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Best Audio Interface for Streaming – 2021

Live streaming is all the rage nowadays. With the proper equipment and setup, anyone can create their own live streaming channel on websites like YouTube and Twitch. However, with a lot of competition out there, you must stand out from the crowd.

Best Audio Interface for Streaming

And one of the essential points when it comes to standing out is bringing good audio quality to your subscribers and spectators. To do so, you’re going to need not only a decent microphone, but the right audio interface to connect it to your computer.

In this article, we reviewed 10 audio interfaces, specifically considering their use for live streaming to decide which one is the best for that application. We will also explain some terms used in this article so that even if you’re not familiarized with them, you can still understand this guide.

To make this guide even more useful, we also divided our top picks into two categories: overall best and best budget interface.

Tip: After you’re done reading this guide, consider reading our Best Audio Interface article too.

Before We Begin – Some Useful Information on Audio Interfaces

Before we go on with the roundup, we would like to clear some frequent questions regarding audio interfaces to get you more familiarized with these products. Here are some terms you should know:

  • XLR Input – This is the type of input used to connect a microphone to your audio interface. You’re going to need an XLR cable to do so.
  • Inst Input – This is the type of input for instruments, used with an ¼ cable.
  • Line Input – These are usually used to connect devices such as keyboards and audio players to an interface.
  • Mic Preamp – A mic preamp will bring up the signal coming from your microphone so that it matches line level. It is present in all USB audio interfaces with XLR connectors.
  • +48V Phantom Power – +48V phantom power is required to connect a condenser microphone to an audio interface. Most USB audio interfaces have this feature.
  • Stereo Line Outputs – These can be used to connect your audio interface to a pair of studio monitors.
  • Loopback – Some audio interfaces feature this function. Loopback allows you to send the audio from your computer into your interface and play it back for live streaming and broadcasting purposes. This means you can directly send in game audio, for example, to your live streaming software.

Audient EVO 4

We Tested 10 Products and Found the Audient EVO 4 to be The Overall Best Audio Interface for Streaming

The 10 Best Audio Interfaces For Live Streaming Reviewed in Detail

Table Of Contents

  1. MOTU M2
  2. M-Audio AIR 192|14
  3. Donner LiveJack Lite
  4. Elgato Wave XLR
  5. Audient EVO 4
  6. Zoom UAC-2
  7. Roland Rubix 22
  8. Alesis MultiMix 4
  9. Zoom U-22
  10. M-Audio M-Track Duo

1. MOTU M2

MOTU M2

MOTU was founded back in 1981 and they have an extensive history in the music business, so you know that the quality of their products is top-notch. The M2 is their entry-level audio interface with two combo XLR inputs and a built-in LCD screen for monitoring your gain.

Product Specifications

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

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • Outstanding, pristine sound quality.
  • LCD screen built-in, for easily monitoring the signal going into your audio interface and adjusting your gain.
  • Loopback feature. Very useful for live streaming.
  • Dedicated monitoring switches on each of the inputs.

Cons

  • There are more affordable options on the market.

Verdict

The MOTU M2 is an amazing audio interface. Just by looking at it you can see its biggest differential, which is the LCD screen that is built-in on the front panel. This makes gain staging much easier. The loopback feature is also very good for live streaming.

However, there are more affordable options on the market with the same functionalities, if not having the LCD screen is not a big concern for you.

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2. M-Audio AIR 192|14

M-Audio AIR

This is the largest audio interface on the list, with the most number of inputs. The M-Audio AIR 192|14 has an amazing design that is easy to operate while streaming. It may be a good choice if you plan to connect multiple microphones and host interviews or stream content together with other people.

Product Specifications

  • 4 Combo XLR Inputs
  • 2 Line Inputs
  • 2 Instrument Input
  • Stereo Line Outputs
  • 2 Auxiliary Line Outputs
  • 2 Headphone Outputs
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • USB Connection

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • A large number of XLR mic inputs. You can connect up to 4 microphones, making this a great choice for interview hosts.
  • One of the best audio interfaces when it comes to sound quality.
  • The two headphone outputs and two auxiliary outputs can be used to send the audio signal for multiple headphones for monitoring purposes, if you’re recording with other people.
  • This audio interface has very low latency between the mic and the monitoring signal.
  • The M-Audio microphone preamps have pristine audio quality.

Cons

  • Needs an external power supply.

Verdict

The M-Audio AIR 192|14 is extremely well-designed and its controls are easy to reach while operating it. The larger number of inputs and outputs in this interface makes it a little higher-priced than other options on the list, so we would only recommend it if you plan on inviting people to record in person or you’re doing interviews.

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3. Donner LiveJack Lite

Donner LiveJack Lite

Donner is not a very well-known brand, but we’ve found lots of positive reviews regarding the LiveJack Lite. This is a simple, clean-looking audio interface with a great design. Let’s see what it has to offer in terms of audio quality and usability.

