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Best Audio Interface Reviews
Want to get the best sound quality out of your recordings? Whether you’re a professional record producer working from a studio or a budding musician recording songs from your bedroom, having the right audio interface can be essential.
Today’s best audio interfaces are handy pieces of kit that help to hook up various studio equipment – which could include microphones, synthesizers, electric guitars, speakers and headphones – to your computer.
While you may be able to plug certain gear directly into your computer, you’ll likely be limited to a small number of ports and are liekly to find that sound quality is negatively affected.
Cheap and basic audio interfaces exist on the market and may do the job if you’re a hobbyist or looking to record a demo. However, if you’re intending to produce a professional quality track, you’ll want something a little bit more advanced with better clarity and possibly more inputs/outputs.
A mid-range interface option is likely to be good quality without being overly complex or overly expensive. We’re big fans of solid audio equipment that offers professional level performance and remains affordable for the home studio guru.
That’s why the Solo Music Lab team put together this comparison guide that takes a look at five of the best audio interfaces in that mid-range price point.
Before you invest in an audio interface, it’s important to know you are buying an interface that will provide exactly what you will need. From mic preamps to sample rates, we dig into all the options you need to know to find a fitting audio interface for your needs.
Take a look at our favorite audio interface:
You can take a look over the comparison chart for quick answers, as well as make easy comparisons of the technical aspects of our audio interface reviews. Below that you’ll see which digital audio interfaces we liked the best, as well as which features stood out as pros and cons.
Without further adieu, lets dig into some rocking audio interfaces!
Top Audio Interface Comparison Chart
Best Audio Interface
PreSonus are a revered audio interface brand, catering to the high demands of professional producers while sporting a relatively affordable price tag. A popular choice among audiophiles, this interface delivers crystal clear sound including high headroom and deep lows.
The product has eight microphone presets and ten line outputs. This large array of inputs makes it suitable for recording a full band or for recording an electronic drum kit. The outputs meanwhile include two stereo headphone outputs that can be independently mixed. It includes a USB connection.
This audio interface can be rack-mounted, but also sits nicely on a desk. It’s got a front facing power button and headphone jack for easy accessibility and the LED display on the front is a nice touch for helping to monitor all inputs and outputs (as well as making the interface look cooler and more professional).
The PreSonus Studio 1824c USB-C Audio Interface comes with its own powerful recording software, PreSonus Studio One Artist.
This DAW is easy to navigate and can be used with Mac or PC. While it’s compatibility with other DAWS isn’t explicitly mentioned by the manufacturer themselves (most likely to encourage users to stick with PreSonus Studio One Artist), user reviews suggest that the audio interface can work with other programs like Ableton Live and Pro Tools.
- 8 pristine award-winning XMAX Class A mic preamps to capture every detail and make getting a great sound a breeze
- 2 high-headroom instrument/line inputs, plus 6 balanced line inputs to record guitar, bass, and your favorite synths. | High-definition 24-bit/192 kHz audio with 114 dB dynamic range
- Expandable up to 18 simultaneous inputs and 20 outputs
- DAW Recording Software – Studio One Artist and Ableton Live Lite
- Over $1,000 of computer recording software and plug-ins – Studio Magic Software Suite
This USB audio interface from Tascam comes with a whopping sixteen inputs and eight outputs. This allows you to record multiple instruments at a time while also hooking up multiple monitor speakers or headphones.
It’s also ideal for recording electronic drum kits in which you may require separate channels for each part of the kit.
The sound quality of the Tascam US-16x08s is meanwhile astounding. The microphone preamps have a signal-to-noise ratio of 100dB, which pretty much beats every other audio interface within the same price bracket. A built-in DSP mixer also ensures ultra-low latency so that there is practically no delay during recording.
A lot of attention to detail has also been put into the overall design of this audio interface.
There are separate volume controls for headphones and line output so that you can easily switch between the two. The interface also has a noticeable angled design – this allows you to easily adjust the controls while looking down at the interface from above rather than having to crouch down to make adjustments.
It’s primarily designed as a rack-mounted interface, however it neatly sits on a desk too. Tascam recently updated the drivers for this audio interface which were much needed.
The only downside with the Tascam US-16×08 is the USB-2 connection to your computer won’t be as fast as the USB-C connection available in the PreSonus Studio 1824c. Regardless, if your computer is fairly powerful you won’t have to worry about that small detail.
