M-Audio Air 192 | 8 Review: advanced audio interface

The new Air line of inexpensive M-Audio interfaces includes three models, with numbers 4, 6, 8 at the end of the name. They all have the same body and similar appearance. We have on review today the top model – M-Audio Air 192 | 8. As the name implies, the bundle now includes the AIR Creative FX Collection music software.

The Air 192 | 8 the manufacturer gives the user the same as in the Air 192 | 6, plus 4 RCA output connectors. However, the increased number of channels forced the manufacturer to update the hardware and supply higher quality ADCs and DACs.

From the official video, you can understand that RCA connectors are a nod to DJ equipment, which traditionally has just such a connection. But something else is more important.

The M-Audio Air 192 | 4 and M-Audio Air 192 | There are only two 6 channels, which immediately puts an end to the use for DJing in programs like NI TRAKTOR PRO. But in the older Air 192 | 8, the number of channels is the cherished 4 pieces, so there are 1/2 channels in the headphones, and 3/4 in the speakers. Or vice versa. Headphone channels are selected by a physical switch on the card.


Contents:


M-Audio Air 192 | 8 Specifications

Mic Inputs 1-2 (balanced XLR)
FREQUENCY RESPONSE20Hz – 20kHz (+/-0.1 dB)
DYNAMIC RANGE104dB (A-weighted)
SIGNAL-TO-NOISE RATIO104dB (+1.0dBu, A-weighted)
THD+N0.001% (1kHz, +0.8dBu, -1dBFS)
PREAMP EIN-126dBu (150Ω, unweighted)
MAX INPUT LEVEL+1.8dBu
GAIN RANGE60dB
Line Input 1-2 (balanced 1/4″ TRS)
FREQUENCY RESPONSE20Hz – 20kHz (+/-0.1dB)
SIGNAL-TO-NOISE RATIO101dB (1kHz, +4dBu, A-weighted)
THD+N0.002% (1kHz, +19.7dBu, -1dBFS)
MAX INPUT LEVEL+20.7dBu
DYNAMIC RANGE106dB (A-weighted)
Inst Input 1-2 (unbalanced 1/4″ TS)
FREQUENCY RESPONSE20Hz – 20kHz (+/-0.1dB)
DYNAMIC RANGE106dB (A-weighted)
SIGNAL-TO-NOISE RATIO98dB (+4dBu, A-weighted)
THD+N0.001% (1kHz, +5.8dBu, -1dBFS)
MAX INPUT LEVEL+6.8dBu
INPUT IMPEDANCE~1MΩ
GAIN RANGE24dB
Main TRS Outputs, 1/L & 2/R (balanced 1/4″ TRS)
FREQUENCY RESPONSE20Hz – 20kHz (+/-0.1dB)
DYNAMIC RANGE109dB (A-weighted)
THD+N0.003% (1kHz, -1dBFS)
MAX OUTPUT LEVEL+13dBu
Main & Aux RCA Outputs 1 – 4 (Unbalanced RCA)
FREQUENCY RESPONSE20Hz – 20kHz (+/-0.1dB)
DYNAMIC RANGE109dB (A-weighted)
THD+N0.003% (1kHz, -1dBFS)
MAX OUTPUT+7dBu
Headphone Outputs (Stereo 1/4″ TRS)
DYNAMIC RANGE101dB
THD+N0.008% (1kHz, -1dBFS, 36mW)
MAX POWER36mW (32-ohm load)
MIN IMPEDANCE32-ohm

Features

Passport parameters for some numbers are higher than that of the younger models M-Audio Air 192 | 4 and M-Audio Air 192 | 6.

As in the entire series, the case is assembled on a sturdy aluminum plate with a glossy plastic insert on top. In addition to the rigid structure, the bottom plate of the case provides shielding of the insides. All controls here are thought out and are at hand. Large, bright peakmeters allow you to see the signal indication from a distance.

M-Audio Air 192 | 8

The Air 192 | 8, a direct monitoring switch was added visually, there is a choice, mono or stereo. Also, the gain increased by 5 dB to 60 dB for mic preamps, which is very useful for connecting dynamic microphones.

The large volume control knob of the monitors has a rubber ring and is very smooth. All regulators are analog only. When adjusting the level, the interface stands firmly on the table, does not dangle, since it weighs 1 kg and has rubber feet on the bottom.

M-Audio Air 192 | 8

The headphone volume control is separate from the monitor volume, which is very practical. There is a hardware monitor knob for balance between phonogram and voice in microphones or during guitar solos.

M-Audio Air 192 | 8

The headphone jack is conveniently located at the front. A headphone amplifier of 36 mW per channel is not the most powerful, but still not bad for a budget interface.

M-Audio Air 192 | 8

Guitar inputs are not combined with microphone inputs and are located on the front panel for easy connection.

M-Audio Air 192 | 8

The two microphone inputs can operate with + 48V phantom power, which is supplied simultaneously to both channels, 1 and 2. For line signal, connect to the TRS jack in the center of the combined XLR / TRS.

