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Portable Audio InterfacesPalm sized USB or FireWire devices proliferate
Looking for a convenient way to record and play back audio with your computer? A new breed of external audio interfaces that connect via USB or FireWire eliminates the hassle of setting up a PCI sound card. These units are small enough to fit in a backpack, can be moved from one computer to another easily, and since theyre external, dont suffer degradation of audio quality from being inside a noisy computer environment.
A number of these units were on display at the recent NAMM show in Anaheim, CA, including about half a dozen that are new on the market. They range widely in price and features, starting with Art Technologies $99 USB Micro PRE. Most have features not found on sound cards, such as built-in mic preamps.
Heres a recap of the new portable audio interfaces we saw at NAMM.
In addition, the IO|2 comes bundled with a copy of Steinbergs Cubase LE recording software. www.alesis.com
The TP-2s two independent channels can be linked for stereo recordings, and the unit features independent phantom power, pad, phase, low cut and Hi-Z switches for each channel. The digital outputs are supplemented with balanced XLR and 1/4" TRS inputs and outputs. Korg actually has two versions of this interface; in addition to the TP-2, its offering the TPB-2 as an optional card that fits in the Korg D32XD and D16XD recorders. The Korg TP-2 carries an MSRP of $699 while the TPB-2 is priced at $579. www.korg.com
The DSP options include compression, reverb, amp modeling and EQ. These are not only available for recording and monitoring -- they can also be used as a suite of plug-ins from within a recording application, Mac or PC. The software helps route the DSP plug-ins, and for monitoring can help create up to five separate user-defined stereo mixes of all incoming signals and recorded tracks from the recording platform.
The Focusrite Saffire has four inputs and eight balanced outputs for separate headphone or monitor mixes, or up to 7.1 surround monitoring. It also includes S/PDIF I/O for digital ins and outs, as well as MIDI I/O.
Availability is set for the first quarter of 2005, and pricing has not been announced. www.focusrite.com
|A.R.T. USB Micro PRE|
Other features include a low cut filter for removing rumble and wind noise, front gain trim control and signal/clip LED, and a front panel USB monitor/headphone jack. It will be available in April 2005. www.artproaudio.com.
Related Keywords:audio interfaces, USB, FireWire, mic preamps, sound card, NAMM