Top 10 Best Audio Interfaces for Music Production and Recording 2020
In today’s multifaceted era of music, compositions are mostly created on both computers and laptops. Whether you use Mac or PC however, having an audio interface is pretty much a necessity in the world of music production today.
This amazing device essentially helps you to get the best quality of audio both in and outside of your computer.
It also allows for your computer to connect and interface with a slew of different devices including, speakers, studio monitors, external instruments, headphones, microphones, drum machines and more.
So, the big question is? How do you choose the right audio interface for you? Which ones do I chose from? Well the answer is as simple as reading our blog below!
In this article we will detail all you need to know in regards to choosing the best audio interface to suit your music production needs, as well as our own personal recommendations of our 10 best audio interfaces you can purchase right now.
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How to Choose the Best Audio Interface for You:
When trying to decide what’s the best audio interface for you some things you first want to consider are, the number of inputs and outputs you will need for your respective studio setup.
If you are simply recording one artist at a time or one instrument like a guitar, then 1 or 2 inputs should be perfect. However, if it is your goal to record a live band with drums, many vocalists, guitars, etc., then you will need more inputs.
Quarter inch XLR cables are more often than not what you will see as far as inputs on an audio interface. Sometimes this is even converted into combo connectors so you can connect synths, keyboards, guitars, and microphones into the same input jack. Most audio interfaces also have 48V phantom power as well to power microphones that need power like condenser mics.
Most current audio interfaces these days connect to your computer via USB or Thunderbolt connections. It is important that you make sure to look at your personal computer and see the type of connection it has before purchasing an audio interface as well.
USB-C connections are also starting to pop-up on audio interfaces now as well, with adapters available to make it compatible with older USB computers.
It may also be in your best interest to make sure the audio interface you choose is compatible with both PC and MAC operating software systems. Whether that is Windows 10 or IOS. Many of the higher end audio interfaces also offer low latency while recording to give you the best possible audio in time for your musical works.
"Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission."
The Audiofuse by Arturia is a very sleek and compact audio interface that works with both PC, Mac, and other IOS devices. Despite its small stature, the Audiofuse has plenty of options in regards to plug and play connectivity. Along the front of the unit, you will find two independent headphone jacks with both ¼ inch and mini jack hookups, as well as some combi inputs.
Alongside the back of the unit there are outputs for two pairs of studio monitors. SPDIF and ADAT in and out ports as well as MIDI in and out ports. The interface also contains audio inserts to allow you to track through analog EQs and Compressors.
Connection wise the interface uses USB 2 and also houses a built in USB hub to help with extra connectivity issues. While the Audiofuse is a bit pricey at right under $600, it is still a great option to explore with above average internal preamps.
The PreSonus Audio Box is an affordable alternative in the audio interface game, weighing in right at $100. The Box boasts two mic/line inputs as well as two mic/instruments inputs. Connection wise it uses USB and supports sample rates up to 96 khz.
The dual channel design allows you to record both a mic and instrument at the same time. The onboard mixer also allows you to get the best balance between your input and audio playback as well. Though a cheaper option, this is still a great tool, especially for the new producer just starting out.
Steinberg has stepped up their game and made some massive improvements to their UR audio interfaces. The UR now have added USB Type- C connectivity as well as DSP improvements that have made any latency issues of the past no longer an issue when monitoring.
The Interface itself has two inputs and two outputs. Included onboard is also some balanced Neutrik combo inputs, each of which contain Yamaha’s D-PRE mic preamps and two balanced line outputs. The design is also built tough for travel as it is enclosed in a metal casing. At just under $190, this is definitely a viable option.
The Komplete Audio 2 interface is a perfect addition to the arsenal. Especially if you already use Native Instruments products. The interface has a two input, two output design with inline line/mic/instrument inputs. There is also a selector switch that allows you to switch between line and instrument inputs.
Other notable feature is 48V phantom power that can be engaged globally through one switch. A large level dial controls the main output next to the phantom power, input, and USB meters and indicators. At a price point of around $139 this audio interface is absolutely a great buy for its value.
6. SSL 2+
The SSL 2+ boasts the classic “SSL sound” delivered in an affordable option and it definitely doesn’t disappoint. For the price point, this is a great way to get that classic sound heard on countless hit records.
