While M-Audio has a reputation for designing some very stylish interfaces, they are no strangers to making some rugged equipment, built to withstand high-pressure working conditions. Their M-Track Eight is one such device, proving among some of the most capable audio interfaces you can get under $500 at the moment. It’s our interface in the spotlight today!
First off, the M-Track Eight is a rack-mounted design, with a sleek but durable black metal chassis with a 19” width and rack mount ears on both ends for easy rack installation. In terms of aesthetics, you could say that the M-Track Eight has a slight vintage vibe going on, especially as you look at the retro design of the knobs and the four-segment LED peak indicators.
However, underneath this cool retro exterior hides a well-built, very modern piece of gear that defines the meaning of simple versatility. Overall, it’s a winner in the looks department.
The M-Track Eight is laid out just like any other audio interface, so there should be no surprises to anyone familiar with a rack-mounted unit. Starting with inputs, the front features two combination XLR/TRS ports for both mic and instrument inputs, while around the back you’ll find six more. There’s a control cluster featuring eight simple gain knobs, one for each of the inputs. Each channel features M-Audio’s Octane Preamp Technology, which is both robust and impressively efficient.
In addition to the rear inputs, you’ll find the output ports, comprising eight 1/4” balanced outputs and two monitor output ports next to them. Pretty standard, but very flexible. The USB/Analog Direct Balance knob is a handy addition, allowing for adjustments to the balance between the direct inputs and computer playback. On top of this, M-Audio ships this interface with a copy of Cubase 7LE and a whole bunch of plugins that really spices up the deal.
The performance of the M-Track Eight really is top-tier stuff. At a chunk under the $500 price tag, you are receiving very professional studio-grade sound quality, even though this interface maxes out at a 96kHz sampling rate – decent, but shame it doesn’t reach 192kHz.
The M-Track Eight works silently and consistently with very little coloration to the sound, while latency is reduced to pretty much zero. It also works with both Windows and Macs, and is compatible with most major DAWs.
While it’s not the ideal choice for a smaller home recording studio, the rack-mounted M-Track Eight is a versatile and powerful interface that doesn’t break the bank. It sounds great, offers good I/O options, and the overall look and feel of the unit is one of quality. Well worth adding to any shortlist, especially if you need to mic up a band or entire drumkit.