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Black Lion Audio Revolution 2×2 review

Black Lion Audio has been crafting boutique professional audio gear for years. Originally, they would take products from other manufacturers and modify them in order to improve the functionality and performance of preexisting products. However, the folks over there have since been coming out with their own line of products including mic preamps, compressors, and world clocks as well as audio interfaces.

The Revolution 2×2 is one of the latest installments in Black Lion Audio’s catalog, and it’s an incredible USB audio interface. This unit showcases everything that the folks at BLA have learned through transforming gear from other manufacturers.

Table of contents:

Revolution 2×2 overview

The Revolution 2×2 may look familiar, considering there’s not much visually to set it apart from other interfaces upon first inspection. However, don’t let this fool you into underestimating its true power. It’s a compact unit made to fit a 1U, half-rack shell.

Although it’s rather small, it’s surprisingly heavy. It feels incredibly solid and high-quality, but it’s still light enough to be taken on the go.

Inputs/outputs 4.0

The two inputs can accept line, instrument, as well as mic level signals. For those of you with condenser mics and active ribbon microphones, the unit also includes 48 V phantom power.

Black Lion Audio Revolution 2x2 (front panel)
Revolution 2×2 (front panel) / Image credit: Black Lion Audio

On the front panel is an input selector which can be switched between the analog inputs and the S/PDIF inputs on the back panel. The Revolution 2×2 also features stereo monitor outputs which are both mirrored on the S/PDIF digital outputs.

Black Lion Audio Revolution 2x2 (back panel)
Revolution 2×2 (back panel) / Image credit: Black Lion Audio

A large rotary dial on the front panel gives you the ability to set the level over the outputs, and a switch on the front allows you to switch the monitors into mono, which is an incredibly useful tool for mixing as well as checking the phase of stereo signals.

There’s a control for direct monitoring which allows you to monitor without any latency when recording overdubs. Headphone outputs and a dedicated level control are both located on the front panel for easy access.

The only thing you’ll need to get started with the interface is a USB wire connected to your computer, which Black Audio Supplies you with. The only drawback is the limited connectivity, but we’ll soon discover how the Revolution 2×2 makes up for this.

Audio/recording quality 5.0

Of course, BLA is well known for its audiophile approach to analog circuit design which is one of the most crucial parts of an audio interface. This is so important not only when designing preamps and output circuitry, but for the circuitry surrounding the converters as well.

The company had an advantage working on the Revolution 2×2. Not having to work around the limitations of preexisting circuitry allowed them the freedom to design solely for the goal of supporting the best possible audio.

That all being said, the folks at BLA designed the Revolution 2×2 almost exclusively by ear. Every choice, component, and circuit was subjected to extensive blind-listening tests, and they compared the unit against a wide variety of gear. Not only testing it against interfaces they had already modded themselves, but even against standalone digital audio converters priced over $2,000 by other manufacturers.

Through this process, they continually compared against other models and upgraded the Revolution until they were positive that the unit held a greater performance than any of the products they put it up against.

Sample rate/dynamic range

The Revolution 2×2 can support 24-bit sample rates from 44.1 kHz to 192 kHz and has a dynamic range of up to 116 dB. However, the dynamic range has been affected by the preferences of the folks at Black Lion Audio.

Remember that the design of the unit was primarily done by ear, so the quality is somewhat subjective. Still, we think it will satisfy most audiophiles.

Preamps

The preamps on the Revolution 2×2 are astonishing. The warmth and clarity that Black Lion Audio has been able to achieve with this unit is beyond words. This is one of the highlights of the unit, considering that most other gear with these capabilities usually costs as much as a car.

At home/studio 5.0

An essential component to the Revolution 2×2 is BLA’s widely respected digital clocking. According to the company, the unit includes the most advanced clock they have ever designed. Since the interface has a S/PDIF digital output, it can easily be used as a master clock for other devices.

Another critical aspect of the design is power. The Revolution 2×2 features highly-sophisticated filtering and power decoupling to achieve the greatest performance possible. For audio engineers recording from their home studios, we know that having clean and consistent power for analog and digital audio circuits is one of the most crucial parts of serious recording.

Mobile recording 5.0

The unit is honestly ideal for any kind of portable work, but not just because it’s light enough to carry around. The unit is bus-powered via USB so it doesn’t require an external power source. Making this the perfect unit for producers on the go.

Build quality 5.0

The unit is incredibly sturdy, so it’ll certainly fare any clumsy drop or fall that may occur. This point goes hand in hand with its strengths in the world of mobile recording, where accidents tend to be a constant occurrence.

Software bundle 4.5

The Revolution 2×2 comes along with several included software bundled into the package. Out of the box, you’ll receive PreSonus Studio One Artist, as well as the Revolution Plug-in Suite including plugins from iZotope, Brainworx BX, and Lindell Audio.

Compared to other interfaces

Although the Black Lion Audio Revolution 2×2 is an amazing interface which offers pristine sound and world clock possibilities. Here are some other options to consider if you’re still unsure.

Revolution 2×2 vs. Focusrite Clarett 2Pre

The Clarett 2Pre may be the closest comparison to the Revolution. There are big differences to be addressed. Firstly, the Clarett has far more connectivity with 10-ins and 4-outs. However, the preamps aren’t as great in our opinion and it is about $100 more expensive than BLA’s unit. These are all important things to consider, but for us, the sound is more important than I/O; we’ll take the Revolution.

Revolution 2×2 vs. PreSonus Studio 1810c

The PreSonus may be a solid choice for many of you. It has 18-in and 8-out, giving it the greatest connectivity out of this entire bunch. Another huge plus is that the PreSonus sits in the same price range as the Revolution. We’ll recommend the PreSonus for anybody looking for more inputs and outputs.

Revolution 2×2 vs. Focusrite Scarlett 18i8

The Scarlett completely outshines the Revolution in regards to its connectivity and software bundle. The preamps are more in line with what BLA has to offer, so for the extra $20 or so, it’s not completely out of the question. For us, it’s a tie. See our Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 review

Final verdict on the Revolution 2×2 4.2

The Black Lion Audio Revolution 2×2 is affordably priced and ideal for someone just getting started recording. The audio quality is superb, making it a great addition to professional setups as well. It is important to stress that sound quality is subjective, but considering how much testing went into perfecting the Revolution’s design, in our opinion, it’s worth the expense.

  • Outstanding build quality.
  • Amazing sound quality (although subjective).
  • Simple to use.
  • Portable.
  • Affordable.
  • The sound quality is subjective at the end of the day, so not everyone will see the value in the interface.
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