For many years, Audient has been dedicated to providing studio-quality audio equipment at consumer-level prices.
Audient’s iD range of interfaces is no exception, giving you professional playback and recording quality at an affordable price point. Though they are each quite similar in functionality and appearance, there are some major differences that are important to grasp if you are considering buying one.
In this article, we examine the iD4, iD14, and iD22 and compare their features and overall quality.
iD4 vs iD14 vs iD22: The Differences
The iD4 is a simple but powerful 2-in 2-out interface.
The iD14 has additional outputs and can be expanded to be a 10-in, 4-out interface.
Meanwhile, the iD22 is the most feature-packed and includes effect sends and even more outputs.
Both the iD14 and iD22 can be expanded with ADAT to include more inputs and outputs.
Audient: A Brief History
Audient was started in 1997 by David Dearden and Gareth Davies. Both had previously founded DDA, which specialized in designing mixing consoles in the ’80s and ’90s.
After leaving DDA, the goal was to design and deliver great mixing consoles more efficiently and affordably to the consumer. This was a hard sell in the industry at the time as “Pro” gear was not in the price range for your average consumer.
Their dream birthed the ASP8024 console – a large format, inline analog console renowned for its simplicity and sound quality. That original design is still being sold 20 years later in an upgraded form as the ASP8024HE (which stands for Heritage Edition).
From there, Audient moved into other products such as their award-winning interface range and rack-mounted mic preamps. In doing this, they have managed to bring top-of-the-range mic preamps and interfaces to us more affordably.
Being a home studio user and being confined to a budget doesn’t always lend itself well to buying top quality 100% of the time. There are some things that take a backseat when it comes to product specifications or build quality or size.
So what are the things to look out for?
Computer connection (USB2/3/C, Thunderbolt, etc)
Preamp quality / gain vs noise floor
AD / DA converter quality
Extra functionality (quite often this will be sacrificed to make the product lighter on the wallet.)
Though home studios vary in size and purpose, these factors are universal. Having the right number of inputs and outputs is crucial, as is how it all connects to your computer.
For those who are serious about recording, quality mic preamps and AD/DA converters are crucial. For many consumer-level interfaces, this is where manufacturers tend to cut costs. Thankfully, Audient manages to buck this trend by providing excellent preamps and converters with their affordable “iD” range of interfaces.
This little device is one of Audient’s smaller consumer interfaces. It’s a 2-in, 2-out interface that can record in up to 96KHz / 24 bit quality. It has a Class A Audient mic preamp, which you can also find on the ASP8024. Straight off the bat, this makes the iD4 a top contender with some of the industry’s best interfaces.
This preamp offers 58dB of gain with an SNR of 96 dB unweighted, 99 dB A-weighted making this a very clean sounding preamp.
It also offers a switchable 48V phantom power for your condenser microphones. However, the 12V power supply is required for the use of phantom power.
The iD4 also has a DI input – but not just any DI input – a discrete JFET instrument input which is designed in such a way to replicate the warmth of a valve amp. This device also houses A/D converters by AKM, who are known for their high-quality converters. They offer a dynamic range of 114dB (ADC) and 115dB (DAC).
As this interface is a 2-in / 2-out device, it means you get two separate channels for recording, and two separate channels to monitor simultaneously. This is ideal for a singer-songwriter with headphones or a pair of studio monitors.
The unit has an XLR / TRS combo input and a TRS DI input which should cover most of your input connection needs. It also has two stereo headphone outs on the front – one is a standard 1/4 jack and the other is a 3.5mm mini-jack in case you forget your plugs!
There is also a “Mix” knob to blend between the dry input signal and the output from your DAW.
The controls on the iD4 are simple yet very functional:
Phantom power button (rear)
Speaker mute button
All of these buttons and knobs are self-explanatory with the exception of the “iD” button. This button is used in conjunction with certain controls to access alternate functions.
For example, when using the iD button with the volume knob, you can use the knob to get fine control over parameters in your DAW.
The “iD” button also works with the mute speaker button and volume knob together to pan each of the two inputs to either side to make monitoring easier when using speakers. The iD4 also has a stereo LED meter which can be used for both input metering and output metering with the turn of the “mix” knob.
The build quality of the Audient iD4 is fantastic, it has a solid metal chassis and really feels sturdy, like it’s built to last. The knobs also feel great to turn with just the right amount of resistance.
This device is compatible with both Windows and OSX via USB 2.0, which is still widely supported for now, though other USB types are increasingly becoming the norm.
Audient has even gone one step further and added compatibility with iOS devices. This means you can work directly on your iPad or iPhone – provided you have the power supply for your iD4 and a “camera convert adaptor” to plug into your iOS device.
Audient claims an “all-round latency” of 5.91ms @ 44.1khz with a buffer of 32 samples for the iD4.
Audient has produced a really great and simple desktop interface here. For the price, you are getting amazing value for money. This unit comes in around the $190-$200 range making it very affordable for a top audio brand. I would highly recommend the Audient iD4 interface for anyone looking in that price range!
The iD14 is the next step up from the iD4. It offers the same in terms of recording and preamp quality, but has additional outputs, making it slightly larger than the iD4.
