How important is S/PDIF on new audio interface?

  • Hello guys!


    So I'm looking for a new USB audio interface, because my current one (Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 on newest driver) doens't work well with my Windows 10 for some reason. I often see on the forum that S/PDIF is a huge plus for recording, but is it worth it to buy a small interface with S/PDIF? It is a pretty big price difference from what I've seen on the better known brands (about €120 versus €220). I'm not interested in the cheaper interfaces.


    I'm very interested in the opinion of all Kemper fanatics with recording experience on this forum :)

  • Personally, I'll be using the analogue ins and outs only, and I will be reamping. I believe that any differences will be so-subtle (and indiscernible) as to be irrelevant.


    Just recently, Don from the team, responding to the same situation you're presenting, said that "there is no difference in quality". Obviously if you measured and compared the two scientifically, to the nth degree, you'd find differences, but as I suggested, they'd be so-negligable as to be irrelevant. The Kemper's A/D and D/A convertors are fantastic IMHO.


    https://www.kemper-amps.com/fo…?postID=433349#post433349

  • Hello guys!


    So I'm looking for a new USB audio interface, because my current one (Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 on newest driver) doens't work well with my Windows 10 for some reason. I often see on the forum that S/PDIF is a huge plus for recording, but is it worth it to buy a small interface with S/PDIF? It is a pretty big price difference from what I've seen on the better known brands (about €120 versus €220). I'm not interested in the cheaper interfaces.


    I'm very interested in the opinion of all Kemper fanatics with recording experience on this forum :)

    Soundcloud: search for eltzejupp. All recorded examples are done with a Steinberg ur242 and cubase le. No s pdif. Price is absolutly ok and its built lije a tank. Very good quality and cubase le for free. I don't need s pdif i think.

  • This is interesting to me. Usually when this question is asked a bunch of S/PDIF users respond, stating it as their preference and some even claiming that it sounds better to them. I usually chime in with my analogue-only approach, but we of that ilk are hugely in the minority.


    Not so to this point here: The importance of S/PDIF is 0 for 3 so far, which is encouraging, I think. It tells me that just maybe folks are starting to realise that the intellectual decision to go S/PDIF is just that - based on theory and not necessarily a real-world-validated preference vs analogue.


    Anyway, it's just interesting to me. Usually it'd be 8 to 1 in favour of the digital route, so the result so far is decently-outside the norm... IMHO.

  • OK, I'll be "that" guy. I prefer S/PDIF for the Kemper. Most of what I do is reamping and I hate the thought of all those unnecessary A/D and D/A conversions. Is there a discernible difference? Probably not for the first few generations. IMHO, one of the great things about digital audio technology is bouncing and reamping with no (or very little) degradation.


    I have the same conversion paranoia about using a digital effects box in the FX loop too, so take my OCD tendencies with a grain of salt.


    Funny, but I prefer my Access Virus through the analog outputs. Maybe because those sounds have no basis in the real world anyway? I'll try not to obsess too much...

  • I too have that issue (mild OCD), Mitch, so the OP can rest assured that if, in the real world, a couple o' conversions actually mattered, I'd be all over it. :D Thanks for being the first of "those guys", BTW; a bit of balance never hurt.


    Is there a discernible difference? Probably not for the first few generations.

    Herein lies the key, Mitch. When reamping, it's 2nd-generation. It'd take many generations, which can never come into play with Kemper reamping 'cause you're always using the original DI track, to manifest any discernible difference. The number of generations required will obviously depend upon the quality of the convertors in one's interface. Cheapies might start to show something (but still very little) after 4 to 6 pass throughs (at least), but I can tell you that with the MOTU AVB range, for instance, you'd probably have to pass through many dozens of A/D and D/A stages if you're to have any hope of hearing anything.


    So, the way I figure it, even we OCD types can "breathe easy" knowing that we're covered by multiple virtual redundancies.

  • Although it's overkill for most projects, SPDIF also gives you 2 more recording outputs like in the Kemper recording demos where you can have up to 8 outputs simultaneously (separate tracks for mods/delays/reverbs in stereo, stack only, dry DI, etc.)


