Hardware and Software:
The hardware of the Roland Quad is minimal, with just a few knobs and buttons on the front panel. As far as the knobs go, two of them control preamp gain while the other two control the direct monitor mix level and main volume. The buttons enable stereo monitoring and Auto-Sense. Stereo monitoring allows a mono input signal (like a guitar) to play through left and right speakers simultaneously instead of through just one side. Auto-Sense automatically sets the gain of the preamp based on the peak levels of the incoming signal. Other than the Auto-Sense feature and the DI capability on the first input channel, the hardware configuration of the Quad-Capture is pretty comparable to most other modern-day interfaces.
Working alongside the hardware is a powerful software application with a very nice look to it. The software provides access to all of the settings (buffer size, sample rate, etc.) and to the two digital channel strips. Each channel strip includes a compressor/gate, phase switch, and hi-pass filter. Better yet, all settings can be saved and recalled as a preset from within the software.
Overall, both the hardware and software of the Roland Quad-Capture are well thought out. The two combine to offer a number of useful features, while keeping things simple and logical to use. Sound Quality:
Every interface aimed towards the home studio market is going to color the sound to some degree. The Roland Quad-Capture is no exception. The character of the Quad is similar to a Roland synthesizer: slightly low-passed and a bit synthetic. The highs of the Quad have a crispiness to them, and individual transients seem slowed down. These two factors result in a slightly blurred and artificial sound that’s actually very pleasant to listen to. If you’ve owned a Roland synthesizer in the past and liked the sound of it, you will probably like the sound of the Quad.
Diving a little deeper, it’s worth noting that individual sounds produced by the Quad were not as defined as they would be from a higher-end interface from a company like RME, Lynx, or Apogee. This lack of definition might be related to the slowed down transients mentioned above, or perhaps the cost of the components inside. Regardless of the reason, if your focus is on mixing or mastering, the Quad might not be the best choice. The audio this interface plays back gives a more general picture of the music rather than the tiny details. As a result, the Quad encourages music making over getting lost in the minute details of mixing. This makes sense since Roland has historically been a leader in synthesizer design, another device that encourages making music over mixing.
A final aspect of the Quad that deserves some attention are it’s preamps. The pre’s deliver an accurate sound that’s perhaps a notch above the competition. All and all, the Quad “captured” the essence and character of the Dark Energy nicely. One minor downside to the pre’s however is that there’s no way to bypass them when recording a line-level signal. In this situation, the preamp simply needs to be turned down as much as possible. Though this “always-on” factor didn’t make much of a difference in the quality of the Dark Energy recordings, it could if you already own a standalone preamp. In this case there will be no way around having two preamps in the recording chain. Conclusion:
For the price, the Roland Quad-Capture is a solid performer. It’s preamps give accurate recordings and it’s feature set is one if the most comprehensive in it’s class. Though the Quad falls a little short on providing the level of detail that a more expensive interface will, it still delivers a viable sound that can be worked with comfortably. The Quad Capture can however be improved upon with some minor changes. For one, a second set of analog outputs would make this interface far more flexible for those with hardware in their setup. The ability to switch the preamps completely off for line level signals would also be a welcome addition. That said, the reasonably priced Roland Quad-Capture can get the job done and then some for the modern home studio.
This review was originally released on my website AudioStateofMind.com