Which audio interface is the best choice for music production right now?
There are many different types of audio interfaces in all price ranges and each made for a specific application.
To help you make a good choice, I have selected a number of audio interfaces that I can recommend with confidence.
Here's what I advise:
Although a high-end audio interface boasts impressive capabilities, it doesn't mean that your sound will be equally impressive.
All of these audio units have their own charm, and all of them are of high-quality sound and analog circuitry.
But before we check our options, let’s take a look at what determines the price of audio interfaces.
First of all, audio interfaces are an indispensable tool for every sound engineer and musician that wants to record.
They allow you to record multiple instruments at once, and their number of both inputs and outputs is crucial for their price range.
Additionally, another thing that is important for this equipment is preamps: audio interfaces that come with high-quality preamps can really improve the quality of your recordings, especially with vocals and acoustic instruments.
Luckily, technology has advanced enough to offer both connectivity options and high-quality preamps at a low price.
Now, let’s check out the best (low-budget) audio interfaces out there!
The 18 Best Audio Interfaces of 2020 include:
RME Fireface UFX II audio interface offers good monitoring of sound.
It has low impedance (a measure of the resistance in audio interfaces).
It makes for a stronger signal.
Consumer reviews rank this audio interface as high.
Its longevity of 20 years makes it known.
Its ease of use does not keep it from producing a high quality digital sound.
It allows those musicians early in their careers to create high quality recordings.
For commercial audio production, a good basic piece of equipment for studios.
For the price, the RME Fireface UFX II gives a high level of features with a high level of usability.
Its extensive connectivity gives flexibility in recordings.
RME Fireface UFC II has become a global product, so it needs a worldwide warranty.
Other than that, a good reliable product with many features that gives more than expected for its price range.
Features listed here describe just a short summary of RME Fireface UFX II capabilities.
An audio interface with a rich sound filling your studio, integrated with remote control options and real-time effects.
It has an expensive feel and the chrome knobs just draw you in.
That’s what you get with the Antelope Discrete 8.
The vintage design infused with 26 outputs and 32 outputs is sure to hit a cord in any musicians heart.
As the name suggests, it comes with 8 console mic discreet preamps with classic gear from Lang, Gyraf Audio among others.
Thanks to the FPGA technology, latency levels are almost NIL.
The front panel conveniently, allows you to control recordings and monitor levels as you perform.
With the ability to handle a dynamic range of 121 dB, the built-in FPGA FX engine will blow your mind away with stunning effects.
And the best part?
It comes with over 50 real-time effects.
The AFX collection powers the Accusonic microphone, tube FX, and guitar amp, to name just but a few.
Did I mention the Acoustically Focused Clocking?
Now get this: it’s a 64-bit, 4th generation technology applied in world-class products like Orion, Zen, and Goliath.
The world clock lets you distribute external clock signals to other digital gear connected either through S/PDIF or ADAX.
This keeps all your gear in sync.
Discreet 8 allows expert monitoring that can be expanded up to four separate mixes with talkback mic.
This allows the engineer to customize mixes for each band member.
Sounds impressive, right?
Set up presets in seconds with the volume knobs and knobs assigned for individual headphone outputs.
Do you wish for an audio interface that doesn’t only sound good, but it looks good as well?
If that is true for you, the Apogee Symphony Desktop will certainly not disappoint you!
First of all, its sleek and modern-looking design is eye-catching, despite the overall small size of the interface.
However, the compact size allows for enhanced portability and it is perfect for musicians who like to record on the go.
In terms of sound performance, the digital signal processing of this unit makes it one of the best of its kind.
It delivers high-quality audio, and part of it is thanks to its classy preamps for your mics and instruments.
The Apogee Symphony Desktop features 2 Mic/Line inputs, a DI Instrument input, 2 monitor outputs, 2 assignable stereo headphone outputs (3.5 mm & 6.3 mm) as well as optical input/output (ADAT & S/PDIF).
The only issue is that all these features come at a pretty high price.
In short, the Apogee Symphony Desktop is mostly recommended to those who want to invest in a premium-quality compact and portable audio interface.
To be honest, no one expected this much of an improvement from MOTU.
The new release, 828s, lets you take full control with a large console-type mixing with 48 channels.
Take it for a spin and experience pure sound with the DSP effects.
This future-proof audio interface uses the highly regarded Sabre32 DAC chipset that will give you a dynamic range of 123dB and Round Trip Latency as low as 1.6 ms.
