IMG_3139

There are plenty of fairly good audio interfaces out there. Decent-to-middling, yes. But if you’re picky about getting something really top-notch in terms of audio performance and stable low latency, that list gets a whole lot shorter.

Want it to be really compact? That list gets shorter still. “Pro” often translates to “rack mount” – but just because you want something light and small doesn’t mean you don’t want something serious.

RME is a brand that very often winds up on that short list. And their new BabyFace Pro I suspect ticks a lot of the boxes you want.

First, four is a very good number – as in four inputs, four outputs. A lot of boxes give you two of either of those, but that often finds you running out of I/O. Others give you more – which you often never use. Four inputs cover a lot of recording applications without needing a mixer. A separate headphone out means you can create listen to a monitor or cue mix, or simply have two more line out channels (say, for rear speakers).

And the BabyFace Pro has a lot of other stuff that other boxes leave out:
MIDI.
Digital (ADAT and S/PDIF).
Hardware meters (so you can actually see your levels easily).

IMG_3142

IMG_3141

Now, MIDI isn’t hard to come by, but it’s nice to have. The I/O configurations make loads of sense, too. You get headphone jacks for both mini and jack plugs – with both high and low impedance, for whichever cans you have handy. You get inputs for both line level and high impedance (for instruments). You get real XLRs for your mics, even though it’s compact. (Only outs 3/4 are on minijack, but that’s not really an issue, I think.) And the form factor is lovely.

The only disadvantage I can see is, it’d be nice to have four line outs and then headphones switchable to 1/2 or 3/4, which is not what you get here – so quad fans may want to go elsewhere.

The BabyFace Pro is a USB interface (USB2/USB3), but RME is one company that seems to get that right. They really do produce devices that can clock reliably, thanks to what they explain is smart jitter production, and I can’t think of a single brand that has their sterling reputation for low latency performance on OS X and Windows and iOS/mobile and (though they don’t mention this) Linux. (Speaking of Linux: a friend actually tried his Linux box on the Messe show floor and verified plug-and-play operation and terrific performance. And, hey, don’t you want to invest in a box that will work with everything?)

IMG_3140

The marketing for this interface is a bit funny – with the slogan “reengineered, not remastered” and some pretty generous assumptions that customers will understand, for instance, why having an FPGA is important. But skipping that, I think this will top up that short list of really good audio interfaces. You can sign up now and they’ll let you know when it arrives.

http://babyface.rme-audio.de/

  • Nagasaki Nightrider

    The only reason you might want to know they used an FPGA is that it means better DSP performance with very low power requirements. FPGAs are excellent at parallel processing, which enables very low-latency even as you perform multiple digital operations on the audio data as you capture it and play it back through the A/D and D/A. Basically, they didn’t cut corners on components.

    • Heh, yes, though – both are somewhat inside references. Anyway, no matter: the interface looks great!

  • Nagasaki Nightrider

    The only reason you might want to know they used an FPGA is that it means better DSP performance and low power consumption. FPGAs are excellent at parallel processing, which enables very low-latency even as you perform multiple digital operations on the audio data as you capture it and play it back through the A/D and D/A. Basically, they didn’t cut corners on components.

    This new silicon and the better channel meters, at least, seem to be improvements over the previous Babyface design, which leads to something of a little audio joke, “Reengineered, not remastered”. The analogy being that they didn’t take the master tapes and reprocess the same old recording, they created a new original recording using better technology.

    • Heh, yes, though – both are somewhat inside references. Anyway, no matter: the interface looks great!

  • Simon Swain

    This looks great.

  • Simon Swain

    This looks great.

  • gal

    Why won’t they put normal knobs onto it? And why is it plastic?

    • Robin Parmar

      It’s not plastic; it’s aluminum. And “normal knobs”? What are they? You’ve got a huge dial here you can change to control any function in TotalMix, using the four buttons.

  • gal

    Why won’t they put normal knobs onto it? And why is it plastic?

    • Robin Parmar

      It’s not plastic; it’s aluminum. And “normal knobs”? What are they? You’ve got a huge dial here you can change to control any function in TotalMix, using the four buttons.

  • Korhan Erel

    So where should quad fans go?

  • Korhan Erel

    So where should quad fans go?

  • Stefano

    While this to me looks much more interesting than the original Babyface, I still don’t understand why they keep wasting 2 analog outs for headphones only. In many settings it would be much more useful to have 4 proper line outputs, and no headphones. They should have provided an alternative 2-channel line out.

    • I dare to disagree. Especially for mobile recording purposes, I am always looking for a very portable solution with two dedicated headphone outs. One for me and one for the singer/guitarist etc. that I am recording anywhere (in their living room, in a rehearsal room, in a hotel – wherever.) So, this one is a winner for me.

