For the past few years, I’ve mostly steered away from reviewing audio interfaces. Recently, I finished migrating all the content on 441k.com to this new domain, and it got me thinking about reviewing audio interfaces again, but in a different format. Previously, I thought reviewing audio interfaces was useless and a waste of time for three main reasons.
- Conducting proper standardized recording tests would require significant investment and resources in the form of a dedicated recording studio with a sound source that never changes.
- The perceived sound quality differences between mid-end and high-end ADC and DAC chips can vary from minimal to nonexistent. Furthermore, readers will have varying monitoring setups with different DAC paths, so it doesn’t really make sense to provide standardized recording tests without mandating a standardized monitoring setup as well.
- Even with a standardized monitoring setup, everyone’s hearing and frequency biases are different. Since the point of a review is to discuss the objective properties of a product, it seems silly to place any kind of emphasis on something subjective like sound quality.
With all of this in mind, I still occasionally feel the itch to share my thoughts and opinions on new and upcoming audio interfaces. So, I’ve decided to do just that, but without focusing on sound quality. Instead, I’ll just lay out the technical specifications of an audio interface and give my opinion about its viability for four different consumer segments — home studio operators, professional studio operators, live performers, and podcasters.