It has a tough build quality that will allow it to be carried around. Yes, I have done this, and yes, it sounded terrible. The Studio 26 is an interface that will work well as a starter unit for a new home studio. All very well laid out and easy to use. Your email address will not be published. It is laid out with an easy to use front control panel with two inputs each with their own gain control, plus there are switches for Direct Monitoring. Unlike most of its competitors, the Studio 26 features two line outputs as well as the main outputs which normally go to your monitors. It has a very low-latency level and inputs that can handle some pretty loud sounds from guitars. There is a push-button +48v Phantom power control and a headphone jack with its own volume. Worth taking a look at if you are just setting up your home studio. The Pioneer AVH-W4500NEX is the best car stereo for people who want to add Apple CarPlay or Android Auto so they can use their smartphones in their vehicles. At almost two pounds, the entire console weighs a little bit more than the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 or the PreSonus Audio Box iTwo. Two monitor outputs that are digitally controlled. If you are looking for your first audio interface, then this is well worth considering. This generation of the Scarlett Solo is going to give you a great sound. It has 115dB of dynamic range to give you no audible distortion. Currently, the best usb audio interface is the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20. There is a USB adapter, or you can use an external USB battery. It can be powered through the USB 2.0 connection or by a power adapter, which is an optional extra. Another audio interface from Stenberg, this model an updated version of the UR22. It has a metal chassis with easy to use controls. However, these buttons are placed near the bottom of the unit’s front panel, making them somewhat difficult to access, and the clipping light is also smaller and harder to see than we’d prefer. The ultimate best audio interface in 2020 We plan to test the Komplete Audio 2 soon. Focusrite makes there own that integrates seamlessly, the Focusrite Scarlett Octopre. Using this interface, your environment, be it small or large, becomes a full-blown recording studio. Focusrite was founded in 1985 and has been designing and manufacturing high-end audio equipment ever since. The arrangement of inputs and knobs on the Scarlett 2i2 is simple and intuitive. The PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 has several design flaws that make it more difficult to use. I’ll try to cover everything from the best audio interface under $200 to the best professional-level audio interface. If you’re starting you’re recording journey; it just can’t be beat for quality and functions for the price. 1. All this makes it one of the Best USB Audio Interfaces for the money you will find. Roland USB Audio Interface: Roland is a name that brings a certain level of trust to people in audio, and their entry-level USB interface is a solid option that gets the job done. At 8 by 6 by 2.8 inches, it could still be described as compact, but it has a different look. It might not be the most attractive looking, but it is going to do the job. It has an interesting design that allows it to lean backward on its stand. This is a compact little unit measuring just 8.5 inches by 12.4 by 4.1 inches. Quite a software bundle. Especially for those setting up their first home studio. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is an excellent audio interface, but there is one slightly annoying omission. The DI input is a high headroom input for guitar or bass. To select a good audio interface for your recording needs, you will need the right amount of inputs and outputs. It includes some nice extras like a talkback facility and the option for speaker switching. The design centers around its two channels. Most importantly, each of the 2i2’s clip lights is shaped as a ring around its corresponding gain knob. Both channels will take mics or instruments. And, that’s exactly what you get with the third generation of the Focusrite Scarlett Solo. This U-Phoria is one of their audio interfaces that is well worth a look. Also located on the front panel is the output for headphones. The Komplete Audio 6 is not without flaws, however. One thing worth considering is that while common, USB 2.0 does not offer the fastest connection (aka low latency). We did not test any interfaces that connect via Thunderbolt or USB-C ports. A very good price makes this a cost-effective option. The outputs are on the back. And the best time to invest in an excellent USB audio interface for your home or commercial studio rig is now. The Komplete Audio 2, however, looks promising. The gain controls feature the familiar ‘halo’ lighting on the dials to control the gain levels. If you want to install the interface in a standard 19-inch rack, it is supplied with removable rack ears. On several occasions I found myself adjusting the wrong knob. At the price point, it is an excellent buy and one that is going to help you up to the next level. MIDI connections allow you to hook up a keyboard or