M-Audio offers several wallet-friendly audio interfaces which manage to combine great looks and solid performance. For this reason, the American brand has grown quite a following. Their M-Track 2x2M – part of the C Series – is one of the most impressive audio interfaces under $200 right now. As we’re about to find out, there’s a good reason why…
The first thing you will notice about any M-Audio interface is that it breaks the mold a bit compared to some of the other budget interfaces out there. Nothing too radical, but instead of using the all-too-familiar boxy aluminum chassis, M-Audio went with something a lot more stylish and functional, with a touch of retro. The chassis features a slanted look reminiscent of a lot of old-school analog gear, while the controls and interface are all firmly rooted in the 21st century.
Speaking of which, the main control cluster is on the top panel and is centered around a large, responsive level knob, which is easy to work with when sitting at a desk. The inputs and outputs are spread between the front and back panels. It may take a little getting used to if you have used more standard audio interfaces in the past, but it soon feels intuitive. The solid design is matched by a quality build, which is what we expect from M-Audio these days.
Aside from great looks, what else does the 2x2M have to offer? To start, M-Audio has included some of the best preamps in this price range, while the analog to digital converters are top notch as well. None of this is in place of I/O versatility – the 2x2M comes with a total of four inputs. Two are dedicated 1/4” TRS ports, while the other two are XLR/TRS combos. The 2x2M also comes with a direct monitoring switch, that allows for a latency-free insight into what your instrument sounds like raw.
Finally, this is a 24-bit/192kHz sampling rate device, so you can expect optimal performance in this price range. Overall, there’s a lot of hidden performance and headspace packed into this relatively small interface. Its hardware is difficult to beat, especially at this price.
When the time comes to switch it on, the 2x2M really steps up a gear and offers a pretty much pristine signal from beginning to end. The preamp units they have packed inside this interface are close to being fully transparent and you can easily test this by plugging in a good condenser mic. Additionally, the two dedicated instrument lines can handle high-output pickups of any kind. It is just so easy to achieve great results with this interface.
The 2x2M is compatible with both Windows and Mac machines, as well as most DAWs. It does ship with a copy of Pro Tools First DAW, and loads of plugins and effects (including a great 2GB sound library from Touch Loops). This means it’s ready to go from the moment it arrives!
At the end of the day, the M-Audio M-Track 2x2M offers a very viable solution to those who need something extra. The performance is there and so is versatility, while the build and design are just as impressive. For something a little different, but with the performance you’d expect from a device in this low mid-range category, this is a worthy contender for any home studio.