If that doesn’t convince you to replace your current interface, the following details surely will.
In addition to that, there are 8 inputs, 8 outputs, two XLR connections as the mains out, and quarter inch dedicated timecode jacks.
You can use the MOTU 828es as a standalone mixer or with a host DAW at up to 24-bit/192 kHz.
The Round Trip Latency (RTP) gives 1.6 ms over Thunderbolt and 1.9 ms over USB.
The added control room features instantly give you full control of recording sessions.
They include A/B monitor to check mixes of your connected speakers and a talk button for the built-in talkback mic.
Another interesting fact is the flexibility and convenience of the web app.
This means you can control the audio interface using any mobile device.
All in all, the touch console is what really makes controlling this audio interface fun and enjoyable.
MOTU in its signature style encased the 828s in an aluminum alloy chassis.
This makes it light to move around and durable.
Do you sometimes wish for a professional audio interface that you could easily transport from one studio to another?
I know the feeling…
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be just a dream, as the Antelope Audio Zen Tour is exactly that!
This audio interface comes at a surprisingly compact size that makes it truly portable!
However, it doesn’t sacrifice any features for being small.
On the contrary, it comes with 8 inputs (4 mic/line and 4 hi-z outputs), 8 analog outputs, 2 headphone and 2 reamp outputs, as well as digital inputs and outputs.
To top it off, it even includes built-in talkback!
In terms of sound quality, the Antelope Audio Zen Tour delivers crystal clear and transparent sound that will satisfy even the most demanding sound engineers.
Additionally, once you learn its routing system, you can configure it in any way you like, as it is particularly flexible.
The only issue we had with this device is that the built-in compressors and effects are not enough for a decent result.
In short, if portability is a must for you, then you’ll fall in love with the Antelope Audio Zen Tour!
Get ready to be blown away by a sleek studio masterpiece that gives you a converter with a 7.1 surround sound mixing support.
The Universal Audio Apollo X8 now comes with more power thanks to the HEXA Core Processor.
Whether recording or mixing, the six UAD DSP chips allows running the UAD plugins in real time.
So, what does the Apollo X8 has to offer?
Let’s look at the features in details.
Apollo X8 offers an 8-channel ADAT with S/MUX support, a 2-channel S/PDIF I/O ports and Word clock I/O through the BNC jacks.
If you're not yet convinced, the Thunderbolt 3 connection is surely a winner.
It offers more stability than FireWire or USB.
This gives you ultra-fast connectivity with near-zero latency.
Eager to know Universal Audio Apollo X8’s secret?
It’s the unison technology and elite-class AD/DA audio conversion.
Integrated with 4 Unison Mic Preamps and 8 line-level inputs, there’s an improved flexibility to connect external preamps or hardware when mixing or tracking.
This next-level design of Apollo X8 provides a wide dynamic range of 129dB and -119 dB THD+N for world-class sound quality and perfect tone.
Plus, the ability to combine up to 4 Apollos and a total of 6 UAD devices by allowing Thunderbolt users to expand their I/O and DSP.
The front panel has dedicated controls for Talkback mic, Dim or Mono functions, and Alt Speakers.
It spots dual headphone outputs and a preamp gain knob for easy adjusting and filtering.
With the UAD plugins, you don’t need separate racks of gear in your studio.
The UAD powered plugins emulate the classic audio equipment analog preamps.
The plugin bundle comes with options that allow real-time recording.
This includes Pultec EQP-1A EQ on guitars, the Fairchild 670 Compressor on drums, and Precision Reflection Equipment among others.
Keep reading for more details.
If you’ve been longing to upgrade to an audio interface that can handle any project without a single hitch, Universal Audio Apollo X8 will exceed your expectations.
The ability to expand your studio needs over Thunderbolt is astounding, to say the least.
This is a high-end professional audio converter for real professionals.
So, what makes the Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt so special?
Apogee is arguably one of the high-end manufacturers of first-class converters designed for the modern age.
Capable of adapting to every advancement in Apple computers, it sports a matte black shade that’s incorporated with buttons to give you more physical control.
The eight XLR inputs with mic preamps are an improvement of the Firewire Ensemble which used independent sockets.
It features two rotary controllers for input and output levels with bright LEDs on each.
If you think I’m exaggerating, let's take a closer look at the details.
And you know what?
You can mute the Main output and the headphone output by long pressing the output encoder.
The interface features two quarter-inch monitor outputs, two pairs optical outputs and outputs capable of handling 16 channels of ADAT signals with up to 48 kHz and eight channels of S/MUX signals up to 96 kHz.
For starters, the egornomic interface gives you two Thunderbolt ports, a BNC word clock and S/PDIF connectors for Coaxial connections.
The SMUX and ADAX signals are carried via optical connectors. The logical audio interface is engineered for simplicity in operations.
The two headphone jacks on the front panel are completely independent.
The output encoder lets you adjust the main output or one of the headphone’s outputs.
To efficiently control the Ensemble Thunderbolt, you need Apogees Maestro 2 software.
It’s free and allows you to configure all the settings and hardware inputs.
Nevertheless, the front panel gives you access to all the basic functions with an OLED display
You can use the level indicators together with the Output and Input knobs for adjusting, switching or parameter selection.
How can you resist this top-of-the-range converter?
The Ensemble Thunderbolt tremendous preamps ensure top-level sounds for audiophile enthusiasts.
This interface is easy to use and integrates the best audio components with flexible routing via the Maestro software.
No one else combines price and quality features better than Apogee.
So, go ahead and make the switch today
If your primary DAW is Cubase, then you might be looking for a highly compatible professional audio interface.
That’s why here we will take a look at the AXR4 which comes from the same company: Steinberg.
The first thing that you notice is the fact that the AXR4 comes at a size that you can easily fit into a rack.
Not only that makes your life easier, but it also allows for expansion, as you can stack up to 3 units for more inputs and outputs.
However, that doesn’t mean that a single unit doesn’t feature adequate ins and outs!
In fact, the AXR4 comes with 12 analogue inputs (4 of them feature mic preamps) as well as 8 line outputs and 2 headphone outputs.
Additionally, it features a number of digital connections such as ADAT, S/PDIF, AES/EBU, Word Clock and MIDI.
The audio quality is top-notch, as it comes with 32-bit integer audio conversion and sample rates up to 384kHz. Plus, the build quality is solid and ensures durability.
On the downside, the interface doesn’t feature a Thunderbolt cable, so you need to get it yourself.
To sum up, the Steinberg AXR4 is a must for professional sound engineers.
Atlas line of products has improved distinctly with the release of Prism Sound Atlas.
If you're looking for the go-to audio interface that's sumptuous, with high-resolution audio quality, you’ll never go wrong with this system.
What makes this interface more interesting is the focus Atlas has put into the research of audio quality conversion.
The end result is reliable and precise converters that require minimal tweaking.
Furthermore, you can expect very low noise and distortion levels.
Yearning to learn more about this state-of-the-art system? Here are the main features.
The inclusion of the MDIO cards enables a variety of expansion options such as connection to an alternative host.
This means you can use Pro Tools | HDX interface and AES3 multichannel.
This flexibility makes Atlas a future-proof digital interface, expected to allow other options such as Thunderbolt.
And, guess what?
Prism Sound Atlas comes with Verifile.
If you're familiar with missed or repeated samples, random clicks, or channel swapping, Verifile is the solution.
It ensures reliability during high-resolution recording that is normally not easy to achieve with a computer's OS.
The use of USB2 interface makes for easy connection for Mac, Windows, Linux among other OS.
Apart from using the front panel to configure specific settings, it comes with a Controller application to control the unit over software.
To top it off, Atlas offers a maximum recording capability of up to 18 input and output channels concurrently, including stereo headphones.
The digital I/O ports support ADAT and S/PDIF formats.
Additionally, the Prism Sound “Overkill” Limiter feature available on all analog inputs catches fast transients.
Now, let's find out the pros and cons of Atlas.
Without a doubt, Prism Sound Atlas is a professional-level studio interface that provides the flexibility and configurability of its kind.
Whether you're a musician, a sound engineer, a songwriter or vocalist, you can expect top-of-the-range audio quality with this system.
You haven’t heard the real power of sound if you haven’t sampled HD I/O.
This is a premium Audio interface for Pro Tools HD systems capable of high-level performances even in the most demanding studio requirements.
Redesigned with top-of-the-line audio production in mind, Avid eliminated the need for clipping while you track hotter with the soft clip feature.
By integrating the “Curv,” you can smooth out inconsistent sound levels from incoming sources.
This is a major sonic upgrade from previous versions.
And, that’s not even half of what you can expect from this sound beast.
With audio fidelity that sounds out-of-the-world, the HD I/O has an extended dynamic range and unrivaled AD/DA conversion for ultra-low latency.
The HD I/O gives you three configuration options to adapt to your connection needs.
Believe it or not, the Avid | HD I/O is a major facelift of the 192 I/O.
It overshadows most high-end audio interfaces in terms of power and pristine sound.
The sleek design and the option to expand are added advantages that you can rarely get within audio interfaces of this range.
Admittedly, Apogee Electronics has decided to give us a taste of the future with the re-designed Symphony MK II.
Don’t be fooled by its size.
The solid chassis houses the greatest AD/DA technology out there.
Here's the kicker.
The front panel features an intuitive touchscreen where you can access all the settings including headphone output levels, clock, and configuration settings.
You can virtually control every parameter or calibration via specific gestures.
This is a flagship audio-interface for professional engineers, songwriter, and producers.
The superior modules and the dynamic temperature control ensure nonstop marvelous sound without the fear of overheating.
Achieve connectivity through three interface platforms namely Pro Tools or Waves SoundGrid or built-in Thunderbolt.
So, what makes Symphony I/O MK II so special?
The only physical buttons you can expect are the power button and a large rotary encoder placed at the center.
The Symphony MK II offers you four base configurations – 2x6, 8x8, 16x16, and 8x8 with 8 mic pre-amps that’s easy to expand to meet the needs of your studio.
And another thing, latency is at a super low 1.35mS. Combined with the flexibility of the I/O configurations, each unit can comfortably expand up to 32 channels, concurrently.
This means less rack gear with a single Symphony MK II.
The preamps use differential op-amps to control noise and distortion.
High pass filters, polarity, and phantom power allow an 85dB gain range with 1dB adjustable increments from the Maestro software.
So what does this all mean?
The decision to include the touchscreen in the design was a superb idea.
The LCD panel is easy to read and the headphone amplifiers will blow you away.
The Symphony MK II combines luxury and unmatched performance to deliver clarity and astounding sound quality.
Do you think you can handle such an elegant audio interface?
Lynx has been in the game for over 20 years now and one thing that sets them apart is consistency in building top-of-the-line audio converters.
Needless to say, the new Aurora(n) is no exception.
With a myriad of connections through their LSlot technology, you get plenty of connectivity options including Thunderbolt, Pro Tools | HD, USB, and Dante.
So, what does the new Aurora(n) series bring to the table?
Lynx Aurora(n) is a next-generation upgrade.
Integrated with SynchroLock-2 jitter reduction, the clock output is super clean.
And, for the fastest computer connection, it comes with LT-TB Thunderbolt port.
Through the front panel, you can easily access all the major controls, plus an LCD screen for stereo or multichannel metering.
There are two headphone jacks, each controlled separately.
Additionally, there are Play and Record buttons which control a built-in SD card slot.
This ensures you don’t miss any recording session!
With the 32 channel mixer, you have a lot of routing and mixing options.
Think of it this way: you can pan if you select 16 mono channels.
Or you could decide to have 10 mono channels and 6 stereo channels.
Alternatively, if you select 16 stereo channels, you cannot pan.
With the LSlot technology, you can connect your Aurora(n) to Mac or Windows PC or use it as a standalone AD/DA converter via Dante, DigiLink, among other connections.
This means your system is future-proof.
A simple update of the LSlot card will bring you up to speed with the current interface.
What's more, the unit comes with a built-in power supply and a single chassis capable of hosting up to 6 modules.
Using one such module, the AI08E, you can use a patchbay with DB25 connectors which will provide 8 line-level inputs and outputs.
In essence, Aurora(n) is a masterpiece of simplicity and pure sound clarity.
With pro-level transparency, zero compromises on performance, and the SD card recording function, this should be a top priority for any artist, sound engineer, or musician looking for a quality audio interface.
Are you looking for a really inexpensive audio interface for beginners?
Then the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2 is the right pick for you! Featuring 2 combo XLR/line inputs, it makes stereo recordings easy! Plus, it comes with 48V of phantom power as well as zero-latency monitoring.
It features a big volume knob on top of the interface that is easy to reach, along with meters that allow you to check your recording levels at a glance. Overall, the design is both sleek and ergonomic.
The knobs and controls of this sound card are simple enough to make it intuitive to record and suitable for starters.
Additionally, it is a real bang for the buck and thus recommended for those who want to give recording at home a try.
The only disadvantage of this audio interface is the compact size.
Don’t get me wrong, it makes it very portable! On the other side, it is quite easy to drop it off the table, as it is lightweight and small.
