15 Best Audio Interfaces For Music Production 2024 | Top Picks

by | Last updated Jul 6, 2024

Best Audio Interfaces For Music Production | Top Picks

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When recording music, podcasts, or digital audio, the gatekeeper to quality is often the audio interface. This equipment lets you capture sound and convert it into a format your computer can use. It acts as the bridge between your microphones, instruments, and the digital realm. Consider it the centerpiece of any home studio setup or mobile recording rig, translating your acoustic nuances into electronic signals with clarity and precision.

An audio interface is a device that connects microphones, instruments, and other audio hardware to a computer, converting analog signals to digital audio. It ensures high fidelity by providing preamps for microphones, high-quality digital converters, and sometimes built-in effects. By facilitating multi-track recording, interfaces allow for the simultaneous recording of several sound sources, making them indispensable in modern audio production. 

When shopping for the best audio interfaces, it’s crucial to focus on factors including the quality of the preamps, the number and variety of inputs and outputs, the type of computer connection, and the compatibility with your existing equipment and software. Some interfaces are designed with simplicity for plug-and-play use, while others offer extensive controls for fine-tuning the audio signals. It’s essential to consider the specific needs of your setup, whether you’re a solo musician recording at home, a podcaster in need of multiple microphone inputs, or a producer in a professional studio environment.

We have invested time researching and examining various models to ensure you find an audio interface that fits your home studio or professional use requirements. In our thorough review, we’ll guide you through the top choices, helping you understand the nuances of each and how they can cater to your sound projects. Prioritizing functionality, ease of use, and reliable performance, our selections will help streamline your workflow and enhance the quality of your recordings.

    KEYNOTES:

    Our Top Picks – Best Audio Interfaces

    Best
    Budget

    Focusrite
    Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen

    Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen

    Get It Here

    Best
    Midrange

    Solid State Logic
    SSL2+

    Solid State Logic SSL 2+

    Get It Here

    Best
    High-End

    Universal Audio
    Twin X DUO USB HE

    Universal Audio Twin X DUO USB HE

    Get It Here

    Table Of Contents

    1. What Are The Best Audio Interfaces?

    Best Budget Audio Interfaces

    Best Midrange Audio Interfaces

    Best High-End Audio Interfaces

    2. What Is An Audio Interface?

    3. Audio Interface Buying Guide

    4. Finding Your Perfect Audio Interface: Key Takeaways

    5. FAQ

    Discover Top-Rated Audio Interfaces For Professional Sound | Amazon Audio Interfaces

    1. What Are The Best Audio Interfaces?

    We understand the importance of finding the perfect audio interface to match your recording needs, whether you’re a professional producer or a home studio enthusiast.

    After extensive evaluation, we’ve curated a selection of the finest audio interfaces that offer exceptional sound quality, robust build, versatility, and ease of use.

    Each product on our list has been chosen for its ability to deliver seamless audio recording and playback, ensuring that your creative process is supported by the best affordable tools available.

    Best Budget Audio Interfaces

    #1 Mackie Onyx Artist 1.2

    Best For Solo Artists And Content Creators

    Mackie Onyx Artist 1.2

    Mackie Onyx Artist 1.2

    Overview:

    The Mackie Onyx Artist 1.2 is a compact, no-frills audio interface that caters to solo performers and digital content creators.

    Pros:
    • High-quality Onyx mic preamp ensures pristine audio capture
    • Easy to use, with straightforward controls suitable for beginners 
    • Compact and rugged design, ideal for desktop setups or mobile use
    Cons:
    • Only one microphone preamp, which might limit those needing to record multiple sources simultaneously
    • Lacks MIDI connectivity, which could be a drawback for electronic music producers 
    • Some users may require more input/output options for complex recording setups 

    Unique Selling Point:

    Thanks to the renowned Onyx mic preamp, the Mackie Onyx Artist 1.2 is known for its exceptional sound quality. This interface is designed to deliver studio-grade recordings in a user-friendly package, making it an excellent choice for solo artists and podcasters.

    Key Benefits:

    1. Delivers professional audio quality with a renowned Onyx microphone preamp, enhancing your recordings with clarity and warmth. 
    2. The compact size makes it an excellent option for creators with limited space or those who need a portable recording solution. 
    3. Bus-powered for convenience allows you to record anywhere without needing an external power source.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $90

     

    Review:

    In our experience, the Mackie Onyx Artist 1.2 stands out for its simplicity and audio fidelity. The setup process is incredibly straightforward, so you can start recording almost immediately after unboxing. Its robust build quality assures us that this little unit can withstand the rigors of travel, making it a reliable companion for performers on the move.

