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Audient EVO 4

Audient EVO 4

4.9 4.9 out of 5, based on 2 Reviews

Highly-recommended as an affordable entry-level device and beyond.


23rd April 2020

Audient EVO 4 by Arthur Stone

Audient EVO 4

Introducing...the Audient EVO4 is a 2-in, 2-out USB audio interface. Up to 2 analogue sources can be recorded and converted to a digital signal and transferred to a connected device (phone, tablet, PC); a return signal from the device is converted back to analogue for monitoring via line outs or headphone out. A tasty JFET DI input is included.

The control fascia - the top panel - is a joy to use; very straightforward, good haptic and visual feedback, and not distracting. Great for newbies and everyone else. Aside from all the usual controls and functions one would expect from a USB interface, Audient have included an auto-level feature (which is remarkably useful).

Audient bring decades of audio engineering experience and the latest cutting-edge design to the EVO4; despite it's modest price, and appeal to home-studio budgets, the EVO4 holds it's own with professional interfaces, in terms of sound quality. Talent is up to you.


Tech specs: Audient publishes full tech specs; they highlight 3 in particular: Gain Range 58 dB, Mic Pre EIN -127 dB, and Dynamic Range 113 dB. For newbies this refers to: the amount of loudness available; how quiet the preamp is; and loudness level before hitting the noise ceiling and clipping the output. All these are decent figures for any interface, let alone one sold as 'entry-level.'

In use the latency was never noticed (even on an old, slow Windows 7 laptop); it's there but not a distraction from recording a performance. Using the monitor mix, it's possible to balance the input with DAW backing tracks and get a good headphone mix for tracking.

The full specs are available on the Audient website https://evo.audio/products/evo-4/specs/ and a cool animated graphic showing the internals of the EVO4. Despite it's light weight there is a lot packed in there!

Audient EVO 4-gsevolegend.png

The Software: The EVO app is a simple 2 level toolbar window with options to select: sample rate, ASIO buffer size/latency, loopback source, update check, and link to Audient's Knowledge Base for assistance.

Thankfully there's no additional mixer app; the EVO4 shows as available in the DAW software or devices system preferences. Generous third-party software bundle including Cubase LE DAW, soft synths and instruments, cab sims from Two Notes, samples from Loopmasters, LANDR mastering and 3 Produce Like A Pro courses.

Audient's own website is a good resource for tutorials and general information.


Minimum system requirements:
Windows 7 and above officially supported (32bit and 64bit); PC or Laptop manufactured after January 2006; Intel Core 2 @1.6Ghz, or AMD equivalent; 1GB RAM Minimum
OSX: 10.7.5 (Lion) or later; Intel CPU; 1GB RAM Minimum
Kudos to Audient for the Windows 7 inclusivity; this is a smart move IMO. I used EVO4 with an old laptop and it ran perfectly and smoothly with no CPU strain and low-latency.


Price: £99 - $129 - Euro 119.99
An 4 channel version the EVO 8 is also available.

Audient EVO 4-gsevolong.png

In Use: Very straightforward, even for beginners. The 6 buttons and their backlit legends are intuitive to use as is the main dial. The metering for inputs and outputs lights around the continuous, rotary, detented dial. The dial can be tapped to MUTE. In all a great ergonomic design with all the necessary functions and connections in a small footprint.

Using the EVO 4 is logical, the only time I needed the manual was to learn the button sequence for the preamp 'auto-level' (which also works with the JFET DI input). There is no menu-diving or small displays; just a few easy-to-remember button pushes in sequence. A joy to use. 10 minute learning curve.

I really enjoyed using the EVO 4 to create music with: primarily as a musician and performer (ease of use, simplicity, metering) but also as an engineer and self-producer (metering, audio quality/sonics, set-and-forget).
When tracking I had certainty (after setting 'Smart Gain' auto-level) that I wouldn't clip or be too faint, and that in this pocket the EVO 4 would capture a great take - the only pressure was on myself as performer, and performance was made easier by lack of distraction on engineering.

From an audio engineering perspective there is no need to fiddle with gain settings and more room for critical listening. If the EVO preamp isn't quite hitting the mark for the source then it's easy to plumb in an external preamp (or tweak plug-ins ITB).

Audient EVO 4-gsevomain.png

The wet/dry (source or DAW) dial works well and it's easy to set up a monitor mix. Personally I like to hear a lot of the direct signal mixed with the DAW vocal track muted post reverb send - so that only the fx is output. EVO4 made this a doddle and I think it has enough flexibility to fit into many studio roles and scenarios.

