M-Audio has again decided to upgrade their beloved M-Track audio interface, one of our favorites for quite some time now. InMusic has been doing a good job at developing their brands (although some people say they coincide with each other), and the M-Track Quad audio interface is no different in terms of strengthening ‘what works’ some would say. Here’s our review on their latest USB\MIDI audio interface.
Main features of the M-track Quad
- Weight: 4.2 lbs
- Dimensions: 13.1″ x 3.5″ x 6.1″ (W x D x H)
- Works with both PC and Mac
- Digital audio processing: 24-bit / 96kHz (max)
- Zero latency audio monitoring
- Four (4) XLR inputs
- Four (4) TRS 1/4″ inserts (one per input chan)
- 1/4″ balanced outs for dedicated level control (1 and 2)
- 1/4″ balanced outs for fixed level (3 and 4)
- Monitor switch for stereo/mono
- Each input has switch for mic/line or instrumental level
- Built-in phantom power available
- MIDI I/O jacks
- Headphone out (has it’s own level control)
- USB connectivity – powered USB hub (3 ports)
- Included power supply
- Included software: Avid Pro Tools Express (with iLok USB key), AIR’s Ignite
This thing is a tank. I’ve heard some people complain about the actual look of the Quad. Really? It’s an audio interface, not a haircut — that’s a bit snobbish. I think it looks very sleek and will setup really nice with my current setup. M-Audio has solid materials in their pieces of equipment and this is no different — very stable, you can travel with it and not be too afraid of it being delicate or fragile, and it’s relatively smaller in terms of putting it away or keeping it on your desktop to accommodate your home or professional studio. The brushed aluminum plate and compact design are an A in terms of build.
The capabilities of the unit
The features are pretty powerful on this thing. When it comes to audio interfaces, I first look at the most important aspects: the amount of ins and outs for my various pieces of equipment, the sample rate, latency possibility, and the amount of power it can provide my gear. Everything else is pretty much an add-on feature, such as the headphone jack and separate volume input (which it has, great), included software (justifies this one’s price), as well as some other control features I can use as opposed to working inside of my DAW program (helps work flow). In our opinion, the M-Track Quad has all of the essentials you need in an audio interface, as well as a few other pluses that make it pretty attractive. You’ll be satisfied for quite a few years if you equip your rig with this audio interface. A great, crisp sound.
Included software of the M-Track Quad
One of the biggest upsides of the M-Audio M-Track Quad is their inclusion of the beloved industry-standard software, Avid Pro Tools Express. However some may say (including myself) that if you aren’t planning on using the software, it may be a deal breaker. The Ignite by AIR software is also pretty powerful if you plan on using it. To highlight a few of the features, it’s great for MIDI controlling, edit samples and clips, and it comes with some nice presets to add to your sound collection.
I’m a bit in the middle with this being that even if the software wasn’t included, it still can be worth the price if you need an audio interface.
The conclusion of the new M-Audio interface
Some have complained that they’re unimpressed with the sample rate of 48 kHz. I’ve heard of others wanting at least 96kHz, but that’s a theory still being argued among the gear junkies. This paper by Lavry White combats the belief that the higher the sample rate the better (a bit long but worth it if you’re interested). So it’s up to you if sample rate is something you believe can make or break your recording. In my opinion, it does not, and the 48 kHz is feasible. I like how it sounds. Anything higher than 48 kHz can be kind of overkill in my personal experience. Sometimes you need to stick with what works.
The four audio inputs is feasible if you have a typical setup, the two 48V phantom power switches is great for powering up your condenser microphone(s). I will be honest that when M-Audio claimed to have zero latency with M-Track Quad I was a bit snobbish and skeptical; however, they were correct (to my avail). Perfect zero latency here! Finally, something that doesn’t give me a headache when I’m trying to lay down a bright idea that’s only flashing for a few seconds in my brain. You can also use this for other purposes your instruments or mic are setup for, such as podcasts, gaming, etc.
A lot of people are also saying that this is a repackaged Akai EIE audio interface or the Akai EIE Pro. If you want to save some money and you’re looking for an audio interface to begin with, you can try with the older models by M-Audio. The original M-Track audio interface or the M-Track Plus.
Also check out our top 10 best audio interfaces for some other options to look around with.
In terms of upgrading from previous versions? That’s your call. If you aren’t going to use the software included at all and you already have your setup going, I would be cautious of dropping the cash. However, all in all, the M-Audio M-Track Quad is a solid investment if you decide to go with it. You won’t be disappointed.