Alesis iO|26
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Alesis iO|26

iO|26, USB audio interface from Alesis in the iO series.

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SonnyBoy 08/31/2009

Alesis iO|26 : SonnyBoy's user review

5

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ATTENTION: This notice was first drafted in spring 2007, he was reading the EDITS additional paragraph at the end!

As I decided to get into the computer music in home studio version, I took the time to choose as carefully as possible the different elements of my setup, with a very careful eye on price / performance, given my budget. With the iO | 26, we had no interest in being in a hurry, since it was not until over a year between the announcement of its "next" release and his arrival in our country.
Characteristics that motivated me the most are obviously the 8 XLR / jack (Neutrik combo) in order to save battery. Otherwise, I intend to do most of the audio with a bit of MIDI at first - and perhaps more later once I'm used to using plug-ins and potential problems it ask me ... Everything else was a bonus, and what bonus: 8 outputs, inserts for each track, Phantom power in groups of two tracks, two separate headphone outputs, MIDI in and out, 2 ADAT inputs (not output) etc.. All this in just over 400 euros for a firewire sound card, while the competition is much more expensive if we want equal opportunities.
Configuration: Apple iBook G4 PowerPC 1.25 GHz with 1.25 GB of RAM and 60 GB hard drive on Tiger 10.4.9. It's the only thing I did not have to buy. Otherwise, I just bought an external hard drive 250 GB running at 7200 t / m for the rest of my projects.
Connections: for now, my setup is very minimal, since I use the iO | 26 Firewire to record on my computer and / or on the external drive on Tracktion. I connect the outputs 1 and 2 TRS on two active monitors Tascam VL-X5. My microphone set is still rudimentary, but correct: a Shure 565 SD (SM58 ancestor) of all trades, a T.bone SC1100 for voice and acoustic guitar, 3 Naiant MSH-1 (2 omnis for overheads and / or acoustic guitar and a heart for the bass drum) and some other generic microphones for the "rest". Obviously I intend to buy at least one SM 57 and one or two preamps and that goes with it, when I have some savings.

August 31, 2009 EDIT: I'm working now on a MacBook Pro 2.5 GB and 4 GB of RAM (Leopard 10.5.6) and I regularly use a preamp Art MPA Gold in addition to the sound card.

UTILIZATION

1. Installation is a snap. Just insert the supplied CD or go to the website of Alesis page Support / Downloads to download the updates directly. From that side, 10 out of 10.
2. Incompatibilities? This is where it gets tough. When I was considering last year already bought the iO | 26, I visited the site and downloaded the Alesis manual, already available. Everywhere, said calmly that the iO | 26 would work with Panther (10.3.9 in my case). Even when the product page has changed, now to require Tiger (10.4), I sent an email to Alesis and they said that the books were authentic. So Panther ok!
So what was my (bad) surprise at the interface once connected, I heard crackling, clicks and pops with a vengeance, whatever my latency settings! I was still able to record a small "test" more or less audible, and even one or two tracks with no crackling. I spent nearly two months to actively participate in various user forums, especially Anglo-Saxon. Finally, one of the developers it is also placed Alesis and for some time, it seems to recognize that the problems are more serious than a few clicks certain innocence (on a MacBook, so Intel and Tiger OS) intend using Safari or iTunes at the same time. In short, the interface is clearly not compatible with all hardware and software configurations. Overall it works well with most PCs (except in some configurations involving both Cakewalk Sonar and AMD Athlon) and with most MacBooks and even the PowerBook G4. on the other hand, a lot of users seem to have problems on their iMac G5 (Tiger!), Not to mention my iBook to Panther. In short, I ended up migrating to Tiger, too. Verdict: 2 out of 10 for compatibility issues.
The configuration is relatively easy, provided that the interface is working properly, of course! 8 out of 10.
As for the manual, it is generally very clear, especially for Windows, it is a little less explanatory for Mac. So 8 out of 10.
This gives us an average of 7, in the snatch.

EDIT August 31, 2009: Last updated drivers for Mac (end January 2008) seems to have been correct. Since then, more concern, at least on Tracktion 3, set latencies ranging between 128 and 512 samples (ie, between 2.9 ms and 11.6 ms).

GETTING STARTED

As for the drivers - "drivers" in French :-) - well, no, they are not as stable as that, because they continue to cause unexpected very small clicks on my system, although I migrated on Tiger. However, since qu'Alesis really aware of the problem, the updates have become frequent - every two weeks, on average - which is rather a good point. The most surprising is that the previous update (end March 07) seemed to have solved my problems clicks. Unfortunately I made the following update in order to control the headphone volume independent of overall volume. It works for the volumes, but the clicks are back. I do not lose hope, because I really feel - I hope it will be justified - that the problems will soon be settled, at the rate follow the updates.
As for software, I use mainly Tracktion 2 (soon 3!) With plug-ins that come with it (SampleTank, AmpliTube, MDA, RM IV). I also tested Cubase LE comes with the iO | 26, especially to see if Tracktion was the result of "clicks" heard. Well, no, I had the same unpleasant noises on Cubase LE. That said, this was before he migrated to Tiger, I have not tried since.
In terms of latency, I continue to try different settings, without having yet found the setting. The most amazing thing is that I have no more than 256 clicks in 64 samples! I'll try again, as advocated by Craig Anderton, the author of the reference test the iO | 26 of acapella.harmony-central.com, close the application after each change of latency, then reopen it.
Finally, I have not had the opportunity to record more than two tracks simultaneously. As soon as I can, I will register a battery with 7 or 8 microphones and I publish this opinion. As for reading, I sometimes just a few clicks on the test pieces (ten tracks) that I recorded while reading the Tracktion demo songs, with lots of tracks and plug- ins, no problem. Go figure.

August 31, 2009 EDIT: Since the last update of the driver for Mac, I can safely use the 8 XLR inputs simultaneously (for a battery, for example) and read two dozen audio and MIDI tracks with lots of plug -ins. That happiness.

OVERALL OPINION

I received it in late February 07. I'm still the testing phase, trying computer configurations including hybrid (last update firmware with the previous version of the driver, etc.).. To do this, of course, it is advantageous to keep the various updates. One thing is certain, it is impossible to return to the previous version of "firmware", only drivers are more or less interchangeable.
Otherwise, there are many things I love about this machine. In addition to its enormous potential (8 mic inputs, 8 outputs and 8 inserts, etc.. Etc.. !!!), It seems to have good converters and ultra-sound is clear. The preamps are a beautiful transparent - even if that kills the gain is not their forte - some users happy judging even much higher than the number of RME Fireface. In addition, the construction seems very, very strong, short, a card that really does not look cheap: knobs very strong and soft at once, with the overall volume and mixer computer / same source that are serrated.
What I like least, obviously, is the current instability. However, I have already said, is a product with great potential and monitoring Alesis seems for the moment seriously. Hopefully, whether it's infancy to youth. Many other interfaces to the excellent reputation today have been there. Without I tried other models, I saw them at work with close friends - MAUDIO 410, Digi 002, etc.. Either too much or not enough entries.
So, it is clear that the price / performance (supposedly) is currently the best available. There is simply no better.
With experience, I am almost forced to repeat the same choice, given my budget. And if small problems are eventually resolved, one can even ignore the budgetary considerations. Inshallah, to paraphrase the Pope.

August 31, 2009 EDIT: The good Lord heard me, it seems. The pope probably does not care.