Squint, and you might see Arturia's new audio interface.

Squint, and you might see Arturia’s new audio interface.

Word had already hit the street that Arturia was working on a new audio interface. Now, the company has announced its agenda for the product – and set the NAMM show at the end of January as a release date.

And, boy, are they being ambitious. Basically, if you can name a complaint about audio interfaces, Arturia is promising a solution. Let’s count their litany of problems to solve:

1. One-knob setups. UA’s Apollo Twin, Focusrite’s Forte, and (leading the trend) Apogee’s Duet have all popularized this trend (first seen on devices like NI’s since-discontinued Audio Kontrol 1). I never had a problem with the design, but Arturia says it causes workflow problems and they’re nixing it, and even draw a little picture that looks like the Apogee.

2. Breakout cables. Boxes like the Apogee are made smaller with breakout cables. Arturia says theirs won’t have one.

3. Mobile interfaces that are too fragile. Some mobile devices are too delicate.

4. Mobile interfaces that are too big. Wait, but they aren’t using breakout cables, right?

5. Incompatibility with specific OSes or I/O. The graphic includes phonographs, guitars, ADAT, Android, and … General MIDI. I’m not sure if they’ll have an Android-connected SMF player or what they mean, but yes, it is frustrating when a box doesn’t support what you want!

6. Audio latency.

7. Audio quality. Signal/noise ratio, low harmonic distortion, performance at high gain levels, good analog-to-digital converters – yes, these are all important, too.

I’m a bit confused here, though. These are all good points, but we’ve yet to see how Arturia have a genuinely new solution. My Universal Audio Apollo Twin ticks all these boxes on fidelity and mobility, just for one example. Even fairly low-cost USB audio interfaces can perform with low latency – the bigger variable often being the performance of the computer itself. An increasing number of interfaces support iOS, Android, and the like with class-compliant support.

But Arturia promises a “new approach.” I suspect there’s room for the market simply by going after the “high-end solution” – if you aren’t concerned about hitting a low price point, your options do expand, and while there are a handful of boxes there, it’s not nearly as overcrowded as the low cost end. And there’s clearly an opportunity for something that can come up with a better mobile design or workflow. The question is – what, exactly, are they planning? Given Arturia, while experienced at making audio things, has no track record in this particular kind of hardware, it’s anyone’s guess.

Of course, that makes this fun to watch, and with a lot of me-too action at trade shows and in this industry, this could spice up this year’s NAMM.

More from France:
http://www.arturia.com/audiointerface

Why are these people smiling? We find out in January.

Why are these people smiling? We find out in January.

  • Paolo

    One thing was not mentioned: I read they claim to resolve the no-latency roundtrip with vst. Did I get it wrong? If so, this would be THE news.

    • PaulDavisTheFirst

      You cannot avoid latency if you route the audio data to and from the CPU(s). All modern general purpose computers MUST process audio in blocks, rather than sample by sample, at least if the design is going to scale to essentially arbitrary numbers of channels.

      The only way you can avoid latency in the monitoring pathway is to avoid the CPU(s). If you avoid the CPU(s), that means no native (CPU-based) plugins in the monitoring pathway.

      • No, Paul, they’ve changed the rules. It will connect to everything, but be infinitely small, but have no breakout cables. It will have zero latency. It will never have any incompatibility with anything, ever.

        And don’t forget the ADC. Do you know how good your ADC is? Maybe you forgot it.

        (Heh, sorry, we’ve probably *all* read way too many product descriptions of audio interfaces…)

        • PaulDavisTheFirst

          Sounds awesome. Except one thing. It still won’t have any Linux device driver support.

          • Paolo

            Here’s what I read:
            “Many manufacturers claim to offer “zero latency monitoring”. In reality they bypass audio treatments in your DAW. This means you cannot use plugins on the sound you are recording. You have to use their own software on top of your DAW, resulting in a clumsy workflow”

            Something tells me they were able to use vst plugins in some way

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            And I’m telling you, as the author of a cross-platform DAW, a cross-platform audio I/O API and a couple of audio interface device drivers: you cannot get zero latency monitoring unless you bypass the CPU(s), and if you bypass the CPU(s), you don’t get to run (native) plugins (VST or AU or any other format).

          • Paolo

            unless they reside in the interface

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            Then they are either (a) not native plugins or (b) the interface runs a general purpose CPU and has the same latency issues as a computer. When most people say they want to run “vst plugins” in the monitoring path, they do not mean “i want to buy and install different but similar versions of my existing plugins so that they can run on the audio interface”.