    • Sin8a

      Your TOTALLY Right…. I KEEP TELLING ALL STUPID SOUND CARD COMPANIES… they dont seem to understand even the basic of our usage need… 😉 very very limited minds they are not to even try to understand hihi

      make the headphone amp with a TRUE BYPASS SWITCH … or give 4 balanced out in the back that would be line outs..

      THERE IS NO ONLY THOSE WHO RECORD GUITAR bands THAT EXIST IN THIS WORLD… hehe so dumb

      • Well, let’s not get carried away … having a headphone out is a good thing.

        But yes, line outs would be great.

  • Stefano

    While this to me looks much more interesting than the original Babyface, I still don’t understand why they keep wasting 2 analog outs for headphones only. In many settings it would be much more useful to have 4 proper line outputs, and no headphones. They should have provided an alternative 2-channel line out.

    • I dare to disagree. Especially for mobile recording purposes, I am always looking for a very portable solution with two dedicated headphone outs. One for me and one for the singer/guitarist etc. that I am recording anywhere (in their living room, in a rehearsal room, in a hotel – wherever.) So, this one is a winner for me.

    • Sin8a

      Your TOTALLY Right…. I KEEP TELLING ALL STUPID SOUND CARD COMPANIES… they dont seem to understand even the basic of our usage need… 😉 very very limited minds they are not to even try to understand hihi

      make the headphone amp with a TRUE BYPASS SWITCH … or give 4 balanced out in the back that would be line outs..

      THERE IS NO ONLY THOSE WHO RECORD GUITAR bands THAT EXIST IN THIS WORLD… hehe so dumb

      • Well, let’s not get carried away … having a headphone out is a good thing.

        But yes, line outs would be great.

  • Stefano

    Any hint on the retail price?

  • Stefano

    Any hint on the retail price?

  • Robin Parmar

    The only thing I want to know is price.

    EDIT
    €743

  • Robin Parmar

    The only thing I want to know is price.

    EDIT
    €743

  • Is it going to come in pink like its predecessor? 😀 I hope it doesn’t scratch as easily, either.

  • Is it going to come in pink like its predecessor? 😀 I hope it doesn’t scratch as easily, either.

  • lolololol

    Love my Babyface 1.0, and this looks even better. Highly recommend the original.

  • lolololol

    Love my Babyface 1.0, and this looks even better. Highly recommend the original.

  • griotspeak

    Dag. Not even a month after I bought a UCX. I wanted something portable and I don’t like breakout cables. This… I would have purchased this. I don’t regret the purchase or anything, especially since the UCX has a nice standalone mode, but I would probably have bought this here device instead and picked up the UFX eventually for home.

  • griotspeak

    Dag. Not even a month after I bought a UCX. I wanted something portable and I don’t like breakout cables. This… I would have purchased this. I don’t regret the purchase or anything, especially since the UCX has a nice standalone mode, but I would probably have bought this here device instead and picked up the UFX eventually for home.

  • John S

    I wonder if all of this will translate to any audible differences between this and the previous Babyface?

  • John S

    I wonder if all of this will translate to any audible differences between this and the previous Babyface?

  • Brad Pitt

    so this is class compliant then?

    • PaulDavisTheFirst

      If it works on Linux as a USB device, then yes, it is class compliant.

    • Yes, that’s correct.

  • Brad Pitt

    so this is class compliant then?

    • PaulDavisTheFirst

      If it works on Linux as a USB device, then yes, it is class compliant.

    • Yes, that’s correct.

  • Brad Pitt

    also is this midi in and out or only one of the two, I only see one din and no label?

    • I believe it’s both, via a breakout cable.

      Why MIDI is still using DIN connectors at this point is kind of beyond me; I’d love to see us standardize on minijack.

      • Brad Pitt

        so do I , I’m so sick of dealing with standard midi cables. I have 6 coming out of just one of my samplers and it’s a hassle. I hope when you talk to rme that you ask them why they don’t implement those mini jacks?

      • Scoox

        Me too. AFAIK most MIDI cables use just 3 wires, and using a huge polarised connector for that seems a bit overkill. No wonder people prefer using MIDI-over-USB

  • Brad Pitt

    also is this midi in and out or only one of the two, I only see one din and no label?

    • I believe it’s both, via a breakout cable.

      Why MIDI is still using DIN connectors at this point is kind of beyond me; I’d love to see us standardize on minijack.

      • Brad Pitt

        so do I , I’m so sick of dealing with standard midi cables. I have 6 coming out of just one of my samplers and it’s a hassle. I hope when you talk to rme that you ask them why they don’t implement those mini jacks?

      • Scoox

        Me too. AFAIK most MIDI cables use just 3 wires, and using a huge polarised connector for that seems a bit overkill. No wonder people prefer using MIDI-over-USB