Review: Audient iD22 USB Audio Interface

What do you get when a company best known for its high-end studio consoles and monitoring solutions makes a USB audio interface and monitoring box? Hollin Jones finds out.  

Audient is perhaps best known for its studio consoles and high-end monitor controllers and preamps, but now the British company has brought its expertise to bear on an altogether more compact unit aimed at giving those with smaller studios access to its world-class sound. The iD22 is a USB audio interface and monitoring system with rather more going on that might first meet the eye. Dig beneath the surface and you’ll find a wealth of features not normally associated with compact audio interfaces.

The build quality of the iD22 is excellent and it feels extremely robust and solid despite its small size and portability. 

The build quality of the iD22 is excellent and it feels extremely robust and solid despite its small size and portability. The physical controls are reminiscent of vintage hardware and feel highly professional, smooth and accurate. The front panel contains controls for the two input channels, each of which has a gain control and physical flip switches for phantom power, a -10 dB pad, polarity switch and a high pass filter to deal with rumble and plosives. A large and reassuringly solid monitor gain knob sits underneath a four-segment level LED display and on the right is a headphone gain dial. Three assignable function switches can be set to control routing changes and similar tasks in software, and there are physical Dim and Cut buttons. 

Simple but powerful controls and an incredibly high quality finish.

Simple but powerful controls and an incredibly high-quality finish.

Ins and outs

There are two balanced insert points for incorporating external outboard hardware into the signal chain, which is rare on such a small unit. 

Around the back you’ll find a host of I/O that makes the iD22 particularly flexible. There’s a power input and USB2 to connect to your Mac or PC, and two combo XLR inputs, the second of which has a JFET DI input for connecting high-gain sources like guitars. Four individual outputs are available, each fed by its own DAC and these can be used for sending separate monitor mixes to performers or connecting a second set of monitor speakers. There are two balanced insert points for incorporating external outboard hardware into the signal chain, which is rare on such a small unit. So if you have a hardware processor (reverb, compressor, etc.) it can be introduced easily. It’s expandable too, thanks to the inclusion of optical I/O which supports both ADAT and S/PDIF protocols. So you can, for example, add up to ten inputs by feeding in optically from an eight-channel mic pre. 

A host of I/O for incorporating hardware and digital signals.

A host of I/O for incorporating hardware and digital signals.

Software app

The mixer app is where you can get really creative with the routing, and it’s beautifully designed. Channels can be linked and unlinked, cue levels and panning can be set and color coding helps you keep track of what’s being sent where. In the System panel, you can set up talkback, trim and dim levels and use the routing matrix to assign the precise routing of the analogue and digital outputs simply and easily.  It’s really well thought out and greatly enhances what you can do with what is a fairly small physical box. 

A nicely designed mixer app gives you much greater control over the unit’s routing.

A nicely designed mixer app gives you much greater control over the unit’s routing.

The mic pres and converters in the iD22 are excellent, and latency, though not strictly zero, is extremely low and wasn’t noticeable during our tests. Recording quality is of course flawless and by taking advantage of the clever digital mixer app, we were able to easily create specific monitor mixes. This is a very well engineered audio interface that will help you not only to get great recordings, but also incorporate external hardware and other digital sources into your sessions. A serious piece of kit, and for a reasonable price. 

Price: $699/£449

Web: http://audient.com/products/id22

Pros: Stunning build quality. Flawless recordings. Highly flexible I/O. Incorporate outboard hardware and digital sources. Beautifully designed mixer app. 

Cons: Not technically zero latency monitoring, if that bothers you. 

Hollin Jones was classically trained as a piano player but found the lure of blues and jazz too much to resist. Graduating from bands to composition then production, he relishes the chance to play anything with keys. A sometime lecturer in videographics, music production and photography post production, Hollin has been a freelance w... Read More

Discussion

Lung
Has anyone, Hollin included, had any experience comparing the iD22, UA Apollo and/or SPL Crimson's converters and pres? Or, even as far as features and build quality, what's your experience? I do have an Apollo Quad but want to get a smaller box in addition to it. While pleased with the Apollo, I'd like to evaluate these other options too, while in the market for a smaller interface. I ideally want something of similar or better quality. I know it's subjective but that's what I'm asking for, your opinions.

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