Music Gear News
Top 10 Audio Interfaces
Top 10 Audio Interfaces
Audio Interfaces turn your computer into a music studio. They allow you to connect instruments, microphones, speakers, and other musical equipment. Here’s our top 10, with a focus on home users!
An audio interface is the bridge between your computer and other musical equipment. Computers aren’t inherently designed for microphones, instruments, and music gear, so audio interfaces expand your computer’s capability by allowing you to connect more musical equipment.
Whether you’re podcasting, recording instruments, producing music, or streaming online, an audio interface is an essential piece of gear. Read on to see some of the best audio interfaces at different budgets. We’re focussing on more compact interfaces – ideal for being creative at home.
Perfect for podcasting, streaming online, and making music! The Tascam US-42 MiNiSTUDIO lets you plug in two microphones or instruments, so you can talk, sing, and play music directly into your computer.
Podcasters and gamers will appreciate the high-quality onboard effects, voice effects, and clear “On Air” mute button. You’ll also find 3 trigger pads for adding instant sound cues that you’d hear on the radio.
A built-in mic means you can get started straight out the box, while the free control software lets you customise your sound effects and triggers, as well as accessing a special CREATOR mode for video and music creation.
Shop now | Tascam US-42 MiNiSTUDIO
Also available | Tascam US-42 Podcasting Bundle with everything you need to podcast from your computer!
See more | Tascam Audio Interfaces
A dual-input audio interface designed for solo musicians, vloggers, podcasters, and more. This sleek interface is designed to look great on your desk - plug in a microphone or instrument and monitor your sound clearly with the LED VU meters.
The Komplete Audio 1 comes with free bundled KOMPLETE START software, featuring software synths, instruments, and effects from the revered Native Instruments KOMPLETE collection. You’ll also get MASCHINE ESSENTIALS – NI’s ultimate groovebox – and a copy of Ableton Live 10 Lite to start producing music at home.
Buy before 4th May 2020 and claim a free copy of Guitar Rig Pro 5 software (worth 179 GBP), so you can plug in your guitar and access studio-ready tones in an instant!
- Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2 (with dual mic/instruments combi inputs)
- Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 (with 6 inputs and outputs)
See more | Native Instruments
Focusrite is extremely well-regarded for studio microphone preamps, with a long history of professional use. You can get some of that premium mic preamp technology in the Scarlett Solo audio interface with the special ‘Air’ mode, which mimics the renowned ISA microphone preamp. 1 microphone and 1 instrument input make this interface ideal for solo producers, musicians, and podcasters. You’ll also get a suite of music-making software including Ableton Live Lite.
Shop now | Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen)
- Focusrite Scarlett Solo Studio (3rd Gen) – a complete studio recording bundle
- Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) – featuring 2 microphone preamps
See more | Focusrite Audio Interfaces
With twin combi inputs, you can choose to capture two microphones, two instruments, two line-level sources, or any combination of two sources. The Studio 26C is a great-looking interface with clear visual sound monitoring and almost unrivalled sound quality at 24-bit/192kHz. If you’re using microphones, you’ll be guaranteed a pristine sound with Presonus’ XMAS Class A preamps. USB-C connectivity ensure a lightning-fast connection to your computer, while the included Studio One Artist software allows you to make music, straight out the box.
Shop now | Presonus Studio 26C Audio Interface
Also available | Presonus 68C Audio Interface – with 4 microphone inputs
Audient’s iD14 may be compact, but it doesn’t skimp on audio quality. The iD14 includes Burr Brown’s A/D converters for incredible audio (Burr Brown are class-leaders in converter technology with a wealth of experience in analog console design). This interface has two mic/line combi inputs, plus an extra D.I. input for instruments. The iD14 also comes complete with Audient’s ARC 2.0 – a hub of software featuring Two Notes’ Wall of Sound (WOS) guitar plugin, free DAW software from Steinberg, and much more.
With its premium converters, DI input, and free WOS software, this interface is perfect for guitarists at home. Fantastic mic preamps and pristine audio makes it ideal for producers too, as well as podcasters, songwriters, and more. This compact unit is seriously talented.
- Audient iD44 Audio Interface – 4 mic preamps, 2 DI inputs, extra optical connections and more.