The battle for the smartest and most competitively priced audio interface is far from over. This time by Audient, which appears on the battlefield with the compact budget-friendly EVO 4.
It comes with a clean and neat design, featuring two inputs and two outputs, along with high-quality preamps that will boost your signal.
A headphone output will help you with close monitoring, along with its direct monitor function.
What we really liked about this audio interface is the fact that the dials are on top, making it easy to reach them even when you are holding your guitar.
Plus, the multifunctional large rotary control makes control even more intuitive.
The build quality of the Evo 4 is robust, ensuring durability. The compact size allows it to be carried wherever you like, adding even more to its value.
Unfortunately, MIDI connectivity is not included and you might want to look elsewhere if your MIDI device does not have a USB cable.
This handy audio interface fits right into your guitar case.
It's bus-powered, so it's just a matter of connecting it to your laptop, plugging it in, setting the volume control with Smartgain, and do your thing.
So it's not about the technique, but about being able to capture the musical moment as quickly as possible.
And the fact that this box also produces an excellent sound, makes the EVO 4 really a formidable competitor if you want something sturdy, cheap, and reliable!
You might be familiar with Steinberg because of Cubase: this audio software has been very popular with musicians.
However, Steinberg is also really good at making audio hardware, such as the Steinberg UR22C.
This compact audio interface comes with 2 line/XLR inputs at the front, direct monitoring, two line outputs and monitor mix control.
Although these are pretty common features for a decent budget-friendly audio interface, Steinberg also included MIDI ports and a mono switch to top it off!
The Steinberg UR22C is very easy to control, making it really suitable for beginners in audio recording.
The compact size allows it to be carried everywhere and the solid build quality ensures that it will not break down easily.
This audio interface ships with a light version of Cubase, which is another thing that makes it highly recommended to those who are just starting out. A small selection of VSTs is also included.
The only problem?
Some users have experienced malfunctions such as delay, so make sure that it is compatible with your computer before you buy it.
The Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 has been very popular with musicians and chances are that you have seen it in many home studios.
After all, its sleek and modern-looking design with the characteristic red colour is hard to forget!
Now in its 3rd generation, this audio interface comes with two inputs, phantom power and its famous high-end preamps that musicians have embraced from the previous versions of this interface.
The additional “air” function adds more mids and highs, in case you need more detail for your vocals and acoustic instruments.
Are you still not convinced?
This audio interface also includes MIDI inputs and outputs, along with bundles of plugins and audio software that allow you to easily connect your MIDI instruments and start playing.
On the downside, certain parameters such as direct monitoring have to be changed through the computer, which makes it a little annoying, as it could have featured physical buttons.
The SSL 2+ is a high-quality audio interface made by Solid State Logic. It comes with a pretty intuitive interface that makes it easy for beginners in sound recording.
The SSL 2+ comes with two mic/line/instrument inputs, as well as four line outputs (both jack and RCA) and two headphone outputs.
Although the connectivity might be a little limited, it allows for a compact and portable audio interface that is easy to carry around.
It is powered via USB so that you don’t need to worry about distance from plugs. All you need is a connection to your computer!
Are you worried about its life expectancy if you plan to bring it with you everywhere?
There is no reason to worry!
Its build quality is very sturdy, ensuring durability.
In addition to that, the SSL 2+ has a sleek and modern-looking appearance that makes it also pleasing to the eyes.
What about an audio interface that both looks good and does the job?
The Babyface Pro FS does exactly that!
With its compact, sleek, and modern design, it will be a great addition to the overall appearance of your home studio!
Regarding its performance, this audio interface shines in providing you with a variety of inputs to choose from.
The Babyface Pro FS comes with 4 analog mic/line inputs, as well as optical inputs that include ADAT and SPDIF.
However it doesn’t stop there: not only it offers a great amount of inputs, but it comes with four outputs, as well as two independent headphone outputs that allow you to monitor everything along with a friend or colleague.
Additionally, it offers MIDI compatibility, so that you can easily connect your MIDI devices.
The only problem is that all these features come at a price that is pretty high compared to the previous audio interfaces we checked out.
The creme "de la creme" is what I call these Audio Interfaces.
I am so stoked writing about these beautiful beasts. These prices are not for the faint of heart and should only be purchased if they get a special spot within your heart and life.
Unless you have endless amounts of money and you want a super toy to junk around with be my guest.
I will come and visit you! Also check out: (Top 10 best USB audio interface LOW BUDGET)
I hope you've got a good taste of these high-end products, and if you like it you can share or comment.