Audio Express — 6 x 6 Hybrid Firewire/USB2 interface
Audio Express feature summary
- 6-input, 6-output audio interface for Mac and Windows.
- 6 x 8 physical input/output channels — all channels are available simultaneously and operate independently.
- Hybrid FireWire/USB 2.0 connectivity — connect to your Mac or PC via either bus-powered Firewire or hi-speed USB2.
- 8-bus digital mixer — routes and mixes all six inputs to any output pair.
- Four separate mixes — each output pair (main outs, line outs, S/PDIF out, and phones) can have a completely different mix of all six inputs, with or without computer tracks.
- Two mic/guitar combo jacks — provide hi-Z 1/4” guitar input or XLR mic input with phantom power, 20 dB pad, Precision Digital Trim™, and plenty of gain.
- Stereo analog inputs — on line-level, balanced TRS quarter-inch jacks. Great for keyboards or other line level-input signals.
- Stereo main outs — on balanced TRS quarter-inch jacks. Connect directly to powered speakers (or other line-level analog destination).
- Stereo 24-bit 96kHz S/PDIF digital in/out.
- Stereo headphone output on quarter-inch jack with independent volume control.
- Support for standard sample rates up to 96 kHz.
- Precision Digital Trim™ — digitally controlled analog trim on all inputs provides adjustments in approximately 1 dB increments. Fine-tune the balance of your inputs and then save/recall trim configurations.
- Front-panel mixing and control — each input has its own dedicated volume knob. Control multiple mixes with clear feedback from front panel LEDs and metering.
- CueMix FX cross-platform mixing software — attractive on-screen graphic mixing with an instrument tuner and audio analysis tools including real-time FFT display, spectrogram "waterfall" display, oscilloscope, X-Y plot and linear or polar phase analysis.
- Stand-alone operation — bring the Audio Express to your gig, with or without a computer. Just plug in the included power adapter and you are ready to go. Need to tweak the mix? Just turn the front-panel knobs.
- Front panel volume control of main outs and headphone jack.
- Expandable — add additional interfaces for more I/O as your needs grow.
- Time code support — directly resolves to (or generates) time code via any quarter-inch input or output, without the need for an extra synchronizer.
- Direct Digital Synthesis™ (DDS) — a DSP-driven phase lock engine and internal clock source that produces imperceptibly low jitter characteristics (below the noise floor), even when the Audio Express is resolved to an external clock source via SMPTE time code.
- Sample-accurate MIDI — connect a MIDI controller and/or sound module with no separate interface needed. MIDI I/O is sample-accurate with supporting software.
- Foot switch input — connect a standard foot pedal switch (sold separately) for hands-free punch-in and punch-out while recording. Or map the pedal to any keystroke function in your host software.
- DC-coupled TRS outputs — can be used with Volta™ (sold separately) to manipulate and sequence voltage-controlled modular synthesizers from a host DAW.
- Plug-and-play operation with your Mac or PC via FireWire or USB2 — compatible with all current and recent generation Macs and PCs.
- Includes native 32- and 64-bit drivers for Mac OS X and Windows 7/Vista, including ASIO, WDM, Wave, Core Audio, and Core MIDI. Supports all popular Mac and Windows audio software. Full system requirements.
- 100% compatible with all host-based effects processing in today's popular audio programs.
- Includes AudioDesk full-featured sample-accurate workstation software for the Mac with recording, editing, mixing, real-time 32-bit effects processing & sample-accurate sync.
- Bus-powered FireWire operation. No need for external power when operating as a FireWire interface connected to a computer. A power supply is included for stand-alone operation.
- Chassis dimensions, excluding rack ears and front and back panel knobs and connectors: 9.5 × 7 × 1.75 inches (24.13 × 17.78 × 4.45 cm). Knobs and connectors extend up to 0.5 inch (1.27 cm) from front and back panels, adding 1 inch (2.54 cm) to depth. With rack ears attached, fits one half of a standard 19 inch (48.26 cm) rack at 1U high.
