- Availability at locations other than Abaddon... um... I mean Guitar Center.
Let me take you back to a time, not three months ago, when a younger and less experienced me had just put the finishing touches on his musical man cave. The electric guitar was freshly restrung, polished and sitting regally on a stand, while the old, crappy and over loved bass guitar was lying on the floor next to it. The powered monitor speakers and Korg M50 keyboard were switched on and ready for business. All that was left was to fire up my tiny little underpowered Toshiba net book with an ancient copy of Sonar Home Studio 4 (that’s right, a version from 2003) loaded onto it. And so I began recording…
I’d advise those with delicate constitutions to stop reading immediately, ’cause the end of this story gets quite grisly. I proceeded to use a combination of MIDI signals from my keyboard and a generous helping of the net book’s on-board microphone to craft the most abysmal heresy of a reference recording ever spawned. I felt dirty, and part of me had an immediate desire to find the nearest religious leader and repent. I vowed never again to let this happen.
Now let’s move ahead nearly three months. Progulator’s own Tyson gives me a tip on an inexpensive USB recording interface, the Lexicon Alpha, and I head over to Guitar Center to see if they would accept my humble trade offer of my soul plus about $65.35 for it. They greedily accepted some of my spirit essence and all of that $65.35, and I ended up with a new recording interface. I came home, plugged it in, installed the copy of Cubase LE 5 that came with it, and I was up and running.
First of all, I’d like to direct your attention to the picture of said interface at the top of this post. Is it not a sexy little minx? The unit has a slim profile and takes up just the top corner of my tiny 12″ x 18″ side table, so you won’t have to worry about space. It’s solidly built, attractively colored, and all of the knobs turn smoothly. But let’s not be superficial and ogle how nice the interface looks for the whole review.
The specs are simple: 2 inputs, 2 output, 2 bus. You’re not going to be recording drums or orchestras, but pretty much everything else is up for grabs. The unit is conveniently powered by it’s USB connection to your favorite PC or Mac, so no need to free up an extra outlet for this interface. There is an input in the front of the unit for high impedance instruments such as guitars, and as far as I can tell after 453 takes of a one minute guitar part… it works well. In fact it’s hard to find too much fault with any of the input and processing capabilities of this interface; the bottom line is that it does exactly what you’d expect an inexpensive recording interface with basic functionality to do. This this just does it well.
How does the story end? My first few reference recordings have gone off without a hitch to this point. My recordings sound clear and clean, and the VST plugins that came packaged with Cubase have held up much better than I expected. I don’t love the Cubase software, but considering it came FOR FREE with an already cheap interface that I had to have, I’m warming up to it. The critical question then becomes: is this product for me? Well, are you a recording aficionado with top-of-the-line recording software and plugins plus a quality computer? Then no, this product is certainly not for you. Are you Tyson, who has all the above mentioned components PLUS a nice 8 or 16 input firewire interface? Why would you downgrade? No, don’t buy this. But…
If you’re interested in taking those musical ideas that have been floating around in your skull for years, recording them for posterity or your own amusement and mixing them into a piece of audio that any beginning-to-amateur recording artist could be proud of, please consider the Lexicon Alpha. Considering what you get, the value is incredible for anybody wanting to try their hand at recording. You just need the right interface and the huevos (or “testiklar” for those of you in Sweden) to take the leap. Now get out there and do it!