The new M-Audio C Series interfaces certainly look the part, I’ve not had chance to get a hands-on with them but if they sound half as good as they look then they make for a great entry-level interface. So recently we got the news that M-Audio have teamed up with venerable plug-in developer Softube to give existing and new users of the C Series interfaces a classy collection of three very different equalizers.
Everybody loves free stuff, but rarely do you get much useful stuff for free in this life! First up in the Passive-Active Pack is the Passive Equalizer, meticulously modeled from an iconic German three-band EQ for a nice and clear, open sound.
Next up is the Active Equalizer, modeled from a distinctive Swiss EQ design and is perfect for surgical cuts and boosts in your mix. Total mix precision.
The final part of the pack is the Focusing Equalizer, an untraditional and inspiring method of EQing and is a concept exclusive to Softube. There is even and additional saturation circuit based on the distortion and compression from their famous FET Compressor.
These will be available through December 31st and all M-Track C Series interfaces can be found here.
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.
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
Cutting down the ever popular UR-22 to it’s very bare essentials the UR12 would appear to be the perfect fit for the artist working in the box and on the go. This 2 x 2USB 2 based solution offers a HI-Z 1/4″ jack connector and a balanced XLR with Yamaha D-Pre amp for input duties along with a regular line output for getting the audio back out all topped off with great 24/192 capable converters . With a solid build and external power that will allow the unit to be also hooked up to an iPad when out and about it covers the basics at a great price, making it suitable for first time buyers and those needing a small, portable solution too.
The Steinberg UR12 will be available in January 2015 for around £95
Rme have even more in store for us, with the new Octamic XTC preamp.
The bottom line is that is has eight remote controlled preamps to complement the existing four in the UFX, or two in the UCX.
Plugging this device in at the same time on USB as either the UFX or UCX should enable totalmix to identify these as extra channels, appearing as extra inputs in your DAW automatically alongside your interface.
It also gives you an additional pair of headphone outputs for monitor mixes.
The unit can be remote controlled from totalmix, or via Midi and also features MADI, AES and ADAT connectivity, at sample rates up to 192k / 24 Bit.
Detailed Specs, Price and Availability is still TBC
• 8 x Mic/Line Preamps, digitally controlled (4 x PAD, 4 x Hi-Z switchable)
The Nektar Impact LX49 controller keyboard shoots straight for the budget USB controller keyboard market, currently headed up by the immenent arrival of the Novation Launchkey.
Sharing many features with it’s big sibling the Panorama P4 (but lacking the LCD display) It promises easy integration with a range of sequencers such as Cubase, Reason, Cubase, Nuendo Garageband, Sonar, Reaper and even Bitwig (if it ever comes out of beta!)
49 Full size Keys
Sequencer Transport Controls
8 Velocity Sensitive Pads
9 30mm Faders and Control Buttons.
8 Rotary Controls
3 Digit LED Display
5 preset memory locations
4 keyboard velocity curve options
Pitch bend and modulation wheels
Nektar Impact LX49 is due in the Autumn, with an RRP of only £109.99!
This weeks product launch from Focusrite as part of their run up to this years NAMM is the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20, which looks to be a strong entry into a section of the market which is perhaps a bit light on options at this price point.
About the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20
At it’s heart the Scarlett 18i20 takes the core of the popular Scarlett range of interfaces and expands the available I/O options by a fairly sizable amount. The design brief for this interface appears to be for a unit that can multitrack your average band with ease, making it an interesting choice for any act wishing to do their own demo recording or even produce their own work.
We’re looking at a total of 18 inputs and 20 outputs on this interface which isn’t unheard of at this price point with but with the solid advantage of it having 8 of Focusrites well regarded preamps for your mics and instruments to plug into. We can think of only a handful of units currently on the market with that number of preamps at this price point and perhaps only one or two that we would strongly recommend, so this interface comes in as a strong contender for anyone needing that many inputs at what is still a very reasonable price for this kind of feature set.
