M-Audio is hot. Where their product line was once littered with tons of products, some cool, some blah, they’ve got a lineup at AES that looks like it could be filled with hits.

At the top of my list is the new M-Audio ProjectMix I/O. This box looks like Digi’s 002 interface or Pro Control control surface, but M-Audio says it’s entirely their own design, unrelated to the recent Digibuyout. For under US$1000 street, this is a huge bargain:

  • Eight of everything: Eight channel strips, eight mic preamps, eight channels that support mic pres. Really. Plus S/PDIF, ADAT, and 1×1 MIDI — nothing left out.

  • Fully-motorized control surface: For the price, this feels really great, reminiscent of higher-end gear.

  • Friendly design: To me, there’s just the right number of buttons for control without so many you’ll stumble to find the right one, plus handy front-mounted guitar and headphone jacks.

  • Compatible with everything: Mackie Control, Logic Control, HUI support, and built-in, dedicated modes for Pro Tools, Logic, Live, SONAR, DP, and Cubase. I watched it tracking in demos in both Pro Tools and (via a fresh firmware update) Ableton Live. Appears to work like a charm.

  • Usual disclaimers apply: this is a trade show, so we’ll have to see how well it works in practice and really test the audio quality. (A room in the Javits Center does not a studio make.) But early outlook is very good. No product page yet; stay tuned.

    Next question: Since this is the ProjectMix “I/O,” how much you want to bet there will be a control surface-only “ProjectMix” version?