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RME Do Compact Audio with 4X Analog, Digital, MIDI

There are plenty of fairly good audio interfaces out there. Decent-to-middling, yes. But if you’re picky about getting something really top-notch in terms of audio performance and stable low latency, that list gets a whole lot shorter. Want it to be really compact? That list gets shorter still. “Pro” often translates to “rack mount” – but just because you want something light and small doesn’t mean you don’t want something serious. RME is a brand that very often winds up on that short list. And their new BabyFace Pro I suspect ticks a lot of the boxes you want. First, …

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This is What High-End Audio Can Do Now: New Trio of Thunderbolt Boxes from MOTU

You’d be forgiven for missing it in the blur of press releases and trade show hand-outs – and, let’s face it, most musicians are too focused on music to pay much mind. But slowly, steadily, audio interfaces have been getting a lot better. Talk to the people who make them, and they can tell you what’s happened even in terms of individual components. Next, they’re about to get smarter and more networked. And so that means it is worth paying attention today as industry heavyweight MOTU unveils a trio of new audio interfaces, compatible with Thunderbolt 1 and 2 and …

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Thunderbolt means serious I/O for UA's DSP-based processing on the Apollo card - even on a lowly Mac mini. Image courtesy Universal Audio.

The Thunderbolt Age Dawns: UA Ships Thunderbolt on Apollo; More to Come – Where it Makes Sense

Universal Audio is first out of the gate with an audio interface add-on that uses Intel’s Thunderbolt bus, the high-performance, low-latency connectivity option on current iMacs, MacBook Pros and Airs, and Mac minis (though, conspicuously, not the ever-more-outdated Mac Pro). The solution isn’t the most elegant – you need to add in an option card with an included tool – but once installed, Thunderbolt appears right in the box (see image below). And what can you do with all that extra bandwidth? On the Apollo, you get better performance even as you push the envelope with sample rates, and more …

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Propellerhead Balance, in Video, Succeeds in Being Different From Other Audio Boxes

As an addendum to our first look at Propellerhead’s new Reason 6 announcements (including incorporating Record), Propellerhead points us to a promo video of their new Balance audio interface. We’ve seen efforts before to make software more appealing to newcomers by bundling an audio interface, so this is, on the face of it, hardly “stop-the-presses!” sort of news for digital musicians. But there’s some evidence the Propellerheads may have hit on a new formula. One, Balance doesn’t look exactly like every other audio interface on the market. The design is distinctive, and the wedge-shaped form would appear to make it …

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Mixing and Audio Interface, in the $450 MOTU Audio Express

The competition for your audio interface dollar is pretty heated these days, but MOTU’s latest – the Audio Express – packs a pretty impressive feature set for something costing US$449 list. It’s both a 6×6 audio interface and a mixer, with standalone mixer functionality so you can mix signals from the front-panel knobs without a computer attached. It also has connectivity features generally seen only in pricier, physically-larger boxes. MOTU tells CDM the quality is equal to their higher-end offerings, and other rivals in the $500-800 range. MOTU winds up on my short list as far as hardware that makes …

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28 Ins, 30 Outs, Loads of Features, as MOTU’s 828 Meets Firewire and USB2

FireWire may be getting rare these days, but new hardware proves that doesn’t mean serious external audio interfaces are in any danger. In the latest iteration of its tried-and-true 828 line, MOTU combines both Firewire and USB 2.0 for Mac or PC, and a wide range of features. The MOTU 828mk3 “Hybrid” in a nutshell: 28 inputs, 30 outputs. Combo jacks for 1/4″ guitar in, XLR mic. Phantom power, of course. Balanced/unbalanced 1/4″ analog ins and outs running at 24-bit/192kHz. Separate main XLR outs with dedicated volume controls on the front panel. (Quick, turn that down!) Two headphone jacks with …

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Rane Sixty-Eight: A Mixer/Controller for Two Computers

It had to happen sooner or later: the computer has supplanted the turntable, so why not a mixer intended for two computers? That’s the idea behind the just-announced Rane SIXTY-EIGHT. It’s intended for use with two computers via two independent USB ports, plus controller support (intended primarily for Serato’s tools, but presumably adaptable to other software) for up to four virtual decks. Now, as a way to manage four decks, it seems like absurd overkill – hasn’t Traktor done four decks for years? But if this solution is indeed software-agnostic, it could be a boon to advanced computer musicians wanting …

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