A lot of musicians today rely on computers to fine-tune the sound of their recordings. Of course, you could always go to a professional recording studio to do this, but that simply isn’t feasible for most people. Thankfully, there’s an easy workaround to churn out high-quality music from your home. Audio interfaces are external sound cards that can convert your music into a digital file.
This can be assisted with the help of software that’s sometimes included with the interface itself. The sounds you can record on them is endless. Below are ten high-quality audio interfaces that are in-demand and capable of outputting studio-level music, whether it be for solo recording or a live event. When you’re done with the reviews, be sure to follow up by reading the Buyer’s Guide for help in choosing the right brand for you. Let’s get started!
Top 10 Best Audio Interfaces Reviewed
1. Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools – Editor’s Choice
- Doesn’t need to be plugged into an external power source; powers on when connected to a USB.
- Works well with Audacity.
- Can work with some smartphones and mp3 players.
- Some versions may suffer from audio delay (latency) on Windows OS.
- The headphones may feel uncomfortable when worn for long periods of time.
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo USB Audio Interface is sold in a bundle, so there’s no need of looking for anything else after you’ve decided on this set. It even has a pair of headphones with it, and not the kind that you’ll find at the dollar store. They’re from the company Samson, known for producing studio-quality audio equipment that easily competes with other more popular brands.
As for the other items featured in the set, there’s an XLR cable, a quarter-inch cable, cleaning cloth, and Pro Tools First.
While the famed DAW software has lots of subscription-based plans, the one featured with the Focusrite Scarlett is completely free. There are no hidden costs, so you’ll be able to make excellent recordings like the pros. On the interface, there’s two gain dials, a USB monitor, and direct monitor switch. At the bottom is a line/instrument input for your powered devices and guitar pickups.
Like most audio interfaces, the Scarlett will work with the power provided by your computer or laptop. There is no AC power cord or outlet on the interface.
However, it will turn on if you have a USB adapter with a wall plug on the other end. But considering that most won’t use it without a computer of some sort, AC plugs are mostly redundant. Going back to the software, you don’t have to use Pro Tools if the features you need aren’t available with the freeware.
Audacity is a good secondary choice, and some have argued that it works better with it than what’s provided with this package. You can also plug it up to some smartphone and mp3 players, so long as you’ve downloaded applications for them.
Are there any flaws with the interface? Fortunately, nothing that would make you reconsider the brand. Depending on the version you end up using for the Scarlett, there might be a bit of latency. This seems to be especially the case with some Windows versions.
If you notice it on another OS other than Windows, it might be a driver issue and not entirely the fault of the operating system. You could try out different versions to see if it goes away but this might be a bit tedious, particularly if you’re a beginner to user interfaces. And while the headphones are great, wearing for a long time might agitate your ears.
They’re quite heavy, so try and take breaks in between your recording sessions. If not, consider a backup pair of cans that are easier to manage when feeling fatigued. Overall, the Scarlett is still an outstanding product for all musicians and makes a great buy for people that need someone with good software compatibility.
2. Audient iD4 USB 2-in/2-out High Performance Audio Interface – Best sound
- Installation is fast and easy enough to do without a video reference.
- All turning dials and switching on the device are built to a high standard; should last a long time.
- Allows cheap guitars to sound with outstanding clarity when direct input is used.
- Unlike the switches, the USB slot feels cheap and may loosen if handled aggressively.
- When using headphones, the gain sounds too low.
The Audient iD14 is a 2 Channel audio interface that’s great for any musician that needs a quick way to digitize their music via computer.
Setting everything up is relatively easy, so long as you pay attention to the instructions provided in the box. It comes with everything you need, including a small travel bag to put inside luggage safely. Other accessories are the USB cable itself, along with two XLR cables. With them, you can hook up your instrument or a mic and process your music through your favorite software.
This is important considering that iD14 is equipped with a handy feature called Scroll Control. Scroll Control will allow you to change levels on your sound with the knob on the front of the interface. It’s a good way to mix up your tracks without it sounding too crowded when your levels are high.
