Posted to YouTube Dec 8th, 2013
ALL RIGHT!!! Welcome to another video review.
David from basic home recording studio here again this time with a look at the duo capture EX audio interface from Roland.
This unit is very compact and measures in at 6 inches wide by 5 deep, and approximately 2 inches tall weighing in at 1 pound or for my friends overseas 150 mm wide by 120 deep and 50 mm tall and approximately half a kilogram.
In addition to the audio interface main unit you will find:
A 5 foot USB cable, a hard copy of the owners manual, three AA batteries, a CD with software drivers and some digital versions of the manual, and cakewalk sonar X1 LE recording software.
Sonar is only compatible with Windows systems so you Mac users out there to be aware of that.
AC power adapter is not included.
Now let's have a look at the unit in detail starting with the front panel.
Starting off we have two... two... two mic preamps here they are combo jacks that can accept either a quarter inch instrument plug or an XLR connector, like the one from your microphone or direct box.
Additionally, input one can accept a guitar or bass directly by selecting the Hi-Z, or high impedance, input on the back panel which I'll show you shortly.
Moving across we have the gain control for each input, the controls are plastic and have a light feel to them, they have some wiggle here as you can see and are a bit undersized in my opinion.
The peak indicator will show you when your gain is set too high, but I prefer units that show a range of signal levels and not just when you've exceeded the limit like this one.
And the reason is so you can tell where you are in your dynamic range and not simply that you've gone too far, but remember you can always use the level meter in your software to get that finer resolution when dialing in your levels.
The last thing is the quarter inch input for your headphones and the master output level which controls both the headphones and main left / right outputs at the same time.
On the backside starting on the left this DC in port is for an external power supply which is needed when connecting to a tablet. More on that in a minute.
MIDI in and out ports - if you're a piano player get a unit with MIDI. Even if you don't know what that is yet trust me... MIDI.
Next, main left and right quarter inch outputs for your studio monitors.
USB In is used for both data and power when connected to your computer. Here you can select between a 44.1 or 48 kHz sampling rate of the A/D converter, which is what takes the analog sound of your input and digitizes it so a computer can understand.
Today 44.1 is probably as low as you'll find, but some systems go up to a staggering 192 kHz.
So what's the difference in sound quality from 44 to 192?
I'm not going to go into the science of it here (even though I could) but basically it's not much, which is to say I can't tell the difference.
Some people say they can. Wonderful. It's not a contest... but if it was a contest I would lose because I can't hear the difference, but I don't lose becasue it's not a contest.
Where it does matter though is in the file sizes you will generate, which will be four times larger. So leave this on 44.1 when connected to your computer and sleep easy at night knowing you're doing your part to conserve the planets hard disk space.
Moving on that same button all the way over puts it in tablet mode. When in tablet mode you'll need to buy an external power supply or use the three AA batteries (which are included) in addition to an adapter cable from your tablet to the device.
The phantom power switch toggles +48 V power to both inputs on the front simultaneously and it's this 48 volt supply that can power a condenser microphone if that's part of your system.
This switch here toggles input impedance for input one only and allows you to connect an electric guitar or bass directly into the interface without a direct box when on the Hi-Z setting.
This last switch toggles between the different monitoring modes:
And finally the power button which, not unlike my girlfriend, has all the power.
The Duo capture Ex from Roland is easy to set up, has a great included software option for windows users, the preamps have plenty of gain and are very quiet, they don't hiss or hum even when cranked up near the max setting of 11.
So there's nothing fundamentally wrong with it as a music-making machine, but there are a few downfalls that are worth mentioning.
As far as the layout goes some other companies have made improvements such as having the controls mounted on top or routing all the inputs and outputs out the back.
To a certain extent this is just a matter of preference, but to me these small details add up to make a big difference in ease-of-use.
Just to highlight this point imagine you have it sitting on your desk facing you and you want to turn on phantom power. Well those controls are facing directly away from you so that you can't even see which button is which.
So you spin it around - no problem right? Except you're probably like me and have cords and cables already connected.
Just as I'm recording this I have XLR into input 1, I have USB, and my left and right monitors so it doesn't take long for this to become a mess.
To me these controls need to be available via software or on the top so they can be easily accessed.
Another one is the headphone and main outs have one shared level control and plugging in headphones does not disable the main outs. HUH?!?
So say you're working late and don't want to disturb roommates or neighbors or just simply want to use the headphones only you have to disconnect your monitors in order to hear only the headphones?
Again this should either be two controls or at least have the headphones disable the main left and right outputs.
But on a positive note the setup installation is super easy I didn't have one single problem getting the unit set up and running even on Windows 7 64-bit, which is more than I can say for some the other units that I have reviewed.
Plus the Sonar X1 LE is a really nice addition, and in the interest of full disclosure I have used Sonar X1 for years and think it's really awesome. That's not to say it's better than many other options available, but it's what I use and I think it's pretty sweet.
So if it sounds like I'm biased it's because I am, but having the same company make the software and hardware vastly improves the odds you'll have compatibility and stability in your recording system because they have control over the whole process, and can optimize everything to mesh nicely together.
And finally I don't have a tablet to try this with, but if you are looking to record on a tablet then take a long look at this unit because this is a feature that is unique to this one and of all the reviews that I've done to this point I haven't seen this from another option.
$200 is a fair price for this unit and will work nicely for first time home recordists.
Especially if you're looking to use Sonar as your recording software then this is the unit for YOU!
That wraps up another review please subscribe to the channel and don't forget to find us on Facebook at Basic Home Recording Studio and as always thank you for watching.