Propellerhead’s Balance USB sound card bundle is the perfect home production environment
Sound quality is outstanding. Propellerhead won’t reveal the precise details of its audio processor, DAC and ADC components but the specs note that they’re capable of 24-bit recording at resolutions of between 44.1KHz and 96kHz. Low-latency drivers mean that you can record and apply real-time audio processing to your inputs without any unwanted lag. Standard Windows audio drivers are also provided, so you can use the Balance to output sound from any application; there’s something quite cool about listening to your music collection through the Balance and a pair of studio monitors.
The Balance and Reason Essentials package costs £327. It’s far more expensive than rival devices such as M-Audio’s Fast Track Pro, but it’s also much easier to use, has more inputs, is remarkably well made and comes with better software – there’s a reason that Reason is the industry standard.
For around £125 extra, you can upgrade Reason Essentials to Reason 6, which has a wealth of additional features, including more advanced mixer features, additional MIDI sound banks and more.
Although it’s Propellerhead’s first bit of audio hardware, it’s hard to imagine how the Balance could be more fit for purpose. If you’re a keen musician who wants to be able to turn out studio-quality recordings at home, this is the best combination of hardware and software for the job. It wins our Ultimate award.