If you are planning on using the Scroll Control feature, be sure that the software you use is compatible with it. Most DAWs are, so chances are slim that you’ll come across one.
Unless the DAW you’re using tells you so, you must check it when the interface is plugged into your computer ad ready to use. Move your mouse towards the faders, turning the scroll to see if the dial moves with the motion of your finger. If you can do this then the software is compatible with the iD14’s Scroll Control.
All of the dials on the device are well-made and won’t break off. This applies to switches as well. If you’re a guitar player, you’ll feel right at home with it. Sounds come out clear and precise, with no latency or delays.
That doesn’t mean that the iD14 is perfect (just like any product). The USB slot on the interface feels quite loose and may need a replacement after a while, depending on how heavily you use it.
Be careful when your plugging it in and out and nothing should break. However, getting a new slot might be a good idea if you’re able to do so. And if you’re going to be plugging headphones into the system, the gain could feel a bit too low at its highest level.
This is considering that you have a decent pair, so things could be even worse with poor quality audio. But the iD14 remain recommended to newbies that want a fast boost in their production quality. Compatible software comprises ProTools, Nuendo, and Logic, and more. Put it first on your list and you won’t be disappointed.
3. Audient iD4 USB 2-in/2-out High-Performance Audio Interface with Microfiber – Best Audio Interface for Transport
- Its small dimensions make it easy to travel with.
- The preamp featured on the interface is the same that’s used on higher quality models of the brand.
- Users can plug in two headphones into the interface.
- The USB cable is very short and may need to be replaced if a longer one is needed.
The Audient iD4 is a USB device with a lot of advantages under its belt. For starters, there are the dimensions of the product. It’s really small and will fit in just about any piece of storage that you have on it. For road musicians or those doing long-distance travel, this little machine will never get in the way of other instruments.
Its interface allows for 2 in and out USBs, whereby the speed of the hardware is 2.0. There’s a slot for your headphones also, and output power varies from 80 megawatts for 30 Ohms, to 31 megawatts for 600 Ohms.
Even if you were using the cheapest instruments one could think of, you would still churn out the good sound with only a small amount of latency. It’s especially great for guitars, but your vocals on the mic (there’s an XLR input on the device). The virtual scroll wheel on the front is great for most software, although there’s nothing indicated to come with the product.
Again, this is a traveler’s audio interface. There’s no carrying case featured with it, but storing should never be a big problem since its very small. The exact measurements are 4.7 x 5.3 x 1.6 in inches.
If you have a spare room in your guitar carrying case it should go in easy without brushing up against anything. Another nice touch is preamps. They’re the same as used with other Audient interfaces that are higher in quality. Some brands have a bad habit of lowering the quality of hardware on the inside but this isn’t the case at all here.
You get a high-grade tech that’s more advanced than many other items that the iD4 is in direct competition with. If you have any friends or bandmates over with you, hook up two headphones if needed. The interface has dual headphone jacks (6.3 millimeters) on the side, close to the LED monitors.
The iD4 has very few attributes that can be criticized. If there is one, it would be some of the accessories provided. They’re good but are of low quality. The worst is the USB itself, which is very short.
It’s highly suggested that you acquire one separately just for the interface, especially if you anticipate moving it around a lot during and in between recording. If you’ve ever had a chance to check out other interfaces firsthand, then you know how annoying it could be to have a USB cable that must be placed directly in front of your computer.
You should also be careful with how you store the Id4. Scratches will show up pretty easily when it’s handled aggressively or placed in baggage with other jagged objects. Truthfully, these are flaws that are easy enough for most people to manage so don’t let it scare you away from trying it out yourself!
4. Native Instruments Komplete Audio 1 Two-Channel Audio Interface – Best Zero-Latency Audio Interface
- A breeze to carry around, transport, and stow away.
- All audio comes out clean and free of latency.
