Apogee ONE Review

Apogee ONE

Are you in need of an audio interface that you can carry along in your pocket? Although the idea seems wild, bear in mind that constant innovations keep the world of technology exciting. That means smaller models of certain gadgets or machines are planned, designed and manufactured by companies every year in order to make their usage and everyday procedures more convenient and easy.

Even audio interfaces keep getting smaller and smaller every year and one such example is the Apogee ONE from the Apogee company.

It is small and designed with a modern appearance and includes a single-channel interface. It has USB connectivity and it also contains an integrated microphone and multi-function encoder knob. The company is known for its strict guidelines when it comes to sound quality thus the ONE provides 24-bit audio with a 48 kHz sample rate and features a microphone preamp with phantom powers of 48V.

Features

  • Includes 2 input and output audio interfaces with integrated microphone.
  • Features USB 2.0 connectivity.
  • Features 24-bit and 96kHz AD/DA conversion.
  • Available in Mac-only and Mac/iOS models.
  • Includes 2 analog inputs and 2 analog outputs.
  • Features direct monitoring.
  • Features complete input and output control by the brand’s Maestro software.
  • Compatible with Logic X Pro, GarageBand and any Core Audio Application from Mac or iOS.
  • Includes Waves plugins exclusive offers.
  • Made with die-cast aluminum frame.
  • Designed and made in the USA.

Advantages

This unit is a product of collaboration with the Apple company therefore as you notice, it only operates on Apple devices such as Mac and iOS. It has a single channel for quality audio.

The ONE is a USB-generated device and it includes a dial on its upper exteriors that also serves as an Input Gain dial for indicators being recorded. For playback signals, the unit does include a volume dial. Because of its portable size, standard audio input ports are switched by a cable that includes a modified connector.

Apart from the cable that is located at the end part of the interface, a 1/4-inch jack input and an XLR microphone connector complete the ensemble for instruments connection.

However, remember that only one of those parts can be employed at any rate. The device includes status light that can be found on top of the interface and displays which input is currently at work. It also indicates whether the external microphone options are being taken over by the unit’s own interior mic or if 48v phantom power is being utilized.

This input is installed at the bottom of the unit’s upper exteriors. It provides the easiest method to move sound from the interface to the computer and all users have to do is connect the USB cable and adjust a gain rate.

This is a unit that would highly benefit journalists and podcasters because it offers excellent quality recordings without requiring external microphones. Its portability makes it convenient for traveling. It is pretty easy to handle and offers excellent output. This is also ideal for users who do the majority of their work on their laptops, require playback and want to put in musical instruments or vocal parts.

Customers who have praised the device agreed that it does create one of the most excellent sounds in the business. A number of reviewers also agreed on the fact that it has quality audio signals. It is easy to use as well. It has top-notch input and output, excellent sample rate as well as strong and modern look.

Disadvantages

Although they appreciated its sound quality, several customers said that the breakout connector to the microphone and line input is too short. The device was also deemed too expensive by some people.

Verdict

Musicians and producers who require only a limited input selection would definitely benefit from this audio interface. The Apogee ONE provides superior sound quality. It is user-friendly and portable so you can travel with it and make music anywhere you are in the world.

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (1st Gen) Review

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20

Producers and musicians need a dependable audio interface that they can use at all times, especially during the moments when they feel the need to record a track with excellent quality without the help of studio equipments. The Focusrite 18i20 provides the recording operations with the brand’s highly-acclaimed microphone preamps and joins them with superb-quality 24-bit/96kHz and USB 2.0 connectivity.

Mic preamps that come from Focusrite are often used in well-known studios all over the world and they provide the audio interface performance that can be compared to professionally done recordings.

Features

  • Features 24-bit depth.
  • Features 96 kHz sample rate.
  • Includes 18 inputs.
  • Features I microphone preamps.
  • Includes 8 XLR/TRS combo jacks.
  • Includes 2 S/PDIF.
  • Features 8 ADAT/optical.
  • Has total output of 20.
  • Features 1/4-inch 10 TRS.
  • Features 5-pin MIDI input and output.
  • Includes 2 headphone outputs.
  • Includes Wordclock input and output.
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows.
  • Features phantom power.
  • Features direct monitoring.
  • Features onboard DSP.
  • Features LED metering.
  • Features latency control.
  • Includes monitor control.
  • Includes headphone control.
  • Is rack-mountable.
  • Includes software.

