Creators of modern interfaces have all too often opted for designs which strive to be new and futuristic. Akai have bucked this trend and created a functional unit that gives more than a few nods to recording gear from yesteryear. The EIE is a 4 input USB soundcard with some fairly nifty features. On the front of the unit are two large VU meters that not only help you get a strong signal, but also look amazing in low light studios! The EIE beats a number of its competitors on functionality at this price point; for example, the EIE has a quota of four combi XLR inputs, four jack outputs, midi I/O and four jack inserts – so it’s perfect for recording a small band.
Akai have added some really handy monitoring options. The VU meters can be switched from showing the level of inputs 1+2, 3+4, or master output L+R, allowing you to see every channel in use. The headphones can also be switched from inputs 1+2, 3+4, or all four inputs at once. Another cool feature of the EIE is the inclusion of a three-way powered USB hub, which can really save on some desk space. Going back to the retro styling, it’s nice to see all ‘digital style’ connections, such as the USB hub, situated on the rear to prevent spoiling the vintage appearance.