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What Audio Interface Do I Need to Record My Guitar?

10/02/2023

Home recording for guitarists can get complicated – there’s a huge range of different audio interfaces available and a variety of features to help you get a record-ready guitar sound.

What’s available and what do you really need? Let’s walk you through some of the best options.

Before an interface, you need a DAW!

Interface and DAWThere’s a lot that goes into achieving a good guitar recording.

Great tone, great performance, good editing, and a solid mix are all necessary.

So, what do you need to take that beginning step, capture the performance, and achieve your tone?

First off, you’ll need a DAW, or Digital Audio Workstation. And there’s a large variety of these available.

These are, essentially, all-in-one music production solutions, built to let you record, edit, mix, and even master music.

Which one of these you start off with depends on what speaks to you, what kind of computer you have, your level of experience, and what you intend to do with your recordings.

What DAW do I need?

The main thing you need to ask yourself is, what do you want to achieve with your home recording journey?

Many of the interfaces you’ll see on this list now come with demo versions of DAWs, so you can try out the ones you like. However, bear in mind that most of these demo versions will have track limits or some other functionality restrictions. Depending on the scale of what you want to accomplish, it may be worth considering investing in a full version once you’ve tried a few out and decided what you like.

While most DAWs have the same basic functionality, they tend to differ in their tools and user interface. As a result, some are better suited to certain tasks, but none of them will prevent you from doing a particular process.


Studio One

PreSonus Studio OnePreSonus have long been delivering affordable studio gear, and Studio One brings all of this together for the software realm.

With its simple drag-and-drop workflow and broad audio resolution options, Studio One is an excellent do-it-all DAW.

Recording, mixing, mastering, creative production, and even video editing and post-production are all available in just this one piece of software.

Shop now | PreSonus Studio One


Ableton Live

Ableton Live is a truly versatile DAW.

Many musicians all over the world use it for recording, mixing, and mastering. However, where Ableton truly shines is in its production capabilities.

If you’re a beatmaker, electronic music producer, or composer, the synths, effects, and intuitive grid layout will probably speak to you. Underneath that surface, a great deal of advanced MIDI, sampling, and hardware integration options will let you take that next step once you start developing your skills enough to need them.

Shop now | Ableton Live


Cubase

Steinberg CubaseA production powerhouse, Cubase, much like Ableton, is extremely capable of all tasks. But the included tools that come with it are very much focused on creative production.

Industry-leading synthesizers, samplers, and drum machines, with over 2,500 instrument sounds, as well as high-grade audio and MIDI effects make this a great tool for producers looking to record vocals or guitars whilst having a range of other instruments right at their fingertips.

Shop now | Steinberg Cubase


ProTools

ProTools has long been known as the industry standard DAW. Used on countless records, Avid were the first to develop the very concept of a Digital Audio Workstation, and their experience shows.

ProTools probably has the largest learning curve of them all but shines with its fast and intuitive audio editing workflow.

This DAW includes fewer software instruments than some of the other options here, focusing more on letting you record the instruments you do have to hand, editing, mixing, and mastering.

If you want a studio for your band or a space for recording others, ProTools is the choice for you.

Shop now | AVID ProTools

Audio interfaces for guitarists

Behringer UCG102 Guitar Link

Behringer UCG102 Guitar LinkAn immediate and affordable no-frills solution, the Behringer UCG102 is probably the easiest and most cost-effective way to start recording your guitar on a budget.

Simply plug it into a USB port on your computer, plug in headphones to hear yourself playing, plug in your guitar, and hit record.

The UCG102 has no need for external power supplies either, saving you power outlets and setup time.

A clip indicator and adjustable level switch make it easy to record a clean, clear signal too.

And better still, the included software package emulates guitar amps and stompboxes.

This is perfect for letting you dial in the tone you want and record and edit your performances after.

Shop now | Behringer UCG102 Guitar Link


Zoom AMS-22

Zoom AMS-22 Audio Interface for Music and StreamingThe Zoom AMS-22 is the first fully-fledged audio interface on our list.

A two-input, two-output design makes it easy to send your sound through your studio monitors.

Its combo mic/guitar input lets you route a microphone or guitar signal, perfect for recording a DI signal, a microphone on your guitar amp, or capturing vocals for players who sing as well.

The flexibility of the inputs on offer makes it great for multi-instrumentalists, singer-songwriters, and other solo acts who only need to record one instrument at a time.

Plus, the AMS-22’s loopback functionality allows you to play backing tracks into your monitoring output, so you can play along to full songs.

Direct monitoring then gives you a latency-free playback of what you’re recording as you perform.