Overall, it’s a solid audio interface for PC users and Mac users alike, and is compatible with most major DAWs. Definitely an audio interface worthy of consideration if you need multiple inputs and outputs.
- Captures 16 mic and line inputs to your computer with clear sound quality and advanced features to manage big sessions
- Eight Ultra-HDDA microphone preamps deliver the cleanest and quietest operation in their class while delivering up to 56dB of gain
- An additional eight line inputs are provided, two of them switchable to instrument level for direct guitar or bass recording
- Eight balanced line outputs are also available, two with a level control on the front panel for monitoring
- Built in is a DSP Mixer for low-latency digital mixing, and each channel has four-band EQ and compression for polished-sounding monitor mixes
‘Sound is everything’ is Focusrite’s motto. Their classic Scarlett interface lives up to this motto by continuing to deliver top notch audio clarity year after year.
This interface can record and mix up to frequencies of 192khz and has preamps with a unique ‘air mode’ setting for making recordings sound even brighter and richer.
Compact in size and lightweight, this audio interface fits nicely on a desk and can be equally easily transported in a bag without getting damaged so that you can plug in and play from any location.
It’s iconic red casing makes it one of the most attractive audio interfaces from an aesthetic standpoint. It’s the type of interface you’ll want to show off to friends, and maybe even collaborate on a project at their place.
The interface comes with two inputs and two outputs. This small I/O count makes this interface best suited to solo musicians that don’t require an array of channels. In fact, it is often marketed towards singer-songwriters.
The Focusrite Scarlett prides itself in being uncomplicated and user-friendly so that those with limited recording knowledge aren’t intimidated.
It has an ‘easy start tool’ that allows you to get set up easily, and comes with a number of video tutorials to help you better understand the audio interface’s features.
On top of this, if you’ve never used a DAW before, Focusrite offers the option to buy bundles including software such as Pro Tools, Ableton Live Lite and Softtube Time and Tone Bundle.
- Two of the best performing mic preamps the Scarlett range has ever seen, now with switchable air Mode to give your recordings a brighter and more open sound. Two high-headroom instrument inputs to plug in your guitar or bass. Two balanced line inputs, suitable for connecting line-level sources.
- High-performance converters enable you to record and mix at up to 24-bit/ 192kHz.
- Quick start tool to get up and running easier than ever.
- Includes Pro Tools | First Focusrite Creative Pack, Ableton Live Lite, Softube Time and Tone Bundle, Focusrite’s Red Plug-in Suite, 3-month Splice subscription, and your choice of one free XLN Addictive Keys virtual instrument, all available via download upon purchase and registration
- LIMITED TIME OFFER: FREE Acustica Audio Cream2 upon registration and download.
The Germans have always been brilliant at building efficient tech solutions. BEHRINGER’S UMC404HD audio interface is a prime example of this efficiency.
The interface includes 4 inputs, 4 outputs and 1 MIDI I/O, each offering ultra-low latency so that you can record instruments and vocals with precision. Separate controls meanwhile allow you to change the level of each individual input and output.
Behringer’s parent company recently bought MIDAS – a venerated company that has produced high-end mixing consoles for professional musicians since the 70s.
Some of the state-of-the-art technology used in MIDAS consoles has reportedly been integrated into the UMC404HD Audio Interface, making it a potentially powerful mid-range audio interface that may well rival interfaces used by commercial recording artists.
It comes in a robust black metal chassis designed to protect the device from damage. This makes it a suitable portable option for those that want to use it with a laptop while traveling around. At the same time, it makes for a stylish permanent feature on a desk.
This BEHRINGER audio interface can be used with a variety of DAWs including Pro Tools, Cubase and Ableton. Setup is easy – in most cases, there’s no need to do download additional drivers. It’s a flexible and simple solution for musicians and producers of all kinds.
- 4x4 USB 2.0 Audio/MIDI interface for recording microphones and instruments
- Audiophile 24-Bit/192 kHz resolution for professional audio quality
- Compatible with popular recording software, including Avid pro tools, Ableton live, Steinberg Cubase, etc.
- Streams 4 inputs / 4 outputs plus 1x MIDI I/O with ultra-low latency to your computer, supporting Mac OS XP and Windows XP or higher
- 4 state-of-the-art, MIDAS designed Mic Preamplifiers with +48 V phantom power. "Built-like-a-tank", impact-resistant metal chassis designed and engineered in Germany
The M Audio M is a more basic budget audio interface with two inputs and two outputs (and no MIDI I/O if you’re opting for the old style).
