Recently, I saw a post here on Maschine Masters (MM) asking what is the best audio interface to use? With the oversaturation of every manufacturer saying that their product is best, how can you possibly choose just one or better yet, who to believe? I want to go on record to say the interface that is best for you, may not be best for me. Maybe you need 8 inputs because you’re recording an entire set of drums, where your neighbor may only need 2 inputs for vocal and guitar? What all interfaces really boil down to, is quality analog to digital converters (A/D/A), a clean preamp, and your needs.
Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I’m pleased to be doing the first review of gear for MM. If you can’t tell by my opening monologue (ala Jay Leno), I will be reviewing an audio interface. The focus of today’s review is the iO2 Express by Alesis. This 2 channel USB interface is a nice little piece for anyone that is currently without an interface and doesn’t need anything super fancy.
For starters, when you purchase your iO2 Express, it’s not in a box but rather a hard plastic casing, allowing you to see the goods you are getting into first hand. After unboxing (or unwrapping), you notice that the grey interface does have a plastic shell itself and is very lightweight. This is a huge plus for all you producers that are on the move. Right on the surface there are 2 XLR inputs for microphones with 48V phantom power, 2 line level inputs for your old school samplers (See AGs video on recording old school samplers into Maschine), keyboards, or your synth. These 2 line inputs also support your guitar or bass. Next to that are insert connections which are used if you have any external processors such as compressors, reverb units, or delays. There are also 5 knobs. Two of which are preamp gain for your inputs. In the lower left hand corner is your headphone output with volume control. The right hand corner features your master volume or main level as it says on the unit. Just to the left of that is a handy little monitor mix knob. This is used to establish a balance in the mix from what being directly input into the interface, and what’s being played back via the computer. This is a very useful tool for tracking vocals. Also on the surface right in the middle you an LED meter. This lets you know if you are sending a distorted signal into your DAW or into Maschine. Below that are LEDs to inform you if you’re connected to your computer via USB, receiving or sending MIDI, and if your 48V phantom power is turned on.
Flipping the interface to look at the back, there are very few (5) connections. Starting on the far left is MIDI OUT used to send MIDI signal to another device. MIDI IN, which is used to receive MIDI signal from another device (what a concept). Next are your left and right main outs, which are where you connect your studio monitors. These are ¼” balanced outputs. And lastly on the far right is your USB connection point.
Bundled with this interface is Cubase LE by Steinberg, a light version of the very popular DAW. So those of you without a DAW for mixing your Maschine tracks, this could be a great start!
- Record 24bit/48kHz audio into most DAWs and Maschine
- Powered by USB. NO EXTERNAL POWER SUPPLY
- Works with MAC OS X 10.2 or above and Windows XP, Vista, and 7
So if you’re in need of an audio interface and don’t need a million inputs and outputs, this is a very safe route to go. It has many features that experienced producers will love, and those just starting out won’t be overly confused. With all these features, it should cost a fortune. You’ll be happy to know that the price is just as sexy as the interface itself, just a whopping $99.99. But if you shop with Guitar Center online, it’s a mere $81.44 online.
And in case you all didn’t know, I do work for Guitar Center. If you are looking to order anything, just call my store and ask for T-Rex, or Short Aran (Aaron), or send me an email to my work email with your contact info and I’ll be sure go get back to you ASAP!
Store phone number: 262-797-6448 (Brookfield, Wi)
Work e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org