Product Specifications

  • 1 Combo XLR Input
  • 1 Inst Input
  • Stereo Line Outputs
  • Headphone Output
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • Built-In Headphone Amplifier
  • USB Connection

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • The audio interface is almost entirely made out of metal, which gives it a very sturdy feel.
  • Easy to access direct monitoring function.
  • The DYNA mic preamps present in the LiveJack Lite have very high quality.
  • High-quality components, such as the digital to analog converter (DAC). A DAC will take the analog signal coming from your interface and convert it to a digital signal (or vice-versa) that can be read by your computer. This component must be of high quality to ensure good audio.
  • Zero latency monitoring.
  • Built-in headphone amplifier, for powering high-impedance headphones without the need for an external amp.

Cons

  • Additional audio drivers need to be downloaded for the interface to function properly on Windows.

Verdict

The Donner LiveJack Lite does the job pretty well for live streaming. The most interesting features in this audio interface are the high-quality components and the built-in headphone amplifier, which can be useful if you have a high-impedance headphone.

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4. Elgato Wave XLR

Elgato Wave XLR

Elgato is a well-known brand in the content-creation industry. The Wave XLR is an audio interface specifically designed for live streaming with a clean, professional looking design that will look good in any setup.

Product Specifications

  • 1 XLR Input
  • Multifunctional Control Dial
  • Mute Button
  • Headphone Output
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • USB Connection

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • The design looks very good and it is easy to operate the main knob.
  • The multifunctional control dial will allow you to control certain parameters such as mic gain, headphone volume, and mic/PC mix.
  • Features Clipguard technology, designed to prevent your audio signal from clipping.
  • Features the Wave Link software, for mixing your microphone signal with multiple audio sources.

Cons

  • Price is a bit high considering that there are cheaper options on the market with the same functions.

Verdict

As the Elgato Wave XLR is designed with live streaming in mind, it has a lot of features that will make a streamer’s life easier, such as the multifunctional control dial and the Wave Link software. It is also very easy to set up.

However, the price is a bit high if you consider that there are cheaper options on the list with the same or even more features.

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5. Audient EVO 4

Audient EVO 4

The Audient EVO 4 design is outstanding on its own. A simple, very compact box with not much more than a few, easy to access buttons; Yet, with all the functionalities that one expects from a professional audio interface.

Product Specifications

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

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • The large volume control knob and buttons on the top make this interface easy to operate.
  • Very low latency.
  • The SmartGain feature present on this audio interface will automatically set the gain on your microphone.
  • Since Audient is very transparent about the components that they use in their interfaces, we know that this unit is very high-quality.
  • Features the EVO Control App, which you can use to set the parameters on your audio interface such as gain and volume directly from your computer, without the need to use the hardware controls.

Cons

  • None that we’ve found.

Verdict

We’ve found the Audient EVO 4 to be one of the best USB audio interfaces on this list. Several points contribute to this impression: the quality of the components, the good-looking and sturdy design, and the simple manner in which the controls are presented. We definitely recommend this unit.

Related: See the best USB audio interfaces for use with the popular recording software FL Studio in our Best Audio Interface for FL Studio article.

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6. Zoom UAC-2

Zoom UAC-2

Zoom is a company that is well-known for its microphones and handheld recorders. The design of the UAC-2 audio interface looks very good at first glance and we’ve found lots of positive reviews about this unit, so we decided to review it.

Product Specifications

  • 2 Combo XLR Input
  • Stereo Line Outputs
  • Headphone Output
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • Loopback Function
  • Class-Compliant Mode
  • USB Connection

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • The design seems very solid and sturdy. Almost entirely made out of metal.
  • The device is powered by USB 3.0, meaning it communicates with your computer super fastly, resulting in very low latency.
  • The Zoom UAC-2 has a loopback mode.
  • Very low noise floor.
  • Includes a free application called UAC-2 MixEfx for changing parameters inside your computer and adding effects such as equalization and auto-gain control.

Cons

  • High price.

Verdict

While it doesn’t have any particularly outstanding features, the Zoom UAC-2 seems to do the job. The greatest thing about the UAC-2 is actually Zoom’s attention to detail. The brand has been around for ages so you can expect that this USB interface has very high-quality components that you can trust.

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7. Roland Rubix 22

Roland Rubix 22

In the music world, Roland is a well-known brand, manufacturer of tons of quality audio equipment. This is their entry-level USB audio interface. While the unit is not as popular as others on the list, we decided to give it a go.

Product Specifications

  • 2 Combo XLR Inputs
  • Stereo Line Outputs
  • Headphone Output
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • USB Connection

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • This USB audio interface has very low noise and interference due to its entirely shielded casing.
  • Sturdy design.
  • The Rubix 22 is fully compatible with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
  • The gain going in on each input is shown in the form of colored LEDs at the top of both gain knobs, making it easier to avoid clipping and other issues.

Cons

  • No loopback function.
  • No knob to mix the microphone signal with the computer signal.