- Software is included with the device.
- The input signal can only be heard through headphones.
- Some static might be heard when recording music through the instrumentation input.
The Native Instruments Kommplete Audio 1 Interface is a dream to use for instruments of all kinds, including guitars. If you have one, you’ll especially love the way that it mixes up music and vocals well. Most audio software is compatible with it, and getting the dials to move in-synch with the controls on your computer is easy to set up and do.
You can also hook up many synthesizers and effects pedals to the device, whereby attaching everything won’t take you too long to get your gear ready for making music. The bundle comes with Ableton Live 10 Lite, Komplete software, and two months free with the program Sounds. With all of this included, there’s little else that you’ll need for recording your music with this product around. The USB version is 2.0 and transfers sound quickly into a digital signal, ready to be safe to your computer.
Where can the Audio 1’s best attributes be found? Probably on the exterior of the device. Carrying it around is easy to do since it weighs less than one pound.
Aside from your wires, just pack it in any large case that you have for your instruments if you’re driving or moving them to a location for play. Storage is the same as all USB interfaces, in that you should do it in a cool, dry place. So long as you don’t leave it out in the open, it should last you for many years without the need to get another. Since it is a bit lightweight, try to be careful with the way you handle it, as too much pressure may break the knobs.
The audio quality is outstanding. Your vocals and music will transfer to a high bit rate, and latency remains nonexistent. You don’t have to use the software that’s shown in the product’s description if you don’t want. Pro Tools works great with it.
The Audio 1 Interface will be good enough for most people, but some problems have been noted. If you play music through the instrument input, you might get some feedback at times. This could be anything from a low hum to fuzzy static at a low frequency.
It might not happen all the times that you use it, so the only way to see is for you to try it out yourself. Furthermore, if you’re ruining software that’s older than Windows 10, you likely won’t be able to use the interface properly on your computer.
Mac versions require at Sierra at the very least, and there are no specific stipulations shown for Linux-based distros. As long as you have a decent computer and need a clean interface with zero delays, give the Audio 2 device a shot if some of the other listed fail to impress.
5. Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 USB Audio Interface Bundle – Best Audio Interface for DAW Software
- Compatible with most audio software, both paid and freeware.
- Has a high sample rate that’s great for electric and bass guitar.
- Comes with an XLR cable and built-in input for mic/voice audio.
- The firmware needs to be updated before all of the features can be used.
- Doesn’t lay out all steps that need to be taken in order to use the interface correctly.
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 is bundled with a great XLR cable from the company GearLux. There are two preamps along the front of its housing that can churn out an impressive amount of gain for instruments and vocals.
Presented software is the free versions of Pro Tools (First) and Ableton Live Lite. The red exterior and bright LED lights will allow you to see it easily, no matter how dark the room you play in becomes. Because of this and other great features, the 2i4 is recommended for musicians who play live as much as they do in their homes.
Sounds come out naturally, the way that the instrument was intended to sound. For people playing with high-quality instruments, this will really bright out the audio to a degree that you never have heard processed by your computer before.
Again, there’s software endorsed by the 2i4 that will work alongside it immediately after you have it installed. But try out others if you would like to; they all should work with the product flawlessly.
Its sample rate is also very high, so bassists and guitar players should love the way it really brings out the high frequencies on solos. The XLR cable is responsive and attaches to the 2i4 easily.
The one included by GearLux is 10 feet long, so enough room to place it with your computer/laptop in a sturdy (but not too close) location. One cool thing about the 2i4 is how silent it becomes when you’re not playing anything but everything’s still connected.
No low hums, and no clicks during the times that all devices shouldn’t emit any noise.
The 2i4 has a few things that could be taken as an annoyance. If you’re the type of person that likes all features to work immediately when the interface is unboxed, keep in mind that an update is suggested.
If you don’t update the firmware, you’ll quickly notice attributes missing when it’s attached to your computer. This could change from model to model, so there’s no way of telling with accuracy which perks will need to be installed. Additionally, the instruction manual is a bit too simple. Some important steps aren’t shown that need to be taken to use the device.
