Having a great audio interface as the central hub for your music production setup is a guarantee that you can achieve a professional sound.
So, it’s critical that you will have the best audio interface in 2021.
Music-making is rapidly evolving, so, it’s better to have up-to-date devices, not just software, but the hardware, as well.
To be sure that our visitors will select the best product, we made our rigorous research.
Reading the reviews, testing and comparing the products to have our top ten.
From this point on, you’ll be able to get to know great audio interfaces that are just perfect to be that missing piece in your PA system.
Here are our top picks for the best audio interfaces in 2021
- BEHRINGER U-PHORIA UMC202HD
- IK Multimedia iRig PRO DUO
- Audient iD4 USB
- Mackie Onyx Producer Audio Interface
- Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
- Focusrite Clarett 2Pre
- Focusrite Scarlett 18i20
- PreSonus Studio 192 26×32 USB
- Universal Audio Apollo Twin
- Focusrite Clarett 8PreX
BEHRINGER U-PHORIA UMC202HD is our cheapest choice in this list, but it’s no way deprived of the great features of the best audio interface.
It has USB 2.0 input that you can use for recording microphones and other instruments. It has an audiophile 24-Bit/192 kHz resolution so you can have a professional quality audio output.
This is compatible with popular music and recording software, including Ableton Live, Cubase and Avid Pro Tools, among others.
So, if you have any of this software, get this audio interface and start recording right away. Has two inputs and two output streams that can be connected to your Mac or Windows PC with XP OS or higher.
- Audio quality is unmatched at a fairly low price
- Direct monitoring with ultra-low latency
- Plug-and-play connection
- No need for drivers
- Has some noise in the headphone amp
- Documentation included in this product is not beginner-friendly
If you want to get a quality recording without spending too much money, you can try IK Multimedia iRig PRO DUO. It’s versatile and allows you to record through your computers (Mac or Windows PC) or phones (most iOS and Android devices).
It has two Neutrik combo input jacks to easily connect microphones or instruments, full MIDI I/O, headphone and stereo balanced outputs.
This audio interface accepts both XLR and ¼-inch inputs and it’ll provide +48v phantom power so you can use condenser microphones on it. When you’re using iOS devices, you’ll need to have two AA batteries or a DC input and if you are using Mac/PC you can immediately use its USB connection.
It’s fully Core Audio compliant so you can utilize it in your Mac, iOS devices and Android 5.0 or later without the need for software installers and drivers.
- Completely portable works with mobile devices
- Can record two channels simultaneously
- Reported performance issues when battery levels are low
- When phantom power is turned on
- It makes flickering noise
Audient iD4 USB is a small device that is packed with Class-A mic preamps. Whether you’re in your home studio playing on an Audient board or on the road using this iD4 you can maximize its great library of Audient sonics.
Among the features, are the JFET DI, world-class conversion technology, console-style monitoring, and two headphone jacks.
The resulting output is stunning, giving you transparent sounds with is a great character for a lackluster studio sound. Another great feature from the maker is the ScrollControl virtual control wheel which allows you to use the volume knob to make some tweaks on your DAW and plug-in settings.
This feature also allows you to scroll on your iTunes library and this device is compatible with iOS, Windows and Mac OS devices.
- Great sonic performance and quality
- Simple to operate and easy to understand controls
- Compatible with most Mac
- Windows PCs and iOS devices
- Requires both camera adaptor and USB power when using with iOS devices
- At some point
- The interface completely stops working
If you need an audio interface that can be used both at home or on-the-go, have a Mackie Onyx Producer Audio Interface. It has two inputs and two outputs high-resolution 24-Bit/192kHz converters with state-of-the-art analog circuitry and Built-Like-A-Tank hardware.
With all these, you’ll have the power to capture your recordings with pristine fidelity wherever you may be.
It comes with MIDI I/O with zero-latency monitoring of the analog inputs and a powerful headphone output. Since it is USB-powered, you don’t need any power adaptor if you are to interface it to other devices.
