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Best Audio Interface for Garageband

With all its capabilities, Garageband is a very powerful DAW. However, to be able to connect microphones and musical instruments to record into it, you’re going to need an audio interface.

Interfaces are equipment, usually with a USB connection, that will speak directly to your music recording software. They feature different numbers of inputs and outputs, depending on the particular model.

In this article, we bring you a roundup of 7 products to decide what is the best audio interface for Garageband. Keep reading for more insight.

What We’ve Considered for this Product Roundup

In this roundup, we reviewed audio interfaces for every kind of appliance. However, we decided to favor portability as our most important factor since there’s also a version of Garageband for iPhone/iPad, and most users of the DAW tend to prefer portable options that can be used both in iOS and Mac OS.

Other points that we took into account include: overall quality, preamp quality, number of inputs and outputs and building quality.

Our Top Picks

Apogee One - Audio Interface for Vocals and Instruments

Best Overall Audio Interface for GarageBand – Apogee One

We tested 7 products and found the Apogee One to be the best audio interface for GarageBand.

The Apogee One is our top pick for the best overall audio interface for GarageBand. It is compact, intuitive to use and has one of the best designs in the list. Plus, it is so portable that it will even fit in a pocket.

IK Multimedia iRig Pro

Best Portable Audio Interface for iPhone and iPad – IK Multimedia iRig Pro

One of the best audio interfaces on the list, the iRig Pro is synonymous with portability. You can use this interface with GarageBand in both your Mac and iPhone/iPad devices easily. It also leaves nothing to be desired to other interfaces.

USB Audio Interface for Recording

Best Budget Audio Interface for Garageband – M-Audio M-Track Solo

The M-Audio M-Track Solo is our budget pick. One of the best USB audio interface when it comes to ease of use, the M-Track is a basic choice for those beginners and songwriters who are looking for their first audio interface on a budget.

Keep Reading

Below, we will cover in detail what are the points we’ve taken into account when making our tests to find out the best audio interfaces for GarageBand, as well as give you some useful insight on how to choose the right audio interface for your use-case.

To see more products of that kind, have a look at our Best Audio Interface article.

Our Top pick

12 Best Audio Interface for Garageband Reviewed in Detail

Table of Contents

  1. Focusrite iTrack Solo
  2. IK Multimedia iRig Pro
  3. Apogee One
  4. Donner Livejack Lite
  5. Behringer UMC22
  6. Audient EVO 4
  7. M-Audio M-Track Solo

#1 Focusrite iTrack Solo

Focusrite Itrack Solo Audio Interface

The Focusrite iTrack Solo has all the features you would expect from an audio interface in a compact case. This particular model has both lightning and USB connection, so you can use it with Garageband on your iPhone/iPad and Mac.

Product Specifications

  • One XLR Input
  • One Instrument Input
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • Headphone Output
  • Direct Monitor Switch
  • Stereo Balanced Line Outputs

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • This interface is very well-built, the external metal casing feels very sturdy.
  • As it features both a lightning and a USB cable connection, you will be able to use it both with your iPhone/iPad and Mac.
  • Features +48V phantom power for use with condenser mics, a functionality that is sometimes ignored in portable units.
  • Comes with a bunch of additional software including Novation Bass Station Plugin and 2GB of Loopmasters samples.
  • The preamp sounds very good for a device that small.

Cons

  • The XLR input is not a combo one like it is in the majority of interfaces nowadays.

Conclusion // Verdict

The iTrack Solo is for sure one of our favorites. You can easily plug it in to your iPhone, iPad or Mac and start recording without any hassle. Plus, the sturdy building will make you able to bring your audio interface anywhere without having to worry about damaging it.

However, we didn’t like the fact that the XLR input is not a combo style one, like it is in most modern audio interfaces. You know, it would be nice to have an additional instrument input, just in case.

#2 IK Multimedia iRig Pro

IK Multimedia iRig Pro

The iRig Pro is so small, yet so functional, that we had to review it. It is impressive that IK Multimedia was able to fit so many different features such as optional DC power supply and MIDI in/out inside this tiny audio interface.