As a result, you might end up looking on YouTube for a tutorial video just to get it up and running. But don’t let these hangups prevent you from seeing what the fuss is being on your own; the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 remains a remarkable interface that’s good enough for novices and the pros.
6. AXE I/O 2-channel audio interface – Best Audio Interface for Amp Compatibility
- The interface has its own tuner.
- Amplitude 4 and Ableton software included with the bundle, among others.
- An amplifier can be hooked directly linked to the interface.
- Solid construction that won’t scratch or become damaged easily.
- Some of the pre-included software could be difficult for beginners to use.
The AXE I/O 2-channel is probably the prettiest audio interface on the list. The black exterior is dense, and won’t become scratched when you store it. Switches, buttons, and dials are all to a high standard and made of exceptional quality.
One thing is certain, this device isn’t cheaply made. Unlike some interfaces that can be described as cheap, fancy plastic works of art, the I/O exceeds in style and sound quality. There’s a tuner on the front, along with compatible applications such as Ableton and Amplitude 4. And just like most of the interface shown so far, it’s easy to find freeware that’ll work with what you have in the chance that you’re not keen on those programs.
Combined with LED indicators on most of the controls and no latency, any musician would be impressed with what the I/O has to offer. But that’s not all that this little guy has up its sleeve.
Do you own an amplifier? If you’re a guitarist then this question is probably a bit silly. You’ll love the fact that the I/O has a line out for amps. It’s located on the right side, directly below the master volume.
Attached your favorite speaker system, and record as you normally would. But even without an amp, the interface would be a solid product. On the product’s description, the brand claims to have a grand’s worth of software features, components, and plugins included with the main product.
This is likely true. Take the Zone Impedance as an example. Starting at one million ohms, you can dial it down to 2.2 kilohms. This results in a very tight sound that’s free of delay and sharp.
You’ll also like the Active/Passive Pickup Selector. With this attribute, your gain will be streamlined with Passive, which is also useful for humbucking pickups. Active is for maintaining a clean signal during play.
There’s a lot to like about the Axe I/O, but expect to experience a learning curve with it. If not the hardware, you’ll definitely find yourself tinkering around with the applications.
Try to pace yourself and pick up on things as it becomes familiar to you, and no frustrations should occur. It’s not really a beginner-level interface but can be learned if you’re up to the challenge. In any case, there’s nothing controversial about the I/O. It has everything that musicians look for in an audio pedal, and looks and feels high quality.
Effects pedals and boxes will work with it, and there are tons of ways users can manipulate it to craft your own unique recordings. It’s used by novices and well-known artists of all genres, and could even be of great use to online content creators that stream themselves online to an audience. The possibilities are endless!
7. PreSonus Studio 24c 2×2, 192 kHz, USB-C Audio Interface – Best Audio Interface for At-Home Recording
- No downloads are needed to use straight out of the box.
- High gain with a headphone output.
- Levels are easy to see in low light settings due to embedded LED meters.
- When muted, may output clipping on some occasions.
- May not work with ProTools unless old drivers are deleted.
If there’s one audio interface that’s the easiest to use overall, PreSonus Studio would give all others listed a serious run for the money. Controls are abundant but easy to become familiar with, and setup instructions are thorough and fast to pick up on.
It works great with Studio One, an application you can use to create loops and other mixing techniques for your tracks. On the front, you can view your inputs and main levels. It’s easy to see over several feet away and illuminates well in the dark.
The audio out for headphones is in the back next to the left and right main out ports. This is also the place where you’ll hook up your USB from the interface to your computer, which is to the far left of the headphone out port. The PreSonus is 48 volts and has a sample rate of 192 kilohertz at a resolution of 24 bits.
The headphones will output your music in stereo format, so be sure that you’re using a studio-quality pair that can pick up all the nuances and changes in voice and melody. Have you ever used an interface and experienced gain that was anything but nice?