            ProTools did all this years ago. UAD have been doing part of it for a while. This isn’t part of the future of audio I/O for computers.

          • Paolo

            Ok, understood. Thank you for the explanation.

          • foljs

            “Many manufacturers claim to offer “zero latency monitoring”. In reality they bypass audio treatments in your DAW. This means you cannot use plugins on the sound you are recording. You have to use their own software on top of your DAW, resulting in a clumsy workflow”

            This seems to be talking about some dual-channel method, were you get “zero latency” by bypassing the native plugins etc for your headphone mix, but still get to record the plugin processed signal…

            Not really revolutionary, if it’s that, but still…

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            “Not really revolutionary” … it isn’t revolutionary at all. This has been possible for more than 14 years. RME and others were offering this on devices in the late 1990s.

          • Ha, based on this description, it has everything. But… unfortunately, yes, I suspect you’re right.

            Pity. With everything happening in embedded / low power / small devices, now would be an ideal time for mobile Linux support.

  • Paolo

    One thing was not mentioned: I read they claim to resolve the no-latency roundtrip with vst. Did I get it wrong? If so, this would be THE news.

    • PaulDavisTheFirst

      You cannot avoid latency if you route the audio data to and from the CPU(s). All modern general purpose computers MUST process audio in blocks, rather than sample by sample, at least if the design is going to scale to essentially arbitrary numbers of channels.

      The only way you can avoid latency in the monitoring pathway is to avoid the CPU(s). If you avoid the CPU(s), that means no native (CPU-based) plugins in the monitoring pathway.

      • No, Paul, they’ve changed the rules. It will connect to everything, but be infinitely small, but have no breakout cables. It will have zero latency. It will never have any incompatibility with anything, ever.

        And don’t forget the ADC. Do you know how good your ADC is? Maybe you forgot it.

        (Heh, sorry, we’ve probably *all* read way too many product descriptions of audio interfaces…)

        • PaulDavisTheFirst

          Sounds awesome. Except one thing. It still won’t have any Linux device driver support.

          • Paolo

            Here’s what I read:
            “Many manufacturers claim to offer “zero latency monitoring”. In reality they bypass audio treatments in your DAW. This means you cannot use plugins on the sound you are recording. You have to use their own software on top of your DAW, resulting in a clumsy workflow”

            Something tells me they were able to use vst plugins in some way

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            And I’m telling you, as the author of a cross-platform DAW, a cross-platform audio I/O API and a couple of audio interface device drivers: you cannot get zero latency monitoring unless you bypass the CPU(s), and if you bypass the CPU(s), you don’t get to run (native) plugins (VST or AU or any other format).

          • Paolo

            unless they reside in the interface

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            Then they are either (a) not native plugins or (b) the interface runs a general purpose CPU and has the same latency issues as a computer. When most people say they want to run “vst plugins” in the monitoring path, they do not mean “i want to buy and install different but similar versions of my existing plugins so that they can run on the audio interface”.

            ProTools did all this years ago. UAD have been doing part of it for a while. This isn’t part of the future of audio I/O for computers.

          • Paolo

            Ok, understood. Thank you for the explanation.

          • foljs

            “Many manufacturers claim to offer “zero latency monitoring”. In reality they bypass audio treatments in your DAW. This means you cannot use plugins on the sound you are recording. You have to use their own software on top of your DAW, resulting in a clumsy workflow”

            This seems to be talking about some dual-channel method, were you get “zero latency” by bypassing the native plugins etc for your headphone mix, but still get to record the plugin processed signal…

            Not really revolutionary, if it’s that, but still…

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            “Not really revolutionary” … it isn’t revolutionary at all. This has been possible for more than 14 years. RME and others were offering this on devices in the late 1990s.

          • Ha, based on this description, it has everything. But… unfortunately, yes, I suspect you’re right.

            Pity. With everything happening in embedded / low power / small devices, now would be an ideal time for mobile Linux support.

  • Paolo

    One thing was not mentioned: I read they claim to resolve the no-latency roundtrip with vst. Did I get it wrong? If so, this would be THE news.

    • PaulDavisTheFirst

      You cannot avoid latency if you route the audio data to and from the CPU(s). All modern general purpose computers MUST process audio in blocks, rather than sample by sample, at least if the design is going to scale to essentially arbitrary numbers of channels.

