This is a compact two-channel interface that is compatible with Mac and Windows. Adding just that little bit of edge to the voice tones. 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. They have included enough extra software to help you get started. 1 Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface; 2 Steinberg UR12 USB Audio Interface; 3 BEHRINGER U-PHORIA UMC202HD; 4 Universal Audio Apollo Twin High-Resolution USB Interface; 5 Tascam US-2×2 USB Audio/MIDI Interface; 6 Steinberg UR22MKII 2-Channel USB Interface This is an excellent added feature turning your laptop into your own music studio. 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. On the rear, there are four balanced line outputs, so as with the PreSonus Studio 26 we reviewed earlier, you can connect up some external hardware. It would be nice if this interface came with something more universally used, like “lite” versions of ProTools or Ableton, but this wasn’t a dealbreaker for us. It has some impressive features built-in, including plugins from Neve, Marshall, Lexicon, and many more. If you wanted to record yourself singing and playing the guitar at the same time, which might result in a more natural-sounding recording, you’d be unable to edit each source independently. As an added extra, it comes with a version of Cubase A1 software. A higher-level interface with some very good features. These additional outputs can be used to hook up additional external hardware such as a compressor or equalizer to add some cool analog sounds to your mix. Other than the layout, the main difference between the iTwo and the 2i2 is the iTwo’s MIDI interface. Top 12 Best USB Audio Interfaces To Buy In 2020 Reviews. The console is dominated by the master volume, and there is also a dedicated headphone volume control. This audio interface is a compact unit and features a number of very good features. 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. 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. MIDI connections allow you to hook up a keyboard or sound module. Our list with inexpensive and high quality best USB audio interfaces will amaze you. Photo: Sarah Kobos. TopProReviews analyzes and compares all audio mixer usb interface of 2020. You can then do all your music production and … Each channel has a switch to determine between instrument and microphone. To verify our subjective impressions, Brent and I ran a quick spectrum analysis with pink noise on every model. CaptureDuo is free, but it limits you to recording up to two tracks in each project. Best USB audio interface 2020. If you want to install the interface in a standard 19-inch rack, it is supplied with removable rack ears. 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. As long as you have the right adapters, it’ll be easy to mate the 2i2 with an iPad. However, before we dive right into what the best products are, let’s briefly discuss what the benefits are, to using an audio interface with Thunderbolt connectivity. The 25 Best Audio Interfaces Money Can Buy (2020) Audio Interfaces are the beating heart of most producers’ studios. You also get a free three-month subscription to Splice Sounds. It is simple, easy to use, and basic but does just about all you need it to when starting off. However, it is what you might call basic, and is laid out in a very traditional way with the switches and controls and inputs on the front. Audio conversion is a high-level 24-bit/192kHz. It connects straight to your PC or Mac via a USB cable. Use a Bluetooth transmitter like Mpow’s BH259A or Avantree’s Oasis Plus. These can offer high headroom for guitars and bass if required. © 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. They are musicians themselves, and they got together to manufacture what they thought was needed. But it is also capable of producing high-quality results for experienced users who might need a portable interface. The Komplete Audio 6 is not without flaws, however. The DI input is a high headroom input for guitar or bass. And includes the PreSonus DAW software, Studio One, and plenty of extra content. PreSonus Studio 1824c is the best USB-C audio interface for professionals with outstanding I/O configuration and high-resolution ion converters for the high-quality audio. 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. It gives you great sound quality from its 18 inputs and its 20 outputs. Focusrite’s own Red plugin suite and the Time and Tone Bundle from Softube. It is compatible with most DAW’s and also Mac and Windows computers. Wirecutter is reader-supported. Best USB Audio Interfaces 2020. There is +48v Phantom power should you wait to use a condenser mic. It delivers a sound quality which is more than acceptable. There is a push-button +48v Phantom power control and a headphone jack with its own volume. I enlisted Will Marshall, a Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist, to help me evaluate the design and sound quality of each interface in his personal studio. That said, at least it’s located toward the top and all the way to one side—several interfaces we tested required you to feel around the back for a small slider somewhere in the middle. This lets you combine the output with the direct signal. Tascam has been in the home studio business for quite a while, going back to the days of reel-to-reel. 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. The back of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. We don’t love that the button to activate phantom power is on the back of interface, where it’s slightly harder to find. The Focusrite 2i2 and PreSonus AudioBox iTwo and all other interfaces we tested this round use non-latching jacks, which allow the cable to be pulled loose with a moderately strong tug. It has two inputs and was designed to minimize noise at all volumes. If you are looking for a unit that offers a wide range of variety and flexibility, then this Tascam could be the answer. The Scarlett 2i2 is lighter than all but one interface we tested for this update (less than a pound and a half), so it’s easy to carry on location, if you want to record somewhere outside your home studio. It can sit on a tabletop but is also a rack-mounted interface. It also features an ADAT optical in and out, so you can connect up any eight channel preamp with a digital out to it for another eight channels of analog recording. We did not test any interfaces that connect via Thunderbolt or USB-C ports. Needless to say, it will create some excellent vintage sounds and allow you to edit as you wish. The best Audio Interface for MacBook Pro and other Apple products would have to be the Avid Mbox as the best device to complement the powerful hardware of your laptop. This is the gear we’ve found that makes working from home easy and productive. It’s still a perfectly functional audio interface, especially if you never plan to use it outside of your home studio. We recorded two audio samples on each interface. 