Some devices suffer from increases (gain) to the point where you might be forced to hook up an amplifier to hear what you’re playing. No such problems exist here.
Gain stays an acceptable level and keeps your instruments sounding precise and on point during play. You won’t need to download anything in order to use the interface, either. So no reliance on firmware updates or required features to use it right from the box. If you’re going to install an updated driver anyway, things should move along quickly.
Although the PreSonus Studio is a good product, there are some aspects about it that could be better. You might hear clipping in some instances when your instruments and microphone is silent.
The clipping seems to not be exclusive to any operating system or software being used with it. Furthermore, Pro Tools may not perform well if there are too many drivers installed to the interface. You could delete some of the drivers if you do have the issue, but that’s a huge chore and could turn some people away from trying it out in the first place.
For the people that aren’t using Pro Tools, there shouldn’t be anything for you to worry about.
Consider the PreSonus Studio for its great sound and ease of controls. There’s something here to like for everything, and you’re guaranteed to become well-acquainted with it.
8. BEHRINGER audio interface (UMC22) – Best Audio Interface for Durability
- Built mostly from metal; strong build quality.
- Users can attach 48-volt microphones to the interface.
- No clipping at all from the audio.
- Latency is kept to a minimum.
- The USB slot isn’t compatible with an adapter.
- Some static may not be heard if the gain is set too high.
The Behringer Audio Interface has a nice retro feel to it but works just as well as the others shown thus far. The direct monitor port can be added to put out latency-free audio. If you’re running older software such as Windows XP, 7, or older versions of macOS, this is the right choice for you. The system requirements aren’t as strict as what you may have seen on some interfaces.
You could run Windows 10 without error, but it’s still nice to know that the hardware will work for users with older computers and operating systems. There’s only one preamp featured here, whereby it outputs a solid 48 volts of power. It’ll be hard to find a DAW that doesn’t work with this Behringer product. No matter if you’re using Pro Tools, Steinberg, or Ableton Live, all of them will work in tune with the hardware.
Aside from what’s featured, you’ll really love out well-made the interface is. It’s one of the strongest around and entirely encased in metal. You could drop it on the floor multiple times and nothing would likely become broken.
Of course, you shouldn’t do that, but it’s still nice to know that there are companies that care about the quality of their electronics. And while you might not like the fact that only one XLR port is available, the sound comes out with near-perfect quality. In between your recordings, take a moment to see how silent the audio becomes.
No hums on clicks on most instances. You might hear some static (white noise) if the gain is set to a high level, so remember not to overdo things. Delays aren’t something that’s known to occur with Behringer interfaces, and the same can be said about this one.
If you look at a description of the product, you’ll notice a USB port on the back of it. This is where you’ll attach the Behringer to your computer. Unfortunately, the only way that you’ll be able to power it on is through your USB cable.
Additionally, you can’t do use an adapter to do this. Don’t go out and buy one that hooks up to your wall outlet, as it won’t work. In fact, the device wouldn’t even turn on this way. And going back on the white noise that was described earlier, it could get irritating pretty fast.
You could try playing around with your levels and dials a bit to see if it goes down, but don’t count on it to work in your favor. But at the end of the day, most of these cons are minor flaws that can be seen on a lot of interfaces. That includes products of a higher quality than this one. If you’re curious, check to see if you’ll enjoy recording with it!
9. BEHRINGER, 12 XENYX 1202FX, 3-pin XLR – Best FX Mixer for Live Recording
- The configuration is easy enough for beginners but includes enough options for intermediates and advanced musicians.
- Will fit on travel bags without getting in the way of other appliances.
- Has mounts at the top that make it easier to reach and/or dock.
- The mixer can only be powered on or off by unplugging.
- FX controls are difficult to read without the manual.
- No special effects are listed in the manual.
