Are you ready to kickstart your music career?
Well, you’re in the right place! Audio interfaces are must-have items needed to provide awesome-quality audio recordings.
You might think you don’t need one, but after reading this list and trying one out for yourself, you’re going to wish you had one sooner!
Let’s take a look at some of the best audio interfaces for home recording.
PreSonus AudioBox USB96
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
RME Babyface Pro FS
A Guide to the Best Audio Interfaces
1. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 – Best Overall
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is easily one of the best audio interfaces on the market! It’s also one of my FAVORITES, and let me tell you why.
It has two inputs and two outputs with two XLR combos, two 1/4-inch outputs, and one headphone output.
Its channel volume controls come with halo lights that change according to their level. This is perfect for easy tracking and monitoring of volume levels.
No more continuously looking at your computer screen!
This desktop interface is compatible with both Mac and PC and comes with USB bus powering.
Note that this is a USB-C type connection, which is incompatible with USB-A or B connections.
One of the best features of this interface is its Air mode, which allows your vocals or instruments to be recorded with brightness and openness.
The Scarlett 2i2 also provides phantom power so you can use it with condenser mics.
This is undoubtedly the best USB audio interface for beginners due to its intuitive setup and crystal-clear recording quality.
Plus, it’s super budget-friendly!
2. RME Babyface Pro FS – Best Value Pick
The RME Babyface Pro Fs is another extremely portable interface perfect for on-the-go recording!
One reason I like the Pro FS is its design. It’s very unique compared to other interfaces because this one is a vertical rectangle, unlike the others, which are horizontal.
It’s a nice little switch-up!
With a wild 12-inputs and 12-outputs in such a small package, the Babyface Pro also supports ADAT and S/PIDF inputs if you want to record with multiple devices.
- There are two stereo XLR inputs and outputs, both of which have phantom power and can be controlled from the unit itself.
- You also get two balanced line outputs, two digitally-controlled mic preamps, line/instrument outputs, and a MIDI port.
On the top of the interface are all the buttons needed for selecting which inputs or outputs to control.
- The large dial in the center can be used as a gain control knob and change the balance in your selected output.
- You can also use it to mix individual outputs right from the unit itself.
It also comes equipped with RME’s exclusive software TotalMix FX, where you can mix all channels from the Babyface Pro.
TotalMix FX is available on Mac, Windows, and iOS and can even be operated via remote control!
Whether you’re a novice or an experienced recording artist, I recommend this audio interface!
3. PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 – Best Budget Pick
You can count on the PreSonus AudioBox 96 to give you professional sound quality and features at the cheapest price possible!
It’s one of the best portable USB audio interfaces for beginners and remote or on-the-go recording sessions.
PreSonus equips its audio interface with its Studio One Artist DAW software and several additional ones straight out of the box. Lots to get started with!
Let’s take a look at the specs.
- It’s a 2-in/2-out and is bus-powered with USB 2.0.
- You get a combination of XLR analog inputs for instruments and microphones simultaneously for simultaneous recording.
- It also provides 2 line outputs for your studio monitors.
- It comes with switchable phantom power for your condenser microphone and separate input gain control for each input.
- On the back are one headphone jack and two stereo output jacks.
The AudioBox interface also has built-in MIDI inputs and outputs so that you can connect extra external hardware like keyboards.
Despite having fewer inputs, I’ve listed this here because it’s very easy and intuitive to use and provides excellent sound quality.
It’s like recording made SIMPLE!
4. Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2
The Komplete Audio 2 from Native Instruments is another good choice for your home studio!
Its minimalist design and black chic look make it very appealing, but I’m a bigger fan of its internals. It comes with the perfect specs and features for your next song or podcast.
- The Komplete Audio 2 has two XLR/TRS combo inputs.
- Beside them is a switch that allows you to change the TRS inputs from line to instrument, with the necessary gain knobs as well.
It comes with a knob that allows you to control the amount of direct monitoring and audio, which is more VERSATILE than just an on-and-off switch.
Its 24-bit depth 192-kHz sample rate allows you to record a very high dynamic range, which allows a nice amount of headroom while recording without noise or clipping.
Not to mention its unique software package, which is Native Instruments-exclusive! It offers a whole bunch of software to try out when you’re just starting out.
5. Audient Evo 4
The Audient Evo 4 will provide you with the best audio and is intuitive to set up.
It runs on a USB-C connection, has two inputs and two outputs, and offers phantom powering for each input.
A big dial is conveniently placed in the center to adjust microphone gain, output volume control, and change the mix between zero-latency monitoring and computer playback.
Additionally, it has a Hi-Z input and a headphone output jack with allows for zero-latency monitoring and real-time playback.
