Although officially launched tomorrow at Musikmesse 2016, the appearance of these devices at the show is already sparking interest. Zoom have combined their knowledge from their hand-held recording devices and audio interfaces, to bring us the U-24 and U-44. With a similar design to their ‘Handy Recorders’, these are meant to be their most compact and feature-full interfaces yet. Designed to be small enough for your pocket or back-pack, these bus-powered units are said to offer “studio-quality audio in any location”.
These two models will probably be the first in a new line of products by Zoom. Currently the U-24 will be a 2 in and 4 out device, whilst the U-44 will offer 4 in and 4 out. I believe this doesn’t mean the U-44 will have 4 separate XLR mic pre’s, but it will support a 10-pin connector for Zoom’s own Handy Recorder Capsules (sold separately) and some digital I/O. Both units will offer combo inputs for dual mono mic pre-amps on XLR, and line inputs on 1/4″ jack sockets. There will also be 1/4″ and RCA connectors for outputs, alongside a headphone output.
All the usual facilities of a modern interface are included such as a blend between your DAW return and local inputs for low-latency monitoring. They will both feature MIDI I/O and will also support a standalone mode for A/D conversion and as a mic pre-amp.
Personally I’m not blown over by these devices unless there’s some additional news such as a very low price point. I’m surprised they didn’t include a standalone recording mode like their hand-held recording devices, as well as the ability to be an interface. I don’t think having the input and output connections on the top surface is the most ergonomic, nor do I expect the quality of the pre-amps to be anything other than average. Prices and availability are un-known yet.
More Information should become available tomorrow on Zoom’s web site. Watch this space!