12 Best Audio Interfaces in 2017
If you are genuinely interested in recording or producing, it goes without saying that you need the best audio interface. In plain English, such a device enables you to obtain top-notch recordings. If you’re sick of inconsistent quality in your recordings, you have come to the right place.
Our purpose was to narrow down the array of products and review the ones that have the best reputation. We also wanted to include products fitted for different users. In other words, whether you’re a newbie in this realm of audio interfaces or a seasoned pro, there’s an astounding choice of audio interfaces available at the moment, which come in a wide range of prices. Stay with us to see which product is best for your needs!
Table of Contents
- Top 12 Audio Interfaces Comparison
- Purchase Tips
- Inputs and Outputs
- Microphone Preamps
- USB Connectivity
- Mac or PC?
- Top 5 Best Audio Interface Reviews
- Final Thoughts
Top 12 Audio Interfaces Comparison
|Design||Name||Performance||Ease of Use||Rating (1-5)|
|1. Peavey USB Audio Interface||5/5||5/5||4.5|
|2. Steinberg UR22MKII 2-Channel USB Interface||5/5||5/5||4.3|
|3. Steinberg UR824 Audio Interface||5/5||5/5||4.3|
|4. BEHRINGER U-CONTROL UCA202||5/5||5/5||4.3|
|5. Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools||5/5||5/5||4.2|
|6. Line 6 Sonic Port Channel Audio Interface||5/5||4/5||4.2|
|7. Native Instruments Traktor Audio 2 DJ Audio Interface||5/5||4/5||4.1|
|8. BEHRINGER U-PHORIA UM2||4/5||4/5||4.0|
|9. PreSonus AudioBox1818 VSL- Advanced 18×18 USB 2.0 recording interface||4/5||3/5||4.o|
|10. Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface||4/5||4/5||4.0|
|11. TASCAM US-16×08 USB Audio Interface||4/5||3/5||3.9|
|12. Focusrite Clarett 8Pre||4/5||4/5||3.9|
When you want to purchase a high-quality product, there are some things you should take into account. The same applies to choosing the best audio interface and we think that the following tips will aid you in this direction.
Inputs and Outputs
The amount and type of inputs and outputs featuring an audio interface are the primary elements you should consider. Input channels determine the number of sources that can be recorded at the same time. On the other hand, the outputs influence the number of studio monitors your device can be connected to.
- Inputs – Most manufacturers produce audio interfaces with a minimum of two inputs. We consider that approximatively everyone will find a use for each of these inputs; even those who don’t record a lot. For example, if you want to record a vocal track with a single instrument, you may find a two-input interface adequate for your needs.
In addition to that, such a device is suitable for those who utilize sample libraries for adding a live musical track, when necessary.
On the other hand, if you intend to record an entire band, you should look for an interface that has at least eight inputs. You should know that a drum kit can necessitate as many as eight microphones. In other words, if you want to record multiple instruments, having many inputs is quite mandatory.
- Outputs – Output ports enable the user to send audio channels to headphones or speakers. Generally speaking, two output ports are enough for most users; however, extra ports may be necessary for creating multi-channel sound or other external effects.
The mic preamp facilitates the user to intensify the low-level mic signal in order to accomplish a working level. That is achieved by amplifying the incoming electrical signal. This can significantly improve the quality of the signal, and the overall quality of the recording.
In short, the preamp can modify the way in which a mic signal sounds. That’s why we advise you to determine whether you want your mic preamp to be neutral or add character to your recording. It could be argued that this is a matter of personal preference and needs.
At the moment, audio interfaces featured by USB connectivity are some of the most popular devices on the market. That’s because most computers have a built-in USB 2.0 port.
On that note, USB is one of the most compatible forms of connectivity in audio interfaces. Nonetheless, USB connectivity isn’t a bare necessity for every user. Depending on how you want to utilize the device, you’ll find this feature compulsory or not.
Most audio interfaces are stationary units, which is why they tend to be a tad bulky. Apart from that, some necessitate power cables, due to their size and complexity. That makes them challenging to transport.