      The only way you can avoid latency in the monitoring pathway is to avoid the CPU(s). If you avoid the CPU(s), that means no native (CPU-based) plugins in the monitoring pathway.

      • No, Paul, they’ve changed the rules. It will connect to everything, but be infinitely small, but have no breakout cables. It will have zero latency. It will never have any incompatibility with anything, ever.

        And don’t forget the ADC. Do you know how good your ADC is? Maybe you forgot it.

        (Heh, sorry, we’ve probably *all* read way too many product descriptions of audio interfaces…)

        • PaulDavisTheFirst

          Sounds awesome. Except one thing. It still won’t have any Linux device driver support.

          • Paolo

            Here’s what I read:
            “Many manufacturers claim to offer “zero latency monitoring”. In reality they bypass audio treatments in your DAW. This means you cannot use plugins on the sound you are recording. You have to use their own software on top of your DAW, resulting in a clumsy workflow”

            Something tells me they were able to use vst plugins in some way

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            And I’m telling you, as the author of a cross-platform DAW, a cross-platform audio I/O API and a couple of audio interface device drivers: you cannot get zero latency monitoring unless you bypass the CPU(s), and if you bypass the CPU(s), you don’t get to run (native) plugins (VST or AU or any other format).

          • Paolo

            unless they reside in the interface

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            Then they are either (a) not native plugins or (b) the interface runs a general purpose CPU and has the same latency issues as a computer. When most people say they want to run “vst plugins” in the monitoring path, they do not mean “i want to buy and install different but similar versions of my existing plugins so that they can run on the audio interface”.

            ProTools did all this years ago. UAD have been doing part of it for a while. This isn’t part of the future of audio I/O for computers.

          • Paolo

            Ok, understood. Thank you for the explanation.

          • foljs

            “Many manufacturers claim to offer “zero latency monitoring”. In reality they bypass audio treatments in your DAW. This means you cannot use plugins on the sound you are recording. You have to use their own software on top of your DAW, resulting in a clumsy workflow”

            This seems to be talking about some dual-channel method, were you get “zero latency” by bypassing the native plugins etc for your headphone mix, but still get to record the plugin processed signal…

            Not really revolutionary, if it’s that, but still…

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            “Not really revolutionary” … it isn’t revolutionary at all. This has been possible for more than 14 years. RME and others were offering this on devices in the late 1990s.

          • Ha, based on this description, it has everything. But… unfortunately, yes, I suspect you’re right.

            Pity. With everything happening in embedded / low power / small devices, now would be an ideal time for mobile Linux support.

  • Kevin Kennedy

    Will Arturia get me to switch??? Will the box be THE THING I have been missing in my audio setup? Will it replace my near-indestructable Tascam unit???? OH. MY. GOODNESS….SO-MANY-QUESTIONS???? The intrigue is killing me!!!!!!! Wondering if it will be less than $800 and have 4 channels!

  • Kevin Kennedy

    Will Arturia get me to switch??? Will the box be THE THING I have been missing in my audio setup? Will it replace my near-indestructable Tascam unit???? OH. MY. GOODNESS….SO-MANY-QUESTIONS???? The intrigue is killing me!!!!!!! Wondering if it will be less than $800 and have 4 channels!

  • Kevin Kennedy

    Will Arturia get me to switch??? Will the box be THE THING I have been missing in my audio setup? Will it replace my near-indestructable Tascam unit???? OH. MY. GOODNESS….SO-MANY-QUESTIONS???? The intrigue is killing me!!!!!!! Wondering if it will be less than $800 and have 4 channels!

  • lokey

    something that came up while jamming a couple days ago: are there any audio interfaces on the market today that can allow multiple computers to use the same interface?

  • lokey

    something that came up while jamming a couple days ago: are there any audio interfaces on the market today that can allow multiple computers to use the same interface?

  • lokey

    something that came up while jamming a couple days ago: are there any audio interfaces on the market today that can allow multiple computers to use the same interface?

  • sdfggfs

    The most innovative interface got discontinued awhile ago. It was the korg zero8.

  • sdfggfs

    The most innovative interface got discontinued awhile ago. It was the korg zero8.

  • sdfggfs

    The most innovative interface got discontinued awhile ago. It was the korg zero8.

  • mike1234

    probably a Ravenna ASIO ethernet solution

  • mike1234

    probably a Ravenna ASIO ethernet solution

  • mike1234

    probably a Ravenna ASIO ethernet solution