    To the original poster. Was looking for a good and reasonably cheap interface earlier this year. I got an Audient ID14 and it's awesome for it's price. It has SPDIF capability but needs some optical adapter that costs a few bucks. I usually record master stereo via SPDIF and a dry analog DI track with the direct out but I'd have no problem recording with the mains out.

  • I mostly use SPDIF with my Kemper so I can use the other in and outputs of my interface for other stuff simultaneously.
    SPDIF sounds fine and analog sounds fine as well.
    Nobody here is complaining about digital mixing boards and how the added A/D D/A conversion ruins their sound live.

  • From what I understand now it's certainly not a must to have the S/PDIF capability, especially for the small scale projects I'm using it for. Even if I could hear the difference (unlikely), it probably becomes indistinguishable in the mix anyway.
    However, even if I don't need S/PDIF right now, I might regret buying the cheaper interface in two years, thus costing me extra money. First world problems I guess :D


    Anyway I really appreciate your input, thank you all :thumbsup:

  • From what I understand now it's certainly not a must to have the S/PDIF capability, especially for the small scale projects I'm using it for. Even if I could hear the difference (unlikely), it probably becomes indistinguishable in the mix anyway.
    However, even if I don't need S/PDIF right now, I might regret buying the cheaper interface in two years, thus costing me extra money. First world problems I guess :D


    Anyway I really appreciate your input, thank you all :thumbsup:

    Definitely not a "must" for this particular use, but why not have it in case it comes up later? I've owned cheap interfaces before and found they're really more expensive in the long run. I've owned RME products for years, and downsized to an RME BabyFace Pro after I didn't need all the inputs. Really great quality.


    I also own a Presonus Studio 68 for my iPad, and it comes close to the RME as far as sound. IMHO, worth looking in to.

  • I just find it very convenient. With S/PDIF I don't have to worry about output volumes or input gains or signal-to-noise ratios. The digital signal simply comes in at the optimal volume by default so I don't even have to touch the S/PDIF output settings, and I can leave the main output settings the way I need them to be in the rehearsal room.


    Plus, it leaves more analog inputs and outputs of my interface free to be used for other instruments.

  • Spdif is just so damn convenient.
    No need to patch or set levels, always comes up on the same inputs on my daw.


    The only time I go analog is if I want to add a specific colour from a preamp, comp or eq.


    It also free's up analog inputs for other things (important if you always have a drum kit, several mics and analog keys permanently patched and ready to go)


    If you're going for a small interface with fewer in's/outs you'll be glad to already have one thing squared away and not taking up limited resources.

  • Well, the ratio's quickly moving towards the one I claimed is normal. 8o


    All this talk of convenience, but personally if I had to reclock my interfaces (there'll be 3 acting as "one") to the KPA every time I wanted to record guitar and then remember to set them back to internal clocking it'd be a PITA. Not only that, but my DAW would reload all track buffers, plugins and VI's every time I make a change to this. That's thumb-twiddling time wasted, and a work-flow interference.


    As I've said elsewhere, if you set your guitar-input level correctly on the KPA and record and play that back to it at unity gain, you'll never have to think about levels. The signal-to-noise ratio is irrelevant with any decent modern interface, as I also said. I'm speaking specifically about DI and reamping, 'cause that involves more than just the route into the computer and is therefore the "ultimate" test of the efficacy of the analogue method.


    Just saying this in case someone reads the later comments in the thread and thinks therefore that he or she must get S/PDIF. You don't have to, and whilst it's convenient for some, this isn't the case for all.

  • but personally if I had to reclock my interfaces (there'll be 3 acting as "one") to the KPA every time I wanted to record guitar and then remember to set them back to internal clocking it'd be a PITA.

    With a decent interface like RME, there is no need to change clocking settings. You simply set your preferred clock source to SPDIF. If the KPA is turned off it automatically changes to internal clock master and also passes this clocking to my digital mixer which is connected via ADAT. So it works in any scenario.