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In-depth Feature:  Behringer FCA202
Behringer FireWire Audio FCA202
Shorn Rah writes: .

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Sonic State Rating:
Build Quality 75% The box is sturdy and the connectors are ok.
Bang for the Buck 92% This is going to be hard to beat.
Ease of Use 88% Not much to it. Plug it in, install a driver, a program or three- piece of cake..
Versatility 60% Simple but not flexible.
Sonic Sweetness 65% Not outstanding but... the price.
Overall:   76% Good piece of kit


It's low priced, It's sleek, it sounds fine. But you will need a mixer or a pre-amp to get the most from it which rather compromises the portability aspect. If you are recording live off the desk or laying down a synth part - all good. If you want to buy a system so you can record vocals and live instruments straight into the computer just using the FCA202- you'll be lost. Saying this, the cost of a simple mixer like the Behringer UB502 and the FCA202 is less than the cost of a Firewire interface with a balanced XLR input such as the M-Audio Firewire solo. This really is value for money. My verdict is that if you already have a mixer or pre amp or need to make simple unbalanced recordings that don't have to sound astounding then look no further. The Ableton Live LIght Behringer Edition is a wicked composition tool and, hey, it comes free with the package.

Audacity is an easy to use wave editor that works likes the big boys. Crystal is.. erm, well, tacky but fun. It's a Behringer, it won't cost you the earth and it works just like is says it does. At this price there isn't another product picking a fight with it. Line6 have the new Toneports with an array of pre-amps, mic modelers, amp models and FX but they are USB and I have yet to try them, plus they cost more.

Another plus for the FCA202 bundle is that you can upgrade to the full version of Ableton Live at a saving of roughly the price of the FCA202 itself - so if you're about to take the plunge with Ableton, you can get the FCA202 essentially for free.

As a low priced way to get into 96kHz recording, it's a winner - nothing comes close in terms of cost. If you can do without the balanced in or input gain control and need a sound card, you should be happy enough. But for just the standard 2-channel monitoring, you're probably better off just using the line out of your computer. Now, if they'd added MIDI i/o to the unit as FireWire can easily support, it would be the icing on the cake....

There isn't a direct alternative at this price. Firewire interfaces with pre-amps/balanced XLR inputs start at around twice the price.

RRP $99.99 (USD), EUR92 (EUR), and UKP62 (GBP).

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