Audient iD4 by joe_04_04
Compatibility: Mac (class compliant) and PC (with drivers)
Price: $199.99 USD
Note: There is a secondary review, underneath this review, that review the interface again after a longer review period. It touches on build quality and other topics that might be hard to observe in a shorter review period.
The Scope: Audient have released the iD4, a high performance audio interface with large console quality.
Sound Quality - 5/5: Designed by David Dearden, the Audient iD4 is built with extremely high quality audio fidelity in mind. After running some small recording tests, I can confirm that the iD4 does indeed sound extremely good. During a few email exchanges, I was informed that the iD4 uses the same microphone preamp that is used in their larger consoles, such as the ASP8024|HE (a $50k unit). The fact Audient uses the same exact preamp that is used in the more expensive units is actually really impressive to me. It allows me to draw the conclusion that they truly care about the quality of their user’s recordings. Other companies might choose to drop the quality of the preamp, while still selling it at the same price point. Recordings made through the iD4 are crisp, clear, and very detailed. The audio transients seem to be very well defined. I personally don’t play any instruments that use DI, so I wasn’t able to test the DI channel, but based on the quality of the rest of the unit, I have no reason to believe it isn’t high quality. Audio playback sounds clean and crisp, both through monitors and through headphones. The unit is capable of recording at the industry standard of 24 bit and up to 96 kHz sample rate, which should be plenty, as many of the home studio owners seem to be recording at either 44.1 kHz or 88.2 kHz. It’s evident that sound quality was the main concern when Audient built the iD4.
Ease of Use - 5/5: The first aspect that I really enjoyed about the iD4 was its ability to ‘plug and play’ (on the Mac), as it is class compliant on the operating system. If a PC is being used, there is a driver available that should get you up and running in no time. As for my experience, I plugged the unit in, via the included USB 2.0 cable, and the device was immediately recognized in the sound preference pane. All I had to do was change the input and output from the standard built-in speakers of my computer to the iD4 and it was ready to go. This sort of experience is always gratifying to me. One of the more important features that make this device so easy to use is the the metering. The meters not only show the volume of the output of your mixes running through the iD4, but it also changes to show you relevant information to the knob you move. For instance, moving the main volume knob will cause the meters to temporarily stop displaying the output volume and switch over to giving you a reference, via the LEDs, for the position of the knob. They also reflects any changes due to panning the sources in the unit itself. The metering is much better on this device than most devices in this price range (if the other units even include any metering). One last feature that I want to mention in detail is the ‘iD’ button and the ability to turn on ‘ScrollControl.’ When engaging the ‘iD’ button, the main volume encoder will no longer control the volume of the output, but will instead allow you to move compatible DAW parameters (software dependent) in your DAW that your mouse is hovering over. If a specific surface, knob, or area in your DAW reacts to the scrolling action on your mouse, it will react to ‘ScrollControl.’ This means you can automate parameters by actually moving a physical knob, which is really awesome. Now, this feature isn’t something that directly makes the unit, as an audio interface, any easier to use, but it’s such a cool feature in that that makes mixing itself easier, so I felt entirely compelled to mention it in this section. All in all, the unit is built with workflow in mind and is definitely geared towards being extremely user-friendly.
Features - 5/5: Despite the iD4 having an extremely small footprint, it has a ton of features packed into it. On top of the normal features you’d expect to see in an everyday normal audio interface, Audient have chosen to include some really intuitive and interesting features that I’ve not seen on a lot of other interfaces. The list of features will display the standard features in normal font and the features I find extremely gratifying in bold:
- 1 channel for XLR / TRS input (combo jack) with 48V phantom power for condenser microphones, high quality microphone preamp and converter, up to 58 dB of clean gain, and an extremely low noise floor.
- 1 Direct Input channel for DI instruments with up to 35 dB of gain.
- 1 large volume encoder for adjusting output levels. The main volume knob has a great feel to it as well. It feels slightly ‘stepped,’ but not aggressively so. It provides enough resistance to give the knob a ‘weighted’ feel, but not enough to cause the knob to feel like it’s locking into positions and hard to control. The knob itself makes changes in an extremely ‘fine grain’ manner, which I totally appreciate. Between this and its large size, you have extreme control over output levels, which is really handy.
- Excellent metering for a smaller device. The metering shows both output levels and automatically switches to display other types of information, such as the volume range on the main volume knob and panning information.
- Mute button to mute speaker volume without having to adjust the main volume knob
- Zero latency input monitoring option via the monitor mix knob
- An ‘iD’ button. When engaged, the main volume encoding knob will turn into a controller, activating a mode called ‘ScrollControl’, for any knob or interactable surface you hover your mouse over. I find this to be one of the coolest features on the unit. This makes certain tasks, such as automating a specific knob on a plugin, really easy.
- Monitor Panning - The iD4 allows the user to pan both input signals (Microphone Channel and DI channel) from the center, to the edges of the stereo field. Channels are panned equally in either direction. The user holds down both the ‘iD’ button and the ‘mute’ button, while moving the volume encoder, to pan the sources accordingly. Either channel can be on either side of the stereo field. This can be great for separating, and hearing, both inputs while tracking.
- Hefty knobs with ‘weighted’ feeling
- Very heavy duty construction and design
- 1/4 inch speaker outputs for monitors
- 1/4 inch headphone output jack for studio headphones
- 1/8 inch headphone output jack, which is useful if you are on the road and don’t have a high end studio headphone set with you or if you want to reference your mix on cheaper earbuds.
- Extremely small footprint. The entire unit about 5.2 inches wide by 2.4 inches tall and weighs about 2.2 pounds. The unit has rubber feet that keeps it from slipping at all under the weight of the device.
Bang for Buck - 5/5: I find $199 to be an extremely suitable price range for the iD4. This is the typical price range for a lot of the entry-level audio interfaces, which is why I believe this is a superb price range for the Audient iD4, because its quality level is definitely higher than most of the other interfaces in this price bracket. Also, the unit has some features that are extremely cool and useable, such as the ‘ScrollControl’ function that allows you to use the main volume encoder as a control knob, and the awesome metering. Setting the cool feature set aside, the unit records, and plays back, high fidelity audio, which is the main concern and what the unit is centrally designed to do. Everything about the unit feels high quality, as if it belongs in a higher price range bracket, so I’d say this unit is a ‘steal’ at this price.
Verdict: The iD4 most definitely impressed me. It came with a few tricks up its sleeves that I wasn’t expecting at all. I’m confident when I say that I believe the iD4 is a total win in the entry line audio interface category. It opens up a new realm of quality for those seeking to purchase a home studio / desktop / traveling interface. My first audio interface (name withheld) was in this exact price range and its build quality was nowhere near the build quality of this unit and the sonic capabilities weren’t extremely impressive. My old interface ended up having some sort of electrical malfunctions and fell apart not long after owning it. I don’t feel that the iD4 would have any sort of long-term issues, due to its very durable build quality. I’m confident in suggesting any recording enthusiasts, who are looking for a smaller, high quality interface, to check this unit out. Since demoing the unit, I’ve already suggested to some recording enthusiasts (who were looking for an interface) to check the iD4 out. I think Audient did a fantastic job in designing and building this unit. I don’t imagine anyone who gives it a shot will be disappointed with it at all.
Below are a few photos I snapped of the iD4: