M-Audio M-Track 2×2 / 2x2M Review – USB Audio Interface

In 2016, M-Audio has decided to continue the success of the youngest models (M-Audio M-Track II and M-Audio M-Track Plus II), having added more optional, but nice bonuses: a support of 192 kHz and a connecter for USB-C in M-Audio M-Track 2×2 / 2x2M.

Overall Build and Features of M-Audio M-Track 2×2 / 2x2M

Traditionally, M-Audio has released two models: M-Track 2X2 and M-Track 2X2M. A more advanced model has a prefix M. It differs with an extra microphone, instrument input, and a MIDI input/output. We should recall to you that MIDI was removed from M-Track II and it caused indignation of many musicians. Now, it was returned at least in 2X2M and that’s an advantage.

The junior model costs fifty dollars less than the senior one. The price even for the older model remains very decent. The official trailer advertises the use of the interface for personal recording of vocals and guitars actually by existing British group, which likes M-Audio interfaces.

Converters Cirrus Logic CS4270 have not changed, so intrigue around the sound is pretty much little. Almost all manufacturers make interfaces for CS4270. As for XMOS processor, it was unexpected to see it. What is more interesting is new Crystal Preamps. They say that this is a new development which has not yet been used in other products. Also, like the previous interfaces, inputs and outputs are fully balanced – you can safely connect 10-meter cables.

There are included two cables “USB-C for USB-C” and “USB-C for traditional USB” in the set of M-Audio M-Track 2×2 / 2x2M. In theory, a connecter and cables are certified to a higher power. In practice, everything depends on the capabilities of a computer power supply and interface. M-Audio does not comment on what opportunities give a USB-C connection neither on the website nor in the manual. We can assume that it is “for the future” or just a publicity stunt.

There is still no hardware processing in the interfaces, as it is a budget series M-Track, but it has an impressive set of licensed software that novice musicians will like for sure.

The case of M-Audio M-Track 2×2 / 2x2M is based on a sturdy aluminium chassis. The rest is made of plastic. The top panel is glossy. You will find a scratch resistant cover-up on it after unpacking. The interface looks very nice, at the same time all of the controls are thought out and are close at hand. A large knob of volume level has a rubber ring. A headphone output and monitors output are separate. There is a hardware monitoring of inputs. There are 4-segment audiometers. The interface is clearly designed with knowledge of the matter. When adjusting the level, the interface is firmly on the table, does not loose, as it weighs a kilogram and has rubber feet on the bottom.

A control panel has no card. There is only an ASIO panel with selection of buffer. All the controls are rendered on the physical switches and knobs of the card.

Opportunities and delay are like in all audio interfaces of M-Audio. There is no difference: everything is at a good level. A minimum buffer is 64 samples.

While measuring the input to the output, we received total parameters of digitization and playback. Separately, it will be a bit better. The parameters correspond to the interfaces of novice level and confirm the passport numbers of the manufacturer. Overall rating of M-Audio M-Track 2×2 / 2x2M is excellent.

The interface sounds very nice for a budget category. A headphones amplifier manages even Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO: it is not necessary to have volume above 60%. The tones are transferred correctly. The bass does not fail. In direct comparison with more expensive devices, the sound is what is called “simpler”, perhaps there is some kind of a nature of HF, but there is nothing bad to say. No problems with timbre or dynamics. It’s amazing when you consider that the card is powered from the USB-bus, and not from its own power supply.

We recorded an audio with a microphone input for the microphone Neumann TLM102. Compared the quality with other microphone preamps. The sound of M-Audio cannot be called neutral, it seemed rather interesting to us – bright, dynamic, of its own kind. No wonder the manufacturer pays to it such attention. The interface is good for microphones of a novice level, which cost is under two hundred dollars and which are usually a bit “dull”. Margin at the gain level of the preamplifier is very small, we recorded with a 90% level of input, but our microphones were sufficient. The background noise level is higher than that of interfaces with their power supply, but, anyway, it does not cause many issues.

They asked to test the interfaces in sequencers and editors, so we post the real screenshots. We have not met any problems working with a licensed version of Cubase 8.

Three Reasons to Buy

  1. M-Audio M-Track 2X2 and M-Track 2X2M support 192kHz.
  2. Great quality for a decent price.
  3. “USB-C for USB-C” and “USB-C for traditional USB” cables.

In Conclusion

A new generation of budget interfaces of 2016 M-Audio M-Track 2X2 / 2X2M now support 192kHz, as well as a MIDI input / output in the older model. All other advantages have remained unchanged. It is a good sound aurally and by measurement. The design is convenient for daily use. The device has a fully balanced inputs and outputs, bus-powered USB and support of +48V microphones. Although the sound quality is at a good basic level, in subsequent M-Audio interfaces, one would like to see further progress in the characteristics, particularly in the distortion and the ability to power not only from USB-bus, but a network adapter the preamp to become more powerful. Offline mode would also be interesting.