For your personal studio
As an audio interface for Mac or PC, the Audio Express serves as a capable hub for your personal recording studio. Here is a typical personal studio setup.
For live performance
As a stage mixer, the Audio Express can mix your live instrument inputs to a PA, stage wedges, and even a digital recorder to capture your performance, all with convenient front-panel volume control of each input and separate mix levels for each pair of outputs.
Here is a typical live performance setup for the Audio Express.
You can use the Audio Express 8-bus digital mixer on stage for live performance, in your personal studio without a computer, or together with your host audio software as a low-latency monitor mixer.
On-screen mixing with CueMix app
CueMix FX gives you comprehensive graphic control over your mix and other settings in the Audio Express. CueMix FX can be operated side by side with any host audio software for Mac or Windows, and it can be controlled from the Mackie Control Universal Pro automated worksurface.
The Audio Express provides a wealth of professional features for producing broadcast-ready audio recordings.
The Audio Express can connect to any Firewire port. Just plug in and go, with any standard cable. If your computer has FireWire Type A ports, use the included 6-pin-to-6-pin FireWire cable. If your computer has either standard Type B ports or miniature Type A ports, use the appropriate 6-pin-to-9-pin or 6-pin-to-4-pin FireWire cable (sold separately).
Hybrid Firewire/USB 2.0 connectivity
FireWire has long been recognized as a reliable, high-performance connectivity standard for professional audio interfaces. Meanwhile, high-speed USB 2.0 has also developed into a widely adopted standard for connecting audio devices to personal computers.
To fully support both formats, the Audio Express hybrid audio interface is equipped with a FireWire jack (400 Mbit/sec) and a high-speed USB 2.0 jack (480 Mbit/sec). This gives you maximum flexibility and compatibility when connecting to today’s ever-expanding universe of Mac and Windows computers.
If your computer doesn't have FireWire, you can use USB. If it has both, then the choice is yours and may depend mostly on other peripherals you have.
The Audio Express combo mic/guitar inputs are equipped with pristine, transparent preamps and offer individually adjustable 48V phantom power and -20 dB pad. The quarter-inch guitar jack provides high-impedance load characteristics suitable for passive and active pickups alike. For even more authentic feel and response when using virtual guitar amp and cabinet plug-ins, use a ZBox guitar impedance adapter.
Digitally controlled analog trim
The Audio Express's analog trim circuits deliver clean sound, combined with the precision of digital control. Trim is adjusted at the input, before the mixer, so it applies to all mixes. Mix levels are controlled separately from trim, so you never sacrifice sound quality for a balanced mix.
The Audio Express provides MIDI input and output featuring sample-accurate timing with supporting software. Connect a MIDI keyboard, sound module or control surface, and you are ready to go. The FireWire or USB connection to the computer carries both MIDI and audio so you don't need to connect an additional USB cable for MIDI.
Connect any standard momentary foot switch to trigger hands-free punch-ins during recording. Or map the foot switch to any keystrokes you wish in your host audio software.
SMPTE time code sync
You can resolve the Audio Express directly to SMPTE time code, without a dedicated synchronizer, via any analog input. The Audio Express provides a DSP-driven phase-lock engine with sophisticated filtering that provides fast lockup times and sub-frame accuracy. This technology represents the very latest in extremely high-performance, yet cost-effective digital audio clocking. DDS also allows the Audio Express to maintain an extremely stable clock while resolved to incoming clock sources that have substantially more jitter than the Audio Express itself.
The Audio Express includes CueMix FX console software for Mac and Windows, and AudioDesk workstation software for Mac.
The included CueMix FX software for Mac OS X and Windows gives you graphic, on-screen control of the Audio Express's on-board audio mixer, with up to four separate stereo mixes ( a separate mix for output pair). For example, you can mix all the inputs to the main outs, but also mix them to the line outs with completely different levels than the main outs. Advanced features include a tuner, oscilloscope, FFT/spectrogram, and phase analysis tools.
