Now before you think that I'm saying that the interface in the picture above is complicated, it's not. It's actually really straight forward and simple. However, I have a knack for taking something that should be relatively simple and making it as complex as possible. A boss I had for a while used to say (and still does) that "complexity kills productivity." He's not entirely wrong. And, in fact, I know that in the case of recording music in my little home studio, I have lots of simple ways to record, but I like to use the more complicated methods because they "sound better" or whatever. Truth is, I'm not recording anything more if I didn't have the complicatedness that I do and only had the simple. It's just a convenient excuse not to have to record anything.
I've got a pretty good little Tascam 8 track recorder. I always kind of laugh at it though. It's called an 8 track recorder, but you only have 2 line-ins to use. So it's more like a 2 track recorder that you can use 4 times. Then you can bounce all the tracks into 1 track, so I guess that, as long as you can keep doing that, you could almost call it an unlimited track recorder...record all 8, bounce them, rinse, repeat. In the past, due to the ease of using it (plug in a guitar, a mic, or whatever and hit record), that's probably what I have used most often to record.
Then I've got a couple of Zoom products. I've got the H4n audio recorder and a Q4n video recorder. For what they are, they're pretty good. They're both really good for that instance when you want the simplest solution, and that solution is to just set something up real quick and record. Thinking of making it complicated, I've even used the H4n for the audio and run it into the Q4n. That has allowed me to mic an amp and run the mic to the H4n, the H4n to the Q4n, thereby letting me use the audio from the H4n for the video without having to put them together later.
Then I started using a DAW a little bit. I've got Audacity on my laptop, and it's what I use more often than any of the others. However, I have the starter versions of some of the major ones on it as well. The learning curve on them just seems to be more than I want to invest. Ableton, Cakewalk, and ProTools. They're probably better and I know more robust than Audacity, but, for how I use it, I haven't come across anything that it couldn't do that I want done. And it's usually pretty easy to figure out.
So, using Audacity, to keep from having to record something in one place, and then transfer it to my laptop to be able to do anything with it was getting really old. But I still did that every now and then because it was just so much easier to work on a file in the DAW than on either of the recorders. But I didn't have any way to record direct to my laptop.
So I bought a mixer that had a usb interface. It works really well. Granted, to say it's a bit of an overkill is a huge understatement. I actually use it when it's out and hooked up. Problem is, it takes up so much real estate, and, in my music room, I don't even have a real desk. So having a place reserved for a big mixer (even one that's not really that big) is just taking up space that could be used for something else. I got tired of pulling it out, setting it up, using it, and then disassembling everything so I could put it up. So it lives in it's case way more of the time now.
I still wanted some sort of interface to use with my laptop. I really hate recording to one of the recorders only to have to find an SD card or the right usb cable to be able to transfer what I've laid down from the recorder to the laptop. So I started the search. The big requirements for it were that it have 2 inputs (and not 1-1/4" and 1-xlr) and be relatively inexpensive. Oh, and I run Win on my laptop and my phone is Android. So Apple/Lightening
I came across the Zoom U-24, and it seemed to fit the bill nicely. 2 inputs that can be 1/4" or xlr (or one of each) and was about the least expensive of the options. Since I've liked my Zoom recorders, I figured I'd give it a shot. So far it has done the trick nicely.
The drivers for it were installed easily enough, and they've worked fine. Turned it on (you have to choose which you're using - battery power or usb power), set the controls, plug in a guitar, and I'm off and recording. One thing I noticed, however, is that if I keep the gain turned down so the clipping light isn't just constantly on, the audio records pretty quietly. I'll set the gain at like 8, just let that clip light shine, and the audio is right about where I want it, and it's not clipping at all. Recording to the DAW on the laptop is easy peasy lemon lawnchairs.
It uses a usb-b type to usb-a type connector to the laptop. So, seeing that some online had said they were able to record to their iphones, I bought myself a usb-b to usb-c cable, and figured I'd try it on my android phone. Into the settings on the phone, and I changed the mic setting from phone to usb, and now I can record to my phone. Granted, this defeats the idea of being able to record direct to my DAW and laptop, but, to my phone, at least all I have to do is upload the file instead of having to find some piece of hardware to be able to do the same.
The interface also has a headphone out as well as 3 different line out options (1/4" and rca/phono). It also has a midi in and out. Some day I'd like to have an external monitor or two in my little music studio, but, so far, the headphone out is the only option of those 3 that I would use. And I don't have anything midi at this point.
For what it is, an inexpensive usb interface alternative to some of the Focusrite options, I think it does a good job. Granted, I've only had it like 3 weeks at this point, but, after a few minutes (and I really mean just a few) of figuring it out, I think it may take the "complicatedness" out of the equation, and hopefully get me recording a little bit more. I think Zoom did a good job pairing simplicity with function on this one.
Snarf is a wannabe musician who currently resides in the great state of Texas. His wife is his favorite. He believes chocolate milk made from milk that is anything less than whole milk is basically water and deserves to be dumped down the sink so nobody has to suffer through it. He hates having to shop for clothes. But he has a thing for really cool bags, and, consequently, has more gig bags than guitars and a closet full of messenger bags and backpacks. He still misses his dog who was taken by cancer 5 years ago. Check out his Reverb shop and see if he has any gear he's trying to get rid of.