The Top 10 Best Audio Interface 2019! [Review & Buyer’s Guide!]

Do you think your music/recordings are going to be of high quality, or perhaps sound good if you buy an audio interface?

You don’t do recording, all you do is in-the-box mixing & mastering, do you need an external interface?

If you want an answer to this, and how you should properly go about selecting the right audio interface for your need, then you are on the right page.

I’ll highlight the best ten audio interfaces, give you valuable information about selecting the right interface for your studio, and why you need them.

Let’s kick-off…

Don’t buy any audio interface without Reading the Helpful Guide & Tip (Use The Table of Content).

Disclosure:

Heads Up: This post contains an affiliate link, if you buy through one of those links, I’ll earn a commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote relevant products or ones I have interest in, it does not influence my opinion on this page.

I also provided an option for non-affiliate links if you believe this post isn’t valuable. Labelled “No Aff”

My Top 3 Picks!

Universal Audio Apollo Twin Thunderbolt

Universal Audio Thunderbolt

Click Here For Price & Review

Focusrite Scarlett

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface
Click Here For Price & Review

PreSonus AudioBox

PreSonus AudioBox USB 2x2 Audio Interface
Click Here For Price & Review

The Best 10 Audio Interfaces

Now it’s your time to carefully sift through the list with the factors I gave you in the helpful guide and tips section, as you read along with the recommendation below, note the Input and Output count if it’s expandable (ADAT), the connector (USB or Thunderbolt) and Daw compatibility.

…First on the list

1. Audient iD14 (10-in/14-out)

Audient iD14 USB Audio Interface

Audient iD14 is a superb audio interface that delivers a compact and elegant desktop package.

The primary function of an audio interface is to convert digital information on your DAW and translate it into an analogue sound which you can hear through your headphones and speakers.iD14 provides you with high-performance converter, which enables you to hear audio as it’s supposed to sound.

Who is this recommended for? – Beginner and Professional Studios who would love to start with more inputs, and expand if necessary with ADAT option.

Technical Specifications

  • 10 -input/4-output + 2 Mic Preamps
  • ADAT for more input expandability
  • USB 2.0 bus-powered
  • 24bit/96khz
  • Compatible with Windows 10 & macOS High Sierra

No-Aff

Click Here For Price & Review

2. Universal Audio Apollo Twin Thunderbolt (2-in/6-out)

Universal Audio Thunderbolt

You might be wondering why this has a thunderbolt tag instead of a USB tag, the difference here is that  Thunderbolt is using high-speed Thunderbolt connection.

Thunderbolt is much faster than a regular USB bus, which means with a thunderbolt, you can connect numerous devices in line with Apollo Twin.

Who is this recommended for? – Studio of all level who wants a compact, faster audio interface connection, and a portable audio interface while also providing a pro sound quality with options to expand with an ADAT in.

Technical Specifications

  • 2 -input/6-output
  • ADAT for more input expandability
  • Thunderbolt connection
  • 24bit/192khz
  • Realtime UAD Processing (Carries UAD powered plug-ins processes to an audio interface, which would result in saving CPU load)
  • Compatible with Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion or 10.9 Mavericks only

No-Aff

Click Here For Price & Review

3. Antelope Audio Zen Tour (20-in/14-out)

Antelope Audio Zen Tour

Antelope Zen Tour is a professional, and elegant audio interface which is bundled with 20 analogue ins, 14 outs – 12 mic preamps, this enough to record or connect multiple things in a single audio interface device.

Note: Zen Tour is equipped with lots of I/O, and also has input, and output Adat for expandability.

Who is this recommended for? – Professional, or Intermediate studio who needs numerous of I/O for multiple connections, and a pro sound quality.

Technical Specifications

  • 20 -input/14-output
  • 2x ADAT in and 2x ADAT out for Expandability
  • USB bus-powered
  • 24bit/192khz
  • Compatible with Windows 7 or higher, and Mac OS X 10.9or higher (Sierra Recommended)

No-Aff

Click Here For Price & Review

4. Focusrite Scarlett (2-in/2-out)

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface

No doubt, Scarlett 2i2 is one of the most used audio interfaces in a home studio, and it’s one of the best because it focuses on achieving a good sound right out the box, fast, and portable.

One of the reasons I love this sound card is because of the mic preamps it provides for an affordable price tag. It is also perfect for recording two mics at once, take it anywhere you like, and enjoy the compact audio interface.

If you are the type that wanna connect only your studio monitors, headphones or you don’t need a lot of I/O’s, I strongly recommend this audio interface. It would serve you well.

Who is this recommended for? – Beginner Studio who isn’t too concern about more I/O, or who isn’t interested in connecting multiple instruments at once.

Technical Specifications

  • 2 -input/2-output
  • No ADAT option
  • USB bus-powered>
  • 24bit/192khz>
  • Compatible with Windows 7 or higher, and Mac OS X 10.10or higher

No-Aff

Click Here For Price & Review

5. UA Apollo Twin (2-in/6-out)

Universal Audio Apollo Twin USB High-Resolution USB Interface

UA is known for their top-notch music production plugins, and when they build audio equipment, you should expect the same robust, professional, and compact design.

