03.07.2021

Review: Audient ASP880

Words By Jack Mercer

Studio Connections | Expect to pay: $1,899

Ever tried to record drums at home? Yep, it’s an absolute nightmare. Between all the woes of sound proofing and acoustic isolation (let’s not even border on that), recording drums at home is made redundant for many of us due to the fact that we’re only likely to own an interface with a limited array of channel strips.

While some might label your lack of channels as a ‘deliberate creative tool’ or even ‘a steadfast recording trick’, let’s not trim the fat: although possible, it is very hard to get a good recorded drum sound without using more than four microphones.

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Sure, there’s an abundance of mic’ing tips and engineering hacks that can pull out some half-decent takes (albeit in a well-treated room) to use as demos, but every professional drummer knows that when they’re chasing the real deal, you’ll need a whopping array of microphones to do the job.

Even more pertinent still, you need a recording solution that’s got good preamps at your disposal. What’s the use of using eight microphones to record your tubs when they’re running through crummy old converters?

For tasks like these, you need a unit that’s packing both quality and quantity: and you’ll find your match in the Audient ASP880.

Packaged in a 1RU module, Audient’s ASP880 exhibits a dense functionality, and boasts a high-end performance, all at a price point that may be welcomed by those looking to not break the bank.

To users operating in a home set up, this price point is accordant with Audient’s catalogue of products available, especially in their recent history; Audient’s high standard of audio interfaces, and application of world class features all within an affordable and accessible unit, being evident of that.

Audient’s ASP880 unit is a solid state eight channel microphone preamp and analogue to digital converter, which gives potential buyers a cost effective option for expanding/ bypassing their pre-exisiting interface’s number of inputs, especially desirable if recording input demanding drum or full band set ups, while being easy to operate, and ultimately enhances the user’s preexisting gear.

Boasting a frequency response of 10Hz to 100kHz, ASP880 ensures a roundedness to its end user’s setup and impresses with robust packaging, and will serve as an ultimate addition to any high-end or middle tier home setup. There’s no less than eight pristine Audient microphone preamps, which immediately packs out your channel count and lends a touch of clarity to any recording, be it drums, bass, guitar or vocals.

These preamps are matched by eight ADC line inputs / instrument points and two additional JFET instrument inputs, allowing you to record DI’d bass or electric guitar with ease, while an array of ADAT, SES and S/PDIF outputs unlock a whole range of possibilities for expansion.

It’s worth noting that those two JFET preamps are absolutely killer to work with, and deliver a subtle spanky crunch that’ll add flavour to any track – no need to worry about re-amping these bad boys.

As far as its visual design is concerned, the metal face plate evokes durability, each channel and their respective controls are well defined, and users operating in minimally lit environments shouldn’t have too much issue deciphering what does what.

Additionally, the preamp’s LED light display, with its varying intensity, proves to be as much of an aesthetic consideration as one that is helpful, with the light range indicating signal and peak levels.

For instance, when the ASP880 lights up red it signifies the status of phantom power, while amber lighting indicates whether or not the pad, filter or polarity of each channel is applied. Finally, blue illumination is used to determine A-D input mode, making for an incredibly nuanced – yet oh so practical addition – to such a well-thought product.

Located conveniently on the first two channels are those Class-A JFET D.I inputs (designed to replicate the input stage of a valve amp) for instrument leads as well as pad buttons, which were tested with both bass and guitar, and proved to be very clean and rich.

The channel features performed well and demonstrated to be useful, especially the variable high pass filters and their corresponding control knobs. These work wonders when using sound sources with a little more going on in the high range – for instance, a chorus-drenched Juno or jangly electric guitar.

Meanwhile, the Burr Brown AD converters perform great, are accurate, and ensure high quality conversion: this is a noticeably satisfying interface to use and listen to in action, and any seasoned audio professional will be able to note this straight off the bat.

For those using ribbon mics, the variable impedance should prove to be an attractive feature, which is controlled on each channel through a switching that toggles between low, medium and high, and can deliver those desired accurate and warm qualities.

Audient have been a leading name in the pro audio sector for more than two decades now, and if there’s anything they’re renowned for, it’s the clarity and construction of their preamps. The ASP880 is truly consistent with the high standard pedigree of Audient and Dave Dearden’s collective 20+ years of output.

Between its pristine sound, intuitive set of features and pragmatic design, it is a notable contender to some of the pricier, similarly packaged alternatives on the market, while also supplying its users with a greater functionality and pliability.

Check out all the specs on this through Audient and for local enquiries hit up Studio Connections.