So what I want is a cigarette packet sized interface with two balanced inputs (dont need phantom power) and a sterio out (head phone out would do). A small unit that included the MIDI in/out would be perfect, but it's easy enough to do the midi separately.
Here's the issues:
Separate midi or same unit? Same could save space, but not if it only comes with over spec/sized boxes. I have 3 USBs so can do MIDI, sound, and have one left in case i need triggering from external keyboard mod.
Do I need duel inputs? We only take one mic out with us lately, so mono is recording to both sides of a sterio file (to maintain sterio architecture for preload samples) would be fine. Stopping interaction on both suits to record is a drag. Write a software solution? With sterio mics I could sense the open mic and prefer the hands of that person in the record sequence. (Hmmm. More coding. What happened to 'good-enough' design principles?)
What to spend? I want to keep the cost down so that i can scale to more suits.
How good should it be? I want to keep record quality high enough not to be a drag musically. Did an experiment with the computers mic in, signel level was low and very noisy, also clippy, (some impedance problem?). Then thought about how much a notebook maker would spend on the sound card and sort of left it at that: It's got to be an external unit.
How am i going to get the outputs? Can I use a mic pre to go in, and the laptop's headphones out? (Probably). If not then I need a fully fledged outboard mixer (eg the maudio fasttrak)
External battery? As far as I know the small mono pres have no battery option, so they would reduce battery life on the laptop, but that might not matter. Upside is, no extra battery to change.
Here are the products:
ART USB Dual Pre Portable Pre Amp
I like this, small USB duel pre. Battery/power/usb. About £75. Good if I go for duel inputs with separate midi.
M-Audio FAst Track Pro 4X4 Mobile USB Audio/ MIDI Interface with preamp
Over spec. Has all kinds of other features. Also kinda over sized. Over priced? ~£150. But, has the ins and the outs, plus the midi. Good standard of preamp.
Blue Icicle : mono XLR>USB pre. ~ £50.
Mono inline mic pre. (dont like its looks. But wont see em.)
Micport pro : mono XLR>USB pre.
~ £150. What justifies the price? Headphones? bundled software?
Is this some chinese copy of the micport pro?
On ebay without a make name, ~£35. (16 rather than 24 bit, but hey)