Need a device to handle recording whenever and wherever you go? You can turn your iPad into a powerful portable studio with the help of a dock-style audio interface. Two popular products in the category are Behringer iStudio iS202 vs Alesis iO Dock. In this article, we will discuss the comparison between the two to determine which one that’s better.
The following discussion will tell you further about:
- The design and build material of each model
- Which iPad models that can work with these audio interfaces
- The available connection ports on each model
- The sound quality of Behringer iStudio iS202 vs Alesis iO Dock
- Which dock audio interface that’s generally better for you
Behringer iStudio iS202: Design and Build Quality
In terms of design, Behringer iStudio iS202 isn’t exactly attractive. If you are unfamiliar with this kind of device, what Behringer iStudio iS202 is probably won’t be apparent right away. Nevertheless, it is a functional and effective dock audio interface which will turn your iPad or iPad 2 into a capable recording device. For a USB audio interface, see Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 Vs 6i6.
It has a hollowed part with a 30-pin connector. This is where you are supposed to slide in your iPad or iPad 2. Once connected properly, the iPad device will be able to utilize the wide range of connectors and controls available on Behringer iStudio iS202.
The iPad device alone only has a Lightning connector and headphone jack, which are hardly sufficient for any recording purpose. With Behringer iStudio iS202, you can easily connect all kinds of sound sources and recording devices, hence making the job simpler and easier.
If we compare the dimensions of Behringer iStudio iS202 vs Alesis iO Dock, we can easily tell that Behringer iStudio iS202 is a bit larger. This is because the left side is extended to accommodate several indicators and controls.
The build quality of Behringer iStudio iS202 is pretty good. We can consider it a well-built unit if we take its affordable price into account. However, this doesn’t mean that it is super-rugged. The construction is mostly plastic, and the connectors aren’t made to withstand abuse. Sure, it will last for quite a long while if you work mostly on a dry desk, but don’t expect it to hold up to heavy drops or elephant stomps.
Behringer iStudio iS202: Usability
The overall usability of Behringer iStudio iS202 is very good, but there are limitations. It can only work with iPad, iPad 2, and the third-gen iPad. So, people with iPad Air or iPad Mini variations won’t be able to use this device. The compatible models are those with the 30-pin connector design.
Nevertheless, using this dock audio interface is very simple and straightforward. You only need to put your iPad device into the adapter tray and then slide it into the Behringer iStudio iS202’s compartment. Afterwards, you can choose to power up the unit by using the power adapter or some AA batteries. The ability to run on AA batteries is a very nice feature when you are on the go.
There are so many options of inputs and outputs, so Behringer iStudio iS202 is very flexible and adaptable. On the rear panel, you can find the power port along with the on/off switch, a USB Mini port for use with a DAW on a computer, MIDI I/O ports, a composite video output, two 1/4″ outputs, two RCA inputs, two combo inputs for XLR or 1/4″, and two foot control jacks for a footswitch and an expression pedal.
Meanwhile, on the left side of the top panel, there are six rotary knobs (aux level, main level, headphone level, monitor selection, and gain controls for input 1 and input 2) and three push button (phono EQ selector, phantom power, and Hi-Z input selector for input 2). The on-board controls are really nice, as you won’t need to rely on the software and run through multiple screens just to make simple adjustments.
The combination of the on-board controls and the touch screen options on your recording software will prove to be very powerful. Behringer iStudio iS202 integrates smoothly with Garage Band, but since it supports MIDI and Core Audio, it should be able to work with any software that utilizes either protocol.
Behringer iStudio iS202: Sound Quality
So, how is the sound quality of Behringer iStudio iS202 vs Alesis iO Dock? In general, they are very comparable to each other. They both are budget models, so don’t expect their preamps to perform like high-end units. Nevertheless, their sound clean and neutral, and they are already good enough to tackle most jobs.
The inputs and outputs of Behringer iStudio iS202 don’t have any serious flaw. All of them are workable. The preamps lack richness and flavor, but they do have good accuracy and clarity. So, as long as the sources have good sound, the recording should be good, too.
Occasionally, you may find crackles when switching some settings and when closing or opening apps. This is a slight annoyance, but it won’t cause a major problem.
Alesis iO Dock: Design and Build Quality
A single device that can provide all kinds of connections that you need for any musical use – that is pretty much the idea behind Alesis iO Dock. Just like Behringer iStudio iS202, Alesis iO Dock will allow you to turn your iPad device into a full-fledged recording device.
With Alesis iO Dock, you get a lightweight, solid, and well-built docking station that has a wedge shape. It will put your iPad device at an ergonomic angle for viewing and operation, so that you can work comfortably. An iPad can slide in right away, but an iPad 2 will need to use the included plastic insert in order to fit properly. You can take out the insert by lifting the latch at the center.
On the bottom side, there are four little rubber feet which are very useful for keeping the unit in place and preventing it from sliding around. Of course, the construction is mostly plastic, but it feels fairly robust. Compared to Behringer iStudio iS202, Alesis iO Dock is slightly more compact, so it can be a great choice when portability and space-friendliness are prioritized.
Alesis iO Dock: Usability
Alesis iO Dock is also only able to work with iPad, iPad 2, and the third-gen iPad. It is not compatible with iPad Air or iPad Mini variations. In terms of connectivity, Behringer iStudio iS202 vs Alesis iO Dock are quite similar.
The connectors on Alesis iO Dock are grouped logically, hence making the operation quite intuitive. You can find all the audio ports on the rear, the monitoring ports on the right, and the MIDI ports on the left.
There are two combo inputs for XLR and 1/4″, with optional phantom power that can be globally switched for powering condenser mics. There is also a Hi-Z switch for input 2 for plugging in a guitar. Gain levels for input 1 and input 2 can be controlled independently with dedicated knobs.
There are separate volume knobs for the headphone output, main L/R outs, and 1/4″ jacks. One cool feature is the direct monitoring switch, which will allow you to hear the analogue input with zero latency during recording.
In addition, there is a video output which will allow you to work on a bigger external screen if desired. Standard MIDI I/O ports are available, along with a USB MIDI socket for use with a DAW on a computer. However, Alesis iO Dock only has one footswitch jack, which can be utilized for controlling an app-defined function such as start/stop recording.
According to the manufacturer, Alesis iO Dock is compatible with most common apps nowadays. It definitely works with Garage Band, and it does support Core MIDI. However, a few apps are still incompatible with Alesis iO Dock, such as IK Multimedia Amplitube.
Alesis iO Dock: Sound Quality
As mentioned above, both Behringer iStudio iS202 and Alesis iO Dock are budget units, so we can’t expect them to perform like thousand-dollar equipment. However, their performance is still good and satisfying enough to tackle most jobs.
When tested on powered monitor speakers, the sound of Alesis iO Dock is just fine. It is neither nor worse than using a cable right from the iPad device’s headphone jack. Of course, the advantage here is the ability to use 1/4″ connections.
When tested by connecting guitars to the input jacks, the sound is also good. Once you switch the level selector to suit your guitar and adjust the gain control, it provides ample volume. There is virtually zero noise until you push the gain to the extremes.
Overall, the inputs on Alesis iO Dock are decent. This audio interface is definitely good enough for its intended purpose.
Behringer iStudio iS202 vs Alesis iO Dock
Both are good devices with comparable performance. However, Alesis iO Dock is generally better and more recommended. It has a better, more compact design. The overall sound is good, and it doesn’t seem to have crackles when switching settings.