One of my favorite features is its SmartGain feature.
- This automatically sets the input levels of your microphones or instruments.
- You’ll save A LOT of time in setting the perfect gain when recording, making it much easier and more efficient.
It also offers a loopback function, which is great for capturing playback from live streaming or calls for a podcast.
Its small size and portable weight make it a great choice for recording on the go. However, I recommend taking good care of this interface, because it has a rather plasticky build.
But nonetheless, it’s still a great choice. I’d say it’s one of the best compact audio interfaces, especially for beginners.
6. Solid State Logic / SSL 2+
Solid State Logic or SSL2 2+ is a classic high-end audio interface that guarantees quality recordings every time.
- The SSL 2+ is Mac and PC compatible, desktop-friendly, and can be bus-powered.
- It comes with 2 inputs, 4 outputs, MIDI I/O, and 2 preamps with two headphone outputs.
It has two individual channels with independent phantom powering, a toggle for mic and line inputs, and Hi-Z switches, which are useful for guitars and pedals.
There are five independent LEDs for easy input volume tracking.
- Although they’re divided in increments of ten, it gives a decent enough reference point for how far or close you are to clipping your volume.
- It also comes with smooth gain knobs with just the right amount of gain.
The placement of the giant volume knob is really convenient, and it goes up to 11! The stereo toggle switch allows you to listen to channels 1 and 2 as a stereo pair.
It also comes with a unique 4K Legacy mode switch. What’s Legacy mode, you might ask? I’ll tell you!
- 4K Legacy mode is designed to emulate the sounds of higher-end, more professional studios, like the SSL 4000 (hence 4K).
- It ENHANCES analog outputs, giving it a high-frequency EQ boost and harmonic distortion, giving you more pronounced vocals and livening up your microphone.
This has all the right options and a clean layout and is definitely one to check out.
7. Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII
If you want to upgrade your home studio, then the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII is a great audio interface to go with!
The Apollo Twin is equipped with a lot of goodies like:
- 10 inputs and 6 outputs
- Phantom power for your microphone
- Two XLR and instrument inputs and four outputs
- Plus a Hi-Z direct input for your guitar.
The Apollo Twin has all software and plugins at the ready! Just go to the Universal Audio website to download and register!
This also comes with built-in digital signal processing, which lets you run multiple UAD plugins simultaneously.
This saves your computer’s processing power from being all used up!
Of course, it has its own limits on how many plugins you can run simultaneously.
It also comes with a special plugin called Unison, which recreates classic hardware sounds without the use of external software.
Add some color and vintage elements to your recordings!
I must warn you, the Apollo Twin is one of the more expensive audio interfaces. However, you certainly get what you paid for!
8. Behringer U-Phoria UM2
The Behringer U-Phoria is a nice little USB interface that is about the size of a smartphone!
But don’t let its tiny size fool you!
This 2-input/2-output audio interface is equipped with a combination XLR input for your microphone.
The direct monitor switch allows you to hear your recording from both inputs with zero latency. This is a great feature to have for keeping track of real-time when playing an instrument.
Conveniently placed beside that are the signal and clip lights.
- Though it’s just one light each, and though it doesn’t display increments or ranges, it’s still useful for quick volume monitoring.
- The signal lights are placed next to the instrument input for better monitoring.
I give this audio interface another plus for its simple and super easy-to-understand design!
The gain knob is conveniently placed across the XLR input to control volume.
- The same goes for the instrument gain knob and the output volume knob!
- This is a great feature as what each knob controls is directly placed in front of them for easy spotting and no need to look twice.
Rest assured that the recorded audio is crisp and clear!
Despite its small plastic size and durability (take extra good care of it), it’s a great pick for beginners.
If you’re just starting out, its intuitive design will be a great help!
9. Motu M2
The Motu M2 is another strong player in the audio interface game!
On the front of the device are:
- Two identical channels with XLR combo inputs
- A gain dial for each channel
- Independent phantom powering
- Zero-latency monitoring switches.
It comes with MIDI ports for your digital instruments and equipment. You’ll also find RCA and monitor outputs, where you can connect speakers to both outputs simultaneously.
One of my favorite things about this interface is its large and super convenient LED monitoring screen.
- Unlike a halo or tiny flashing light, the monitoring levels are big and SUPER clear to read.
- You can easily see the recording levels moving as you record in real time.
An even bigger selling point is the loopback function. This allows you to record and capture your computer playback.
This is great if you want to record a Youtube video, a movie line, or anything else similar you might need for your project. Pretty handy, right?
The Motu M2 really sets the bar for the best audio interfaces! Even if it’s an entry-level interface, it’ll provide professional audio quality every time!
