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Best Audio Interface

Pros and beginners alike will all have some form of an audio interface included in their signal chain to record, whether it be a Scarlett 2i2 or a Universal Audio Apollo. The Best Audio Interfaces can range anywhere from 1 input to 8 or more. We go with the best we can afford for the best quality audio for vocals, bass, guitar, piano, or whatever it is we’re working on. You want to have one that suits all of your needs. But what is it you’ll actually use it for?

Quicklook: Best Audio Interface

At the very basics of it, you will use an interface as a conversion point between analog and digital. This is how you convert from the sound of the instrument to the info sent to the computer and vice versa. The Interface is a great source for your monitors or mixing headphones. Most interfaces also will include not only XLR inputs but ¼” connections that are combined with XLR inputs.

¼” and XLR combined input
¼” and XLR combined input

Besides ¼” and XLR inputs, some interfaces will offer midi connections on the backside. On the back as well are usually 2 output sends for the monitors, and either on the front or back is an output for the headphones. Controls for all of these are generally found on the front of the interface.

One other technical piece to pay attention to is the sample rate. This has to do with how much information is processed and stored from the original audio source. The higher the sample rate, the better quality audio you will have to work with. Most modern interfaces have options of 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 96kHz, and 192 kHz. Industry-standard is generally 96 kHz or 192kHz.

One thing to remember about working with sample rate is that once the sample rate is set at the beginning of a session, it cannot be changed without altering the quality of the audio. Also, you cannot put tracks recorded at one sample rate into a session of a different sample rate without some form of conversion.

Through the rest of this article, we are going to take a look at some great choices of interfaces with 2 and 8 channels. We will include links to buy new, but always feel free to check out used gear websites such as Amazon.

Jump to:

Best 2 Channel Interfaces

1. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Price: $169.99

  • Inputs – 2
  • Mic Pres – 2
  • Outputs – 2
  • MIDI Connections – 0
  • Headphone Jacks – 1
  • Sample Rate – up to 192 kHz
  • Rack-Mountable – No
  • Power Source – USB 2.0
  • Computer Connection – USB 2.0

A great interface for basic recordings the Scarlett 2i2 has built a credible name for itself. I myself have one and have had no complaints. It has both monitor and headphone controls on the front as well as a direct monitoring option. One of the easiest interfaces to hook up and use, and can be used on the go since it needs no additional power beyond the USB connection.

2. Solid State Logic SSL2

Solid State Logic SSL2
Solid State Logic SSL2

Price – $229.99

  • Inputs – 2
  • Mic Pres – 2
  • Outputs – 2
  • MIDI Connections – None
  • Headphone Jacks – 1
  • Sample Rate – Up to 192 kHz
  • Rack-Mountable – No
  • Power Source – USB-C
  • Computer Connection – USB-C

SSL is one of the most recognizable names in recording audio. Solid State Logic has come up with this compact version of their channel strip for you to use. All of the sounds of analog recording miniaturized into their 2 channel interface. With individual phantom power and their 4K option that adds a certain element of harmonic distortion for an analog sound.

3. Komplete Audio 2

Komplete Audio 2
Komplete Audio 2

Price – $139.00

  • Inputs – 2
  • Mic Pres – 2
  • Outputs – 2
  • MIDI Connections – None
  • Headphone Jacks – 1
  • Sample Rate – Up to 192 kHz
  • Rack-Mountable – No
  • Power Source – USB 2.0 or Higher
  • Computer Connection – USB 2.0 or Higher

The Komplete Audio 2 interface is perfect for desktop recording. With the channel levels visible on the top you can also control the monitor levels with the knob on the very top. Balance the output between the channel input and the mix in the DAW itself.

Best 4 Channel Interfaces

1. Arturia Audiofuse Studio

Arturia Audiofuse Studio
Arturia Audiofuse Studio

Price – $899

  • Inputs – 8
  • Mic Pres – 4
  • Outputs – 2 Aux Outs & 2 Stereo Monitor Outs
  • MIDI Connections – None
  • Headphone Jacks – 2
  • Sample Rate – Up 192 kHz
  • Rack-Mountable – No
  • Power Source – 12V DC
  • Computer Connection – USB 2.0

Arturia’s hardware is some of the best modern audio products you can find. Their synthesizers and MIDI controllers are some of the best ones you can find, and that is before you even start looking at the interfaces. I love the ability to use multiple monitor outs, making this a perfect interface for your studio desk.

