A USB audio interface these days is about as exciting as a pair of knee socks, and unlike the latter, you don’t really need multiples. But this particular box is actually interesting.

Trio USB [Mindprint]

First, the Trio delivers all the hardware effects you’d need in a channel strip: mic inputs, low-cut filter, “vintage” 2-band EQ, compressor. And there’s plenty of I/O here, connecting via USB 2.0.

Second, this box has what’s missing on so many audio interfaces: three assignable speaker outs and two separate headphone outs with headphone amps.

Mindprint is marketing this as a recording solution, but I’m skeptical. Processing before recording can cause problems when mixing and mastering; better for those of us who don’t know what we’re doing as a recording engineer (I’ll hold my hand up here) to add effects non-destructively in software.

But as a live performance interface, this thing is brilliant. You can tweak the effects you need most, like compression on your vocals, and use them live in-hardware. And having separate headphone outs and speaker outs is perfect for setting up monitors or monitoring a laptop mix with headphones for cueing and the like. Finally, if you want to leave the laptop offstage, this functions in standalone mode.

Coming next month; US$549 – GBP 329 – EUR 449.