The Audio Express includes AudioDesk, the workstation software for Mac OS X, which provides advanced recording, editing, mixing, processing, and mastering. AudioDesk delivers the power of modern digital audio workstation technology in an easy-to-use, inspiring multitrack recording experience. Together, AudioDesk and the Audio Express are a complete, professional recording studio for your computer desktop.
The Audio Express employs industry standard drivers for across-the-board compatibility on both Mac and Windows.
The Audio Express ships with standard Core Audio drivers for Mac OS X for compatibility with virtually all Core Audio-compatible apps, including:
The Audio Express ships with standard Wave and ASIO drivers for Windows 7 and Windows Vista for compatibility with virtually all Wave-compatible audio apps, including:
Tuner and analysis tools
The CueMix FX software included with the Audio Express provides an instrument tuner, plus a wealth of tools for audio analysis and diagnostics to awaken your inner engineer.
Before you play or record, you need to be in tune, right?
The CueMix FX app's instrument Tuner lets you quickly tune your guitar, bass, sax, or other pitched instrument. The more complex the harmonics of the input signal, the wider the LED band gets. So if your guitar strings are wearing out, the Tuner's LED meter will let you know. Other features include adjustable tuning reference and test tone generation.
FFT and Spectrogram
Visually monitor the frequency content of your music or other audio material as it plays. The Audio Express superimposes a Fast Fourier Transform directly on the sonogram display so that you can see the relationship between the two for the audio material being monitored.
This is not your grandpa's oscilloscope. With modern digital precision, you have unprecedented control over how you view audio material using features like waveform recognition, split screen, trigger (with programmable criteria), and much more. Analyze harmonic content, view transients, or detect clipping with one-sample precision.
| X-Y Plot
The X-Y Plot graphs the amplitude of a stereo signal on a two-dimensional grid, allowing you to see the width of the stereo field of a mix in real time. It also helps you detect issues with polarity in stereo mixes, which, if left unresolved, can cause the mix to completely cancel itself out when collapsed to mono.
| Phase Analysis
Does your mix sound thin? Do you hear strange "flangy" artifacts? It could be suffering from phase or polarity issues. The Phase Analysis display helps you check the phase alignment and polarity of a stereo mix — especially mixes that might be summed to mono — or instruments (like drums) recorded with multiple mics.
Audio Express scores MusicTech Choice Award
In their July 2011 issue, the editors ofgive the Audio Express 9 out of 10 stars and their MusicTech Choice Award, citing the unit's "excellent sound quality", ease of use, and "very powerful and flexible creation of multiple mixes." While they have a lot of nice things to say about the Audio Express, they sum up by saying, "At its heart this is a very powerful and remarkably polished audio interface that will give you lots of routing options."
"One of the things the Audio Express can claim that is rather unusual — especially in a portable unit — is hybrid connectivity. There's FireWire 400 (over which the unit can also draw power) and USB 2.0."
Full duplex operation
"All of the physical audio I/O channels are available at the same time and operate independently, so there's no need to choose whether to use it in one mode or another as there is with many other compact units."
Easy front panel operation
"The front panel provides immediate, hands-on access to the volume of any input without you having to go to the computer, and you can control the mix volume independently of an input's trim level...the display gives far more information about what's going on than you would usually find on such a compact device."
"You have the option of creating different mixes for different outputs...This is really useful, but usually found only in larger units. In practical situations it makes the Audio Express a very versatile box that punches well above its weight."
"We tested this and it worked perfectly, the high-quality preamps offering crystal-clear recording quality all the way up to 96kHz."
"The Audio Express is an excellent portable recording solution, with a feature set that you might not expect to find in a device this compact. The audio recording quality is excellent and there's zero-latency monitoring thanks to its onboard mixing features."
An excellent portable audio interface with some additional pro-level features and intelligent mixing and routing options.