2. Focusrite Clarett 4 Pre

Focusrite Clarett 4 Pre
Focusrite Clarett 4 Pre

Price – $699.99

  • Inputs – 8
  • Mic Pres – 4
  • Outputs – 4 Line Outs
  • MIDI Connections – 2
  • Headphone Jacks – 2
  • Sample Rate – Up 192 kHz
  • Rack-Mountable – No
  • Power Source – 12V DC
  • Computer Connection – USB-C

Clarrett is the upgraded version of any Scarlett products. Their Mic pres are some of the best you will find in an interface this size. Take your quality to another level with this interface, using their 4 line in and line out channels.

3. Apollo X4 – Universal Audio

Universal Audio Apollo X4
Apollo X4 – Universal Audio

Price – $1,799

  • Inputs – 4
  • Mic Pres – 4
  • Outputs – 2 Monitor Outs & 4 Line Outs
  • MIDI Connections – None
  • Headphone Jacks – 1
  • Sample Rate – Up 192 kHz
  • Rack-Mountable – No
  • Power Source – 12V DC
  • Computer Connection – USB-C

Universal Audio Apollo interfaces have been some of the most reliable interfaces for almost a decade. They are reliable for a multitude of reasons even beyond their sleek design and in depth controls for their size. The only downside I have to this interface is having to cycle through controls for individual channel controls rather than having them available from the get go.

Best 8 Channel Interface

1. PreSonus Studio 1824c

PreSonus Studio 1824c
PreSonus Studio 1824c

Price – $499.95

  • Inputs – 18
  • Mic Pres – 8
  • Outputs – 20
  • MIDI Connections – 1 in 1 out
  • Headphone Jacks – 2
  • Sample Rate – Up 192 kHz
  • Rack-Mountable – Yes
  • Power Source – DC 12v
  • Computer Connection – USB-C

PreSonus interfaces have been on a rise in quality over the past couple of years. Alongside the FaderPort you cannot go wrong with having PreSonus in your studio. Using this interface you can expand how many channels with additional interfaces via ADAT connection.

2. Tascam US 16×08

Tascam US 16x08
Tascam US 16×08

Price – $299.99

  • Inputs – 16
  • Mic Pres – 8
  • Outputs – 8
  • MIDI Connections – 1 in 1 out
  • Headphone Jacks – 1
  • Sample Rate – Up to 96 kHz
  • Rack-Mountable – Yes
  • Power Source – DC 12V
  • Computer Connection – USB 2.0

This unit does not have the same interfacing details as the others on this list but still is a great piece of hardware nonetheless. All 8 XLR inputs are available from the front as well as two ¼” inputs that can be used for instrument or line in. all gain control is available in the front as well as monitor controls and headphones.

3. Scarlett 18i20 – Focusrite

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20
Scarlett 18i20 – Focusrite

Price – $549.99

  • Inputs – 8
  • Mic Pres – 8
  • Outputs – 10
  • MIDI Connections – 1 in 1 out
  • Headphone Jacks – 2
  • Sample Rate – Up to 192kHz
  • Rack-Mountable – Yes
  • Power Source – IEC
  • Computer Connection – USB 2.0

This is yet another unit I have worked with and own, and I have to say the options I have available are amazing. You have 2 inputs available in the front for XLR and ¼” and the rest are on the back of the unit. Focusrite is a standard for beginner recording as well as professionals whether you are in a studio or on the go.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I just plug in my interface and start?

You will need to install any drivers required for the interface you are working with. Instructions how to will either be included with the interface or be available on the manufacturer’s website.

Can I play my regular computer audio through the interface?

Yes you can! You just have to set the computer out to be the audio interface.

Finding the best audio interface for your needs is a lot easier than many would think. You don’t have to pay for additional pieces you won’t use, and the quality has grown immensely over the years even in the lower-priced versions. Using this list, you can find the perfect interface whether you are working at a desk from home, a professional studio, or a home studio.

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