You can’t go wrong with this one!
10. Arturia AudioFuse Pre8
The Arturia AudioFuse 8Pre is one of the LARGER interfaces. It isn’t like the small desktop interfaces I’ve been covering so far. It’s a rack-mountable interface.
But it’s a great choice anyway! Here’s a brief dive into its specs.
- There are two XLR combo jacks and a whopping 8 channels.
- Channels 1 and 2 only allow instrument-level inputs.
- All 8 channels have an indicator light to distinguish microphone inputs, line inputs, or instrument inputs.
- A gain dial, a level meter for volume monitoring, and a phantom powering switch.
- Remember to note that channels 3-8 do not have the instrument button.
A mono button is underneath the speaker volume knob to monitor the audio phase. You also get a mixed selection button to change the source being played through the speakers.
Beneath the headphone volume control knob are two headphone jacks, one (1) quarter-inch jack and one (1) eighth-inch jack. No need to buy a headphone adapter!
There’s also a word clock button if you’re running multiple audio devices and need them to be in sync.
This brings me to the next point.
This audio interface is ADAT compatible and has an ADAT optical input and output, meaning you can stack multiple interfaces and have multiple channels!
This is a great feature that allows you to use any extra external power supply you might need.
Now, due to its size, this isn’t an interface you can bring around on the go
But if you really want to UPGRADE your home studio or you’re gearing up for a big performance, then this audio interface can do that!
11. Tascam US 2×2
I’ve gone up in size, but it’s time to scale back down. The Tuscan US 2×2 is another good audio interface choice for a small home studio!
This affordable audio interface is compatible with Mac, PC, and iOS devices. It comes with one XLR input, one TRS input, and one headphone jack.
I’d say this is an optimal amount of input for musical beginners. Think of the Tascam as a novice’s best friend!
It also comes with an HDDA (High Definition Discrete Architecture) preamp.
- This preamp is designed to provide crystal clear audio that has extremely low noise.
- However, it doesn’t come with a knob for direct monitor switching.
It also comes with +48V phantom power, which is always necessary for a condenser microphone. It provides clear sounds with zero noise.
Another cool feature is its build is angled slightly upward for easy access to the panel.
The Tuscan’s tilted build makes it easier to see the controls, plus its small size and multi-platform access make it a great choice to bring around as well!
12. Focusrite Scarlett 18i20
Here’s another high-quality rack-mounted interface for you!
Similar to the Arturia AudioFuse Pre8, the Scarlett 18i20 is stuffed with a staggering 18 inputs and 20 outputs, it offers XLR combo jacks for 8 channels.
Additionally, there are 8 MORE optical inputs for ADAT compatibility, which means you can STACK another interface on top of that.
You’ll also get a word clock that can sync multiple devices.
There are two headphone outputs, each with its own volume control and dual monitor outputs at the back.
There’s an additional MIDI input and output and a S/PIDF input/output.
In case you’re unfamiliar, S/PIDF is useful for transferring an audio signal from one device to another without having to convert them to an analog signal.
It also comes with a convenient talkback feature to communicate with talents or performers.
Like all Focusrite devices, it comes with an easy-to-read level metering feature to see the volume levels.
However, I like the 18i20 because of its LED meters. Unlike the ring light on the 2i2, the 18i20 comes with LED meters on the front panel.
This interface isn’t exactly portable, but I still think this interface will make a great addition to your studio.
Just ensure you actually need it first, because it’s a serious piece of hardware!
13. Antelope Audio Zen Go Synergy Core
Antelope’s Audio Zen Go is another new kid on the block that provides excellent audio quality every time.
Its sleek design is already a plus, but I’d like to take you through its features.
This desktop audio interface runs on USB bus power and comes with two combo inputs. This can be upgraded to four inputs since it has two S/PIDF outputs as well.
So yes, you CAN combine another interface with this one if you would like!
It comes with multiple outputs, too, including RCA, TRS, and two headphone outputs in the front. It also comes with Hi-Z inputs for your guitar.
The giant and super clear LED screen and easily-accessible volume knob on top make for very easy controlling and monitoring of gain and volume levels.
Another plus is its higher elevation for easy access and monitoring with extremely low latency.
You’ll also get a bunch of pre-packaged DSP effects like EQ, reverb, and guitar amps. It comes with a solid collection of software bundles, all free to access on the Antelope website.
The Audio Zen Go is without a doubt, a great choice for beginners or experienced levels!
14. M-Audio M-Track 2×2
It may look simple, but I’ve put the M-Track 2×2 here to show that size isn’t everything!
This interface has a USB-C connection and allows you to record 2 channels at once with its instrument and XLR inputs.
