Best Audio Interfaces

Home recording is becoming the trend these days, especially to musicians who are not really celebrities yet. Apart from these people, home recording is also becoming popular among hobbyists, singer-songwriters, indie bands and podcasters who have started relying more on project studios than professional recording studios. You have to make sure you purchase the Best Audio Interfaces that suits your need to record your song or music in the comfort of your home.

With several good audio interfaces available online, it could be a daunting task to pick the right one. The list of home recording audio interfaces discussed in this article would help you make a choice and buy the one you need to record some of the best songs and music in your personal space just like in professional studios.

1) Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools

The Focusrite audio interface features a preamplifier that produces natural sounds and has an input dedicated to picking up inputs from instruments, especially guitars. The stereo line outputs can be connected to home speakers and they give the sound rendition a natural effect. Another good news for people looking for audio interfaces is that Focusrite is compatible with digital audio workstations of Windows 7 and higher versions and Mac OS X 10.0 and upwards.

The Scarlett Solo USB audio interface comes loaded with a bundle of useful software such as Red 2 & Red 3 Plug-in Suite, 2 GB of Loopmaster samples and sounds, Ableton Live Lite music making software, Softune Tone & Time pack, a routing and monitoring application, a bass station and a plug-in synthesizer to get you started with recording instantly. The bus powered audio interface has two inputs and two outputs, as well as an output for a headphone.

Who should buy this?

  • Guitarists and songwriters are sure to fall in love with this super low latency audio interface that keeps unwanted distortion at bay without having to opt for digital signal processing.
  • The attractive metallic red and black color combination is definitely bound to make it an instant hit for those who give equal importance to style and performance.
  • With a slew of software applications, the audio interface is also the right choice for people who want to compose their own music and try out various tones and sound effects in the privacy of their room.

2) Tascam US-2×2 USB Audio Interface

Tascam gives you the best of both worlds with its ergonomic design and excellent audio quality for its 2-in x 2-out audio interface. It features class compliant drivers for plug and play action on iOS and Mac OSX gadgets while supporting a simpler ASIO driver for Windows operating devices. You can choose between the Ableton Live Lite and Cakewalk SONAR X3 LE DAW applications incorporated into the interface. The two Ultra-HDDA mic preamplifiers, NE5532 op amps and audio design guarantee high performance enriched sound quality.

For its price, the Tascam audio interface has an incredible signal-to-noise ratio of 101 dB. The XLR connector, sturdy metal body that makes it durable, different volume controls for line output and headphones and the angled design that results in better visibility are some salient features that cannot be overlooked. It also supports mobile recording with the cable provided for USB connectivity.

Who should buy this?

  • Recording enthusiasts who would like to own an audio interface with an ergonomic design and can withstand rough use should consider giving this interface a thought.
  • This audio interface is also capable of catering to the needs of those who would like to try their skills with mobile recording.
  • The lightweight and very compact model makes it easy for those who are often on the move to take the interface along with them.

3) Mackie Onyx Artist 1-2 2×2 USB Audio Interface

The Mackie audio interface is a combination of various excellent features such as high-resolution 24-bit convertors and analog circuitry. With zero latency and direct analog monitoring, you would get first class effects without distortion even in a noisy background.

Whether you are trying to record your own performance or enjoy your favorite media with this interface connected to your system, you get clarity at its best irrespective of whether you are at home or on the move. The audio interface has two inputs and two dedicated outputs. One of the outputs is for connecting the device to a studio monitor whereas the other is for establishing a headphone connection. The dynamic 48 V power allows you to use the interface with 0.25” TRS studio condenser inputs. One of the key features is that the USB interface helps you do away with using a power adapter.

Who should buy this?

  • If ruggedness is what you are after, the Built-Like-A-Tank hardware design of the Mackie Onyx makes it suitable for rough use. The flat style helps you to keep it on your table without slipping. Alternatively, if style is your statement, the black color gives the interface a classy look.
  • For musical instrument lovers, the 0.25” line input coupled with the Hi-Z switch allows you to connect the audio interface to different types of musical instruments like bass or guitar.
  • The preloaded Tracktion Music Production Software makes the USB audio interface just about the best choice for mobile recorders, content creators and songwriters.