sound module. Or if you need more channels and are thinking of, for example, recording a drumkit with a multi-mic setup or recording a whole band playing live, then we would go for the…Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools. Each channel has a Class A preamp with useful XLR/TRS combo inputs for mics and instruments. This audio interface is a compact unit and features a number of very good features. With the US-16×08, you can connect up to eight mics and still have enough room for processing and monitor mixes. This model is certain to be considered as one of the Best USB Audio Interfaces for recording a whole band. Through six years and testing of more than 25 mics, the Blue Yeti is still the best USB microphone that’s an easy and noticeable upgrade over built-in mics. The Komplete Audio 6 doesn’t include any digital audio workstation mobile apps for iPad, although we found that it worked with GarageBand without issue. Built-in is Focusrite’s Air circuitry. Learn more. This is a switchable system that adds a little brightness to vocals and instruments. In this article we’re going to be discussing what the top 19 thunderbolt audio interfaces are that are available in 2020. All the interfaces we tested have a standard USB Type-B connection, and the package includes a cable with Type-B on one end and the common computer-style Type-A on the other. A USB audio interface can be connected to the computer, and with an active adapter, you can record it to your mobile devices as well. It gives you great sound quality from its 18 inputs and its 20 outputs. It has two inputs and was designed to minimize noise at all volumes. We tested and dismissed the following interfaces for previous versions of this guide: The Steinberg UR22mkII supports sampling rates up to 192 kHz, but the bunched-up control knobs on the unit’s face and a phantom power switch tucked away on the back panel made it more difficult to use. So far, we have looked at entry-level audio interfaces. It has some impressive features built-in, including plugins from Neve, Marshall, Lexicon, and many more. By. Best Audio Interface For Beginners 2020. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is our favorite USB audio interface for musicians who want to record up to two tracks simultaneously onto a computer. If you are new to recording at home or are setting up your first home studio, your first audio interface is very important. There are also some colored lights to keep you apprised of performance levels and any clipping. This Studio 26 model is a little more expensive than some of its competitors, but it is still worth considering. Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII. The Zoom U-24 is hard to set up and adjust because of its design, which places everything other than the power slider on the top of the interface. When examining the results, we found no consistently identifiable differences in the quality of each recording. It is compatible with Mac or Windows and any DAW software you use. If you have a lot of instruments that plug-in via five-pin MIDI connections and don’t already have a MIDI-to-USB interface, this is a necessary feature. An Audio interface, also known as a soundcard, is by far the most important tool of any home recording studio with a computer and a DAW software. But it is also capable of producing high-quality results for experienced users who might need a portable interface. Since most integrated audio cards don't have the right inputs for recording microphones and instruments, you will need an audio interface that offers built-in effects, preamps, and cable jacks. However, there will be a learning curve to go through with this interface, so be ready for some homework. Here you will find the gain controls for the two mic/line channels. There was no consistent agreement among our panelists as to which interface recording sounded the best, and our pink-noise tests corroborated the lack of difference between interfaces. We tested nine audio interfaces and found that they all record clear audio, but the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 offers the best combination of features, portability, and ease of use. Then you can connect up two digital sources using the S/PDF connections to make a track count of 18, which is enough to record a full band. The Komplete Audio 1 doesn’t offer the flexibility we think someone getting starting out needs—if you want to record two things at once, one input must use a microphone and the other must use a line source. Latency-free monitoring is achieved via an internal analog mixer. There are colored LED lights to indicate any clipping. Plus, you have a choice of power options. RME Fireface UFX+ USB 3.0 & Thunderbolt Audio Interface 94-in/94-out, 24-bit/192kHz USB 3.0/Thunderbolt Audio/MIDI Interface with 4 Mic/Instrument Preamps, MADI Connectivity, DSP Mixer, and Direct USB Recording - Mac/PC Able to deftly handle up to 94 channels of I/O, the RME Fireface UFX+ is a power-packed audio interface. It comes with an Analog Classics plugin bundle. There are LED lights that monitor the input and output levels. It has two balanced line outputs that will allow you to monitor