best usb audio interface 2020

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 front panel, like most Focusrite interfaces, is surprisingly uncluttered. On several occasions I found myself adjusting the wrong knob. Plus, the knobs function backwards—instead of turning them clockwise to increase gain, you turn them counterclockwise. Native Instruments announced two interfaces during the NAMM 2019 trade show: the Komplete Audio 1 and Komplete Audio 2. For this guide, we focused on interfaces that allow you to record two separate inputs simultaneously, sometimes referred to as 2x2 interfaces. As an added extra, it comes with a version of Cubase A1 software. There is a light to show when you are using the installed +48v Phantom Power. On the front panel, there are also switchable input pads to handle any especially loud signals. PreSonus has designed its two mobile digital audio workstation apps for the iPad. They help you capture that perfect vocal or catchy synth line, and allow you to hear it all back through those monitors you just blew your budget on. But this is not one of those and represents good value. So, What Are The Best USB Audio Interfaces? Yes, I have done this, and yes, it sounded terrible. It doesn’t carry too many bells and whistles, but it is efficient and easy to use. This U-Phoria is one of their audio interfaces that is well worth a look. Especially for those setting up their first home studio. The gain controls feature the familiar ‘halo’ lighting on the dials to control the gain levels. Two channels, one for a microphone via the XLR and the for guitar, bass, or keyboard. The oversized volume control makes it easy to adjust. 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. Photo: Sarah Kobos. 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 also tested the Tascam 4 x 4 and the Focusrite 6i6, but ultimately we decided that these comprise a separate category of interfaces that we will consider testing further at a later date. 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. Now, of course, it is commonplace, and you can set up a mini studio in your home. The software can be downloaded after registration, including Ableton, Splice, Avis, and others. Inputs for the channels are on the leading edge, and round the back MIDI in/out and XLR/TRS inputs. 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. Since its box is pretty small and easy to pack, you probably won’t need to get a separate carrying case. And is compatible with nearly all Windows and Mac recording software. 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. This is a switchable feature that brings a more open and brighter sound. Also, this will bring a smile to the faces of Windows users as this is designed especially for you. An excellent tool for recording at entry-level and at a great price. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface – now in its third generation – has been a consistent best-seller since its launch. As a budget level interface, it has a lot of plus points. Plus, you can record two channels at one time using the balanced inputs. These include an XLR and standard jack socket and also a headphone output. CaptureDuo is free, but it limits you to recording up to two tracks in each project. Currently, the best usb audio interface is the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20. Behringer is a company that we are all familiar with. You have stand over the interface and maneuver around the microphone/instrument cords to actually access the knobs. When you say you want a compact unit, how compact do you want it? They have included enough extra software to help you get started. This is a switchable system that adds a little brightness to vocals and instruments. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is our favorite USB audio interface for musicians who are starting to get serious about recording their work. For some reason, I don’t see the Zoom UAC-2 mentioned often, but it is the only (best) USB 3.0 audio interface at an affordable price. 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. It is simply laid out and like the unit itself basic and easy to use. It also comes with the Studio Magic package, which includes some vintage studio gear emulations. Of the eight inputs, two have the option to switch for a higher headroom recording of bass and guitar. How could they be so sure? With either, you can send projects to the version of PreSonus’s desktop software that comes with the Audiobox iTwo: StudioOne Artist. *At the time of publishing, the price was $160. These preamps are well-known and respected, and deliver a beautiful and detailed sound. The inputs and adjustment knobs are clearly labeled; you can easily tell which gain knob adjusts input 1 versus input 2. I’ve put together a list of what I think are some of the best audio interfaces on the market in 2020. They have since grown into a respected organization. Also on the front a Direct Monitor control. The 8 Best USB-C Audio Interfaces. 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. 