Price paid: C$ 99
Purchased from: Long and McQuade
Sound — 7
I use this as an interface for my Hughes And Kettner Tubemeister and it sounds great as an interface box, I run a touch of extra gain from the ART box on the signal of my amp and it sounds awesome. If you utilize a bunch of the +75dB of gain from the ART box it might start getting a little loud as would any other tube driven device. It's my belief that the great sound comes from having a 12AX7 tube inside of it, many controllers are digital which is still great but don't add that tube warmth to the signal. I haven't tried using a mic on it yet but I figure with the way it sounds with my amp plugged into it mic will certainly sound great too. I use mine in conjunction with FL Studio and Guitar Rig 5 and it's stupid the sounds you can create once you start messing around. 7/10 - Without trying a mic on it I can't fully grade it properly it could sound like utter crap; however I highly doubt that since it sounds great as just an interface and pretty decent with a guitar DI'd directly in.
Overall Impression — 5
I like the unit but I have one HUGE beef with ART on this product that any future purchaser should be aware of. This USB interface which requires you to plug it into a USB port on your computer for it to function properly does NOT come with the required USB cable, and to boot its the old styleconnection which is the older 1/4" square one, not the more common mini USB that is used all over the place today. After much hunting I managed to find them at Futureshop under the Dynex brand only another $29.99 for a 10' cable not impressed the manufacturer would sell a USB device without the required cable. I was comparing it against a few other interfaces in the similar price range and this one beat them all out simply because it was the cheapest one and the only one that actually had a tube inside it. Though having to purchase a cable almost makes it worth it to spend the extra $20 to get the next model up that comes with a cable and more features. 5/10 - It works great at what it is supposed to do; however the lack of the USB cable requiring another trip out to the store hinders marks for sure, combined with the fact it uses an archaic USB connection so the cable is hard to find and expensive when you do, as mentioned you can get the next model up for like $20 more that has more features and most importantly a second input channel. But if you have an old USB cable lying around and want to save a couple bucks this is certainly a viable option.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Seems pretty tough, not sure why you would gig with it as its mostly suited for studio use. It does have a thick metal housing that both allows sufficient cooling of the heat created by the tube and provides a rugged yet appealing case for the electronics. It doesn't look like there is many ways to get into it, I have no reason so I haven't spent much time looking or trying; however I don't know how or where the tube is mounted so essentially it could fall off your desk and shatter the tube which is my biggest concern. 9/10 - Built like a tank, solid and durable I wouldn't hesitate to pack this along with me if I was venturing off to a different studio, garage or any other function I may need to plug into a computer for.
Ease of Use — 8
Fairly straight forward plug and play mic preamp and USB computer interface. No drivers or software to install, pretty much works right out of the box, depending on your current setup some tweaking to the ASIO driver may be needed. Basic and simple controls on the front of the unit make it extremely user friendly and fast to figure out, which is great because the manual is lacking on any detailed information. So once its up and running its basically a matter of messing around with it to figure out what each feature does to your setup. 8/10 - Lack of information in the manual is not that appealing to me, I like reading on what each function does and how its effected or not effected at higher gain levels, but nothing a little experimenting wont fix.