M-Audio M-Track Solo and Duo Review - the Best Cheapest Audio Interfaces

We have the M-track Solo and the M-track Duo by M-Audio for comparison. These are the newest cheapest audio interfaces you can buy right now but Behringer makes one for $4 less and Focusrite makes the most popular budget interfaces on the market. So can M-Audio compete? Let's find out! If you're in the market for an extremely low cost audio interface you should definitely be checking out the M-track Solo and Duo. Here we'll explore all their features. I'll also compare the audio quality with the Behringer UM2 which is also extremely cheap and we'll find out if it's worthwhile upgrading to a $100 audio interface like the Focusrite Solo. The M-Track Solo is about $50 and the Duo is about $70. The only major manufacturer that makes interfaces this cheap is Behringer. The M-track interfaces let you use a microphone, guitar or external synth and record what you play or sing into your computer. You can connect them both with just one USB cable. They both have two channels so you can record a microphone and a guitar at the same time. The Duo features two combo inputs so you have more options for connecting two guitars, two mics or other combinations. I love that the Solo has a combo input for channel one. This means you can even record a stereo synth or a stereo line source with it.

Both M-Tracks also have Phantom power so you can use a condenser mic which many vocalists prefer on top. Both interfaces have gain knobs for the two channels. You can set the volume of your input signal with these and the light below. The knobs indicate if your signal gets too loud. I like the controls on the top. It's more convenient to control than knobs on the side of other interfaces. The Duo model also features a separate control for headphone volume. On the Solo you just get one knob to control the volume of your speakers and your headphones together. In the front you've got your inputs, phantom power switch, headphones input you get a larger quarter inch input on the duo and also a direct monitoring switch. Direct monitoring lets you hear the direct input signal along with the music from your DAW when you record. It's really useful when recording vocals or guitars and helps you keep in time with the music when you record by the way. 

On the back of the M-Track interfaces you have your USB port and the output to your speakers. The Solo has RCA outputs and the duo has quarter inch TRS outputs which can help reduce noise. Both of these interfaces are 16 bit 48 kilohertz which is typical recording quality but other more expensive interfaces will allow you to record in multiple levels of quality for home recording though. This is going to be fine before we get to listening to these. i need to talk about build quality. The build quality of these interfaces kind of reflects the low price. These feel extremely lightweight and the switches in the front are light to the touch. The whole body feels a little plasticky and sounds hollow when you tap on it. I wouldn't feel very confident tossing this around during live gigs. The knobs however feel sturdy and tight. they have a nice rubbery feel to them as well. If you're looking for better build quality you're gonna be paying at least a hundred dollars with something like the Focusrite Solo which has a metal body. But you're probably just going to be using these at home in your studio. By the way the Behringer has a similar overall build quality but I do prefer the feel of the knobs on the M-Audio interfaces. I preferred the recordings from the Focusrite but the M-Audio and Behringer were very close. The M-Audio was a little warmer in my opinion but all sounded great . I really can't say that one was a lot better than the other. By the way, on all of these interfaces, I had the gain knob set to about 12 o'clock. If you're just recording your voice you may be interested in USB microphones. 

Okay audio quality aside there are other differences you should know about with the M-Track interfaces and others at this price range. I tested the interface with the Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO 250 ohm headphones. These headphones require more power from audio interfaces to get to loud volumes. But remember for most typical headphones the volume output is going to be just fine. The M-Audio and Focusrite had low volumes on these headphones but the Behringer was a bit louder when I used the direct monitoring feature. The volume of my input was a bit low and it was hard to get it at a right level for a comfortable recording. But it was totally usable still. I also tested guitar recordings with all three interfaces. The Focusrite had the best guitar recording with the M-Audio coming in next. The Behringer was quite muffled. 

Now what about latency? Latency is kind of like a delay between what you're hearing from your computer and what you're actually recording live. So when you play it back the audio may sound out of sync. All audio interfaces have some sort of latency but some are better than others in handling it. The M-Audio latency wasn't bad and it was comparable to other budget audio interfaces especially with the direct monitoring feature. You can totally get around the latency issues. The M-Track interfaces come with software so you can get started with recording music at home. You get MPC beats which are FREE for everyone but it's a nice multi-track recording solution. You also get pro tools first, some avid fx and the air expand to virtual instruments. I actually prefer the M-Audio software package to what Behringer offers which is very basic and will have you wishing for more very soon. So is it worth buying the M-Track interfaces? Yes, the audio quality is good for vocals guitar and at this low price they've really done a good job. Now if you really want higher recording quality options you need to look at $100 interfaces at least. But for basic home recording these are going to be just fine. 

I think M-Audio has a slight edge over the Behringer interface and build quality particularly with the knobs and the guitar recording was much better. The vocal recording was comparable with all three and I also prefer the software bundle that M-Audio includes. I mean you don't get tons of stuff but you've got some excellent software to get you started. the build quality of these interfaces reflects the price so keep your expectations in check. The Focusrite Solo does not include a combo input for channel 1 like the M-Track Solo does. That's a benefit of the M-track and the Behringer interfaces. I'm really happy to see major manufacturers like M-Audio start to make more low-budget interfaces. It gives Behringer and others the competition needed to keep improving their products and making them more affordable to record music at home. Hope this article was useful for you and helped you with your choice.

M-Audio M-Track Solo

USB Audio Interface for Recording, Streaming and Podcasting with XLR, Line and DI Inputs, Plus a Software Suite Included

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