In this article, I’ll be reviewing the M-Audio M-Track Solo audio interface. As an entry-level, 2-in/2-out interface, its low price is a little more than suspicious. Let’s see if it’s worth the money, or just a rip-off.
About the author
Final verdict on the M-Track Solo
For the money, the M-Track Solo is really impressive. More than adequate sound quality, low latency, and decent preamps make this a no-brainer for musicians on a budget. Sure, I would’ve liked TRS outputs, but for $50 it’s hard to complain.
What I like
- Decent sound quality.
- ASIO drivers.
What I don’t like
- Feels cheap.
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I/O and controls
Looking at the left side of the front panel, you’ll see one XLR/TRS combo input, as well as a TRS input. The TRS input has a switch to toggle between instrument and line level.
On the right of the inputs, you’ll first see a switch to engage 48 V phantom power, followed by an 1/8-inch headphone jack, and a switch to choose between direct monitoring and the audio coming in through your DAW.
The top panel features three separate rotary dials. The first two are your gain controls for inputs one and two, and the third is master control.
Underneath the gain controls are LEDs which signify whether you’re clipping. There’s also an additional LED which glows orange when phantom power is engaged.
Finally, turning around to the rear, you’ll find two unbalanced RCA outputs, as well as a USB port. I really wish the outputs could’ve been balanced TRS, but for a $50 interface, I’ll turn the other cheek for now.
The unit has a bit depth of 16-bit, and a maximum sample rate of 48 kHz. While this is technically satisfactory, most interfaces on the market run at 24-bit with playback of at least 96 kHz.
It offers a frequency response of 20 Hz – 20 kHz, with an SNR of 109 dB. The gain range is fairly respectable at 0 to 54 dB on the combo-in, and -10 db to 44 dB on the instrument and line input.
Surprisingly, the unit comes with ASIO drivers, which is something of a rarity with low-budget interfaces such as this. The latency here is extremely playable, and mostly unnoticeable, especially at 128 samples.
M-Audio boasts the inclusion of Crystal preamps on the microphone input, which sounds fine. The preamps won’t give you much character, but it doesn’t sound bad by any stretch of the imagination.
As the name suggests, this interface is great for solo acts recording at home. Its small size and discrete appearance make it a welcome sight on a desk.
You might run into some technical limitations if you try to record a full band, but the soft-spoken, acoustic singer-songwriter will be just fine.
This is fine for recording demos on the road, or recording in an alleyway, but not much for any large scale productions. However, it is bus-powered so you don’t need to worry about supplying power to it.
Can anybody be shocked that these are made from plastic? The truth is that if they wrapped them in an all-metal chassis it would most likely double the price. Maybe not by that much, but you get the picture.
These things are light, and feel particularly breakable. If you feel jipped, just remember what you bought it for.
The truth is that the software bundle on its own probably costs more than the actual interface. You receive access to MPC Beats, as well as 20 plugins from Avid, Xpand!2 and Eleven Lite for virtual synthesis and amp emulation. Rock and roll, man.
Compared to other audio interfaces
M-Track Solo vs M-Track Duo
If you have an extra $20 to spend, why wouldn’t you just get the Duo? More inputs!
M-Track Solo vs Behringer UMC22
The Behringer is worth the extra couple bucks for the MIDAS preamps, which sound better than the Crystal pres in the M-Audio in my opinion.
M-Track Solo vs Behringer UM2
The M-Audio M-Track Solo audio interface wins here just for the software bundle.
M-Track Solo vs Focusrite Scarlett Solo
While the Scarlett is the superior interface, its price tag is over double that of the M-Audio. I’ll let your wallet decide.
Who is the M-Track Solo best suited for?
The M-Track Solo audio interface is best suited for beginners looking to start recording some music for the first time. Perhaps the more experienced folk could benefit from having one of these lying around for tracking some demos.