Maono PS22 Review: A USB Interface to Rival the Scarlett 2i2?


Maono has been sending us review gear for the past three or four years, and there has been a noticeable rise in their quality during that period.

Formed in 2017, Maono (which means “vision” in Kiswahili, according to my PS22 box) have gradually established themselves as a known brand in the podcast equipment space.

Like most other companies, they do struggle to create memorable names for their products. The WM820, PM500, and PD400X have passed through our doors in recent years, offering little hint of what they are or do until you see them. I’m sure there are technical reasons for these names, but I do long for the day when we see equipment like:

The Samson Big Bloody Brilliant Mixer

The “Are You Shure You Want To Sound This Good?” Mic

And the Maono Vocal Explosion 6000 Recorder (it felt right to get some random numbers in there)

Alright, so maybe I’m not going to be hired by any tech companies as chief-of-names any time soon, and the Maono PS22 is the name this little USB audio interface has been given, so let’s make peace with that and get on with the review, shall we?

What is the Maono PS22? (& Who’s it For?)

Its full title on the box is the Maono ProStudio 2×2 USB Audio Interface. You can use it to run one or two XLR mics into your computer. There’s an option to run it into your phone, too. I’ll come to that in a bit.

The classic use-case scenario for a podcaster is that of someone who wants to do in-person interviews using two mics. But, solo or remote guest/co-host-focused podcasters will find just as much value in the device. The second mic jack is a handy option, but there’s nothing to say you need to use it.

Maono PS22 as a Smartphone Audio Interface

You can record via the PS22 into your smartphone if you have a mobile cellular telephone device with a USB-C connection. This is typically:

any Android device

the iPhone 15

I don’t know the exact model of my iPhone, but it’s not a 15. It was made sometime around 1948. I summoned a USB-C to Lightning connector from my Lovecraftian drawer of cables to see if it might work. Alas, it didn’t.

In any case, your mileage may vary if you have a compatible phone and a desire to record video with decent audio. I, for one, am a traditionalist and don’t much care for smartphone recording anyway. I’m more interested in the big question:

Is the Maono PS22 as good as the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2?

Maono PS22 Vs Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Comparing the Maono PS22 with the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is a logical step for me. I’ve owned the latter for 13 years, so I have a lot of experience with it. Both devices are very similar in look, size, function, and price point.

Besides, at its age, my 2i2 is only going to last so much longer. Can the PS22 step up to replace it when that fateful day arrives? Let’s look at some notable differences between the two.

The option to record into your phone is an obvious plus for the PS22. As I’ve said, this doesn’t work for everyone, and with a few extra cables, you could manage this with the 2i2, too. But it’s more of a default feature with the Maono model.

I also like the fact you can turn Phantom Power on for one mic but leave it off for the other. This means you can use a dynamic and condenser mic together without running the risk of breaking your dynamic model. On the 2i2, it’s all or nothing.

The 2i2 is a better USB audio interface on a technical level. This is me looking at the specs for things like dynamic range, frequency response, and gain range. However, these differences are so marginal and are unlikely to ever noticeably affect the average podcast recording. Personally, I can hear no difference between the two.

On the price points, the PS22 doesn’t seem to be as widely available just yet, but looks to be retailing at $120. You can probably save about $20 on the 2i2 if you shop around a bit.

Key Maono PS22 Pros

Smartphone recording option

Independent Phantom Power for each input

Key Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Pros

Overall better technical specs

Potentially lower-cost

What Does the Maono PS22 Sound Like?

Time to let the Maono PS22 do what it was born to do – aid in the recording of a digital audio file!

I recorded a sound sample using the Audio-Technica 2020. It’s a condenser mic, so I used the Phantom Power setting.

Then, the trusty Samson Q2U was my dynamic mic of choice.

Both were recorded in a “normal” office-style environment, no sound treatment or anything like that. I also didn’t apply any post-processing, cleaning, compression, etc, to the files afterwards.

Conclusion

I like the Maono PS22 and would recommend it as a solid USB audio interface option for podcasters.

Whilst it might not go toe-to-toe with the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 in its technical specs, there’s no difference audible to my own hearing.

You can likely buy the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 for a little cheaper, and it’s still my favourite interface overall (we’ve been together a long time). But if you already own an XLR condenser mic and an XLR dynamic mic, and would like to use them simultaneously, then the PS22 is undoubtedly a better option.

Likewise, if you want to record video on your phone then there’s a decent chance you’ll be able to set your PS22 up to handle the audio side of things. That’s another big selling point for the Maono model.

In all, I’m impressed with the Maono PS22, and it’s good to know that in the last years of my venerable 2i2s life, a natural successor is on hand to step up when the time comes.

Our Rating: 4.6

Sound Quality: 4.8/5

Ease of Use: 4.9/5

Price Point: 4.7/5

Availability: 3/5

Still looking to shop around? Check out our Best USB Audio Interfaces for Podcasters roundup!


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