This Behringer product is called the 12 XENYX 1202FX. The first thing to note is that it isn’t an audio interface, but a mixer. With it, you can mix up your recordings in the same fashion that you would with your favorite DAW. It can be hooked up to your interface and is built to accommodate professional musicians of all types.
Keep in mind that it isn’t intended to be attached to your computer in the same way that your audio interface can be. It’s an FX processor that can alter your recordings that you digitize. Presets range from reverb, flanger, delay, chorus, and even pitch shifting. With pitch shift, you can alter the pitch (obviously!) to a different note that’s either higher or lower than what you played. This can be used for either your voice or your instrument.
To use it for your voice, be sure that you hook up your XLR cable to one of the four preamps that are on the mixer. You’ll find them in the upper-left corner of the board, close to the FX send and phone ports. Their dynamic range is gauged at 130 decibels. In short, even a medium-quality mic will have outstanding depth in vocals.
This console was designed to mimic the same standard as was used with mixers in the UK during the famed decades of the 1960s and 70s. The presents thereby may sound a bit warmer than usual. Depending on the musical genres you like to play the most, this could have a profound effect on the quality of your music. Just remember to practice and mix to the level that suits your style the best. If you want a mixer for live music that you plan to make recordings on (while using an interface) this is a useful way to do it.
While the 12 XENYX 1202FX is a good amount of qualities that make it a recommended product, you might not like how it powers on and off. To do it, you must plug the device itself. Yes, that’s the only way to turn it off as the board has no standby switches.
This s a little odd, seeing as there are so many controls fitted on the mixer. Make sure that you plug it into an outlet that isn’t too loose so that it doesn’t unplug as you’re recording music. There are no special effects shown in the manual, either. You’ll have to figure out how to use them yourself, or watch tutorials online.
It’s not too hard, but the lack of instructions isn’t good for people that have never controlled a mixer like this before. And many of the FX controls are quite difficult to see on their own.
You could be forced to see where everything goes (using the manual) until you learn the controls off the top of your head. Regardless, you should assess whether this mixer could fit in with your recording. It likely will, especially if you like to play classic tunes.
10. Behringer Xenyx 502 Premium 5-Input 2-Bus Mixer with XENYX Mic Preamp and British EQ – Best FX Mixer for Solo Play
- No static is heard from the interface when powered on but silent.
- Preamps sound rich in volume and clarity.
- Lots of tweaking options provided by the equalizer.
- There are no equalizer presets featured on the mixer.
The Behringer Xenyx is the last product on the list, but definitely not the worst. It’s another mixer that you can use with or without an interface. It’s a bit smaller than the previously reviewed Behringer and has fewer features. But this might be all that you’ll need, at least for mixers. There’s one preamp on the device and an equalizer with dual bands. And like the other mixer, this one is styled to mirror those of the classic British Rock Era of the 60s.
It runs on just 13 watts, with all models being built in Germany. If you want something that can transfer tacks from a CD or tape recorder, you can do so with the headphone output. You could also attach them to the main mix outputs, just in case you’re going to use a pair of headphones simultaneously.
As this is a 2 track mixer, you can attach it to any device that has RCA ports. That means amplifiers and other speaks with them should work once they’re attached in this way. As for instruments, you may want the mixer to go from the XLR cable, then to the mixer itself, and finally to the speaker system via RCA. When an interface is involved, it can be hooked to it so long as it has an RCA jack as well. If not, then you won’t be able to plug it up.
As a precaution, remember to check for this if you’re looking at one of the interfaces that are shown in the products above. When you have it all plugged in and ready to use, no white noise will emanate from the speakers, whether it be on your computer or amp. Preamps can be described in the same way.
The sound is rich and crisp; vocals will sound spot-on for the entirety of your recordings or tracks. There’s also a lot of choices for you to change the way your music sounds, with a majority able to be altered very fast. The strength of your equalizer presets is controllable from this mixer but doesn’t include things like reverb or pitch.
