M-Audio are a brand associated with audio and its counterparts, mixing, mastering, composing and more...
Here we have an audio interface and for those not in the know, it is basically a device that you can plug your microphone into and the audio goes into the computer for mixing and anything else you wish to do with it. Maybe you want to record a bands whole album or maybe you just want to send your mum a karaoke vocal you did, well, this can do it all.
It typically retails for £330 but prices tend to fluctuate a lot with audio gear.
The profire 2626 is an intermediate piece of gear but one of the best introductions to multi-track recording, here you get 8 preamps and microphone inputs (enough to start out recording a drum kit) 2 headphone jacks with independent volume controls so you and a friend/client can listen to what's going on, a master volume and finally phantom power to power any microphone that needs an external volume supply (usually condensers and very rarely dynamic microphones).
The Inputs for the microphone cable are at the back which is handy because all the spaghetti created by the wires cannot be seen and the best to do is to plug your cables in and leave theme there. Set and forget, if you will.
There are a further 2 inputs at the front labelled 'inst', this stands for instrument and means you can plug your guitar, bass or anything else electronic into it to get it onto the computer.
That's not all folks! If we take a look at the back we will see something that is handy in the future, 2 ports called ADAT. This means we can buy another profire 2626 and link them together and get 16 channels instead of 8. Why would we want 16 I hear you ask? Well have you ever recorded a big drum kit or anything more than a small band? If you have not you'll realise you quickly run out of inputs on the profire so it's definitely helpful to expand if you are looking to get into this more professionally. There's no reason you have to expand the port with another profire as there are cheaper alternatives such as the behringer ada8000 (est £100)
The easiest way to describe the sound is 'what you put in is what you get out'. The preamps are clean sounding and neutral meaning that they don't colour the sound in a good or bad way and the only sound you should be worrying about is the one you are dialling in yourself.
Playback is also a treat to listen to, put a decent pair of headphones on and marvel at the clean and completely hum/buzz free audio that's festering at your ears, the more you listen through these, the more you won't want to listen any other piece of gear!
The instrument input is also a worthy mention. It competes with my radial (a dedicated DI box) which was £180, but here we have TWO included in the package.
Once you have the sounds in your computer it is all down to you to how it sounds, the profire cannot take the blame on this one!
I found setup was fairly simple, on first listen I had a weird jittery problem with the audio and this was because my computer did not come with a texas instrument firewire card. If yours doesn't have one, it's a safe bet to purchase one ahead of time to avoid having to just look at your wonderful new piece of equipment (always a sad feeling).
After all the nooks and crannies of technology were out of the way I found it to be highly reliable and haven't had any problems since. I have had it now for 3 years and nothing has gone wrong yet *touch wood*.
In short, buy this if you are looking for a great piece of long lasting inventory to add to your recording arsenal, you won't find many 8 channel audio interfaces at a lower price but a few worth looking at are the ones done by Focusrite and Tascam.