It has only a handful of controls including a noticeable large volume knob positioned in the center for easy volume control. This simplicity is likely to appeal to certain buyers that don’t want an elaborate all-singing all-dancing interface.
The sound quality is quite competitive with the other audio interface reviews – it uses Crystal preamps to reduce noise levels and make you vocals really pop.
It similarly delivers little to no latency. While it may look fairly basic from its exterior, it’s packing a lot of complex technology inside.
The M Audio M Track works with all major DAWs. Their available packages that come with Pro Tools, as well as an Eleven Lite package suitable for guitarists and an Xpand!2/Mini Grand/Strike package that is ideal for musicians delving into electronica.
It’s a suitable audio interface for Mac users, including use with a Macbook Pro. Being lightweight and compact, it makes a great portable option for those that want to take their home recording studio with them wherever they go.
- 24 bit/192kHz resolution for professional recording and monitoring with all new Crystal Preamps that deliver pristine, transparent sound
- +48v Phantom Power accommodates all microphone types
- Hi Speed USB connection with USB/Direct balance knob for zero latency monitoring; Includes both standard USB and USB C connection cables
- Dedicated XLR+¼ inch TRS combo input and ¼ inch instrument High Z input accommodates all common input types
- Rugged metal chassis; large central control for easy volume adjustment; table top design provides easy access to critical controls
Top Audio Interface Features To Consider
To help distinguish which of the above audio interfaces is right for you, it’s worth understanding all the unique features and benefits that a decent audio interface can deliver. Below are some of the factors to weigh up before making your purchase, each of which you can find in one of the audio interfaces listed above.
Sound quality is often the thing that matters most to hardcore audiophiles. A good audio interface should reduce noise and guarantee a crystal clear sound. Fancy terms such as an EIN rating (the lower the better) and signal-to-noise ratio (the higher the better) are sometimes used to give an idea of how well an interface reduces noise. The resolution frequency is also a term to look out for – many high quality interfaces boast a resolution of 192khz for a stunningly crisp sound. Although you may not notice the difference yourself, it’s still nice to know that you’re recording in the highest definition possible.
Latency refers to the delay between picking up the sound from the input and recording it on your computer. Poor quality audio interfaces are likely to have noticeable latency, which could be frustrating when trying to record a melody to drums. The best audio interfaces will boast an ‘ultra-low latency’ or ‘zero latency’ so that there is no delay between playing and recording.
The i/o (input/output) count refers to the amount of input and output jacks. Having a lot of input jacks allows you to hook up and record multiple instruments or microphones simultaneously. Having a lot of output jacks meanwhile is convenient when hooking up multiple speakers and headphones (and possibly more hardware if you’re looking for a sophisticated setup). Solo singer/songwriters may only need 2 inputs and 2 outputs. A live band or an electric drum kit meanwhile may require as many as 8 inputs, while a high number of outputs could be useful when connecting a large number of line speakers in a live setting.
A decent audio interface can be easily connected to all types of equipment. When it comes to connecting your audio interface to your computer, a USB connection is the most common option – but some interfaces may also enable firewire, thunderbolt or PCIE connectivity for a faster data transfer rate (the latter is generally only reserved to professional high-end models). It’s worth determining whether you need an audio interface for PC or an audio interface for Mac, as some audio interfaces may only connect to one or the other (the best audio interfaces will work with both).
As for types of input, a variety of mic and line inputs could be useful for hooking up a variety of microphones or outboard mic preamps. This may depend on the type of music you are recording.
Form factor is a fancy word to describe the shape and form of the audio interface. There are two main types of form factor: desktop interfaces and rack-mounted interfaces. A desktop interface can sit on your desk and is more suited to DIY musicians and amateur producers, rack-mounted interfaces can be fitted into a rack (possibly combined with other interfaces) and are more suited to professional producers operating out of a recording studio. Some audio interfaces can sit nicely on a tabletop and be fitted into a rack.
A DAW is a ‘digital audio workstation’. These include popular production programs such as Pro Tools, Cubase, Ableton and FL Studio. A good audio interface should be compatible with all major programs and there should be regular updates/drivers available to keep it compatible with new programs. Some audio interfaces come with a DAW, which can be useful if you’re a musician that is only just getting into recording and mixing. Information on specific DAW compatibility isn’t always easy to find – if you’re using a lesser known DAW you may not be able to find any information.