    The Onyx preamp impressed us with its clear and detailed sound reproduction. Whether we recorded vocals or acoustic instruments, the results were consistently professional. The lack of multiple inputs and MIDI I/O is noticeable, but for a solo artist or podcaster, the single high-quality input is more than sufficient.

    The absence of additional I/O does mean that this interface might not suit those with more extensive recording needs. However, the Onyx Artist 1.2 delivers excellent sound in a simple package for its intended audience. The interface’s bus-powered design adds to its appeal, removing the need for an external power source and ensuring a tidy setup with minimal cabling.

    Although the Onyx Artist 1.2 might not have the bells and whistles of more elaborate setups, its focus on core functionality and sound quality must be balanced. It’s ideal for singer-songwriters, mobile producers, and podcasters who prioritize audio quality and portability over complex configurations.

    In conclusion, the Mackie Onyx Artist 1.2 is a solid choice for individuals seeking a straightforward, high-quality audio interface. Its affordability, combined with the renowned Onyx preamp, presents a valuable package for those starting their recording journey or needing a reliable, portable solution.

    While it may not cater to every recording scenario, its performance in its niche is exceptional. If you’re a solo artist or content creator looking for an interface that balances cost, quality, and ease of use, the Onyx Artist 1.2 could be the perfect addition to your creative toolkit.

    #2 Presonus AudioBox USB 96

    Best For Home Studios And Mobile Recording

    Presonus AudioBox USB 96

    Presonus AudioBox USB 96

    Overview:

    If you’re stepping into audio production, the PreSonus AudioBox 96 should be noticed.

    Pros:
    • Simplifies the recording process with its easy setup
    • It is portable, making it perfect for recording on the go
    • Offerings of free software add tremendous value
    Cons:
    • Limited to USB 2.0 connectivity, which may not be ideal for all users
    • Some users have reported challenges with software downloads
    • A few reviewers mentioned occasional unwanted noise during the recording

    Unique Selling Point:

    The PreSonus AudioBox 96 sets itself apart with the ability to transform a simple laptop into a mobile recording studio. Its combination of durable construction and invaluable software suite makes it a standout choice for newcomers and experienced users alike.

    Key Benefits:

    1. Allows for high-quality recordings with its studio-grade converters, elevating your audio projects.
    2. It comes with an impressive array of recording software, which can be a significant cost-saving for musicians and podcasters.
    3. The straightforward mixer control makes monitoring recordings hassle-free and intuitive.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $99

     

    Review:

    Our recent hands-on experience with the PreSonus AudioBox 96 was positive. Setting it up was a breeze; we appreciated not needing to grapple with complex installations. The bus-powered feature ensured we could easily pack the unit and record wherever inspiration struck – convenient for outdoor sessions or impromptu gigs.

    We especially enjoyed the sound clarity provided by the high-quality preamps. The onboard phantom power made recording with our favorite condenser microphones a delight. And though it’s common in this price range, including world-class software made this interface a serious value proposition.

    However, it had its flaws. While the unit performed admirably, the USB 2.0 connection presented some limitations in data transfer speeds, which may matter to tech-savvy users. We also learned from other users’ feedback that downloading and installing the included software might require some patience and support assistance.

    In our assessment, the AudioBox 96 shines for its robustness and ease of use. We found ourselves recording quickly, and with very little fuss, we were laying down tracks that sounded crisp and professional. The mixer control was remarkably user-friendly, balancing the input and playback for zero-latency monitoring – an essential feature for realtime recording tweaks.

    Wrapping up, the AudioBox 96 by PreSonus holds its ground as a solid entry-level interface. Given its affordable price tag, portability, and comprehensive software bundle, its value is hard to beat for anyone looking to kickstart their recording journey. If you can overlook its minor limitations, this interface could be the compact powerhouse to capture your creativity wherever you are.

    #3 Audient iD4 MKII

    Best For On-The-Go Recording Enthusiasts

    Audient iD4 MKII

    Audient iD4 MKII

    Overview:

    The Audient iD4 MKII is a smart buy for those requiring top-notch sound quality in a portable package.

    Pros:
    • Outstanding audio quality
    • Robust, travel-friendly design
    • Ease of use with USB-C connectivity
    Cons:
    • Limited I/O might not suit extensive session recording
    • No MIDI connectivity
    • Software bundles may be limiting for some users

    Unique Selling Point:

    The iD4 MKII‘s unique selling point is its Class-A microphone preamplifier, derived from Audient’s top-tier ASP8024 HE console. This provides an unprecedented audio quality in its class, shaping our recordings with professional clarity and warmth.

