Arturia AudioFuse – review & test of french sound USB interface for musicians

AudioFuse is a professional audio interface developed by the French company Arturia. The company has been developing this product for a long time, postponing its release, and, finally, in 2017 the interface Arturia AudioFuse went on sale!

Arturia has not released any sound interfaces before. Therefore, the development took a very long time, and before that the company carefully explored the market, in search of its niche. French engineers have tried to make the product as different as possible from all existing solutions. The interface is multi-channel (14 independent channels, of which 4 inputs, 6 outputs, 8 ADATs). It can even replace a small mixer and specialized monitor controller with TALKBACK. It can be seen that everything is done for the needs of a small musical collective, where there are guitars, vocals, synthesizers. AudioFuse is also claimed as the first interface that supports not only the Mac and PC, but also Linux (ALSA, PulseAudio, Jack), iOS and Android.

Arturia AudioFuse
Of course, Arturia has much greater ambitions. It was conceived to create a new generation interface to surpass all competitors in all respects. But this is an arduous task: companies with a great experience in creating professional interfaces and with a narrow specialization in this course of action have already been successfully working in the market for a long time. Therefore, it is incredibly difficult to defeat them both in terms of functions and quality. This is especially difficult in the middle and higher price categories. However, A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Surprisingly, in terms of technical parameters of digitization, the AudioFuse interface surpassed its competitors.
Arturia AudioFuse

Arturia AudioFuse – price. Where is the best place to buy?

The recommended retail price for the Arturia AudioFuse in the US is $599 dollars. At this cost, you can order it on Amazon. I would not recommend ordering anywhere else except on Amazon. Since you are less likely to find cheaper, and if you do not take into account the fact that Amazon is probably the most reliable online store, it still very often provides free shipping.


The emphasis was on the DiscretePRO microphone preamps. As the name suggests, a discrete scheme is used. While other manufacturers (not all, but most) prefer pre-integrated integrated amplifiers or op amps. As a result, the characteristics can not be improved, but the sound is “artificial” – at best not depending on the manufacturer. AudioFuse used their original circuits with ideas from large analog consoles in their “golden age”. We can only praise the French for it! We immediately hooked up our Neumann TLM microphone and tried to record the voice, comparing it with the recording via TASCAM UH7000, which we really like with its discrete preamps, which are much better in sound quality of all budget and integrated amplifiers, regardless of the price of the interfaces. The quality of the recording was evaluated on the equipment of a higher category than these two interfaces. Both preamps make a very pleasant sound. AudioFuse slightly comes forward. Voices are more velvety. TASCAM gives a neutral sound. Undoubtedly, Arturia AudioFuse has got preamplifiers that noticeably outperform the interfaces of the primary and secondary level. Such a preamplifier can be easily sold separately for $ 1000 or more.

Along with good sound, the preamplifier demonstrates the highest parameters in its class. The EIN’s own noise level was very low -131.5 dB. According to the manufacturer’s statement, the best in the class. In order not to be unfounded, Arturia specialists bought competing interfaces in the store and gave the third-party organization for measurements. They compared slightly more expensive eminent interfaces RME, Apogee, Apollo. As a result, Arturia showed the best values for noise inputs. A record high dynamic range of 119.3 dB was also achieved. To control the highest technical parameters, the most expensive to date Audio Precision APx555 measuring station was used, because the technical characteristics of modern sound equipment reached the limit of the capabilities of all measuring devices of previous years, and even overtook them! Such, for example, as a wonderful and beloved station AP 2700 series. A special video tells how it was:

You may ask: what about the quality of digitizing and the performance of linear inputs and outputs? What kind of stuffing is there? In AudioFuse are flagship models of AKM converters. Their technical parameters are also impressive. The dynamic range of the line outputs is 119 dB. For linear inputs, the dynamic range is 117 dB. This is not an absolute record, but still AudioFuse was designed for personal recording studio and within modest price range of 600 euros. Thus, the emphasis is on the price / quality indicator. Absolute parameters, of course, can still be improved, even in this price category. But, given the fact that the main business of Arturia still does not interface digitization, it would require even more time and money to develop and affect the cost price. Therefore, we can assume that in Arturia at some point in time reached the goal and said: “Stop, let’s finally release the final product!”

