As far as audio interfaces are concerned, there is certainly no shortage of options available, and they typically fall into one of two categories:
Entry-level interfaces are targeted at those who are new to audio recording or on a tighter budget, or those with a more casual interest in audio. This includes schools looking to buy larger quantities of interfaces, as well as students looking for the best value for money. Portability is also often a consideration here.
Professional audio interfaces are targeted at not only professional audio engineers/producers but anyone serious enough about capturing high-quality audio to make a more significant investment. These offer not only superior components such as analogue to digital converters and mic preamps but often features like flexible audio routing for integration with external gear or use in larger studio settings.
While it is generally true that you get what you pay for, there may be a large degree of compromise involved. Perhaps a certain use-case doesn’t warrant the extensive feature set of a pro-level interface. Conversely, an otherwise high-quality entry-level interface may be so bare-bones that extra software or hardware purchases need to be factored in. For those, Universal Audio may have just the solution, but first a bit of background.
Universal Audio are amongst the most widely respected audio brands of all time, who’s founder Bill Putnam was a true industry pioneer with a career dating back to 1946. Today, UA are well known for their premium Apollo audio interfaces which offer top-notch audio quality, flexible routing and expandability, as well as onboard DSP powering their library of industry-standard UAD plugins.
Apollo interfaces are tremendously popular with both professional audio engineers, as well as serious musicians and producers. They do however necessitate a monetary investment a little beyond that of the many entry-level interfaces on the market. This leaves a number of potential customers who may be no less serious about audio quality looking for solutions elsewhere.
Introducing Volt by Universal Audio, a new range of USB audio interfaces offering UA’s acclaimed audio quality and signal processing expertise at an entry-level price, far lower than anything they have released previously. There are five models of Volt available, in a range of sizes and forms, in two main variants:
Volt 1 & Volt 2 have one or two mic preamps respectively featuring Vintage Mic Preamp mode, which when engaged, emulates the pleasing sonic characteristics of UA’s classic 610 mic preamp.
Volt 176, 276, and 476 are again available with either one or two mic preamps, but in addition to Vintage Mic Preamp mode, also feature an onboard compressor with a circuit derived from their legendary 1176 Limiting Amplifier. The larger 476 model features two additional line inputs and two more line outputs for integration with external gear or use in larger studio scenarios.
Each model also includes MIDI in and out as well as an expansive software bundle featuring Ableton Live 11 Lite for multitrack recording, Marshall and Ampeg guitar and bass amp emulations for direct recording, pitch correction by Melodyne, virtual drummers and bass players, as well as delay, reverb and overdrive plugins from Softube and Relab.
There are a lot of options here for all manner of audio production scenarios. Even the most basic of Volt models offer a very high-quality mic preamp that builds on UA’s prestigious legacy, pro-quality analogue to digital converters and enough software to tackle any kind of audio project.
For those looking to further elevate their recordings, Volt 76 models provide the sonic character of a truly legendary recording channel by pairing the Vintage Mic Preamp mode with an 1176 inspired compressor. With numerous presets accessible directly via the unit’s top panel for applications such as vocal or guitar recording, professional-level results have never been this accessible as far as price, and ease of use.
Volt interfaces range from less than $219 for Volt 1, up to $599 for Volt 476, so anyone should be able to find the right balance of features and price, without compromising on quality.
Volt 2 and Volt 276 are also available as Studio Packs which include a studio-quality condenser microphone and pair of headphones priced from $509.