M-Audio’s latest addition to its audio interface line-up is an 8-input, 4-output desktop unit with distinctly modern design and functionality. Priced at a comfortable USD 299, the M-Track 8X4M is capable of 24-bit/192kHz recording and is equipped with M-Audio’s Crystal preamps and as yet unnamed A/D converters.
The Crystal preamps are a completely new development, built to the highest possible standard in their class, says M-Audio.
Furthermore, the M-Track 8X4M’s instrument inputs have specially designed gain and impedance stages that are automatically tailored to the instrument’s gain and impedance in order to achieve an authentic representation of your input signal. There are 4 XLR/TRS combo inputs, 2 instrument inputs, and 2 line inputs.
There are also MIDI inputs and outputs, which is useful for those that need it. For hooking up to studio monitors, you have a standard pair of 1/4-inch outputs, but you also get a second pair of 1/4-inch assignable outputs as well, which is very welcome.
Additionally, two musicians can hear their own separate mixes while recording or monitoring through the two 1/4-inch headphone outputs, each with its own source and level controls.
What strikes us as a notable difference is that unlike most audio industry players, which rely on Thunderbolt 3 to accomplish high-speed, high-throughput digital data transfer (and look more professional, perhaps), M-Audio took the path of USB 3. Thus, the 8X4M connects to your computer over USB A or USB C, with cables for both provided in the box. This is still rare for audio interfaces, but we expect it to become a trend next year.
USB 3 is fast, very fast, and allows for very low latency, so there’s the obligatory “zero-latency monitoring” marketing pitch – which may very well come close to the truth. Of course, M-Audio is really talking about zero perceivable latency, as literal zero latency is impossible in the digital realm. Which is still good enough for pretty much everyone within the interface’s target clientele.
Adding further value, M-Audio bundled the M-Track 8X4M with Pro Tools | First, Ableton Live Lite, AIR’s Creative FX collection of 20 effects plug-ins, AIR’s Xpand!2 rompler, Mini Grand piano sim and the Strike drum sim as well as Eleven Lite guitar amp sims and 2GB of Touch Loops sounds. An impressive and well-rounded package that’s enough to get most users – perhaps even novices purchasing their first audio interface – to start recording and producing right away.
The M-Audio M-Track 8X4M will be available in the last quarter of 2018, which means we might get to see it launch later this month. The interface is an attractive proposition for its priced USD 100 lower than its closest competitor from the latest-generation Focusrite Scarlett interfaces, the 18i8.
Note: a previous version of this post stated that the computer connection was USB3. In fact, the unit uses USB-C, and we have amended it accordingly.