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Best Audio Interface for Reaper 2021

Reaper is a popular digital audio workstation designed to aid professionals during the music production process. The recording software is also a frequent choice among beginners due to its extended trial time and accessible price: you can simply download the DAW and start making music.

Best Audio Interface for Reaper

However, if you would like to record into the software using microphones and instruments, you’re going to need an audio interface. An interface is a device with a number of inputs and outputs made especially for that matter.

Audio interfaces can fit within a very large price range: they are priced anywhere from 50 to thousands of dollars. Not only that, but the different features present on each of these units means that there is a perfect choice for each particular use-case and audio production workflow.

That’s why today, we are doing a roundup of 7 audio interfaces to decide which one is our top pick for use with Reaper. We also divided our favorites into three categories: overall best, best budget, and best portable. Below, you can find a detailed review of each unit.

Tip: Make sure to also read our Best Audio Interface article for insight on more products.

Audient iD4 MKII USB-C Audio Interface

We Tested 7 Products and Found the Audient ID4 MKII to be The Overall Best Audio Interface for Reaper

The 7 Best Audio Interface For Reaper Reviewed in Detail

Table Of Contents

  1. Focusrite Scarlett Solo
  2. M-Audio M-Track Duo
  3. FLAMMA FM10
  4. Audient ID4 MKII
  5. MOTU M4
  6. Rode AI-1
  7. Mackie Onyx Artist

1. Focusrite Scarlett Solo

Focusrite Scarlett Solo

Made by one of the most well-known brands in the music industry, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo is a popular audio interface due to its great value between sound quality, features, and accessible price.

Product Specifications

  • 1 XLR Input
  • 1 Instrument Input
  • Stereo Line Outputs
  • Headphone Output
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • USB Connectivity

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • This audio interface features the Air mode. When engaged, it will emulate the boost in mid-range of the famous Focusrite ISA mic preamps, as well as give your sound a more powerful high-end sound.
  • The high-quality preamps present in this audio interface are one of the best in its price category. They offer an amazing frequency response.
  • Includes the Focusrite Red Plug-In Suite, known for its excellent analog sound.
  • Very low latency when recording.

Cons

  • The XLR input present in the Scarlett Solo is not a combo style one (XLR + ¼), as present in most interfaces.

Verdict

The Scarlett Solo might be a good pair to the Reaper recording software. It only features one input of each kind (XLR and instrument), but Focusrite quality is top-notch. We believe that the bundle of plugins and software that ships with the interface are one of the best in the market.

The only point we think that could be improved is the XLR input. Most audio interfaces nowadays feature a combo style XLR, which can receive both XLR and ¼ jacks, but in the case of the Scarlett Solo, the input is a standard one.

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2. M-Audio M-Track Duo

M-Audio M-Track Duo

The M-Track Duo is surprisingly packed with lots of features considering its low price ($69, at the time this article was written). It has 2 combo XLR inputs, +48V phantom power, and everything expected from a high-quality audio interface.

Product Specifications

  • 2 Combo XLR Inputs
  • Line/Inst Switch
  • Stereo Line Outputs
  • Headphone Output
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • USB Cable Connectivity

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • Both inputs present in this audio interface are of the combo type (XLR + ¼), allowing more versatility for recording microphones or instruments.
  • Direct mono and direct stereo switch options for low latency monitoring.
  • Includes a handful of additional software and industry standard plugins such as the MPC Beats and 20 Avid FX plugins.

Cons

  • The +48V phantom power switch is shared between the two inputs.

Verdict

The amount of features present in this interface paired with its low price has led us to pick the M-Track Duo as our top budget pick. You will hardly find an option that is as complete at the same price range. Not to say that it comes with a handful of additional software and VST plugins completely free.

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3. FLAMMA FM10

FLAMMA FM10

The FLAMMA FM10 is not exactly an audio interface, but a USB audio mixer. We decided to include this mixer on the list because it has a great value for the price and lots of interesting features for use while recording into Reaper.

Product Specifications

  • 2 Combo XLR Inputs
  • 2 Line Stereo Inputs
  • 2 RCA Stereo Inputs
  • 4 Line Outputs
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • Loopback Function
  • Built-In DSP Effects
  • USB Port Connectivity

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • Built-in DSP. DSP (digital signal processing) is a technology where certain audio effects such as compression, EQ, and reverb can be handled directly by the processor present in the interface or mixer, resulting in better quality audio and less CPU stress on your computer.
  • Includes software dedicated to controlling the DSP effects.
  • Can connect directly to smart devices such as smartphones and tablets via the USB-OTG port.

