New Kit Alert: Audient iD22

On May 13, 2014

Well… new’ish kit alert. I’ve had my hands on this unit for a few months now but I’ve finally found some time to chat about it.

The pro audio market is seeing a surge in desktop products. SPL, Universal Audio, Apogee and Focusrite have all been fighting for that external sound-card space next to your laptop over the last couple of years. Many of these boxes contain similar feature sets: Some Pre Amps, some outputs, digital connectivity and monitor control. Now Audient has thrown their name into the hat with the iD22 and there are still plenty of reasons to be excited…

iD22 unboxedat work

 

Look and Feel…

Straight out of the box, you know you have something high quality and well built. The unit has a decent weight – heavy enough to feel full of good stuff, but light enough to drag that good stuff around with you. Everything has a lovely silever and black brushed, matted finish to appease the mac fans. It also sits nicely next to my Euphonix MC Mix and my SSL Bus Compressor, making me look very coordinated. The pots feel heavy and well built, and the switches have enough meat behind them to give you confidence in the unit’s quality.

iD22 close upphoto 3 (8)

 

What’s in the box? WHAT’S IN THE BOX??

Lets start with the inputs; Audient have kept with the same David Dearden designed Class A mic pre  you find across their ASP range.  This is an ultra clean, transparent, low noise mic pre and comes with a nice 60dB chunk of gain. The analogue input is a combined TRS/XLR Neutrik connector allows flexibility into your unit. There is also a single JFET DI input stage, allowing you to pop that guitar straight in! So you are covered for clean mic, line and DI inputs – Singer-Songwriter types REJOICE!

Insert points are provided on the back too, so if you wish to add your favourite bits into the chain, you can. Although some home users may not have a ton of fancy kit to patch in, this is where the unit starts to please the pros more. Personally, I have a Universal Audio LA610 which some of my clients adore, so I know I can stick that on the path and still make use of the clean signal path into the box.

So going in is good; how about going out? Audient has kept both the small home user and project studio in mind here. The unit has two pairs of outputs to allow main and alt monitoring options in the control room. There is also a headphone output powered by an independent DAC for isolated monitoring – which should keep some of the audiophiles happy! If you need more than one headphone, the monitor outputs also double up as headphone sends, controlled with the iD22 software.

The unit is equipped with a nice large pot for monitor control. As any engineer will tell you, no monitoring unit feels pro unless there is a nice big pot to control your levels! Dim and cut functions are fixed, but interestingly Audient have accompanied them with three function keys, allowing user to define other options such as ‘alt monitoring selection’ or ‘talkback’.

The converters are pretty sweet also; 24bit, up to 96Khz. Tagged onto the back of the unit is also some ADAT connectors, which is a must in my setup. I still have a trusty Pro Tools HD3 system which is still pumping out great mixes, but like many others, I’ve never been a huge fan of the Digidesign 192 unit. The iD22 ADAT ports allow this unit to be the main unit for AD/DA stages and seems to behave well clocking through optical rather than having an extra word clock BNC option.

For those who need a few more inputs, the ADAT will come in handy when tagging on a set of external mic pres, such as the recently announced ASP880 unit. This will use your ADAT ports to expand the iD22 unit and bring you a further 8 ASP mic pres to your setup.

All this power and grace is then shoved through a USB 2.0 port. Although many online audio folks like to bash anyone who does this, Audient took steps not to under power the device and have added a 5v external supply to the unit. So no need to fear the USB here.

Price point? More like ‘point at the price’!! 

This is where things get almost a bit silly. This unit is currently priced at £450 rrp. That’s two Class A mic pres, one JFET DI, quality AD/DA converters, ADAT interfacing, monitor controller and headphone output with its own DAC. “Bang for your buck” is an understatement. More like “Nuke for your buck”.

Any Cons?

There are very few downsides to the unit, and listing them just sounds really picky. I wouldn’t mind an extra headphone jack, preferably at the front. A wee bulb to tell me I have phantom on would remind me to switch it off when finishing up. It would also be nice to have an on/off switch so I don’t have to keep the unit on when I power up my rig. But all very, very minor and just workflow habits I’ve picked up from having other toys in the past. Each would probably mean upping the components and expanding the circuit, which would likely bump up the cost. I’m happy losing some of this to keep the price point.

Mastering with the iD22

Summary

The unit ticks many of the boxes the home and project studio needs; It’s built well, looks good, is portable, is flexible, has high quality components, it’s expandable,  is now windows and mac compatible and sounds great. This matched with Audient’s trusty UK based customer service and the work going on behind the scenes with David Dearden, Simon Blackwood and their team will only lead to more exciting products like this popping up.

UPDATE: I now have my hands on an ASP880 box and will hopefully be doing some sessions with both unit. I’ll upload some audio samples showing both units once I’m done :-)

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