Despite having an all-plastic top, the M-Track 2×2’s build is compact and sturdy. The interface is slightly bigger than usual, which is a plus if you need something that’s very easy to spot.
But on the other hand, it may take up more space than usual on your workstation.
It comes with easy-to-read meter levels underneath their respective gain dials. Though the meters offer a rather small range, I’ll always take readable increments!
Conveniently placed in the center is a smooth-turning monitor volume control. There’s also a mix dial that allows you to switch between zero-latency monitoring and computer playback.
It also supplies +48 phantom power with a handy light that indicates whether it’s activated.
At the front, you’ll find a Hi-Z input for your guitar and your headphone output.
Rest assured that your sound quality will be top-tier, with zero latency and noise and a high dynamic range. The buttons, dials, and everything else are also very intuitive for beginners.
Why You Should Get An Audio Interface
Audio interfaces are a great investment if you want to take your music career to the next level! Any audio engineer will definitely recommend one.
An audio interface transfers audio signals from your mics and instruments to your computer.
I like to think of it like the middleman that hears your playback from your computer to your headphones.
This allows you to create clearer, more professional-sounding recordings so you can really get the most out of every recording. You can also find the tiniest details in each recording.
If you really want to upgrade your songs or podcasts with better audio, then audio interfaces are a must!
How to Know Which Audio Interface To Get?
Even after going over the several possible options, it can still be a little confusing to choose which is the best.
Here’s what I like to consider when choosing the best audio interfaces. I hope this guide also works for you.
Input and Output
The number of inputs and outputs is very important when choosing an audio interface.
If you’re a one-person band or doing a solo show, I recommend getting an interface with at least two input types and outputs for your microphone and/or instrument.
Any other interface or other audio gear with more inputs and outputs for additional audio sources, like MIDI, could also be useful.
On the other hand, if you’re a full-piece band with multiple instruments and microphones, it’s obviously best to go for four or more inputs and outputs.
At the end of the day, it all depends on your needs!
NOTE: You might also want to consider digital inputs and outputs as well. These are used to connect extra hardware.
Most interfaces come with their own package of free-to-access software, mainly on their website or found in the manual.
- You have many different options for recording software, like Garageband, Ableton Live, Cubase, and Audacity.
- Some companies even have their own line of exclusive software.
The software or DAW may be intimidating to look at, especially if you’re a beginner, but it’s definitely worth learning. Just remember to practice!
Before picking a DAW, I recommend checking whether it’s compatible with your computer or device.
Don’t forget to check if your OS is updated and compatible with your DAW or software.
Set A Budget
You can find audio interfaces at varying prices, although there are some really cheap ones that provide high-quality audio.
You’ll be looking at a wide price range, from less than 100$ to more than 1000$.
Consider your budget before making your choice.
Assuming you have enough money for the interface itself, you may want to consider other factors, like extra hardware, extra microphones, more instruments.
These will obviously be pricier, so I suggest thinking about what kind of project you are working on and then plan out your budget accordingly.
What Specific Genre Will You Use It For?
Audio interfaces also allow for various genres and types of projects!
From a standard one-person recording to full set rock bands, audio interfaces can record several instruments at the same time.
Like I mentioned earlier, it all goes back to what kind of genre or project you will go for.
- A one-person show or podcast may require a simple 2-input 2-output interface.
- A full band recording a new album in a studio may require an interface with more inputs and outputs.
Best Budget Pick: PreSonus AudioBox 96
The PreSonus AudioBox is the most budget-friendly interface you can get!
At a modest price of just 100$, this interface does all the work in providing the best quality audio you can ask for.
From its free licensed DAW software to its MIDI in/out, it’s a steal!
Best Value Pick: RME Babyface Pro FS
The RME Babyface Pro FS is a perfect interface that does all the right things!
It comes with several extras like remote-controlled TotalMix FX software, ADAT and S/PIDF inputs, and an incredibly high 12 inputs and 12 outputs all in one tiny little box!
Best Overall: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
Focusrite has been the go-to for recording artists and audio engineers everywhere!
This is, in my opinion, the BEST audio interface you can invest in!
The simple and easy-to-understand layout of this audio interface makes it a perfect pick for novice and veteran musicians alike.
It provides all the necessary requirements and guarantees crystal clear audio every single time! No wonder it is so popular!
The best part? It’s one of the cheapest audio interfaces on the market right now. What more can you ask for?
There you have it!
Those are some of the best audio interfaces on the market right now. Audio interfaces are a great investment if you’re serious about taking your music career to new heights!
I’d personally invest in a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 for its near-perfect sound quality and cheap price.
Hopefully, this helps you choose the best audio interfaces for your studio and expand your music career.