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Master Mi

24-bit/USB 2.0 versus 32-bit/USB 3.1 audio interface

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I'm just thinking about if it might be useful to upgrade an 24-bit USB 2.0 audio interface to a newer version within the same product line with 32-bit and USB 3.1 functions.

At the moment I own the Steinberg UR44, which is a really awesome interface (just one year old - and my absolute favourite audio interface in my price range back then) with a great sound quality and lots of connectivity options:
>>> https://www.thomann.de/gb/steinberg_ur44.htm?ref=intl&shp=eyJjb3VudHJ5IjoiZ2IiLCJjdXJyZW5jeSI6IjIiLCJsYW5ndWFnZSI6ImVuIn0%3D

And now I'm thinking about getting the UR44C of the brand-new product line with the same connectivity options, but with 32-bit & USB 3.1 functions:
>>> https://www.thomann.de/gb/steinberg_ur44c.htm

What do you think - would I have some meaningful benefits from this upgrade or isn't it worth the investment?
A good friend would buy my old interface for around 200 bucks - so it wouldn't be a complete waste of money and resources in this case.

But...

1) Does the "32-bit" any impact on the quality of the sound reproduction if you just listen to a soundtrack with this interface - or is it just the recording with a microphone or an electric guitar that might sound a bit more accurate and better defined (even this could be useful because I'm planning to buy my first electric guitar - which might be a Yamaha Pacifica - in the coming year)?
What exactly does the "32 bit" (audio depth) mean? It doesn't seem to be similar to the sampling rate and of course not to the bit rate - but it oviously has something to do with the audio-quality, right?

2) I have some USB 3.0 connections at my PC - so, will you get some greater benefits in your music production activities from the faster USB connection?
Will this affect the loading speed of your projects?
Will it lower the CPU or DSP usage in your DAW?
Will it lower the latency?
Or can you easily use more instruments plugins and effects in your music projects without putting the engine stability in danger with this USB 3.0/3.1 connection?

So, does somebody in this group have some own experiences with upgrading his/her studio equipment from a 24-bit/USB 2.0 audio interface to a 32-bit/USB 3.1 audio interface - and would you recommend such an investment for me or anybody else in this group?

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@Master Mi I don't think upgrading will buy you much, to be honest - your existing 24-bit/192Khz UR44 (recording at max settings) is offering plenty of fidelity and headroom. Unless latency is an issue working at those settings, you're good to go...

  1. Bit-depth affects noise floor and can be misconstrued as "quality" when in reality there's more going on; you can go nuclear on this topic, but generally speaking: most folks listen at 16-bit, and professionals *tend* to record at 24-bit. 32-bit is considered a bit overkill and also makes file sizes much larger. Your current interface is still relevant.
  2. USB improvements have focused primarily on bandwidth, not latency. Basically, any given 3.0 interface might be faster than a cheaper 2.0 interface, but this is more because of the drivers themselves, and how they've been optimized. It is possible to buy a USB 3.0 interface with worse latency than a 2.0 interface, in other words - it depends more on the drivers. See https://support.focusrite.com/hc/en-gb/articles/208095469-USB-2-0-vs-USB-3-0
    1. Loading speed of projects is based more on # of plugins, tracks, and samples being loaded, where the bottleneck is far more about disk I/O - an SSD helps with this, and USB 3.0 would only be relevant if it were the protocol for an external drive.... not for the audio interface.
    2. CPU/DSP use would be dictated by the quality of the interface drivers, not by USB 2.0 vs. 3.0.
    3. It's possible that you have a motherboard/system where the USB 3.0 bus & its driver are more efficient in general than the 2.0 bus, and its driver. In this case, absolutely, USB 3.0 might provide both stability AND latency improvements. However, you haven't mentioned any real problems with your current UR44 in this regard.... unless it's crashing, losing connectivity, or adding too much latency, or crackling, etc., then upgrading JUST for 32-bit & USB 3.0 doesn't make much sense. Ain't broke, don't fix, etc.

 

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Thanks for the really useful information. ))

Guess, you 're totally right - never touch a running system.
If you already have a decent studio equipment that works really well and you also have a good audio interface with all the necessary connectivity options you need, you can feel blessed, take a deep breath of joy...

... and concentrate much more on the main things >>> creative compositions, professional sound design, great mixings or simply experiencing and enjoying the great world of audio.

Sometimes you really have to be aware that your home studio won't turn into some kind of a shitty replacement car that makes a lot of extra noises after tuning, but mostly draws a lot of time and money or which even pollutes the fresh air of creativity you once enjoyed when riding your bike in a much more natural and down-to-earth environment.


I guess, it's already a pretty awesome thing, that you can afford such really good studio equipment as a normal civilian nowadays and compose your own soundtracks and remixes with a DAW system.
It would have been much harder or nearly impossible to get even nearly such great stuff at this affordable cost range around 30 years ago.
 

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