals, but your SM58 will cover that nicely.

Talk to you later!

Hey J.W. back to your original questions… Scarlett 6i6 or SaffirePro 14? First question back at you… do you have a firewire on your PC? If you don’t know, let’s assume not (unless you want to look for one). The Saffire Pro 14 is firewire whereas the Scarlett 6i6 is USB. You should have USB ports, so the 6i6 will work. If you do have firewire, then either would work fine.

With that said, the 6i6 has midi inputs and outputs. Unless you know that you will need them (for something like a midi keyboard), I might save $100 and get the scarlett 2i2 (149 at sweetwater). That’s just me. It has two dual purpose inputs (mic or line for each) as well as phantom power (which you will need for the condenser). Basically, that’s all I need for the type of recording I do. I typically only record one thing at a time, and having two inputs would allow you to record in stereo. I have more inputs and outputs on mine than the 2i2, but they have never been used.
Here’s the 2i2 with a nice little demo video:

On whether your PC will need an upgrade… The answer may not be yes/no. It might be that it would be better with a new pc, but the one you have will work. If you have plenty of hard drive space available, I would certainly give it a try with the computer you have. Even if you need to add a hard drive for space, that’s pretty cheap. You can get a 1TB drive for about $70 or $80. That would be big enough to record a very large amount of stuff. BTW, adding a hard drive to a computer is easy to do, and it should be cheap to pay someone to do it for you.

Your SM58 is a good vocal mic. I don’t know much about the AT mic that you have. It is omnidirectional which might make it more difficult to isolate the sound from the instrument, but it may work great. I don’t have an omnidirectional, so I can’t really say. It should be good for recording a group. If you aren’t happy with the mics you have, the condensers I have can be currently bought for $80 (for a pair): … 1126981.gc

Whatever software your audio interface comes with should be decent enough for getting your feet wet. I used Ableton lite for about a year before switching to Reaper. It does everything well, but you are limited to 8 tracks (stereo) and something like 6 effects. Although Ableton lite may be all you ever need, I would suggest trying Reaper and Audacity before you get too far along to see if you like them better (both can be downloaded for free). There are helpful youtube videos on most of the recording apps (the apps are also called DAWs for Digital Audio Workstation). I suggest go watching some intro videos on the various DAWs and see if something looks good to you. Some of them are really quite helpful.

Putting it all together, you could get the Scarlett 2i2 for $149, and get started using your existing mics and headphones. If it turns out you need a new PC, you could pick up a PC dedicated for that purpose and still potentially be in budget. If you just need more hard drive space, you could be up and recording for under $250 (for audio interface and a hard drive).

Sorry it took me a while to respond well to the original post. I am still moving slow (but getting better).

Mike, sorry about the delayed response, but I’ve been out of town all week & I don’t have access to internet when I’m on the road.

Thanks for all your trouble, it’s really appreciated & very helpful.

If I don’t really need the extra plug ins, I may take your advice & get a smaller unit such as the scarlett 2i2 or the presonus 22vsl. The presonus has studio one artist & I saw a (new) 22vsl package deal with mxl 440 & 441 mics on e-bay for 229.00 with free shipping. I don’t know how they are compared to your 990/991 combo but they look the same other than being black instead of silver. That comes out to about the same as the scarlett with buying the mics separate other than shipping.

So I guess it’s down to those two. Like you said, I could skip the mics, but I’d kinda like to try some different ones to compare to the two I have. I did call Sweetwater & the guy I spoke with recommeneded the presonus, but if I was to call back & talk to someone else, it could go the other way, you know how that goes, everyone has different opinions about such things.

Thanks again Mike, I appreciate your help. If you have any other thoughts on these two, let me know.


I haven’t used the presonus, but it looks fairly similar. The reason I got the focusrite was on the reputation of their preamps. I have been pleased with it, but that’s not to say it would be any better or worse than the presonus. I suspect as long as a unit has good reviews, you’ll be in good shape with whatever you choose.

BTW, if you think you might want to use something like a midi keyboard in the future, there’s nothing wrong with getting that capability (like the 6i6) just for future potential. I did get one with that option, I just haven’t used it.

Also, I’ll send a PM with my contact info in case you want it for when you get started.