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Audient iD4 Audio Interface Review

Yaniv

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I have no noise with the 2i4 2nd Gen with AKG K701 BUT it lacks power, as a fact.

Can you confirm that the noise complain isn't about the line output?
I never used the line out.
It's only in headphones out.
 
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The Audient iD4 has been my main office / desktop interface for about 2 years now. I wanted the iD4 mainly for the sound of the mic preamp and the DI input for recording electric and acoustic guitars direct. (Mac, Logic Pro, Ableton, AmpliTUBE.) I also love the Big Fat Volume knob - which feels coarse initially - but is actually high resolution and provides very precise level control. When rehearsing / recording guitar I monitor either with Alclair Reference IEMs or my vintage AT ATH-2. For background listening it drives a pair of powered monitors / sub. Whether it measures as well as other similar priced ADC / DAC combos I don’t really care as the hook for me was the great sounding preamp and DI - but I will say that it SOUNDS better than the Behringer UMC404HD which allegedly has “Midas“ designed preamps. I love mixing on Midas desks live but the UMC had absolutely no character. Overall I’d say the iD4 is “musical” and if you are recording guitar or bass it deserves a listen. As a straight up DAC driving another HPA I dunno...
 

dylanmitchell

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Thanks for the detailed review and specs I have what's now called the iD4MKI that's covered in this review. Great amp and a decent headphone amp. If you only need a single line amp and single DI input it's a compelling option. Costs more and has one less output than the ubiquitous Scarlett 2i2. Money is going to a better amp and better sound. New MKII versions iD4 and iD4 have updated and improved on most specs and use USB-C but can be connected with a USB 3.0 adapter. iD4 MKI is still a great USB mixer and has the more common USB 2.0 and has been out longer. Don't pay full price for one, with MKII version out you may find good sales and deals on used ones.

Interestingly Audient's section on why USB 2.0 is better is still up.

When designing the iD interface range we wanted it to be compatible with as many systems as possible to ensure our renowned audio quality was available to as many users as possible. USB 2.0 was chosen as it is currently the most prolific port on computers. This means you can use any of our interfaces in the studio or out on the road anywhere in the world and not have to worry about finding a compatible port on a computer!
 

AnalogSteph

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I won't be too surprised if the new interfaces will technically still operate on a USB 2.0 port but merely require the increased power delivery of a 3.0 port, so you may be able to kludge something together to make them work even on an older system (e.g. use a powered hub).

Besides, the above text has to be from 2018 or so as it talks about the iD44. I still have some USB 2.0-only dinosaurs, but the last of these must have been delivered in about early 2012 or so, so they're getting on a bit now, and leaving almost decade-old systems behind seems easier than ones that might be as young as 6 years. Some of them can be retrofitted with USB 3.0 cards (PCIe or ExpressCard) as well, or have already been. How many folks with a 10-year-old machine are in the market for a brand new audio interface anyway?

So clearly the compatibility issue is no longer as pressing now and should become less and less relevant during MkII product lifetime, while there are concrete, marketable benefits to be had from increased power delivery (higher dynamic range and headphone output). It certainly seems alluring from a manufacturer's POV.
 

daftcombo

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Has anyone tried the Audient iD4 MKII?
 

Jim_VN

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I am confused between id4 and focusrite solo gen3, the main purpose is to compare preamps to record vocals, which option is better? Thanks!
 

umbral

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I am confused between id4 and focusrite solo gen3, the main purpose is to compare preamps to record vocals, which option is better? Thanks!
Just get the Motu M2 it has a better chip in the v2 version.

Better than both the audio interfaces you mentioned.
 

studio7

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I am confused between id4 and focusrite solo gen3, the main purpose is to compare preamps to record vocals, which option is better? Thanks!

I had to make the same decision, and went for the Audient. The iD4 has a cleaner preamp, which gives you more flexibility, allowing you to add different shades of "warmth" with software tube emulations in the DAW.
 
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I had to make the same decision, and went for the Audient. The iD4 has a cleaner preamp, which gives you more flexibility, allowing you to add different shades of "warmth" with software tube emulations in the DAW.
I like the fact that Audient also builds world class analog consoles and mic preamps. The iD4 is also superior for recording electric with amp sims. It’s hard to define but I find that that it “feels” more like being plugged into an amp - the way the guitar reacts with the input section. Really nice.