ApolloTwin is a USB 3 interface for windows which allows you to record faster than the regular USB 2.0 bus-powered, you probably would have argued if an audio interface can power a plug-ins processes on its own without a Cpu.

If you don’t believe it can, then you should better be aware this audio interface does Real-time UAD Processing for tracking through vintage compressors, EQ’s, tape machines, mic preamps, and guitar amp plug-ins with very low latency.

Who is this recommended for? – Studio of all level who wants a compact, and a portable audio interface while also providing a pro sound quality with options to expand with an ADAT in.

Technical Specifications

  • 2 -input/6-output
  • ADAT for more input expandability
  • USB 3.0 bus-powered
  • 24bit/192khz
  • Realtime UAD Processing (Carries UAD powered plug-ins processes to an audio interface, which would result in saving CPU load)
  • Compatible with Windows 7 or higher (64-bit Editions) only
  • It Includes ‘Realtime Analog Classics’ plug-in bundle – featuring a vintage compressor, EQs and so on.

No-Aff

Click Here For Price & Review

6. PreSonus AudioBox (2-in/2-out)

PreSonus AudioBox USB 2x2 Audio Interface

AudioBox is a simple, portable or lets me say a handy USB interface that offers the right features for basic recording needs.

One of the features I love about PreSonus AudioBox is the Asio Compatibility, Asio is all about software to hardware communication efficiency; it provides low-latency when working with Asio drivers, you can also try the interface driver if Asio isn’t your choice (bonus).

Who is this recommended for? – Beginner studio that needs a portable audio interface with less I/O for basic recording.

Technical Specifications

  • 2-input/2-output channel
  • No ADAT option
  • USB 2.0 bus-powered
  • 24-bit/96kHz
  • Compatible with Windows 7 or higher, and Mac OS 10.11or higher (64-bit only)
  • Includes free download of (Studio One 3 Artist DAW software)and 6+ GB of third-party resources after product registration.

No-Aff

Click Here For Price & Review

7. Mackie Onyx Blackjack (2-in/2-out)

One of the issue you will likely encounter finding a portable, and high-quality interface with PreAmps is the added cost, research no more, Blackjack is bundled with high-quality preamps at an affordable price range.

It features accurate analogue monitoring of inputs – mono or stereo directly from the preamps to your studio monitors and headphones – meaning you can track with nearly zero latency in either mono or stereo.

Who is this recommended for? – Beginner studio who wants a compact, and a portable audio interface while also providing a pro sound quality with almost zero latency.

Technical Specifications

  • 2-input/2-output channel
  • No ADAT option
  • USB 2.0 bus-powered
  • 24-bit/48kHz
  • Compatible with Windows 7, and Mac OS X 10.4.11 – 10.6.4
  • Includes download of (Tracktion 3 DAW software)

No-Aff

Click Here For Price & Review

8. M-Audio M-Track (2-in/2-out)

M-Audio

M-Track 2i2 is designed to capture a high-quality signal with the ‘Crystal’ Preamps fused into the audio interface. With that said, it also provides you with a transparent clear-cut design which assures you get the best out of your microphone, and capture your recordings the way it was supposed to be heard.

I recommend this interface if you won’t be needing a lot of I/O’s or ADAT options, get your balanced combo input or 1/4 instrument input and start recording up to two channels simultaneously.

Who is this recommended for? – Beginner studio who wants an affordable, and a portable audio interface while also providing a pro sound quality with almost zero latency.

Technical Specifications

  • 2-input/2-output
  • No ADAT option
  • USB bus-powered
  • 24 bit/192 kHz
  • Compatible with Windows, and Mac
  • Included software: Pro Tools | First, Eleven Lite, AIR Creative FX Collection (20 world-class FX AU/VST plugins), Strike, Xpand!2 and Mini Grand

No-Aff

Click Here For Price & Review

9. Behringer UMC204HD (2-in/4-out)

BEHRINGER UMC204HD) Image

This is a USB 2.0 bus-powered audio interface that will have you recording your next masterpiece in a few minutes with all the connectivity required for your mic, instruments, and so on.

Whether you are a singer or a solo artist who needs a compact and portable interface, this one would serve you right, forget to mention it included +48 Volt phantom power for condenser microphones – which assures you get the best out of your microphone.

Who is this recommended for? – Beginner studio who wants an affordable, and a portable audio interface while also providing a pro sound quality with almost zero latency.

Technical Specifications

  • 2-input/4-output
  • No ADAT option
  • USB 2.0 bus-powered
  • 24 bit/192 kHz
  • Compatible with Windows XP or higher, and Mac OS X
  • Includes download of (Tracktion DAW software).

No-Aff

Click Here For Price & Review

10. Apogee Audio Interface (1-in/1-out)

Apogee One Audio Interface

The apogee USB interface is one of the most portable interfaces you will ever find in the market, and it’s designed is simple, and allows you to connect your electric guitar, bass, keyboard, and others.

Who is this recommended for? – Beginner studio that needs a portable audio interface with less I/O for basic recording, although you can connect a dynamic microphone with adapter sold separately.