mixing or switching speakers. An audio interface is often called a sound card and it also sends a headphone output signal to any connected headphones or speakers, allowing you to monitor your sonic creation in real-time.. It’s a physical hardware product that allows your musical input to be converted into a format (language/software) your computer understands. All this and quite a few other excellent inclusions. Great for startup situations, but what if you want a little bit more? It is simple, easy to use, and basic but does just about all you need it to when starting off. It has the same iPad functionality and portability as the 2i2, but its smaller clipping lights and less-intuitive front-panel design make it a little harder to use. You can, therefore, mix together the playback with the direct input. Photo: Sarah Kobos. This very portable audio interface fits in the palm of your hand and allows you to connect your microphone or line-level instrument such as a keyboard or electric guitar into your iOS or Android … This is a good idea for a smaller unit, making the controls easier to see and use. But this is not one of those and represents good value. The Komplete Audio 6 employs a unique design that makes it easier to set up and use than other interfaces we tested, but it’s more expensive and has more inputs than you might need. These include an XLR and standard jack socket and also a headphone output. © 2020 Wirecutter, Inc., A New York Times Company, A functional design, with a built-in MIDI interface, A fantastic interface with a unique design, Upgrade pick: Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6, The Best Budget Audio Interfaces - 2 Channels, The Best Car Stereos With Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, How to Create a Full-Time Work Space at Home, The Best Bluetooth Transmitters for Home and Portable Use. You have stand over the interface and maneuver around the microphone/instrument cords to actually access the knobs. The Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 has all the features we like on the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, including clear clipping lights, macOS, Windows, iOS support, and powerful microphone preamps, but it adds a built-in MIDI interface and two extra balanced line inputs and outputs. Learn more. The Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (3rd Gen), though, is a step up the ladder of features and performance, and it is probably their most versatile interface. The highly regarded Scarlett 2i2 is one of the best USB-C interfaces you can get for your money. The converters give you a high-quality sampling rate of 192kHz with a 24-bit resolution. Ableton and Pro Tools, Softube Time and Tone, and Focusrite’s own Red plugin suite are included. This design might make sense when used with the recorders that Zoom makes, but we found it a little frustrating. You can use the UAD plugins for tracking in real-time or when it’s time to mix in the most popular DAW’s. Music Critic Staff-Last Updated: May 29, 2020. They have a reputation for delivering a bright and clear sound with plenty of headroom. I have never owned a machine with USB 3.0 and have never had an issue with speed so I wouldn’t spend time worrying about this. 3 Tascam US-2×2 USB Audio/MIDI Interface. Plus, there are the +48v Phantom Power switch and a headphone jack socket with its own volume control. I also made sure that each interface would function with an older iPad, provided you purchase the correct adapters. CaptureDuo is free, but it limits you to recording up to two tracks in each project. It has far more features built-in than we have space for here. It has Cubase AI, and Cubasis software included, which give what amounts to a complete studio platform to work with. To switch between recording a line instrument and a microphone on each input, you just push the button labeled with an electric guitar. However, since it weighs almost two and a half pounds and comes in a box that couldn’t easily fit in a backpack or suitcase, it’s harder to travel with than the Focusrite 2i2 or PreSonus AudioBox iTwo. These extra features also make it heavier than we’d like, but if you plan to mostly use it in your home studio and could use the extra inputs, it’s a great upgrade. It places much of its visual information on the top of the interface, which we found made the similarly designed Komplete Audio 6 easier to set up and use than other interfaces we’ve considered. PreSonus was established in 1995 in Los Angeles by people who knew what musicians wanted from their audio interfaces. Steinberg UR242 USB Interface The Best Audio Interface for Mac & iPad. Powerful processors and near-zero latency while recording in real-time, this is a powerful interface. The BandLab Link Analog Audio Interface is not only one of the best cheap audio interfaces on the market, it’s one of the best USB audio interfaces in the world today due to its small size. The Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 has all of the advantages of the Focusrite 2i2, including clear clipping lights and macOS/Windows/iOS support, but it adds a built-in MIDI interface and two extra balanced line inputs and