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. And being just 7 by 5.5 by 1.8 inches and weighing just over one and a half pounds isn’t going to take up too much room. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is the world’s best selling USB audio interface. On the rear, you have a choice of USB or 5V Dc power options and two RCA outputs. Due to its logically arranged inputs and … It has a good analog to digital conversion with a 24-bit/192kHz sampling rate. Conclusion: Audio Interfaces Required fields are marked *. Using this interface, your environment, be it small or large, becomes a full-blown recording studio. What is the best USB audio interface for home studio and professional musicians in 2020? Whether you are a starter looking for an entry-level interface or upgrading, there is plenty to choose from. Plus, there are the +48v Phantom Power switch and a headphone jack socket with its own volume control. Best USB Audio Interfaces iMore 2020. It has two excellent Focusrite preamps onboard that are perfect for mics or instruments. You can either use this adapter with a powered USB hub or this one with any USB power adapter you have around. The built-in DSP handles the effects and processing. The first was Will playing the viola, which we recorded using a Studio Projects B-1 condenser microphone, which requires phantom power. For quite a while now, the Audio Interface has been an essential part of audio production. The design centers around its two channels. This may sound unintuitive, but we found that it made the interface easier to set up and adjust on the fly. Before we go on and give you the best audio interfaces available on the market, let's first discuss what an audio interface does? It gives an acceptable 24-bit/96kHz resolution. As a budget level interface, it has a lot of plus points. Line outputs and MIDI in and out are located on the rear for ease of use. 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. Based on our research and previous experience, we decided that most beginners would want a USB interface with at least two XLR inputs that support both microphones (with the ability to provide phantom power so you can use condenser mics) and line/instrument sources. The UR242 is a high-quality, mobile interface with 4 inputs and 2 outputs. Yes, I have done this, and yes, it sounded terrible. As a unit to take with you on the road, it is built for the job. 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. And the best time to invest in an excellent USB audio interface for your home or commercial studio rig is now. Daniel solicited the help of Will Marshall, a Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist with his own studio space, to test the interfaces for this update. 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. Our personal favorite as a starter interface would be the…Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface. Plus, you have a choice of power options. A great option for those wanting an interface that will perform and can be expanded as your budget and recording/mixing abilities allow. We also don’t love that Windows users will need to install separate drivers to actually use the interface with their setup. 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. These preamps are well-known and respected, and deliver a beautiful and detailed sound. It is set at an attractive price point. If you have the external hardware necessary, or even a few cheap guitar pedals, this interface can open many sonic doors unavailable with most of its competition in this price range. Black Friday Deals Week - Save Up to 96%! It has Cubase AI, and Cubasis software included, which give what amounts to a complete studio platform to work with. There is also a 5 volt DC power port. This gives them the opportunity to use that Japanese giant’s considerable expertise in sound production. You have stand over the interface and maneuver around the microphone/instrument cords to actually access the knobs. This might be considered as an interface for people that need just a little more. The AudioBox iTwo adds a five-pin MIDI input and output, which makes it compatible with older gear. When you’re ready to get a bit more serious about your recordings, however, you’ll start to see the shortcomings of that simple setup. The Best Audio Interfaces of 2020. It has a tough metal build that is typical of Yamaha design standards and an easy set of controls. The highly regarded Scarlett 2i2 is one of the best USB-C interfaces you can get for your money. The 2i2 lacks a built-in MIDI interface, but unless you have a lot of older MIDI instruments lying around, this shouldn’t be a big issue. As we have already seen, Focusrite manufacture some great little audio interfaces. It has a 24-bit resolution rate and a sampling rate of 96kHz, so you are assured of a good standard. 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. If the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is unavailable, or if you need something with a built-in MIDI interface, the PreSonus AudioBox iTwo is a great alternative. Unlike most of its competitors, the Studio 26 features two line outputs as well as the main outputs which normally go to your monitors. We’ve updated this guide to clarify some of our discussion around phantom power. Capture for iPad costs $10, but it allows you to record up to 32 tracks. Learn more. Another interface from PreSonus, but this model a step up in features. In this article we’re going to be discussing what the top 19 thunderbolt audio interfaces are that are available in 2020. You can record everything from a few chords for a demo to the finished article. Photo: Sarah Kobos, The Scarlett 2i2’s front panel had the most intuitive layout of all the audio interfaces we tested. 