Shop now | Zoom AMS-22 Audio Interface


Steinberg IXO12 USB-C Audio Interface

Steinberg IXO12 USB-C Audio Interface, BlackFor guitarists seeking top-notch sound quality and flexibility in their recordings, the Steinberg IXO12 Audio Interface is perfect. Its 24-bit/192kHz audio resolution ensures that every nuance of your guitar’s tone is captured with crystal-clear precision, thanks to premium converters that optimise the analog-to-digital conversion process.

This high fidelity is crucial for guitarists who demand the utmost clarity and detail in their recordings.

The IXO12’s zero-latency monitoring allows you to hear your guitar in real-time without any delay – essential for maintaining the natural feel of your playing and making immediate adjustments during recording sessions.

The interface also boasts a Hi-Z input, perfect for connecting your guitar directly, and a Loopback function that simplifies livestreaming performances.

Its compatibility with iOS devices through the Cubasis app turns your iPhone or iPad into a portable studio, offering tremendous flexibility for recording on the go.

Shop now | Steinberg IXO12 Audio Interface


Universal Audio Volt 176

Universal Audio Volt 176 USB Audio InterfaceUniversal Audio are heavily acclaimed for their software plugins, best-in-class hardware, and high-end recording interfaces like the Apollo range. But with the Volt range, they’ve gone for a slightly different approach.

The Volt 176 focuses on simple but classic analogue circuitry to achieve a level of warmth and presence usually heard on old records.

It has a built-in 1176-inspired FET compressor that adds punch to your tone and an emulation of their 610 tube preamp for vintage colouration and presence – from the very company that makes the hardware versions of both of these units today!

Plus, this UA interface comes with Ableton Live Lite, UJAM’s Virtual Drummer and Virtual Bassist, as well as mixing tools, Melodyne for pitch-correction, a Marshall-inspired amp simulator, and an Ampeg-inspired amp simulator for bassists.

You’ll have enough software support to produce and mix entire tracks to a professional level.

Shop now | Universal Audio Volt 176 USB Audio Interface


Audient Sono

Audient Sono USB Audio Interface for GuitarThe Audient Sono is uniquely designed for guitarists and bassists, with a huge range of highly-desirable features for recording guitar and shaping your tone.

A real built-in 12AX7 valve lets you add that analogue tube saturation to your guitar, effectively emulating a power amp stage.

Its three-band analogue tone controls then let you adjust your sound just like you would on an amp. And you can record a DI and simulated amp signal simultaneously, giving you more flexibility and control over your sound later.

The Sono also features a comprehensive amp and cabinet simulation in Two Notes’ Torpedo software. This provides microphone modelling, positioning adjustment, and room acoustics simulation to add depth and space to your sound, with studio effects to add that finishing touch.

There’s also a built-in guitar output that lets you re-amp your recorded guitar signal later, so if you have a physical amp, you can send a DI back out through it whenever you want.

Shop now | Audient Sono USB Audio Interface for Guitar


Shure MVX2U Motiv Digital Audio Interface

Shure MVX2U MotivBeing a guitarist means you’ve spent a lot of time crafting your own tone using your amp and pedals, so you want to make sure that when you’re recording, you’re capturing that exact tone.

The Shure MVX2U is the perfect single-channel interface for plugging directly into your favourite microphone and effortlessly recording to your computer.

It captures guitar tones just like the Shure SM57 does; just place the microphone in front of your amp and plug in the USB cable to your computer.

The MVX2U is an XLR to USB adapter that is compatible with any XLR microphone – dynamic or condenser – and can be used with the ShurePlus MOTIV App which gives you access to features like limiter, compressor, EQ, and custom presets. So, when you get a sound you like, the next time you come to record you can just focus on getting the part right.

This is the perfect interface for easily capturing in-the-room amp tones and not having to constantly flick through thousands of digital amp presets.

Shop now | Shure MVX2U Motiv Digital Audio Interface

Final thoughts


This is just a small portion of audio interfaces that are well-suited to guitarists at a range of price points. There are many more!

As a general point, it’s a good idea to look at the available software that comes with any audio interface and see if there’s anything that lets you achieve the sounds you want. Many interfaces will include amp simulator software, pedal emulations, DAW demos, and virtual instruments.

It’s also worth looking out for interfaces that offer JFET instrument inputs, like Audient’s EVO and iD ranges. This will give you a cleaner, more accurate, and more detailed recording quality that’s great for capturing DI signals through amp simulators or re-amping them later if you have outputs on your interface and DI signals to use.

JFET instrument inputs are a good feature on more general recording interfaces, so if you’re looking to set up a home studio for your entire band, or you play multiple interfaces, this is something to look out for.

Interested in seeing if any other interfaces take your fancy? Browse our range here via the link below.

 

Content Writer - Live Sound

Callum is a former audio and music technology student who has a love of punk, rock, metal, and electronic music. In his spare time, he produces music, and DJs occasionally. He's also a freelance engineer when possible, helping local bands make their noise even noisier.

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