The DI is very good (good enough to use as a standalone DI) and has a lot of clarity and well-positioned harmonic distortion when pushed. Flattering to the source without any obvious DI character. DI'd tracks sat nicely in the mix and this was a big help for electric bass guitar. Effortless.

Equally, the DI accomodated a Moog SubPhatty monosynth, a Taylor 414ce electro-acoustic guitar, a Tele (nice DI tone or into an ITB amp sim), a semi-acoustic, lapsteel. The DI is great for full, harmonically-rich sources (like the Moog and bass guitar) as it doesn't smear transients or smudge the low-mids and bass frequencies.

The preamp, although invisible, worked with a range of mics: an SM58, large diaphragm condensers. I might still use a gain-lifter with a dynamic mic but not really needed in a quietish acoustic home-studio setting or working with ITB sources.

I didn't test any high-end mics - I don't have any - but I do have clean mics and good quality mics. The preamp didn't compare with e.g. Neve-style preamp, Bluebox or Sound Devices, but they cost 10x the price, and the EVO4 doesn't sound bad in comparison or have any obvious flaws. It works alongside high-end pre's without fuss.

The EVO4's are definitely amongst the best entry-level interface preamps: clear, detailed, non-fatiguing - bringing out good character from sources without smearing them with a cheap cologne.

Audient EVO 4-gsevorear.png

Some audio examples: I re-created a song I made for the Weissklang V13 mic review and used the V13 (which is a linear, clear mic designed to be used with Klangformer modelling software). The V13 sounds beautiful solo without the modelling so it's a good indicator of the EVO4's preamp as it doesn't impart too much of it's own character.

The first example is the vocal and acoustic guitar (Taylor 414ce) captured with the Weissklang V13 mic into the EVO4 preamp and A/D conversion: Voc + Gtr Mic

Second, the Taylor DI track from the same take: Gtr DI

Third, the DI'd bass track (Ibanez SR500): Bass DI

Finally, a mix of the three tracks: Mix

The EVO4 and rig recorded everything the way I wanted - all the detail and tone that leads to a good mix. I felt I had good insight and clarity to make production decisions. The DI really stands out as musical and adds value to the experience. The Smart Gain function automatically set the gain level which was lower than I'd normally use but with some ITB processing and summing, the level was good.

Audient EVO 4-gsevotopangle.png

One final point: plugging a jack into the headphone socket mutes the main outs. This 'limitation' is specific to the EVO4, not the EVO8. It's worth thinking whether this is a positive or negative. When I discovered this in use I initially thought it was a limitation but perhaps a cost-saving or simplification of the circuitry - but there is an important sonic consideration.

Having reviewed a range of headphones I began to notice how the musical information and soundstage was affected if the main monitors were active i.e. producing sound in the room. The interaction of room sound and the sound within the headphone space, affects the tonality and character of what is heard - and this is especially true of the phase relationship between the monitor and headphone outputs.

For example, perception of bass energy (from the headphone) increases if the main monitors are active - and which bass frequencies are prominent depends on the main monitor level. Similarly, if the signal path to the monitors (or headphone) changes polarity or phase relationship (between headphones and monitors) then bass could be attenuated - or the mid-range disappears...or cymbals disappear.

Using headphones whilst main monitors are active - even if they are closed-back and isolated - affects the reference and leads to inaccuracy, particularly mix translation to other systems. So, what at first appears to be a negative - no simultaneous mains and headphone outs - is in fact, a good thing for your music production.

Audient EVO 4-gsevofront.png

Conclusion: Highly-recommended as an entry-level device and beyond; sonically there isn't a huge difference between this humble box and higher-end gear. 'Entry-level' doesn't really do the EVO4 justice in terms of it's sonics.

Audient have done a great job: the EVO 4's design and function built on the company's long-standing expertise in audio-engineering and manufacturing - a modern unit using novel technology. The conversion and preamps have the classic high-quality Audient 'house sound'.

The EVO 4 is definitely a product of the time; built for popular music production and media playback: right time, right place.


Gearslutz Points.

Sound quality 5/5 Excellent. Smooth, bright sound with a good profile. The DI is good quality. The general media audio from the computer was great.

Features 5/5 All the regular, expected and necessary features plus the Smart Gain auto-level. No MIDI or S/PDIF but I think this is less of an issue for the primary market; many keyboard controllers and instruments can connect via USB.