    Key Benefits:

    1. With a Class-A console microphone preamp, our recordings carry a distinct professional signature sound.
    2. The all-metal construction means the iD4 MKII withstands our on-the-move lifestyle without a hitch.
    3. USB-C functionality ensures quick data transfer rates and compatibility with contemporary devices without hassles.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $189

     

    Review:

    In our hands-on experience, the Audient iD4 MKII impresses with reliable performance, especially when capturing vocal and instrument nuances. Its solid build gives us confidence during transport, and the setup is straightforward — plug it into the computer, and we’re ready to roll. The USB-C connection also ensures seamless integration with modern production setups.

    Initially, upon unboxing the Audient iD4 MKII, we were taken aback by its sturdy, sleek design. Our tests show that it’s not just about looks; this interface captures every subtlety of our vocal and guitar performances with impressive precision.

    We appreciate the simplicity of the monitor mix feature, letting us dial between our computer audio and direct input for zero-latency monitoring. However, we sometimes wish for more inputs to accommodate additional recording equipment during larger sessions.

    Despite this, we must recognize the interface’s robust sound quality. The preamps are a cut above — clean, detailed, and accurate to the source. It’s a constant in our audio toolkit, connecting effortlessly to our gear at home or on the road.

    The Audient iD4 MKII reaffirms why the brand is respected amongst audio professionals. After spending significant time with it, we’re convinced it’s a valuable asset to any setup, big or small. Whether you’re just starting or looking to upgrade, the iD4 MKII merits serious consideration.

    #4 Universal Audio Volt 2

    Best For Streamlined Home Recording And Podcasting

    Universal Audio Volt 2

    Universal Audio Volt 2

    Overview:

    We believe that the UA Volt 2 is an ideal pick for those seeking studio-quality recordings without the studio.

    Pros:
    • Intuitive one-button operation for ease of use
    • It comes with a suite of high-quality plugins
    • Vintage Mic Preamp mode adds warmth to recordings
    Cons:
    • Limited input/output may not suit more complex setups
    • Some users report minor software bugs
    • Lacks the advanced routing options found in higher-end models

    Unique Selling Point:

    The UA Volt 2 shines with its Vintage Mic Preamp mode, a standout feature derived from the legendary UA 610 tube preamp. It’s as if we’re channeling a piece of recording history right from our desktop.

    Key Benefits:

    1. Professional Sound: 
      The Volt 2 doesn’t skimp on audio quality, ensuring our recordings are crisp and clear.
    2. Portability: 
      This audio interface is bus-powered, compact, and easily connects to computers and iOS devices, making it perfect for recording on the go.
    3. Rich Software Bundle: 
      The included industry-leading software like Ableton and Melodyne enhances our music production without requiring immediate investments.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $189

     

    Review:

    Our experience with the UA Volt 2 has been overwhelmingly positive, from unboxing to actual recording sessions. The build quality is robust, giving us confidence in its durability for home and mobile use. As soon as we plugged it in, we appreciated the straightforward setup.

    We didn’t have to fumble through complicated settings; a simple button press and we were recording with that vintage warmth that’s quite hard to come by at this price point.

    One of the Volt 2’s greatest assets is the included software. It’s not just filler; these are genuinely useful tools that enhance our production workflow. From creating beats to finessing vocals, the plugins bring much to the table. And was it recording on the iPad? A breeze. It stirs up creativity, being able to lay down ideas wherever we are with such ease.

    We did notice it needs more flexibility; our more advanced projects sometimes require only two inputs and two outputs. Some users have mentioned occasional software hiccups, though we encountered nothing that hindered our overall experience.

    The UA Volt 2 is a worthy companion for our recording endeavors. Its focus on quality and ease of use makes it a solid choice for anyone looking to capture sound with clarity and character. After hands-on sessions with this interface, we confidently recommend it to fellow creators.

    #5 Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen

    Best For Home Studio Music Production Beginners

    Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen

    Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen

    Overview:

    Consider the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 if you’re looking for a reliable and high-quality audio interface that’s easy to use and packed with features for home recording.

