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Arturia AudioFuse 16Rig

USB Audio & MIDI Interface By Sam Inglis
Published December 2023

Arturia AudioFuse 16Rig

Arturia have designed the AudioFuse 16Rig specifically to cater for electronic musicians. What does it offer that other interfaces don’t?

Arturia’s product line encompasses software plug‑ins, virtual instruments, keyboard controllers, analogue and digital synths, as well as an ever‑growing range of computer audio interfaces. And when they launched the first of these interfaces, back in 2017, it was almost too well featured. The AudioFuse positively bristled with audio connectors of every conceivable type, to the point where it was hard to imagine a use case that would bring all of its features into play.

Some time after our review of the AudioFuse, I had a conversation with the leader of the design team behind it. Bravely, he asked me: “What sort of an interface do you think Arturia should make?” I said that I thought the market for conventional audio interfaces aimed at recording things with microphones was already well served, and might prove hard to break into. By contrast, there was and is almost nothing out there targeted at people making predominantly electronic music. As a household name within the synth sector, perhaps this would be a natural move for Arturia?

His team promptly went away and designed the AudioFuse 8Pre: a conventional audio interface aimed at recording things with microphones, and a very good one. So much for the power of the press.

But the story doesn’t quite end there. A couple of years later, we got the first inklings of another Arturia interface, this time designed with the needs of electronic musicians front and centre. And a couple of years later still, the AudioFuse 16Rig is sitting on my desktop and twinkling roguishly at me.

Jacks Of All Trades

So how have Arturia met the brief of designing an interface for electronic musicians? Well, the 16Rig has the highest I/O count of any AudioFuse yet, yet it only has two mic preamps. Instead, there’s an emphasis on the sort of signals that are usually carried on quarter‑inch sockets — but not only line‑level audio. The 16Rig’s jack sockets can be pressed into service for all sorts of applications, most notably re‑amping and generating control voltages. It also has two sets of optical I/O for expansion, an unusually comprehensive MIDI spec, and is capable of acting as a USB hub.

The 16Rig is laid out like a conventional 1U rackmounting interface, but its rack ears are detachable and can be mounted underneath it, should you want to tilt the front panel up for desktop use. It uses a rather cheap‑feeling ‘wall wart’ PSU with a cable that’s annoyingly short, and connects to the host computer using a Type‑C USB port. That is, if you want to use it with a computer — Arturia have put much thought into how you might use the 16Rig as a standalone device, and have therefore made almost everything controllable from the front panel. In total, the 16Rig presents 32 inputs and outputs to your computer at base sample rates. This number falls significantly at double and quad rates, and not just because the ADAT channel count halves and halves again; although the 16Rig connects via a Type‑C port, it’s subject to the data bandwidth limitations of USB 2. This is perhaps a little disappointing, but hardly unusual. We aren’t seeing many new Thunderbolt interfaces at present, and apart from RME and MOTU, few manufacturers seem to have fully got to grips with USB 3.

Talking of which, good low‑latency performance is often a high priority for electronic musicians; but on macOS, the 16Rig relies on Apple’s built‑in Core Audio USB driver, and it presumably uses the familiar XMOS / Thesycon driver for Windows. Consequently, its low‑latency performance is much the same as other devices that use the same drivers. At 44.1kHz and a 32‑sample buffer size, the measured round‑trip latency on my Mac was 7.5ms. Decent enough, no doubt, but not a point of difference.

Rigs Of The Time

Under normal circumstances, the first 16 inputs to your DAW would be drawn from the 16 analogue inputs that give the 16Rig its name, whilst the other half would be sourced from the two ADAT optical inputs (there’s no option to switch these to stereo S/PDIF). All 16 physical inputs have rear‑panel quarter‑inch TRS jacks; the first pair also have combi XLR/jack sockets on the front, allowing mics and DI instruments to be connected. Inputs 3+4 also have an alternative front‑panel socket, this time in the shape of a stereo mini‑jack. All are auto‑sensing, so you can leave the rear‑panel jacks plugged up and the 16Rig will automatically flip to the front‑panel socket when you plug a mic or guitar in.

The number of physical outputs, meanwhile, doesn’t quite reach 32. There’s a dedicated pair of monitor out jacks, with their own front‑panel volume and mute control. Eight further line outputs also appear on rear‑panel TRS quarter‑inch jacks, and there’s a dedicated, independently addressable headphone output with both quarter‑inch and mini‑jack sockets. Most interestingly, the first pair of line outputs (3+4) are duplicated on the...

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