Technical Specifications

  • 1-input/1-output channel
  • No ADAT option
  • USB bus-powered
  • 24-bit/96kHz
  • Compatible with Mac and Ipad only.

No-Aff

Click Here For Price & Review

Helpful Guide & Tips!

What is an Audio Interface?

An audio interface is a device that is responsible for the playback of your sound from your computer.

Do you know…Your computer comes preloaded with an audio interface, and it might be in your PC or a chip on your motherboard. That chip is responsible for making the sound you hear.

Without the interface, your computer or laptop will lack the function of being able to play a sound. Note: Audio Interface can also be called a soundcard or an external soundcard. 

If your PC or laptop has an interface by default, then why do you need an external audio interface?

It doesn’t have to be complicated!

This is the reason you might need one…

  • You need an audio interface if you plan on recording live instruments or vocals.
  • If you want to work with a professional quality microphone (XLR), or professional hardware, then you need an external audio interface.
  • If you wish to properly plug in a balanced input or a good pair of studio monitors to check your mixes on, without an interface, you won’t have anywhere to plug those in.

You might be like – oh, but I don’t need this, I am only using a headphone for my mixes, that should work for me without an interface.!

If you think this way, you are correct, and in fact, I have been able to achieve great mixes without an external audio interface using just my headphone.

To be sincere with you, using headphones are just way more difficult to complete a mix on, it takes years of practice, and you would actually find out your music isn’t translating accurately in other sound systems. – Why fight over a bigger hurdle.!

Even with that said, along the line you might want to record vocals, plug in a good pair of studio monitors or any other acoustic instruments over your track. Without an audio interface, you won’t have anywhere to plug those crucial things in.

To keep it short, an audio interface or an external audio interface would make you listen to a better representation of an audio sample.

Note: Audio Interface has nothing to do with the quality of your rendered (output) tracks except if used to record or a recorded sample in your track.

The only thing an interface does is to playback a better and more precise version of your digital audio data that has been processed by your Daw or software applications. You also can connect multiple instruments with cables – ( MIDI keyboards, microphones, studio monitors, etc.) within a device.I guess you have an idea about an audio interface or an external soundcard. Let’s work through the proper way of choosing an audio interface that fits your need.

Choosing Your Audio Interface

Your Budget

You might have the thought that the more you pay for an audio interface, the better the interface will (True, but to a limit), if you are not going for multiple recordings, go for an affordable ones, and if you are the type that is going to be connecting various things at the same time, go for an higher range.

The price point can be from $90 – 2,000 depending on the features you want to be included.

Audio Interface Connectors

​Your connector is nothing to worry about (the higher you go, the better the data transfer rate, and an added + to your cash). USB is mostly used in a home studio, and If you have the buck, you can go with Firewire (It is much faster than USB but less common nowadays), Thunderbolt is faster than either USB or Firewire.

If you opt for USB, you might spend less than say Firewire or Thunderbolt.

Input and Output Count (I/O)

This something you need to be aware of before you conclude on your choice of audio interface, if you are going to be recording lots of instrument or connecting multiple cables, you might opt for more inputs and output for your equipment. If you are an hommie, go for less input/output.

ADAT For Expansion

What if you can expand your interface channels or input without buying a new audio interface, with Adat, you will be able to expand your input count with an optical cable, and an expansion board. The cost of an ADAT-equipped interface is cheaper than buying an interface with various inputs on board.

For the lucky guys reading this section, make sure you go for an ADAT-equipped interface, Even if you don’t buy an expansion now, it is future proof for a time when you might be looking to expand your recording.

Another fantastic thing about ADAT is that, it helps you minimise load, look at it this way, if you are only doing hommie recording, you won’t need to carry wider and bigger interface all around, and if you got a big job with lots of equipment, you could do otherwise.

DAW Compatibility

Right off the bat, most DAW’s work with most interfaces, it just makes sense to be sure if your Daw is supported.

For example, you might see either Mac-only or Pc only interface; unfortunately, some Daws are O.s Specific, do your checkings before you opt for any one of your choices.

Tip

You might be confused about what the Input and Output in an audio interface are used for. Input means you are connecting a device into your interface to feed your DAW or music production application.

For example, let’s say you are recording a Vocal sample with your mic, what you are doing is feeding your DAW application the audio data recorded from your Mic, the same thing applies to your Guitar, or Keyboard (They are all feeding your DAW software the data recorded from each one of them).

The output is used to send data from your DAW software to either your studio speakers or your headphone. You can also use an output or input to expand your interface if the option is included (ADAT).

I recommend going for at least 2-input/2-output this brings us to the end of the things you need to know before selecting an Audio Interface.

One Last Thing!

I hopefully guided you through buying a better interface for your studio, and I gave you some insight on how to choose an audio interface that fits your need, the next thing you need to do is to set up and start using your interface.

If you aren’t familiar or don’t know much about setting up an interface, use the manual (it’s made to guide you), or drop your comment, and I’ll help you out hopefully.

Good luck with good music, and I hope to see you at the top.

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