ef37a wrote:If the Ultra 4 is in the same price range as the 2i2/2i4/UR22s, it becomes a serious recommendation and alternative. The company seems a good one to me and I base that impression on the ease with which I was able to download an English user manual. No signing in for possible spambot, no personal detail requests (you reading this BBC iPlayer people!) just click and download.
So.... following on from the above chat about the Ultra 4 I borrowed one. Hats off to the distro for getting one on my desk in under 24hrs.
Build quality is good in general. The switches feel a little cheap in comparison to the body of the interface, although I reckon you could do some serious damage with the unit if you got your bowling arm in action. Honestly, I've seen far more expensive interfaces, with a lot more cheap plastic going on so a plus point there.
The sound delivered is clean and notably, the headphone amp itself is surprisingly both clean and punchy for a budget unit. It won't win awards, but I'd be happier using it than a fair few other inbuilt headphone amps around this price point, so it appears to have been well spec'd.
The best feature here may also be it's also its weak point. The inline VST hosting is awesome and I wasn't expecting it to be as flexible as it is. Full matrix routing and you can toss a standard VST effect plug anywhere between the ins and outs, which gives you some interesting monitoring and recording possibilities.
The downside of this looks to be some of the safety buffers, the best result I can pull is a 8ms round trip at a 64 buffer.... and a 128 buffer.... oh, and the 32 buffer. Once you go above 128 (this is testing at a 44.1 sample rate) the RTL score starts to creep upwards, but it does appear to be limited to that 8ms result on lower buffer settings.
I think this is working as intended. After all if you're going to be that flexible with inserting plug based effects then something has to be implemented for safety, and in this case, it looks like a hidden buffer or two.
Is 8ms too laggy? Probably not for a lot of people, but it'll depend on individual scenarios as even the most demanding of drummers would probably get away with that with headphone monitoring although maybe not from halfway across the stage coming out of the foldback monitors.
If your working purely in the box then the output is around 6ms and I can see some uses here for media playback solutions who might need various compression & limiting capabilities in a full A/V rig, but then it's only a stereo out. I think I'd quite like to see a 7.1 capable consumer version with all the VST support, decoding capabilities oh and some digital connections... but then I may possibly have gotten a little off track here.
I did confirm the one thing that I was interested in before opening the box, as in this appears to be another USB 3 interface that performs as well on USB 2 as it does on USB 3.
Is it a good unit? Well, I've not done the full round of tests yet, but I've certainly seen worse at this price point. I know I've not been overly positive about the RTL but it's no worse than the older Xmos based stuff that still clutters up this price bracket, so really it's a rather average interface performance wise, but it has one kick ass feature that will either have you reaching for your wallet, or just shrugging your shoulders.
Eitherway, at least it has a USP and in this segment of the market, that's a rather interesting prospect in itself. It does strike me upon thinking about it that this would make an awesome webcasting solution, thanks to that abiility to build your own effects chain.