Which are the best audio interfaces? The answer depends on what YOU want to record. Read on to discover what audio interface you need for your home recording studio. To make it easy, we have selected the one we think is best for each recording situation. For more detailed information, you might want to refer to our in-depth guide on choosing an audio interface. But read on for our quick time-saving round-up!
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The Best All-Round USB Audio Interface
The versatile Presonus iTwo Multi-Platform USB Interface
Complete Recording Studio: The iTwo Audio Interface With Mic and Headphones
In our view, the Presonus Audiobox iTwo is a great all-round USB audio interface for several reasons:
- Multi-platform: PC, Mac and iPad. Buy once, use with your iPad, laptop and desktop. So designed from the ground up to be versatile and mobile..
- Audio AND MIDI on one interface. Very few interfaces tick both boxes at this pricepoint.
- Recording software included to get started immediately. Also works with any other recording software or DAW you want to use
- Record vocals, guitar, keyboard, any acoustic instrument (via mic), any line level signal
- Two high quality mic/line inputs. Record 2 mics or any combination of 2 inputs at the same time.
- Available in two packages. If you already have mic and headphones then you can purchase the iTwo audio interface as a separate, or buy the complete iTwo studio package complete with everything you need to set up your first professional home recording studio.
The Most Popular USB Audio Interface in 2018
The bestselling (and great looking) Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface
The Scarlett 2i2 is also available in a hugely popular recording pack complete with microphone and headphones
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface has been a consistent best-seller since its launch. And here is why. Firstly, very high quality microphone pre-amps. Focusrite was founded in 1985 and has been designing and manufacturing high-end audio equipment ever since. Quick to spot the trend for integrating mic pre-amps into recording interfaces, they have set the standard that others follow in home recording equipment.
The Focusrite 2i2 is not just a great looking interface. It has two mic inputs (with the before-mentioned pre-amps) that can be switched to instrument level input. You can effortlessly record two mono tracks at once (say vocals and guitar) or you can record a stereo track (for example the sound of your digital piano or keyboard). This would be our pick for a vocalist.
If you are in the process of buying your first home recording studio equipment, then we particularly recommend the Scarlett 2i2 Studio Bundle. With mic, headphones and XLR cable, plus Pro Tools software, it really has everything you need to get started, and is easy to set up. Literally thousands of these have been sold with good reason. A solid choice if you want to record on Mac or Windows. (NB can also be used with iPad or iPhone if you purchase the Apple Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter . This cable will allow you to power the interface and so you won’t get that annoying ‘Device requires too much power’ error message)
The Best Audio Interface For Guitarists And Vocalists
Perfect interface for Guitar and vocals: the Focusrite Scarlett Solo Studio
Complete Mobile Recording Studio for Guitar and Vocals: the Scarlett Solo Studio USB Complete With Mic and Headphones
If you want to record guitar on PC or Mac, then we recommend the Focusrite Scarlett Solo. Designed from the ground up to record guitar and vocals, with specialist inputs for microphone and instrument. This interface works perfectly out of the box on PC or Mac. You can also record on iPad if you buy the Apple MK0W2AM/A Lightning To USB Camera Adapter.
Record direct onto your iPad, into Garageband or other apps, as well as on your Mac or PC. It is just one bit of guitar recording kit designed to be totally mobile, portable and multi-platform.
Also consider the Scarlett Solo Studio which comes with complete with a professional mic, headphones and cables. An instant studio in a box with everything you need to start recording your guitar. And absolutely created for the guitar-vocalist.
The Scarlett Solo is also perfect for podcasters and YouTubers – especially the studio pack with the mic and headphones. This will seriously professionalise your video voiceovers and podcasts.
Great Recording Interfaces For Keyboard and Piano Players
The iRig Pro Duo is perfect for keyboard players: small, works with phone, iPad, PC and Mac, has MIDI and 2-channel audio
Why the iRig Pro Duo audio interface for keyboard players? We love it for all these reasons:
- Very small – so very easy to find somewhere to put it near your keyboard or piano
- Has MIDI as well as high-quality 2-channel audio for stereo recording of your keyboard
- The most multi-platform. Works with Android phones, iPhones, iPad, PC and Mac. We don’t know of another device like it. So it really is highly useful for keyboard players
We have also included the Presonus Audiobox here, as one of the best value audio interfaces on the market if you want to record 2-channel audio and MIDI, and you want to use it on Windows or Mac. If you do want to use your iPad, then you’d be better off with the Audiobox iTwo which is slightly more expensive … see review above.
The Best Audio Interfaces for iPad
Record on your iPad on a budget! The Tascam iXZ makes it very easy to connect a pro mic, guitar or instrument to your iPad.
There is no shortage of choice of interface when it comes to recording on your iPad. There are audio interfaces for iPad at every price point. We have already pointed out the Audiobox iTwo, the iRig Pro Duo. And that’s just for starters.
The great thing about all those is they are multi-platform, so you can use them with your iPad, your Mac and any Windows machine.
But here are another two options, each slightly different.
The Yamaha AG03 can turn your iPad into a professional looking recording studio. Although you will also need to purchase the Apple Lightning to USB Adapter, once you have that this Yamaha USB Mixer will work very well on iPad. Yamaha recommends the Cubase App available from the Apple App Store.
On a very tight budget, the Tascam iXZ iPad recording interface is really worth considering. Perfect if you just want to connect a condenser mic or record your guitar. High quality and very inexpensive. Plus small enough to travel easily with your iPad.
Note … the above are all recommended because they have been designed specifically for iPad and iPhone. BUT here’s the thing … you can use many USB audio interfaces directly with iPad or iPhone if you purchase the Apple Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter.
THE Best Selling And Most Popular Audio Interfaces in 2018
This is a bang up to date list of the absolute best-selling audio interfaces right now. If in doubt, this gives you a useful guide to what is most popular in home recording. As you will see, the best brands (Focusrite, Presonus, Behringer etc) all feature often in the top 10. For a reason. Well priced, good features, and the tech support and backup of a good audio specialist company.
by IK Multimedia