I also like the desktop format and the giant knob on the iD4.
 

aikofan

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Just ordered the mkII version from Thomann, where it’s more than 30% cheaper than in the US, even with the high shipping costs. Just hope it doesn’t take too many weeks to arrive in California.
 

aikofan

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Just ordered the mkII version from Thomann, where it’s more than 30% cheaper than in the US, even with the high shipping costs. Just hope it doesn’t take too many weeks to arrive in California.
I can’t believe I just received this unit via UPS just 3 days after ordering. It traveled from Germany to California after passing through customs. It would have taken about the same amount of time if I had ordered from Amazon, except I saved over $50. One minor thing though is I wish they had added some packing material instead of allowing the product box to just rattle around freely inside an empty shipping box several times its size. Good thing this unit looks like it’s built like a tank. I can’t wait to try it out tonight.
 

teashea

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Audient iD4 Audio Interface (USB DAC and ADC) plus headphone output. It was kindly sent to me by a member. The iD4 costs US $199 including Prime shipping.

The build quality is quite solid:


The shell is close to what Schiit uses but thicker gauge. There is a lot of weight in this little package so should be able to stay on the desk without moving due to weight of cabling.

Here is the top view:


The rotary encoder/volume control feels good although the adjustments are a bit coarse for my taste. The smaller controls also feel nice.

Back panel shows the paucity of inputs and outputs:

You only have USB for input and Mic for input.

Line out is in the form of 1/4 inch TRS jacks. I have lost my adapters for these mono connections so I was only able to test one channel. These are common on pro products so not an issue for its intended audience.

As soon as I opened the unit it told me to go and download their driver. I did even though I expect such devices to work with class drivers in Windows. Well, that cause audio driver hassle from hell. The device was not seen as an audio device anymore. Windows oddly reported it as a combination of mouse and audio device! Deleting that device showed why: it killed my wireless USB Logitech keyboard and mouse. :( Hitting the power switch and rebooting caused windows to reinstall my keyboard and mouse. I think I rebooted one more time and by magic, the iD4 was recognized as a sound device this time.

I was hoping for a native ASIO driver but what I got was another install of the ASIO4ALL wrapper which I already had. :( Wherever you buy it from, make sure you can return it if you can't get it to work in your operating system.

DAC Audio Measurements
Let's start with USB input and line out:
View attachment 44341

SINAD/THD+N is strictly defined by the third harmonic at -100 dB. That places the iD4 near the top of our third tier of all DACs tested:

View attachment 44343

Dynamic range is good for intended use:
View attachment 44344

Jitter test shows a lot of spikes that bother the eye but not an issue for your ears:

View attachment 44345

IMD shows what we already know:
View attachment 44346

Linearity is good:
View attachment 44347

And here is our multitone resembling "music:"
View attachment 44357

ADC Audio Measurements
Using the device in reverse to digitize its mic input and setting the levels so that we avoid clipping in digital domain (0 dBFS) gets us this dashboard:

View attachment 44348

Please ignore the Channel 2. It is not used and for some reason I could not get AP software to not plot it.

SINAD of 83 dB places the iD4 in our bottom tier:
View attachment 44349

Operating the ADC a few dB below its maximum did improve its SINAD to 86 dB or so. You can see this when I sweep the level and measure THD+N (SINAD):

View attachment 44350

If you can stay around -8 dB, you will be in better shape. Likely that is how you will use it anyway to avoid overload the input and clipping.

Input linearity is about 17 bits which again is good for the target application:
View attachment 44351

I could feed the iD5 192 kHz sampling I use for this test but it acted the same as 96 kHz which I think is its maximum spec:

View attachment 44352

Dynamic range is once again the magic number, 17 bits:
View attachment 44353

Headphone Amplifier Audio Measurements
Power into 300 ohm is not bad for casual use and for a device that is strictly USB powered:

View attachment 44354

It falls on its face though when the load is reduced to 33 ohms:
View attachment 44355

Is it because of high output impedance causing power loss?

View attachment 44356

It is. What a shame. So be careful of headphones that have non-flat impedance that is lower than 200 ohms or so.

Conclusions
The Audient iD4 targets getting 16 bit audio right and in just about every measurement it does that with some headroom left. For a budget audio interface, that is all you want to get: honest 16 bit performance. It is no use to get it as a DAC only device as its performance can easily be bested by many other consumer DACs. Ditto for its headphone output. But for a combination device where you use its input and nice mechanical controls, it is a good piece of hardware.

Alas, the hassles I went through -- as common as they seem to be in pro products -- should not have been there. Only brave that if you know you can return the product if it doesn't work as stated earlier.