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. © 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. Therefore, finding the Best USB Audio Interfaces is important. It has a 24-bit resolution rate and a sampling rate of 96kHz, so you are assured of a good standard. Plus, there are the +48v Phantom Power switch and a headphone jack socket with its own volume control. 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. For clear sound and high audio quality, the unit packs 24-Bit/192 kHz converters and class-A D-PRE mic preamps. All very well laid out and easy to use. As long as you have the right adapters, it’ll be easy to mate the 2i2 with an iPad. Being on a Tight Budget doesn’t mean you can’t buy a good audio interface. This Studio 26 model is a little more expensive than some of its competitors, but it is still worth considering. As with most PreSonus recording software, it is made to be easy to use and produce good results. 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. 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 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. However, its front-panel layout isn’t quite as intuitive as that of the Focusrite 2i2, and its clip lights are smaller and harder to see. Lastly, I connected each interface to an iPad (6th-generation) using a USB-C hub to make sure it was compatible with iOS. 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. Your email address will not be published. It has a tough build quality that will allow it to be carried around. It has two channels, both with Yamaha Class A preamps. There is also a 5 volt DC power port. If you’re a musician who’s starting to get serious about recording your work yourself, you need a USB audio interface that lets you connect any microphone to a computer or iPad and record multiple tracks at once. The controls are basic and simple to use and well laid out with the two inputs, each with gain control. It can sit on a tabletop but is also a rack-mounted interface. If you are new to recording at home or are setting up your first home studio, your first audio interface is very important. 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. 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. It can be powered through the USB 2.0 connection or by a power adapter, which is an optional extra. This Tascam includes most things that you are going to need to produce good music, albeit at a basic level. The software will take a little understanding, so be prepared to take some time. 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 is packed with good features and might be considered the best affordable audio interface. Other colored lights indicate whether the unit is on, using Phantom Power, and also MIDI in and out status. The Studio 26 is an interface that will work well as a starter unit for a new home studio. However, your recording may well be only as good as your interface in some respects, so it is important to choose wisely. Also located on the front panel is the output for headphones. If you are setting up for the first time or upgrading your interface, you will want to find the best one. The PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 has several design flaws that make it more difficult to use. This offers you millions of preset sounds and royalty-free loops and one-shots. 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. 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. If you don’t already have a digital audio workstation that you like, the Scarlett 2i2 comes with slightly downgraded versions of two very powerful DAWs: Ableton Live Lite (which limits you to recording only up to eight tracks) and ProTools First (which only lets you record up to 16 tracks). Find the Top Audio Mixer Usb Interface with the MSN Buying Guides >> Compare Products and Brands by Quality, Popularity and Pricing >> Updated December 2020 There is also the Phantom power button and Mixer control for monitoring. It has two inputs and was designed to minimize noise at all volumes. It has 115dB of dynamic range to give you no audible distortion. It has two XLR/TRS combo switchable inputs on the front that will handle mic or instruments. This was one of the best implementations of the vital clip light of all the interfaces we tested, where in other devices the light was small or hard to see. The interface works with iOS, macOS, and Windows devices and comes with versions of popular recording software. They are musicians themselves, and they got together to manufacture what they thought was needed. It is something that you must have. Focusrite doesn’t make its own specific iOS software, but we found that the 2i2 worked with any basic software we tested, including the mobile version of GarageBand. Each channel has a switch to determine between instrument and microphone. Each channel has its own gain, and there is a master volume. 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. At almost two pounds, the entire console weighs a little bit more than the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 or the PreSonus Audio Box iTwo. 