So 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?
Finding the best audio interface for Ableton can be tricky, but I’ve put in the legwork and found the top 5 audio interfaces suitable for beginners and pros.
But make no mistake, you need a dedicated external audio interface.
Luckily for you, I’ve listed down the best audio interface for Ableton beginners and experienced users in this complete buying guide.
Let’s get started!
5 Best Audio Interfaces For Ableton Live
1. Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface
RELATED: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Vs 2i4: Which is Better For You?
I’m starting with the Focusrite Scarlett. This interface comes with upgrades and features that’ll allow you to record and monitor in real-time.
It’s an attractive audio interface that’s more accurate than its competition when setting levels. It’s one of the first names that pop up when people look for audio interfaces.
The Scarlet is a good choice and is popular with many recorders. The Focusrite Scarlet is a USB audio interface that makes it easy to connect.
For more Focusrite reviews, you can check out these guides!
- Focusrite Vs Presonus: The Ultimate Audio Guide
- Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Review: Audio Interface Guide
- Focusrite Scarlett VS Clarett: Best Audio Interface For You
- Focusrite Scarlett Solo Vs. 2i2: Which One Is Better For You?
- Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD Vs Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
- 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
- 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
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, I think you’ll have trouble finding a more praised and loved piece of audio equipment than this.
It’s also intuitive and easy to use despite its professional features.
- 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
- 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
This audio interface comes with a 60-year reputation for excellent audio and craftsmanship. It’s a pricey model, but I think it’s worth it.
It’s a favorite among 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.
- 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.
- Built-in UAD-2 QUAD or DUO Core
- Has included a bundle of award-winning UAD plug-ins
- Very expensive
- Steep learning curve
4. TASCAM US-4×4 USB
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, I’d recommend going with this audio interface for Ableton.
Thanks to the TASCAM’s High Definition Discrete Architecture (HDDA), it records audio, delivers it with very low self-noise, and can record very detailed musical performances.
- 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
- 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
The M-Audio M-Track 8X4M is a sleek-looking audio interface with a high-speed USB connection, but I like it because of its price!
It’s not as expensive as other audio interfaces, so it’s a great choice if you’re making music on a budget.
- 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
- 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?
Before I mention what I look for in an audio interface, I’ll briefly explain what they are first.
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 using one of these guys, your work will be top-notch and something you can be proud to share with the rest of the world.
One condition I forgot to mention is that you need to use a good-quality audio interface.
How Do You Connect Your Computer to Your Audio Interface?
Most audio interfaces I’ve reviewed use USB cables to connect to your computer or Mac.
If you want to use your interface on your tablet, you’ll 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, and 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, I recommend checking out your specific model’s manual.
You’ll 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 will you go with virtual instruments?
Will you record in a basement, home studio setup, or professional studio? Everything that makes your work unique will determine the interface you end up getting.
In the end, it’ll boil down to your needs 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’ll invest in an audio interface to improve the quality of your work. Great! Just keep the following things in mind when shopping around.
Portable audio interfaces can be better because, well, they’re portable, and you can record practically anywhere.
Try to find an audio interface with as many as 8 inputs. You never know when you’ll have the opportunity to record many sounds at once – it can be quite a great project.
Consider looking for multiple outputs, as well. It’ll be very beneficial to 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’re making beats that rely heavily on sampling old records and live instruments, then I recommend getting an interface with multiple inputs for your equipment.
On the other hand, if you’re producing trap, house, or any other synth and plugin-heavy sounds, then you’ll be fine with just a couple of inputs.
3. What is your budget?
The best way to start making music is to take action and get started. Don’t let a limited budget stop you from buying a budget audio interface while you’re still learning.
To be honest, you’re likely at the beginning of your journey to becoming a producer. Imperfect action is better than procrastination.
Take my advice and 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.
Now that I’ve gone over the 5 best audio interfaces for Ableton, it’s time to discuss the product that stands out as the winner.
I wholeheartedly recommend the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface because it’ll offer you 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 my book because it’s affordable but still comes with many neat features, such as the included Pro Tools.
This is the best audio interface for you if you want to deliver high-quality work without forking out thousands. 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’ll look cool no matter where you use it.
Ableton, a digital audio workstation, is designed for recording, mixing, composing, mastering, and arranging all sorts of audio.
It’s also a fantastic choice for live performances and works on Windows and macOS. Anyone making music can benefit from using Ableton, including DJs.
You can take a look at Ableton’s features here.
If you dream of being a producer, have a passion for music, and want to record and release your own stuff, you’ll definitely need high-quality studio gear.
One of the most important things you’ll need (in addition to your creative ideas and talent) is an audio interface to record all your awesomeness.
I hope this buying guide helped you take one step forward in your production journey!