Best quality recording on Prime 4 - Internal HD vs Audacity vs other USB Interface?

Hi folks.

Before I start this ISN’T a topic on the ‘volume’ of the internal P4 recording, but more a question about the ‘quality/fidelity’ of the recording.

I tend to find the quality of the internal recording in the P4 not as clear/crisp as the original source (even after normalising/amplifying post in Audacity).

I’ve started to go back to recording sets at home directly into Audacity on my Mac via RCA cables from the master out.

But I’m now wondering if the quality would be even better if I recorded through a 3rd party USB Interface (like the Focusrite Scarlet 4i4 or 2i2) which comes with Ableton Lite DAW, and used this for recording into my Mac (rather than straight into Audacity).

I’m no expert - but could an independent USB interface produce better recording quality results than the internal P4 or Audacity programme?

Or are they all likely to sound exactly the same, given the quality is ultimately determined by the source material itself - ie the prime 4?

Hope that makes sense!

I’m thinking about buying a Scarlet 2i2 interface to see if this gives better results. Or am I wasting my money!? Anybody tried recording form the P4 into a USB interface and had better results?

Be interested to know your thoughts. Thanks.

What’s up Stulynn,

I have yet to use the recording feature on my Prime 4 so I can’t really speak to the quality. As far an alternative way of recording, what has worked great for me over the years is going RCA to and external USB soundcard connected to my Mac. This is the same method that I and many others use to feed clean audio for dj webcasts. These soundcards (pre COVID-19) were quite inexpesive ($20 - $40 U.S.). Because of the high demand price gouging has recently tripled the price.

Another alternative is going straight from your Prime 4 to your Mac/PC with a RCA-to-1/8 cable. My experience is that the audio is sub-par.

I hope this helps.

Thanks for the info. Yes, the external USB interface option I mentioned is also referred to as a sound card. I believe it’s the same thing? The Scarlet 2i2 is around £127 GBP and seems to get good reviews.

I have previously recorded directly into my Mac via RCA to stereo mini jack (think that’s the same as the 1/8 cable you mention) which plugs into the headphone jack on my old Mac and results were ok.

However the new Mac books can’t use the headphone jack as a line in anymore. Apply kindly changed this Function to a line out only!!

So at the moment if I want to record direct into my Mac / Audacity I have to use RCA into my previous 10 year old MacBook!

So I’m thinking this USB sound card/interface option might be worth a look after all. At least I’ll get some use out of my new Mac having spent £1500 on it!!!

Do all sound cards ‘sound’ the same Or is it worth spending more on a decent one? And would they be better then the built in sound card in the Mac?

I’m a bit behind the times on this stuff! Thanks. Stu.

I’m using a SoundBlaster USB card that I bought over 10 years ago for $20 U.S. and is identical in appearance to the one below from Behringer. You’ll get more ‘bells & whistles’ with a more expensive card but I don’t think the difference in sound quality will be significant (if at atl).

Thanks for the example. Will check some out.

Will these things work Just fine with audacity or do you need different software? Thanks.

the total opposite



don’t waste your money on stuff like that. then you can keep using the internal one of your pc/mac.


It will work with Audacity. Just select the soundcard as your sound input source in System Preferences. Unless you have the need for multiple inputs for multiple sources or adding additional effects to your sound, this card will work PERFECTLY for what you are trying to achieve.

Over the years, I’ve used it for multipel podcasts, webcasts, and radio shows with zero reduction in sound quality.

Good luck.

sorry but that’s nonsense. cards like the ones you mentioned are not any better than the on-board contenders found on computer mainboards i.e. lowest level. i said “don’t waste you money” for good reason. if the OP wants an improvement over his laptop soundcard, this is not the way to go.

The purpose of the USB soundcard is to add the ability to properly accept line-level (RCA) input to your laptop. The 1/8 input on most Macs/PCs is designed for mic-level (not line-level) input.

I’ve tried both ways and there is a significant difference between USB soundcard and 1/8 input. I’ve used this method for years to get 320 kbps audio for my recordings and for submitting radio mixes.

Sorry, this is a bullshaite opinion.

Even the cheap behringer uca202 external usb interface gives a infinitely better recording than using a integrated one.

Sincerely, user of several cheap external interfaces (including the Soundblaster that was mentioned)

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That Behringer is my best lockdown purchase. Cheap and very useful.

I don’t even use the irig usb card I bought at the same time.

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Interesting debate!

Out of interest - joxani - if you were to recommend a couple of mid range interfaces what would you suggest? I was initially looking at the Scarlett 2i2, or the Audient Evo 4 at around the £100 mark, but mindful a lot of the ‘whistles and bells’ and additional inputs on these devices are aimed at instruments, guitars, basses, mic’s etc.

Im just interested in a stereo line level but with great sound quality.

That Behringer might be worth a punt at only £20 + delivery, but I don’t mind spending a bit more if the sound quality is even better - but at the same time don’t want to go overboard.


How about an SSL?

exactly. some 20 bucks card is no step up but something like the scarlett is. unless you prefer going from “totally crappy” to “litte less crappy” :stuck_out_tongue:

as for the bells and whistles, unfortunately that’s what you get with most better devices. but if you don’t need them just ignore them because the sound quality is better anyway. so whether you need the extras on a device like a scarlett or not, it’s gonna sound much better and is actually worth spending some money.

I use this:

So much more features than a “regular” USB sound card. Comes with a free copy of Cubase Lite or something. And it’s a great redundancy piece for playing out, including the option to add an extra (phantom powered) microphone with some basic FX.

And at 125 euro or so, very affordable.

PM me if you want a pdf with a little article I wrote on using a unit like this for DJ-ing/recording purposes.


What is your point of reference to call a product crap? Unless you use this (or any) USB interface incorrectly, there is no ‘step up’ or ‘step down’ in fidelity or channel separation. You simply gain more options and flexibility with the pricier USB options. A FLAC file played back from your laptop through the Behringer will sound impeccable. It will also capture the EXACT signal from your Prime 4 without loss. This I promise you.

The Scarlet is great. It’s geared more towards instrument recording, but if used properly, can be used to capture stereo audio from you Prime 4.

@Stulynn, do your web research. What is your need. Do you need a straight forward interface that will adapt your laptop to accept a high quality line-level signal (which the $20 interface will do), or do you want more control/manipulation of the incoming signal (i.e. Scarlett 2i2). The choice is up to you. I’m sure in the end you’ll make the best decision for what you’re trying to accomplish.

Good luck

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because it simply is. see below for details …

that’s a promise nobody can keep.

first of all we’re talking about analog recording. that means the prime 4 converts its output to analog, then that signal goes through lossy rca cables until it reaches the target’s (e.g. scarlett) inputs. which again are analog. next the target converts the input back to digital which is what will be recorded. all of these steps are lossy on their own.

the first step on this journey alone alters the signal already so as soon as you use the prime’s analog outputs you can never capture the exact signal.

analog to digital and vice versa conversions alone are a science in itself. not to mention all the other processing that takes place in each device.

We’ve been talking analog the whole time. So your point in all of this that the Scarlet will do better job of capturing an analog signal?

exactly, and hence sounds better.

in addition, the rest of the processing of a scarlett for example is better as well. and all that summed up results in the sound you get.

just to be clear, you’re not gonna get “great sound quality” with a 100 bucks device. the sound quality is what makes the top of the line models so expensive, not their features.

however, it depends on what you use for comparison. if you just want a decent sound compared to the on-board device of your laptop, something like a scarlett is a good choice.

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The more of buttons and controls then there is the more chance of settings it wrong. Just with an €20 usb with two xlr

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