Review: M-Audio NRV10 FireWire Mixer

Sonic Labs - All in one and one for all?      26/03/07

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14:28 mins

A mixer and a FireWire interface - so what, ain't we seen that before? Well yes, and no - not like this one. The M-Audio NRV10 has one BIG difference, in that it gives you 10 audio returns as well as 10 recording inputs. So each analog channel can be flipped between the normal analog input (mic/line etc) and it's corresponding FireWire return channel - nice. Each of the eight input channels feeds a corresponding firewire record input and the master stereo out goes to FireWire 9+10. This is the first of it's class to achieve this and to my mind, overcomes of the biggest drawbacks of the other FireWire mixers - namely they all return to stereo only. And not to forget that it also lets you run Pro Tools M-Powered. The analog desk is configured 8:2, and has four mono and two stereo inputs (with 5 mic/line inputs and 2x Stereo line i/p), all with fixed 3-band EQ (12kHz, 2.5K, 80Hz), plus two stereo aux returns and a basic built-in digital effects processor. No editing for the effects, just 16 banks of 16 presets fed from AUX send 2 (DFX) - you can also use this as an external effect send if you desire. At the bottom of the channel, the Mute/Cue switch removes the channel from the stereo master out and routes the signal to the Cue buss which you can only monitor via headphones exclusively - which I think is a little infelxible. Personally, I would have seen the Cue buss able to feed the control room out and the phones.

NRV10 interFX software
Included in the package is the interesting interFX software package, which enables you to run 'Live' VST effects across the analog inputs of the desk with impressively low latency. Each channel has a Noise Gate and Compressor built-in, with an additional two slots for VST plug-ins that are home to the effects provided in the package. Included effects are made by Audiffex (formerly D-Sound) and are ok, but a little guitar oriented - being modelled on stomp box type interfaces. You get: Chorus, Delay, Expander Gate, Compressor, Distortion and Flanger to play with but you can also add your own VST effects too. To me the NRV10 represents a great move forward in the integrated desk/soundcard area, but does need a few refinements to make it totally killer. But for the project or compact setup (the NRV10 can run M-Powered ProTools) or for simple live recording you'll be hard pressed to find something that does the same job. The NRV10 lists at $899 or £499 in the UK If you have any questions, please leave comments below and we will do our best to answer them. Note
Not bus-powered - you need an external PSU (supplied) to run this guy.

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