Technical specifications of Arturia AudioFuse

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Line input 1/2
Frequency response 20 Hz – 20 kHz, +/- 0.08 dB
Dynamic range 117dB
Maximum input level +24 dBu
Input Impedance 20 kΩ (balanced) 10 kΩ (unbalanced)
Gain range -15 dB … 36 dB
Sensitivity reduction (Pad) -20 dB
Guitar input 1/2
Frequency response 20 Hz – 20 kHz, +/- 0.08 dB
Dynamic Range 117dB
The maximum input level + 18 dBu
Input Impedance 1.1 mΩ
Gain range -15 dB … 36 dB
Sensitivity reduction (Pad) – 20 dB
Line input 3/4
Frequency response 20 Hz – 20 kHz, +/- 0.08 dB
Dynamic Range 118 dB
The maximum input level + 24 dBu
Input Impedance 20 kΩ (balanced) 10 kΩ (unbalanced)
Sensitivity reduction (Pad) -20 dB
Microphone input 1/2
Frequency response 20 Hz – 20 kHz, +/- 0.08 dB
Maximum input level +11 dBu
Gain Range 3 dB … 76 dB
Boost and Pad Mode +10 dB -20 dB
Input Impedance 3.4 kΩ
Equivalent Input Noise -130.7dBu
Linear output 1/2, 3/4
Dynamic Range 119 dB
Maximum input level +24 dBu
Output Impedance 120 Ω
Insert
Dynamic Range 119 dB
Maximum output level +18 dBu
Output Impedance 33 Ohm
The maximum input level +18 dBu
Input Impedance 10 to Ohm
Headphone output (Phones)
Dynamic Range 102 dBA
Maximum output level + 10 dBu
Output Impedance 33 Ohm
USB
Specification 24 bits – 44.1 kHz / 48 kHz / 88.2 kHz / 96 kHz / 176.4 kHz / 192 kHz
Miscellaneous
Dimensions (WxHxD) 126 x 75 x 126 mm
Package Contents Power adapter,
The printed manual,
Dual USB cable, Two MIDI adapters, Serial number card of the device

AudioFuse turned out to be very original in its functions. He focused primarily on musicians. For example, here there is a USB Hub for additional 3 USB ports for powering various synthesizers from it. The musician does have problems with connecting a large number of USB devices. Especially if you are using a laptop or iPad, where there is only one free connection slot. So you need somewhere to look for a quality USB Hub, and all around the heap of wires. AudioFuse immediately solves this problem.

Arturia AudioFuse
The AudioFuse power system deserves a separate description. The manufacturer completes the interface with an AC adapter (18 V, 30 W), which is simply necessary to use the USB Hub.
Arturia AudioFuse
But, at the same time, the kit also has a special USB wire with a miniUSB connector on the interface side and with two full-sized USB on the other side. Theoretically, the interface can be powered from the desktop computer only via USB. In our case, when connected to USB2, normal operation was possible only from the power supply. It should be reminded that USB cables differ in cross-section and type of wire – for power supply through the bus you need a special cable with a large cross-section of conductors. Therefore, you can not replace the native USB cable with any “printer” cable. It is needed to connect the power bank and does not discharge the laptop or iPad when they are offline. It is felt that Arturia has everything carefully thought out, the problems are not shifted to the user.
Great emphasis is placed on the body of a special form made entirely of aluminum. The cover is made by stamping. And the main part is milled. Arturia suggests you to watch a video about the production of AudioFuse:

The control panel is called by the hardware button on the interface itself and duplicates the appearance of the device. However, only here there are also important settings of the digital part and indication of the current modes. At the bottom, you can create a submix of all physical analog and digital inputs and apply to the selected bus. The interface has two CUE1 and CUE2 buses. This designation will be more understandable to DJs. In general, these are separate program channels, besides MAIN. From the interface at any time, you can select hardware buttons from which bus to take the signal at the moment for the earphone output 1, the headphone output 2, the line output to the speakers. It is possible to connect two pairs of monitors at once and select between them with the SPEAKER A / SPEAKER B button. Combined with a large volume knob that turns it into a full-fledged monitor interface controller. The TALKBACK button complements the functions of the monitor controller. The interface has a small electret microphone built in, when you press TALKBACK, the sound of the soundtrack is automatically muted. Everything is done in hardware. It is very convenient for the sound engineer to communicate with artists who are in an isolated room.
Arturia AudioFuse
There is also a menu, from which the preset is called and the firmware is upgraded. The color of the panel can be changed to match the color of the device.
Arturia AudioFuse
Interface Arturia AudioFuse can be several colors. This is important for performing musicians. The top cover protects the knobs during transportation. It can also be used as a stand for the interface.
Arturia AudioFuse
The silicone bumper is removed. It is only needed as a protection against scratches. If we talk about compactness, then we need to compare Arturia AudioFuse with monitor controllers and mixers. Indeed, with this set of features, this is the most compact device. But if you compare it to a simple sound recording interface, the dimensions are quite comparable with direct competitors.
Arturia AudioFuse
The outputs to the headphones are doubled with mini-jacks. The exact power is not indicated, but for high-impedance headphones (such as the DT 990 PRO), the volume margin was sufficient.
Inputs 1/2 are the highest quality and can work in three different modes: linear, guitar, microphone. The manufacturer especially emphasizes that the inputs are implemented ideologically correctly. That is, the three separate electrical circuits that are switched by the relay. In other interfaces, TASCAM, for example, preamps are combined, and the quality of line inputs from such savings is severely affected.
Arturia AudioFuse
MIDI connectors are available on the adapters that come with the kit. The fact that the interface supports WordClock and ADAT makes it suitable for working in a full-fledged professional studio. There is an input PHONO 3/4 with RIAA corrector for turntables. There are even INSERTS 1/2 for connecting an external effect-processor, which will be included in the gap before digitization. Inserts will also be useful if you want to try using the interface as a pure preamplifier. There is a separate button REAMPING and GROUND LIFT. Input 3 can be switched to a guitar one. Overall, it’s made for reamping.

