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 range.
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 music production.
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 crowd.
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