In this article, I’ll be reviewing the M-Audio AIR 192|4 audio interface. As far as entry-level, budget-friendly interfaces are concerned, this one seems like a solid choice. Let’s take a deeper look.
About the author
Final verdict on the M-Audio AIR 192|4
For what it is, the AIR 192|4 is a great budget interface with solid preamps, great recording quality, and a fairly pleasing layout. For the novice, there’s not much more to ask for (besides maybe another XLR/TRS combo input instead of the instrument input).
What I like
- Transparent preamps.
- Solid build.
- Solid software bundle.
What I don’t like
- Can’t raise instrument input to line level.
- Fairly limited.
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I/O and controls
On the front panel, you’ll notice a direct instrument input, a 48 V phantom power switch, as well as a 1/4-inch headphone jack. The rear panel has a single TRS/XLR input, two balanced TRS outputs, and a USB-C port.
Frustratingly, the instrument input has no option to be raised to line level, meaning that if you’d like to connect line-level and a microphone at the same time – you can’t.
For the novice, this might not be such a huge issue but for any serious recording engineers, this might be enough to take this interface out of the running.
The top panel is fairly straightforward to navigate. On the left side, you’ll find gain controls for both the combo and instrument inputs. Each channel has its own LED step display to help with gain staging. Although, they aren’t very accurate, and you’ll most likely resort to using the meters in your DAW.
There’s a large master control knob in the center of the panel, to the right of which are dials for direct monitoring and headphone volume control. The direct monitoring control allows you to hear either what’s coming in through your DAW, your direct input, or a blend of the two.
The majority of cheaper audio interfaces out there tend not to have this feature, so I found it a nice touch.
The M-Audio AIR 192|4 performs exceptionally well, with 24-bit depth and a sample rate of 192 kHz. The reported frequency response is 10 Hz to 20 kHz, and is fairly flat. There is a slight drop off at 20 Hz by about a decibel, but things remain neutral up until 65 kHz when we see another drop off in the high end.
The AIR 192|4’s mic input also has a very low distortion level. Any distortion is practically inaudible and not an issue.
M-Audio has been adamant on the strength of its Crystal mic preamp’s performance, advertising them as completely transparent and not coloring the sound of your recordings in any way.
I’m more than happy to say that I found this to be not far from the truth. They are indeed neutral, however, the dynamic range leaves a bit to be desired and is outclassed by several other interfaces in the same price range.
So while your recordings will sound accurate to the original performance, it might be in your best interest to grab an external mic preamp for quieter takes, and carefully check your levels for the louder ones.
The M-Audio AIR 192|4 performs well enough to be considered for at home recording. Although the lack of being able to switch the instrument input to line is a big let down. This interface is great for people looking for 192 kHz playback, and not much more.
You could feasibly use the M-Audio AIR 192|4 interface as a mobile recording device, considering how small and lightweight it is.
Weighing at 2 lbs and wrapped in solid metal, the AIR 192|4 is chunky, solid, and seems fairly durable enough to take a healthy beating.
Pro tip: If you want to extend the life of your recording equipment by a few years, don’t swing a crowbar at it.
The AIR 192|4 interface comes with a modest but respectful software bundle, offering you access to Ableton Live Lite, and 20 effect plug-ins.
Compared to other audio interfaces
The M-Audio AIR 192|4 is a good affordable interface, one of the better choices out there for beginner producers. But here are some alternatives to consider.
M-Audio AIR 192|4 vs Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
If you can manage to spend a little bit more cash, you’ll get the same performance out of a better looking interface. Plus, you’ll get Focusrite’s signature Air mode preamps which will give your recordings a bit of color.
M-Audio AIR 192|4 vs PreSonus AudioBox USB 96
I like the M-Audio better, but of you’re in need of MIDI I/O, get the Audiobox. Not much more to say otherwise.
M-Audio AIR 192|4 vs Steinberg UR12
The Steinberg offers just about everything that the M-Audio does except it’s a bit uglier, and doesn’t have a direct monitor control to blend between your DAW and direct input. Get the M-Audio.
M-Audio AIR 192|4 vs Audient Evo 4
The M-Audio is better for at-home use, but the Evo 4 is better for mobile recording. Either is a good option depending on your needs.
Who is the M-Audio AIR 192|4 best suited for?
To be frank, as far as recording engineers are concerned, this interface will really only benefit the novice until they outgrow it. Otherwise, people in film or gaming might benefit from this if they need a device with 192 kHz playback and nothing else.