4) Avid Mbox Pro High-Resolution 8×8 Audio Interface

The Avid Mbox Pro audio interface offers excellent sound quality with premium audio conversion and professional grade circuitry. The black color combined with curved corners make the interface look stylish while delivering studio performance at the same time with its maximum audio resolution of 24-bit/192 KHz.

The Mbox Pro is compatible with almost all popular music creation and recording software like Cubase, Fruity Loops, Pro Tools and Logic to mention just a few. The inbuilt guitar tuner also helps in keeping your musical instruments perfectly tuned always. Moreover, the soft-clip limiter helps to track signals without clipping. It is compatible with both PC and Mac and works equally well on either platform.

Who should buy this?

  • This audio interface is a must-have for those who want to do more than just recording their music or musical instruments. It can be used for editing a recorded performance and even mixing a couple of performances.
  • The desktop interface is definitely worth considering if you want to connect various gadgets like microphones, musical instruments, monitors and more.
  • If you do not want any compromise on sound quality, this high-resolution interface can just be the one you are looking for.

5) Apogee Quartet USB Audio Interface

Priced a little on the higher side, the Apogee Quartet powered interface offers true value for money. The USB audio interface offers high-speed connection to PC or Mac and direct digital connection with iOS devices. The flat rectangular design makes it look like a keyboard. The interface has many XLR and 1/4 inch inputs and balanced 1/4 inch TRS outputs. These inputs allow you to connect various devices like your favorite external mic preamps, keyboards, compressors, and microphones at a time. On the other hand, the outputs help you to compare or listen to stereo mixes on three sets of speakers so that you can enjoy different sound effects.

The aluminum controller knob helps you easily make adjustments such as volume control and select the input and/or output of your choice. Each input and output touchpad has an LED highlight ring that is brightest for the selected input or output. This helps you identify the chosen input or output at a glance. It comes equipped with a 30-pin iOS cable, 2-meter long USB cable and a universal power supply with standard 3 pin-IEC cable.

Who should buy this?

  • This desktop audio interface is for those who are serious about recording their music and songs at home in a professional style.

6) PreSonus Audio Boxi Two 2×2 USB/iPad Audio Interface

The PreSonus audio box audio interface supports both MIDI and USB 2.0/iPad audio interfaces. The interface features two combo lines, instrument or mic inputs along with Class A mic preamplifiers, a 1/4 inch headphone output and a 1/4 inch TRS main output. Equipped with software for four virtual instruments, more than 6GB of sample content and beats and 27 native effects, this audio interface has almost anything that a singer or recorder desires. Another key highlight is the compatibility with recording software for iPad, Windows and Mac.

The headphone output ensures that you hear the music clear and loud. Setting up a recording system with this interface is very easy because all you need to do is connect a few mics. As for durability, the heavy-duty steel chassis makes the audio interface capable of withstanding even the roughest use. The USB connectivity helps you connect it to a laptop and indicates its portable nature.

The preloaded Capture Duo for iPad one tap recording software and Studio One 3 Artist DAW software for Windows and Mac allow you to get started with your recording using Capture Duo and end with Studio One using a wireless transfer.

Who should buy this?

  • This audio interface is undoubtedly a good bet for podcasters, sound designers and mobile musicians who are particular about high performance and wireless transfer from one platform to another.

7) M-Audio M-Track 2×2 C-Series | 2-in/2-out USB Audio Interface

The M-Audio M-Track 2×2 C-Series audio interface comes with a 1/4 inch instrument input and a XLR and 1/4 inch TRS combo output. For the outputs, it features a 0.25-inch output that has a separate volume control mechanism and a 0.25-inch main output. The USB powered interface renders high-speed connection and has a direct balance knob to monitor zero latency.

The interface is loaded with a plethora of software such as Mini Grand, Xpand!2, Strike, Eleven Lite, Pro Tools I First, and AIR Creative FX Collection that is essentially a suite of 20 high-class VST/FX AU plugins. The Crystal preamps give you the best microphone output with a low-noise transparent solution that produces the output as expected. In addition to this, the combo input and the instrument input supports the ability to record two channels at a time. Further, combining the combo input with a microphone output assures you of an accurate bass or guitar signal.