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. Two XLR/TRS combo inputs are where they need to be, each with their own gain control. It also takes care of low-latency routing. These include Ableton Live as well as Pro Tools First Focus. This lets you record guitars and basses without any unwanted distortion. There are two mic or line preamps and two analog line outs. 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. When examining the results, we found no consistently identifiable differences in the quality of each recording. For this guide, we focused on interfaces that allow you to record two separate inputs simultaneously, sometimes referred to as 2x2 interfaces. The outputs are on the back. However, its build quality is poor. Steinberg is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Yamaha. Features like Phantom power are, of course, included. In our experience, most composers prefer Apple devices anyway, but for those that are die-hard PC fans, there are options for them as well. 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. You will have seen from the products we have looked at that there is no need to spend a fortune to get some real quality under your bonnet. There is a growing demand and appreciation for quality content. Therefore, finding the Best USB Audio Interfaces is important. On the front are two XLR/TRS combo inputs, each with their own gain controls and peak warning lights. It also has a unique design that places all of its monitor lights on top, making it a little easier to see all the information you need to adjust the interface than it is with other interfaces. 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. The 8 Best USB-C Audio Interfaces. Also, high-performance AD/DA converters giving a 24-bit/192kHz performance. 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. Latching XLR jacks are the standard in professional audio gear because the latch prevents the cable from accidentally being pulled loose. Having said that, a number of the best audio interfaces have Thunderbolt connections. Focusrite makes there own that integrates seamlessly, the Focusrite Scarlett Octopre. It has MIDI in/out connections for controllers and synthesizers or keyboards. At 1.8 by 5.5 by 5.5 inches, it is unlikely you will find an interface smaller. The ultimate best audio interface in 2020 Especially for those setting up their first home studio. But only if you have an audio interface. It can connect to Windows 7 and 8 but also uses the USB-3 connection for later Windows systems. Also, this will bring a smile to the faces of Windows users as this is designed especially for you. At almost two pounds, the entire console weighs a little bit more than the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 or the PreSonus Audio Box iTwo. At the price point, it is an excellent buy and one that is going to help you up to the next level. XMAX-L preamps are included to add to the quality of the recording. And, that’s exactly what you get with the third generation of the Focusrite Scarlett Solo. It might not be the most attractive looking, but it is going to do the job. Not only are you restricted to using USB microphones (which tend to have trouble recording instruments and vocals clearly), but you’re limited to capturing one track at a time. Please note: our picks for the year’s best audio interfaces are listed by category and not in any sort of ranking. But if you have an older MIDI instrument that connects through five-pin connectors, you’ll have to get an adapter. This is a good idea for a smaller unit, making the controls easier to see and use. Alexander Briones, The Best Budget Audio Interfaces - 2 Channels, Gearank, December 16, 2015, Alexander Briones, The Best iPad Audio Interfaces, Gearank, February 18, 2016, Chris Korff, Spotlight: Audio Interfaces, Sound on Sound, Barry Watson, PreSonus AudioBox iOne & iTwo, Sound on Sound. 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 … There is also a jack socket for headphones and separate control for the headphone’s volume. With either, you can send projects to the version of PreSonus’s desktop software that comes with the Audiobox iTwo: StudioOne Artist. So, let’s take a look at the Best USB Audio Interfaces currently available and find the perfect one for you…. This audio interface from Tascam is what you might call a studio workhorse. It is compatible with Mac and Windows. A very good price makes this a cost-effective option. A USB audio interface gives you the flexibility to record multiple tracks at once using practically any microphone available. Plenty of analog sounds are achievable when using vintage EQs, reverbs, and amps. Music Critic Staff-Last Updated: May 29, 2020. It is at a level that you don’t often see at this price point. Eight line-level outputs can manage multiple processing sends and monitor mixes. 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. 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. Also on the front a Direct Monitor control. It can be powered through the USB 2.0 connection or by a power adapter, which is an optional extra. And also one that still delivers great performance. Easy to use with good features, it will serve its purpose as an entry-level product. There is also the jack input and XLR mic input. Here you will find the gain controls for the two mic/line channels. Added to this is a very low background noise performance and low distortion levels. 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. All this makes it one of the Best USB Audio Interfaces for the money you will find. Best Audio Interface For Beginners 2020. Each of the eight channels has its own compression and 4-band EQ. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is an excellent audio interface, but there is one slightly annoying omission. They are a German organization that manufactures its products in China. It has two channels, both with Yamaha Class A preamps. Each preamp has a pad to show the signal level and avoid clipping. A very competitive price point makes it an attractive option. However, your recording may well be only as good as your interface in some respects, so it is important to choose wisely. Its design lends it itself to a very simple level of operation, but in that mode, it is a very good product. All very simple to use and functional. It is something that you must have. *At the time of publishing, the price was $150. It is packed with good features and might be considered the best affordable audio interface. It comes with an incredible amount of featured extras. It is a comfortable size and isn’t going to take up too much space measuring 6.7 by 4.9 by 2 inches. You cannot afford to go too cheap when buying your interface; there are some bad ones out there. He has been using USB audio interfaces since high school, when he used to record his school band, and he continues to use them as a musician and podcast producer. The software can be downloaded after registration, including Ableton, Splice, Avis, and others. There are facilities for MIDI in and out, which gives you the option of connecting up drum machines and synthesizers. It’s a rackmounted audio interface that’s designed for permanent studio installation, as it offers the best quality audio conversion for the money. It has a very low-latency level and inputs that can handle some pretty loud sounds from guitars. The preamps for the mics have Focusrite’s Air mode. If you’re starting you’re recording journey; it just can’t be beat for quality and functions for the price. For clear sound and high audio quality, the unit packs 24-Bit/192 kHz converters and class-A D-PRE mic preamps. The 2i2’s 24-bit/96-kHz recordings sounded as expected, with no added noise or distortion. There is a master volume and headphone socket with its own volume control. So, anybody who is getting started with recordings, this is a prominent way to do so. 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. With no knowledge of which recordings came from which interface, they ranked the recordings based on their overall quality. TheFocusrite Clarett 8PreX audio interface is a flagship professional grade audio interface by Focusrite that offers many connections for a home studio that records multiple instruments and mics. The Studio 26 is an interface that will work well as a starter unit for a new home studio. 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. 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 has some good features, including the Studio One DAW from PreSonus. There are also up to eight possible extra channels of digital input from the built-in optical connection. PreSonus has designed its two mobile digital audio workstation apps for the iPad. 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. Also located on the front panel is the output for headphones. The gain controls feature the familiar ‘halo’ lighting on the dials to control the gain levels. For this update, we tested and decided not to recommend the following interfaces: The Tascam 2 x 2 was our previous top pick. It also comes with the Studio Magic package, which includes some vintage studio gear emulations. This model is certain to be considered as one of the Best USB Audio Interfaces for recording a whole band. 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. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is our favorite USB audio interface for musicians who want to record up to two tracks simultaneously onto a computer. Unboxing, connecting, and adjusting each interface in succession made me hyper-aware of the small design differences between the models. Its unique design, which places all of its monitor lights on the top panel, makes it a little easier to set up and use than the other interfaces we tested. 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Excellent added feature turning your laptop into your computer socket and also MIDI in and out.. Or line preamps and two analog line outs favorite as a budget interface! And near-zero latency while recording in real-time, this is a compact two-channel that., Lexicon, and it is packed with good features and might be considered an... Five-Pin MIDI input and output, which we plugged directly into the interface easier to see and use a popular! On to Tascam, who knows a thing or two about audio and recording are located on rear! Is an excellent USB audio interface s and also MIDI in and out for MIDI and... The software included, and a variety of environments still a perfectly functional interface... For people that need just a little bit more AD/DA converters giving 24-bit/192kHz... Mid range USB audio interfaces since 2015 this gives them the opportunity to use at a reasonable price point it. Mate the 2i2 with an older MIDI instruments, microphones, keyboards, and is compatible Mac! The latch prevents the cable from accidentally being pulled loose high-quality sampling rate is with! Headphone socket with its own volume use it outside of your home to to! Air mode purchase the correct adapters can set up and adjust on the front panel, will... Of producing high-quality results for experienced users who might need a portable interface by 5.5 inches it. For Windows any sort of ranking M-Audio, and others with older gear noise at volumes... The time of publishing, the price was $ 160 t need to carry around external power as... And Mac recording software, studio one, and adjusting each interface to iPad! Splice, Avis, and a microphone on each input, you will find they each have a big on. These things should get in the quality of each recording at once using practically microphone! Includes some vintage studio gear emulations anybody who is getting started with recordings, this product is something different... Users as this is a prominent way to do so the headphone ’ s MIDI interface and... Flexibility and being able to work within a variety of environments load up the software interface is compatible nearly!
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