Gear Review

BLA: Revolution 2x2

I posted to Gearspace (FKA Gearslutz, still getting used to the new name…though I think it’s a change for the best) last month about my experience with the Black Lion Audio Revolution 2×2. I thought it would be worth putting those thoughts, as well as some others, here, too. Before we get into it, here’s what I ended up doing: the Revolution 2×2 was just not for me, and I ended up returning it to my vendor. It’s not a bad unit, but it just didn’t meet my particular needs.

Since about 2013 or 2014, I’ve been using a Black Lion Audio modded 002r, specifically the signature series mod. While it has its issues and quirks of age, I adore this ADAC. Specifically, the DA part since I don’t really record anything, and when I do, it’s field recording for foley or sound design and I just use an H5. And I have no idea how or why it still works, especially since I’m running Windows 10 and stay up to date with Pro Tools. It runs off of a 1394a PCIe card and the Avid 003r 9.0.8 driver that is now five years old. And those drivers don’t technically support the 002r…so, yeah, if something eventually ceases to function, well…that’s it.

As far as converters go (for the sake of reference in the context of what I’m about to opine on), I’ve been fortunate to work on and experience a few nice systems in different places. The “high-end” rigs that stick out are the old Digi 192s I worked with for years (clocked with Antelope’s original flagship 10M and Isochrone Trinity distribution setup), the Antelope Orion 32 (clocked with the 10MX), a Larvy 4496, and a Mytek Brooklyn.

I don’t have golden ears, but in my experience, the BLA 002r Signature Series punches up at the same level as the DAC of any of these systems at a significantly lower price point. I think I bought my 002r off an old boss for about $200 in like 2011 or something, and the BLA mod is about $1350–so, all in, around maybe $1800 when including taxes and various shipping costs. Because of this, I am an enormous BLA fanboy. The BLA 002r is magic. If I didn’t think the 002r would probably cease functioning with modern software sooner than later I’d probably go ahead and step to the XB mod. So naturally, I was pretty stoked to learn that BLA designed their own interface and had some pretty sky-high expectations (I even preordered it, and I rarely buy anything new to begin with…much less, preorder anything new). Admittedly, I had developed an unfair or unrealistic level of expectation for an interface that costs less than a decent MIDI controller with a $399 USD price tag.

Anyway- here’s (roughly) my review that I posted:



Points from comparing the 2×2 to the BLA 002r, playback only A/B testing segments of various tracks at 48k/24b.

  • Lows generally pretty solid compared to the 002r
  • Mids seem a touch muddy on the 2×2
  • Highs seem somewhat comparable, but lacking a good bit of detail in the 2×2 at the top end
  • Overall, the 2×2 feels less kinetic, not as quick to present transients as my 002r
  • The noise floor: noticeably higher on the 2×2 – due largely to bus power, I guess

I sent tone through the speakers and level matched each interface before patching the outs back and forth by hand. Even level matched, the 002r felt like it had considerably more energy. Even went so far as to crank the output on the 2×2 beyond matched- higher out gain than the 002r, and it still felt kind of flabby. Checked the SPL meter, too. The 2×2 was louder…and somehow not?

I know BLA said they opted for certain components for tone and that meant it wouldn’t be the quietest thing on the market, but ultimately, I think this has convinced me to return mine. I like to work at low volumes, and I do a fair amount of noise reduction, dialogue editorial, etc., so this kind of bugs me more than anything.

But my main problem is the noise. I didn’t expect the 2×2 to necessarily be any better than my 002r, but given its age and the fact that I probably need to replace it soon, I figured this might be an answer (I mean, the drivers I use haven’t been supported by Avid for years- not even sure why it still works with PTs 2020.12 or whatever). It was a bit naive to think that, given the price difference (a $400 USD unit vs. a $1500 mod that is 4 times the size with dual decoupled power supplies and yada yada), but my 002r is 9 years old now–and the interface itself has even older OEM components than that. Figured the newest of the new has got to be as good as my decade-old ADAC. Partly, too, I have never owned a bus-powered interface, so maybe I’m overreacting to the noise. I dunno.

Just in hindsight, I want to emphasize that I do think this is a decent-sounding unit. And if I was working at higher volumes, or only using this to mix down music at 75dB+ I would care less about the noise floor. I was somewhat impressed–it’s just not a unit for me and my particular needs.


So, that’s pretty much it. The 2×2 is a unit sort of appropriate for the price. But, even as a mobile/remote unit for me, it’s just not quite right. This is primarily because of the noise floor, but the “meh” clarity of the DA also caused some misgivings when considering actually using it for billable work. I know that I need to find a replacement for the 002r soon, given its age, but I’ve grown so comfortable with the sonic characteristics of the 002r and, through a multitude of projects for clients, am fully comfortable knowing that what I’m hearing in my room and the masters I’m sending to clients are reliable and translate well. It would be a waste of my time, client time, and money to have even the slightest reservation about any mix decisions I’m making.

Here’s the BLA 002r at home in the under-PC rack currently:



If you think these knobs are cool, check out CAPI.

Why does it look like a bit of kit salvaged from the coms room of a sunken ship? Well, I tried to take off the black paint the other day, annihilated a pad on the orbital sander in the process, and still couldn’t get it all off–but it looks sort of cool (and I don’t feel like going and getting more sandpaper), so I’m leaving it. The headphone jack broke for the 50th time (I will never understand why Digi made that housing/threading out of plastic), so I figured I would use the opportunity to take off the faceplate while I had the box open, check solder joints, and clean out the frequently used jacks with some deoxit and friction. Maybe I’ll get a new headphone jack and solder that in…

But if not, I’ve been eyeballing used Pure2s, which seem to go for around $1700-1900 used, depending on condition and such. I may try out one of those soon, and maybe test out pairing it with a BLA MKIII XB down the road. I’ll post thoughts on those if I nab one anytime soon.

Till next time–