Audient’s iD44 was pretty good to start with... and now it’s even better.
Audient’s iD series of desktop interfaces seem to have nailed a sweet spot in the market, offering excellent audio quality and functionality whilst remaining affordable. The flagship of the range is the iD44, which offers four analogue inputs featuring Audient’s high‑quality mic preamp design, two sets of optical I/O for expansion, and a console‑style master section with talkback and hands‑on monitor control.
In the four years since its launch, the iD44 has proved popular and capable, but Audient have identified a few opportunities for improvement, and they’ve implemented them in the new MkII version. The new unit seems to occupy the same robust metal chassis as the original, which was reviewed in SOS February 2019, but has gained a new logo and a very smart charcoal‑grey colour scheme. It has the same complement of controls and physical I/O, with one small exception: the first headphone socket is now duplicated on both 6mm and 3.5mm jacks. These carry the same signal at the same level, but they can be used simultaneously if needed, and plugging a second set of phones in doesn’t seem to compromise the first in any way.
Behind the scenes, however, the audio specifications have been substantially improved. These are listed in unusual detail on Audient’s website, and make for impressive reading, especially the output dynamic range of 126dB A‑weighted. I can’t imagine that the audio performance of the original was exactly holding anyone back, but it inspires confidence in the manufacturer when the numbers are good and, just as importantly, when they’re explicit about the conditions under which those numbers were measured. Unlike many desktop interfaces, the iD44 can also accommodate very hot mic inputs: with the input pad engaged, the maximum input level is quoted as +28dBu, which should mean no risk of clipping with loud drummers or guitar amps. Given the emphasis on audio quality and the I/O quotient, it’s not surprising that the iD44 MkII still can’t be bus‑powered, though I could wish the supplied 12V PSU had a longer cable.
The iD control software will also be very familiar to anyone who’s used the original iD44, which is no bad thing. The main improvement here is that the physical I/O has now been augmented by a stereo loopback input. This can be sourced from any of the five stereo DAW return channels, the iD44 Master Mix output or any of the four Cue mixes. In these days of Zoom meetings and live streaming, it will enable a lot of setups that might otherwise require complex workarounds.
As with other Audient interfaces, what’s perhaps most impressive is the number of features carried over from large‑format console design.
I think Audient themselves would acknowledge that the MkII represents a refreshment rather than a reinvention of the iD44, and some would argue that they could perhaps have gone slightly further. They could, for example, have added a Bluetooth input, or incorporated a built‑in talkback mic rather than expecting the user to sacrifice a recording input to use talkback. For the most part, though, the truth is that Audient just got it right the first time around.
There are not many interfaces of this size and form factor that have the potential, when expanded, to handle a really serious recording session with 20‑odd inputs and multiple cue mixes, but the iD44 is certainly one of them. At the same time, it’s equally at home in a humble desktop environment catering to the odd guitar DI and vocal overdub. And as with other Audient interfaces, what’s perhaps most impressive is the number of features carried over from large‑format console design. From level‑compensated speaker switching to a mono button that can be configured to feed left, centre or right channels, the iD44 MkII is full of nice touches that reveal its pro audio heritage.
Audient have updated their flagship desktop interface to keep it at the head of the pack in terms of audio quality, without losing any of its professional features.