Lexicon IO22 by SgtFoo
Review: Lexicon IO|22
Upon retiring an older audio interface, I was intrigued to try this out-of-the-blue discovery from the Lexicon 'IO' series 'desktop recording interface' which has an ergonomic/aesthetic design mix that could get a budget-conscious audio-person salivating profusely. Now think of how nice it would be to have a decent set of DACs, coupled with desktop-friendly design and knobs that are smooth as honey. Lexicon's IO-22 USB interface does this and with an elegance I would hope will change the market of computer audio interfaces for good.
At the easy price point between $200 and $250 (CDN; by the time you read this) this 2-in, 2-out USB2.0 audio interface provides well enough for a simple-needs music producer or musician with the means to record 2 channels, output to speakers, as well as a set of headphones all at once, and with a happily low amount of latency with ASIO drivers (32bit and 64bit, Windows & Mac; depending on your computer power as well). Those inputs are combi-jacks (XLR/ 1/4” TRS combined) for mic or line level and a separate 1/4” TRS instrument input on the side for sheer convenience.
Sampling rates are quite fine for the level of work most users will need at 44.1kHz thru 96kHz and 24bit depth (adjusted within the driver program). Just when you thought it was done, the unit gives MIDI in/out and separate volume knobs for headphone and main output, which are fed via the monitor-mix knob as well for zero-latency monitoring. This unit is powered NOT by USB, but by included AC adaptor. All too many USB interfaces these days rely solely on USB power and so it becomes far too easy to max-out USB controller power feeds, rather inconveniently.
Upon recording with them, the DBX mic-pres they put in this unit are a delight to work with, leaving plenty of room on the pot if you need to really heat them up,and they don't seem to add much colouration aside from what feels like some typical digital high-end. There's an option to switch the 2 inputs to 'stereo' mode, which I unfortunately didn't use, but it likely gangs both inputs to the first pot; so gracious of them to include such a feature. Worth mentioning are the slight issues with that the main output level pot is rather steep, as is the headphone level pot. It's nearly to the point where I would put a set of 20dB pads on the outputs so that I could use more of the knob before it's unbearably loud. Perhaps it's something that could be fixed with a firmware update from Lexicon in the future, but it's definitely worth noting. On the other hand, it's a relief that output levels are healthy and plentiful. Bearing those negatives in mind, the unit still holds every dollar value for what it does and gives you.
As for output quality, it's best to judge for yourself, as my listening is not at par to tell, but I can tell you there's an improvement over the last interface (from a well-known industry leader) I used, without a doubt. The unit would easily tie well with a set of sE Munro monitors, if given the chance (shameless plug, no?) heh
By all means go look-up the unit on the internet to catch all the fine details I may have missed (such as the delightful level meters, which by the way, are no less than 8 segment LEDs, thank goodness!) because I must admit this interface has me perhaps biased, with it's simplistic design and excellent feature-set. The package includes a software set detailed on the Lexicon website that make for some pleasantly handy software additions. Lexicon sends out the unit with a 1-year warranty that covers you for buying a relatively new-to-market unit (at the time of this review). Now maybe it's just the lesser USB interfaces I've used in comparison, but this IO-22 holds high in my list of favourites.