UA’s big announcement came a week before NAMM this year and is small, possibly one of their smallest yet perhaps, but all the better for it.
The Arrow is a Thunderbolt 3 ready audio interface with an included core for handling UA plugins onboard. Fitted out with a conversion section derived from UA’s flagship Apollo interface range, as well as a headphone amp with a clean punchy output, makes this diminutive audio interface an astounding portable recording solution to go alongside any laptop.
For the I/O we see an instrument input and headphone output on the front of the interface along with 2 more inputs and the main outputs around the rear.
The interface ships with the UA “Realtime Analog Classics” bundle, which offers a number of classic EQ’s, Compressors and guitar amp models and because the plugins are run on the UA, this allows for near-zero latency tracking through the interface with the effects applied and makes it just as ideal for live performances as it does for capturing your session.
This looks to be the cheapest entry point into the UA ecosystem so far and the perfect device for leveraging your plugs when out of !the studio and on the road. If you’re already a user of those plugins and want to take them on a mobile adventure or perhaps just want to dip your knee into the pool, this could be the interface for you.
Arturia has announced that possibly one of the most awaited audio interfaces of all time is imminently due to arrive with us.
Initially unveiled back at the NAMM show in January 2015 and billed as a “revolutionary next gen-pro audio interface” the AudioFUSE got a lot of interest as a feature packed interface that looked to be a step ahead of lot of the competition at the time.
So what happened? Well Arturia have published a little video explaining the delay and to be fair it’s commendable. They take on board that they may have been a little keen in the initial announcement and have spent the time since listening to feedback from their beta testers as well as improving the manufacturing process. All good to hear and hopefully should result in a far superior product. You can hear what they have to say in their own words below.
So two years down the line and now that it is finally due to arrive with us how does it look now?
Still very promising from what we can see.
The goal of the interface hasn’t changed. What we have here is a ultra-portable recording solution that doesn’t rely upon troublesome breakout cables for all its I/O handling. It’s built in a solid aluminum chassis and promises to be able to be capable of being thrown in your bag and taken out on the road in order to give you studio quality recordings wherever you are.
Audio Fuse Specifications
Add external line-level devices such as compressors into the signal flow before digital conversion.
2. MIDI in/out
Connect any MIDI instrument or equipment with the supplied MIDI cable adapters.
3. Word Clock & S/PDIF in/out
Sync any Word Clock equipment or connect to any S/PDIF digital audio device.
4. ADAT in/out
Connect to any ADAT equipment with up to 8 digital inputs and 8 digital outputs.
5. USB hub
3-port USB hub to connect your master keyboard, USB stick, dongle, and more.
6. USB connection
Connect AudioFuse to your computer, tablet or phone. Most features are available even with only the USB power supplied by a computer.
7. Phono/line inputs 3&4
Connect external phono or line devices to these RCA+ground and balanced 1/4” inputs.
8. Speaker outputs A&B
Connect two pairs of speakers to these balanced 1/4” outputs for easy A/B monitor switching.
9. Input control sections 1&2
Direct access to each feature of analog inputs 1&2: input gain with VU-metering, true 48V, phase invert, -20dB pad and instrument mode.
10. Output control section
Direct access to each of the analog output features: output level with VU-metering, audio mix selection, mono mode, output dimming, mute, and speaker A/B selection.
11. Direct monitoring
Enjoy zero-latency monitoring of the recorded signals and blend them into your mix.
12. Phones control sections 1&2
Direct access to each of the features of headphone outputs 1&2: output level, mono mode and audio mix selection.
Press a button to communicate with talent in another room via the built-in microphone.
14. Input channels 1&2
Connect microphones, instruments or line devices to the 2 XLR/balanced 1/4” combo inputs.
15. Phones output channels 1&2
Don’t bother looking for a 1/4” or 1/8” phones adapter; AudioFuse has both connectors for each phones output.
Outside the physical product features, Arturia are keen to show off their DiscretePro preamps with a signal to noise ratio of <-129dB and frequency response between 20HZ and 20kHz of +/-0.05db promising an extremely flat and clean signal path for your recording.
