Side by Side: USB Audio Interfaces

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Side by Side: USB Audio Interfaces

Apr 1, 2012 2:00 AM

It used to be that getting audio in and out of a computer was more magic and wizardry than computer science. Today, every device has some audio capability. The quality of the stock on-board hardware is not always the best, and it's limited to a single connection. For installed systems, a professional sound card can provide the needed quality and features. But for portable use, a peripheral device is the simplest way to enhance the audio I/O while still keeping the setup compact.

While investigating options, we found plenty of USB-capable devices. We found some Firewire devices as well, but given the proliferation of USB on portable computers, we stuck with that connection. We also looked for interfaces that had at least a mic and a line input. Most have more, including digital I/O. We also chose units that were powered by the USB connection without needing an external power supply.

While these interfaces have a natural use in field production, we also found them to be useful in small editing setups, such as new work stations and even some production setups.

ModelLexicon AlphaDigigram Cancun 222-MicAlesis iO2 ExpressM-Audio MobilePreRoland Tri-CaptureInputsMic1x XLR2x XLR*2x XLR2x Combo*1x XLRLine2x 1/4" TRS2x XLR*2x 1/4" TRS2x 1/4" TRS2x RCADigital-1x AES3---OtherHi-Z 1/4" TS-MIDI, InsertsHi-Z 2x Combo*Hi-Z 1/4" TSPhantom PowerNYYYYOutputsLine2x 1/4" TRS, 2x RCA2x XLR2x 1/4" TRS2x 1/4" TRS2x 1/4" TRSDigital-1x AES3---Headphone3.5mm6.35mm1/4"1/4"1/4"Sampling Rates (kHz)44.1, 4832, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 192up to 4844.1, 4844.1, 48, 96Bit Depth248, 16, 20, 2416, 2416, 2416, 24Level ControlsCh. 1/Inst, Ch. 2/Mic, Monitor Mix, Output LevelAssignable Level Control, Headphone LevelCh. 1 Gain, Ch. 2 Gain, Monitor Mix, Main Level, Headphone LevelCh. 1 Gain, Ch. 2 Gain, Headphone, Line OutCh. 1, Ch. 2, Ch. 3, HeadphoneConnectionsPanelDonglePanelPanelPanelMeteringPeak LEDsLED Bar MetersLED Bar MeterLED Signal and ClipLED Signal and Peak, LED BarPower SourceUSB connectionOSWindows or MacDimensions (in)6.75 x 6.5 x 1.610 x 3.8 x 16.2 x 5 x 29.5 x 7.7 x 2.26.75 x 5.3 x 1.6Weight (oz)17.615.8512.828.812ExtrasCubase LE 5 -Cubase LEPro Tools SECakewalk Sonar X1 LEList Price$100 $790 $200 $179 $159

April 2012

Audio over IP for remotes, Radio Kansas rebuilds, the FCC rules on translators and LPFM, and Field Reports on the Inovonics INOmini 632 and Nautel NV40....