Legendary recording brand Neve brings Abbey Road to the home studio with new 88M interface

best USB audio interface

Legendary audio recording company Neve might have just unveiled the best USB audio interface out there. Responsible for engineering the recording desks and consoles many of the most iconic albums in history had the honor of being recorded on, Neve is unleashing is expertise (and world class pre-amps) on a home and portable interface known as the 88M. Delivering the “the legendary sound of AIR, Abbey Road and Capitol Studios into your home,” the new 88M might very well be one of the best USB audio interfaces on the market, just expect to pay a price that comes along with that moniker. More details below. 

Neve may have just unleashed the best USB audio interface out there

When it comes to folks serious about audio fidelity and recording, there are really only two main factors that separate the sea of audio interfaces out there; I/O capabilities and the sound of the pre-amps. The 88M is confidently placing itself in the dual (analog) input space, but packing in some serious internals to deliver a pair of mic pres with some serious “transformer-balanced technology” that might very well allow it sit atop the list of the best USB audio interfaces out there. 

The 88M uses the same microphone preamplifier as the world-leading 88R console. The 88 Marinair transformer-coupled preamp, used on countless top ten singles and film scores, is a proven design that delivers analogue punch and clarity to all signal sources.

It features a pair of analog preamps (mic/line/DI) with the expected phantom power switches as well as two analog monitor TRS line outs, and a balanced TRS headphone jack as well as an additional eight digital ins and outs over ADAT. An insert and send return loop is a welcomed addition for folks that love their outboard gear as well as your standard Core Audio/ASIO to connect with Mac and Windows machines like a typical USB audio interface. 

Here are more details from Neve on the combination of analog and digital I/O as well as the transformer coupled inputs:

The 88M has plenty of audio inputs for more extensive recording sessions – two analogue inputs via the onboard preamps combined with eight digital inputs via ADAT optical connection allow for tracking up to ten signals. In addition, there are ten available outputs, two analogue monitor sends and eight digital outputs via ADAT optical connection, ideal for expanded monitoring, additional performer cue sends or connecting to different analogue units. The 88M microphone, line and DI analogue inputs are fed through the Marinair transformer, ensuring that all microphone & instrument inputs benefit from the legendary Neve preamp sound.

The bus-powered Neve 88M is clearly vying for its spot on the list of the best USB audio interfaces, but it’s certainly going to cost you. Now available for pre-order at professional audio dealers like Sweetwater, it carries a list price of $1,245

9to5Toys’ Take

It might not be from the most well known audio digital conversion company or the most modern-looking model you’ll find in the space when it comes higher-end audio interfaces – take the $1,500 Apogee Symphony Desktop for example here – but there’s no denying the Neve pedigree when it comes to preamps. Clearly the 88M is not going to be for your beginner podcasters or for putting together your first home demos, but it is a notable option (and likely a more affordable one) for securing a sort of modern lunchbox of Neve preamps among pros looking to keep a project entirely in-house. Only serious audio heads and folks that have spent time in pricey commercial recording studios might consider this a candidate for the best USB audio interface, and the verdict is still out, but the Neve 88M certainly stands more than a fighting chance at this point. 

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