Designed to achieve low distortion rates and dedicated pre-amps for both the line and mic channels they’ve clearly strived to make this a great unit for recording and the is a bit on the testing and development process to be found in the video below.
Its been a long time coming, but the AudioFUSE should finally be with us around June the 8th. The feature set promises to give us a very capable and flexible product if it proves to be a strong performer. The biggest unknown here however is just how great a performer it will be, and as Arturia are a new entry to this arena driver performance is going to be an unknown quality until we see one on the bench.
The is a lot of competition at the £500 price point this unit is landing at, including a number of high performance Thunderbolt and USB units. The included feature set certainly has enough of a punch to keep it relevent in todays busy marketplace and hopefully that all that extra R&D time is going to pay off for the patient user in the end.
Universal Audio are once again webcasting their producer seminars from the Namm show this week over in Anaheim, with special guest sessions from Christian “Leggy” Langdon (The Pierces, Ed Sheeran), Mick Guzauski (Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams), Derek Ali (Kendrick Lamar, Top Dawg Ent), Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Stapleton) and UA stalwart Fab Dupont (Jennifer Lopez, Mark Ronson).
Sessions start at 3PM (11PM GMT) Thursday and 1PM (9PM GMT ) at the weekend.
Session times are as follows.
Daily 4.30pm PST (GMT-8)
Tracking and Mixing with Next-Generation Apollos (Daily)
Watch producer/engineer Fab demonstrate the next evolution of the Apollo interface and how it can expand your studio and your sound. Featuring the Dede track, “Sun Kissed Lover.”
Christian “Leggy” Langdon - Live Tracking with Apollo Twin
Daily 3.30 / 5.00pm PST
Showcase Apollo Twin and the latest UAD plug-ins.
Featuring the Jasmine Ash track, “Talking.”
Mick Guzauski – Recording with Apollo
Thursday 3pm, Friday & Saturday 1pm
Showcase Track with Big Data.
Derek Ali Mixing with Apollo and UAD
Friday & Saturday 3pm
Showcase Track with Kendrick Lamar.
Vance Powell Mixing with Apollo and UAD
Sunday 1pm & 3pm
Showcase Track with Chris Stapleton.
RME releases always peek our interest here at Scan when they happen as they constantly appear at the top of benchmarking tables, meaning RME drivers are quite often the ones to beat when we do group testing. The Babyface range itself have been the entry level introduction to the range for a good few years now, with a feature set that that makes them perfect for the home or on the move recording artist.
So with the news reaching us that they’ve released an upgrade to this workhorse interface and the claims that it isn’t just a remaster, rather a whole reengineered beast, well of course we’re going to be intrigued.
The first thing that leaps out at you is the physical redesign of the RME Babyface Pro over its early version. The overall shape has been refined althrough it does keep it’s light, yet strong, aluminum case design but overall no big suprise here.
However if we take a look around the back of the RME Babyface Pro we see a different story altogether.
The original design had those connectors now found on the side, at the rear and the XLR and a number of other connections, hanging off a breakout cable from the rear of the unit. This meant that if you wanted a 2 in / 2 out on the road you could carry just the main interface, but if you wanted a balanced solution or a bit more I/O, then the only way to do so, was carry the breakout cable. Having checked the early discussions on this new design, it appears that some people love the removal of the breakout cable, where others are not so sure on the design of having cables plugged into 3 sides of the unit. Personally we’re liking the fact that without the breakout cable, its one less thing to forget or lose out on the road and feel that it only adds to the portability of the unit itself.
For monitoring purposes the RME Babyface Pro has twin headphone jacks come in both TRS and mini-jack form factors both with their own driver stages in order to offer better matching with both low and high impedence headphones. For audio going into the unit the two digitally controlled preamps provide individually switchable 48V ‘phantom power. These brand new circuits feature gain of up to 70 dB, adjustable in steps of 3 dB, plus a relay-driven PAD, resulting in exceptional EIN (Equivalent Input Noise) performance as well as line overload protection, and enough gain for even the lowest level microphones.