Advantages

The Scarlett 18i20 comes in a black and red design and features 2 multi-input, balanced mic and jacks located at the front with typical pad buttons along with 48v switches.

It has LED meters to notify users when they have a USB connection and if they plan to distribute items by digital means. It also features 8 multiple LEDs to place input level along with a monitor volume knob, dim and mute options. There are also 2 headphone outputs on the jacks accompanied by volume controls.

It is great to have an interface with plenty of connections and knobs but what matters here the most is the sound that is produced by this unit. The brand is known for manufacturing professional equipment. This unit manages to provide a transparent and clear sound with tiniest latency.

It is also great that users can plug microphone, headphones and guitar into the front panel and they can get audio without having to switch on the DAW. You indeed acquire significantly clean and clear preamps with this unit. They churn out better quality sound as compared to the other units in the market.

The company’s interfaces include their MixControl software that lets users undertake audio routing with lower latency. You do have to spend some time in order to learn the MixControl functions if you are serious about doing some nice routing arrangements for headphones.

Customers who liked this product said that the interface provides great sound and it has superb build quality. It is also user-friendly and works well with Windows, Mac and iOS. Many customers also loved that it includes a decent software bundle.

Disadvantages

Customers who were disappointed with some of the features shared that there are no output indicators on the interface. Pro Tools enthusiasts were also dismayed by the fact that the bundled software does not operate with Pro Tools – particularly Pro Tools 11.

Conclusion

Many people have bought this item and were satisfied with it overall. The Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 suits the needs of bands and singers/songwriters who plan on tracking drums, record live gigs and monitor MIDI in and out.

It also greatly benefits electronic artists. If you want plenty of inputs and outputs along with high-quality sound, then this product is for you. However, you should look for other alternatives if you want to use Pro Tools with the interface.

Furthermore, if you want output indicators, you can check out other products of the Scarlett series from the company. What I love about this is the sound and in my opinion, the quality of sound that an interface produces is a huge deciding factor. As far as price is concerned, the device comes at a reasonable price and is definitely worth every penny of your money.

Steinberg UR22 Review

Steinberg UR22

Whether you are using a personal computer, Mac, laptop or mobile phone, if you want to record tracks, you would absolutely need the assistance of an excellent audio interface.

There was a time when we all needed separate interfaces for a variety of gadgets and applications but manufacturers have now come up with cross-platform audio interfaces on both PC and iPad. One such example of an audio interface with this capability is Steinberg’s UR22.

Features

  • USB 2.0 interface.
  • Has 24-bit/192kHz recording quality.
  • Compatible with Mac OS 10.5.8 to 10.8 and Windows XP SP3, Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8 (32- or 64-bit).
  • Includes 2 balanced mic and line combo sockets.
  • Includes Yamaha D-Class preamps.
  • Includes 2 balanced TRS line outputs.
  • Includes 1/4-inch headphone output.
  • Features direct monitoring mix control.
  • Features MIDI input and output.
  • Includes USB cable.
  • Includes Cubase AI 6.

Advantages

In order to make this interface work, you have to first install a USB driver from the included disc in the package. This driver would then present a control panel that lets Windows users to modify the sample rate and buffer settings. For Mac users, the settings come in normal Audio MIDI Setup apps.

The user is presented with access to Cubase AI 6 that can be downloaded. After registering online and creating a user account, the activation code that was included in the package should be entered. After this, the Cubase AI 6 can be downloaded. You should be aware that the installer comes in a huge 600 MB size.

After the download, another code requires to be entered in the eLicenser Control Center app to guarantee long-lasting functionality otherwise it will be relegated to a limited 3-day trial period.

