Audient’s EVO 4 is an interface that fell just short of making our best budget audio interfaces list. But, it didn’t fall short on audio quality, and it has some amazing features that other interfaces don’t. So, if you are in the market for a modern, cheap audio interface for high-quality recording, you should check out the EVO 4.Table of contents:
EVO 4 overview
The EVO 4 is a modern 2×2 USB audio interface available for under $150. It comes with some smart features that make recording easy for anyone.
Starting on the front of the device, you have an instrument input that you can plug your electric guitar or bass straight into. Across from the instrument input is a 1/4″ headphone output and covers the whole front panel.
On the back panel, from left to right, there is a USB-C connector and a pair of balanced TRS monitor outputs. On the right-hand side is two XLR/TRS combo inputs.
Moving on to the top of the unit, the main feature is the multi-function step rotary encoder. The encoder is surrounded by LEDs, which display your audio level or whatever the encoder is currently adjusting.
There are function buttons for each channel, direct monitor mix, and headphone volume that determine what the central encoder controls. So, you have to select a function before moving the encoder.
The Audient EVO 4 delivers analog to digital conversion with a bit depth of 24-bit, which should mean plenty of headroom and a high dynamic range.
Sample rate/dynamic range
It offers a maximum sample rate of 96 kHz, which covers a wide range of frequencies way beyond the human hearing range. In the audible range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, the frequency response is virtually as flat as can be. There is the slightest drop-off at the extreme low-end, but nothing to cause concern.
The EVO 4 produces a dynamic range of 115 dB (A-weighted), and that is incredible for an interface of this price. In fact, it tops just about every interface on our budget interface list. It’s also a little higher than Audient quote in the specifications.
There are two transparent Audient EVO preamps with an equivalent input noise of -128.5 dBu (A-weighted). Compared to audio interfaces in the same price range, that’s a pretty impressive noise floor.
The most innovative feature of the EVO 4 is the Smartgain function. If you are recording vocals, the Smartgain function will listen to your vocals and set the gain automatically. In theory, this means that you should never be clipping, and your signal should peak around -12 dB.
Smartgain is activated by pressing the button on the top panel, and it applies to instruments or anything else you record, too.
Another cool feature is that you can link both channels by pressing the channel 1 and channel 2 buttons simultaneously. It’s perfect if you are capturing a stereo recording and want to make sure the gain settings for each mic match.
On the one hand, we think the audio/recording quality that you get from the EVO 4 would be a credit to any home studio. It really is unbelievable from an interface that costs little more than $100.
The Smartgain function is fantastic too, it saves a lot of time and acts as a kind of idiot-proof gain control.
The downside is that we really don’t like the multi-function encoder. It’s far too easy to assume you are adjusting the master volume, forgetting you have it set to control input gain. For some people, it might not be much of an issue, and it’s probably not a disaster if it happens. But, for us, it could potentially occur often enough to become very irritating.
It’s tough to score this interface so low when the recording quality is so high.
All of the functions that we mentioned above, like Smartgain, channel linking, and so on, are amazing for mobile recording. They are functions that let you work faster, and that matters when you are recording. It’s also pretty small and very light, which is another good quality for mobile recording.
But, the build quality is so flimsy, relatively speaking. We couldn’t imagine the EVO 4 surviving too many bumps on your travels. It’s a real shame.
The housing of the EVO 4 is entirely plastic, which is a little disappointing in comparison to similar interfaces. If you apply a slight amount of pressure to the side panels, you can clearly see some give between the sides and the top.
The buttons feel fine, and they are recessed, so it should be quite hard to damage them. However, the encoder, which is the most used part of the device, is a little wobbly.
It seems like Audient has gone for style over substance with the design of the EVO 4, and while it looks great, it’s just not robust enough.
Overall, we think the build quality could and should be much better.
The Audient EVO 4 comes with Cubase LE 3, a great DAW to get you started. It also comes with 3 free online courses from Produce Like A Pro, and that’s a really nice addition for beginners.
Cubase LE 3 comes with some handy plugins, but beyond that, you get a few lovely virtual instruments, too. Including Retrologue 2, which is a powerful virtual analog synth from Steinberg. It also comes with M-Tron Pro LE, an emulation of the classic Mellotron sound.
Audient EVO 4 vs. other interfaces
We are a little disappointed when comparing the EVO 4 to other interfaces because it loses some battles it should easily win. But, here’s how we see it against the competition.
PreSonus AudioBox USB 96
The AudioBox USB 96 is an interface that offers versatility where the EVO 4 doesn’t. As long as you are keeping it at home, we’d go with the EVO 4. See our PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 review
Focusrite Scarlett Solo
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo is always a solid choice and stands up well against most other budget interfaces. We want to choose the EVO 4 and potentially would for home use, but choose the Scarlett Solo if you want to record on the go. See our Focusrite Scarlett Solo review
This choice should be easy, and it’s not, and that just highlights the flaws of the EVO 4. If it was just about audio quality, the EVO 4 wins all day, but the UR12 is an example of how a robust interface should be built to last. See our Steinberg UR12 review
Also, see our picks for the best budget audio interfaces, the best interfaces under $200, and the best interfaces under $100.
Final verdict on the Audient EVO 4
The EVO 4 is a creative masterpiece; it’s innovative and inspiring. Sadly, it’s let down by some pretty fundamental flaws. The multi-touch encoder could be a massive pain, and the build quality is too poor. If you can get past those issues, then go for it because it’s a thing of beauty as a recording interface.
- Smartgain function.
- Excellent dynamic range.
- Outstanding preamps.
- Channel linking.
- Great metering.
- Poor build quality.
- Multi-function encoder.