Today we're reviewing an extremely portable travel interface from Shure, the X2u.
During this review video, I have the X2u connected directly to the Rode NT1, with the gain set at approximately 50% (not certain of gain since there are no markings). In post I boosted the audio by +6dB in Final Cut Pro to ensure the audio is at a listenable level.
If you are interested in this interface, it will set you back $100.00 on Amazon
What's In the Box
3m USB Cable
(2) Velcro Straps
Bit Depth: 16-Bit
Sampling Rate: Up to 48kHz
Power: +48v Phantom Power
Performance / Features
The build quality of this interface is great, which is what you'd want out of a travel/portable interface. It has an all metal body with a good amount of weight without becoming burdensome while traveling. On the front of this device you'll find a metering light, mic gain control, headphone volume control, monitor mix dial to mix between 0-latency monitoring and computer playback, a phantom power button, phantom power indicator light, and a power light.
On the left hand side you'll find a 3.5mm headphone jack which does offer 0-latency monitoring as well as computer playback. On the top you'll find the XLR port and on the bottom you'll find a usb port to connect it to your computer. On the back you'll find two slits that allow you to mount this to a mic stand with the velcro straps, and you'll find some foam padding to keep the device from sliding around too much.
The preamp on this thing offers 50dB of gain and it lists the noise floor of -78dB FS when the gain is set at 100%. It did get a bit noisy once we got about ~50-60% of gain.
The overall performance of this interface is decent. On one hand it has all the features you could need for a solo preamp interface (0-latency monitoring, mix control, metering light, etc). But on the other hand the preamp is nothing spectacular. The preamp is fairly noisy once you get about ~60%, and almost unusably noisy above ~80%. It was able to drive the Sm7b but you will have to boost the audio in post, and you'll likely have to do some noise removal since it will be a noisy signal. The A/D converters also lack with a max bit-depth of 16-bit, and when you listen to the recordings at high levels, I heard some digital interface.
Great build quality
Offers 0-latency mointoring
Has a mix to adjust 0-latency and computer playback
Offers +48v Phantom Power
It's bus powered!
Fairly noisy preamp
A/D converter limited to 16-bit 48kHz
Metering light not visible when connected directly mic.
This interface was difficult for me to decide on. As mentioned previously, it is insanely full featured in a small package which is a huge benefit when traveling. However, the preamp and a/d converter are somewhat lacking and if you're using a dynamic mic this will negatively impact your audio. So when it comes down to it, if you're just going to be using this for music demos, or as a backup for your podcast, I think it will be fine. You can work around the negative aspects of this thing. However, if you're looking to record high quality audio with a dead silent noise floor, whether on the road or in the studio, this interface will not cut it.
If you have any additional questions about this microphone, leave them on the youtube video, and I will try to reply ASAP.