Along with those 8 XLR/Jack preamp’d sockets the is the option to (light)pipe in another 8 via ADAT leaving the last two inputs to enter the unit via the S/PDIF connection. Ouput wise we have 2 optical outs and 8 physical jack outputs which we reckon will be more than enough for the vast amount of regular users, it also perhaps opens this interface up to the audio install market where end user may wish have multizone playback configurations. We can see this interface cropping up in all sorts of places that we suspect even the designers may have yet to consider, as it does appear to be quite a versatile little thing.
Features of the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20
Eight award-winning Focusrite mic preamps with front-panel meters : With switchable phantom power, up to 60dB of gain, plus pad and instrument switches on channels 1+ 2.
24-bit/96kHz A-D/D-A convertors
Dual headphone outputs and comprehensive monitor control : Send separate, near-zero-latency cue mixes to artist and producer with Scarlett Mix Control, and control the level of your studio monitors quickly and easily from the Scarlett 18i20 front panel.
Compatible with Mac, PC and iPad : It uses the latest USB 2.0 streaming technology with stable, reliable drivers to provide outstanding performance on both Windows and Macintosh computers, and even iPad® (requires the Apple Camera Connection Kit — no drivers required!)
Complete software bundle : Including Ableton Live Lite music software, the Focusrite Scarlett plug-in suite, Novation’s Bass Station soft synth and 1GB of Loopmasters samples.
As we’ve said before at this price point and with this spec the are only a few options good available. The one we’d currently go for ourselves is the rather good MOTU 8pre so really this unit has to offer up something more for the money to take it’s title… and we have to say it does exactly that.
The 8pre is a Firewire interface in a world where Firewire appears to be on it’s way out and as such with ever more limited support, a good USB interface with similar features suddenly becomes very attractive. Add to the fact that this has the additional monitoring options thanks to the whole raft of output, the additional headphone socket and of course those famous Focusrite pre’s it means our sub £500 interface section could have a new leader for those who need a good value and fully featured recording interface when working in band recording scenarios.
The Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 ships in March 2013 for £399
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
A surprising one for us to see here at Scan but a welcome move none the less. Allen & Heath have been a firm favorite of this particular writer since he first got his hands on a Xone62 many years ago. Great build quality matched with attention to detail and great customer service make this Cornwall based mixer maker a easy choice for pro installs where a true work horse is required.
So this weeks announcement in the form of the Allen & Heath ICE-16 which is a 16 channel hybrid (USB/Firewire) audio interface comes as something of a surprise entry into what is already a fairly crowded market. What can these guys offer and just why are we so excited?
The offical line on the Allen & Heath ICE-16:
The Allen & Heath ICE-16 makes multitrack recording easy. Forget all that fiddling around at the back of clunky HD recorders or messing about with soundcard drivers. ICE-16 lets you capture a high quality 16 track recording straight to a USB key or hard drive.
The Allen & Heath ICE-16 is also a powerful 16×16 audio interface capable of studio quality recording over high-speed USB or FireWire. Whether it’s a live band, a studio session, a conference, a function or a theatre rehearsal, the Allen & Heath ICE-16 is the ideal choice for recording multichannel audio with or without your computer.
16 analogue Inputs, 16 analogue Outputs
Front USB socket for easy capture to USB storage devices
Hybrid FireWire (IEE1394) / USB 2.0 16×16 audio interface
Industry standard wav file format
Up to 6 hours of 16 channel audio on a 32GB USB stick
Signal Present and Peak LED metering on each channel
Mono headphone bus for Input or Output monitoring
Daisy chain multiple units over FireWire
Familiar transport buttons and intuitive controls
It’s essentially a front end to allow 16 channel multitrack recording and playback with full audio interface functionality and the option to bypass the computer completely and record straight to a USB connected hard drive or solid state media. Not only that but multiple units can be chained up to allow more I/O options should they be required meaning that from a live point of view it comes close to our current live favorite the RME UCX but at a sizable cost saving. That’s not to say it’ll be quite as fully featured as the rather epic RME behemoth but we can quite clearly see a lot of uses where bands will be able to make use of a high track count audio interface and recording frontend device such as this without all the extra features, whistles and bells of the higher cost device.
So all that coupled with the good name of Allen & Heath, their well regarded reliability we’re looking forward to getting our hands on one in the near future… The biggest shock however is the price. From a company that has never cut corners or been known for making cheap units we see the SRP is 785 inc vat.
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).