Who should buy this?

  • If you are someone who wants to try out various sound effects to your recording, you might definitely want to check out this audio interface.
  • With the Strike, Mini Grand and Xpand!2, you have access to different sound types like a piano’s coveted sounds, realistic drum tracks. Moreover, the device features 2GB sound library from Touch Loops and 500+ sounds from the M-Track library covering deep driving bass, sultry melodic loops and more.

8) Novation Audiohub 2×4 24-bit/96kHz, 2-in/4-out USB Audio Interface

The Novation Audiohub 2×4 USB audio interface has a 3-port USB hub that helps you connect external devices without additional hubs that can cause cluttering. With excellent Focusrite inputs and outputs, there is no way to compromise with loud output and ultra-low latency 24-bit 96kHz audio. The stereo inputs capture audio of utmost clarity with the push of a button while the two outputs produce high quality sounds.

Who should buy this?

  • The Novation audio interface is sure to meet your needs if there is a lot of noise surrounding your room at home where you plan to do the mixing. The headphone amplifier provides clear and loud results.
  • This is also the perfect choice if you prefer electronic musical instruments over traditional ones.

9) Roland VS-20 Audio Interface

The Roland VS-20 stereo audio interface is USB enabled and records with excellent quality. Knobs, buttons and faders help to have a control over playback and mix while the inbuilt software supports hardware COSM DSP effects and zero latency tones. There are separate connection slots for pedals, headphones and footswitches. The Incredible Tones software gives a professional touch to the guitar sounds and vocals being recorded. The V-STUDIO 20 COSM modeling offers the perfect blend of modern computer based recording features with a portable recording software and hardware.

All that you have to do to use this interface is connect a guitar or mic to the VS-20 hardware and look up for BOSS sounds. Once you have decided on the sound, get started with the recording and use the built-in Cakewalk Guitar Tracks software for editing and mixing.

Who should buy this?

  • The Roland VS-20 is for those who want an audio interface for use both at home or on the move.
  • It is great for guitarists who are looking out for easy ways of recording.

10) MOTU UltraLite AVB USB/AVB/iOS Interface

The MOTU UltraLite AVB interface has 36 audio channels comprising two inputs each for guitar and mic, six line inputs with their corresponding outputs, an output for headphone and eight channels for optical I/O ports with stereo TOSLink facility. Apart from offering excellent audio quality for recording on the move, the interface also has noteworthy features like Wi-Fi control and DSP mixing. The digital inputs support both optical connectivity, as well as MIDI connectivity for connection with keyboard MIDI controllers. The 10 input and 6 output analog ports have two HiZ guitar inputs, two microphone preamps and an excellent 117dB dynamic range.

Who should buy this?

  • The MOTU interface is the one stop solution for those who want affordability, versatility and sound in a single unit for their live recording at home or on stage.

11) Antelope Audio Zen Studio

The Antelope battle-tested audio interface has zero latency, signature clocking, highly flexible mixing and routing capabilities and very big effects processing and parallel DSP functionalities. It also supports analog-sounding warm analog to digital and digital to analog conversions with its digital and analog connectivity. The portable interface has 14 outputs, 20 analog inputs that comprise both HiZ line and instrument inputs and 12 microphone presets on a combination of jack/XLR sockets.The ADAT sockets located on one side of the unit offer 16 digital I/O connection channels, excluding two headphone outputs and a digital coaxial I/O. 

There is very less noise interference even at high gain. There is no high-end harshness or blurring and no frequency emphases. The device is capable of handling high microphone outputs at high vocal frequencies. The control panel features the settings for flexible routing, on-board mixing and more. There is a big knob on the front panel to set preamp gains.

The expensive audio interface is very sleek and takes up less space. The red, black and silver color combination gives the unit a truly stylish look.

Who should buy this?

