For the songwriter or producer who does most of his tracking alone, almost any computer recording interface will suffice, but what if you need more? What if you are running a project studio and bringing in clients? You need inputs, and lots of them. You need to be able to track drums and other instruments at the same time for customers who want a quick demo.
Product PointsApplications: Studio, multimedia
Key Features: 24-bit converters; 48V phantom power; S/PDIF I/O, word clock, full set of Windows and Mac drivers, ASIO, DirectX, GSIF-compatible, bundled Cakewalk Pro Audio 9 software.
Contact: Aardvark at 734-665-8899, Web Site
It would also help to have high-quality preamps included to eliminate the necessity and extra expense of outboard preamps.
How many interfaces meet all of these requirements? One to consider is the Aardvark Direct Pro Q10 ($999).
The Q10 comes with a sculpted silver plastic front attached to a vibrant purple metal case, which unfortunately gets hidden the minute you put it in the rack.
On the front sit eight combination XLR/1/4-inch inputs, enough for many mic-intensive applications. The first four have 48V phantom power. Inputs 7 and 8 feature a proprietary Enhanced Frequency Response high-Z input designed to improve the direct recording of bass or guitar.
Also included are on/off buttons for phantom power and guitar preamps as well as volume control for the monitors and headphones.
Four TRS inserts are found on the back as well as the eight individual analog outputs, two monitor outs, S/PDIF and word clock input and output, MIDI in and out and the host card connection. The specs include a dynamic range of 110 dB for the D/A converter and 100 dB for the A/D converter, 7 Hz – 22 kHz at 48 kHz frequency response and high-quality, 24-bit converters. Sample rates supported are 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz and 96 kHz. AES/EBU I/O is available as an option.
One nice feature is the ability to use four Q10s together, giving you 32 analog inputs on one computer.
The Q10 works with Windows 95/98/ME and recently released WDM drivers for Windows 2000/XP. Mac drivers are also available. It is GigaStudio compatible and supports DirectX, ASIO1 and ASIO2. It comes packaged with a complete version of Cakewalk Pro Audio 9.
I started with some basic acoustic guitar tracks to get a feel for the interface. Out came the Takemine acoustic guitar and my pair of Oktava MC-012s. I set them in an X configuration at about the 14th fret and started a rhythm track. Upon playback, the resulting recording was quite neutral and clear and I could begin to hear the quality of the preamps and converters. Overdubs of some harmony guitar parts allowed me to test the zero latency monitoring, which performed as advertised.
My curiosity soon led me to the guitar preamps. Would they allow me to record my guitar and bass direct so I could experiment with re-amping later? To find out, I plugged in my Music Man Cutlass bass and Hamer Archtop guitar and tried some tracking. I was quite pleased with the sound of the bass guitar and while some of the credit must go to the trusty Music Man, the Aardvark certainly kept pace with it and did nothing to detract from the sound.
I brought my drummer, bass player and vocalist over for some live tracking. I used a simple, four-microphone setup for the drums with a Shure SM 57 on the snare, Sennheiser 421 on the kick and the Oktava pair for overheads. Bass went direct while the vocalist used a Shure KSM 44. I miked the guitar with an SM 57 for that.
We recorded the session without any problems. After tracking, we sat down to listen, the general consensus regarding the Q10 sonics was very positive.
I was impressed by the way the Q10 handled everything I threw at it without a hiccup. In the two months I had it in service, it performed flawlessly with SONAR, even using the MME drivers no dropouts, pops, clicks or latency issues. Its sound quality was excellent, certainly comparable to some of its more expensive rivals. The software control panel is simple and intuitive. It does almost all the work for you when you perform the initial setup. Other than some adjustment of the input level in the control panel and choosing the correct input or output in my recording software, there was very little effort needed to get the result I was looking for.
Aardvark has built an exceptional, reliable, user-friendly computer recording interface that has earned a permanent spot in my system.