Product Specifications

  • One Combo XLR Mic/Instrument Input
  • Built-In MIDI Interface with MIDI In/Out
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • Headphones Output with Volume Control
  • Lightning and USB Cable Connectivity
  • Optional DC Power Supply
  • iPhone/iPad Functionality

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • It is the most portable option on the list and one of the smallest interfaces in the market.
  • It is very impressive for a device that small to feature a MIDI input and output. That’s something not so common.
  • The audio interface is very easy to use. It features only two basic controls: the gain knob and monitoring volume. This will help beginners as they will only need to plug in the device and start recording.
  • The DC Power Supply port in the back of the device will serve to charge your mobile device while you record.

Cons

  • This audio interface doesn’t have a very good building quality. Everything is made out of plastic.

Conclusion // Verdict

The iRig Pro is one of the smallest audio interfaces you will find on the market. You can even carry it in your pocket. And it is impressive that no functionality features were set aside in favor of the portability.

A turn off for us with this audio interface was the building quality. It is totally made out of plastic so it may feel a little cheap. As its main quirk is being portable, a more durable material should’ve been used in your opinion. Still, it is a very good choice.

#3 Apogee One

Apogee One

The Apogee One audio interface design, at least on us, caused a very good first impression. Put aside a silver Macbook, it would look at home. Another point where it differs from the majority of audio interfaces is with the connection style: the XLR and instrument input are fed into the Apogee One through a dedicated external cable.

Product Specifications

  • One XLR Input
  • One Instrument Input
  • Master Volume Dial
  • Breakout Cable
  • Built-In Condenser Microphone
  • Headphone Output
  • Stereo Analog Line Outputs
  • Lightning and USB Connectivity

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • The XLR and instrument input are fed into the audio interface via a breakout cable. This may keep some cables from getting in the way while recording.
  • This is probably one of the few audio interfaces that features a built-in condenser mic. We’ve never seen this before. And yes, the quality of the mic is pretty good for a device so small.
  • The design is one of the best in the market. The aluminum chassis will match the color of a silver Mac device perfectly.

Cons

  • We found the price to be a little high, considering you can find options with more features at around the same price tag.

Conclusion // Verdict

The Apogee One looks amazing and is made for those who favor a great design and minimalism, as well as portability. The aluminum look will fit any home studio or recording setup very well.  And for a device that small, it has some pretty good features.

There are options with more features for the same price tag, however, we understand that there are other factors that impact the price of the product, such as the amazing building quality and design. So it is a matter of priorities.

#4 Donner Livejack Lite

Donner Livejack Lite

The Donner Livejack Lite is a small USB audio interface that looks very well designed. The company has just recently started making audio interfaces, even though Donner was already in the music market for quite some time. We found a lot of positive feedback regarding this product so we’ve decided to review this unit.

Product Specifications

  • One XLR Combo Input
  • One Instrument Input
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • Headphone Output
  • Stereo TRS Outputs
  • USB Connectivity

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • We can’t ignore the fact that the color chosen for this audio interface looks very nice and original. The external building material seems very durable as well.
  • The DYNA preamp sounds very good in our tests. We found it to be one of the best sounding preamps on the list. Sounds very bright.
  • The built-in headphone amplifier is also more powerful than the ones present on most audio interfaces at this price range.

Cons

  • The audio interface seems to get a little hot with prolonged use.

Conclusion // Verdict

The Donner Livejack Lite works great for the price. It brings nothing new to the table regarding features, but seems to be a valid option for those looking for a basic USB audio interface. The only downfall would be that you can’t connect this audio interface to your iPhone or iPad without using a parallel adapter.

#5 Behringer UMC22

Behringer UMC22

Behringer is a manufacturer known for its budget audio products. This is their entry-level USB audio interface. There is a lot of debate regarding whether it is on-par with other models in the same price-range, so we’ve decided to see for ourselves.

Product Specifications

  • One XLR Combo Input
  • One Instrument Input
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • Headphone Output
  • Stereo Line Outputs

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • At a price around $50, it is one of the most affordable audio interfaces out there.
  • It offers impressively low latency monitoring when recording. This is a strong pro since latency is one of the biggest issues when it comes to digital audio recording.
  • It is bundled with more than 150 virtual instruments and FX plugins you can use with GarageBand.

