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Audient iD4 Audio Interface Review

aikofan

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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.
I understand that the iD4 headphone out has high output impedance, so it works better with high impedance headphones. My Sennheiser HD650 sounded fine through them with plenty of power for me, although I’m not the kind who loves to blast my eardrums out through my headphones.
 
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studio7

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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.

You didn't specify if it's the Audient iD4 Mk1 or Mk2. For me the Mk2 has plenty of power with my 55 Ohm AKG K240.

Also may I add a bit of advice. Don't torment your ears with high dB's, especially when listening through headphones.
 

grilli4nt

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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.
Thanks a lot for this detailed answer and great point about the speakers. I actually already have a nice speaker setup in my living room (mid thousands) for listening sessions during daytime / evening, the headphones setup I'm looking for now will be used mainly for gaming but also to listen to music later at night when I can't really use my speakers as I live in an apartment. I just recently bought the HD560S and tried them out and I might just stick to these as I am actually quite happy how they sound for my application (mainly gaming or other desktop use), but I am thinking of returning them to buy either a used set of the Arya Stealth or HD800S. I think for the HD560S, the ID4 mk 2 seems to handle it very well, but if I go with a more premium option of the Aryas or HD800S, I guess I should get a better amp.

I am just reading up on the balanced vs unbalanced input/output, still have not fully understood. If I connect a new balanced amp in between, can I get a balanced signal from the line out on the ID4 using 2 x 1/4 inch (L + R) to input to a balanced amp (for instance the topping L50 or schiit magnius)? And then I get a balanced cable and connect to the headphones?

When at the desktop, current setup is computer (source) -> USB C -> ID4 mk2 -> HD560S
When in living room, current setup is lyngdorf TDAI-1120 -> Dynaudio Heritage Special.

So if I buy a new amp, it will mostly be connected on my desktop setup to the ID4. But ideally I would also like to be able to move it to my living room to hook up to the TDAI-1120's analog pre-outs.
 

grilli4nt

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I understand that the iD4 headphone out has high output impedance, so it works better with high impedance headphones. My Sennheiser HD650 sounded fine through them with plenty of power for me, although I’m not the kind who loves to blast my eardrums out through my headphones.
Interesting to hear. So maybe the HD800S would actually work pretty well with the mk2 as well, given they seem to have quite similar impedence and sensitivity?
 

aikofan

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AnalogSteph

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I am just reading up on the balanced vs unbalanced input/output, still have not fully understood. If I connect a new balanced amp in between, can I get a balanced signal from the line out on the ID4 using 2 x 1/4 inch (L + R) to input to a balanced amp (for instance the topping L50 or schiit magnius)? And then I get a balanced cable and connect to the headphones?
Yes, you would be using two 1/4" TRS to 1/4" TRS cables between the iD4 monitor out and E50 input.

You can have balanced interconnects and unbalanced headphone cabling or vice versa, both generally have nothing to do with each other. In amps like the E50, the balanced output is provided just for convenience; they are unbalanced internally but provide high power and super low distortion regardless, which is what ultimately matters. Headphone drivers are floating so it's not like you could get into trouble with ground loops.

You do not really need balanced headphone wiring otherwise - it does not matter much whether the left and right headphone grounds are combined at the plug or right before the output jack, we are talking tens of milliohms in between here. The important part is the cable between the plug and the headphones. A 3 m cable can easily rack up 1 ohm per conductor, and you don't want that much as shared ground return resistance if your drivers are below 100 ohms nominal as a rule of thumb. Sennheiser is generally doing it right (they have a tradition of using thin and light cabling to prioritize comfort, so wire gauge has to be modest), Beyerdynamic or Philips tend to care less.

That would be my guess. You can look at the Julian Krause chart on this post and look up your impedance, which I’m guessing at 300ohms will result in 80mW, which is plenty of power.
https://audiosciencereview.com/foru...e-2-review-audio-interface.33683/post-1176950
Yeah, the MkII Audients are among the most powerful audio interfaces for mid-high impedance headphones you can get, and not overly stressed by lower-impedance loads either. They are really nothing to sneeze at. Granted, 80 mW might pale in contrast to a dedicated amp, but when you've got some 97 dB/mW cans like your average 300 ohm Sennheisers, that's still 116 dB SPL peak after all! The Arya would be a harder load to swallow but should still make it to about 108 dB; I would consider an L30 II as an "afterburner" just in case.

