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Babyface vs Firepod comparison

Discussion in 'Backline' started by Derykus, Jul 29, 2011.

?

Which unit sounds better?

Poll closed Aug 5, 2011.
  1. 1

    2 vote(s)
    50.0%
  2. 2

    2 vote(s)
    50.0%
  1. Derykus

    Derykus Member

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    Tested the RME Babyface against my trusty old Presonus Firepod. I used a boss loop pedal to get as close to a perfect comparison as possible. This eliminated the need to run through the DA and a reamp box. Both recorded at 44.1khz/24-bit and I kept the loop pedal running while I tracked. I did not move the microphone in any way (sm57), and I did not change the settings on the amp when swapping interfaces.

    Can you hear a difference? Which do you prefer?

    1 - http://dl.dropbox.com/u/3331450/Babyface vs Firepod 1.wav

    2 - http://dl.dropbox.com/u/3331450/Babyface vs Firepod 2.wav

    LTD MHB-400 into a 6505+ 112
     
  2. PhilTheBeard

    PhilTheBeard "The Beard"

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    I like the second one a bit better. But the difference isn't really that huge. At least on the speaker's i have at work.
     
  3. DominikJW

    DominikJW aka utarefson

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    Duuude, you're breaking my heart! I'm on the verge of selling my firepod to buy a ff400, and this blindtest reaaaaaly makes me wonder. I'm guessing 2 is the babyface, but could you please make another test but with recording DI's on both of em'? I would owe you bro couse I dont wanna jump out of $$ and hate myself afterwards if theres barely a difference (at least on my speaker setup).
     
  4. Derykus

    Derykus Member

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    Haha sure! This was just a quicky test, I plan to do another more comprehensive one. I feel your heartbreak! The reason I'm doing this is because I've read all over the internet that "Oh it makes such a HUGE difference stepping up to RME, Presonus is SHIT, etc. etc. etc." And I needed to know for myself. I'm not sure yet.

    I can tell you the DA on the RME is actually slightly better, I now understand what "smearing" means - the firepod seems to smear most noticeably the high end and cymbals together; but let me say that it is very subtle and it could be my mind wanting to hear this difference. I'll have more to say about this after I get used to the Babyface.
     
  5. ParsonsMatt

    ParsonsMatt Alas, Tyranny

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    The DI on the Firepod is vastly inferior to the DI on the Fireface 400. I used an A/B/Y box to compare the instrument input on the Firestudio Project with a Little Labs Redeye. The Redeye sounded much better, with a ton of clarity and tightness that the Firestudio lacked. Did the same comparison with the Fireface 400 and the LL Redeye, and there was no difference that I could tell.

    Considering the increased stability of the Fireface, the better monitoring clarity, the lower latency for tracking, and the superior construction, it isn't hard to see why the RME product costs more.
     
  6. Derykus

    Derykus Member

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    Here are some DI's

    1 JB - http://dl.dropbox.com/u/3331450/1 DI SDJB.wav
    2 JB - http://dl.dropbox.com/u/3331450/2 DI SDJB.wav

    1 EMG - http://dl.dropbox.com/u/3331450/1 DI EMG.wav
    2 EMG - http://dl.dropbox.com/u/3331450/2 DI EMG.wav

    #1's are both the same interface. #2's are the other. Used In 1 on Firepod and Instrument in on Babyface. For the JB DI's, I used a boss loop pedal (DD6 actually) to keep things consistent and used 5 foot cables. Knowing that the loop pedal might suck some tone, I used a single 5 foot cable for the EMG clips and tried my best to track with the same pick attack and feeling.

    JB's are in an SG. EMG's are in a baritone LTD. Strings are a few days old, but they weren't played much and still feel pretty new.
     
  7. fizzinbizzin

    fizzinbizzin Member

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    im struggling to hear a difference.. i would say 1 was a bit more open i guess but im not too sure, i expected a huge difference considering price. thanks for the comparison because i too was going to buy a baby face but went with a firestudio instead.
     
  8. DominikJW

    DominikJW aka utarefson

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    Thanks a lot bro! Guess I'm gonna ditch Firepod anyways as I don't record so much drums anymore.
     
  9. Wohma

    Wohma Hearing sounds and voices

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    Huh, I expected the differences to be much bigger. Can't say I hear a difference that would make me buy 1 instead of 2 (or vice versa).
     
  10. Soundlurker

    Soundlurker Member

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    My first impressions are that 2 is a bit cleaner and crisper than 1, but I'm listening on my home speakers atm.
     
  11. Derykus

    Derykus Member

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    Okay, seems like most of you guys picked #2. Interesting!

    All three #1 clips are the Babyface, and all three #2 clips are the Firepod.

    I think the Babyface is slightly clearer. But I did blind tests for myself and almost always picked a different unit than what I thought was playing back.

    More thoughts on the Babyface:

    It is less stable than my Firepod. I cannot run it at similar buffer settings in a CPU intense project. When it spikes the CPU usage, the Babyface likes to make many many small spikes. This is more annoying and disrupts work-flow more than the Firepod which will exhibit only a couple of bigger spikes.

    I seem to notice more audible distortion on my reference material when using the headphone output on the Babyface. I can't figure out if it is the better DA converters making this more noticeable in the source material, or if it is actually clipping somewhere in the unit. That being said, the Babyface seems to make things slightly clearer and more dynamic. The Firepod seems a little bit foggy in comparison, but I'm really nitpicking with this observation. This is noticeable with headphones, but with my Yamaha MSP10 monitors it is harder to say the same. Overall, babyface DA is better spec'd and it does sound a small amount better.

    It likes to make loud noises when turning on or if I forget my monitors are on, it makes a lot more noise than the Firepod when connecting/disconnecting. If I put headphones on and turn it on, I am greeted with a loud pop. I can't leave it plugged in and turn on my laptop or else it will hang and I am forced to make a hard shut down of my computer. TotalMix is annoying as hell for me. I cannot change buffer settings while I'm working on a project, if I do change buffer I get no playback. I have to shut down C5 and restart with the new buffer settings.

    I thought the Babyface would help decrease my frustration with mixing and editing. But it actually causes me quite a bit more anguish than the Firepod. Maybe I am just too used to my old ways, but the Firepod is a hell of a lot easier to use.

    I'm not defending the Firepod here. In fact, I can't stand it. But maybe it's not as terrible as the internet professionals claim. These observations are simply that, observations. I'm not trying to bash RME or give Presonus praise. It is just what I have observed.

    UPDATE: I've been listening more through my MSP10's. I have set the left output of each interface to one monitor and have been flipping through reference material and comparing. It's hard to tell when a full band is blasting, but on acoustic instruments there is a clear difference that the Babyface has a superior DA. There is more clarity, more crisp high end, and more balance. Sounds almost scooped, but this is likely the result of more detailed high and low end shining through that I am not used to hearing. It is a slight difference, but perhaps enough that I'll keep the Babyface.
     
  12. darthjujuu

    darthjujuu Member

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    i was gonna say... something like DI's or a single miked cab track will make it difficult to spot a huge difference when A/B'ed, but if you put ...say for example, two stereo condensers in a drum room, tracked and played back with the RME and then again with the firepod, this is where the difference in conversion would start to become more apparent. the super highs and lows become much more clear and detailed and the stereo image spread benefits a ton too.
     

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