Cons

  • The building quality seems a little cheap, especially on the front and the back. The rest of the chassis seems great though.
  • It can only record 16 BIT audio. Most of the other options can record in 24 BIT for optimal sound quality.

Conclusion // Verdict

The Behringer UMC22 is a simple audio interface for beginners and songwriters who are looking for their first unit and don’t need a lot of extra features. Overall, the sound quality is great and we didn’t find any significant issues. For a price-range, it is a pretty functional unit. That’s probably the best you will find for a budget audio interface.               

#6 Audient EVO 4

Audient EVO 4

The Audient EVO 4 is one of the most well-designed portable interfaces in the list. Its buttons and controls look very simple and straight to the point. Unlike the majority of audio interfaces on the list, Audient managed to fit three inputs in a device that small. That was a huge plus for us when reviewing the product.

Product Specifications

  • Two Combo XLR Inputs
  • One Instrument Input
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • Headphone Jack
  • Stereo Balanced Outputs

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • This unit features more inputs than most other options at the same size and price-tag.
  • Audient’s EVO mic preamps is one of the best sounding pres in the market of entry-level audio interfaces. We’ve tested the Audient iD4 MKII interface in another article and had the same impression.
  • The single-block construction looks incredible. The controls are very intuitive to use.

Cons

  • Even though the unit is well-designed visually, it seems very fragile and couldn’t be safely carried in a bag without an extra case.
  • The headphone jack output is a little weak and won’t drive higher-impedance headphones.

Conclusion // Verdict

For us, this is one one the best audio interfaces when it comes to portability. There are some negative points such as the fragility of the unit, but this is compensated by its ease of use and the number of features Audient was able to fit in an interface that is so small. The EVO 4 will work nicely for anyone who’s looking for a simple and basic audio interface.

#7 M-Audio M-Track Solo

M-Audio M-Track Solo

M-Audio is one of the most trusted brands when it comes to small, entry-level audio interfaces. The M-Track Solo is a very compact unit designed for those looking for a simple audio interface with professional features. This USB audio interface ended up being our budget top pick.

Product Specifications

  • One XLR Combo Input
  • One Instrument Input
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • Headphone Jack
  • Stereo Monitor Outputs

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • The price is very good for the value you get with this audio interface.
  • M-Audio Crystal Preamps are known to be very transparent and neutral-sounding. That will give more flexibility in the mixing process of your song.
  • The unit has very low-latency direct monitoring.
  • You get a lot of interesting audio plugins for free when you buy the M-Track Solo, such as 20 AVID effects and AIR Xpand!2 synthesizer, as well as the Eleven Lite guitar amp.

Cons

  • The built-in headphone preamp is too weak to be used with higher-impedance headphones.
  • Even though it focuses on portability, you will need a separate adapter to be able to use it with iPhone and iPad.

Conclusion // Verdict

The M-Audio M-Track Solo ended up being our pick for the best budget audio interface on the list. The price is at around only $50. There aren’t many interfaces more affordable than this one. It is also very lightweight and can be taken with you anywhere you wish to record.

The only downfall is that, if you’re looking to connect your audio interface to your iPhone or iPad, you’re going to need a separate adapter. However, these don’t cost much and we will get in more detail down below.

Tip: couldn’t find a product of your liking? Make sure to also check our Best Audio Interface for Ableton and Best Audio Interface for Logic Pro X articles to see more audio interface options.

Buying Guide

There are some things you should keep in mind when shopping for audio interfaces for GarageBand. Here are some of them.

Number of Instrument Inputs and Audio Outputs

Most interfaces will feature at least one XLR and one instrument/line input. The XLR is used to connect microphones and it can also be included as a combo input, meaning it will also be able to receive signal from a standard ¼ inch cable. The instrument/line input, on the other hand, is used to connect musical instruments such as guitars and keyboards to your audio interface.

Most interfaces will also feature headphone outputs and stereo line outputs for connecting it to an audio monitor.

Sound Quality

There are a lot of factors that will impact the sound quality of an audio interface, such as components like preamps and A/D converters. All of the lightning and USB audio interfaces reviewed in this list feature high quality components. But in our tests, the Audient EVO 4 turned out to be the product with the better preamp among all the options.

