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  • Products of Interest

ESI XT USB Audio Interfaces

German company ESI has added two new USB audio interfaces to its XT series. The U86 XT (see Figure 1) is a USB 2.0 high-speed interface with eight input channels and six output channels, all of which can be used simultaneously. There are two combination line/XLR/Hi-Z inputs with gain control and LED meter indicators on the front panel. The microphone inputs feature integrated microphone preamplifiers and 48-V phantom power. The rear panel has eight line inputs on ¼-in TRS connectors and six similar line outputs. Digital S/PDIF input/output, stereo mix output, MIDI input/output, and the USB 2.0 port are also located on the rear panel. A headphone output is provided on the front panel.

The interface supports a 96-kHz sampling rate at 24-bit sampling depth. The analog-to-digital convertors have a dynamic range of 107 dB (A-weighted) and the digital-to-analog convertors have a 112 dB (A-weighted) dynamic range. The body measures 21 x 14.5 x 4.5 cm.

The larger U168 XT is a 16-input, eight-output model of the interface. It has four microphone preamplifiers and an additional two microphone inputs on the front channel. There are 16 line inputs on the rear panel and eight line outputs, but all other features are the same as in the U86 XT. This interface measures 45 x 14.5 x 4.5 cm.

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Figure 1.

ESI's XT U86 USB audio interface.

Low-latency WDM, ASIO, and CoreAudio drivers are available for the interfaces, making them compatible with Macintosh and Windows machines. Purchase includes Bitwig eight-track digital audio workstation (DAW) and a license for Stanton's Deckadance LE.

ESI also makes a range of MIDI interfaces, including the MIDI nTour CX, a MIDI interface cable for iOS devices. The cable has a full-size MIDI input and output at one end and a 30-pin iOS connector at the other end. This allows users to connect MIDI synthesizers, sequencers, and other devices to their iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices.

The U86 XT and U168 XT are listed for approximately US$ 475 and US$ 652 and the MIDI nTour CX for US$ 25. Contact: ESI Audiotechnik, Mollenbachstrasse 14, D-71229 Leonberg, Germany; e-mail; Web

PreSonus Quantum Thunderbolt Audio/MIDI Interface

The PreSonus Quantum is a low-latency low-jitter 26 x 32-channel audio and MIDI interface with Thunderbolt 2 connectivity. It supports sample rates up to 192 kHz at 24-bit depth, and offers a dynamic range of 120 dB.

The interface has two combination microphone/instrument/line inputs on the front panel and six combination microphone/line inputs on the rear panel. Each has a recallable XMAX preamplifier with +48V phantom power. The rear panel also features two ¼-in TRS main outputs, eight ¼-in TRS line outputs, MIDI input/output, BNC word clock input/output, ADAT optical input/output, and S/PDIF stereo digital input/output. The analog outputs are all DC-coupled. Two independent headphone outputs with volume controls are provided on the front panel. Up to four Quantum interfaces can be connected to provide 96 channels of audio input and output.

The central section of the front panel of the interface features a digital display and control section for the preamplifiers, a built-in talkback microphone (which can be routed to any mix), and dim/mute controls. There are also eight-segment LEDs for each channel, with green, yellow, and red color coding for signal level. A large main knob with a range of –80 dB to 0 dB can be used to control any of the outputs.

Preamplifier control functions are integrated into the PreSonus One Artist DAW and most features can be controlled by the company's free UC Surface control software. This allows for integration with third-party recording software. Purchase of the Quantum interface includes PreSonus's Studio Magic plug-in suite and a discount for the Professional edition of their Studio One DAW software.

The interface measures 1...


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