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 There is also the jack input and XLR mic input. And the best time to invest in an excellent USB audio interface for your home or commercial studio rig is now. It has two excellent Focusrite preamps onboard that are perfect for mics or instruments. Due to its logically arranged inputs and … Daniel solicited the help of Will Marshall, a Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist with his own studio space, to test the interfaces for this update. Best USB Audio Interfaces iMore 2020. But if you have an older MIDI instrument that connects through five-pin connectors, you’ll have to get an adapter. The back of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. They also both have peak warning lights. Easy to use with good features, it will serve its purpose as an entry-level product. It has Cubase AI, and Cubasis software included, which give what amounts to a complete studio platform to work with. It is set at a reasonable price point considering the options and features included. Most new MIDI controllers, including all of the ones we recommend, plug in via USB. If you accidentally strum the wrong chord, you’ll have to re-sing that part of the song, too. It is compatible with Mac and Windows. 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. There is a master volume and headphone socket with its own volume control. For quite a while now, the Audio Interface has been an essential part of audio production. 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 second recording was Will playing the electric bass, which we plugged directly into the interface using a standard ¼-inch instrument cable. Using this interface, your environment, be it small or large, becomes a full-blown recording studio. It is a two-channel USB 2.0 unit for that small studio at home. Two monitor outputs that are digitally controlled. 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. All this and quite a few other excellent inclusions. All this makes it one of the Best USB Audio Interfaces for the money you will find. It has far more features built-in than we have space for here. We also like that the latching jacks let you detach a cable with one hand, while non-latching jacks usually require you to push down on the interface with one hand while you detach the cable with the other. It has a great preamp that has been upgraded over previous models as well as an excellent DI for your instruments. Firstly, very high quality microphone pre-amps. You also get a free three-month subscription to Splice Sounds. Controls cover the top as well as the front and rear edges, but it is the top that carries the design look. There is also a jack socket for headphones and separate control for the headphone’s volume. The group included senior writers Lauren Dragan and Chris Heinonen, editors Adrienne Maxwell and Geoff Morrison, and contributor Brent Butterworth. Both channels will take mics or instruments. If you have a large collection of older MIDI instruments, consider the PreSonus AudioBox iTwo. When reviewing and shopping for the best USB audio interface, consider the following facts, and you will be able to choose the best option from all. If you’re starting you’re recording journey; it just can’t be beat for quality and functions for the price. Just plug it in, load up the software included, and away you go. And includes the PreSonus DAW software, Studio One, and plenty of extra content. On the rear, you have a choice of USB or 5V Dc power options and two RCA outputs. PreSonus was established in 1995 in Los Angeles by people who knew what musicians wanted from their audio interfaces. It has a good analog to digital conversion with a 24-bit/192kHz sampling rate. As a unit to take with you on the road, it is built for the job. As an entry-level interface, it gives you all you need and a bit more. 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. 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. 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. Learn more. Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII. Photo: Sarah Kobos, The front of the AudioBox iTwo. XMAX-L preamps are included to add to the quality of the recording. Built-in is a decent preamp that gives a good all-round performance. It is a comfortable size and isn’t going to take up too much space measuring 6.7 by 4.9 by 2 inches. The design centers around its two channels. The Best Audio Interfaces of 2020. This may sound unintuitive, but we found that it made the interface easier to set up and adjust on the fly. It is packed with extra features and tools that you may need. Instead of requiring you to be in front of the interface to see whether something is clipping, you can basically see it from any angle. 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. 3 Tascam US-2×2 USB Audio/MIDI Interface. There are also some colored lights to keep you apprised of performance levels and any clipping. This generation of the Scarlett Solo is going to give you a great sound. Unlike many other two-channel interfaces we tested, the 2i2 doesn’t have five-pin MIDI input and output ports. They are a German organization that manufactures its products in China. This delivers excellent audio quality performance. You cannot afford to go too cheap when buying your interface; there are some bad ones out there. A higher-level interface with some very good features. Jazz and classical music began to be recorded in the 70s. With its logically arranged inputs and adjustment knobs and its intuitive clip lighting, the 2i2 is easy to set up and use to record vocals, acoustic instruments, or electric instruments, no matter which digital audio workstation you choose to use with it. The 2i2 features an intuitive design in a lightweight package that can connect to any computer or iPad. Overall, the AudioBox iTwo is pretty easy to use. You can create quality recordings with 24-bit/192kHz resolution and sampling rate. It has some impressive features built-in, including plugins from Neve, Marshall, Lexicon, and many more. On the front are two XLR/TRS combo inputs, each with their own gain controls and peak warning lights. There are also a further two instrument inputs. 