    Pros:
    • Pristine preamps and significant dynamic range for crystal clear recording
    • Intuitive Auto Gain and Clip Safe features to protect your takes
    • Bundled with an extensive range of professional-grade software and plugins
    Cons:
    • Only two inputs, which may limit those who need to record multiple sources simultaneously
    • USB 2.0 connectivity might not be the fastest for some users
    • The Air mode’s distinct sound may not suit all recording needs

    Unique Selling Point:

    The minimal noise and the vast dynamic range of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen are what set it apart. It feels like bringing a piece of a pro studio into your home that can unlock your potential, no matter what gear or instruments you’re using.

    Key Benefits:

    1. With its high-headroom preamps, you can capture the detail in your performances without fearing distortion.
    2. Its compact design makes it the perfect travel companion, enabling high-quality recordings.
    3. The software package provides all the tools you need for production, from recording to mastering, making it a complete solution for artists.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $250

     

    Review:

    We’ve recently spent time with the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and can vouch for its performance. The setup was a breeze, and we were ready to record within minutes. Its preamps are impressively clean—giving vocals and guitars a polished sound without fuss.

    The inclusive software bundle has been a boon, allowing us to experiment with different production styles immediately. Although it’s mainly suited for solo musicians or small setups due to its two-input configuration, it offers undisputed value for those who do not require more.

    Spending days with it in various recording scenarios has shown us its versatility, whether it’s a simple podcast session or laying down tracks for a new song. We concluded our session with a new level of appreciation for its straightforwardness.

    The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 left us feeling like it had significantly outperformed our expectations, proving its worth as a foundational tool for recording.

    Best Midrange Audio Interfaces

    #6 IK Multimedia AXE I/O Solo

    Best For Recording Guitarists And Bassists

    IK Multimedia AXE I/O Solo

    IK Multimedia AXE I/O Solo

    Overview:

    If you’re looking for rich guitar tones and studio-grade recordings at home, the AXE I/O SOLO might be your pick.

    Pros:
    • Impeccable high-resolution audio captures the nuances of your performance.
    • Innovative guitar tone shaping with Z-Tone offers flexibility for any style.
    • It comes with a massive software bundle that opens up endless creative opportunities.
    Cons:
    • Lacks the robust build of some higher-end interfaces.
    • The included software may have a learning curve for beginners.
    • Limited I/O could be restrictive for users with multiple instruments.

    Unique Selling Point:

    The AXE I/O SOLO‘s standout feature is its advanced guitar tone shaping. Tailor your input to match the character of your guitar while using the interface—it feels like having a high-end amp at your fingertips.

    Key Benefits:

    1. The device’s high-resolution recording ensures every lick and riff is captured, solidifying our productions with a professional sheen.
    2. Our guitar sessions are drastically elevated with the Z-Tone impedance circuit, tweaking our sound to perfection before it even hits the DAW.
    3. Benefiting from the impressive AmpliTube and TONEX software bundle, we dive into endless sonic landscapes, which would otherwise require a fortune in physical gear.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $265

     

    Review:

    Our recent recording sessions with the IK Multimedia AXE I/O SOLO have shown this interface to be a powerhouse for guitarists. The unit’s conversion clarity ensures our takes are pristine and full-bodied. When laying down tracks, the Z-Tone impedance circuitry allows us to dial in the exact response our guitars need, giving tracks a tailored feel that stands out.

    The device’s focus on stringed instruments is independent of its ability to capture other sources with finesse. Whether we hook up a vintage microphone or a keyboard, recordings retain their essence, translating performances faithfully. The sheer variety and quality of the AmpliTube and TONEX plugins are astounding, evoking the sensation of having every classic amp and effect at our disposal.

    Despite the rugged performance, the form factor feels less stout than some competitors. However, this does nothing to diminish the top-notch audio quality. Some of us initially grappled with the software—a weekend deep dive had us wielding it like pros.

    Overall, the IK Multimedia AXE I/O SOLO is an intelligent investment for serious guitarists and producers looking to bring studio-grade recordings into their creative space. The interface isn’t just about sounding great; it’s about feeling inspired during every session.

    By the end of our time with it, doubts are replaced with excitement for the next track. And that’s the hallmark of a solid home studio companion.

    #7 MOTU M4

    Best Preamps In An Audio Interface At This Price

    MOTU M4

    MOTU M4

    Overview:

    If you’re in the market for a professional, reliable and still affordable audio interface, the MOTU M4 should be a top contender on your list.

