5 Best Audio Interface for Ableton Live: The Complete Guide

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Best Audio Interface for Ableton

It can be somewhat challenging to find the perfect audio interface, sound cards, and software for your electronic music production needs. Luckily for you, Ableton is one of the most admired software music sequencers and digital audio workstations you could invest in.

Finding the best audio interface for Ableton can be tricky, but we’ve scoured the internet and found the 5 best audio interfaces suitable for beginners and pros.

When you’re in the music industry, it can prove to be a daunting task when trying to find the best audio interface for your home studio or live performances.

You’ve got your home studio setup and your DAW ready to start producing tunes, but you still need the best audio interface for Ableton to produce high-quality audio, with zero to low latency issues to your MIDI devices

If you don’t approach it right, you could mess up and ruin your chances of making quality sounds. It’s especially difficult to find the right audio interface for live performances.

Luckily for you, we listed down the best audio interface for Ableton beginners and experienced users in this complete buying guide.

Let’s get started.

Best for Professionals
Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Solo
Best Overall
Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface
Best Thunderbolt Interface
Universal Audio Apollo 8
Table of Contents

5 Best Audio Interfaces For Ableton Live

1. Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface

Best Overall

Focusrite 6

RELATED: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Vs 2i4: Which is Better For You?

The Focusrite Scarlett comes with upgrades and features that will allow you to record and monitor in real-time.

It’s an attractive audio interface and offers better accuracy when setting levels. It’s one of the first names that pop up when people look for suitable audio interfaces.

In general, it’s considered a good choice and is popular with many recorders. The Focusrite Scarlet uses USB connections.

Pros 

  • Excellent conversion and sample rates – up to 192kHz/24 bit
  • Low roundtrip latency for using plug-ins in real-time without the need for DSP
  • Includes Pro Tools – First Focusrite Creative Pack, Ableton Live Lite, and more
  • 2-year limited warranty on manufacturing defects
  • Offers 6 outputs – 4 analog and 2 digital
  • Has 2 headphone outputs

Cons 

  • Only Compatible with Windows 7 and higher, and Mac OS X 10.10 and higher
  • Only has 6 inputs – 4 analog and 2 digital

2. Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Solo

Best for Professionals

Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Solo

The Universal Audio Apollo Twin is considered one of the best audio interfaces on the market.

Although it has a rather high price point compared to other audio interfaces, it is hard to find a more praised and loved piece of audio equipment than this one.

It’s also proven to be easy to use despite its professional features.

Pros 

  • Real-time Analog Classics UAD plug-in bundle
  • Offers outstanding sound quality praised by users
  • Convenience and completeness are impressive
  • Pleasant analog emulated console
  • Quick and easy installation
  • Amazing preamp technology for voiceover
  • Top-class quality recording

Cons 

  • Expensive
  • Limited connectivity options because it’s Thunderbolt connection only
  • Thunderbolt cable is not included
  • Console application can be unintuitive

3. Universal Audio Apollo 8

Best Thunderbolt Interface

Universal Audio Apollo 8

This audio interface comes with a history of 60 years of craftmanship in audio.

It is a favorite with professionals in the recording industry and one of the world’s most acclaimed interfaces. The Apollo works great on Windows and Mac and offers quality A/D (analog to digital) and D/A (digital-to-analog) conversion.

RELATED: Best Midi Keyboards to Buy for Garageband

Pros 

  • Makes it easier to mix high-quality tracks
  • Features 4 preamps that sound amazing, and 4 additional line-level inputs
  • It has a front panel that allows you to easily switch between preamps and select settings for each such as phase, phantom power, etc.
  • User-friendly
  • Built-in UAD-2 QUAD or DUO Core
  • Has included a bundle of award-winning UAD plug-ins

Cons 

  • Very expensive
  • Steep learning curve

4. TASCAM US-4×4 USB

Tascam US - 4x4 USB Audio MIDI Interface

This audio interface was made with mobility in mind. If you’re planning to travel to gigs and spend a lot of time moving about, you might want to go with this audio interface for Ableton.

Thanks to the TASCAM’s High Definition Discrete Architecture (HDDA), it records audio and delivers it with very low self-noise and results in every detail of musical performances recorded.

Pros 

  • Features XLR and TRS inputs that accept balanced mic and line-level signals
  • Send 16 separate inputs as separate channels over USB port to the computer
  • The headphone output is powerful and gives a clean sound
  • Works great on Linux
  • The software comes with a 600+ page manual
  • The TASCAM has a very professional feel

Cons 

  • It has been reported to glitch out at all sample rates on Windows 7 and 10
  • Occasionally, users have experienced random audio noise, crackling and audio spikes
  • It has no noise gate
  • It can get buggy and switch audio settings to use the device for input and output
  • The driver for the audio interface can be unreliable

5. M-Audio M-Track 8X4M

M-Audio M-Track 8X4M

The M-Audio M-Track 8X4M is a cool-looking audio interface with a high-speed USB connection.

It’s not as expensive as other audio interfaces, making it a great choice for music-making on a budget.