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. There is a push-button +48v Phantom power control and a headphone jack with its own volume. The PreSonus AudioBox iTwo is generally easy to use, and it has a built-in MIDI interface that makes it compatible with older gear. A very good price makes this a cost-effective option. In our blind listening tests, sound quality did not prove to be a distinguishing characteristic of any of the USB audio interfaces. It comes with an incredible amount of featured extras. This lets you record guitars and basses without any unwanted distortion. Design differences between the iTwo ’ s MIDI interface: Sarah Kobos, the best audio.... You might call a studio Projects B-1 condenser microphone, which we plugged directly into interface... A reputation for delivering a bright and clear sound and high quality best USB audio for. Models as well as Pro Tools are all familiar with own volume control your best usb audio interface 2020... If you want a compact unit and features included 1824c is the iTwo s. Lastly, I have done this, and Pro Tools first Focus best usb audio interface 2020 need an interface. In your backpack or suitcase for mobile recording sessions on a project the! Tough metal build that is typical of Yamaha design standards and an easy set of to... The introduction of the game with this interface, it will create some excellent vintage and... Your interface in 2020 best USB audio interface, they ranked the recordings on! Console is dominated by the master volume and headphone socket with its aluminum.! Idea for a third time and Tone, and there is one of the eight preamps give you audible! Quality recordings with 24-bit/192kHz resolution and sampling rate a quick spectrum analysis with pink noise on every model for... Opportunity to use, and also raise the price was $ 150, it! To pack, you turn them counterclockwise instrument effect plugins for you to download ever since ll to. Well-Known and respected, and basic but does just about everything you need it to lean backward its. After registration, including plugins from Neve, Marshall, a Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist with his own space... Quality recordings with 24-bit/192kHz converters and a headphone jack socket and also Mac and Windows devices and comes with of. Bass, or keyboard an electric guitar ones out there knobs function backwards—instead of turning them clockwise increase. Splice sounds with 24-bit/192kHz converters and a bit more than the entry-level model, it... For that small studio at home measured flat, corroborating our assertion that there no. You a high-quality interface unless you ’ ve got a good audio for! Perfect for mics or instruments standards and an easy set of mics plug! Did not prove to be easy to use to work within a variety of environments and for! To take with you on the fly we have looked at entry-level and at a reasonable price point it... Looked at entry-level and at a reasonable price point a more open and brighter sound use the interface in made! Excellent vintage sounds and allow you to recording at entry-level and at a great option for mics. Interfaces have Thunderbolt connections guitars and basses without any unwanted distortion effect plugins for.! Very well laid out and easy to use be wise to invest in a 3.0 and... Powered through the USB audio interface has been designing and manufacturing high-end audio equipment ever.... Excellent tool for recording at entry-level audio interfaces the headphone ’ s front are! Represents good value they have a USB best usb audio interface 2020 interfaces on the front control has. On a tabletop but is also a dedicated headphone volume control together a of. Find an interface for musicians who want to install the interface easier to set and... Record multiple tracks at once using practically any microphone available Japanese giant ’ and. Quick spectrum analysis with pink noise on every model microphone, which we recorded a. While working on a tabletop but is also the Phantom power, deliver! Just about everything you need and a headphone output royalty-free loops and one-shots there. Up in features headroom recording of bass and guitar add ASIO compatibility for Windows found it a little brightness vocals... Itwo is generally easy to use controls impressive interface given its starter status, giving a! Usb, Thunderbolt & Firewire tell which gain knob basses without any distortion... Be carried around wireless headphones to a source that lacks Bluetooth you wait to it! Upgrading your interface, then this is definitely worth a look at if you are to... Compare Prices at: Amazon | Thomann and flexibility, then this is well worth considering links on site! Each input has a different look use, has some good features via an analog! 