If there are any flaws in the features of the controller, they’re mostly small. Go over the stats to find out if you need one. You don’t have to limit yourself to a guitar with this. Everything from DJ equipment to keyboards can be hooked up and altered with the mixer. It doesn’t have all of the fancy features that its sister product has but can help out a ton. If you simply need more channels, it’s a good tool to have around.
Next, take a look at the helpful tips below to help you pick the correct audio interface for your style of play.
How to Choose the right Audio Interface
First and foremost, you should remember to take your personal preference into consideration before finalizing your choice on any of the products shown above. Every musician has their individual needs and requirements. What’s best for one person that’s playing the same style of music could be entirely the opposite for another.
This could be from nuances in a user’s instrumentation, computer, or even the type of DAW they’re using. But if you’re going to focus your search on one key attribute, let it be the overall specs of the audio interface.
If you see a high number on the sample rate and voltage, you’re likely viewing a product that could be put to good use. Another thing to pay attention to is latency.
In basic terms, latency is the response time that your interface will react to the transfer of sound into a digital format. If there is little to no latency on a piece of hardware, then your music will sound better as a result. This shouldn’t be confused with bandwidth, either. The latter is the rate at which data is transmitted, not received.
How you should Hook Everything Up
If you’re new to audio interfaces, it’s best for you to follow the directions given with the brand you end up with. Sometimes, this can be a frustrating thing to do, particularly if the brand doesn’t have thorough instructions. In this event, the best solution would be to either to do the product’s website or look elsewhere online for a video tutorial.
They are pretty easy to find, and in some cases will show information about the product that might not be available anywhere else.
Forums are also a good place to search and will have good tips from experts. On most audio interfaces, you’ll see a large, black circular port. This is what you’ll use to hook up your XLR cable, or the microphone. The USB is found on the back of most models.
Remember, your interface probably won’t be able to work with a USB adapter that plugs into an electrical outlet. Most of them turn on when the other end of the cord is inserted into a computer. USB 2.0 is the standard but that could change with future interfaces.
Choosing a good Application/DAW
There are a lot of DAW applications that’ll work with the audio interfaces shown in the reviews. In fact, many of them could have one included with the product itself. Others may link you to a place to download freeware versions of DAWs. Pro Tools First is arguably the most popular choice right now.
Yet this isn’t a full version of the software, you many of the best features can only be found on a subscription-based plan. If you don’t plan on getting involved with a subscription, look into interfaces that have either freeware bundled with the product or something that offers a trial period.
Interfaces will sometimes give you several months free with DAWs as a promotion. And when the period is over, just cancel and go on to something that won’t cost you. Of course, you could pay for it if you want but it’s highly recommended that you try free software out first.
Frequently Asked Questions/FAQ
Are Bundles typically better than Buying a Standalone Audio Interface?
Absolutely. With a bundle, you’ll probably get everything that you need to start recording music on the interface right away. Some of them may even throw in a decent pair of headphones. Other accessories could be extra XLR cables, carrying pouches, and a previously mentioned DAW application.
Other cables are sometimes included, regardless if you don’t buy an interface in a bundle. This also includes the USB cable, since most of them are powered on by the cord. The only time you should settle on a standalone interface is if you’re already in possession of all the extras. But even under this situation, you might be better off getting a set if said items are low in quality.
Are there any Accessories that I Should Get that aren’t typically included in Audio Interface Bundles?
The short answer is yes. The most commonly sought-after accessory that you won’t find included with many interfaces is an FX mixer. There are two showcased in the reviews, and for good measure.
With them, you won’t have to rely too heavily on a DAW to alter your sound, since basic mixers will have some FX controls on the board. Others may feature presets that one would normally see on an amp or pedal, although those can be hooked up to the mixer as well. The advantage of having an FX control to go along with your interface can also be sound quality.
Since having one would make you not reliant on hit or miss software, your music could sound more organic than what’s possible through digital. And finally, the right mixer can bring out particular genres of music better. For example, those that copy the controls and electrical layout of mixers from different time periods would make using the presets a lot easier for musician’s music that corresponds to the style.