Also, bear in mind that some devices are designed primarily as desktop units, to equip home studios. Still, if portability is an important feature to you, the good news is that manufacturers have considered producing such items as well.
Although these could turn out to be indispensable to individuals who travel a lot or work simultaneously, smaller devices compromise on other features. Still, the greater majority of portable items have USB connectivity, which saves a lot of time.
Mac or PC?
It is also important to select an audio interface that functions properly with your operating system. Even though most devices are made to operate with MAC and Windows alike, it is highly recommended to check the manufacturer’s recommendations first.
Top 5 Best Audio Interface Reviews
This is a simple, straightforward device that is also incredibly durable. It is a product that will fit the needs of those who are looking for a basic audio interface.
We liked that this gear is effortless to use, and delivers excellent results in exchange for a decent price. If you have been dealing with inconsistent sound quality or low-level humming during your recordings, you’ll find this device particularly useful.
Nonetheless, if you’re in need of a more elaborate device, which is featured by more functions, you should consider our following recommendations.
This device is a fantastic option that will equip your home studio as you expect it to. Balancing the features it presents and the rate, we can argue that this interface rocks for the price.
For starters, this item features six inputs and four outputs, which provides you with plenty of options whether you’re a home or road musician.
Moreover, this is sturdy as a rock, since its construction is genuinely durable. The buttons and knobs appear to be really solid as well.
As for the performance it delivers, we were fully contented in this direction as well. Not once had the software control failed on us during our tests. As for the set-up, it was quite simple as well.
The UR824 is a rather pricey tool that is perfect if you want to start your own studio. Steinberg is a top producer of interfaces, and this is an excellent example of high-quality and top craftsmanship.
Its high-speed USB 2.0 enables you to connect it to your Mac or PC. Also, eight inputs featured by state-of-the-art mic preamps and eight TRST outputs provide you with incredible versatility.
This is a device that is designed for professional engineers and aspiring musicians alike. The sound produced is crystal clear and crisp, featuring eight Yamaha microphone preamps.
In a nutshell, in the case in which you’re in the market for a pro-sounding interface, we believe this would be a fantastic option. Although it is on the expensive side, it is entirely worth it.
In the case in which you already own a decent mixer, and you need a basic audio interface that does a thorough job, this one manufactured by Behringer is a good alternative. It does what you want it to do while being cheap and effortless to use.
This interface connects your mixer or instruments to your computer, in order to obtain excellent recordings, every single time. Moreover, it delivers outstanding quality, enabling your tones to shine.
It is also equipped with an optical output that allows you to convert files from analog to a digital source.
This is also a fantastic product due to its portability. It is incredibly small and lightweight, being featured by USB connectivity; so you don’t have to worry about additional cables that cause a lot of headaches.
Although this doesn’t come with phantom power or preamps, as more expensive products do, it does a good job for a basic audio interface.
This is one of the top audio interfaces on the market, considering that the price quality ratio is on the point. It is a beautiful example of form and function combined.
This device enables you to capture sounds easily and quickly. The quality is superb, due to the state-of-the-art preamps and converters.
The act of music creation is an exercise of creativity, first and foremost; so, it is implied that you don’t want to let any technicalities prevent you from obtaining an excellent track.
This device minimizes signal degradation and noise, and as a result, you’ll have deep and clear tones. We also liked the design of the interface; the casing has a sleek design that would look great on any desktop.
The interface is equipped with two audio inputs and two audio outputs. Nonetheless, it depends on the power of a single USB connector, which means that no extra source of energy is mandatory.
This also comes with a useful digital direct monitoring feature, which facilitates you to hear the output without being entirely dependent on the computer software.
What is more, this interface has preamps and phantom power, while being compatible with MAC and Windows. In short, this is a high-quality, accessible audio interface.
Adding the best audio interface for your production setup is an important step that you may choose to make towards music making. Each of our recommended products has been attentively tested by experts in the domain. This is a golden practice that enables us to deliver unbiased, informative buying guides for our readers.
In short, the choice of the most suitable audio interface is entirely dependent on your needs and the features you consider as being the most important. Reviewing aspects such as the number of inputs and outputs, portability, mic preamps, compatibility, and budget will definitely help you in your search.