Audient’s Evo is an excellent-looking new iOS-friendly USB audio interface. Like all other “sound cards,” the Evo lets you hook up speakers, headphones, and connect microphones, guitars, and so on. It then connects to a computer or iDevice via USB, so you can route all that audio in and out of your apps.
But the Evo brings a few clever extras. One is the Smartgain feature, which automatically sets your input levels. The other is something called loopback, which lets you record your iPhone’s own output. This is handy on the Mac and Windows, but essential on iOS, and very welcome.
Audient makes some of the best-quality USB audio interfaces around, so sound-quality-wise, these two Evos should be pretty capable. There are two models, the Evo 4 and the Evo 8. The numbers refer to the combined number of inputs and outputs on each model. The inputs are combo XLR/TRS jacks, which lets you hook up both microphones and line-level gear to the same hole. In addition, you get an instrument jack for plugging in bass and electric guitars (these have very weak signals that require a special input).
You also get speaker output jacks, and a headphone jack.
Operation is what you’d expect. Press a button to select the corresponding input, and then turn the big knob to set its level. Or press the speaker button to set the output level. You can also long-press a button to mute.
The Evos also come with something Audient calls Smartgain. This automatically sets the gain levels of your inputs. If you have these too high, you get ugly distortion. Set the gain too low and the recording is too quiet, and will need to be boosted — which also boosts any background hiss. Lots of recording devices have auto-level settings, but it’s rare in audio interfaces. You can disable it if you prefer.
The other great feature is loopback. This is exactly what it sounds like. It takes the audio coming out of your computer, and loops it back in. This lets you record the looped-back audio, alongside your own microphone audio.
On a Mac, there are various ways to route audio between apps, but on iOS there’s no way to capture the audio output like this. Using an Evo, you could make a FaceTime call, and record both ends of the conversation. And for musicians, it goes beyond this. For instance, GarageBand on the iPad doesn’t let you route its audio output to any other apps. With Evo’s loopback, you could play GarageBand’s amazing pianos, and record them elsewhere.
This looks like a fantastic companion for musicians, podcasters, and also for people who want to live-stream their video-games, along with their own commentary. This segment of the market ids pretty hot right now, with big names like Roland getting in on the live-steaming game. And the great news is, all these handy live-casting features are good for anyone who works with audio.
Price TBC, shipping in the next few months.