Overall, I can recommend the Audient iD4 for this class of budget interface if you don't get hit with driver issues.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Had a large delivery a few days ago. The truck driver refused to come down to our house even though many others have with no issues whatsoever. So I drove my car up to the main street and brought the packages down that way. Alas, when I took him back to his truck and tried to turn around, hit a pole and bashed my bumper. :( The pink panthers are feeling sorry for me and pooled their allowances to help me get it fixed. Alas, their allowance is raw meat and I am not sure what to do with that. You all are not responsible for such costs I incur but you may want to keep in mind that I can delete any post at will if I am too grumpy and consider donating using : https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
Would you consider testing the new Mk II version of the iD4? Julian Krause found it to be quite a bit better. Thanks
 

teashea

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Just ordered the mkII version from Thomann, where it’s more than 30% cheaper than in the US, even with the high shipping costs. Just hope it doesn’t take too many weeks to arrive in California.
Look at Julian Krause's review on YT. It is quite good.
 

Jerry Sobel

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I can’t believe I just received this unit via UPS just 3 days after ordering. It traveled from Germany to California after passing through customs. It would have taken about the same amount of time if I had ordered from Amazon, except I saved over $50. One minor thing though is I wish they had added some packing material instead of allowing the product box to just rattle around freely inside an empty shipping box several times its size. Good thing this unit looks like it’s built like a tank. I can’t wait to try it out tonight.
What were the duty charges?
 

aikofan

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What were the duty charges?
I luckily wasn’t charged for customs duties and so far haven’t yet received a bill over a month later.

However, I’ve been experiencing problems with noise and error messages when connecting the ID4 to my Studio One DAW, so I need to ship it back to Thomann. There’s lots of customs forms to deal with, international shipping charges (which hopefully Thomann will reimburse), and another opportunity to get hit with customs duties. So now I’m realizing that I probably would have been better off buying this from a US retailer like Sweetwater and Amazon.

In the meantime, I got a Motu M2 to tide me over, and it’s been working error-free. I just wish the form factor was different. I prefer the XLR inputs in the rear and controls and display on top, like the Audient, but the Motu’s on/off switch and monitoring levels implementation are superior.
 

grilli4nt

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Hi all. I have the Audient ID4 for a simple gaming setup with a NT1 mic connected and a set of headphones using the 3.5mm jack and I would love some advice! The main selling point for me with this device is that I have full control over the volume balance between direct mic monitoring and the in-game sound (coming from arctic pro wireless where side tone has been an integral part for me), as the ID4 has a dedicated hardware knob for this on the interface. Therefore I've chosen the ID4 over the Motu and focusrites, etc.

Now, I have noticed that the headphone out on the ID4 is not of very high quality, I suppose it's mainly the amp that is not very powerful. Currently I don't have premium headphones but I am in the hunt for a pair of cans around the 1 - 1.5k dollar mark. Can anyone recommend if it would be possible (and improve anything) if I connected an external headphone amp from the L and R line outs on the back? I.e. I'm trying to use the ID4's DAC and built in direct mic monitoring mixed with PC sound, while still getting an amp that properly can power a set of nice headphones.

It is not an option to connect a new DAC-AMP setup directly through USB as that beats the purpose of the direct mic monitoring feature. Using software to listen to your own mic introduces delay, albeit small delay, still unbearable.

Thanks a lot for any input here if my idea of using the line outs on the ID4 as pre-outs.
 

AnalogSteph

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Of course that'll work, though you'd want a headphone amp with balanced inputs (Sabaj A20h, Topping L50, Lake People G103-S or thereabouts).

You can also daisychain one with unbalanced inputs from the headphone out (using a corresponding cable), which tends to mitigate a lot of issues that headphone outs can have. This would give you a fair few more inexpensive options (L30 II, Magni Heretic, Atom Amp,+, ...) while leaving the monitor out free.

BTW, before dropping up to 1.5 grand on headphones alone I'd rather make sure I also had some decent active monitors first. You can get some pretty good stuff in that kind of budget. Nothing wrong with having some decent cans as well (I'm using some current HD600s myself, and still having a decent collection from my broke student times), but IMHO decent speakers beat decent headphones for general use any day of the week. When all you have is the budget for some HD560S' or something, those are going to be a great option as you're not going to get anything nearly as good in the speaker realm. Diminishing returns for headphones are really going to kick in somewhere in the mid-hundreds, while for speakers it's more in the low-mid thousands.
 
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