Finishing off the I/O options the feature set continues with an optical TOSLINK I/O; use as either an ADAT port with SMUX support or SPDIF for sessions up to 192 kHz. In combination with an external ADAT converter, the Babyface Pro fully supports 12 analog inputs as well as 12 outputs, making it ideal for both live and studio multi-track applications. You can plug any instrument, line or high impedance, into Babyface Pro’s jack inputs 3 & 4. Record your guitar on the go, with no additional hardware required. MIDI I/O via an included breakout cable completes the package.
Software wise the RME Babyface Pro ships with the RME ever superb Totalmix and we’re infromed the has been a convertor upgrade as well meaning an even better signal path on this version over the previous generation.
Lastly but no doubt pretty important for those users with an interface on the road, the RME Babyface Pro design almost never requires an external power supply, designed to run stable on the higher current USB 3 buss power found on most modern laptops and even most modern USB 2 ports, with no degradation in any technical specification.
RME Babyface Pro Connectivity
12 Input and 12 Output channels
4 x Analog Inputs (Mic, Line, Instrument)
4 x Analog Outputs (2 x XLR, 2 x Phones)
1 x ADAT I/O or 1 x SPDIF I/O optical
1 x MIDI I/O
1 x USB 2.0 (USB 3 compatible)
Digital Gain control on all inputs
Separate outputs for high and low impedance headphones
Universal Audio Apollo 16 is the new flagship interface and DSP host from the original UAD DSP card Daddies. Doubling the number of analogue i/o from the previous model, it maintains an itegrated UAD Quad processor for utilising the extensive range of UAD exclusive plugins, such as the excellent Studer A800 and Ampex ATR102 tape simulators.
It also comes complete with the Analogue classics bundle, comprising of the 1176LN, 1176SE, Teletronix LA-2A, Pultec EQP-1A & UA RealVerb plugins, that have been essentials for me for years on my old faithful UAD-1 card.
Apollo 16 is Universal Audio’s flagship 24-bit/192 kHz audio interface, delivering world-class conversion with 16 x 16 analog I/O — twice the analog connectivity of the original Apollo model. This uncompromising FireWire/Thunderbolt-ready* interface combines superior sound and flexible routing with powerful onboard UAD-2 QUAD processing. So you can track audio in real time through the full range of classic UAD analog emulation plug-ins — from Neve, Studer, Manley, Lexicon and more — on both Mac and Windows 7.
With its professional connectivity and multi-unit cascading (for 32 x 32 analog I/O), the Apollo 16 sets a new standard in high-resolution recording with classic analog sound.
World-Class 24-bit/192 kHz Conversion
Apollo 16 brings a true “no compromise” approach to every aspect of its audio signal path. Building upon decades of UA hardware expertise, it features meticulous analog circuit design, top-end converters, and DC-coupled outputs — providing the lowest THD and highest dynamic range of any converter in its class. Specifically, the Apollo 16’s deep, wide soundstage, and its exceptionally open and transparent sound, makes it the ideal centerpiece for professional recording studios.
Realtime UAD Plug-In Processing for Tracking, Mixing, and Mastering
With its standard UAD-2 QUAD processing onboard, Apollo 16 allows recording in real time through UAD Powered Plug-Ins — with as low as sub-2ms latency — so you can monitor, audition, and “print” audio through stunning analog emulations from Ampex, Lexicon, Manley, Neve, Roland, SSL, Studer, and more.** Better still, Apollo 16’s Realtime UAD Processing is also available during mixing and mastering, so that music producers can employ UAD plug-ins (VST, RTAS, AU) throughout the creative process.
Expandable 16 x 16 Analog Connectivity with Advanced Routing
Apollo 16 boasts straightforward 16 x 16 analog I/O via convenient DB-25 connections — perfect for pairing with mixing consoles, outboard processors, cue/headphone systems, and more. Two Apollo 16 units can be cascaded over MADI for an expanded system with eight UAD processors and 32 x 32 simultaneous analog I/O, capable of handling large professional mixes. Dedicated XLR monitor outputs and stereo AES-EBU digital I/O round out the Apollo 16’s rear-panel audio connections.
