Audient EVO 16 Review

What is it?

Audient’s EVO range of interfaces is designed to offer simplicity, value and a great sound. The interfaces are not perhaps as sonically glossy as those in Audient’s ID range, which all feature the same mic preamps used in the company’s high-end consoles. Instead the EVO range has digitally controlled analogue preamps that allow the interfaces to include features like Smartgain which sets your input signal levels for you.

EVO 16 adds to the range’s 2-in/2-out EVO 4 and 4-in/4-out EVO 8, so you’d expect it to boast eight ins and eight outs and you’d be correct… on the analogue side of things anyway. It is also expandable by way of up to 16 more digital ins and outs via two pairs of optical connectors that deliver 16 channels at 44.1/48kHz or eight at 88.2/96kHz. That’s a maximum of 24 ins and outs, then – an impressive count at this price.

What’s New?

All new for EVO 16 is the Motion UI system that shows parameters on a brilliantly clear display. The other big headline is the loopback feature – available on up to 16 channels – an essential inclusion for podcasters, gamers, and other streamers who demand the flexibility of mixing multiple audio sources from their computer with their own speech.

Build Quality

EVO 16 is compact and well built and uses similar design elements to the original EVOs – the slightly sunken buttons and main dial, for example. While EVO 4 and 8 are designed for desktop use, EVO 16 adds rackable aspirations, with free rack ears available as an option. We used it as a desktop interface and also sat it snugly beneath our laptop, and it performs just as well in these capacities, with rubber feet avoiding slippage and damage.

The eight analogue inputs are all on combi XLR-1/4” jacks with switchable phantom power. You can connect mic, line and instrument level gear to the first two which are located at the front. The remaining six accept just mic/line inputs and are around the back along with the eight analogue outs, which can be connected to studio monitors or outboard gear. Here you’ll also find the USB C connector, power (this isn’t, sadly, a USB powered interface) and those digital connections. The last two outs are two independent headphones on the front of the unit, great for setting up different mixes for two people monitoring or playing.

Day to Day Use

Using the unit is pretty much as easy as Audient intended, especially features like Smartgain. This is an option that we loved on the first two EVOs and it’s present and correct on EVO 16, but with a higher multichannel capacity. Using it is just a matter of hitting the green button, then whatever channel you are levelling and then green again. The channel then sets its input so you don’t clip, and all in less than 20 seconds. Do this across all eight inputs simultaneously if you wish, and you have a very quick multi-input setup for band or drum kit recordings.

The Motion User Interface (UI) feature is based around a bright central display which is very clear across a wide viewing angle. It homes in on specific aspects of the interface – channel input, for example – and displays key parameters which can then be altered with the single main dial on the front of EVO 16. This is a highlight, as clearly seeing what is going on makes you less reliant on having your computer close to hand. However, you will want to use the accompanying EVO Mixer software on your computer for more complex routing tasks.

Sound Quality

Serious studio owners will quite rightly demand the kind of console quality that Audient’s more pro ID range or other high end interfaces deliver. But side by side, the ID specs aren’t too dissimilar to EVO 16’s – certainly on the mic pre side of things – so I think you could end up paying substantially more elsewhere for not that much of a sonic uplift. Certainly for project studio owners and many others, the EVO range delivers the goods. Combined with the digital control, it feels crystal clear and precise, uncoloured and, dare we say, more modern compared to some interfaces that offer all sorts of input colouration.

Bottom Line

Audient’s EVO 4 and 8 clearly have newcomers to music production as a target audience, and those that aren’t bothered about conventional setups nor pristine and legendary console character. EVO 16 takes this core idea but shifts its target further upwards towards studio users who just want to get on with the job with minimum fuss. Then, of course, there’s the growing pro streamer market for which this is an ideal solution across many scenarios. EVO 16 has the answers for when both audiences come knocking, then, and in terms of features, ease of use and bang for buck, there’s very little else that comes close.