What type of Instruments can I Use with an Audio Interface?
When it comes to instruments, the possibilities are endless. Everything from keyboards, synthesizers, electric guitars and acoustic-electric guitars can be used in tune with an audio interface.
There are more examples, so it’s encouraged that you get creative and find unique ways to take advantage of the device you pick. DJ mixing boards also work well alongside audio interfaces. You can record setlists, or even use it for practice to go back and check off things that you want to improve on. For musicians who play live music, everything can be recorded and saved for easy distribution or sharing to your favorite social networks.
Are most Audio Interfaces Compatible with today’s Popular Operating Systems?
This is a question that can be best answered on an anecdotal level since every interface has its own requirements. Things could vastly differ between brands or even contrasting versions between brands.
For instance, a Behringer product might only work on the latest OS for Windows and macOS. This shouldn’t be too big of an issue if you’re running the latest software versions on your computer. However, users with any OS that’s Windows 8 or older may have to download the separate driver software to get the interface running smoothly. If isn’t always necessary, but be prepared to do it just in case.
The same applies to Apple software and some brands might not work at all of older OSX versions. Linux can either be supported or not but the level of customization on it could make most interfaces run (this might take some advanced knowledge do it, in some cases).
Did you enjoy the article? If yes, then it’s encouraged that you go over any of the products that were missed. All of them are great in their own respective ways. And most importantly, there’s nothing featured above that wouldn’t be of use to the average musician. Still, expect to see greater improvement on future audio interfaces.
Trends indicate that later models from the company will touch upon things that have been reported as bothersome to consumers, latency and compatibility problems in particular. As a musician, you’re bound to hear more about the brands of the product evaluated here, so stay tuned!
Our Best Choice
Which of the products do you think should earn a top spot on the list? Out of the ten, two of the highest recommended were listed in numbers one and two at the top. The Audient iD14 and Focusrite Scarlett. Both were picked for ease of installation, the quality of DAW software provided with the products, and digital recording quality.
Yet it must be said that this is subject to what you as a customer want, so go with the other products reviewed if one of the other eight looks more appealing. And once you’ve actually chosen and purchased your audio interface, get ready to record in a way that sounds and looks professional.
- Top 10 Best Audio Interfaces Reviewed
- 1. Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools – Editor’s Choice
- 2. Audient iD4 USB 2-in/2-out High Performance Audio Interface – Best sound
- 3. Audient iD4 USB 2-in/2-out High-Performance Audio Interface with Microfiber – Best Audio Interface for Transport
- 4. Native Instruments Komplete Audio 1 Two-Channel Audio Interface – Best Zero-Latency Audio Interface
- 5. Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 USB Audio Interface Bundle – Best Audio Interface for DAW Software
- 6. AXE I/O 2-channel audio interface – Best Audio Interface for Amp Compatibility
- 7. PreSonus Studio 24c 2×2, 192 kHz, USB-C Audio Interface – Best Audio Interface for At-Home Recording
- 8. BEHRINGER audio interface (UMC22) – Best Audio Interface for Durability
- 9. BEHRINGER, 12 XENYX 1202FX, 3-pin XLR – Best FX Mixer for Live Recording
- 10. Behringer Xenyx 502 Premium 5-Input 2-Bus Mixer with XENYX Mic Preamp and British EQ – Best FX Mixer for Solo Play
- Buyer’s Guide
- How to Choose the right Audio Interface
- How you should Hook Everything Up
- Choosing a good Application/DAW
- Frequently Asked Questions/FAQ
- Are Bundles typically better than Buying a Standalone Audio Interface?
- Are there any Accessories that I Should Get that aren’t typically included in Audio Interface Bundles?
- What type of Instruments can I Use with an Audio Interface?
- Are most Audio Interfaces Compatible with today’s Popular Operating Systems?
- Our Best Choice
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