Jenny Brennan has worked her way through a few audio interfaces over the years. Using EVO 8 however has stopped her in her tracks. “Losing sight later in life, I’ve encountered so many situations that make me critical of the state of accessibility in software, on the web – and in society as a whole. It’s true that I have gone through a number of interfaces since starting working with audio. Yes, they were great pieces of gear and they served me well, technically. But in the end I have felt excluded at every turn,” says the prog metal vocalist, producer, mix engineer and educational live streamer.
“For my ears it’s a mighty fine sound”
“Now Audient (and EVO) is doing this so well, it’s made me really excited about the potential for true access to what I want to do with audio.” Blind from progressive Retinitis Pigmentosa, Jenny has spent the last twenty years transitioning from the visual arts to all audio and now relies on screen reader software, which speaks what’s happening as she whizzes around controlling Windows and Mac entirely with keystrokes. Just recently EVO 8 has become an important part of her setup.
“As far as audio quality goes, I’m not really someone that compares this preamp to some other preamp and analyses technical specs to death. For my ears it’s a mighty fine sound I’m getting out of it and the options are absolutely sufficient for my needs,” she explains.
“My setup at the moment is as simple as I can get it: my studio PC, Nektar midi controller and EVO 8 do the heavy lifting in my studio,” she continues. “My elderly iMac is on constant standby since I transitioned to PC about a year ago.” Add to that her current favourite mics – a C1 condenser and the Shure SM7B – and a couple of guitars and she’s all set.
“The instrument input is fabulous”
“The really simple and really small format of the interface gives me enough free space on my desk to not feel cluttered. The instrument input is fabulous. Since getting the EVO I find that my Ibanez is also constantly plugged in.
“Smartgain is another win, too. I don’t want to think about all the times I’ve tried to get a reasonable level out of that electric. Play, record a bit, check – ‘Oh no, that’s no good!’ adjust, record, check…” The EVO Smartgain feature allows Jenny to set her levels automatically at a couple of button presses, making it really easy to get the perfect setting before starting to record.
Aside from playing her guitar, Jen’s current focus is on the ‘REAPER Made Easy’ project. Reaper is one of the most accessible digital audio workstations, and as part of a plucky team spread across three countries, she is building a collection of free training content tailor-made for blind/visually impaired people who want to learn the ropes. “We run what we hope are engaging deep dives into topics like EQ, compression, sound design, musician spotlights and the like. There is a monthly open Q&A where anyone can ask questions regarding Reaper. We want to inspire as well as educate, making disability nothing but an aspect of life working in audio, and not a non-starter, be it practical or psychological.”
“[EVO 8] has taken so much unnecessary worry and extra work out of the equation”
So why did she choose a 4-channel audio interface in particular? “I needed enough inputs to set up my stream environment. I have outputs from my iMac constantly plugged into channels 3 and 4 as I do some software testing as well as demo-ing Reaper stuff on the Mac.” EVO 8 comprises four award-winning EVO mic preamps alongside advanced converter technology to ensure studio quality results from the get-go.
Jenny continues, “Having reliable streaming audio and flexible routing such as Loop-back is super-important for what we do. For me, accessibility and reliability go hand in hand. If I am able to control a piece of gear, it’s up to me to make sure my stream is working properly. I can easily switch streaming sources and just do what the stream needs. This is truly what I love about EVO. I can’t stress this enough: it has taken so much unnecessary worry and extra work out of the equation.”
Passionate about accessibility, Jen continues to find all sorts of ways to engage with and be of help to the blind and vision impaired community surrounding Reaper. This is what led her to EVO – and Audient – who have recently upgraded drivers for both iD and EVO mixer apps. Since then, Audient has an ongoing commitment to ensuring all audio interface products and software are as accessible as they can be.
Speaking of which, Jenny is in the final stages of a 6-track EP with her prog-metal band Icarus Machine. We’ll let her get back to that, then. To see what Jenny is up to, find her on her House Of Imp website.