The Apollo 16’s enhanced routing capabilities include four stereo Cue mixes with individually assignable outputs, and a new “Virtual I/O” feature that allows for Realtime UAD Processing of DAW tracks and virtual instruments.
Thunderbolt™ Connectivity for Macs
Apollo 16 offers compatibility with Intel’s new high-bandwidth Thunderbolt technology on Macs via a user-installable dual-port Thunderbolt Option Card (sold separately). Thunderbolt provides greater UAD plug-in instances, improved performance at high sample rates, and reduced UAD plug-in latency in the DAW versus Apollo’s standard FireWire connection.
Because Thunderbolt offers many times the bandwidth of FireWire, it allows studios to connect numerous devices in series with the Apollo interface — including hard drives, processors, and additional computer monitors — all with fast, flawless performance. Thunderbolt also makes it easy to expand UAD plug-in processing power via a Thunderbolt-to-PCIe chassis and UAD-2 DSP Accelerator card(s).
Deeper Integration with Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase and More
Apollo 16’s Core Audio and ASIO drivers ensure compatibility with all major DAWs, including Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Cubase, and more. The included Console application and companion Console Recall plug-in (VST/AU/RTAS) provide control and recall of all interface and Realtime UAD plug-in settings within your DAW sessions, even months and years later. A new “PT Mode” ensures that Pro Tools can take advantage of all 16 analog inputs/outputs for hardware inserts — and maximizes analog I/O in a multi-unit setup.
Hardware Design and Workflow
Apollo 16 boasts numerous design details that give you a fast, natural workflow — and better results. Its Monitor outputs are digitally controlled analog, so you don’t lose audio resolution when you adjust gain. More than 195 high-visibility LEDs provide full input and output metering, and with zero “hot spots” or light bleed. All front controls and rear-panel connections are professional-grade. And finally, standalone operation means that you can use Apollo’s audio connections, and last-used DSP mixer settings, even without a computer connected.
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 is the latest interface to join the Scarlett family alongside the 2i2, 8i6 and 18i6.
Featuring two combined Microphone and Instrument preamps, it basically has a very similar front panel layout as the Focsurrite Scarlett 2i2, but the real difference is with the addtion of 4 Phono outputs on the rear panel for easy interfacing with unbalanced DJ mixers. The four outputs opens up a whole heap of options from separate headphone monitor mixes to two channel stereo output for DJ’ing.
As with all the Scarlett range, it includes Ableton Live lite and the Scarlett Plug-In suite.
It’s pretty obvious that this is an update of the Focusrite Saffire 6, which we’d very much welcome as the rest of the Focusrite Scarlett range takes advantage of advances in technology since the introduction of the Focusrite Saffire USB units.
The Focusrite Scarlett range is fairly lightweight, considering the all-aluminium shell, but is defiantly robust enough to cope with being thrown in a bag for impromptu recording sessions.
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Key features include:
Two high-quality award-winning Focusrite preamps
Anodised Aluminium Unibody Chassis
Ring LED signal indicators (green means healthy signal, red indicates clipping)
High-quality 24-bit/96 kHz USB interface
Better than 105dB dynamic range on record and playback
Mixer knob for latency-free direct monitoring, mixes between input signal and DAW playback signal
Today Focusrite unveil “Forte”, their flagship portable audio interface.
Named in honour of their legendary console that virtually bankrupted the company in the 1980’s, this holds all the same quality values that they hold dear to thier hearts, but focuses on premium sound on the go. The interface’s key feature is that the Microphone preamps are taken from thier high end RedNet, ethernet based audio system, not the same ones used in the Saffire and Scarlett ranges.
I was really impressed by some of the design choices for this product, the large Aluminum volume and parameter control is just the ticket to pair up with some powered monitors. Some thought has also gone into the connections, with the outputs directly on the back panel, whilst the mic and instrument connections are on a detactchable extension lead.
I really am looking forward to running some tests on the A/D conversion, as the converters have 117dB and 118dB respectivel;y for the ADC and DAC.
These figures are actual real-world measurements, unlike many other manufacturers, so we should be able to expect Pro-tools HD quality as a minimum.
