We’re huge fans of recording gear if many of you haven’t been able to tell, and when we were able to catch the new EVO 4 audio interfaces (yes, technically by ‘Audient’ at NAMM, we were pleased to give our thoughts and experiences with our viewers. First and foremost however, it isn’t necessarily an ‘Audient’ product, as it is from a new spin-off company they’ve created called “EVO”. It’s their gateway into some entry-level products (which we’ve seen some from higher-end brands this year, surprisingly, however none of them have created a new ‘company’ like this). This particular EVO 4 model is their first interface to come out this quarter (with the EVO 8 coming along a little later, just expanded with some extra ins and outs). With a super cheap retail price and some impressive specs, let’s see what the EVO 4 interface is all about.
Main features of the Audient EVO 4
- USB 2.0 powered
- 24-bit / 96kHz sample rate
- 2 x mic and 1 x instrument preamps
- 1 additional JFET instrument input
- Two (2) headphone outputs
- “Smart Gain” feature
- Main control knob (for all level controls)
- 48V phantom power
- 58 dB gain range
- -127 dB mic pre EIN
- 113 dB dynamic range
- Compatible with Mac and Windows
Standouts of the EVO 4 audio interface
First and foremost, we have a 2 in and 2 out interface here, with two mic preamps which are combo mic/line levels (located in the back), and the question we always have for new interfaces is the following — what kind of preamps are they? They were explained to us as the new “EVO mic pre’s”, and they’re definitely thousand-dollar Audients like we’re all used to be instead have a different twist to them. They’re “digitally controllable”, which depends on the software you’re using, and also described as ‘transparent’, ‘clean’, ‘warm’ and ‘flattering’. But other than that, no other elaboration on the actual makes of the converters or preamps, but at this price point we will direct ourselves more to the actual numbers themselves and what our ears tell us.
All in all for about $130 retail, the EVO 4 audio interface is ultimately a steal whether or not they or we included some more fancy superlatives to describe the ‘sound’ of their preamps or just quality in general. With that 24-bit and 96 kHz at this price-point, we’re already big fans. We are also glad they included the JFET instrument input in order to give us some richness into the bass or guitar recordings if that’s what you’re feeling during the session, and the 58 dB gain range, -127 EIN of the preamps and 113 dB dynamic range are quite impressive backbone numbers for a unit this small.
Ins and outs for the EVO 4
Aside from our mic and line ins and outs, let’s chat about some I\O. We have sets of speaker outs as well as headphone outs — and this is a big, yet sometimes overlooked feature for audio interfaces in our opinion. We typically don’t even go for interfaces without two headphone outs anymore, considering we record artists a lot more frequently than we ever have before. Have you ever recorded somebody and only had the headphones reach out to them, and you were stuck with the monitors to hear playback? But what about during the actual recording? You as the engineer had to wait until they were done with some takes in order to hear how it sounded on the track. Two headphones completely fixes that and for us, it was a life changer. Aside from these I/O, there are no other options, but in our opinion isn’t necessary seeing that we already have the essentials in an interfaces ins and outs, especially in this price-point.
Using the Audient EVO 4 audio interface
What we thought was pretty nifty about this particular product is how it came down to actually using it, and they threw a few curve-balls on the front panel itself. The main control knob in the front is actually switchable. You press any of the buttons on the sides and you can then adjust the level with the knob. So for example you want to adjust your second channel, just press that ‘2’ button on the left, and you can adjust the level with the main large knob accordingly. Every button on that front panel is controllable with the center knob.
Another little standout we wanted to describe for users just getting into this interface is something called ‘Smart Gain’ by EVO, and this was tailored more towards beginners who haven’t recorded as much, or perhaps were a bit intimidated by the process as a well. We know even for us sometimes having to get that gain down perfectly before we record can be a little nerve-wracking, considering if you don’t get it right and go an entire session with bad gain, your recording time was essentially a waste. It’s the little green button on the bottom left — just press it and select which channel to detect (you can do both at the same time if you want, and they’ll set separately), and start singing or playing your instruments for about 15-20 seconds. It’ll then take the signal you’re giving it and auto-set the gain for your recording session. Not necessarily a must, but definitely a plus, especially if you’re just starting out and don’t necessarily know how to start setting levels just yet. You can always switch to manually if you don’t like how it works.
Concluding our review of the EVO 4 audio interface
We can see this even being a great solution for other uses aside from just recording music, such as streaming, podcasters and gamers. The “Smart Gain’ feature is a nice little touch, but even if that isn’t a make or break for you, the solid recording resolution (our biggest concerns for interfaces, to give some beginners some pointers, is that bit, not the kHz). There is less of a difference between 96 kHz and higher than 16-bit and 24-bit are. So this interface isn’t going to be “worse” than others just because of that 96 kHz. Instead when you get into more ‘advanced’ interfaces, look into how the actual converters and preamps are made. They don’t disclose that because it isn’t really something those who are in the market for an interface at this price are concerned or even aware about.
Their EVO 8 interface may be a different option for you if you’re in need of a few more additives. They have the same ‘Smart Gain’ feature, mic preamps and converters, but come with instead four inputs (mic and line combos) and another set of speaker inputs.
All in all at the end of the day, we think the EVO 4 (also known as Audient, in a way), is a solid audio interface for beginners, whether you’re a musician, streamer podcaster, This price-point is amazing at under $150, and we really can’t think of many competitors aside from perhaps the popular Scarlet 2i2 that everybody always steers towards when it comes to budget-friendly interfaces or beginner solutions for recording audio.