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Application Spotlight: Novation Nio 2I4 USB Audio Interface

April 29, 2009
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 Nio 2|4 Interface

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I’ve been using the Nio 2|4 rather than an amp when evaluating gear in my office, much to the delight of my coworkers.

Virtual Amp/Effects Rack

Novation’s Nio 2|4 USB Audio Interface ($299 retail/$199 street) delivers much more than its name implies. Sure, it is a compact audio interface with the usual XLR and ¼” inputs, MIDI I/O, and headphone capabilities—but it is also an excellent little guitar interface and mixing and monitoring system that operates in tandem with Novation’s DirectFX amp and effects software. The software interface includes an array of classic amplifier and distortion pedal models by Overloud, along with virtual effects by Focusrite (Gate, Compressor, EQ, Reverb) and Novation (Filter, Delay, Chorus, Phaser) that you arrange into custom rigs. The Nio 2|4 sits perfectly atop my Mac G5, and I use it with AKG K240 headphones when I want to test gear without disturbing my coworkers. I mostly use clean amp settings—the Vox AC30 and Fender Bassman models are my favorites—and few if any effects, but I’ve experimented with all of the options and been very impressed with them (especially the Focusrite Compressor and Reverb). Latency is practically nonexistent, and the flexible I/O and mixing capabilities make it possible to blend in audio from CD and mp3 players, or accompany a keyboardist playing software synths. I haven’t used the Nio 2|4 for recording or live performance, but it would almost certainly work well in either application (or even as portable DJ mixer given its RCA I/O and knob-based interface).

The Nio 2|4 is compatible with both Macs and PCs. Basic specs are given below, but for more information visit Novation online.

System Requirements
Mac: G3/400 GHz or better, OSX 10.2.4 or greater
PC: Windows Pentium 600 MHz or better, Windows XP
USB: 1.1

Audio I/O
Inputs
(1) XLR (with phantom power)
(1) ¼” TS
(2) RCA

Outputs
(4) RCA
(2) Headphone

MIDI
In/Out

Overloud Amp Models
V-AC
Tweed Twin
Brit Rock
Dual Rectifier
Tweed Bass

Overloud Distortion Pedal Models
Green Screamer
Fat Pie
DStortion
70’s Fuzz

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