It can be seen that AudioFuse was developed taking into account the needs of real musicians. This idea of an ideal device, so that it all at once and in one device.
Arturia AudioFuse
Another distinguishing feature is the illumination of all buttons. This means that the interface can be used in a dark room, for example, when performing. If the input is not connected or the connector is disconnected, all indicators go out. This is also a useful function.
On all switches are put elastic bands. This is not present in other devices. The ergonomics of the AudioFuse is well thought out, it is convenient to use all functions.
Arturia AudioFuse
It seemed unusual for us that the interface is very hot. The solution is simple: the case is designed for heat dissipation. Since Arturia AudioFuse has a maximum consumption of about 30 W, it would be necessary to make ventilation holes. However, then there would be a great risk of dust getting there, which drastically reduces reliability and durability. Therefore, it was decided to turn the whole body into one big radiator. The interface is really hot, the temperature is about 50 degrees Celsius. There is a mode GREEN, which reduces power consumption, by disabling all circuits, except for the two outputs.
Arturia AudioFuse
There are the usual functions of all monitor controllers: the DIM button to temporarily silence the volume of the track in the monitors, or the MONO buttons on all outputs, it is also worth mentioning the PAD and PHASE INVERT buttons.

Diagnostics of ASIO capabilities

Device: Arturia AudioFuse

Features:

  • Input channels: 8
  • Output channels: 8
  • Input latency: 176
  • Output latency: 176
  • Min buffer size: 256
  • Max buffer size: 256
  • Preferred buffer size: 256
  • Granularity: 0
  • ASIOOutputReady – not supported

Sample rate:

  • 8000 Hz – not supported
  • 11025 Hz – not supported
  • 16000 Hz – not supported
  • 22050 Hz – not supported
  • 32000 Hz – not supported
  • 44100 Hz – supported
  • 48000 Hz – supported
  • 88200 Hz – supported
  • 96000 Hz – supported
  • 176400 Hz – supported
  • 192000 Hz – supported
  • 352800 Hz – not supported
  • 384000 Hz – not supported

Input channels:

  • channel: 0 (Mic/Line 1) – Int32LSB
  • channel: 1 (Mic/Line 2) – Int32LSB
  • channel: 2 (Phono L/Line 3) – Int32LSB
  • channel: 3 (Phono R/Line 4) – Int32LSB
  • channel: 4 (Talkback Mic L) – Int32LSB
  • channel: 5 (Talkback Mic R) – Int32LSB
  • channel: 6 (SPDIF L/ADAT 1) – Int32LSB
  • channel: 7 (SPDIF R/ADAT 2) – Int32LSB

Output channels:

  • channel: 0 (Main L) – Int32LSB
  • channel: 1 (Main R) – Int32LSB
  • channel: 2 (Cue 1 L) – Int32LSB
  • channel: 3 (Cue 1 R) – Int32LSB
  • channel: 4 (Cue 2 L) – Int32LSB
  • channel: 5 (Cue 2 R) – Int32LSB
  • channel: 6 (SPDIF L/ADAT 1) – Int32LSB
  • channel: 7 (SPDIF R/ADAT 2) – Int32LSB

Arturia AudioFuse
The advertisement specifies a roundtrip latency of 3 ms, but this value is obtained for 192 kHz with a minimum buffer. This mode is absolutely not realistic, it’s just advertising – other USB devices in 192 kHz mode will have about the same parameters. Our latency test in 44 kHz mode shows 8 ms with a buffer value of 64 samples for the ASIO driver. The delay only for the output will be half the value.
In fact, stable operation of the device is observed at buffer values of 256 and higher. The buffer of 128 samples in the licensed Cubase and in foobar2000 gave out crackling on a powerful computer with Core i7. Perhaps this is a feature of only our system. It’s possible that the situation will change with new firmware and drivers. The product just entered the market, we will not make fateful conclusions. Inside is a reliable digital controller XMOS U16, the driver of which should be quite well debugged in the previous years.

