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Echo Audiofire 12

Echo Digital Audio AudioFire 12

4.5 4.5 out of 5, based on 2 Reviews

Looking for a warm sounding digital converter that doesn't even come close to surpassing the low end theory? Look no further.

13th August 2013

Echo Digital Audio AudioFire 12 by hibbmatt

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Echo Audiofire 12

The Echo Audiofire 12 is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get 12 i/o digital converter. After spending countless hours listening to my friend's Apogee Apollo (and consequently loving how warm the converters sound) it is difficult for me to distinguish between the Apollo and the Audiofire 12, (it sounds that good) though I have yet to A/B them.
When the Audiofre 12 arrived, I was pleasantly surprised with how it was packed and protected in the box. Firing it up, it sounded great. Then came the clicks/pops.
Now I know what you're thinking. Why are you raving about these converters if it came with clicks and pops? After a quick message to Echo Audio support, a fellow by the name of Marcel quickly and professionally guided me in solving these problems which entailed correctly utilizing my system to the Audiofire 12 (Mac OSx 10.7.5, Ableton Live 8.2.3). Installing the correct version of the Echo Console to my system fixed all of these issues. I have nothing but good things to say about the folks at Echo Audio. Fast response, friendly and knowledgable staff.
The converters themselves sound very warm and rich with great clocking. The front panel LEDS make it easy to see when you have a healthy signal, or when it's too hot. The 12 TRS inputs and 12 TRS outputs (unbalanced TS cables are welcome too!) are great. You even have the ability to link 2 Audiofire 12s together for a combination of 24 i/o with the word clock connections. The reason why I gave the features 4 stars due to the fact that the Audiofire 12 lacks a S/PDIF connection. Don't fret though, as this should not deter you from purchasing one. Finally, the Echo software console is my favorite software fold-back console I have ever used! A simple and intuitive design, it is a breeze to dial in your own headphone mix, as well as customize the mix for all outputs.
All in all, I think it's safe to say that I will be purchasing another Echo Audiofire 12 in the near future.

10th February 2015

Echo Digital Audio AudioFire 12 by Vern

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 3 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.25
Echo Audiofire 12

I've had two Echo Audiofire 12's hooked up to my console for the past four years. I've had a lot of experience with other popular converter's as well (Everything from Apogee, Digidesign stuff, basically anything a pro studio would use), so I can easily compare and contrast these to other converters.
I can tell you, when I first opened them up when I bought them that I was indeed impressed as I was expecting less sound quality from them. Read on and you will see how I feel about them after 4+ years.

Sound Quality:
Very good. 7.5 out of 10. There are small artifacts in the higher kHz region and also a muddier bass as well compared to more expensive interfaces. This can be worked around fairly easily as long as you know how the converters will affect your audio; although for precision it may be frustrating especially in the lower 250 Hz range. I don't want to bash this product, or give the wrong impression, but the bass (compared to Apogee converters) is a little more "smeary" and the uppers kHz are just a little more harsh. I also noticed that my mixes did not seem to have as good of a stereo image or "depth" to them (clarity of individual instruments) as I was used to previously working with Apogee products. After two years of working and getting to know the Echo's, I purchased a Black Lion Microclock II and it fixed these problems INSTANTLY. The bass frequencies cleared up drastically (no more smear; tight and punchy come to mind), I was able to hear more precision in the depth of the sound field, and the stereo imaging also improved. I did not really notice a difference in upper frequencies being a little more "brittle" or "sharp" than other higher priced converters; but I had already adjusted for those issues in my mixing from having the converters for two years. With the addition of the microclock, the Echo's sound every bit as good as any apogee product that I have used on any console in any studio I've recorded/mixed in. I would say now they are a 9.5 out of 10 in sound quality. The microclock changed the sound perspective so much that I actually went back and re-mixed some of my favorite mixes and latter was definitely better.

One unfortunate thing that I have realized is that I will experience "crosstalk" in this interface. If I am playing back audio from a mix onto my console, and am also recording into the interface on the same channel that is playing back audio (let me explain--my mix is coming out of output 1 and 2....and I am also recording my final mix back into the interface, or even recording a vocal/gtr/whatever, back into the input 1 and/or 2), there will be crosstalk on my newly recorded track from the output of the interface. This is annoying and can effectively reduce the number of channels you can use at the same time on the Audiofire. I've learned to live with it, but it is still annoying and shouldn't be an issue.

Ease of use:
Easy as can be expected. I never really used the included software as I have ProTools 8 (I refuse to upgrade since everything works splendid and I want it to stay that way ).

TRS works perfect for me for mixing or recording. 12 in/outs are excellent to have for the price range. Actually, I don't know anything that beats it and haven't heard anything that does with the amount of analog I/O that you get. It is nice that it has two firewire ports for daisy chaining interfaces (some interfaces do not), as well as a MIDI in/out and word clock in/out. There are no digital in/outs, which would have been nice. Overall, it doesn't offer a lot of features, but it's really not SUPPOSED to then either (and there aren't any features that I really wanted but don't have).

Oh, one thing....the metering kind of sucks. I really don't pay much attention to it honestly, I pay more attention to my ProTools input/output levels for that. Each channel on the Echo consists of four segment LED's, but it is nice that each input AND output has a segment LED. It is similar to a digidesign 196 in the metering aspect. But hey, it could be a lot worse and have a single LED telling you that there is (or isn't) any signal (Apogee 16x) lol.

Bang for the Buck:
Best out there, especially if you get yourself a good external wordclock (which the black lion microclock is also the best bang for the buck). I'm actually going to purchase another Audiofire 12 and hook 3 up (yes I know Echo doesn't say it will support it, but yes, it will), for a total of 36 in/outs. Cant beat that for around $1500!

This is a good product made great with a better clocking source. If you are going to purchase one/two/three I would highly recommend the external clocking source to take advantage of the clarity and imaging (which ARE important for your mixing and recording pleasures), that these converters really can offer for over half as much as some of the more popular "go-to" names in the interface/converter world.

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