Sometimes a product crosses my desk that’s so obvious and
elegant that I can almost hear the competition do a facepalm when it
hits the market. Case in point, Novation’s new Audiohub 2x4.
Straddling the line between DJ rigs and bedroom studios,
the Audiohub’s specs include two inputs, four outputs, a headphone jack
and—here’s that facepalm—an integrated three-port USB hub. As laptops
get thinner and USB-powered controllers and synths more numerous,
there’s a clear need for an audio interface that can integrate all of
the gear that goes into a modern small studio or DJ setup, ensuring that
each has enough power to function properly. On more than one occasion,
I’ve plugged a nifty new USB-powered control surface or keyboard into my
MacBook Pro and found that the laptop simply can’t supply enough juice.
The Audiohub 2x4 solves that problem beautifully.
From a live performance standpoint, the Audiohub’s audio
implementation is tailor-made for club gigs. On the back are dual stereo
RCA pairs for outputs 1-2 and 3-4, with an additional pair of balanced
TRS outputs for channels 1 and 2. So if you’re using it in a DJ rig, you
can quickly connect it to a standard mixer using off-the-shelf RCA
cables. Having additional balanced quarter-inch outputs in the package
is a huge plus for bands, soft synth-based keyboard rigs, and home
studios. What’s more, the converters are based on Focusrite technology,
so they sound quite a bit better than many other boxes in this price
Novation’s attention to detail is also evident on the
front of the unit, which includes three powered USB2.0 ports, stereo RCA
inputs (with switchable gain), and a headphone jack that includes a
handy switch that shifts between monitoring outputs 1/2 and 3/4. This
headphone toggle allows you to use the Audiohub for cueing tracks in the
event that you’re not using a mixer for that purpose. There’s also a
direct monitor switch for the stereo inputs, reducing latency and making
it quite flexible for basic studio recording.
As for knobs, there are only three: one each for the
stereo output pairs and a volume knob for the headphones. While I’d love
to see a fourth knob for fine-tuning input gain, the Audiohub’s price
is so competitive that this is a bit of a quibble.
Rounding out the package are two amenities that I’ve
noticed are starting to disappear from other manufacturers’ offerings:
an AC power supply and a Novation-green USB cable. While the Audiohub
will happily serve as a USB-powered audio interface, you’ll need to plug
it in to the wall if you’re going to load it up with voltage-hungry
USB-powered gear. And while the bright green USB cable may not seem like
much of an addition, if you’ve ever set up on a dark stage and searched
for a black USB cable in your bag, you’ll immediately appreciate it.
There’s also the now-ubiquitous copy of Ableton Live Lite as well as
Loopmasters software in the package, for those just getting started in
All in all, the Novation Audiohub 2x4 is brilliantly
executed and frankly overdue. With a street price of around 200 clams,
Novation is bound to sell a bunch of these to laptop DJs and
keyboardists who need to get sounds out of a software rig and into the
Four channels of audio outputs with both RCA and balanced
connections. Integrated powered USB hub. Headphone jack is switchable
between outputs 1-2 and 3-4. Power supply and USB cable included.
CONSInputs are strictly RCA. Not USB3.0 compatible.
The ideal interface for performers who mainly need to get sounds out of the computer and have lots of USB-powered controllers.
$249 list | $199 street | novationmusic.com