Cons

  • Needs to be connected to a portable battery in case you use it with mobile devices.

Verdict

The FM10 can be a great alternative to an audio interface for use with Reaper, since this model in particular packs a lot of features that are rare to find in this price range. For example, the increased number of inputs/outputs and the DSP mixer effect capability. It is essentially going to perform like an interface.

Tip: If you’re planning on doing live streams, consider taking a look at our Best Audio Interface for Streaming Article. 

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4. Audient ID4 MKII

Audient ID4 MKII

This audio interface positively surprised us in other reviews we did and we really think that Audient should get more recognition. Even though it’s on the more expensive side, there are a few features that are unique to this product, such as the virtual scroll.

Product Specifications

  • 1 Combo XLR Input
  • 1 Instrument Input
  • Stereo Line Outputs
  • Dual Headphone Outputs
  • Virtual Scroll Function
  • USB Connectivity

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • This USB audio interface features dual headphone outputs, one for ¼ jacks and another for 3.5mm jacks. This can eliminate the need for adapters and be useful when recording musicians and artists.
  • One of the most impressive features of this interface is the virtual scroll. What it does is it turns the main big knob into a fully functional MIDI controller for changing parameters inside Reaper.
  • Audient is very transparent about the components used to build their products and it’s easy to find information on their website.
  • Very low noise while recording.

Cons

  • None that we’ve found.

Verdict

This is a very impressive USB audio interface that will work wonders with Reaper. It may be priced slightly above other options, but the exclusive features such as the Virtual Scroll and the sound quality paired with very low noise while recording led us to decide the Audient ID4 MKII is the best audio interface for Reaper (in our opinion).

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5. MOTU M4

MOTU M4

MOTU has been around for decades in the music business, serving countless professional recording studios around the world with their mixing desks. The M4 is set to make this excellence more accessible and bring sound quality and useful features in a compact design.

Product Specifications

  • 2 Combo XLR Inputs
  • 2 Line TRS Inputs
  • 4 Line Outputs (2 RCA and 2 ¼)
  • 4 Monitor Line Outputs (2 RCA and 2 ¼)
  • MIDI In/Out
  • Loopback Audio Stream Support
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • USB Connection

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • The LCD screen present in the front part of this audio interface makes it easier to monitor levels and gain-stage before recording.
  • You can connect outboard hardware effect units to this audio interface using the Line Out, and then feed it back in using the Line In ports. Such a feature is rare to find on units in that price range.
  • There are two options of dedicated outputs for connecting studio monitors to this interface: either via ¼ or RCA cables.
  • The amount of free gifts bundled with this audio interface, such as plugins and samples/loops is impressive.

Cons

  • If you don’t need all of the extra inputs and outputs in the M4, we recommend going with the MOTU M2 instead.

Verdict

We like the MOTU M4 due to the fact that it features many things that are rare to find in this price range. For example, the ability to feed in outboard hardware effect units and the built-in LCD screen. However, for smaller home studios that don’t need many inputs and outputs it may not be worth it paying more for the M4 and we would recommend going with the MOTU M2.

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6. Rode AI-1

Rode AI-1

The Rode AI-1 seems to be based on minimalism while maintaining a compact size. This audio interface is very basic, with only one combo XLR input, a headphone output and a pair of line stereo outputs to monitor your sound. But sometimes, less is more.

Product Specifications

  • 1 Combo XLR Input
  • Stereo Line Outputs
  • Headphone Output
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • USB Connection

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • Very compact and clean design. Not to say the materials on this audio interface look very durable.
  • Quality sound and low noise levels while recording. Several tests on the internet confirm this.
  • Ultra low latency while recording.

Cons

  • A small number of inputs and outputs.

Verdict

The Rode AI-1 is a reliable device with outstanding quality. The low noise levels and the ultra low latency while recording makes this compact USB audio interface a great option for those who favor portability.

The only downfall we found with this USB interface is that it only has one input, meaning you can only record one microphone or instrument at a time. For some, it may not be a problem, but there are cheaper options in the market with more inputs and outputs for those who need them.

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7. Mackie Onyx Artist

Mackie Onyx Artist

Mackie is a household name in the music business and their equipment is extremely reliable. The Onyx is an attempt to bring the same quality into home studios and make them more accessible to the general public.

