Alesis Control HUB and IO HUB Review
The Alesis Control HUB and IO HUB are two fairly new devices first shown off at NAMM 2013 but now readily available in South Africa at all leading retailers. Both the Alesis Control HUB and IO HUB are super portable and each one has a slightly different feature set, depending on your requirements.
Alesis Control HUB
The Alesis Control HUB is the smaller of the two devices weighing in at a paltry 0.22 kg’s and will fit into a laptop bag without taking up much real estate. In a nutshell what you get is a 2-channel audio interface which is class compliant – this means no drivers are needed for it to work. Simply plug in, go to your audio preferences, set it as your default sound device and you’ll be good to go. The sound card is 24-bit and supports sampling rates from 32-48 kHz and is bus powered via the mini USB jack. If you have an iPad and a Camera Connection Kit you can also plug the Control HUB into this device too.
The Alesis Control HUB will offer you 4 primary things;
- It’s a stereo audio interface with balanced 1/4 inch jacks. So you simply plug powered monitors or an amplifier into these outputs. A groovy silver knob on the front allows you to manage your volume.
- The Control HUB also has a 1/4 inch headphone jack and a separate headphone volume knob on the front. This means separate headphone monitoring but also that you can use the Control HUB in any environment on the go (hotel room etc) to do some production work without the need for full blown monitors all the time.
- Alesis call it a Control HUB because they’ve also added MIDI in and MIDI out connections so you are able to plug any MIDI-compliant device in or control any MIDI-compliant device from your DAW via this unit.
- They’ve also very handily added a 1/4 inch TRS dual footswitch input which can be assigned to do whatever you want in your sequencer.
Verdict: The Control HUB is a great little external Soundcard with well thought out features. The footswitch input is a smart addition as it makes the Control HUB versatile in a quasi-live environment as you’d be able to control both a sequencer and your hardware connected via a pedal input. But I think for most it’ll serve mainly as a great little audio interface in a small home studio where audio input is not required or as an on-the-go unit for professional producers who travel, too.
Recommended Retail: R 1,995
Alesis IO HUB
The Alesis IO HUB is a little bigger than the Control HUB and as the name suggests the focus here is on inputs and outputs. It is a tad heavier too, but not much – 0.30 kg’s and about 5 cm’s wider but equally portable for any decent size laptop bag. As with the Control Hub it is class compliant and bus powered although it does also house a 9 volt battery. This is only to provide phantom power for a condenser mic. The soundcard specifications such as sampling rate etc are all also identical to the Control HUB.
The Alesis IO HUB has 4 main features;
- Stereo 1/4 inch jack outputs to plug monitors or an amplifier in to, with a front paneled volume knob.
- 1/4 inch headphone jack with front paneled volume knob for monitoring or simply to use in an on-the-go environment
- An XLR+1/4″ combo input which is intended mainly for a microphone or a standard line-in instrument. This first input also has a selectable phantom power switch for condenser mics and a front paneled input volume knob.
- A second XLR+1/4″ combo input which does not provide phantom power but sports its own selectable switch which can alternate between mic/line or guitar which changes the impedance to manage the audio from a guitar or bass, when selected. It also has it’s own audio input volume knob on the front panel.
Verdict: The Alesis IO HUB is also suitable for small home studios, but probably better suited to producers who need to do tracking of live instruments and vocals so this interface is more likely to be preferred by musicians. It is also a great companion for musicians on the move since you’d be able to lay down a guitar part or vocal pretty much anywhere.
Recommended Retail: R 2,450
Alesis Control HUB and IO HUB – Final Verdict
Both the Alesis Control HUB and IO HUB are excellent value for money. They are decently built, nice and portable and each one offers it’s own set of usable features without any useless add-ons.
If you’re wondering which to choose out of the Alesis Control HUB and IO HUB I’d say that the the Control HUB is likely to suit Producers who focus mainly on electronic based music whilst the IO HUB is ideal for musicians or producers who need to track audio recordings such as vocals and conventional instruments. Either way, they’re both great for budget studios or as a secondary devices for traveling artists.
Alesis Control HUB and IO HUB in South Africa