For the last 8 or 9 years, I’ve used a Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 as my audio interface on my computer. It sounded great and basically did everything I needed. Then recently I saw Warren Huart of “Produce Like A Pro” (a really great YouTube channel) review the Audient EVO 8 Interface and suddenly I knew I had to get one.
After doing some research, I almost got the EVO 4 since I actually don’t need more than 2 inputs for my personal recording needs, but there was one thing that made me choose the EVO 8 instead and that was the fact that it has 2 separate sets of outputs so I could have my speakers and my headphones hooked up at once. On the EVO 4, if you plug headphones in, it automatically mutes the speakers. I didn’t want to have to constantly plug and unplug my headphones so I decided to go ahead and get the EVO 8, as it was only $200 and more inputs is never a bad thing.
Another thing that sold me on this upgrade was the built-in “Loop-back” feature for 2 specific purposes for me: Routing my mic through Reaper (my Digital Audio Workstation software of choice) before going into Zoom or such, and being able to record anything playing back on my computer such as video or audio in my browser, as one example.
I like my mic to go into my DAW first so I can apply compression, EQ, mic emulations for my Slate ML-1 modeling microphone, etc. before it goes into Zoom or anything else. My previous KA6 could do it, but only in a very clumsy way. The only way to make this happen was to use two short patch cables to patch Output 3/4 back to Input 3/4. This way, I could then set my Mic track in my DAW to output to 3/4 (instead of the default Main Output 1/2) and then set Zoom (or any other program) to use input 3/4 as its source. This way, Zoom is getting my audio from my DAW running through any effects I choose, but since Zoom is still outputting to Main Output 1/2 you don’t get a feedback loop or echo.
This same trick applied to recording any audio playing on my computer. I could just set my system sound to 3/4 instead of 1/2 and then record input 3/4 in my DAW to record whatever was playing on my computer. The Loop-back feature in the EVO 8 accomplishes all this far more elegantly. “Loop-back 1/2” is simply a virtual input/output that anything can be assigned to, no patch cables required! And Audient was smart enough to realize that you probably want to hear whatever you are piping through the Loop-back so you can still hear it without any further steps. Using my old patch cable method with the KA6, I would have to enable “Record Monitor” in my DAW if I wanted to hear what was being sent to 3/4.
Now, this has been a lot of technobabble text for one tiny thing. Everything else about the EVO 8 is just as great. It’s just so well thought out and functional. There are 4 inputs on the back that can take XLR or 1/4″ inputs. On the front there is a 1/4″ input specifically for guitar or bass (if you use this, it becomes Input 1 so you can’t use both the front and back Input 1 jacks at the same time). You can enable phantom power per channel and easily select any of the 4 inputs or 2 outputs to adjust their levels with the one knob surrounded by LED lights to show the level. Hold any of the Inputs/Outputs down to mute/unmute them.
If you don’t want to bother with setting levels, you can press the “Smartgain” button, then the input you want to set, then the Smartgain button again and it starts listening at which point you just play or sing at your loudest level and it automatically sets the input gain correctly for you. You can also link2 inputs as a stereo pair and set the gain for them both together.
One more thing I hadn’t even thought about until I discovered it is that the interface’s output volume is synced to the system volume of your computer, which I love. To explain that in more detail, let me compare it to my old interface. With my KA6 your computer system volume and the interface volume were completely separate, so you could turn the volume up or down using the interface or your computer’s volume via the volume slider or volume keys or functions on your keyboard. With the EVO 8, those two things are the same so if you turn up the output volume on your interface, the volume slider/percentage on your computer’s system volume changes as well. If you use multimedia keys on your keyboard to turn the volume up/down, the interface volume LEDs adjust as well (if you have the output selected on the interface so that the knob and LEDs represent the output volume). So computer system volume and interface volume are literally the same thing as opposed to two separate volumes. This functionality makes so much more sense to me.
It comes with a USB-C to USB-C cable which is pretty short, so be aware of that if, like me, you need more length to reach your computer. I bought a 6″ cable to do the trick. You will also need a USB-C port on your computer obviously otherwise you will need a USB-C to USB-A cable which will only allow you to use Phantom Power on 2 inputs maximum instead of 4.
Personally I love this interface. Audient is also known for their great sounding microphone preamps in their interfaces which was important to me since I use the Slate ML-1 Digital Modeling microphone which requires very clean preamps to function at its best. I’m super impressed with how well designed and thought out every detail seems to be. For me, this is the perfect interface.