After installation, the Cubase hardware can accommodate up to 32 audio tracks and 16 instrumentals. It also offers 180 standard instrument sounds like the General MIDI set. They are especially beneficial for laying out musical outlines. Useful plugins come in the form of amp simulator and Grungelizer.

The audio interface can also be expanded by supplementing freeware on it or other affordable 3rd party VST plugins. Because of its functions, it provides a great way for beginner musicians to practice recording music on their own.

The mic inputs that the device provides give a high rate of gain that can increase up to 60dB. This is excellent for the ribbon and dynamic mics that need plenty of gains. If condenser mics are used, noisy instruments may need pad switches. The audio interface is capable of attaining good performances with effortlessness and a significant impression of dynamic range even at comparatively moderate sample rates.

When it comes to ease of use, the unit is absolutely a breeze to employ particularly when keeping track of inputs at the source. The Mix control can be modified instantly to provide an appropriate balance between playback and inputs. It is no wonder why many self-made musicians have started out with this audio interface. It works well and is quite easy to use.

Disadvantages

It features only 2 simultaneous inputs and it is not really meant for recording full bands or instruments. For that, users would have to utilize a number of mics at the same time. The interface also does not have an ADAT input/output feature or other digital I/O. Therefore, users cannot expand the number of inputs.

Verdict

Steinberg UR22 is a good interface to use for field sampling and live recording. It is a model for songwriters and solo musicians. The sound quality is exceptional and you also get a bunch of nice software.

It has MIDI in and out jacks therefore you can connect it with an iPad and easily record both instrument and vocal parts at the same time. This is a decent audio interface that falls below the $200 mark. It is quite functional and comes with excellent features. However, if you need more inputs, you can go for other models of the same series.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Review

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

An excellent and functional audio interface that churns out quality sound is something that all musicians should take into account, especially if they want to record their own music. These days, there is a wide selection of audio interfaces that include features that make audio recordings a breeze. One of these units is Focusrite’s Scarlett 2i2.

At this time, Focusrite is a company that is applauded for production of quality mic preamps and audio interfaces that often come at affordable price. A portable selection in the form of the Scarlett series is now available and it features a modern, durable style with its own list of beneficial features such as the company’s widely popular preamps. This is designed for a musician who loves traveling and making music at the same time.

Features

  • Features 24-bit max depth and 96 kHz sample rate.
  • Includes 2 inputs and 2 outputs.
  • Includes 2 mic preamps.
  • Includes 2 XLR/TRS combo jacks.
  • Features 2 1/4-inch TRS balanced output.
  • USB 2.0 connectivity.
  • Includes 1 headphone output.
  • Compatible with both Mac and Windows.
  • Includes phantom power.
  • Features direct monitoring.
  • Includes Halo LEDs for metering purposes.
  • Features latency control.
  • Features monitor control.
  • Includes headphone control.
  • Includes software.

Advantages

The 2i2 comes with its own share of benefits that help users in their search for a great recording equipment on the go. One of its primary benefits is the addition of the brand’s recognized Focusrite preamps.

Focusrite is known in the industry as one of the reputable manufacturers and designers of mic preamps and audio interfaces. The Scarlett’s line of preamps is at par with those from the brand’s Saffire series that are used in many professional recording studios.

You would also discover the top-notch quality of its AD/DA converters as compared to other interfaces of the same size. Many units have signal conversions of 16-bit/48kHz. However, this unit utilizes more at 24-bit/96kHz. This pretty much sums up that users would acquire a better, crisp and clearer sound quality and recordings.

It has professional-level mic preamps and instruments with 2 XLR inputs and 2 1/4-inch line-level jack inputs. Do you want to create polished recordings by means of monitoring and fast USB 2.0 connections? This unit has them and would prove to be very useful while creating tracks.

Users can also use condenser mics even without any outboard gear because the unit already has phantom power resources. You can also produce distinct audio signals with higher levels of sampling resolutions. Experiment and play around with the help of unit’s bundled Focusrite Plugin Suite and Ableton Live Lite. The former has features such as gate, EQ, compressor and reverb.

Because this unit operates through USB, you won’t have to use a separate power cable for it. The audio interface also comes at a price that most of us would appreciate.

