Saturday, June 2, 2012

Review: Alva Nanoface test and audio samples

I got the brand new ALVA Nanoface for a quick test and here is what I found.
It's all made of plastic and very light so it feels a bit cheap in my hands. The break out cable with all its connections is heavier than the device itself and even tough it seems to be good quality, I would not expect it to work forever. To me, the whole breakout cable concept is a bit weird, as it looks bad on the desktop, it's not very ergonomic and it's supposed to break one day. At least it keeps the interface small and portable. It comes with a USB 2 cable and a printed manual. The Nanoface itself has only one big rotary controller that can also be used as a push button. Software installation was easy, but I was surprised it only comes with drivers. No routing software - you have to do everything in your DAW. You can only access the functions of the Nanoface by rotating and pressing the big controller which is irritating to me as I personally like to have a software that controls the device and shows me what's happening on the screen. Latency was not as good as with the Microbook that I tested last week but still ok - 11,8 ms on 128 samples in Logic 9 running on a Macbook 2,4 GHZ. My built-in audio has 9 ms at 128 samples. I did some test recordings with the Nanoface and compared it to a MOTU Traveler:

Nanoface audio samples (.zip /3.5MB)

The sound is a little bit "notchy" in the mids to my ears, it misses out some low bass frequencies and it tends to be pretty brilliant in the higher frequencies. Some might call it crystal clear... I could work with it tough - nothing really shocking but nothing really amazing either. The noise floor is a little higher than on the MOTU but still good and the preamps offer a little less gain. For people who like the form factor, who need the ins and outs (3xMidi, 2x48V XLR, optical in/out...) this device can be a very cool thing regarding its low price. I'm sure you can do some nice recordings with it. Alva is a new player in the market of audio interfaces and this is a promising beginning. I know many of you would like to know the difference in sound quality as compared to the RME Babyface but I have never had any yet. I rate the ALVA Nanoface 6,5/10.


  1. congratulations for your review, I'm interested in this card. would be possible to have the original files? the quality of mp3 is not the best way to make comparisons. greetings. Ferdinando, Italy

  2. Hi Ferdinando,
    sorry, I only read your comment now - sure you can have them - still interested?
    Greets from Berlin!

  3. yes sure! how can we do?
    thanks a lot.