In many ways, M-Audio is the Apple of audio production equipment. Their stuff is stylish, efficient and – most importantly – works. With this in mind, it should be no surprise to hear that M-Audio’s M-Track 2X2 C-Series is one of the most efficient audio interfaces you can get for less than $100. Today we’re going to take a closer look and see what it offers.
If you are the kind of person who does a lot of research when deciding on a purchase, you might have noticed a trend when it comes to audio interfaces. Small details aside, it looks like every brand out there uses a very similar chassis design for their products. M-Audio is one of those that don’t. Instead of packing the hardware in a standard aluminum shell, M-Audio went with a unique chassis design that proves very attractive.
They have combined the retro aesthetic of old analog gear, with some modern LED-illuminated finishing touches. All of the controls are on the top panel – with the oversized volume knob taking center stage – while the connectors are split between the front and the back. Beside the attractive aesthetics, the M-Track 2X2 C-Series is built to last, leading to a surprisingly reliable package for so few beans.
When it comes to features, M-Audio keeps things pretty basic. It appears that their main aim was to offer a rock-solid core performance over anything else. Because of this, other features can feel limited – you are looking at just one microphone line with an XLR port and one instrument line with a 1/4” TRS input.
As is standard, you’ll find a gain control, while M-Audio also included a graphic LED stack to help you level out your gain (both on the left of the device). On the right, you’ll find your phantom power, Direct/USB switch, and headphone out level knobs. One of the coolest things about this budget interface is the fact that you can switch it to ‘direct’ and access latency-free monitoring. At the back, there is a standard USB port, used for both power and data transfer.
Cool design aside, the performance is what defines the M-Track 2X2 interface. The mic preamp built into this model is very impressive considering the price. This results in a pure sound with almost perfect clarity. The instruments line is easy to dial in, while it handles the hottest pickups you can find. While this is true for many USB interfaces out there, the M-Track 2X2 really stands out for the transparency it offers. When you plug in a microphone, you don’t have to deal with hardware coloration. This negative effect has been reduced to a minimum.
We also have to mention the software suite that comes with this device. For no extra cost, you get a copy of Pro Tools First DAW, and a vast library of VST plugins as well as other effects. While this isn’t a deal breaker, it’s useful for beginners and means the M-Track 2×2 is ready to go straight from the box.
Overall, M-Audio’s M-Track 2X2 C-Series is one of the most stylish entry-level audio interfaces out there and one of the highest performers in its price range. It doesn’t offer anything particularly game changing, but it does deliver proper performance and consistency. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters when you’re on a tight budget.