The only slight limitation is that the device cannot be powered from USB when using Phantom Power, it requires an external supply.
What this tells me is that the chips (converters, Preamps, op-amps and associated circuitry) take a lot more power, which totally goes in line with the premium nature of the product and has my faith in the no-expense spared concept.
I can almost hear the RME Babyface quivvering in it’s booties!
I’m looking forward to putting this through it’s paces as soon as i can.
Key Features of the Focusrite Forte
• Premium two-input, four-output USB 2.0 audio interface for Mac and PC.
• Best-in-class mic preamp performance with 75dB gain range (0-75dB).
• Class-leading real world ADC (117dB A-weighted) and DAC (118dB A-weighted).
• Colour OLED screen with motion graphics to show input and output signal levels.
• Multi-function touch icons and scroll wheel with DAW control functions.
• Bus-powered from USB cable (included PSU required for phantom power).
The Universal Audio Apollo is first to the plate with a thunderbolt interface, although it is an optional extra, they have managed not to make this just an audio interface, but actually combine it with UAD-2 Processing power which This really differentiates it from the likes of the RME UFX, which is pretty similally specced. The Universal Audio Apollo comes in Quad or Duo varieties, refering to the number of UAD-2 DSP processors onboard.It also comes with an “analog classics” (im quoting here, everyone knows analog should be spelt analouge)
The Interface is not just about thunderbolt though, it also has two firewire 800 connectors for connection to PC’s and older Macs.
Universal Audio are really gunning for the high end market with this, the converters are specced to 118dbA, and it features 4 digitally controlled analouge Mic Preamps (anyone else think this might be the That! 1570 /1571 chip combination?), as well as eight analogue io, ADAT and a pair of sp-dif connectors.
No pricing info has been released yet, but i would at least expect the cost of a RME UFX plus a UAD-2 card.
Anyway, here’s the details.
Universal Audio Apollo Audio Interface
Sample rates up to 192 kHz at 24-bit word length
18 x 24 simultaneous input/output channels:
Eight channels of analog-to-digital conversion via mic, line, or high-impedance inputs
14 channels of digital-to-analog conversion via:
Eight mono line outputs
Stereo monitor outputs
Two stereo headphone outputs
10 channels of digital I/O via:
Eight channels ADAT Optical I/O with S/MUX for high sample rates
Two channels coaxial S/PDIF I/O with sample rate conversion
Two FireWire 800 ports for daisy-chaining other FireWire devices
32-bit and 64-bit device drivers
Four high-resolution, ultra-transparent, digitally-controlled analog mic preamps
Front panel and software control of all preamp parameters
Switchable low cut filter, 48V phantom power, 20 dB pad, polarity inversion, and stereo linking
Stereo monitor outputs (independent of eight line outputs)
Digitally-controlled analog monitor outputs maintains highest fidelity
Front panel control of monitor levels and muting
Two stereo headphone outputs with independent mix buses
Independent front panel analog volume controls for headphone outputs
Front panel pre-fader metering of monitor bus levels
S/PDIF outputs can be set to mirror the monitor outputs
Onboard UAD-2 Processing
The Universal Audio Apollo DUO and QUAD models featuring two or four SHARC processors
Realtime UAD Powered Plug-Ins processing on all of Apollo’s analog and digital inputs
Same features and functionality as other UAD-2 products when used with DAW
Can be combined with other UAD-2 devices for increased mixing DSP
Includes UAD Powered Plug-Ins “Analog Classics” bundle
Complete UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins library is available online 24/7
The Universal Audio Apollo Console application:
Enables Realtime UAD Powered Plug-Ins processing
DSP mixer for realtime monitoring and tracking
Remote control of all Apollo features and functionality
Console Recall plug-in:
Saves the Universal Audio Apollo configurations inside DAW sessions for easy recall
Enables control of all front panel parameters from within the DAW
VST, RTAS, and Audio Units plug-in formats
UAD Meter & Control Panel application:
Configures global UAD-2 and Powered Plug-Ins settings and monitors system usage