- Audient Sono USB – purpose-built for guitarists and bassists.
See more | Audient Interfaces
A fantastic hub for producers, DJs and musicians with superior 32-bit/192kHz audio quality. Twin mic/line combi inputs feature studio-grade D-Pre microphone preamps, while an additional 2 line inputs and 4 outputs are ideal for getting fully connected.
Live streaming or broadcasting is made easy with a “Loopback” function which blends together computer audio with microphone/instrument audio. You can also utilise the onboard effects such as reverb. DJ’s will appreciate the “DJ Mode” which allows you to split audio and cues to different ears of your headphones.
With free Cubase AI DAW software plus free plugins (including Guitar Amp Classics), the UR24C is perfect for musicians, podcasters, producers, and DJs.
Shop now | Steinberg UR24C USB 3 Audio Interface
- Steinberg UR44C Interface - 4 mic preamps.
- Steinberg UR816C Interface – rackmount with 8 mic preamps.
See more | Steinberg Audio Interfaces
SSL are world-renowned for studio mixing consoles. This interface is inspired by the SSL4000 series console, both in looks and sounds. If you want a compact audio interface with two mic preamps, but you also want the premium audio quality of a studio-grade mixing desk, look no further. 24-bit/192kHz audio fidelity brings clean sound and dynamic range to your productions, while dual SSL mic preamps ensure exceptional nuance. A special “Legacy 4k” mode adds sparkle and is perfect for vocal takes.
You’ll also get the SSL Production pack with plugins, music making software, loops, and samples, not to mention how fantastic this interface will look sitting on your desk with its console-inspired design.
Shop now | SSL 2+ 2-Channel USB Audio Interface
Also available | SSL 2 2-Channel USB Audio Interface – slightly fewer output connections for a reduced price-tag!
When you buy a Universal Audio interface, you’ll be joining an ecosystem of incredible plugins and premium studio hardware. No matter which UA interface you buy, you’ll give your computer the capability of producing true studio-grade productions.
The Arrow interface itself has pristine 24-bit/192kHz UA converters for huge dynamic range and nuance, while Unison mic preamps capture the detail of your microphones and instruments.
The Arrow interface takes some of the processing load away from your computer with Real-time UAD processing: the result is near-zero latency monitoring when recording and the ability to use even more of UAD’s acclaimed plugins. The Arrow includes a free collection of plugins for studio effects and guitar amp simulations, and you’ll have access to the award-winning UAD plugin library.
Shop now | Universal Audio Arrow Thunderbolt Interface
Also available | Universal Audio Arrow and Rode NT1-A Recording Pack
If you’re a Mac user, you can now also get UA’s own LUNA recording system software, free of charge! Read more about Universal Audio LUNA here.
Read our guide Why Universal Audio Audio Interfaces?
As with the UA Arrow above, this Universal Audio interface gives you premium Unison mic preamps, additional processing to share the load with your computer, and access to the award-winning UA plugin library. The Twin X QUAD differs in that it has powerful UAD-2 QUAD Core processing for even faster performance, and an even sleeker desktop design. You’ll get a plethora of free plugins included too, and you can easily connect up to 4 Thunderbolt Apollos or six UAD-2 devices should you wish to expand your home setup.
Also available | Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Duo MkII, Thunderbolt – twin-core DUO processor but otherwise the same interface as the Twin X Quad
Read our guide Why Universal Audio Audio Interfaces?
The RME Fireface offers 4 mic preamps in a rack format. This is a perfect amount for a fully featured home studio, but you’ll also find a hugely expanded range of inputs/outputs courtesy of line-ins, ADAT (optical), and AES/EBU. Should you need to expand your home setup to a fully-fledged studio, you’ll be ready to go.
RME is a master of producing rock-solid studio equipment, and if you require absolute minimal latency and professional routing, you’ll love RME’s TotalMix FX software and proprietary drivers. The RME Fireface 802 is uncompromising in sound, stability and ultra-low latency operation, and offers an unrivalled professional feature set with identical operation on Windows PC and Mac.
Also available | RME Babyface Audio Interface – super compact desktop interface but still featuring RME’s supreme audio quality and conversion
See more | RME USB Audio Interfaces
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