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Audient iD4

Audient iD4

5 5 out of 5, based on 1 Review

Audient have released the iD4, a high performance audio interface with large console quality.


23rd August 2016

Audient iD4 by joe_04_04

Audient iD4

Hardware: iD4
Manufacturer: Audient
Compatibility: Mac (class compliant) and PC (with drivers)
Price: $199.99 USD
Website: Audient

Audient iD4-id4-angle-pro.jpg

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:

Audient iD4-id4-front-angle.jpg



Audient iD4-id4-top.jpg

I did some testing with the iD4 with my studio iMac, as well as my portable Macbook Air 11 inch. I took this photo with it next to the Macbook air for a size reference. It is a very tiny, compact unit.

Attached Thumbnails
Audient iD4-id4-front-angle.jpg   Audient iD4-id4-macbook.jpg   Audient iD4-id4-top.jpg   Audient iD4-id4-angle-pro.jpg   Audient iD4-id4-front.jpg  

Last edited by joe_04_04; 12th January 2017 at 12:10 AM..

  • 6
23rd December 2016

Audient iD4 by joe_04_04

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Audient iD4

Audient iD4 - Long Term User Experience

Audient iD4-id4-composite.jpg

This is an extended follow-up review to the Audient iD4, made after my previous initial review above. This review will focus less on the specs of the unit (as those are covered in the previous review) and more on the experience of using it and how well it held up during the last 5 months.

The Audient iD4 is an impressive unit. It represents a class of audio products that I feel other audio tool manufacturers should always try to build for. The most important ingredient with this particular product is its high quality / low price ratio. In the audio industry, it is extremely easy to find products that follow a high quality / high price ratio, it is just as easy, if not easier, to find products with a low quality / low price ratio, but it is almost a statistical anomaly to find products with high quality / low price ratios. The iD4 is one of these units. You can tell from the moment you pick it up and lightly jostle it about. The heft of the unit becomes entirely apparent and instant gratification ensues, as the idea of “cheapness” immediately vanishes from mind. As similarly stated in the previous review above, the construction is so solid that aside from the damage that might occur to the buttons and knobs, I think I could stand on the box itself and not cave it inward one bit. The machining of the chassis is top-notch. All edges are well-defined, having a certain “sharpness” to them, subsequently making the interface both chic and aesthetically pleasing. Rubberized feet serve to keep the interface in place on the mixing desk and keep the unit from scratching up the desk itself. All design factors point towards a quality tool made with the utmost consideration. The iD4 is an interface that looks so nice that it should be handled with care in order to preserve its excellent exterior design, but built so tough that it will easily survive even the most ridiculous mishaps from the reckless of users.

Over my extended review period, I have noticed that the iD4 has some key features that can only be found from owning the interface for a longer period of time. After my initial review, I found myself tossing the interface in my gear bag (I was encouraged to not handle the unit with care, to show how it holds up to average use), which was filled with cords, notepads, and some other mobile studio tools, and toting it back and forth between my place and my friend’s home studio. And because it is bus powered (a great feature for those mobile engineers / producers who use a laptop), I only needed to carry one cable with the device, which was the USB cable. Immediately, one of the best features of the unit became obvious: portability. Years back, when I was commuting several hours a trip to and from college, I recall having to tote around a larger, 8 channel / 1 RU multiple times a month, and while a 1 RU unit isn’t that large, it is just big enough to be a tad bit unwieldy and awkward to pack. I had no issues transporting the iD4. It is compact and slides into any bag with ease. Some might make the claim, “well of a course it is more awkward carrying an 8 channel unit, but at least you had 8 channels,” but the reality of it was, I was never using more than one channel at a time. I almost never tracked drums, it was mostly just vocals and / or acoustic guitars. So the iD4 would’ve easily replaced my older interface that was cumbersome to carry. Because of the iD4’s portability, it was easy to transport it to my personal friend’s home studio to show it off and let them check it. We ended up using it to track vocals during a few sessions of a song he was working on. I think we did four or five separate sessions on a single track, where I was bringing the interface to his place, setting it up, tearing it down, and bringing it back when I was done. While we choose to use a dynamic mic, the SM7b, the iD4 is fully-equipt with 48v phantom power, so you can use it with condensers as well. During the tracking, there were times when I was operating it and times when he was operating it. Admittedly, he was a bit more rough on the interface than I was, which was part of the reason I wanted to bring it specifically to his studio, as I might’ve been more easy on it. The volume knob received extensive use as we were constantly bringing up the volume of the mix during playback and lowering it during tracking (sometimes manually adjusting it and other times using the built in dim feature). We also used the “ScrollControl” feature quite a bit, to change the gain on EQ bands on plugins and adjust compression ratios, etc. Over the extended review, I’ve been able to test the iD4 with two different DAWs. In my personal studio, I use Pro Tools, and my friend uses the Logic. The iD4 worked equally nice in both mix environments. In the end, I feel as if the amount of transporting and use we put into it should’ve caused it to show any weaknesses, if it had any, but the unit remains identical to how I received it.

How has it held up over the last 5 months? The answer is: “very well.” The finish on the chassis of the iD4 isn’t entirely extremely reflective, it is sort of a glossy, but doesn’t have a mirror-like finish. This is great because it doesn’t scratch too easily, and if it does, it isn’t easily noticeable. I kept the interface in the bag with all of my other mobile studio supplies, out of the box and unprotected, and even after transporting it in this fashion multiple times, the unit looks almost exactly as how it was the day I received it. All of the connectors seem to have the exact same hold as they originally did. Plugs go in firm and stay in (although I’m not sure many of the users will be plugging and unplugging the power USB cable as much as I did, because I think most users will tend to keep it in one spot). The knobs all still have seem to have the same “firmness” to them and don’t feel any looser or weaker. The main volume knob still has that “stepped-feel,” where the knob sort of locks into certain positions, ever so lightly, enough to give the knob a weighted feel. I expected this to maybe become less and less noticeable as it began to wear down, but it still feels exactly the same. Everything on the interface looks and feels almost exactly the same as it did when it first arrived. If I’m being honest, I’m not entirely surprised. In my first review, I quickly noted that this wasn’t a cheaply made, plastic, entry-level-built product, but that it was a solid box, definitely geared towards the professional side, that was made to last. So it comes as no surprise that is hasn’t failed in any way.

I enjoy the iD4. In the time I’ve had it in my possession, outside of my review for the product, I’ve actually recommended it to various personal friends and random acquaintances on social media who were all looking for an affordable interface. Typically, the only items I tend to recommend are production tools with a certain quality factor, and usually, they are priced much too high to be something to recommend to an enthusiast; this is not the case for the iD4. Its affordable enough that I can feel good about recommending it to a friend, while being able to skip seeing the usual wince that subsequently follows as they hear the price.

After reviewing the Audient iD4 extensively and finding just how well it’s built, it has me curious about the quality of Audient’s other products. If this is the quality of one of their lower models, I’m definitely interested in seeing the quality of their larger, more flagship products. I expect I will be doing some personal investigations on their larger units in the future, as the Audient iD4 has definitely separated itself from that pack as an standard in quality control and product longevity.

Below are some photos I took while packing it one day and setting it up at my friend’s home studio:

Audient iD4-id4-bag.jpg

Audient iD4-id4-desk-upper-left.jpg

Audient iD4-id4-desk-front.jpg

Attached Thumbnails
Audient iD4-id4-bag.jpg   Audient iD4-id4-desk-front.jpg   Audient iD4-id4-composite.jpg   Audient iD4-id4-desk-upper-left.jpg  
 
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