A desktop interface that lets you focus on performance
By Darius Van Rhuehl
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer
Finally, a DAW front end from T.C.—now my Finalizer can go back to the end of my recording chain on the stereo bus where it was originally intended. You see, a few years ago I bought the T.C. Electronic Finalizer Plus for mastering, but discovered that its converters sounded better than the dedicated ones I had unfortunately purchased for my DAW front end. So, rather than sitting on the stereo master bus, it’s been the front end of my DAW. Now with T.C.’s Konnekt series of audio interfaces, I can have T.C. sound quality at both ends of my signal chain. So can you.
On your 6
Because T.C. makes gear used at the highest levels of the music and film industry, you’re going to find professional touches in their budget-priced, 24-bit/192kHz FireWire Konnekt 6 that you won’t find in most units built for home recording. For example, the Dim switch, which brings down the level of the mains (adjustable via software), is handy for monitoring at low levels or talkback with an artist. Even its metering is more than the usual eye-candy you find on other interfaces. A high-resolution, 12-segment LED meter, it can operate in three modes: input, output, and mastering. It also enables you to set hold time and fall time. Plus, within easy reach, you have a big volume knob with LED level indicators. You’ll really appreciate this one (as will your neighbors) if you’ve ever accidentally blasted unmuted signals through powered monitors.
Another issue that T.C. has admirably addressed, which has proved to be annoying on other interfaces, is the software control panel that provides channel faders, sends, metering, panning, reverb controls, and more. The 6 has a hardware button that hides or brings up the panel, so you can make your adjustments without having to play whack-a-mole with host software edit and mix windows.
Pro sound quality is courtesy of T.C.’s highly respected IMPACT preamp, which offers crystal-clear, transparent, and spacious sound. And phantom power lets you use a high-quality condenser mic. Don’t get me wrong, just because a preamp has phantom power doesn’t mean that you can use any professional mic. For example, I’ve heard people complain that their Shure SM7 (which Bruce Swedien used for vocals on Michael Jackson’s Thriller) couldn’t be heard through their desktop interfaces. That’s to be expected. The SM7 is a low-sensitivity dynamic mic that puts out a very low voltage (phantom power isn’t going to help you here). The type of preamp you find in most desktop interfaces simply won’t have enough muscle to do the required lifting. That’s where the 6’s 12dB boost switch comes in, so no mic is off-limits.
Yet another pro bonus is the collection of M40 Studio reverbs. You can use them for a vocal cue mix without printing to disk, or as VST/AU compatible plug-ins for mixing. Keep in mind that T.C.’s reverb algorithms are among the very best, and the reverb found on the Konnekt 6 sounds like high-end hardware reverbs. I tell you that from first-hand experience. I’ve worked in studios that use T.C. gear and I know what it sounds like.
T.C. has also done considerable thinking outside the box. For example, what happens when you outgrow your 6 and need more I/O? Rather than taking a hit on your present interface, T.C. NEAR compatibility lets the 6 work with any other Konnekt series interface. So, you really are adding I/O and not trading off, since T.C. doesn’t cut corners on their preamps and conversion. In fact, the 6 includes the same digital clocking and jitter elimination as their industry-benchmark M 6000 hardware processors.
The right Konnektions
The Konnekt 6 is arranged like a mini mixer/master section of a console. On the rear panel, you have one XLR input and two 1/4" inputs that can function as separate instrument DIs or as a stereo pair. There are also balanced 1/4" stereo outputs. On its rather attractive top panel (okay, not as hot as Cylon Number 6, but attractive nonetheless), you have hands-on control of input gain, reverb level, input monitoring, and three scene buttons, that are of particular interest. Scene 1 selects the mic and an instrument input, Scene 2 selects dual instruments and handles them as individual signals, with separate gain controls. This scene is particularly useful if you want to record guitar and bass simultaneously. And finally, Scene 3 is good for a stereo signal, such as a keyboard. The beauty of this setup is that you don’t have to change instrument routing. You can leave your microphone and instruments connected to the three recording inputs and select among them using the scene buttons.
Normally, I have fear and loathing when it comes to installing software on my computer, especially when it fills my hard drive with useless stuff. Installing the software for the Konnekt 6 was as simple and painless as could be. In fact, during the installation, the professional thinking inherent in the 6 becomes apparent. Rather than loading your hard drive with software for units you won’t be using, the Konnekt’s installation window tells you what is mandatory and lets you select only the Konnekt model you have.
Once set up, I found that Logic Pro had no problem finding the 6. However, I felt that it integrated better with the included Cubase LE software. In fact, having used all the major DAWs professionally, I’ve settled on Cubase 4 as my main platform. That said, the sound quality of the 6 was undeniably stellar. The available controls certainly streamlined the recording process, particularly the panel switch and scene buttons. (If T.C. decides to make a pro-level control surface-interface, they can put me down for one right now.)
I want to 6 you up
If you want top-quality sound but don’t want to pay for inputs you’ll never use, the Konnekt 6 is your answer. Plus, it incorporates features and functionality that has quite frankly been missing from much more expensive interfaces. More to the point, T.C.’s converters are among the best out there, and anytime you can have T.C. as your DAW front end, I suggest you do so. The addition of T.C.’s studio-quality reverbs is certainly icing on the cake (and we’re talking the really good icing, not that buttery-flavored stuff), but even more appealing is the ease with which you can get around on this unit, and how much functionality they’ve packed into its tiny and very attractive form. Think about it: a budget-priced interface with pro features and sound born of world-class studio technology—how can you go wrong with that? Short answer: You can’t.
Features & Specs
- Big volume control knob
- High-resolution meter
- Tracking reverb level control
- Direct monitor control with input/DAW control
- DIM switch for convenient speaker dimming
- Instant scene recall
- IMPACT mic preamp with 48V phantom power
- 24-bit/192kHz sampling rate
- Balanced stereo outputs
- True Hi-Z guitar inputs from T.C.’s high-end guitar processors
- Headphone out with separate level control and source
- Studio-quality reverb
- Reverb available for monitoring or mixing as VST or AU-compatible plug-in
- Hall, Room, and Plate algorithms
- T.C. NEAR compatible: works with all other Konnekt products
- FireWire 1394, bus powered
- DICE digital interface chip
- JetPLL jitter-elimination technology
- Low-latency drivers for Mac and PC, WDM, ASIO, and CoreAudio
- Cubase LE4 included