Gear reviews

Audient ASP008 review

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The ASP008 isn’t exactly new, but we have a new reviewer whom we need to break in! Thanks to ProToolerBlogs expansion into Germany we’re now honored with the presence of hardware-savvy Mister G. So I’ll let him take it from here. – stiff

Generally speaking

The Audient ASP008 is a 8 times micpre-amp (2 DI/Instrument ins are included too) with a electronically balanced 25 pin D wired to DA88 standard output and optional 48/96kHz AES, S/PDIF and 48kHz ADAT light-pipe. I am working with the 48khz ADAT light-pipe. I bought the unit when the mainconcern of any audioengineer was switchable impedance for the micpre. I never thought of changing the impedance before, but after a hype on a certain audioforum, I wanted to switch it. The easiest way to do it, is building a cheap box with LC-components. I wanted to go the professional-way and buy a product off the shelve. I own the unit now since 3 years (+/-). I recorded everything, from Classical music to Deathmetal drums, so I have quite good experience with this unit.

Problems & technicalities

To tell you the absolute truth: I brought the unit 3 times back in for repair. First time the ADAT-card blew up, second/thirdtime only the fuses were killed. After talking to the service-guy at audient, he told me, that they had first heat-issues with the first productional-units and after some problems regarding print, and soldering. My unit has the integrated fan (quiet). So if you ever want to buy one on ebay, keep an eye if the unit has this fan or not. If it doesn’t have it, stay away! (actually depends, if you are recording penguins on the northpole, it’s discussable). My unit had bad solderingpoints (the solderingpoints made contact to the housing), so my fuses blew up all the time. The ASP008 has included a external WC BNC-connector. I use it to ground the unit. It is very sensitive (I actually think the ADAT-card is very sensitive) to unproper voltage or diffrent voltagecurcuits. That means, if I connect my ADI-8 on voltage-curcuit A in my studio and the ASP008 on line B, with diffrent groundings, the ADAT outputs go crazy. Same happens if I connect the ASP together with my monitors (on the same voltage line).

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Gain is not a concern here. The unit delivers the gain as promised (60dB). The problem here is, that the most gains happens from 45 to 60dB. Because they used a linear scale from 0 to 60 dB on a tiny knob, sometimes it sucks to find the right amount of gain. The cool thing about the ASP008 is the selfnoise, witch is practically not hearable. We had good success in recording classicalmusic. It is very linear (-10Hz to +300khz) and fast. It has switchable impedance. Yes, I never used it, except when I start tracking. I always end using the midle position… that was quite disappointing. If I compare the ASP008 to the GT VIPRE, Audient definitly failed in their development.

Sound

Now after discussing all the problems with the unit, let’s have an eye on the sound. The preamps are clean, they deliver enough gain. The clever thing about the ASP008 are the built in options (like highpass, pad, phase change). The preamps suck on heavy electric guitar. You hear too much details, and the sound is not faaaat. I prefer my chandler germanium for this application. But it is absolutely cool for background vocals, kick and overheads. The internal overhead is not that great. +21dbU is not that much. You can easily clip the input, witch is only dramatic if you use the ADAT out. The pres have a nice topend. If you compress em hard you have this silky touch of evil (compared to RME Fireface pres – when I compress them hard, the RME silky topend is just noise).

Conclusion

If you want a multipurpose unit – buy it. If you want sound, buy something different. After finding out what’s wrong with the unit I had no issue in the last year of productional use. The digital I/O options give you a lot more options.

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