    Pros:
    • Exceptional sound quality with ESS Sabre32 Ultra DAC Technology
    • Super low latency enabling seamless recording and monitoring
    • Full-color LCD for precise level metering
    Cons:
    • Lack of protective cover for the LCD screen
    • Absence of USB-C to USB-C cable for modern connectivity
    • Output mirroring is not as straightforward as some competitors

    Unique Selling Point:

    The MOTU M4‘s unique selling point is its industry-leading dynamic range and advanced metering capabilities. The interface allows us to keep a close eye on our levels, ensuring pristine audio capture.

    Key Benefits:

    1. The ESS Sabre32 Ultra DAC Technology provides superb audio fidelity, enhancing the quality of recordings.
    2. The interface dramatically reduces roundtrip latency, facilitating realtime monitoring and processing without perceptible delay.
    3. Including comprehensive metering via an LCD offers a professional experience, allowing for accurate level adjustments while recording or mixing.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $280

     

    Review:

    Our time with the MOTU M4 formed a lasting impression of what a home studio audio interface can accomplish. Its exceptional DAC technology heralds a clarity in sound that rivals far more expensive gear. Complementing this is the swift performance in handling audio inputs and outputs, ensuring that what we play is what we hear without annoying delay.

    The full-color LCD has been valuable, giving realtime feedback usually reserved for higher-end models. We always knew where we stood with our levels, which is critical for avoiding distortion or underpowered recordings. Furthermore, the M4’s ability to loop back audio has simplified our streaming and podcasting workflow, integrating live and computer-based sources effortlessly.

    However, a minor gripe was the absence of additional cabling options right out of the box, which could maximize its feature set on day one. We also felt it would benefit from a minor design tweak to add a protective cover over its LCD for added longevity.

    Having extensively used the MOTU M4, we affirm it delivers a professional experience in a compact form factor. Its strengths far outweigh its minor weaknesses, making it a worthy investment for creators who demand top-tier performance without breaking the bank. Whether tracking vocalists, electronic instruments, or producing podcasts, the M4 has become a cornerstone of our audio setup.

    #8 Solid State Logic SSL 2+

    Best Entry-Level SSL-Quality Audio Interface

    Solid State Logic SSL 2+

    Solid State Logic SSL 2+

    Overview:

    The SSL 2+ is stellar for those needing top-tier sound quality in a compact package. Its stellar preamps deliver that esteemed SSL sound clarity.

    Pros:
    • Exceptional preamps offer pristine audio capture.
    • Legacy 4K analog enhancement adds warmth to recordings.
    • High-current headphone outputs provide precise monitoring.
    Cons:
    • Lacks MIDI connectivity.
    • Plastic construction may feel less durable.
    • Limited I/O could be restrictive for advanced users.

    Unique Selling Point:

    The hallmark of the SSL 2+ is undoubtedly its SSL-designed microphone preamps, which have brought the industry-standard console sound to a USB interface. Whether we’re recording vocals or instruments, the detail and richness these preamps impart are simply unmatched at this product’s price point.

    Key Benefits:

    1. The preamps ensure that recordings are imbued with unrivaled clarity and depth, making this unit suitable for professional-level projects.
    2. With the Legacy 4K button, we add a distinct analog character to our sounds, emulating the sonic traits of SSL’s legendary consoles.
    3. The dual headphone outputs have been a godsend for sessions requiring multiple monitoring mixes, offering flexibility and convenience.

    Pricing:

    Average Price ~ $290

     

    Review:

    From the moment we unboxed the SSL 2+, the unit’s footprint was perfect for our limited desk space, fitting in effortlessly with the rest of our gear. Recording through this interface, it’s clear why SSL’s reputation precedes them – the audio fidelity was impressive across various microphones and instruments.

    We particularly reveled in the Legacy 4K feature, which injected an extra layer of sonic color that’s hard to find outside professional studios. This feature has become a regular part of our toolkit, adding life to our recordings.

    While the plastic build initially gave us pause, it’s proven robust through regular use. The interface is straightforward, eschewing unnecessary complexity, which allowed us to focus solely on capturing great takes. The headphone amps deliver ample power, efficiently driving our monitoring headphones and ensuring accurate playback.
    Despite its modest size, the SSL 2+ punches well above its weight.

    Artists and producers prioritizing audio quality and portability will find this interface a reliable ally. However, those who require more inputs and outputs or seek to incorporate additional hardware via MIDI might hit a wall with this unit.

    Regardless, the SSL 2+ has become an essential cog in our recording rig, consistently delivering professional results on the move or in the heart of our studio. We conclude with a nod to the SSL 2+ for its remarkable contribution to our production process.

    #9 Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 4th Gen

    Best For Home Studio Music Production Beginners

    Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 4th Gen