• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Need a 2 in x 4 out audio interface with a great headphone amp - recommendations?

Wavez

Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2021
Messages
31
Likes
12
I need a portable audio interface for gigs, and I would like to also use it at home as a desktop headphone amp for casual listening - on Audeze mm-100 headphones which are 18ohms, 98db sensitive, and minimum power level >100mW (>200mW recommended).

Along with the headphone amp, here are my needs:
  • 2x 1/4" inputs (or xlr 1/4" combo jacks)
  • 4x outputs (real outputs, the headphone out doesn't count)
  • midi in/out (would be nice to have, but not a deal breaker)
  • low latency
  • reliable software (will be used for live performances, can't risk pops, clicks or crashes)
  • class compliant
  • under ~$400
Obviously this is a tricky question to quantify because a lot of interfaces haven't been tested.

The two that are on the top of my list haven't been tested by amir but both have been tested mostly favorably by Julian Krause (https://www.youtube.com/@JulianKrause):
  • Audient iD14 mkii
  • Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (4th gen)
However, neither of these puts out >100mW @16ohms from the headphone amp.
In fact, from Julians charts, I see that very few interfaces even come close to that power. Maybe this is a dead end in this price range.

Any other recommendations?

Also considering:
  • Focusrite Clarett+ 2pre USB
  • Arturia Audiofuse 4

Random thoughts:
  • I like that the audient is fully USB powered. One less cable. yay.
  • I like that the audient has an adat input.
  • I see that audient had some concerning manufacturing issues on the mki version.
 

staticV3

Master Contributor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
8,379
Likes
13,552
Julian Krause's measurements of audio interfaces show that the majority of them have rather poor headphone Amps built in:
Screenshot_20231202-012257_YouTube.png

If you're after an interface with a high quality Amp inside, then perhaps consider the upcoming Topping E4X4.

The E2X2 has already been thoroughly reviewed here, and the E4X4 should be more of the same.

Edit: according to Topping's specs, the E4X4 should be capable of about 3.6Vrms into 18Ω, which translates to 720mW per channel:
E4x4-Pre-en-15_04__01.jpg Screenshot_20231209-014347.jpg
 
Last edited:

twsecrest

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Messages
902
Likes
291
Location
California
With 18-Ohm headphones, there should be no power issue.
But, for best damping control, you want the headphone jack to have an output impedance (Ohm) of around 2-Ohms, or less.
I'm guessing none of the units listed offers that low of a output impedance.
So you might consider getting an add-on headphone amplifier ($100-$110), to connect to the Audio Interface's line-output.
 
OP
W

Wavez

Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2021
Messages
31
Likes
12
Yes the topping units are very intriguing, but I'm not sure I can trust the brand yet in a performance setting.
 

JeffGB

Active Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2019
Messages
238
Likes
342
The MOTU M4 and M2 have a nice low output impedance of .06 ohms but power output for headphones may not be enough, depending on your needs.
 

unpluggged

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2023
Messages
469
Likes
699
OP
W

Wavez

Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2021
Messages
31
Likes
12
Hmm the m4 actually looks pretty ideal minus the headphone amp power. Maybe that plus a separate headphone amp is the move
 

b7676

Active Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2021
Messages
146
Likes
88
Maybe that plus a separate headphone amp is the move
L50 if you use digital volume control at your source. L70 gets you perfect analog volume control, preamp, 2 profile and last setting memory, internal power supply.
 
Top Bottom