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Getting Konnekted

TC Electronic's new Konnekt 8 FireWire audio interface By Frank Moldstad

Given the breadth of TC Electronics audio product line, its surprising that the company has never made an audio interface to go with its effects processors, plugin host devices, and monitors.

But with the release of the Konnekt 8 and its big brother Konnekt 24D, that gap has been filled with two great-sounding bus-powered FireWire interfaces that are also very affordable. In this review, well look at the Konnekt 8. This two-channel unit (four channels counting analog and digital I/O) includes the same mic pres and AD/DA converters as the Konnekt 24D, but lacks the latters additional I/O and built-in PowerCore DSP effects (Fabrik R reverb, Fabrik C channel strip, and Assimilator EQ). The difference between the two devices is about $200 on the street ? the Konnekt 8 sells for about $299 (MSRP $375), while the Konnekt 24 D goes for about $499 (MSRP $625).

The Konnekt 8 operates at up to 24-bit/192kHz sampling and is compatible with both Macs (OS 10.4 and above, including Intel-Macs) and PCs (Windows XP SP 2). I tried it on a PowerMac G5 dual 2.5GHz computer, first installing the drivers and Control Panel software from the included CD, and then getting software updates from the TC Electronic web site. Then, I connected the hardware to the computer, where it was recognized in OS Xs Audio MDI setup dialog, and in Logic Pro 7. The Konnekt 8 package comes with Steinbergs cross-platform Cubase LE, but is compatible with most other DAW applications as well.

TCNear Control Panel
The first thing I noticed was the Konnekt 8s audio quality, which far exceeded my expectations. But initially, I encountered a problem where the audio was randomly  muted during playback, even though the level meters were showing signal. After reading the manual, I discovered that TC Electronic recommends a dedicated FireWire bus for the Konnekt 8, either through its own FireWire card or with nothing else hooked to a computers built-in FireWire ports. Fortunately, I had an unused FireWire card handy, so I installed that and the problem disappeared.

With that out of the way, I recorded a variety of sound sources using the mic and line inputs, including vocals, electric guitar and keyboards. I soon concluded that this was the best-sounding interface Ive heard in this price range. The sound is smooth and creamy, by which I mean that it does not have the thinness or sharp edges that many mid-priced interfaces seem to have. But its also not mushy, preserving a lot of detail from analog sources. Although its aimed at home users and project studios, the sound quality should be quite acceptable to professional users, particularly for location recording.

Among the reasons for the audio quality are the converters and the mic/line preamps. The Dice II AD/DA converter in the Konnekt 8 (and the Konnekt 24D) is a new design developed by TC Electronic with Asahi Kasei Microsystems (AKM). This chip is harnessed with a jitter reduction and sync handling design called JET, which TC Electronic developed in-house for high end products such as the System 6000 reverb, the EQ Station and the DynaudioAcoustics AIR monitors.

The IMPACT mic preamps are also a TC Electronic design. They deliver a muscular 62 dB of gain, with a good transparent sound that preserves detailed nuances from a source. For line level inputs, the Hi-Z circuit is optimized for guitar, but it also works well with sources such as bass and keyboards. 

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Related Keywords:Konnekt 8, TC Electronic, audio interface, FireWire, mic pre, converters, recording, DAW


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