An audio interface is a hardware that expands and enhances the sound capabilities of other hardware such as the computer.
This hardware gives users the ability to connect to many more external tools used in sound recordings or listening – such as microphones and musical instruments.
Nowadays, audio interfaces are becoming more and more complicated as technology grows.
Complicated in a positive way wherein it combines so many features in a piece of hardware. That is why choosing the best audio interface may seem a little overwhelming.
To get to know more about this helpful tool, read on. You will know about how and when to use audio interfaces, as well as their purpose. You will also learn the best audio interfaces you can get this 2021.
The best USB audio interfaces in 2021 (Reviews)
- Focusrite Clarett 2Pre USB
- Behringer UMC404HD Audio Interface
- Audient iD4 USB
- Behringer Xenyx Q802USB
- Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII
Featuring two air-enabled ultra-low noise mic preamps that can reproduce a quality sound, this is Focusrite’s Clarett 2Pre audio interface. It has ultra-low distortion and up to 119dB dynamic range, a very good specialty for its price. When bought, you will get additional standard USB and USB Type-C conversion cables so you can readily connect it to your PC or even Mac.
The mic pres have been designed especially for the Clarett range, with plenty of gains, yet low noise and distortion. As a limited offer, you can also have two FREE AAS sound packs and a discount off AAS Libraries Sound Pack Series Bundle by download with purchase and registration by January 3, 2019. The package also includes Ableton Live Lite, Softube Time and Tone Bundle, Focusrite’s Red Plug-in Suite, Focusrite Control, 2GB of Loopmasters samples, choice of one free XLN Addictive Keys virtual instrument.
- Quality Clarett microphone
- Has a low-noise feature
- With free accessories
- No DSP processing
With its 4 inputs and 4 outputs, Behringer U-Phoria UMC404is an excellent choice whether you are recording your music or dubbing a video with a minimum of outboard gear. This world-class MIDAS-designed mic pres and studio-grade 24-bit/192kHz converters to the mix and you’ve got yourself a complete studio-in-a-box – right on your desktop.
This audio interface mix control gives you zero-latency input monitoring, letting you experience your performance clearly, with no lag or any hassle in the returning signal. UMC404HD really features high-quality components and rugged construction to ensure long life usage.
- MIDAS microphone preamplifier
- Very good resolution
- Inexpensive of all
- Drivers hard to find
This is so far the best audio interface you can buy for under $200. Audient’s 2-in/2-out high-performance audio interface offers a mic preamp and an instrument-level DI for plugging in your stringed instrument. Aside from that, there are 3 outputs for your listening gears – one main output for your speakers and two headphones/earphones outputs.
Audient iD4 is not just compatible with a USB plugin but can also be connected to Apple’s camera kit, as well as the iPhone and iPad. This interface possesses value and usability at the same time, with a good price and features like expensive hardware, this really is a good buy. So far the best USB audio interface you can see at this price range.
- Excellent preamp
- Compatible and flexible
- A simple look
This audio interface features a premium ultra-low noise, high headroom analog mixer and posses 2 state-of-the-art XENYX Mic Preamps comparable to stand-alone boutique preamps. In addition, it also has studio-grade compressors with super-easy “one-knob” functionality and control LED for professional vocal and instrumental sound,
Behringer Xenyx Q802USB has built-in stereo USB/Audio Interface to connect directly to your computer. When purchased, you will also have a free access to the audio recording, editing and podcasting software plus 150 instrument effect plug-ins that are downloadable at behringer.com.
- Has ultra-low noise feature
- Affordable and durable
- Noisy circuitry
- Heats up
This new Apollo Twin MkII is actually more of the same, but with a few minor alterations, and an optional DSP upgrade. Realtime Analog Classics collection, comprising 14 compressors, EQs, amp sims, distortions and reverbs, including the more-than-serviceable Legacy versions of 1176, LA-2A and EQP-1A, the acclaimed RealVerb Pro, and a lite version of Softube’s Amp Room Bundle
The back panel and front edge house of this fear have two combi Mic/Line inputs, a Hi-Z quarter-inch guitar input, four quarter-inch output jacks, stereo S/PDIF out, Headphones out and a TOSLINK port. A really good value for its price since Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII also boasts a creative design. Via Thunderbolt, this audio interface can be connected to any computer – Windows or MAC.
- Awesome audio quality
- Has Unison plugins for tracking and monitoring
- With Quad-Core option
- Thunderbolt only
- Thunderbolt cable not included
What is an Audio Interface?
From the name itself, an audio interface sounds a hard thing to understand but in fact, it is really simple. In the most basic sense, it refers to a tool or hardware that upgrades the sound for your gear. If you are into recording, an audio interface ensures you will record a high quality and clear sound.
Some kind of connections used for this upgrading process are the following:
Thunderbolt, USB, FireWire, or a special PCI/PCIe card. Most audio interfaces include line-level analog inputs and outputs, one or more microphone preamplifiers, and may even include digital inputs and outputs such as AES, S/PDIF or ADAT (Lightpipe).
When should I use an Audio Interface for Recording?
If you are in the field of recording or producing quality music, of course, there is no doubt you need to use audio interfaces. If you are a disc jockey (DJ or deejay) or you are working in a radio station, most setups include an interface or have an interface built-in.
For music production, you’ll probably want a quality audio interface since you’ll need to always input sound into your computer. Majority of the music production gear comes with interfaces built-in, however, some people prefer the external interface.
What Accessories should I buy for my Audio Interface?
One of the constants of the recording industry is that technology doesn’t sit still for long.
And as time goes by, the field becomes more and more accessible to all. And the fact that audio interfaces serve as the hear of recordings is undeniable.
To better use an audio interface, you must have the right accessories in order to support the hardware. Most of the essential tools used in a studio will be connected to the interface directly and indirectly.
Recording Studio Monitors
Of them all, powered studio monitors tend to be the most common tools used with audio interfaces. With a good monitor in place, you’ll be able to accurately listen to what you’re working on. This will help you become aware of what you/r sound looks like.
The next tool you might need a good quality pair of headphones. When you need to monitor your work privately, great studio headphones is an essential tool. This can also give you a better since the sound waves directly go to your ears.
Buy a large diaphragm condenser microphone if you are recording voices. With this, the sound quality will really expand to its maximum position and will make a good result.
However, if you are recording musical instruments such as drums or anything with cymbals, buy small diaphragm condenser microphone. On the other hand, ribbon mic will round out your mic collection with its ability to capture smooth mid frequencies.
If you are looking for an audio interface that can be connected to Mac or PC, consider purchasing Focusrite Clarett 2Pre USB. It has a good connectivity option and a dynamic range up to 119dB. Aside from that, it also includes air-enabled preamps – features that are really suitable for your need if you are in the recording industry.
On a side note, You’ll need to get your head around a bit of recording history to truly understand one of the SPs of the new Focusrite Clarett USB range but, don’t worry, there are manuals and internet tutorials you can search then follow.
The Clarett USB range absolutely brings that high-quality sound to those lacking Thunderbolt connectivity and also delivers low-latency recording and the Air feature too. The 2Pre, in particular, makes a fine compact audio interface with the right USB slot while the 8Pre is a fantastic option for those in need of more connectivity: bands and medium-sized project studio users.