Best Audio Interfaces For Music Production 2023 | Top Picks

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Best Audio Interfaces For Music Production | Top Picks

It can be difficult choosing the right audio interface to suit your needs. This guide will look at the best audio interfaces for music production available to you. Whether you’re a beginner in audio production, an established recording artist or a seasoned professional: you will be able to make an informed buying decision after reading this article.

There are several best audio interfaces for music production, depending on the use scenario. A suitable audio interface matches its distinct purpose as well as the level of experience the user has. According to the main application area, the best audio interfaces for music production are:

  1. Universal Audio Apollo x8p (Professionals)
  2. Antelope Audio Orion 32+ Gen 3 (Professionals)
  3. Focusrite Clarett+ 8Pre (Studio Recording)
  4. Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Duo (Mixing And Mastering)
  5. Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen (Bands, Drummers)
  6. PreSonus Quantum 2626 (Bands, Live Performance, Drummers)
  7. Universal Audio Volt 476P (Music Production)
  8. Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 3rd Gen (Music Production)
  9. IK Multimedia Axe I/O (Guitarists And Bassists)
  10. PreSonus Studio 26c (Singers)
  11. Rode Rodecaster Pro II (Podcasters)
  12. Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen (Home Studio)
  13. Solid State Logic (SSL) 2+ (Home Studio)
  14. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen (Solo Artists)
  15. Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen (Solo Artists)
  16. M-Audio M-Track DUO (Small Budget)
  17. M-Audio M-Track SOLO (Small Budget)
  18. IK Multimedia iRig Pro Duo I/O (Traveling)

Let’s find the perfect audio interface for your needs in order to get the most out of your music production!

    Table Of Contents

    1. What Is An Audio Interface?

    2. How Do You Know Which Audio Interface To Buy?

    3. Best Audio Interfaces For A Small Budget

    4. Best Audio Interfaces For A Home Studio

    5. Best Audio Interfaces For Solo Artists

    6. Best Audio Interfaces For Singers And Podcasters

    7. Best Audio Interface For Guitarists And Bassists

    8. Best Audio Interfaces For Drummers

    9. Best Audio Interfaces For Bands

    10. Best Audio Interfaces For Music Production

    11. Best Audio Interface For Studio Recording

    12. Best Audio Interface For Mixing And Mastering

    13. Best Audio Interface For Live Performance

    14. Best Audio Interface For Traveling

    15. Best Audio Interfaces For Professionals

    16. Conclusion And Tips On Choosing An Audio Interface

    1. What Is An Audio Interface?

    An audio interface is a device that connects your computer to professional recording equipment, microphones, instruments and amplifiers. It can be considered as a key device in the music production process. Audio interfaces are one of the main components of recording studios. They are used for recording music, podcasts or live performances.

    For example, if you’re wanting to record your acoustic guitar, vocals and electric guitar, you likely have three microphones, a guitar and a preamp, as well as a handful of pedals and effects. Using an audio interface, you can connect all of your equipment to the host computer that you’re recording with.

    An Audio Interface

    This can be via USB, Firewire, Thunderbolt or even an Ethernet connection.  All of the audio equipment listed above would be plugged into the audio interface which then plugs into the computer. The interface functions as a converter, which converts any analog signal into a digital one (A/D – which is then processed by a computer) and back into an analog signal (D/A).

    In order to listen to the processed signal, playback devices need to be connected to the outputs of the audio interface (studio monitors, headphones). With an audio interface, it is possible to record audio without a computer, but most people prefer to use dedicated recording software solutions along with it. In essence, an audio interface allows you to record and process audio in high quality sound.

    2. How Do You Know Which Audio Interface To Buy?

    There are many different audio interfaces on the market. The prices vary from as low as $50 to as high as $3,000 and above. The most affordable interface may not be the best choice for your needs, just like the most expensive one will most likely not be an appropriate solution as well.

    Some of them have additional inputs and outputs, while some others provide better preamps. Some of them are portable devices, others are rack mounted or internal cards (e.g. PCIe cards for your PC).

    So you have to know what you need before you make the purchase in order to make the best out of your money. A computer with a built-in standard sound card is not a suitable option at all. In order to get better sound quality and to work with a higher number of microphones or when you want to use professional recording software, you will need an audio interface.

    The best way to know which audio interface to buy is to know which factors should affect the decision making. There are basically two main aspects, which should be considered before buying an audio interface:

    1) What Is The Use Scenario Of The Audio Interface?

    2) What Is The Experience Level (Regarding Music Production) Of The User?

    How Do You Know Which Audio Interface To Buy?

    Regarding each factor separately, you should be able to narrow down the most suitable audio interface for your individual needs.

    Experience Level In Audio Production

    Beginner

    The best audio interface for you needs most likely is a small one which is portable and just has enough input jacks for your recording needs. Make sure to not buy the cheapest one you can find, but certainly don’t spend money on aspects of an audio interface you do not need at this point.

    An interface with two inputs, capable of handling microphones (XLR) as well as instruments (1/4″) is able to record two signals at once and thus allows stereo recordings. Separate outputs for a pair of studio monitors and headphones are a must. Our suggestion would be to choose a common USB audio interface from a well established brand at the beginning of your endeavors.