Ease of use 5/5 It's super-easy. Worth reading the manual. More or less plug-and-play. The firmware update is superbly done. Operation is straightforward allowing the user to focus on music.

Bang-for-buck 5/5 Perfect entry-level starter unit but also, due to simplicity of operation and audio quality, a great interface for anyone. The EVO4 would also make an awesome general media/music playback system or for transferring music from other formats.

Attached Thumbnails
Audient EVO 4-gsevolegend.png   Audient EVO 4-gsevolong.png   Audient EVO 4-gsevomain.png   Audient EVO 4-gsevorear.png   Audient EVO 4-gsevotopangle.png  

Audient EVO 4-gsevofront.png  
Attached Files

GSevo4bass.mp3 (1.20 MB, 2765 views)

GSevo4gtrDI.mp3 (1.71 MB, 2756 views)

GSevo4mix.mp3 (3.53 MB, 2911 views)

GSevo4vocgtr.mp3 (1.82 MB, 2793 views)

Last edited by Arthur Stone; 23rd April 2020 at 04:29 AM..

  • 2
1 week ago

Audient EVO 4 by RichC

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Audient EVO 4

Others have spoken about the specs so I won't cover that - but I will talk about this little interface from the perspective of a voiceover artist and an audio media producer...

I consider the EVO to be a breakthrough product. What this little box gives you for under £100 is spectacular! I love that it's designed as much with people like me in mind as it is musicians - yes, it's great for beginners, but it's better than an elementary plaything. I'm a radio/audio professional of almost 23 years and it's better than some gear I've used professionally in the past. The preamps and converters are clear, clean and transparent with low noise floor, and my U87ai sounds perfectly professional through it. I also have a Neve 1073SPX pre and Prism Lyra 1 interface, and whilst they, of course, have the edge in sound quality (big, warm, smooth, rich textured pre captured in exquisite detail by the Lyra) the little EVO holds its own admirably. It's clean but there is a pleasing hint of warmth and a nice open sound. I've recorded a lot of VO on it in the 3 months I've owned it and my clients are happy with the results.

Good for VO then? Yes, though with high impedance headphones you'll want a dedicated headphone amp with more beans as the EVO's is a touch on the quiet side. Sounds good - just struggles to drive high impedance models at what I would describe as an 'immersive' volume.

EVO 4 is fantastic for modern digital audio media production. I'm talking radio, podcast, streaming, YouTubing etc. Pretty much all down the line voiceover sessions these days are conducted over IP - so the ability to record the incoming VO audio from an application such as Cleanfeed or Source Connect Now directly in to your DAW is essential. The EVO's Loopback feature does this brilliantly. You can control the sources and their levels being sent to the loopback buss using the Loopback mixer app, then simply select Loopback as in input source on your DAW - just as easily as selecting one of the mic or line inputs.

Smartgain is handy - if it helps improve the frankly horrendous audio quality of some YouTube videos then it's worth its weight in gold. But I like to set my own levels - I'm a producer so I really should make the effort! Smartgain is quite conservative and sets the gain to peak around -12dB.

The EVO loses its settings once powered down, but you can save them in the EVO software on your computer so re-loading them is the work of seconds.

It's easy to use - although you can absent-mindedly end up changing values of the wrong thing if you haven't got the right function selected. I recommend getting in to the habit of pressing the function button you want first every time to make sure.

A word on build quality - it tends to be the Achilles heel of the EVO in most reviews. To be fair for a desktop kind of life the plastic case is absolutely fine. It's presumably a design choice to keep the price point down, and I for one would take a compromise on the casing over a compromise on the electronics any day. It's not that flimsy - I don't worry it's going to crack every time I push a button. Yeah I wouldn't advise dropping it, but then I wouldn't advise dropping my Mac Mini either. I've transported it in my portable VO kit a few times and I just put it in its original box for protection. The box is compact and sturdy enough and is only slightly bigger than the unit itself. I'd draw comparison to the classic Novation BassStation synth from the 90's - that was a plastic case to keep costs down in much the same way, but sounded fantastic. Mine's 26 years old and still in one piece. You just have to look after stuff! (easier said than done, I know!)

All-in-all, the EVO is a great little box. Punches well above its weight for sound quality, plays flawlessly with my Mac, and with features like Loopback gives an in-the-box audio producer a nice essential feature set.

  • 1
 
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