You can enjoy its versatility with synthesizers, controllers, and onboard Tracktion Music Production software and so much more.
- Has up to 24-bit/192kHz operation
- Compact footprint and with robust build
- Has MIDI input and output with zero-latency monitoring
- The zero-latency affects both monitor and headphone out
- No power off
- Automatically switch off when switching applications
- Limited inputs and outputs
You can’t go wrong having not just one, but two award-winning preamps on your audio interface. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 has gorgeous anodized aluminum body chassis, which sounds beautiful too. In addition, it’s reliable and sturdy enough for more rugged use on the road while you are traveling.
Since this product is made by the maker of the well-known mic preamps in the industry, you’re assured of its quality and performance. It’s pretty great to be used with condensers, moving coil and ribbon mics and provides phantom power so you can use it with most mics in the market.
Furthermore, it has authorization codes for leading music software like Ableton Live, Scarlet Plug-in Suite, Novation Bass Station and more.
- Can record in 24-bit resolution to get the highest quality recordings
- Great preamps with direct monitoring so you can hear your vocals directly
- Has excellent value for money
- No MIDI input or output
- Not suitable for recording vocals and instruments simultaneously
Another great product from Focusrite, the Focusrite Clarett 2Pre is great for singer-songwriters since it has around 10 inputs, four outputs and more. It has two newly designed Clarett preamps, which you can directly access from the front panel of this machine.
These mics have low noise, distortion, gain controls to get smoother and more natural output and has switchable ‘Air’ effect like those renowned ISA transformer-based preamps.
This audio interface has a precision digital converter that delivers up to 119dB real-world dynamic range. It’s Focusrite Control gives you the traditional mixer workflow, which you can directly access the internal hardware functions.
Furthermore, you can make adjustments of your cue mix remotely from your iPhone, iPad or Mac devices and it’s compatible with Windows PC as well.
- Has two Air-enabled mic preamps with ultra-low noise
- Records from condenser mics to super-hot pickups without distortion
- Supports USB and USB Type-C to connect to computers and iOS devices
- Software is quite difficult to configure at first
- For beginners
- Might need tech support to make things fully functional
- Though all LEDs indicate it’s working
- Need to restart/unplug for it to be working properly
If you are looking for an audio interface as a centerpiece in your home studio, this product from Focusrite is just the right one for you.
Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 has 18 total inputs and 20 outputs, in which you can record multiple instruments, synths, vocals, and a keyboard straight to your computer.
With eight natural-sounding mic preamps, reliable digital conversion and two headphone outputs with dedicated gain, you can do anything with this audio interface.
The Scarlet 18i20 is a perfect match for Pro Tools and to major DAWs to any Mac or Windows PC. Like the two Focusrite products above, it also features the Focusrite iOS control app that allows you to remotely adjust the cue mix from your iPhone, iPad or even from iPod touch.
This audio interface gives you more versatility when it comes to the integration of other instruments and devices.
- Has great inputs and outputs with sturdy construction
- With very low-latency
- Has LED display in front
- MixControl can still be flexible
- Functionalities are limited
The PreSonus Studio 192 26×32 USB is a USB 3.0 audio interface and a studio command center rolled in one Rackspace.
It has eight XMAX remote-controlled mic preamps, two inputs for your instruments, six balanced line inputs, ultra-low latency, and flexible connectivity options. It’s designed to be the central hub of any home or professional studio.
It has two independent headphone amps, zero-latency monitoring, speaking switching and onboard talkback mic, you’ll be able to master recording mix and sounds.
It’s integrated with UC Surface that gives you the freedom to control your mic preamp and the zero-latency that’s monitoring your environment. If you want to achieve zero-latency monitoring with effects, take advantage of the exclusive hybrid Fat Channel plug-in that runs on this device.