Neither headphone should care very much about the 22 ohm output impedance. The Arya is a planar and those have essentially ruler-flat impedance responses, and a lot of 300 ohm cans essentially don't care either. With a HD800S (Zmin = 340 ohms, Zmax = 670 ohms), that's 0.26 dB of deviation compared to a 0 ohm output, which should be a hair under the limit of perceptibility (around 0.3 dB).

So it's clearly not a case of "OMG you must buy a headphone amp, now!!!1" here. (Mind you, if you consider dropping 1.5 grand on cans you can probably afford one. I can still remember the days when headphones that expensive weren't even a thing outside electrostats, and the HD650 was king of the hill. The standards for headphone driving sure have come a long way since then, too. Unless you're a Focusrite Scarlett gen 3, that is - that's basically a cMoy...)

The funny thing is, the HD560S would care the most of the bunch. At about 135 ohms min, 240 ohms max, we are talking a 0.55 dB deviation, still not exactly earth-shattering and dramatic but probably audible in a direct comparison.
 

grilli4nt

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Yes, you would be using two 1/4" TRS to 1/4" TRS cables between the iD4 monitor out and E50 input.

You can have balanced interconnects and unbalanced headphone cabling or vice versa, both generally have nothing to do with each other. In amps like the E50, the balanced output is provided just for convenience; they are unbalanced internally but provide high power and super low distortion regardless, which is what ultimately matters. Headphone drivers are floating so it's not like you could get into trouble with ground loops.

You do not really need balanced headphone wiring otherwise - it does not matter much whether the left and right headphone grounds are combined at the plug or right before the output jack, we are talking tens of milliohms in between here. The important part is the cable between the plug and the headphones. A 3 m cable can easily rack up 1 ohm per conductor, and you don't want that much as shared ground return resistance if your drivers are below 100 ohms nominal as a rule of thumb. Sennheiser is generally doing it right (they have a tradition of using thin and light cabling to prioritize comfort, so wire gauge has to be modest), Beyerdynamic or Philips tend to care less.


Yeah, the MkII Audients are among the most powerful audio interfaces for mid-high impedance headphones you can get, and not overly stressed by lower-impedance loads either. They are really nothing to sneeze at. Granted, 80 mW might pale in contrast to a dedicated amp, but when you've got some 97 dB/mW cans like your average 300 ohm Sennheisers, that's still 116 dB SPL peak after all! The Arya would be a harder load to swallow but should still make it to about 108 dB; I would consider an L30 II as an "afterburner" just in case.

Neither headphone should care very much about the 22 ohm output impedance. The Arya is a planar and those have essentially ruler-flat impedance responses, and a lot of 300 ohm cans essentially don't care either. With a HD800S (Zmin = 340 ohms, Zmax = 670 ohms), that's 0.26 dB of deviation compared to a 0 ohm output, which should be a hair under the limit of perceptibility (around 0.3 dB).

So it's clearly not a case of "OMG you must buy a headphone amp, now!!!1" here. (Mind you, if you consider dropping 1.5 grand on cans you can probably afford one. I can still remember the days when headphones that expensive weren't even a thing outside electrostats, and the HD650 was king of the hill. The standards for headphone driving sure have come a long way since then, too. Unless you're a Focusrite Scarlett gen 3, that is - that's basically a cMoy...)

The funny thing is, the HD560S would care the most of the bunch. At about 135 ohms min, 240 ohms max, we are talking a 0.55 dB deviation, still not exactly earth-shattering and dramatic but probably audible in a direct comparison.
Thanks for detailed answer. They don't sell Topping and many other popular brands that are referred to here, where I live in Sweden. I have my eyes on the iFi Audio Zen Can amp, which only has a 4.4mm balanced input as well as unbalanced 3.5 and 2xRCA inputs:
1676310486944.png


For output, it has a 4.4mm balanced or 6.35 unbalanced. I just bought a used pair of HD800S, and have two cables, both original sennheiser. One is 6.35 and one is balanced pentaconn 4.4mm. So for output from the zen can, I would just use the balanced cable in that case.