Verdict

The greatest point about the Roland Rubix 22 is the sturdy design and the low level of noise. There are really no significant innovations regarding this unit, but it can be a trustworthy basic option. If the interface had a loopback function it could be even better.

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8. Alesis MultiMix 4

Alesis MultiMix 4

The Alesis MultiMix 4 is a mixing desk with a built-in audio interface. The audio mixer offers several features that may be useful for live streamers such as a built-in equalizer and 15 built-in DSP effects.

Product Specifications

  • 2 XLR Inputs
  • 4 Line Audio Inputs
  • Stereo Line Outputs
  • Headphone Output
  • Built-In Equalizer
  • Built-In DSP Effects
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • USB Connection

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • The built-in equalizer may come in handy while live streaming. You can tailor your sound without the need for any extra software.
  • There’s a lo-cut switch for quickly cutting frequencies below 80Hz to improve your sound.
  • The audio mixer/audio interface is simple to set up since it is class-compliant. Just plug and play.

Cons

  • No loopback functionality.

Verdict

For the price, the MultiMix 4 has very good features. Probably the most interesting feature on the unit, with live streaming in mind, is the built-in equalizer. You can quickly equalize your voice to achieve better sound quality without the need for any extra software.

The only disadvantage we found was the lack of the loopback functionality, considering it is present on some other audio interfaces on the list. However, loopback can still be done inside your computer with dedicated software so it’s not that much of a problem.

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9. Zoom U-22

Zoom U-22

The Zoom U-22 is a portable USB audio interface, compact in size, but very complete when it comes to functionalities. This can be a great choice if you’re looking for a small, basic interface, that won’t take much space in your desk

Product Specifications

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

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • Small, portable size.
  • Very rugged and durable design.
  • High-quality components. Due to this, the USB audio interface has very low noise and latency.
  • Compatible with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Cons

  • High price considering its features and functions.

Verdict

The U-22 is great for those who favor portability and would like an option that they can take anywhere. But if a compact USB audio interface isn’t your priority, there are some better and cheaper options on the list.

Related: Check out more product options in our Best Audio Interface for Reaper article.

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10. M-Audio M-Track Duo

M-Audio M-Track Duo

The M-Audio M-Track Duo is the brand’s entry level USB audio interface. It is meant to bring quality and functionality at an accessible price. We found this unit to have a good value for the money in several reviews done on our website.

Product Specifications

  • 2 XLR Combo Inputs
  • Stereo Line Outputs
  • Headphone Output
  • +48V Phantom Power
  • USB Connection

Advantages & Disadvantages

Pros

  • Value for the price. The M-Track Duo is very accessible and it’s hard to find similar options at the same price range.
  • The M-Audio microphone preamps are one of the best among entry-level audio interfaces. They’re very clean sounding so they will perform great in a live stream.
  • Good build quality despite the price.

Cons

  • None that we’ve found

Verdict

The M-Audio M-Track Duo is the best option for those considering a low-cost USB audio interface. The unit has great sound quality and the best value for the money on the list. If you’re looking for your first audio interface, you can’t go wrong with this one.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need an Interface With +48V Phantom Power?

+48V phantom power is necessary if you want to use condenser microphones with your audio interface. It will ensure that the unit is giving your mic the right power to operate correctly. Most interfaces that feature a mic input have this function.

What is the Best Type of Microphone for Streaming, Dynamic or Condenser?

Both have their uses. Dynamic microphones will pick up less noise than their condenser counterparts and they are more sturdy. This type of mic is perfect if you’re live streaming in a noisy environment or you don’t have a soundproof room.

A condenser microphone has much more sensitivity and dynamic range so they will have a more detailed sound but are also more prone to pick up noises. As discussed before, condenser mics need +48V phantom power to function properly.

Do I Need an Audio Interface to Use a USB Microphone?

No, USB microphones already have a built-in USB audio interface in them, meaning you can just connect it to your computer and start streaming/recording.

Conclusion

After reviewing these 10 devices, we’ve picked two of them as our favorites considering the overall factor and the budget factor. Here are the best audio interfaces for live streaming in our tests:

Audient EVO 4

Audient EVO 4 – Overall Best Audio Interface for Streaming

The Audient EVO 4 USB audio interface features two combo XLR inputs, an easy to operate design that will make your life easier, a smart-gain feature, and the company’s own control app; Meaning you can change its parameters from your computer and won’t need to reach over to the audio interface while live streaming. Not to say that the design is top-notch and it has a solid build quality.

M-Audio M-Track Duo

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

Considering its price versus everything that it offers, the M-Track Duo is probably the audio interface with the best value for the money in the market. M-Audio’s preamps audio quality is absolutely incredible and this device will fit any live streaming setup perfectly.

How to Buy

You can click the link on each product’s title on the list to be redirected to its Amazon page. Don’t forget to carefully consider your options and research extensively before you make your choice.  If this article was helpful, consider sharing it with someone who you think would like it. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!