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Alesis IO2 Express Audio Interface
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- Record up to 24-bit, 48 kHz audio into virtually any software
- Monitor sessions with balanced studio monitor and headphone outputs
- High-quality A/D and D/A converters, discrete-design preamps, 48V phantom power, USB bus powered - no external power supply needed
- Inputs for microphones, line-level sources, and instruments including guitars
- Tricolor stereo level meter and lighted status indicators for visual monitoring
- MIDI Input and Output jacks for playing and controlling software with instruments
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|Sold By||Available from these sellers||Amazon.co.uk||Amazon.co.uk||Amazon.co.uk||Amazon.co.uk||Amazon.co.uk|
|Item Dimensions||12.7 x 15.75 x 5.08 cm||29.2 x 4.6 x 13 cm||16.31 x 12.5 x 5 cm||8.64 x 4.32 x 4.32 cm||4.9 x 17.6 x 10.9 cm||4.5 x 14.5 x 11.2 cm|
|Item Weight||363 grams||1.2 kg||472 grams||—||0.6 kg||449 grams|
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24-Bit USB Recording Interface
iO2 EXPRESS; USB Cable;Software CD;Quickstart Guide
From the manufacturer
Put the pieces together without the puzzle
The iO2 EXPRESS is a compact, audio-recording interface for home studios and portable recording setups. This two-channel USB device for Mac and PC-based systems enables you to record at up to 24-bit resolution for input into virtually all DAW, recording, and performance software.
This compact recording interface is small enough to comfortably fit into your mobile recording rig, laptop bag, or backpack, yet contains high-quality components and circuitry suitable for the studio.
FLEXIBLE RECORDING AND PLAYBACK
Discrete-design preamplifiers and true 48-volt phantom power ensure that you capture microphones’ complete signal. High quality analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters ensure that every detail of your session or performance gets recorded – and played back on your monitoring system. It’s class compliant, so you can use the plug-and-play iO2 EXPRESS with virtually any computer.
The iO2 EXPRESS is USB bus powered so you won’t need to carry a bulky power supply, and its performance is optimized for minimal laptop battery drain so you’ll be able to track long sessions and gigs remotely.
The iO2 EXPRESS has two input channels. Each channel has an XLR microphone input, a 1/4” TRS insert for external effects units, and a 1/4” TS jack that works with line-level sources and can accommodate direct connection of guitars.
The iO2 EXPRESS sends and receives two audio channels on a single USB cable for simple, universal interface. You can monitor your sessions on any studio monitoring or other loudspeaker system via dual 1/4” balanced outputs. For remote tracking and alternative playback, the iO2 EXPRESS has a 1/4” TRS headphone output.
The iO2 EXPRESS features traditional MIDI In and Out jacks for for playing and controlling software with keyboard and pad controllers, workstations, and other MIDI-compatible instruments.
Each channel has a gain trim control, and there’s a master level control for optimal gain staging. When monitoring on headphones, you’ll appreciate the dedicated volume control.
You can also visually monitor levels and operation using the tricolor, stereo metering tree and lighted status indicators.
COMPLETE THE PACKAGE
The iO2 EXPRESS comes complete with a copy of Steinberg Cubase LE digtal audio workstation (DAW) software. Cubase is one of the most popular DAWs in the world thanks to its intuitive approach to composing, recording, editing and mixing.
In addition to the included software, the iO2 EXPRESS is compatible with virtually all audio and MIDI software.
Two-channel computer audio recording interface
Record up to 24-bit, 48 kHz audio into virtually any software
Monitor sessions with balanced studio monitor and headphone outputs
High-quality A/D and D/A converters, discrete-design preamps, 48V phantom power
Inputs for microphones, line-level sources, and instruments including guitars
Tricolor stereo level meter and lighted status indicators for visual monitoring
MIDI Input and Output jacks for playing and controlling software with instruments
USB bus powered – no external power supply needed
This product is class compliant; it does not require drivers
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This is a reasonably well built bit of kit. Yes, it's just plastic but, unless you're in the habit of dropping or standing on your gear, it'll be fine. It's got a useful selection of inputs and controls for most 2-channel recording - say a guitar/DI and mic, or a couple of mics. The supplied USB cable is a useful 1.8m (6ft) so you can spread your gear around.
The mic inputs are surprisingly clean - there's definitely a bit of noise at high gain, and a small amount of hash from the USB circuitry, but quite respectable given the price. The phantom power seems quite clean and ran 2 condenser mics just fine. The guitar input mode noise floor is relatively high (depends on pickup output level and impedance, so use a DI box or effects unit to buffer the signal to get the best out of it. With a lo impedance source the guitar/line inputs are also pretty clean.
I have not used the MIDI ports much, but I had no problems during a quick test with digital piano and keyboard.
As for software, I have not bothered with the bundled Cubase LE at all - I've used Cubase SX before, but I have other software now. It seems a bit of a cop-out not to supply proper ASIO drivers but rely on ASIO4ALL, a free 3rd-party driver. However, ASIO4ALL works just fine for me on WinXP and Win7/64bit so I'm happy enough.
The only area I can find to complain about is the headphones output. I used the IO2 with 32ohm phones and it had no bass at all. I don't know if the designers got it wrong, or if they expected folks to only use high-impedance headphones (at least 250ohms), but the output decoupling capacitors are far to small for low-impedance headphones of the typical 16 or 32 ohms. I opened up mine and discovered that the output caps are 22uF, but should probably be more like 220uF. I added 220uF caps to mine and that did the trick. If you use headphones of at least 200ohms you'll have no problems.
I've used various USB audio interfaces - Mackie Spike, Focusrite Sapphire and, most recently, a Mackie Onyx Blackjack. The first impression of the iO4 is that's comparatively simple to get it up and running (particularly if you already have a DAW you like and can happily ignore the included-but-not-really-cos-you-got-to-download-it-create-accounts-etc Cubase LE). The sound quality's just fine, clear and uncoloured and the panel layout makes it straightforward to use. It also has phantom power for my condensor mic, which can be on for all channels or just 1 & 2 (or 3 & 4). Which I like, finally I should be able to record acoustic guitar with a powered condensor mic AND a passive dynamic mic. I've seen the headphone output being criticised for being on the quiet side, but it's fine for me - I might struggle to hear a backing track while recording an electric guitar amp via a mic, but I always do. MIDI? I can't see me, personally, having any use for it but who knows...
It's worth mentioning the 16-bit/24-bit modes - basically, you have two channels available in 24-bit mode, all four in 16-bit mode. Now, for recording more than two channels, Alesis recommend the (freeware) ASIOForAll. I've used it in the past so I downloaded it, switched to 16-bit, and tried everything out. Not only does it work fine but using it also allows me to use my old Mackie Onyx Blackjack at the same time and I now have six input channels feeding into my DAW. Unfortunately, in 24-bit I've only managed to get the two channels from this device OR two channels from the Mackie unit, rather than all 4 simultaneously. When you take this along with the fact that you only get a four page Quickstart manual, which is absolutely fine IF you already kinda know what you're doing, it's probably not the best unit for someone new to home recording who might struggle to get the best out of the unit. (Mildly ironic since that's the only kind of user who's likely to have a use for Cubase LE...)
However even though I have one or two very minor gripes it still represents great value - a lot of functionality for a relatively low price.