- Has great value for money
- Great sound with excellent features
- Has USB connectivity
- Compatible with both Mac and Windows
- The zero-latency does not work on virtual instruments
- No MIDI connections
Setting a new standard for desktop production is what Universal Audio Apollo Twin is trying to achieve. It has a superior desktop audio conversion, unison preamps, real-time UAD processing, two premium mic/line preamps, two line outputs, and a lot more features.
In addition, it has front-panel Hi-Z instrument input, headphone output, two analog monitor outputs and eight channels of digital input through Optical connection.
It has that 2×6 Thunderbolt interface for Mac and Windows PC that helps you record near zero-latency through all the UAD powered plug-ins and cutting-edge features.
It’s bundled with real-time analog Classics UAD-plugin and the Console 2.0 software that gives you more versatility when using this audio interface. With these and more, no wonder the Apollo Twin allows you to record as you’ve never tried before.
- Has real-time tracking and monitoring with the Unison plug-ins
- Incredible sound quality
- Has great UAD plug-ins
- No MIDI
- Has Thunderbolt only connections
- Plug-ins are quite expensive
- You need to spend thousands
- Scarce technical information
- Especially on Mac integration
If you are looking for an audio interface that you can permanently install in your studio, you need to go for Focusrite Clarett 8PreX. It has mind-blowing features, inputs, and outputs — just everything that you need for practice or during recording.
You’ll get around 26 inputs (including eight analog inputs), 28 outputs (including 10 analog outputs), stereo S/PDIF I/O and 16 channels of ADAT I/O, so you can connect additional inputs and outputs easily.
In addition, it combines eight mic preamps with dynamic range conversion and low round-trip latency, so you can use the plug-ins real time while monitoring your recordings through your DAW.
It has the intuitive Focusrite Control software that you can easily set up for monitoring and routing of your settings. Unfortunately, it requires Thunderbolt cable if you want to use with your Windows PC or Mac with OS X 10.9 or higher.
- Yet comprehensive Focusrite Control utility
- Air feature is great to liven up input signals
- Not bus-powered
- Only Thunderbo
- lt and no cable included
- Has limited monitor features
- Quite expensive
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST AUDIO INTERFACE
You have a very crucial role in selecting the best audio interfaces for the ultimate music production set up. However, without much information and knowledge about the audio interface, it’s really hard to pick the one that you are looking for.
We share with you the criteria that we used to pick our all-time favorite audio interface.
Know what music gears and equipment that you’ll connect to the audio interface too. If you’ll connect it to your computer, synth, controllers and other musical instruments, ensure that you can comfortably connect them.
It’s better to have dedicated terminals for these inputs and outputs. Check out how you can benefit from checking on the connections on your audio interface from CareersinMusic.com.
Depending on the purpose of your PA system, you can pick small, yet powerful or big with all the controls you need. Before deciding to go for the right size, make sure you are certain where you are going to use the audio interface.
Number of Inputs and Outputs
At the very basic level, you only need to have a pair of mono and a stereo signal, says The Hub. This is enough if you are looking for a basic audio interface.
But, if you are trying to make an excellent PA system, you might consider those with hundreds of controls, buttons, switches and more.
No other judge can say that you have the best audio interface than your own judgment of it. But, it’s also great to try the product and focus on sound quality, and not just judge the gear with its physical features alone.
To really pick the right audio interface for you, this YouTube video will really be of big help. Check it out!
What is the Best Audio Interface in 2021?
The audio interfaces we have here differ in price, controls, functionalities, and connectivity. Some of them are cheap and some are very expensive.
If you take on a lot of instruments, MIDI controllers and even computers, perhaps, the best audio interface for you is the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20. Overall, it comes with 18 total number of inputs and 20 outputs, plus more features.
However, if you are a traveling musician that needs to make great music production and performances anywhere, IK Multimedia iRig PRO DUO will be your best company.
So, depending on your needs, there is always an audio interface that’s just right for you. What do you say?