Greetings earthlings. Today I'm back with a review of a brand new, extremely affordable USB audio interface. That interface is the brand new m audio amtrak solo, which is a two-input interface. This will go for around fifty dollars if you are interested, and I will throw some links down below. And being that this is fifty dollars, and the old king of the budget interfaces was the Behringer um2, which is now going for 45 to 50 dollars, this will replace the um2.
Signal Chain for Testing
If the um2 is not in stock, or if you want to avoid buying from Behringer. And for this review, I have the rode nt1 connected directly to the m-Track solo.
What's in the Box
The 48 volts. Phantom power is on, and my gain is set at noon. I am recording at 16 bit, 48 kilohertz. And I will not do any post-processing, but I may have to boost it a bit in post. So check the doo-doo to see what I did. And now, let's talk about what comes in the box. Of course, you are going to get the interface. You will get the USB b to USB cable. And you'll get a quick start guide, as well as download cards for all of the additional software that comes with this thing.
Then, as far as the build quality, it does leave a little bit to be desired. But given the price point and the other interfaces in this price range, I'm not too surprised by it. It does have an all-plastic build quality and feels somewhat cheap and hollow. The dials or knobs do have quite a bit of wobble to them, although the xlr port doesn't move around out of the ordinary.
Walkthrough of Features
And I should also note that this interface is made in china if that matters to you. Then when we look at the top of the audio interface, we have two gain controls for input one and input 2. Directly beneath those dials, we have signal indicators for each information, which will glow red when you get to clipping levels, and your Audio is distorting. Then you have an output volume control, which controls both the headphone output and the RCA outputs on the rear of the interface. And near the bottom of the top, you have a 48 volts phantom power on or off the light. On the front of the interface, you'll find an xlr combination jack for either an xlr or a quarter-inch input. You will also find a balanced quarter-inch line input, which is input two. On this input, there is a switch to go between line-level and instrument-level information. There is a 48 volts phantom power switch to turn on or off phantom power. You have the eighth-inch headphone output, which does offer zero-latency monitoring. And lastly, you have the output switch to turn on or off the zero-latency monitoring and the headphones or the monitor outputs. And lastly, on the rear of the interface, you have the USB port to connect this to your computer, and you have a set of RCA outputs to connect this to your studio monitors. And you can send Audio to both the RCA and the headphone output simultaneously.
Then, as far as the specs, this audio interface only offers 16 bits up to 48 kilohertz. It has a max gain of plus 54 dB. It has an ein of negative 128 dba, a signal-to-noise ratio of 109 dba, approximately 48 volts of phantom power. Here is the exact measurement, and here are the output specs if you're interested in this information.
Shure SM7b Mic Test (No Cloudlifter or Fethead)
I have the sm7b connected directly to the track solo to test out the interface's preamps. I do not have a cloud lifter. I do not have a fat head. This is running directly into the interface. The gain is set just shy of 100 percent. And here is the level that I'm getting. I will, of course, be quiet so you can hear the noise, the preamp noise, while you're using the 7b. And I do want to demonstrate something I noticed while testing the 7b last week. On this interface, when you have the gain up towards 100, you can move it one millimeter, which I will do right now, and you can hear the volume increase dramatically. I will go ahead and lower it a millimeter. Again, you hear that. Jump back down. And one more time, jump back up, jump back down, right There.
Preamp Gain Noise Test
And I will also illustrate this and show you this in the preamp noise test. Now I will go ahead and measure the noise floor of the audio interface using an xlr connector with a 150-ohm resistor to emulate a dynamic microphone.
Now, with the sample rate set at 48 kilohertz and the io buffer size of 64 samples, we have a nine-millisecond round trip latency and a four and a half millisecond output latency. When we jump up to pieces, we have 11 and a half milliseconds round trip, or 5 7 milliseconds output.
Instrument Input (D.I.) Test
And when We jump up to 256 samples. We have a 17-millisecond round trip or eight and a half millisecond output. Now I'm going to go ahead and plug in my electric guitar and electric bass, play directly into the audio interface's instrument input. I will play the raw Audio so you can hear how the di input sounds. Then I will play a little bit of a full mix with some amp simulators in there as well.
Headphone Amp Discussion
Now I want to talk about the headphone amp in this thing very briefly. And I will admit, I don't do all the fancy measurements like jk over there. That's his bag. I want to talk about the actual performance that I experienced as far as the power. I found that the headphone amp was perfectly capable of driving even the Sennheiser H.D. 650s. At the same time, I was listening to computer playback. If I am listening to zero-latency monitoring, it got a little quiet in the H.D. 650s. It was increasingly more difficult to get a good mix between the zero-latency monitoring and the computer playback. But just for computer playback, perfectly capable of driving even the difficult to navigate 650s. I do also want to point out a quirk here. When you engage or disengage the direct monitoring, there will be a variance in the volume if you have any computer playback. If you have something playing and engage in direct tracking, that will decrease the computer playback volume. But if you're on direct monitoring and you flip it off, and you have something playing on the computer, that will increase the volume you hear in your headphones.
Pros & Cons
I Want to the point that out in case you notice that as well. Okay, fifty-dollar interfaces. This is a very underserved part of the market with one option so far, the Behringer um2. But now that one has become two, which is a perfect thing. And first up in terms of pros, first off is the price. That is going to be the main selling point here. It isn't easy to get a good interface for 50 bucks. And this fits that bill. Also, I found that it was perfectly capable of driving even the sm7b. The di instrument inputs worked flawlessly for the electric guitar and electric bass. Is it the best sounding? No, but it's perfectly usable for home recording. The latency on this thing is also very workable.
I had no issues with that. And lastly, I love that they allow you to have line input on inputs 1 and 2. On the prior king of the budget, you just had an instrument on channel two or mic and line on channel 1. This means, if you have a stereo line-level signal, you can run that into your computer. With them track solo, you weren't able to do that with the um2. They didn't need to do that, but they did, and I think that's a great addition. Then as far as cons, I don't like that it had unbalanced RCA outputs for the monitor. The gain ramp up on the gain dial is very strange, and it seems like they were trying to cram in a few extra D.B., even if it is or is not usable, to add a little bit higher of a spec. Also, when I had the gain cranked up all the way, I did start to hear a little bit of digital interference, which is something that I typically hear on some more affordable USB mixers or USB sound cards. And lastly, this is more of a personal gripe, and I'm sure plenty of people will be thrilled about the eighth-inch headphone.
Output on the amtrak solo, but I am more of a fan of the quarter-inch because it just feels a little bit more durable. And to wrap up, would I recommend them to track solo? Yes, I would. If you currently have something like the Behringer um2, I don't think you need to upgrade. The improvements from the um2 to the amtrak solo are marginal. But I do believe the amtrak solo is an improvement. So if you're in the market and you're shopping around, and you have the option of the Behringer um2 or the amtrak solo, I would lean towards them track solo. As I mentioned earlier, I like that they included a second-line level input. So if you have a stereo line-level signal, you can capture that with the amtrak solo. Even though I'm not a big fan of it, I think most people looking for a 50 interface will be using headphones with 8-inch jacks. So the 1 8 inch headphone jack does seem to make sense, even if it's not something that I would prefer. So, in summary, I think the amtrak solo is an acceptable alternative for 50 to the um2. But in all reality, I think you would be.
Pretty much fine with either of these devices at this price point. And I think that's going to wrap up for today. I don't think I have anything else to say about this. But I would love to hear from you. Do you think their audio amtrak solo is a good deal? or do you think it's a ripoff? Let me know in the comments down below.