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.
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