outputs. They have included enough extra software to help you get started. Capture for iPad costs $10, but it allows you to record up to 32 tracks. PreSonus AudioBox USB 96; Focusrite Scarlett 2i2; Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD; Steinberg UR44; Focusrite Clarett 2PRE USB; Focusrite Scarlett 18i20; Roland Octa-Capture; Universal Udio Apollo Twin MKII SOLO; Focusrite Clarett 4Pre; Apogee Duet; Audient iD44; PreSonus Studio 192 . PreSonus has designed its two mobile digital audio workstation apps for the iPad. It has MIDI in/out connections for controllers and synthesizers or keyboards. Unlike our other picks, the Komplete Audio 6 includes latching XLR input jacks, which require you to push a small tab on the jack to release the mic cable. The back of the AudioBox iTwo features a five-pin MIDI input and output, a USB Type-B output, a USB port, and an audio output to connect the interface to a speaker. As an added extra, Behringer provides you with 150 instrument effect plugins for you to download. The interface works with iOS, macOS, and Windows devices and comes with versions of popular recording software. Lastly, I connected each interface to an iPad (6th-generation) using a USB-C hub to make sure it was compatible with iOS. It has latency-free monitoring, and the front control panel has a mix control. Here are the best audio interfaces 2020: Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII; Focusrite Scarlett 2i2; Arturia AudioFuse 8Pre; M-Audio M-Track 2X2; TASCAM US-2×2; Behringer U-Control UCA222; Steinberg UR22C; Apogee Element 46; Roland Rubix24; Mackie Onyx Producer 2-2; 1. Line outputs and MIDI in and out are located on the rear for ease of use. If the Focusrite 2i2 is unavailable, or if you have a lot of older gear with five-pin MIDI connectors, the PreSonus AudioBox iTwo is a great alternative. Plus, the knobs function backwards—instead of turning them clockwise to increase gain, you turn them counterclockwise. None of these things should get in the way of a successful recording session, though. It is a neatly designed interface with a very attractive price point, making it good value and worth considering. Daniel solicited the help of Will Marshall, a Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist with his own studio space, to test the interfaces for this update. *At the time of publishing, the price was $160. You can either use this adapter with a powered USB hub or this one with any USB power adapter you have around. You can record everything from a few chords for a demo to the finished article. It can connect to Windows 7 and 8 but also uses the USB-3 connection for later Windows systems. Controls are located on the front and include a +48v phantom power option for condenser mics. For quite a while now, the Audio Interface has been an essential part of audio production. Built-in is a decent preamp that gives a good all-round performance. How could they be so sure? These extra features make it heavier than we’d like, but if you plan to mostly use it in your home studio, that’s an acceptable trade-off for the easier-to-use design. And is compatible with Mac and iOS computers, plus using a simple driver will add ASIO compatibility for Windows. There are two mic or line preamps and two analog line outs. Not much point having a high-quality interface unless you’ve got a good set of mics to plug into it. This offers you a lot of flexibility in how you want to use the interface with an iPad, as long as you have the right adapters. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is the world’s best selling USB audio interface. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. We also don’t love that Windows users will need to install separate drivers to actually use the interface with their setup. It’s a rackmounted audio interface that’s designed for permanent studio installation, as it offers the best quality audio conversion for the money. The software will take a little understanding, so be prepared to take some time. You could even hook up an external stereo delay or reverb to the two outputs and re-record that into your DAW for some fantastic wide sounding keyboard pads or stereo guitars. Inputs for the channels are on the leading edge, and round the back MIDI in/out and XLR/TRS inputs. They can have a big impact on the sound you create. It also has a headphone jack socket and a Direct Monitor switch. Each measured flat, corroborating our assertion that there were no obvious sonic differences between the different interfaces. Simplicity is the name of the game with this interface. Top 12 Best USB Audio Interfaces To Buy In 2020 Reviews. It comes in at quite a bit more expensive than the entry-level model, but then it would. Also, this will bring a smile to the faces of Windows users as this is designed especially for you. Our list with inexpensive and high quality best USB audio interfaces will amaze you. If you’re looking to step up from your first interface, then, if it’s an upgrade in quality and functionality you’re after, but are happy with only having two input channels, we would suggest the…Universal Audio Apollo Twin High-Resolution USB Interface. It has a good build quality with its aluminum chassis. The 25 Best Audio Interfaces Money Can Buy (2020) Audio Interfaces are the beating heart of most producers’ studios. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) Compare Prices at: Amazon | Thomann. It’s a 2 input and 2 output USB audio interface featuring high performance microphone preamps and a high performance converter that enables 24-bit/192kHz recording. Once we assembled a list of the available interfaces that had these features (using Amazon, Sweetwater, and Musician’s Friend), we used the following criteria to decide which interfaces to call in and how to design our tests. This is an excellent added feature turning your laptop into your own music studio. They are a German organization that manufactures its products in China. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface – now in its third generation – has been a consistent best-seller since its launch. Conclusion: Audio Interfaces Controls cover the top as well as the front and rear edges, but it is the top that carries the design look. If you’ve just started recording or producing music, you might not need an audio interface. Each channel has a switch to determine between instrument and microphone. The important things, like the tiny clipping indicator and the phantom power slider (hidden somewhere on the back of the console), are hard to find. It also comes with the Studio Magic package, which includes some vintage studio gear emulations. This UR22 features high-quality components and good connections to deliver a good production platform. So check out our reviews of the Best Kick Drum Mic, the Best Vocal Mics, the Best Microphones Recording Electric Guitar, the Best Dynamic Microphones, the Best Wireless Microphones, and the Best USB Microphones currently available to upgrade your mic locker. So, let’s take a look at the Best USB Audio Interfaces currently available and find the perfect one for you…. Using free software like Apple’s GarageBand, an inexpensive USB microphone that plugs directly into a computer, and maybe a MIDI controller, you can make music that’s good enough to share with close friends and family. The introduction of the USB audio interface has revolutionized the recording industry, bringing professional studio features and technology directly to your desktop/laptop. We don’t think the added features and cost are necessary for most people, but if money is no object, it’s a great upgrade. If you have a USB 2.0 connection the audio interface will still connect and work but data will just transfer at 2.0 speeds. Back to Focusrite for a third time and another contender for one of the Best Mid Range USB Audio Interfaces. The oversized volume control makes it easy to adjust. The software can be downloaded after registration, including Ableton, Splice, Avis, and others. The Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD features a crowded design filled with inputs, knobs, buttons, and small text that took us a bit more time to figure out how to actually use. Our all-around pick for the best audio interface in 2020 is the Audient iD4 interface, which has a simple design and a ton of compatibility with software plugins, despite being designed for Mac users. The Steinberg U12 is a very popular audio interface, and it is certainly one of the cheapest you will find. A best usb audio interface is an essential kit required for anybody who wants to record high-end notes of themselves singing or playing or doing voice overs. This might be considered as an interface for people that need just a little more. On the front panel, there are also switchable input pads to handle any especially loud signals. It delivers a sound quality which is more than acceptable. (Image credit: Press Material) Combining a functional, but sleek, smart design, flexible usability and including a very respectable selection of bundled software, Native Instruments’ Komplete Audio 1 is probably the best budget audio interface you can get for under $120/£100 right now. The eight preamps give you up to 56dB of gain. We also couldn’t get the interface to work with GarageBand on our test iPad—the tabet would recognize the interface but couldn’t tell when audio was coming through. Other colored lights indicate whether the unit is on, using Phantom Power, and also MIDI in and out status. The 2i2 features an intuitive design in a lightweight package that can connect to any computer or iPad. The AudioBox iTwo adds a five-pin MIDI input and output, which makes it compatible with older gear. Its compact, lightweight design makes it easy to toss in your backpack or suitcase for mobile recording sessions. You’ll also be able to record instruments that use ¼-inch inputs, like electric guitars, by plugging them directly into the interface—rather than placing a USB microphone in front of an amp. Yes, it could still be described as compact, lightweight design makes it to! Avoid clipping sounds are achievable when using vintage EQs, reverbs, and the option of connecting up machines. Over previous models as well as the front panel, there are also switchable input pads to handle especially. 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