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TC Electronic Desktop Konnekt 6 review

pic pic

Features 10/10

Features:

  • Two inputs suited for: 2 guitars/1 guitar and 1 microphone/2 line sources
  • Independent gain control for inputs
  • Independent output volume for main out and headphone out
  • IMPACT mic preamp with 48V phantom power
  • True Hi-Z guitar inputs known from TC’s high-end guitar processors
  • Headphone output
  • Cool design with very useful controls and high resolution meter
  • 24-bit converters, sample rates from 44.1 to 192 kHz
  • Very good frequency response on line outputs (+0/-0.1 dB, 20 Hz to 20 kHz)
  • Dynamic range greater than 102 dB for line outputs, line inputs/hi-z inputs
  • Dynamic range greater than 106 dB for mic input
  • JetPLL jitter reduction technology (AD/DA jitter is less than 42 ps)
  • M40 Studio Reverb based on hardware technology
  • Bundled with Cubase LE 4
  • TC NEAR™ compatible: works with all other Konnekt products
  • FireWire 1394, bus powered
  • External power supply included
  • Low latency drivers for Mac and PC, WDM, ASIO and CoreAudio

Sound quality 9.7/10

Desktop Konnekt 6 sounds really good. Music played by this interface has a lot of definition, clarity and detail.

Guitar inputs are of exceptional quality. Highs are cut so there's no hiss there, but it sounds a little bit like a Line 6 POD Studio interface. Preamps do their job well and sound fine. Compared to M-Audio Firewire 410, Desktop Konnekt seems to have more low end, less highs and slightly smaller dynamic range.

What's totally awesome is that this device has a power supply with a grounding pin. It saves you from ground loop problems if you're working on a computer with power supply that has no grounding, like a Mac mini or a notebook.

I didn't have an opportunity to check its microphone preamp yet.

Headphone output sounds nice and it can get very loud.

The included M40 Studio Reverb sounds smooth comes also as a plug-in (AU, VST). It offers hall, plate and room algorithms.

Phase issue, all analog outputs

There's a 180 degree phase shift on all outputs of the Konnekt 6. In other words the phase is inverted. In theory this shouldn't make a difference as the sound is a wave and it doesn't matter to human ear if it's compression or decompression, because both are perceivable. IMHO it does sound a bit different especially on headphones, giving an impression of more saturated and fuller low end, and, what's worse, it also affects double and quad tracking guitars resulting in a certain weird quality in recorded material.

It seems at first that the Konnekt 6 has balanced analog outputs, but they are so called ground sensing balanced (electronically balanced) outs and their design doesn't allow inverting the phase. The third pin doesn't send inverted signal.

Support at TC Electronic has problems with understanding written language - detailed description of the case that included information on how to identify the problem was answered after weeks with a suggestion that I used faulty wiring, even though I used previously tested standard instrument cables and this was also mentioned. I tested two different Konnekt 6 units and other interfaces that use the same TC designed chip - Focusrite Saffire PRO 14 and Presonus Firestudio Mobile. Firstly I thought that it could be a software issue, but the same situation occurs with Direct Monitoring and no computer connected.

Round trip latency, driver performance (Mac OS X Lion, Intel Core i5-2410M)

Measured round trip latency goes down to 6.96ms (307 samples @ 44.1kHz) at Core Audio buffer size of 14 samples and operation mode set to normal (lowest safety buffers setting). With the buffer set to 128 samples at the same operation mode, the latency raises to 12.13ms (535 samples). These are more than acceptable values, however there are interfaces out there that perform a bit better in this field. There's no latency drift - it's stable no matter what. Drivers are reliable and solid. Performance wise I encountered no dropouts even at the lowest latency with 12 tracks loaded with Overloud TH2 (preset - Big Stack 80) in Reaper. CPU usage reported by Reaper was around 66%.

Update - the latency is lower by 9 samples (0.204ms) on the headphone out. It seems that the main level knob is digital and the phones level knob is a simple analog potentiometer. This makes the lowest possible round trip latency go down to 6.757ms (298 samples @ 44.1kHz).

Safety buffers can be adjusted through TC Near Control Panel. You can choose between normal and safe modes 1, 2 and 3. Normal is the lowest setting that allows minimal round trip latency.

Buffer size Measured latency Measured latency Reported latency, Reaper Reported latency, Cubase Reported latency, Logic
samples samples ms ms ms ms
14 307 6.961 1.4 - -
32 343 7.77 2.2 5.986 6
64 407 9.229 3.8 7.438 7.4
96 471 10.68 5.2 - -
128 535 12.13 6.6 10.340 10.3

TC Electronic Desktop Konnekt 6 latency measurement results (main outputs, on the phones out the latency is lower by 9 samples @ 44.1kHz) and DAW report values, Mac OS X 10.7.4, Reaper 4.151, Cubase Elements 6.06, Logic Pro 9.1.7, TC Near version 2.5.1.f3598

Round trip latency, driver performance (OS X 10.7.4 Lion, Intel Core i5-2410M)

Buffer size Measured latency Measured latency
samples samples ms
14 266 6.031
32 302 6.848
64 366 8.299
128 494 11.201

TC Electronic Desktop Konnekt 6 latency measurement results (main outputs, on the phones out the latency is lower by 9 samples @ 44.1kHz), OS X 10.7.4 Lion, Reaper 4.151, TC Near version 3.0 RC f22

Round trip latency, driver performance (Windows 7, Lenovo N200 with an older Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz)

Buffer size Measured latency Measured latency Reported latency, Reaper
samples samples ms ms
32 207 4.693 3.1
48 240 5.442 3.4
64 272 6.167 4.5
128 400 9.070 7.4

TC Electronic Desktop Konnekt 6 latency measurement results (main outputs, on the phones out the latency is lower by 9 samples @ 44.1kHz), Windows 7, Reaper 4.151, TC Near version 3.0 RC f22

12 instances of Overloud TH2 (Big Stack 80 preset) resulted in 50% CPU usage. Lowest buffer size settings were playable with occasional dropouts.

Ease of use 10/10

This is where this Konnekt really shines. On a desk it's more like a mixer with its meter, buttons and knobs located on its slightly angled top. It offers fantastic access to its functions and after only few days of using it I can't even think of going back to a classic interface with everything located on its side. What I exceptionally like about Desktop Konnekt 6 are that big volume knob with a backlight and output dim button. Switching to headphones couldn't be quicker. Instead of the usual direct monitor level control there's a smart input/daw balance knob. That's brilliant. High resolution meter can be used to monitor input and output (pre and post volume) levels. In addition there are signal/clip indicators located just by gain knobs. There's another knob for controlling reverb which can be mixed in for tracking.

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TC Near Control Panel

Price 8/10

Desktop Konnekt 6 is a well designed product. It's reliable, functional and it sounds great, too.

Advantages

pic Fantastic features
pic Ease of use
pic Sound quality
pic Reliability
pic Latency stability
pic Power supply grounding

Drawbacks

pic Inverts phase on all outputs which only in theory should not make a difference

Product page on www.tcelectronic.com

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