Complete testing Arturia AudioFuse в RMAA

Testing device [ASIO] Arturia ASIO Driver
Sampling mode 24-bit, 44 kHz
Interface ASIO
Testing chain External loopback (line-out – line-in)
RMAA Version 6.4.1 PRO
20 Hz – 20 kHz filter ON
Normalize amplitude ON
Level change 0.0 dB / -0.1 dB
Mono mode OFF
Calibration singal, Hz 1000
Polarity correct/correct
Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB
-0.09, -0.20
Excellent
Noise level, dB (A)
-116.7
Excellent
Dynamic range, dB (A)
116.5
Excellent
THD, %
0.0007
Excellent
THD + Noise, dB (A)
-98.7
Excellent
IMD + Noise, %
0.0016
Excellent
Stereo crosstalk, dB
-117.3
Excellent
IMD at 10 kHz, %
0.0022
Excellent
General performance
Excellent

Frequency response

Arturia AudioFuse RMAA test

Left
Right
From 20 Hz to 20 kHz, dB
-0.24, +0.01
-0.34, -0.09
From 40 Hz to 15 kHz, dB
-0.10, +0.01
-0.20, -0.09

Noise level

Arturia AudioFuse RMAA test

Left
Right
RMS power, dB
-114.9
-115.3
RMS power (A-weighted), dB
-116.3
-117.0
Peak level, dB FS
-89.5
-89.3
DC offset, %
-0.1
-0.3

Dynamic range

Arturia AudioFuse RMAA test

Left
Right
Dynamic range, dB
+114.9
+115.1
Dynamic range (A-weighted), dB
+116.2
+116.8
DC offset, %
-0.11
-0.26

THD + Noise (at -3 dB FS)

Arturia AudioFuse RMAA test

Left
Right
THD, %
+0.0007
+0.0006
THD + Noise, %
+0.0010
+0.0010
THD + Noise (A-weighted), %
+0.0012
+0.0011

Intermodulation distortion

Arturia AudioFuse RMAA test

Left
Right
IMD + Noise, %
+0.0016
+0.0017
IMD + Noise (A-weighted), %
+0.0011
+0.0013

Stereo crosstalk

Arturia AudioFuse RMAA test

Left
Right
Crosstalk at 100 Hz, dB
-117
-117
Crosstalk at 1000 Hz, dB
-118
-115
Crosstalk at 10000 Hz, dB
-110
-102

IMD (swept tones)

Arturia AudioFuse RMAA test

Left
Right
IMD + Noise at 5000 Hz,
0.0018
0.0021
IMD + Noise at 10000 Hz,
0.0016
0.0018
IMD + Noise at 15000 Hz,
0.0026
0.0031

The measurement results of the input + output are very good. The results for this loopback mode fully confirm all the claimed high passport characteristics of Arturia AudioFuse. The technical level of the device corresponds to its positioning and cost.
However, in our opinion, in terms of the quality of playback Arturia AudioFuse, still did not break the records. That is, to this remarkable pre-amplifier DiscretePRO 4-channel DAC AKMs are supplied, which give a good sound, but for the role of a pure studio DAC mastering level Arturia AudioFuse is not suitable. A good professional sound, the level is high, but there is much to develop. In our opinion, it is already necessary not to improve the results of measurements, but to work with outputs. Put separate top-end stereo converters and, if necessary, raise the price of the device. But to raise the price is to intrude into the world of interfaces with hardware DSP and studio rack devices – it’s very risky. So let Arturia AudioFuse remain in its niche, for a personal studio and the digitization of small groups.

Conclusions

It’s nice that the first attempt by the French turned out to be very successful. Arturia AudioFuse will be appreciated by professional musicians, because everything is done for them – from very successful DiscretePRO discrete preamps to the rare TALKBACK and monitor controller functions. There are a lot of functions in the device that can be enumerated endlessly. If you are a 100% electronic musician, and you only need outputs and an amplifier for headphones, and everything else is not required at all – forget it. Interface Arturia AudioFuse – this is the product for a small studio or for trips, where the primary process of recording with the highest quality. Well, the outputs are just good. In the future, I would like Arturia to work on this and provide more detail. As for the price of Arturia AudioFuse, it is quite competitive – often lower than that of direct competitors.
The device turned out worthy, and we clearly understand who its user is. We are very much looking forward to reviews of musicians about the quality of preamps and about convenience. What they liked, what did not like. Please write your feedback in the discussion under this article.

Summary
Arturia AudioFuse - complete review & test in RMAA of sound USB interface for musicians
Article Name
Arturia AudioFuse - complete review & test in RMAA of sound USB interface for musicians
Description
Complete test in RMAA and review of Arturia AudioFuse: sound USB interface for musicians. Video presentation. What's the price? Best place to buy.
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