Product Specifications

  • 1 XLR Input
  • 1 Line/Inst Input
  • Stereo Line Outputs
  • Headphone Output
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • USB Connection

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • Since Mackie is a well-known brand in the music business, they always use quality components in their products. The preamp present in this USB audio interface is proof of that.
  • The latency in this unit is very low, and there is a Direct Monitor function where you can hear yourself in real-time.
  • Mackie takes pride in how rugged the construction of this USB audio interface is, and it is, in fact, very sturdy.

Cons

  • The Onyx Artist still uses a USB 2.0 cable for connection, which can be slower when it comes to communicating with your computer.
  • The XLR input is not a combo one, unlike most other audio interfaces.

Verdict

With quality components, solid mic preamps, and a sturdy design, this audio interface offers all of the features one will need for recording vocals and instruments into Reaper. Mackie is a reputable brand in the music business so their quality standards really stand up for what is expected.

The only things that we didn’t like were that the Onyx Artist still uses a USB 2.0 cable, which can make the communication between the USB interface and the computer slower; And the fact that the XLR input is not a combo style one as it is on most other interfaces.

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Buying Guide – What to Look For When Buying An Audio Interface for reaper

Before we head to our top picks, we would like to list some important things that you should look for and consider when searching for the perfect audio interface to use with Reaper.

Inputs and Outputs

Probably one of the most important things when choosing an audio interface is to consider the number of inputs and outputs. This number is going to define which type of gear you can connect to your interface and how many channels you can record at once.

Most audio interfaces offer two types of connections: XLR, for microphones, and ¼, for instruments. It is also a popular feature to include both in the form of a combo jack.

Latency and Noise Floor

These two factors are directly related to the quality of the components inside an audio interface. Latency refers to the delay between what you play while recording and what you hear; While noise floor is the level of noise the interface produces by itself.

In this regard, the units that stood out the most on our list were the MOTU M4, the Rode AI-1, and the Audient ID4 MKII. They all have very low latency and noise floor levels.

Phantom Power

If you want to use condenser mics with your audio interface, you’re going to need phantom power. This feature simply ensures that the right amount of power is going into your microphone. Most interfaces nowadays and all of the options on the list have +48V phantom power.

Preamps

The mic preamps in an audio interface have the job of powering your microphone and bringing its signal to the right level. The mic preamps present on most entry-level interfaces are designed to have a flat response along the frequency spectrum, but some can color your sound in a pleasant way.

Tip: Also check out Best Thunderbolt Audio Interfaces to learn about models with thunderbolt connection. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need an Audio Interface to Use Reaper?

No, an audio interface is not required to use Reaper, yet it is necessary if you want to record guitar and microphones, for example. You can still use Reaper without an interface connected, for editing, mixing, mastering, and MIDI production.

Do I Need to Install Audio Drivers for my Interface to Function Properly?

Most interfaces nowadays are plug-and-play, meaning they don’t require any audio drivers to function properly. However, it’s best to check the manual of each model for more information.

Conclusion

Below, we divided our top picks for the best audio interfaces for the Reaper recording software into three categories: overall best, best budget, and best portable. Keep reading to find out more.

Audient iD4 MKII

Audient ID4 MKII – Overall Best Audio Interface for Reaper

The Audient ID4 MKII is the USB audio interface with the best value for the money on the list. The unit positively surprised us due to its exclusive features such as the virtual scroll, the quality of the components used in it, and the low noise floor. We believe that this is the best option of interface for Reaper.

Audient ID4 MKII

M-Audio M-Track Duo – Best Budget Audio Interface for Reaper

With a budget in mind, the M-Audio M-Track Duo is amazing for the features that it brings compared to its low price. The USB audio interface has 2 combo XLR inputs and +48V phantom power for use with condenser microphones. This interface will surely be a lasting investment.

M-Audio M-Track Duo

Rode AI-1 – Best Portable Audio Interface for Reaper

Last but not least, we decided to include an option for those that are frequently on the move, looking to use Reaper on their laptops. The Rode AI-1, although very small, is excellent when it comes to audio quality and has a very rugged structure.

How to Buy

If you’re interested in any of the interfaces on this list, you can find a link for their Amazon product page on their respective titles. Please remember to research extensively before making your choice. Don’t hesitate to contact if you have any more questions about the subject!