    Intermediate

    You might already have a decent amount of experience with your first audio interface and are now looking for an upgrade which satisfies your growing demands. At this point you should assess any problems you had with your first audio interface as well as the things you need to improve to continue your work.

    Most people buy the next iteration of their first audio interface which is always a good idea, cause the manufacturer often automatically improves crucial issues of the initial product. Adding some input/output jacks and being able to plugin a second pair of headphones is the way to go.

    Advanced

    You should be in the music production business for several years now and you make the decision to substantially upgrade your setup. Your best choice here might be to get a solid rack mounted audio interface with multiple input and output options.

    Depending on your processing system, consider buying an interface with integrated DSP capabilities and/or a faster connection standard than USB. At this point it might also be a good idea to invest in a second audio interface for mobile solutions, as your main interface is most likely immobile.

    Professional

    As a professional in the business you always seek for perfection. “Good” isn’t enough any more. Your budget allows you to invest in a high end audio interface with sought-after preamps, a huge amount of DSP power and nearly every functionality you could ever wish for.

    These type of audio interfaces cost several thousand dollars and are typically found in established recording studios.

     

    Use Scenario Of The Audio Interface

    Location

    Make sure to buy the correct form factor for your needs. (Home) Studios can choose between any type of audio interface (standalone units, rack mounted ones or internal interfaces). In case you need to travel with the interface or take it to different places like a rehearsal room, the best option is to go for a smaller standalone unit (unless you bear carrying heavy rack units).

    Quantity Of Users / Artists

    As a solo artist you might only need to inputs (e.g. for microphone and guitar) while a whole band needs a bunch of inputs (especially drums).

    Type Of Recording Artists

    There are dedicated audio interfaces which are designed for a certain type of user. Some interfaces are designed for guitarists with special kind of input and processing features, others have high end preamps which improves vocal recordings in particular.

    Audio Processing Intended

    Depending on the intended processing, some interfaces offer different benefits. An interface for recording and live purposes always should contain solid preamps and a ton of connection options, while an interface for mixing and mastering always benefits from integrated DSP capabilities.

     

    Below, you’ll find a list of our top picks for audio interfaces in common use scenarios. For each section, we picked suitable audio interfaces which are the most effective and have the best price-performance ratio.

    Considering all of the aspects above it should be easier for you to make an informed buying decision regarding your first or next audio interface!

    3. Best Audio Interfaces For A Small Budget

    M-Audio M-Track Duo | Source: Picture: Thomann GmbH
    M-Audio M-Track Solo | Source: Picture: Thomann GmbH

    4. Best Audio Interfaces For A Home Studio

    Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen | Source: Picture: Thomann GmbH
    Solid State Logic 2+ | Source: Picture: Thomann GmbH

    5. Best Audio Interfaces For Solo Artists

    Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen | Source: Picture: Thomann GmbH
    Focusrite Solo 3rd Gen | Source: Picture: Thomann GmbH

    6. Best Audio Interfaces For Singers And Podcasters

    PreSonus Studio 26C | Source: Picture: Thomann GmbH
    Rode Rodecaster Pro II | Source: Picture: Thomann GmbH

    7. Best Audio Interface For Guitarists And Bassists

    IK Multimedia Axe I/O | Source: Picture: Thomann GmbH

    8. Best Audio Interfaces For Drummers

    Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen | Source: Picture: Thomann GmbH
    Motu 8 Pre USB | Source: Picture: Thomann GmbH

    10. Best Audio Interfaces For Music Production

    Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 3rd Gen | Source: Picture: Thomann GmbH
    Solid State Logic 12 | Source: Picture: Thomann GmbH

    11. Best Audio Interface For Studio Recording

    Focusrite Clarett+ 8Pre | Source: Picture: Thomann GmbH

    12. Best Audio Interface For Mixing And Mastering

    Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Duo | Source: Picture: Thomann GmbH

    13. Best Audio Interface For Live Performance

    Behringer X 32 | Source: Picture: Thomann GmbH

    14. Best Audio Interface For Traveling

    IK Multimedia iRig Pro Duo I/O | Source: Picture: Thomann GmbH

    15. Best Audio Interfaces For Professionals

    Avid HD Madi | Source: Picture: Thomann GmbH
    Apogee Symphony I/O MK2 TB 16x16 | Source: Picture: Thomann GmbH

    16. Conclusion And Tips On Choosing An Audio Interface

    Choosing the right audio interface for your music production needs is a crucial decision. There are many important factors to consider when purchasing an audio interface, and it’s important to take your time and think about each one carefully. We hope that our audio interface guide was helpful and gave you some ideas about how to choose the interface that is right for you. Here are some final tips on choosing the right audio interface:

    Tips On Choosing An Audio Interface:

     

    • Consider The Use Scenario Of The Audio Interface
    • Consider The Experience Level Of The User
    • Make Sure The Audio Interface Has The Right Connection Standard For Your System
    • Make Sure The Audio Interface Has Sufficient Input / Output Channels For Your Needs
    • Assess The Quality Of Support You Can Expect From The Manufacturer (e.g. Driver Updates)
    • Avoid Small Or Even Unknown Manufacturers / Brands

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    Hopefully you found this blog post to be helpful and informative. Feel free to contact us anytime with any questions or concerns about the topic.
    Thanks for reading!

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