Audio Interface advice… Quantum 2626 vs A&H Qu16

I’ve been using my A&H Qu16 as studio mixer and audio interface for years.

I like it very much, but there’s a noticeable difference between ‘live’ sound direct through the desk, and how it then sounds once it’s inside Logic: live it sounds great, but recording it into Logic it somehow loses punch / depth / weight / dynamic range and sounds a bit stuffy / veiled. Many might think it very subtle, but I definitely notice it. I’m suspicious that it might be the DAC quality / usb 2 / max 48khz sample rate area that is limiting.

I’m also looking at a more regular sized interface for portable use around the house and i recently got an M1 mac with thunderbolt 3 etc.

So I’ve ended up looking at the Presonus Quantum 2626 — good price, features I like. But is it actually any better than my Qu16 in terms of the issues I outlined above? It can do upto 192khz, but some of the other specs actually look a bit worse…

Worth noting that I’d like to run eurorack levels into the interface— I have a module to reduce levels, but they can still be hot, so if anyone has experience with the Quantum and euro levels, please let me know!

Looking for experienced thoughts on these units, not a list of favourite interfaces. Thanks all!

The Quantum 2626 is great in terms of latency and value-for-money, but if you’re looking at a high(er) level conversion, it’s more mid-level than upper tier.

What are you looking to spend? And should it be a rack unit?

EDIT: just to underline, the A&H QU16 has a dynamic range of 112dB, the Quantum is at 115dB. A higher level converter like on an RME or UAD Apollo will give you around 128dB, which to my ears is a noticable difference. Also resolution /detail will be better on an upper tier converter. Some people would say that quality differences in conversion are negligable, to my ears they make a huge difference.

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The quantum interfaces have DC coupled outputs so you can send CV out. Inputs are AC and seem to handle audio from Eurorack okay.

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Yeah, conversion is the thing I think.

I don’t often use mic pres, but when I do, I need the option of using 8. I generally use line ins / outs 95% of the time, of which I need 8 as a minimum. I was considering a dedicated converter/ ADC but got a bit lost in the options.

I’m open on budget, I was looking upto £1600, but there’s a Quantum 2626 available now for £350 which is so tempting! Also, I don’t want or need a shitload of proprietary plugins a la UA, I’d prefer it was a simple but high quality unit. Needs to play well with M1 mac and Thunderbolt 3 seems a no-brainer.

Yeah, the DC coupling is a nice bonus, but not essential.

I’m also interested in the 2626, so will be following this thread. Seems like a good option for m1 and line ins

I guess that’s the thing — is the quantum enough of a step up from my Qu16 to be worth it for a while? Because I’m sure an Apollo x8p would be a definite step-up… but dropping £2500 is a bit eye-watering

I don’t do live performances often, nor do I have experience with modular, but I recently started using a MOTU audio interface (Ultralite MK5) and got that “liveness” your talking about. I really noticed it on my Iridium and PRO3.

When I ran that same hardware direct to my monitors or headphones, I was always thinking why does this sound so “live” and when I run it through my digital setup it sounded a bit “sterile”. The MOTU fixed this. I use 48Khz, and run on an M1 Mac. I read many articles on sample rate, as I thought that was the cause, and learned that 48Khz is just fine.

The MOTU 828 or Ultralite (if you can find one) might be worth a look. Ideally if you can get it from a retailer with a return policy, you can try it in your setup to ensure it’s doing what you want.

If the Ultralite isn’t translating things well (you mentioned sterile) that’s exactly what I want to avoid

Yeah exactly, MOTU might be your best bet at that budget. I mean, £350 for a Quantum 2626 is fantastic, you can’t go wrong at that price, if you don’t like it you can sell it on without a loss, or you could just keep it as an ADAT expander if you work out that you don’t like the conversion after all.

The new MOTU lines are very good in terms of value-for-money conversion…great conversion is expensive, a Prism or Lynx will start at around 4k just for the ADDA converter unit.

Re UAD, the plugins are not a must at all, but if you’re not interested in that part at all, I’d look at RME, Antelope or MOTU as value/features-for-money are better with those…or maybe Audient (not sure how they’re new offerings are stacked in regard to conversion, but their stuff is usually also quality). I mean, the conversion on Apollo x series units is really fantastic for the price, but they ARE pricey nonetheless :slight_smile:


I don’t have a large experience in DAC quality but I found the quality of the Qu series DAC was very good, very clear, and preamps noiseless.

I am not sure 192kHz sample rate is that useful… I mean, if you want to sample something and use it an octave lower, maybe, but for recording, with 48 kHz you’re already superior to CD quality level.

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Just to be clear, the MOTU fixed this for me. I was using an Audient EVO8, which was great in other ways, but I immediately could hear a difference between the EVO and MOTU. I compared them side by side vs direct monitoring. I can’t hear a difference between running direct, and running through the MOTU.

I saw you didn’t want to get into “what’s your favorite interface?” vs the one your looking at. Not trying to push a brand, just recognized that desire to get true transparency.


Ahh I see, thanks for clarifying, that makes more sense!

High quality DACs are not just about transparency (preamps are more about that), they are about dynamic range and resolution…so with a good DAC the separation between sounds is clearer, there‘s more detailed to be heard that is more definitely placed / locatable in space.

Lower quality DACs will sound a little flatter, muddier, a bit more constricted. Plenty of people will say this is all psychoacoustics, but I can say from experience & blind testing that to my ears the differences I hear between eg a focusrite entry level audio interface and my UAD Apollo or an Apogee Symphony or Lynx Aurora are definite and drastic.

In a way there‘s no such thing as a transparent DAC, they all have their own sound signature in one way or another, but I know what you mean, a good DAC will make everything sound so much clearer that it could be also called more transparent.

EDIT: forgot to mention Apogee above as one of the companies to look at for high quality conversion, so adding it here :slight_smile:

EDIT2: on sampling rates…technically they shouldn‘t make a difference, but personally I FEEL a difference between 44.1 and 88.2khz or 48 and 96khz…just that little more vibration in the subconscious range I feel…though this one could well be psychoacoustics, it’s a pure feel thing and I don’t know if that would hold up for me in blind testing :slight_smile:


You’d be paying for more than converters there though.

What about rme? There are really good options in different price ranges. How many ins and outs do you need?

8 in / out would be ideal. Can be line level only – I don’t necessarily have to pay for preamps at the moment, I could potentially add those in at a later date (via ADAT or something) although if it did have 4 or 8 preamps, that’d be nice.

RME is probably the way to go, you are not paying for a proprietary plug-in engine and the converters are great. They also keep supporting their products, so you can keep using for years and years. The Fireface UFX 2 has 12 inputs (future proofing your system), records to usb, sounds fantastic and they seem to be back in stock. *Price edited: About £1800.
Motu if RME is too expensive (as they also sound very good!).

8 in out I’d also say rme. Either with ins and outs or with a good adat converter.

But I bet the presonus will also be good. It should depend on what is needed. For my music the converters should be good, but they don’t need that clarity other genres need