Back in January 2019 at the Winter NAMM show, our friends at console, mic preamp and interface manufacturer Audient announced the new Sono audio interface. Sono forges a new path for the UK based company as it is firmly geared towards guitar players who want to produce high quality recordings with a minimum of extra kit. We have been using Sono not only to record guitars using the built in room, microphone and speaker cabinet simulation by Two Notes Audio Engineering, but also vocals and drums for this demo session. Take a look and listen to how this small, yet powerful interface is able to adapt to all of your studio requirements.
What Is Sono
Before we even starting talking about all the guitar processing features (of which there are many) the Audient Sono is a great sounding USB-C, 10 in and 5 out audio interface (yes the front facing re-amp jack counts as an output). As we have come to expect from Audient the mic preamps sound amazing, flat yet with a really nice subtle character to them and we get a pair in the Sono. The other 8 inputs come via an ADAT optical input.
What makes Sono more than just another small form factor portable interface is its onboard 12AX7 valve, guitar tone shaping circuit and onboard DSP which is controlled externally from the Two Notes Torpedo software, which is available for both Mac or PC.
Warm It Up
Valves or tubes are cool right? Well warm or hot technically but that’s beside the point. Sono allows you to route either the DI input from your guitar or bass, or the first mic pre input through the valve circuit to create a really a rich saturated or damn right overdriven tone, which can sound great for a really interesting character vocal or guitar part.
However if you want to get the best from the low impedance guitar input, use some kind of preamp, distortion or overdrive pedal, or your entire pedal board in front of the guitar input and listen to the valve and tone circuit come to life.
Putting The Performance In Its Place
Once you have dialled in your tone you can simulate the speaker cabinet, microphone and acoustic space using the amazing Torpedo software to control the DSP that is built into Sono. Out of the box Sono comes with 20 different speaker cabinets of all shapes and sizes, 8 different acoustic spaces from small studios, to clubs and massive concert halls and more than 8 different microphones, including all the normal stuff the “pros” use to record guitars. And if that is not enough for you, the Two Notes store gives you access to hundreds more options.
The best way to “review” a product is to get down and dirty and use it, so in the video James first shows you around Sono and explains some of the physical connections and routing that he has made to record the track.
He then goes on to show you the two software application that help your run the I/O to and from Sono and the Two notes Torpedo Remove V5 software to control the speaker cabinet, microphone and room emulation.
As has become tradition, James has recorded a full band demo track for this article featuring a full drum kit, bass, 4 guitar parts and lead and backing vocals. The only processing you are hearing is being done on the way in using Sono’s valve processing and the Two Notes emulations. Included in the video are stills of the settings used to create the guitar and bass tones you are hearing, so you get a real world idea of how well these tones and emulations work in a mix. Other than that, there is no EQ or Dynamics processing on any of the recorded channels, just a touch of plate reverb on the drums and vocals to glue it all together.
What We Think About Sono From Audient
For me Sono ticks a great many audio recording and guitar playing boxes. It’s easy to use as a desktop recording interface with all the facilities I need like really great sounding mic pres and a nice loud headphone output.
However, Sono is so much more than just another interface. For me the valve circuit alone is worth the price of admission but pair this with the amazing Two Notes emulations and the fact that you can store 3 different “rigs” in the Sono’s memory banks enables you to use it without a computer and this opens Sono up to become a very serious practice and performance tool for the gigging guitar player as well.
Imagine turning up for a gig with your guitar, pedal board and Sono. No heavy amp or cab to lug around and don’t forget, if you are going to carry in “real life” what Sono can do in DSP, you are going to have to have 3 different cabs, mics and rooms to play through. Not very practical I think you will agree.
In use I found it easy to dial in a tone that I liked and with some finer tweaking, I was able to really nail the sounds I was hearing in my head for guitars and bass for the track. The entire Sono/Two Notes combination is very flexible and with some time and effort it can sound amazing.
UK street pricing for Sono starts at around the £420 mark but check with your local dealer for their best price.
So, it’s a yes from me, as I believe they say on a very popular TV talent show but don’t just take my word for it, check out Sono at a music shop near you and see if there is a tone or 50 in there that inspires you because after all, that is what it is all about.
What To Know More?
If you want to find out more about the Sono and the entire range of Audient interfaces, microphone preamps and studio consoles check out their website and for a full detailed “deep-dive” into Sono and it’s processing take a look at the Audient product video below.