M-Audio Air 192 | 8

On the back there is one RCA output channel 1/2 combined with TRS, and one independent RCA 3/4 output for DJ. Nearby are MIDI I / O, and there are adapters for standard DIN-5 connectors.

The interface can be powered only from the USB bus. The set includes two cables for connection: “USB-C to USB-C” and “USB-C to regular USB”. Despite the USB-C connector, inside it is the most common USB2.0 interface. That is, it will work from any PC with any USB version. Why did the manufacturer choose USB-C? Because the connector itself is stronger, more modern and is often present in new laptop models.

XMOS microcontroller

The XMOS microcontroller is the same. Converters differ from previous models. Instead of the usual stereo codec Cirrus Logic CS4270 (105 dB, Kg + noise -95 dB), there are two separate 4-channel ADCs and DACs.

DAC AKM AK4454

DAC AKM AK4454 (115 dB, Kg + noise -107 dB) is better than the codec in terms of parameters.

ADC AKM AK5534

ADC AKM AK5534 (111 dB, Kg + noise -103 dB) is also better in comparison with the younger models.

M-Audio Air 192 | 8

The proprietary Crystal preamps in all models are based on a discrete transistor input stage and a subsequent gain control op-amp.

Dedicated headphone amplifier NCP2811

A dedicated headphone amplifier NCP2811 is used. It is an integrated chip with Kg = 0.02% capable of driving loads from 16 ohms to 300 ohms. The amplifier impedance is 10 ohms. Typical budget solution, but more powerful than if you just put a general-purpose op-amp.

All control is completely hardware, physical switches and regulators, so the card does not have a separate panel. There is a small ASIO panel with a buffer selection.

M-Audio Air 192 | 8 driver

Latency is exactly like all M-Audio interfaces, 10ms with 64 samples buffer. Separately for the exit, the delay will be less.

ASIO Latency Test Utility
Device: M-Audio AIR 192 8 ASIO

Features:
Input channels: 2
Output channels: 2
Input latency: 278
Output latency: 186
Min buffer size: 16
Max buffer size: 2048
Preferred buffer size: 64
Granularity: 16
ASIOOutputReady - supported
Sample rate:
8000 Hz - not supported
11025 Hz - not supported
16000 Hz - not supported
22050 Hz - not supported
32000 Hz - not supported
44100 Hz - supported
48000 Hz - supported
88200 Hz - supported
96000 Hz - supported
176400 Hz - supported
192000 Hz - supported
352800 Hz - not supported
384000 Hz - not supported
Input channels:
channel: 0 (In 1) - Int32LSB
channel: 1 (In 2) - Int32LSB
Output channels:
channel: 0 (Out 1) - Int32LSB
channel: 1 (Out 2) - Int32LSB
channel: 2 (Out 3) - Int32LSB
channel: 3 (Out 4) - Int32LSB

It is important that there are 4 separate output channels. All frequencies up to 192 kHz are supported.


RMAA testing

  • Device under test [ASIO] M-Audio AIR 192 6 ASIO
  • Operating mode 24-bit, 44 kHz
  • ASIO audio interface
  • External loopback signal route (line-out – line-in)
  • RMAA Version 6.4.5 PRO
  • Filter 20 Hz – 20 kHz – YES
  • Signal normalization – YES
  • Level change -0.1 dB / -0.0 dB
  • Calibration signal frequency, Hz 1000
  • Polarity correct / correct
Frequency response (in the range 40 Hz – 15 kHz), dB+0.06, -0.09Excellent
Noise level, dB (A)-104.5Excellent
Dynamic range, dB (A)104.5Excellent
Harmonic distortion,%0.00149Very good
Harmonic distortion + noise, dB (A)-90.4Good
Intermodulation distortion + noise,%0.00300Excellent
Interpenetration of channels, dB-103.7Excellent
Intermodulation at 10 kHz,%0.00411Excellent
Overall score Excellent

Read more in the RMAA report

The parameters have really improved compared to the younger models.

The spectra are very clear, without interference and forest distortions. Better than Air 192 | 6.

We have recorded the sound from the microphone input to the Neumann TLM102 microphone. Once again, we liked the sound of the proprietary Crystal preamps. The headphone amplification margin was sufficient, no questions raised.

For musicians Pro Tools included | First M-Audio Edition and Ableton Live Lite. What new software from Air: Boom drum machine, Vacuum Classic vintage synthesizer, Mini Grand virtual instrument, and Xpand! 2 multitimbral instrument with several channels and effects inside. The combination of this software and the interface, as conceived by the manufacturer, will give the musician another reason to look towards M-Audio.


Conclusions

M-Audio Air interface 192 | 8 is the obvious choice for those who also DJ in addition to recording music. But also in terms of recording and playback quality, this is a step forward compared to the Air 192 | 4 and Air 192 | 6. If you need even more channels and better recording quality, you should pay attention to the Air 192 | 14.

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