  • The ultra slim design and compact size makes the Antelope audio Zen studio the right choice for people who want a portable audio interface that they can easily put into a backpack.
  • The unit is a great option for those who want their audio interface to support both audio and digital connectivity options.
  • The interface is apt for those who want to connect multiple devices to the interface at a time.
  • The device is worth considering by musicians, independent bands and sound designers and engineers who want both flexibility and excellent sound quality.

12) Universal Audio Apollo 8 Thunderbolt Audio Interface with Quad Processing

The 18 x 24 Apollo 8 Thunerbolt audio interface offers enhanced sound that gives the same flow, feel and tone of analog recording. The sleek audio interface has a UA analog design that supports analog to digital and digital to analog design, as well as UAD-2 quad processing to offer excellent audio quality. The DSP acceleration helps you in recording through a wide range of UAD plugins and microphone preamp emulations from Neve, Lexicon, Manley, Studer, Universal Audio and API allow you to record at zero latency or as less as sub-2ms latency with Unision technology and Realtime UAD processing apart from monitoring and printing your audio.

The enhanced A/D and D/A conversions enhance the gold standard audio quality to offer an extended dynamic range and low THD resulting in outstanding depth, clarity and accuracy in your recording activities. Some of these activities include tracking, overdubbing, mixing and mastering. The open and transparent natural sound renders an impressive set of classic analog tones with its Realtime UAD plug-in processing.

The pricey audio interface comes loaded with a Console 2.0 software control and is compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems. It also encompasses a Realtime Analog Classics Plus UAD plugin bundle with Fairchild, 1176 and LA-2A compressors, UA 610 and Pultec EQs. The knobs of the black slim interface have a green trim around them and a green graphical display. With the Apollo Extended Software, you can connect up to four Apollo interfaces at a time to your Mac based computer.

Who should buy this?

  • The audio interface is ideal for those who want a portable unit to carry with them wherever they go.
  • The unit is a great choice for those who do not want a compromise in the recording quality.

13) Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII SOLO

The desktop 2 x 6 Thunderbolt audio interface gives improved audio conversions that offer the same flow, tone and feel that you would experience with analog recording. The Thunderbolt interface has an excellent analog design and first-class build quality with eight digital input channels through optical connection and two analog monitor outputs that are digitally controlled. The interface also comprises two line outputs and two premium line/microphone preamps, along with a headphone output and a HiZ instrument input on the front panel.

The unit features 24-bit/192 kHz audio conversion and real-time UAD processing to track through a processor, tape machines, microphone preamps, compressors, EQs, reverbs and guitar amp plugins that have near-zero or sub-2ms latency from Manley, API and Neve. The Twin MKII also has outstanding next generation analog to digital and digital to analog conversion units and a couple of Unison enabled microphone preamps. You can opt for mixing with UAD plugins such as Teletronics 1176 and LA-2A processors, 610-B preamps and Pultec EQs. Some other highlights include monitor switching and talkback, along with the ability to connect it to rack mounted Apollo units for remote control. The voiceover and microphones offer results with utmost clarity.

The recording device with silver controls with Windows and Mac operating systems. It also features Console 2.0 software that supports dynamically resizable Windows, drag and drop functionality and mid band equalizer precision channel strip presets. The unit works with major plugins like UAD powered plugins like AAX 64, RTAS and VST that you would usually find in all major DAWs. It also has an inbuilt talkback microphone. The black device comes in a metallic casing that makes it quite rugged and durable. There are separate buttons for talk, mono, headphone and monitor volume control, along with a HiZguitar jack and a HP filter.

Who should buy this?

  • The audio interface serves the needs of those who want to place a compact interface on their desktops.
  • The unit is a good choice for those want to use it with their guitars.
  • The interface is worth checking out by people who give importance to less latency and distortion while recording.

Conclusion

There are many brands like Focusrite, PreSonus and Mackie Onyx in the market, which offer audio interfaces with decent performance at various prices. Some affordable audio interfaces have almost all the features of their expensive counterparts. Moreover, almost all of them are USB powered and have more than one input port and one output port to help you with multiple connections at a time. They are also portable units that allow you to use them both in your room and while you are traveling. The size variation and recording capabilities are some points of difference that you must look into to decide what will work best for you.

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