- We review Audient’s newest home recording device
- Find out our first impressions, the specs and the functionality of the device
The Evo 4 is the latest interface from British audio giants Audient. First debuted at NAMM 2020 the Evo 4 promises to make home recording as easy as possible where simplicity is key.
With the rise of home recordings, podcasters, streaming and online gaming, Audient have designed the model to be cost-effective as well as intuitive and of course, offer a high-quality sound.
Marketing director, Andy Allen explained:
“We believe technology shouldn’t get in the way of the creative process; it should enhance it and be accessible to all, no matter what their skill-level or art-form and EVO is here to help make great-sounding recordings as easy and effortless as possible’’.
But does the Evo live up to Audient’s promises?
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The Evo 4 comes in a very cool black box which strangely felt reminiscent of unboxing a new iPhone. The lid slides open and you’ll find the interface, a very simple instruction manual and USB lead for connecting to your mac or pc.
We definitely love the mantra of simplicity – there is nothing worse than getting bogged down in a 30-page instruction manual when you get a new piece of gear and Audient have lived up to this with a simple, two-sided fold-out leaflet.
The unit itself has a very cool all black, matte design. On the top of the Evo are 6 black buttons, clearly labelled and all in black except the auto gain button (which we’ll come to later).
The large rotary volume control isn’t anything new. However being located on top of the box is a nice design move (as opposed to the front), particularly compared to other budget interfaces on the market it feels quite natural to move. Power the box on and you’re greeted with a blink of luminous lights.
The Evo 4 is a 2 in/2 out interface with L and R outputs to hook up to your monitors via ¼ Jack. In terms of mixing you have a standard ¼ jack output for headphones as well as a ¼ jack in for guitar recording.
The unit links to your computer via USB. For those with newer apple computers, it may be frustrating to see the included lead is USB-C to USB-A meaning an adapter may be necessary (or a different lead) but this isn’t really Audient’s fault!
All new Evo preamps are built into the box giving 58dB gain range which competes with other budget interfaces on the market.
The controls themselves are super easy and clear to use if you’ve owned an audio interface before these won’t really need explaining. On the top surrounding the volume dial, you’ll see options for phantom power, input select (1 & 2), and buttons to toggle between monitor mix and output volume.
Conveniently whichever button you select lights up, with an eye-catching red light for phantom power which will help eliminate those ‘oops’ moments of feeding 48v to a dynamic mic.
However one of the most impressive aspects of the Evo 4 is the auto gain function which automatically sets your input gain level for you, eliminating the need to even touch a gain dial.
The instruction booklet advises downloading drivers from Audient in order for the interface to work, although we loaded up Logic and found the Evo was recognised and worked perfectly without needing to do this.
We then set up a condenser mic to test out the auto gain function. The process itself is very simple and only takes a few seconds – hit the green auto gain button, select your input, hit the button once more and perform.
First, we tried setting a level for quiet speech and then staged the output to around -16dB. To compare, we then clicked our fingers and re-staged the signal. The louder signal was peaking around -2dB in our DAW but a couple of buttons clicks on the Evo and we were back down to a suitable level, around -16dB.
Now we’re not going to promote the idea of not learning to gain stage properly, but this aspect (particularly if you are a beginner) is a really unique and interesting function.
We could pick holes and say it would be better if we had the option to stage the input gain ourselves, but really we would be criticising the Evo for the sake of it – after all are we really likely to need this other function, particularly in a budget or entry-level interface?
The reality is the auto gain works great and really, whether you’re a beginner to audio production or a pro the function is a great little addition.
Whilst recording the LEDs surrounding the volume dial illuminates to represent your levels and you can easily switch between your monitor and output volume (although once your levels are set you’ll probably only need the rotary dial for your monitor level).
We recorded some vocals with a budget condenser mic and found the preamps sounded great, with plenty of clarity, certainly good enough to enable a high-quality recording at home.
Sadly at the time of writing, we were in isolation, so unable to do a shootout with other preamps but we will say that the difference between another budget interface we have at home was noticeable – the Evo came out on top offering a lot more warmth and presence. Really impressive for its price.
Overall we are really impressed with the Evo 4. Audient have set out to design a simple-to-use interface and in the process have created a great sounding product with some really unique features.
Currently retailing at around $120 the unit is a little pricier than other entry-level interfaces but in our opinion, the extra money is worth it even if you are just starting out.
We would suggest if you are a beginner getting to grips with gain staging as this is a crucial part of recording (in fact check out our article on Analogue Signal Flow to get a better idea of signal paths and staging correctly), however, we loved this feature both for its functionality and for the ability to stand up and sound check our microphone without having to stretch with one hand to rotate a gain dial!
We’re confident the Evo 4 will become a regular in people’s home studio setups. Following hot on the heels of the 4 is the Evo 8 as well, so if you need more inputs for recording then there is the option to upgrade for only around $60 more, which is available for shipping in June 2020.
We really enjoyed getting to grips with the Evo 4 and are excited to be able to give our demo model away to one lucky reader.