Akai EIE and EIE Pro USB Audio Interfaces
The EIE audio interface is a fourchannel USB interface, with a rugged aluminum casing (see Figure 1).
The compact interface is designed for tabletop use. It features four combination XLR/1/4-in. jacks, with phantom power and gain, on the front panel. The rear panel features four nickel-plated 1/4-in. jacks used for channel inserts for external audio processing. Four nickel-plated 1/4-in. outputs are also provided here for use with two separate monitoring systems. The interface also has four USB connections, three of which can be used as USB hub outputs, and a main USB port for connecting the interface to a computer. A MIDI input/output is also built in. A headphone jack is located on the front panel, along with two classic VU level meters with switchable sources. The interface does not require any driver installation and is a plug-and-play device. It supports 44.1 kHz sampling at 16-bit resolution.
The professional version of this interface, the EIE Pro, is a similar tabletop interface with four input and output channels and supports up to 96 kHz sampling at 24-bit resolution.
The Akai EIE is listed for US$ 299 and the Pro version for US$ 449. Contact: Akai, 200 Scenic View Drive, Suite 201, Cumberland, Rhode Island 02864, USA; telephone (+1) 401-658-4032; Web www.akaipro.com/.
Focusrite Forte Portable USB Audio Interface
The Forte audio interface from Focusrite is a two-input, four-output, portable audio interface (see Figure 2). It features two microphone preamplifiers, which can be remote-controlled. The output connections are located on the body of the interface and the input connections are available on a locking breakout cable. Two balanced 1/4-in. analog outputs and a USB port are provided on the rear panel, and a stereo headphone output is on the front panel. The breakout cable features two XLR connections for microphones, and two combination line/instrument inputs on 1/4-in. TRS jacks. The interface supports sampling rate up to 192 kHz, with 24-bit resolution, and uses 24-bit A-D and D-A convertors.
The aluminium case features a single large control knob on the top panel, along with an organic LED display and touch control. A set of touch-sensitive icons are used to switch the function of the large control knob between monitor, headphone, input, and DAW controls. The display is used for metering and also indicates the assignment of the control knob.
The Forte interface is bundled with a software application that is used to set monitoring, pre-amplifier gain, and other settings. Focusrite's Midnight plug-in suite is also included.
The interface can be powered via the USB bus or using an included power supply. The latter is required if using phantom power with microphones.
The Forte interface is compatible with Mac OS X and Windows operating systems. It measures 170 × 116 × 36 mm and weighs 476 g.
The Forte interface is listed for US$ 749.99. Contact: Focusrite Audio Engineering, Windsor House, Turnpike Road, High Wycombe, Bucks HP12 3FX, UK; telephone (+44) 149-446-2246; fax (+44) 149-445-9920; electronic mail firstname.lastname@example.org; Web www.focusrite.com/.
Nu Desine AlphaSphere MIDI Controller
The AlphaSphere from UK company nu desine is a sphere-shaped programmable MIDI controller that features 48 tactile, pressure-sensitive pads and full polyphonic aftertouch (see Figure 3). The pads are arranged in six rows, with eight pads per row. The AlphaSphere can be connected to a computer or other hardware devices via USB and can transmit OSC as well as MIDI messages.
A number of different modes are available for programming and playing the AlphaSphere. In MIDI Mode it functions as a multi-channel MIDI controller, with the pads triggering MIDI note and MIDI control data. Individual MIDI notes can be mapped to pads, or chromatic or diatonic scales can be mapped to the entire sphere...