The question I have if I go with the zen can is how do I connect the ID4 with the zen cans input? I guess since the zen can has balanced input, I would like to use it? But then I need some kind of 6.35mm to 4.4mm adapter (since the ID4 has 6.35 out). Seems like there are no such adapters available? So I guess I could go with 2x6.35 male to XLR female adapters, and then plug in this cable? Pictures below:
1676310884614.png
1676310699013.png


Not sure if all these adapters make sense? Maybe just connect the ID4 to the zen can using unbalanced? If I do that, do I simply use a stereo 6.35 / 3.5 to 2x RCA using the headphone out and plug it into the zen can RCA inputs? Or can I use 6.35 line outs on the back to RCA?

Or I just stick to the ID4 alone. Now when I've tried with the HD800s, I actually get plenty volume. When I put the monitor mix in the middle (i.e. filter out 50% of the DAW output to also hear myself in the mic), the volume in games is actually still quite loud (although I guess it would not harm having a bit more headroom in some applications). When I listen to music purely however I just move the monitor mix to 100% DAW and then there is plenty volume.
 

studio7

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Have you accidentally pressed the big rotary knob? It also acts as a button, cutting the volume by 15dB.

I replicated your setup with my Shure SM58 mic, and the AKG K240 plugged straight into the iD4's headphones-out. Mic Gain at 2 o'clock, and Monitor Mix at 10 o'clock. Both the mic and audio from the PC are SUPER LOUD.


micbalance.jpg
 

grilli4nt

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Have you accidentally pressed the big rotary knob? It also acts as a button, cutting the volume by 15dB.

I replicated your setup with my Shure SM58 mic, and the AKG K240 plugged straight into the iD4's headphones-out. Mic Gain at 2 o'clock, and Monitor Mix at 10 o'clock. Both the mic and audio from the PC are SUPER LOUD.


View attachment 264695
Tried now, I had not accidently clicked the volume knob. If I put monitor mix at 10 o clock the volume at max level both on the interace and windows is moderate with my HD800S. Loud enough in some scenarios, but would be good with some more headroom. Sweet spot for me right now is to put the monitor mix knob to 12 o clock, since the HD800S anyway are open backs and let through some of my own voice, I am ok with less feedback from the mic and more volume from the computer. At 12 o clock though, it is plenty loud, louder than what is good for my ears. So I think I am OK for now without adding a seperate amp.

Edit: I could of course increase mic gain, it is currently set to about 1 o clock or even less. However, don't want to crank gain as my NT1 picks up background noise quite well. Maybe I should just get a dynamic mic. Does the SM58 work well with the ID4 for you?
 

studio7

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Tried now, I had not accidently clicked the volume knob. If I put monitor mix at 10 o clock the volume at max level both on the interace and windows is moderate with my HD800S. Loud enough in some scenarios, but would be good with some more headroom. Sweet spot for me right now is to put the monitor mix knob to 12 o clock, since the HD800S anyway are open backs and let through some of my own voice, I am ok with less feedback from the mic and more volume from the computer. At 12 o clock though, it is plenty loud, louder than what is good for my ears. So I think I am OK for now without adding a seperate amp.

Edit: I could of course increase mic gain, it is currently set to about 1 o clock or even less. However, don't want to crank gain as my NT1 picks up background noise quite well. Maybe I should just get a dynamic mic. Does the SM58 work well with the ID4 for you?

iD4's clean mic preamplifier is one of its strongest selling points, and of course it works great with the SM58.

But I'm not sure if a dynamic would be a good choice for gaming applications, because the mic has to stay pretty close to your mouth, limiting head movement.

Btw I also tested Audient's ASIO driver in Reaper. It's a software DAW that lets you listen to your mic without any latency, while keeping the Monitor Mix knob at 100%. Works great, and provides an additional 6dB of volume boost.
 

grilli4nt

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iD4's clean mic preamplifier is one of its strongest selling points, and of course it works great with the SM58.

But I'm not sure if a dynamic would be a good choice for gaming applications, because the mic has to stay pretty close to your mouth, limiting head movement.

Btw I also tested Audient's ASIO driver in Reaper. It's a software DAW that lets you listen to your mic without any latency, while keeping the Monitor Mix knob at 100%. Works great, and provides an additional 6dB of volume boost.
You're right, I also use the mic alot for zoom calls in my work, and being required to be up close to the mic is probably not ideal for my application.

