When I bought my first recording interface back in 1999, I spent a whopping 500 bucks..! As a College student this was a big investment, but 15 years later I’m glad I invested in Pro Tools with the Digidesign Mbox. Fast forward to today, I’ve spend a decent amount of money through the years on converters, preamps, compressors, EQ, both analog and digital, and if it wasn’t for my bad habit of trading gear, I would probably have a lot more to choose from. But then again, too many choices means little commitment.
Recently I’ve been testing out the new M-Track C-Series by M-Audio. This is a 2-channel USB-C recording interface in two models, the 2X2 and the 2X2M. Whereas the 2X2 offers a single XLR-1/4″ combo input on Channel 1 for microphones and line-level sources, Channel 2 features a 1/4″ instrument input. If you need two mic inputs and MIDI I/O, then you should be looking at the 2X2M, which is $50 more.
2X2M Tech Specs
- Simultaneous I/O: 2 x 2
- A/D Resolution: 24-bit/192kHz
- Analog Inputs: 2 x XLR-1/4″ combo, 2 x 1/4″ (instrument)
- Analog Outputs: 2 x 1/4″ (main out), 1 x 1/4″ (headphones)
- Number of Preamps: 2
- Phantom Power: Yes
- MIDI I/O: In/Out
- USB: Type C (Bus Powered)
Both M-Track models offer a software package that includes Steinberg Cubase LE, Xpand2!, MiniGrand, and Strike from AIR Music Tech, and 20 mixing plug-ins from the AIR Creative FX. All included software is compatible for OSX and Windows. For more information please check with M-Audio.
The M-Track C-Series features an All-New Crystal Preamp design, not used on previous models, and trust me I’ve owned most of them. While in this video I focus on using the AKG C 414 XLII, I’ve personally tested the 2X2M with a Neumann U87, Shure SM7B, AKG C 214, just to name a few. What I personally like about the Crystal Preamps is the smooth low-end and a gentle boost at around 7kHz. This means that when you’re recording percussive instruments you’ll get a gentle presence boost without having to be too close to the mic.
While the industry has chased after Thunderbolt for high-speed/greater-bandwidth connectivity, M-Audio has adopted a new standard which is backwards compatible. The M-Track 2X2M comes with a USB-C to USB-C cable and USB-C to USB 2.0 cable to connect to Mac or PC models. On OSX, it’s plug-and-play with no drivers necessary, but for Windows you’ll need to install the drivers from the M-Audio website. To my understanding, USB-C is technically USB 3.1 and is twice as fast as USB 3.0, making it a competitor to thunderbolt. The benefits of USB-C on a portable interface like the M-Track is that it’s future proof (so long as companies like Apple support it) and provides low latency monitoring.
What Does it Sound Like?
As with most of my videos I try to keep things short and concise, but I also wanted to show what the raw audio sounds like coming through the 2X2M Crystal Preamps. In the playlist below you can hear the raw recorded files for the featured song, Good Tidings.