Review: Audient iD22 Interface & Monitoring System

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The iD22 is a robustly-built USB-based I/O for music production on the move, featuring premium dual preamps, analog channel inserts, and plenty of simple, intuitive functionality.

Photography: Rhon Parker/rhonparker.com 

English manufacturer Audient—founded by David Dearden and Gareth Davies, Soundcraft veterans and founding partners of DDA—has built moderately-priced yet great sounding, fully-professional analog recording gear since 1997. The brand is bolstered by its founders’ history, knowledge, and experience in the industry; for just one popular credit, Dearden worked with three-fourths of the Beatles (Lennon, Harrison and Starr) on both analog console maintenance and design/build projects. Both Dearden and Davies are veterans of the console industry, having a unique insight into building authentic British analog (or as the Brits say “analogue”) consoles and recording gear, in general.

Their latest (possibly the product to raise their brand’s profile amongst the self-recordist crowd) is the iD22, a Mac OS-compatible, USB-based audio interface and monitoring system featuring a two-input, six-output 24-bit, 96 kHz AD/DA with ADAT optical I/O and a number of attractive features. Those include two superb Audient discrete Class A preamplifiers with +48 VDC phantom power, -10 dB pad, polarity flip, and HPF (-3 dB @ 100 Hz); two fully balanced quarter-inch TRS inserts (perfect for those of us with favorite analog outboard processors to incorporate into our DAW-based productions); and an accompanying low-latency [roundtrip monitoring, in to out, is 6.33 mS at 44.1 kHz sampling with a 32 sample buffer — Ed.] and intuitive Monitor/Mixer application, ideal for building monitor mixes with dual stereo cue mixes, channel views, assignable talkback, three assignable and customizable function buttons, dim and alternative output controls, and a large, solid-feeling monitor level knob in the middle of an incredibly well conceived, ergonomically comfortable design.

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Noteworthy is the iD22’s robust build, and it is small enough (roughly 7” by 9”) to reside discreetly on your desktop. Made of thick aluminum, it is literally a solid “metal slab” featuring retro-influenced hi-fi style knobs, switches and backlit buttons with a design scheme and overall aesthetics very complimentary to Apple’s Mac Book Pro. The build quality encourages confidence in the product, and it feels good in your hand.

According to Audient, Windows OS compatibility for the iD22 is on the horizon and iOS compatibility will follow.

In Use

The iD22 is chock-full of functionality. I’d suggest visiting the Audient website and scanning through its manual for more detail. Here are highlights I found most compelling during a two-month evaluation period: the features that were the most unique, useful, and/or surprising in this reasonably-priced, pro-grade box.

I believe that the iD22 will serve most self-recordist-types’ input needs most of the time. This is certainly true for those that build productions one input, or stereo pair, per take. But for me—a regular recordist of multiple input analog sources (drum kit, multiple room-miked acoustic instrument configurations, etc.)—the iD22 alone wasn’t always enough. Wisely, Audient has included ADAT optical I/O, which allows users to expand to a total of 10 analog inputs with full access to iD22’s system software routing and mixing capabilities. As one would expect, Audient recommends their (excellent) ASP008 8-channel variable impedance microphone preamplifier, though I was able to interface a less costly, third-party multichannel preamp (a Focusrite Scarlett 18i20) with the iD22 connected via ADAT and set up with a couple of steps in the iD22 GUI. That gave me 10 mic/line inputs, running at 24-bit, 44.1 kHz, recording directly to Apple Logic X on a Mac Book Pro (96 kHz operability will limit outboard analog inputs to a total of six).

Speaking of analog, I was thrilled to find the two balanced insert points, one per input channel, on the iD22. In my experience, it’s a unique feature for a small I/O such as this. Like many, I compress while tracking and already own a few analog processors I prefer to use. Whether inserting a high-end Slate Pro Audio Dragon for compressing/limiting vocals and acoustic guitar to “tape,” or using a “cheap but good” FMR Audio RNC1773 two-channel compressor on room mics, etc., I was very pleased with the results.

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The built-in Audient preamps sound superb and crystal clear with high headroom. For a $795 investment, it’s a very impressive front end—one easily flavored to taste because, to my ears, these preamps accurately translate the sound source.

The GUI is so intuitive that I hardly glanced at the iD22’s PDF manual, referencing it only when I had routing questions. The software install was glitch-free too. I’ve used a variety of USB-based multi-featured I/O, and the iD22 is currently my favorite. It’s as simple as it can be in every way, and I like that.

For those scanning the market for comparative products, the closest in comparison to the iD22, in my opinion, would be the Apogee Quartet, which are still quite different: while the Quartet offers four built-in preamps and is currently iOS-ready, it lacks the channel inserts I enjoyed so much, it’s also $600 more than the iD22.

Summary

The Audient iD22 is likely a brand-defining product for Audient, especially in our increasingly mobile, self-recordist-based audio production world. It sounds great, with built-in world-class preamps and very handy channel inserts; it’s completely intuitive, working seamlessly with my Mac Book Pro and Logic X setup; and it is truly bargain-priced. For those wanting a unique edge in this on-the-go, ITB-mixing world, grab an iD22 I/O and hit the ground running.

Price: $795 street

Contact: Audient | http://audient.com/products/id22