As fans of Audient’s iD22 it was with interest and excitement that we learned of the planned release of the iD14, back in April 2015. Whereas the iD22 is targeted at the higher end of the audio interface market, the iD14 was introduced as a more mid-level interface with fewer features but at a much reduced cost. With the iD22 now released we were interested to see how it fares and have recently had a chance to run one through its paces. Here’s our review.
British based Audient have a history of building solid hardware and the iD14 is no exception. Weighing in at 2.76 lb (1.25 kg), this attractive interface feels appropriately robust with the aluminum housing likely to be able to withstand plenty of abuse in the studio or on the road. At just 6.8 inches (173 mm) in width and 4.7 inches (120mm) in depth the iD14 is also surprisingly small for its weight, making for an ideal portable recording solution.
As with the chassis, the three control knobs on the minimalistic top panel are of metal construction and rotate smoothly with a pleasing amount of resistance that lends a feel of quality to the unit. Our expectations were high for the construction of the iD14 and indeed, first impressions are positive.
The minimal approach to the exterior of the iD14 belies the number of features that Audient have been able to pack into their diminutive unit. Beginning with the rear panel of the interface you’ll find two combo input jacks for XLR or 1/4 inch TRS connections, allowing for line and microphone signals. Adjacent are two TRS outputs to connect your monitors, followed by an optical digital connector for either S/PDIF input or, more usefully, ADAT input for connecting external preamps such as Audient’s very own ASP880. The ability to add up to eight additional digital channels to your rig with a single cable connection provides for easy expansion that’s usually unheard of at this price point.
Further along we have a USB 2.0 connection for power and data communication and rounding out the rear panel we have a socket for connecting the included external power supply. External power is only required when using +48V phantom power, with the device receiving enough power from the USB connection in normal operation.
The top panel is a simple affair dominated by the larger multi-function control dial on the right. This dial has three functions depending on which of the trio of buttons below has been selected. Selection of the first button causes the dial to control monitor output, the second enables Scroll Control, and selecting the third button puts the dial in control of headphone volume.
Audient’s so-called Scroll Control harnesses scroll wheel functionality found in some DAWs to allow you to adjust parameters via your interface. Put simply, hover your mouse pointer over a UI element of your choosing and you’re then given the ability to change the chosen parameter via the aforementioned larger dial on the iD14. This feature may appear underwhelming at first but there’s plenty scenarios where it’s more natural to use than mouse wheel or drag, and we’ve used it for adding sweeps, swells, and fades to great effect. Scroll Control works with any DAW that offers scroll wheel functionality, which includes the likes of Logic, Pro Tools and Cubase.
Located on the other half of the top panel are two gain controls and two +48V phantom power switches, one for each input. Used primarily for condenser microphones, use of phantom power on the iD14 requires that a supplied 12VDC adapter be connected. Audient claim this concession had to be made for the sake of audio quality but as a result the iD14 isn’t quite as portable as we’d like.
Lastly, the front edge features a discrete JFET ¼ inch instrument input for connecting a guitar, bass or other instrument. You’ll also find the headphone output located here on the opposite side.
Setup & Software
Audient provide a software control panel that’s installed along with the device driver. It’s essentially the same software that supports their iD22, and we’re pleased to say it’s one of the better ones we’ve seen, being both comprehensive and intuitive to use. Direct monitoring, level control and routing are all managed in an easily understandable layout. Inputs can be renamed, grouped, and routed as required and phase, pan, solo and mute controls are available when applicable. Save and Load buttons allow for saving and recalling configurations, a nice touch.
Some functions that we would typically see on the physical interface itself have been instead implemented in the software, so it’s here that we’re able to switch between S/PDIF and ADAT inputs, manage direct monitoring settings, and add a 10 dB software boost. As such, the exterior of the iD14 remains uncluttered and the overall size of the interface has been kept to a minimum. We applaud Audient for what they’ve achieved here.
As with the iD22, the iD14 contains some high-end internals in the form of Burr Brown converters and Audient console mic pres. These differ slightly from those found in the iD14’s bigger brother with the iD14 sounding slightly less clinical, though still as clear and crisp as we’ve come to expect from an Audient product. Supporting 24-bit/96 kHz sample rates, gain is extremely clean at all stages with minimal noise, even when pushed with the 10 dB software boost for 66 dB gain in total.
Even the headphone out, often disappointing on cheaper interfaces, is superb on the iD14, the interface driving a variety of headphones with ease and with headroom to spare.
In the iD14, Audient have given us a carefully considered, affordable audio interface that distills the iD22 down to its essential ingredients without losing sight of its strengths. Audient don’t have the name recognition of other competing manufacturers in this market segment but a high-end approach to construction, sound quality, and software puts the iD14 as the interface to beat at this price point.
- Superb audio performance
- Polished software panel
- ADAT support
- Phantom power requires a 12VDC adapter