+48V Phantom Power

You will need an audio interface with +48V phantom power if you want to use it with condenser microphones. It will ensure the unit is giving your condenser mic the proper power. Most interfaces nowadays feature this function.

It is also worth noting that, if you want to use a condenser microphone, you will need an environment with no background noise and minimal sound reflections to ensure the best audio quality.

iPhone and iPad Compatibility

GarageBand is available both for Mac and for iPhone and iPad. Most users of this digital audio workstation will want an audio interface that works flawlessly across all devices so they can record wherever they are.

Some iPad audio interfaces, such as the iRig Pro, will come with both a USB and a lightning cable to hook it up with your devices. This unit in particular was our top pick for Best Audio Interface for iPhone/iPad.

Best USB Hubs for iPad and iPhone to Connect to an Audio Interface

Some audio interfaces in this list will require a separate adapter to work with Apple mobile devices and GarageBand. These adapters are called USB hubs.

#1 Lightning 6-in-1 Hub for iPhone and iPad

Lightning 6-in-1 Hub for iPhone and iPad

For iPhones and iPads with a lightning connector, this hub will make you able to easily use your interface with your mobile device, as well as charge it while recording and connect pen drives and USB cards to it.

Product Specifications

  • Two USB Ports
  • SD/Micro SD card slot
  • Lightning Charging Port
  • Lightning Connectivity

#2

This option is for those who have an iPad with a USB C port connector. It can also be used with Macbooks, and you can connect your USB audio interface as well as two other devices at once to it.

Product Specifications

  • Three USB Ports
  • SD/Micro SD Card Slot
  • USB C Connectivity

FAQs

What Audio Interface Works Best With GarageBand?

All of the options reviewed on the list will work with GarageBand, but we found that the Apogee One, the iRig Pro and the M-Audio M-Track Solo to be the best options for this use case.

What is the Best Device to Use GarageBand On?

GarageBand can be used on computers running Mac OS, iPhone and iPad. The best device to use this popular recording software on will depend on each artist’s use-case. If you favor portability and want to be able to record anywhere you go, it is best to use the iPhone/iPad version.

What is the Best iPhone/iPad Audio Interface?

Our top pick in the category of iPhone/iPad audio interfaces to be used with GarageBand was the iRig Pro. It can also be used with a Mac.

Conclusion

In this article, we’ve tested 7 products to find out the best interface for GarageBand. Because in music production the best interface for each use-case will vary, we’ve divided our picks into three categories: best overall audio interface for GarageBand, best portable audio interface for iPhone/iPad and best budget audio interface. You can see our favorites in detail below.

The Best Interfaces for GarageBand

Best Interfaces for GarageBand

Best Overall Audio Interface for GarageBand – Apogee One

Why It Is Our Top Interface for GarageBand

  • Outstanding design, made of very durable aluminium alloy material.
  • Very intuitive and easy to use.
  • Has a built-in studio quality condenser microphone that sounds fantastic for capturing ideas on the go.
  • The unit is very compact but has multiple inputs.

IK Multimedia iRig Pro

Best Portable Audio Interface for iPhone and iPad – IK Multimedia iRig Pro

Why It Is Our Top Portable Interface for GarageBand

  • iPhone/iPad functionality.
  • Can also be used with GarageBand in a Mac.
  • Even though this is a very small unit, it has high quality sound and leaves nothing to be desired compared to other interfaces.
  • Features MIDI in/out ports, something unusual when it comes to portable interfaces.

M-Audio M-Track Solo

Best Budget Audio Interface for Garageband – M-Audio M-Track Solo

Why It Is Our Top Budget Interface for GarageBand

  • Even though it is very affordable, it is an extraordinarily high quality USB interface.
  • The mic preamp is very transparent and neutral, which gives this unit an incredible recording quality and natural frequency response.
  • The building quality is decent considering its price tag.
  • It is easy to use so it’s great for those who are looking for a unit with simple features and that won’t need too many instrument inputs to record multiple tracks at once.

How to Buy

You can find the Amazon link for all the products tested in this article under each interface topic on the review list.
We hope we’ve helped you decide what is the best interface for GarageBand. If you have any questions about the subject, don’t hesitate to ask us in the comments section below!