The M-Audio AIR 192|4 is part of a popular range of audio interfaces that deliver high-quality performance on a budget. As the smallest model in the range, the 192|4 is ideal for a small home studio or as part of a mobile recording setup. This 2×2 interface offers some features that most of its competitors don’t.
Our verdict on the M-Audio AIR 192|4
M-Audio, in conjunction with AIR Music Technology, is on to a winner here. No one is going to downgrade from a UAD Apollo x8 to one of these interfaces, but that’s not the point. As far as budget audio interfaces go, it’s very difficult to fault the AIR 192|4.Check availability and current prices: SweetwaterAmazon
- Excellent A/D converters .
- Transparent Crystal mic preamp.
- Solid build quality.
- Great software bundle.
- A little bigger than standard.
AIR 192|4 overview
You’ll find a direct instrument input, a phantom power switch, and a headphone out on the front panel.
You cannot switch the instrument input to a line-level input, which means for line-level, you have to use the XLR/line combo input on the back panel. That might not be an issue for you, but if you want to connect line-level and a microphone simultaneously, you can’t.
The back panel has a USB Type-C connector, and you’ll be glad to know the unit comes with all compatible cables to fit your computer. Next, there are two balanced 1/4″ TRS outputs to connect your studio monitors.
Finally, on the right is the XLR/line combo input with M-Audio’s Crystal microphone preamp.
The top panel is really clean and sleek, and that’s one of the things that makes the 192|4 so attractive. Starting on the right, you have gain controls for the mic/line channel and the instrument channel. Each channel has a lovely LED step display to show levels and any clipping.
The only complaint about the LED display is that it’s not ideal for setting a precise gain level. They are better for giving you a rough guide and making you aware of any signals coming in too hot. To be more accurate, you will end up using the meters in your DAW.
On the top right, you have a dedicated headphone volume control and direct monitoring mix. The direct monitor control lets you hear only the audio from your DAW, the direct input, or a blend of the two. It’s a feature that you don’t always find on the cheaper audio interfaces, so that’s a nice touch.
Many interfaces with a sample rate of 192 kHz don’t perform as they should when put to the test. The M-Audio AIR 192|4 performs exactly as advertised in that area. The frequency response in the 20 to 20,000 Hz range is incredibly flat. There’s a drop off of one decibel at 20 Hz, and you have to get to around 65 kHz before seeing a significant drop off at the high-end.
Another area that the AIR 192|4 performs very well in is the ultra-low level of distortion from the mic input. Any distortion that you can measure is inaudible and not an issue.
When you work with the AIR 192|4 and listen to it, you don’t automatically assume any dynamic range problems. In all honesty, the dynamic range is very respectable, but a few competitors score better here, like the Audient EVO 4 or Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen).
M-Audio is very vocal in promoting their Crystal microphone preamps found in the entire 192 range. The theory is that the preamps shouldn’t color your sound at all, leaving you free to make the correct creative decisions. We are very pleased to say that the Crystal preamps definitely live up to their transparent name.
When you look at the M-Audio AIR 192|4, you might wonder why we said it’s ideal for mobile recording when there are smaller options available. But, it’s not just about the size. The 192|4 is a little larger than most similar interfaces, but it’s also far better equipped to handle life on the road.
The controls are plastic, and at first sight, you don’t get a clear grasp of how sturdy they really are. It’s not until you get your hands on them that you realize the plastic is solid, and they all move very smoothly.
Besides the controls, the rest of the interface has a solid metal construction. So, the slight extra size isn’t too much of a complaint when you get such stellar build quality.
If you are using the 192|4 purely for your home studio, the extra size can be advantageous. It’s far easier to reach all of the controls than it is on some of the more compact interfaces.
As always, M-Audio has bundled in a wide range of software. You get two DAWs with the 192|4, which are Ableton Live Lite and Pro Tools First. Both DAWs are perfect for beginners, and Ableton Live Lite is a favorite of many EDM producers.
It also comes with a wide range of effects from Avid, including Avid Eleven Lite (guitar/bass processor), 20 Avid effects plugins, and AIR Music Technology Creative FX Collection.
You get even more in the way of virtual instruments. Including the old but dependable Xpand!2 from AIR, which is far more versatile than people think. AIR Music Technology also supplies its Mini Grand instrument, along with the Vacuum and Boom plugins.
Lastly, if that’s not enough, you get 2 GB of sample content from Touch Loops.
Compared to other audio interfaces
AIR 192|4 vs. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen
If you don’t mind spending a little extra, you’ll get Focusrite’s Air mode, which is lovely for vocals and acoustic guitar. Otherwise, the layout of the 192|4 is better; it’s a tough call.
AIR 192|4 vs. Audient EVO 4
The EVO 4 is a forward-thinking interface aimed at the modern musician. At home, the 192|4 wins, but the EVO 4 is as good as any for mobile recording.
AIR 192|4 vs. PreSonus AudioBox USB 96
Another very solidly built interface that performs well in most areas. If you need MIDI in/out, this is the one for you.