Pros 

  • Easy volume control
  • Made for people always on the move
  • Two headphone outputs with their own independent volume control knobs and two instrument inputs
  • USB-C interface
  • Low latency and almost zero latency issues

Cons 

  • Only has 2 outputs for 1 speaker
  • Design results in plugs and cables coming out the front and draping over your desk.
  • Its phantom power isn’t impressive

Audio Interface Buyers Guide

What Is an Audio Interface?

Audio interfaces are used to record anything that makes a sound – from a bass guitar to a voice or a piano.

It’s what helps to get the audio onto a computer to be edited and cleaned up. Sure, you can record audio with just your PC or Mac, but if you want to go the professional route and boost the quality of your work, using an audio interface is the way to go.

What’s the Purpose of an Audio Interface?

The whole point of using an audio interface is to make recording great quality audio easy.

You plug in all the relevant instruments and equipment like microphones and record away.

By making use of one of these guys, your work will be top-notch and something you can be proud of to share with the rest of the world. That is, as long as you use a good-quality audio interface.

How Do You Connect Your Computer to Your Audio Interface?

For the most part, your audio interface will make use of USB cables to be connected to your computer or Mac.

If you want to use your interface on your tablet, you’ll just have to use a USB adapter.

While USB is the most common type of connection for your audio interface, you can also find models that are connected via thunderbolt. 

What Do You Need to Use an Audio Interface?

Getting started with your audio interface isn’t too tricky. Basically, just set up the audio interface, your computer, the cables to connect it, add whatever you’re recording, and voila – you’re busy doing your thing like a professional.

If you’re still a little confused about how to use your audio interface, it will be a good idea to check out your specific model’s manual. You will find all the information you need plainly explained there. Remember to set up your interface with your computer.

How Do You Choose the Right Audio Interface?

With so many cool options to choose from, it can be hard to know which are good and which are excellent. Obviously, the first consideration is your personal needs. Will you be recording multiple instruments or would you go with virtual instruments?

Will you record in a basement, home studio setup, or professional studio? Everything that makes your work unique is what will determine the interface you end up getting.

In the end, it will boil down to all the different needs you will have and what you hope to accomplish with your interface.

What to Keep in Mind When Buying an Audio Interface

So, you’ve decided that you will go on and invest in an audio interface that will push the quality of your work. Great! Just keep the following things in mind when shopping around.

Portable audio interfaces can be better because, as you’ve guessed, they are portable, and you can record practically anywhere.

Try to find an audio interface with as many as 8 inputs. You never know if something pops up, and you’ll have an opportunity to record many sounds at once – it can be quite a great project.

Consider looking for multiple outputs, as well. It will be very beneficial if you can hear your mix on more than one speaker, especially if you need to route your sounds to reach a wider audience.

Which Audio Interface Is Best for Beginners?

When it comes to the best audio interface for beginners you have to consider a couple of factors.

1. What DAW are they using?

In this example, the newbie producer is learning how to produce with Ableton. This means that they may want to purchase an entry-level audio interface that includes the free version of Ableton Lite with their purchase.

2. What style of music are they producing?

If you are making beats that rely heavily on sampling old records and live instruments, then you are going to need multiple inputs for your equipment.

On the other hand, if you are producing trap, house, or any other synth and plugin heavy sounds, then only having a couple of inputs is not going to be an issue.

3. What is your budget?

The best way to start making music is to take action and get started. Don’t let having a limited budget stop you from buying a budget audio interface while you are learning.

To be honest, you are at the beginning of your journey to become a producer. Imperfect action is better than procrastination.

Find an audio interface that suits your budget and has enough inputs for your producing style, then pull the trigger and buy it.

Now, you’re ready to start learning the art and science of electronic music production, sampling, and mixing.

Conclusion

Now that we’ve taken a look at the 5 best audio interfaces for Ableton, it’s time to discuss the product that stands out as the winner.

The Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface comes with peace of mind – it offers a 2-year limited warranty on manufacturing defects.

Although it only has 6 inputs, it’s still a winner in our books because it isn’t very expensive but still comes with many neat features such as the included Pro Tools.

If you want to deliver high-quality work without forking out thousands, this is the best audio interface for you. With its great accuracy at setting levels, you really can’t go wrong with this product. On top of that, it’s a beautiful audio interface that will look cool no matter where you use it.

Focusrite 6

Ableton, a digital audio workstation, is designed for recording, mixing, composing, mastering, and arranging all sorts of audio.

It is also considered a fantastic choice for live performances and works on Windows as well as macOS. Anyone making music can benefit from using Ableton, including DJs.

You can take a look at Ableton’s features here.

If your dream is to be a producer, have a passion for music, and have the desire to record and release their own stuff, you’ll need high-quality studio gear.

One of the most important things you will need (in addition to your creative ideas and talent) is an audio interface with which to record all your awesomeness.

We hope this buying guide helped you take one step forward in your production journey!

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About the author

Daniel Douglas

Daniel Douglas

After becoming obsessed with the beats that were the soundtrack to his youth, Daniel became a student of hip hop, digging for vinyl records, looking for the perfect break. Before he got his hands on an MPC sampler, he would mash these records, beats, and breaks into mixtapes and live DJ sets.