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Reviews Computer Music Gear


Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Review

Yet another step forward Three years ago Universal Audio introduced the Apollo Twin, a more friendly priced desktop version of their Apollo flagship audio interface. read more…

Review of the Audient iD14 USB audio interface

Keep the IDeas Rolling A little over two years ago we reviewed the iD22, the first ever audio interface manufactured by Audient, an English brand well-known for its consoles and mic preamps. Considering the crossover to the digital world went fairly smoothly, these Brits have now decided to take another step in the same direction with a smaller and less pricey second interface. But does the iD14 retain the same qualities as its big brother? read more…

Review of the Akai Advance 49 Keyboard Controller

Advancing the State of the Art Imagine a MIDI-controller keyboard that lets you seamlessly switch between virtual instruments from different manufacturers, keeps all your patches together in a single browser, and automatically maps controller information to its knobs and switches. read more…

User reviews on Computer Music Gear products

A Specific Mixing Control Surface (Softube - Console 1 mkII)

By Cypraeneus, 24/09/2018
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Used with a Mac and Studio One Pro 3.

It is a surface control with the specific controls of a channel strip organized into 7 sections:
- input level, low-cut and high-cut filters a phase inversion
- gate and transient control
- 4-band EQ with selectable frequences and Q…
- compression with selectable values for ratio, threshold, attack and release time (gain is automatic)
- controls for drive and character (the latter to provide an analog color to the sound) as well as output level, plus two solo and mute keys
Finally, on the up and down sides, two series of controls for tracks, presets or plug loading (I’ll detail these later on).

Nothing too fancy so far. There are some well-done video tutorials around.

The device is wonderfully designed, all made of metal with readable indications, quality knobs and control keys which are well enough spaced for anyone – even those among us with big fingers –, and LEDs everywhere to make it more readable.

Let’s get straight to the point.
This is a USB- supplied MIDI control surface with no DSP, aimed at controlling not only a collection of Softube plugins emulating professional consoles but also some Universal Audio plugins since version mkII.
Please note that:
- the SSL4000 plug-in comes with the device
- two other consoles are emulated, plus some sort of plugin recycling that can count as a third one (Summit Audio Channel). Other models are rumored to be in the making.
- All UAD plugs are not emulated, notably the channel strips (!!!) so check the list of available plugins
So if you’re not a UAD user, it’s not obvious that getting this device should be a priority for you. There are of course exceptions (listed below).

Depending on the piece of software that you use, you can control the pan, volume, select a track, solo and mute. Well, some DAWS but not all: so far, I believe Sonar and Studio One to be the ones with the best integration (though they’re not the most used.
Most parameters featured on the surface can be automated.

Regarding its ergonomic aspect, the manufacturing quality and clear (as well as rather classic) layout of the parameters make it a comfortable, intuitive (almost instictive) and easy-to-use surface.
But what makes a big difference is Softube’s cleverness to NOT hav but tiny or badly-oriented LED Screens, but to consider how obsolescent such screens are especially while such a device is bound to be used with a real screen. So? Well, just press a small button labelled DISPLAY and you get everything appearing on your screen – all controls, and even 4 display modes!

There are two annoying things however: the absence of a transport bar type control and of a motorized fader – a real pity!
That would have made it the perfect device. So yeah, I know, Softube has stated before that the Console 1 ONLY aims at controlling the parameters from a single channel strip… But that doesn’t rule a motorized fader out.
Finally, in a mixing context, a transport bar is useful, Native Instrument have understood the ergonomic interest of it as they have featured one on their keyboards.
While here, you’ll have to use your keyboard and mouse, or invest in a surface control with a transport bar and fader…
So, to make it short, a Console 1 mkII with a faderport behind would have been as close as it gets to plain perfect.

Now, one can wonder if it’s worth the €500 it costs. I’ll now get to what motivated me to purchase it.
First, the excellent SSL plugin that comes with it. As I have neither the budget (purchase, service…) or space to own such a console, a great emulation with physical controls (which is more or less what this product is about) is a real asset. But it’s of course all about tastes, so it’s up to you to decide if this is for you or not. This one plugin has replaced a whole series of plugins that I used before, it’s incredibly efficient and as usual with great plugins if you barely change one parameter and it sounds good then it’s great.
Also, I’m a UAD user… (a question of tastes, again).
Finally, I intend to buy an 8-fader controller anyway, but for a tight budget that could be a real issue!

Edit from September 2018:
This one is VERY sturdy: it fell twice from my deck – I have a 2-year-old daughter… Except for a slightly bent corner, it still looks in its prime! It would deserve an extra half-star...

Great for beginners - lots of I/O (Tascam - US-16X08)

By Pedro Cenit, 21/11/2018
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I've owned this interface for two years now. Previously I had my first Focusrite 8i6 which I upgraded for more imputs. At the time I wasn't even an audio student, just a hobby musician.
Bought this interface when I started studying looking for something that would let me mic a drum set. Imagine my surprise when I found out this is the ONLY interface that offers 16 real imputs. No ADAT, SPDIF, etc. I've since used it to mic entire bands with low latency. Multiple outs allow you to set up different mixes other than the stereo out (which has one headphone out).
The pres aren't that great. After 3 o'clock there begins to appear heareable white noise. This usually isn't a problem, but beware of SM57s that require a bit more drive. It has 2 instrument imputs with regulable gain, so it's like it had 10 pres for me. The 6 line imputs can be pushed using the DSP compressor's makeup, or you could simply connect more pres. So, hardware-wise, this interface is one of the best.
On the software end, things were buggy at first. As many early reviews said, this thing was unstable on 2016. Ever since, Tascam released new drivers that work fine with Windows 10. If you want to make it work, it will work. I've used it with Nuendo, Cubase, WaveLab, Pro Tools 10 and 12. No issues there.
Between this one and Focusrite, I think Focusrite has better drivers with lower latency. At 44khz, US 16x08 has huge latency settings. 10ms in and 4ms out at 128kbps. So you may consider using it at higher sample rates if you want DAW monitoring. It has DSP monitoring with virtually no latency at all, but then you don't hear any plugins you may have added.
Don't let this turn you down. Pres and latency are a problem at almost everything in this price range, so between this one and other brands, I'd stick to US 16x08 for the I/O. With it you can really learn how to mic a drum set, record a full band, try M/S configs, all of it with no problems at 96khz/24bit.
By the time you begin to really hear what's "wrong" with Tascam 16x08, you will be ready to move on to a higher quality interface like Audient, RME, UAD. These units move in a different price range and have better converters, pres, drivers, etc. and are just what you may need for a more proffesional home studio down the future. I've upgraded to an Audient ID44, so only 4 analog ins for me now. I don't miss US 16x08 because I've moved on from my initial "want to record everything" need, I may get more imputs with an outboard octopre in the future just to get that feel again though.

Conclusion: A great interface for audio beginners, students, and just people with lots of I/O needs.

May not be pro quality, but great for begtinner - better than UM2 for just a couple of quids more. (Behringer - U-Phoria UMC22)

By mrgreymusic, 27/12/2018
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Use this on top of my Dell Optiplex 360, have my Neewer 1500 (£18) at Input 1 (XLR powered) and my Tanglewood Jetstream guitar through a Zoom G1on going to Input 2. Really happy with the quality of the sound - its years (30) since I did any home recording and this setup is far better than I expected. Seems very stable - as in I've not foumd anything unstable at all. I've been able to get latency at ~5ms. Is that good? I can work with it anyway.

Currently have the outputs going to desktop speakers and using it as a sounds card as well, have switched off the internal soundcard. Saving up for proper monitors!


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