Thanks for the trick with Reaper! I just downloaded it and tried a few things. Do you have any tips on settings? I have selected ASIO and have managed to hear myself back. I reduced sample size to its minimum to reduce latency. This is OK, but still not as crisp and zero latency as when using the hardware knob. Also, my voice sounds a bit metallic. Any ideas?

1676460230402.png
 

studio7

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You're right, I also use the mic alot for zoom calls in my work, and being required to be up close to the mic is probably not ideal for my application.

Thanks for the trick with Reaper! I just downloaded it and tried a few things. Do you have any tips on settings? I have selected ASIO and have managed to hear myself back. I reduced sample size to its minimum to reduce latency. This is OK, but still not as crisp and zero latency as when using the hardware knob. Also, my voice sounds a bit metallic. Any ideas?

View attachment 265045

Yeah, it does sound a bit metallic. Probably the effects of acoustic comb filtering.

Try setting the sample rate to 96kHz. I think it sounds a little better, and more hi-fi.
 
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Trell

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You're right, it does sound a bit metallic. Probably the effects of acoustic comb filtering.

Try setting the sample rate to 96kHz. I think it sounds a little better, and more hi-fi.
Nah, changing the sample rate won’t amount to much if anything at all.

Applying some EQ on the mic, adjusted to fit with his voice, could work well. Trying out different microphones is another option.

Also worth noticing that his voice that other gamers hear is most likely quite heavily processed, so if he could hear is game processed voice that would give an indication of what to change.

For gaming I guess that a clearly heard voice is needed, even when screaming during games. :)
 
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grilli4nt

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Thanks all, I will give it a try to play with EQ and check some other settings too. All I want would be to come close to how it sounds when using the direct monitoring feature on the soundcard, using that one my voice seems very true to how it sounds in reality. The NT1 also has an almost flat EQ curve so it feels quite true to how I actually sound.
In terms of delay, it's just a few ms but enough to hear it's not instant. I tried playing with the input manual offset but it does nothing on the mic hearing, I guess this is maybe only for recording?
1676485247356.png
 

studio7

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Thanks all, I will give it a try to play with EQ and check some other settings too. All I want would be to come close to how it sounds when using the direct monitoring feature on the soundcard, using that one my voice seems very true to how it sounds in reality. The NT1 also has an almost flat EQ curve so it feels quite true to how I actually sound.
In terms of delay, it's just a few ms but enough to hear it's not instant. I tried playing with the input manual offset but it does nothing on the mic hearing, I guess this is maybe only for recording?
View attachment 265084

It is a hardware limitation when monitoring your sound through the converters. They add a couple of ms delay, which you probably won't feel, but will hear as a phasey, metallic effect, when the sound from the headphones is mixed with the acoustic sound of your voice. Unfortunately, there' s no way around it, and latency compensation won't help.
 
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studio7

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Whoah! Today, while I was listening to music, the iD4 suddenly started producing the loudest imaginable digital noise, that didn't stop until I unplugged the USB cable. Maybe it was the combination of using a 96kHz rate, and a 16 samples buffer.
 
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AnalogSteph

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Whoah! Today, while I was listening to music, the iD4 suddenly started producing the loudest imaginable digital noise, that didn't stop until I unplugged the USB cable. Maybe it was the combination of using a 96kHz rate, and a 16 samples buffer.
That does sound like it's asking for trouble (btw, you should be well in diminishing returns territory with a buffer size this small, 32 samples at 96 kHz is just 0.33 ms). That being said, in a bus-powered interface you can never rule out potential power supply issues either, so I would rather avoid plugging the interface into a front USB port and such.
 

studio7

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That does sound like it's asking for trouble (btw, you should be well in diminishing returns territory with a buffer size this small, 32 samples at 96 kHz is just 0.33 ms). That being said, in a bus-powered interface you can never rule out potential power supply issues either, so I would rather avoid plugging the interface into a front USB port and such.

No more experiments. Switching from 44.1kHz to 96kHz did add a bit of clarity in the higher frequencies, but that digital "fart" was brutal.
 

oobboo

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Does someone here use the ID4 MKI with an M1 Mac? I need an interface for occasional acoustic guitar recordings and used MKI dropped drastically in price (used price around 30€). I´ve found some people had problems with the ID14 but nothing about the ID4. Would be a great deal :)

Thank you :)
 
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