Disadvantages

Reviewers who have experienced a few drawbacks with the unit complained that it lacks digital inputs and outputs and that it also does not have MIDI input and output. Another customer said that he was disappointed that he had to get a pop filter and a mic stand in order to record some vocal tracks.

Verdict

The Scarlett 2i2 is something that is ideal for beginners and musicians who travel on a frequent basis yet want to create music along the way and record those tracks. This is also ideal for those who have a limited budget. This USB unit is better as compared to the other models with same features. It is user-friendly therefore you would not be bothered with guesstimating about how each feature works.

The quality of the preamps and converters are better as compared to the other interfaces of the same size. The bundled plugins are also an excellent addition and would encourage musicians to experiment and make more music. This is a great deal and is definitely recommended.

Presonus AudioBox 22VSL Review

Presonus AudioBox 22VSL

If you are a producer or a musician who wants to make music on the go, you need something that’s convenient and portable. However, since we are talking about possibly producing your next hit, you should bring something that would not sacrifice the sound quality.

Presonus’ AudioBox 22VSL is a USB 2.0 audio and MIDI interface that takes hardware and software combination to the next level. Together with your computer and the brand’s Virtual StudioLive software, you can perform a multitude of tasks – such as delaying effects and supplementing reverb – without the distracting high latency.

Features

  • 24-bit/96kHzUSB 2.0 audio interface with recording capabilities.
  • Features 2 Class A XMAX microphone and instrument preamps.
  • Features 2 instrument inputs and 2 balanced main outputs.
  • Features minimal latency monitoring with comprehensive signal processing care of Virtual StudioLive.
  • Features over 50 Fat Channel DSP presets.
  • Includes clip lights for all channels.
  • Includes switchable phantom power.
  • Includes MIDI input and output.
  • Made with rugged metal enclosure.
  • Includes Studio One Artist software with infinite track count.

Advantages

One of the great features of this model is that it significantly minimizes the processing delay in the AudioBox VSL series which leads to reverb, EQ, effects and dynamic processing without discernible delays. It also comes with superb StudioLive 16.0.2 Fat Channel dynamics processors and EQs that producers, recording engineers and pro musicians use in their tracks.

Although the company did not create the initial effects-laden audio interface, they did tons of improvements at a heart-warming price. There are indeed interface companies that have supplemented their interfaces with EQ, compressors and several effects but this particular model includes all those things along with an expander, high-pass filter and limiter.

In addition, the VSL has drag and drop features that make loading, processing and producing preset easier and simpler. Professional quality processing combined with user-friendly features, of course, lead users to greater results and loads of fun music.

This is a convenient, portable and strong model that provides 2 front-panel microphone and instrument combo inputs with global phantom power and also offers 2 line-level outputs. It has a strong and rugged build due to its durable steel case that proves to be beneficial while you are on the road.

The VSL lets users process and mix easily from their desktop computers and offers editor and librarian functions as well so you can make and utilize presets with ease. The company has included a library of over 50 Fat Channel presets that include StudioLive mixers. These presets were produced by professional engineers and musicians and allow users to arrange dynamics processing easily.

The unit comes in a strong and durable steel case that makes it an ideal unit for travel. It would not get damaged easily therefore you can make music without any disruptions. It is an audio interface that operates well with all Windows and Mac audio recording software.

Disadvantages

Although the company is known for producing a great line of products, this unit has its own drawbacks. It is not built to accommodate line-level inputs which makes it restricted in terms of connecting keyboards, drum machines, synths and even electric guitars with built-in preamps.

Verdict

The Presonus AudioBox 22VSL provides an obvious improvement when it comes to sound quality when measured against the majority of desktop computers’ built-in audio interfaces. It comes at a reasonable price and has features that you would typically see in professional recording gear. If you are in need of more inputs, the company has models with such features too such as the 44VSL and the 1818VSL.

This is a sensibly-priced audio interface that beginner musicians should invest in and it does not scrimp when it comes to sound quality. Now you won’t have to deal with inconvenient gadgets to take on the road while recording because this nifty portable unit would help ease your burden.