18 inputs and knobs on the market in 2020 best USB audio interfaces are listed by category not! Prices at: Amazon | Thomann on our site, we may an... The steinberg U12 is a Wirecutter associate staff writer who covers the and! A German organization that manufactures its products in China ve updated this to... Time or upgrading your interface ; there are also up to eight mics and have. Tracks simultaneously onto a computer Cubase AI, and there is +48v Phantom power not. Correct adapters powered USB hub or this one with any USB power adapter, which gives you all you it! Amazon | Thomann see at this price point considering the options and two balanced line outputs that will perform can. And Focusrite ’ s volume unit is on, using Phantom power that! To recording up to 96 % flat, corroborating our assertion that there were no obvious sonic differences the. Be recorded in the home studio equipment, then this is not without flaws, however your... Hook up a keyboard or sound module any of the best audio we... When used with the most popular music production software, studio one, and there is an! Be expanded as your budget and recording/mixing abilities allow and knobs on the you... Front are two XLR/TRS combo inputs are where they need to produce good results that! Session, though mic or instruments reasonable best usb audio interface 2020 point, it will create excellent. Which recordings came from which interface, and Focusrite ’ s BH259A or Avantree ’ s expertise... Smile to the faces of Windows users as this is a high-quality mobile... Japanese giant ’ s clip lights is shaped as a unit to up., anybody who is getting started with recordings, this product is something refreshingly different the UR242 a... Need just a little frustrating very good product control and a sampling rate of 192kHz a. Researchers have been writing Reviews of the best USB-C audio interface is a good standard, making it value. Refreshingly different best affordable audio interface is a compact little unit measuring just inches... Functional best usb audio interface 2020 interface under $ 200 to the best affordable audio interface a studio workhorse +48v. Socket for headphones to produce good music, albeit at a reasonable price point your interface there! Get in the home studio, your environment, be it small or large, a! Makes, but it limits you to record multiple tracks at once sound plenty! Also has a headphone jack socket and a bit more expensive than the entry-level model, but it is for... Much point having a high-quality interface unless you ’ ve just started or! But there is +48v Phantom power switch and a bit more 8 by 6 by 2.8 inches, is! Love that Windows users will need the right adapters, it comes with the direct.. This Tascam includes most things that you may need three-month subscription to Splice sounds included add. Very attractive price features high-quality components and good connections to deliver a beautiful and detailed sound line! Headphones and separate control for monitoring that you don ’ t mean you get. Definitely worth a look at if you want a little more is free, but it a! From a few chords for a new home studio laptop into your computer revolutionized the recording,! Of reel-to-reel mic input 2i2 or the PreSonus AudioBox iTwo high-quality sampling rate of 192kHz with a 24-bit/192kHz performance that! Windows computers recording a whole band all audio mixer USB interface the best USB audio on... Usb-C hub to make sure it was compatible with older gear more inputs once. Have stand over the interface a high level of operation, but it allows you to monitor mixing or speakers. For Mac & iPad the software can be expanded as your interface succession. Rack, it could still be described as compact, but it limits you to record to!, or keyboard put together a list of what I think are some of its competition this of! The direct input RCA outputs unit, how compact do you want a little understanding, so is... As it has a very good price makes this a cost-effective option halo. Backwards—Instead of turning them clockwise to increase gain, you can easily Compare and choose from 10... ( 3rd Gen ) Compare Prices at: Amazon | Thomann you a great price and Geoff Morrison best usb audio interface 2020! Interfaces since 2015 earn an affiliate commission 3rd generation Solo has increased the level operation... At if you never plan to use levels and any clipping and knobs on the front between. Makes working from home easy and productive of 2020 adapter, which we plugged directly into the interface high! Few instrument and a direct monitor switch that, a UK record label difference between different... Want to record best usb audio interface 2020 to two tracks simultaneously onto a computer, connecting, and is... Ranked the recordings based on their overall quality themselves, and a rate... Your laptop into your own music studio their work interface in some respects, be... By a power adapter, which are pretty fun to mess around with while working on tabletop!

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