When fully expanded, you get a 10-in / 4-out interface although the unit alone is only capable of 2-in/4-out. The additional 8-ins are achieved when paired with one of Audient’s rack-mounted 8-channel mic preamps (such as the ASP800) through ADAT. So you’ll need to factor this into the cost if you are looking for an interface with plenty of inputs. But for many producers, 2 x inputs are just enough, especially considering the quality of the Audient mic pres.
The ID14 has the same Class A preamps as the iD4, with the addition of a second preamp so you can record with two mics at once. The ID14’s preamps offer 66dB of mic gain with an SNR of 96 dB unweighted, 99 dB A-weighted.
There is of course switchable 48V phantom power for both preamps (12V PSU required). The JFET instrument input is also available on this model and is utilized on channel 2 instead of the second preamp.
The AD converters on the iD14 have been stepped-up compared to the iD4. You’ll find high-performance Burr Brown converters with a dynamic range of 116dB (ADC) and 117dB (DAC), giving you an even better conversion to – and from – your DAW.
As the iD14 has four outputs, you get the option of a separate monitor mix for yourself or your talent via the headphone out. The rear of this unit has two line outputs as well as two XLR/1/4″ jack combos and the ADAT input for expansion. The front of this device has a JFET DI 1/4″ and a 1/4″ jack plug for your headphones.
It is worth noting that the iD14 does not have the addition of the mini-jack headphones plug like the iD4.
This unit is also accompanied by the iD Mixer Software to make things even easier. It offers an additional +10dB of software gain on each channel as well as an easy way to set up your custom monitor mix.
The controls on the iD14 are:
Channel 1 Gain
Channel 2 Gain
2x Phantom power toggle switches
Headphone mute button
Speaker mute button
Much like the iD4, the iD button allows additional functionality of the volume knob in supported plugins and in the Mixer software. When not utilizing the “Virtual Scroll” function, the software also allows you to customize the assignment of the iD button to a different monitoring feature like dim, mono sum, polarity reverse, or talk-back.
The Audient iD14 is compatible with Windows and OSX and is also connected via USB 2.0. Its build quality is just as good as the iD4 and is also very reasonably priced at just $300. So for just a small cost increase, you can get an interface with a few more features that can be greatly expanded further down the line.
The iD22 is a bit more of a serious piece of kit. It offers a lot more flexibility, with FX sends/returns and a few extra options. It too provides recording at 24bit/96kHz quality and houses four line outputs, two mic preamp combos, and one DI input.
Again, you can expand it to be a 10-in/14-out interface with the optical ADAT in/out and external preamps.
The iD22 does offer two balanced insert send and returns for each of its two preamps, which isn’t available on the other two models. This makes it really easy to use your favorite outboard gear and rack processors with the iD22, and saves you routing audio through your DAW.
We’ve already established that Audient preamps are top-notch, and the preamps on this unit are of course no exception. The Class A preamps on the iD22 are also from the Audient console range and offer fantastic and clear sound with 60dB of mic gain and a SNR of 96dB. This unit also has the JFET instrument input for DI which is linked with the second channel input.
The iD22 steps up the high performance of the Burr Brown AD/DA converters. You now get dynamic ranges of 120dB (ADC) and 114(DAC) giving you exceptional range.
The rear of this device houses the two Class A mic preamp combos, two 1/4″ TRS Insert points (send/return) per mic preamp, one 1/4″ DI input, four 1/4″ line outputs, and ADAT in and out. The 1/4″ headphones jack is also located on the back unlike the other two interfaces and doesn’t take up any of your 4 outputs. Instead, the headphones are set to outputs 5 and 6.
The 3x function buttons work with the Audient Mixer software, allowing you to choose which functions they can alter. The software lets you map functions and set up headphone mixes as well as phase reverse and mono summing for the inputs. You can also add a further +10dB of software gain to any input individually.
Just like the iD14, this device is compatible with both Windows and OSX via USB 2.0 and comes with the Audient Mixer software. The build quality is also on par with the rest of this series with a full metal chassis and very sturdy knobs making it built to last. The Audient software and Audient drivers are easy to install and use – it’s the same download regardless of which iD device you own.
The cost for the iD22 is around $500 which is exceptional value for such a professional piece of gear. So for just $200 extra, you get a whole lot more than the iD14. Few interfaces in this price range can compete with the iD22 in terms of overall sound quality, build quality, and features.
Audient have really offered a great series here. Their quality components for little cost have made these units fantastic value. The software also adds another level of control, ease, and customization that most other interfaces don’t offer. When you factor in the iD and function buttons, you realize just how unique these interfaces are.
For me, I crave the higher quality of the Burr Brown converters and Class A preamps over most things. As all of these interfaces are stand-alone 2x input, it really just comes down to outputs and cost.
I much prefer having a separate mix for my headphones when tracking and I really like the idea of not using up my physical outputs to do so (I like to re-amp guitars). But is that all worth the extra $200 to have that functionality in the iD22? Yes, as the iD14 only has two line outputs, it wouldn’t quite cut it for me. So when it comes to the Audient iD14 vs iD22, I would choose the iD22.
But if you have no immediate use for the extra outputs, I would still strongly recommend the iD14 over the iD4. In our Audient iD14 review, we established it has better A/D converters plus added functionality with the mixer software that you just don’t get with the iD4. All this for $300 is a steal, and is a small increase over the cost of the iD4!
But at the end of the day, any of these interfaces would be a great purchase as all three are fantastic value for money.