An upgrade to the SSL 2, the SSL 2+ adds two more outputs on the 2 in, 2 out MIDI, another independent headphone out, and an incredible 4K button which adds some high-end air and presence to the mix. Some secret sauce if you will.
The interface also contains two combi/mic inputs with Hi-Z options that allow one to switch between instruments like keyboards and guitars with ease. 48V phantom power is also available on board to use microphones like condensers. With so much top-notch value for the price, this audio interface is highly recommended.
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The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 has got to be one of the most common audio interfaces I see both music producers and musicians alike using today, and for good reason. Coined “The bestselling USB audio interface in the world”, its cheap price and abundance in volume definitely helps.
The Scarlett is simple enough with two mic/line/instrument inputs and two outputs that support sample rates up to 192khz. With the 3rd addition Focusrite has reportedly added what they call their “Air Circuit” to the preamps of this model.
They have also re-engineered the inputs to have the hottest pickups as well. Last but not least, the interface boasts super low latency, allowing you to monitor your mixes through native plugins in real time. At $160, this is a great starter for any music producer or musician.
4. Audient ID14
I have personally used this interface for quite some time, and let me say as far as mobile on the go audio interfaces, it is immaculate. Audient, known for their high-end consoles, has bought that sound and more into this small interface at an affordable price.
The Audient ID14 is a 2-channel input and output device, with an optical ADAT port that enables you to expand the number of inputs and outputs if need be. The device itself is bus powered, however it will need to be plugged in to allow the use of phantom 48V power for microphones that need it. The preamps on this model sound just incredible as the ones in Audient’s expensive consoles. For around $300, this is definitely a solid tool for the job.
The Duet by Apogee I must say has definitely been a favorite of mine for quite some time. Their pristine preamps have been something of legend for a while as well as their D/A and A/D converters.
The interface features 2 inputs and 4 outputs to add a secondary set of speakers. It is also compatible all with Mac, PC, and IOS devices. The included breakout cable also has 2 XLR/TRS combo inputs and 2 TRS outputs. Its USB connected with a color OLED display for instant level feedback. The audio interface also uses the new Maestro 2 software which is included with purchase.
The Duet 2 by Apogee is a straight go to in my opinion for not only mobile A-list setups but stationary setups as well given the amount of recording you do. Coming in at around $650, it's definitely worth its weight.
Antelope has come on the scene in the last few years and put out some really great audio products. The latest audio interface is their Audio Zen Tour model. The interface is very compact compared to all the functions it offers, and the workflow is amazing. The onboard touchscreen is small, but allows you to access all the basic features of the unit. These include headphone levels, talkback levels, and input gains.
Along the front of the unit are 2 re-amping outputs, 4 Hi Z/line, and 2 headphone outs all supported by ¼ inch jacks. On the back of the unit are 2 pairs of ¼ inch monitor outputs, 4 dual XLR/1/4 inch inputs, and 8 analog DB25 outs. Additionally, it has 2 SPDIF ins and outs and both USB and Thunderbolt connections. On the left-hand side are 2 pairs of ADAT in and out connections.
Once connected, the Antelope Audio Zen Tour offers an incredible operating software. It has amazing amplifier emulations covering everything from new to vintage amp models. It also has a slew of its own EQ’s and Compressors that sound pristine.
Though this audio interface is a bit pricey at around $1500, it will most certainly be the last audio interface you may need to buy.
The Apollo Twin by UAD is quite the amazing piece of hardware when it comes to audio interfaces. I personally own this piece of hardware and when I’m on the go I never leave home without it. The interface has 2 inputs and 6 outputs with recording capabilities up to 192khz. It connects via Thunderbolt and also needs to be plugged into the wall to be powered up. Along the front is a ¼ inch headphone jack to monitor incoming signals.
One notable feature is the DSP option that comes in Solo, Duo, or Quad options. This allows for the Unison preamps to have latency free recording and tracking through UAD's glorious plugins.
The most amazing part of this audio interface is its seamless integration with UAD’s console software that allows you to interface with Universal Audio’s world renown plugins. With no latency recording you are now able to record with no lag as if you are actually using analog hardware.
Plus, you get a few free Universal Audio plugins when you purchase this audio interface as well. To me this is as good as it gets. At $800 this audio interface is worth every penny.
What are some of your favorite Audio Interfaces for Music Production and Recording, and why? Did your favorite make our list? Comment below!
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