The 52 Best Audio Interfaces on the Market

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Audio interfaces are essential tools for modern music production.

Every sound that goes in or out of your DAW has to pass through your interface to get where it’s going.

But there are more audio interfaces on the market than ever before. Knowing what’s out there is getting harder and harder.

In this article you’ll get all the key details for the 52 best audio interfaces available today.




Apogee



Arturia



Audient



Behringer



Focusrite



M-Audio



MOTU



Native Instruments



Presonus



RME



Steinberg



TASCAM



Universal Audio



ZOOM

How to use this guide

Today’s audio interfaces are extremely versatile tools.

To make sense of it all, we’ve listed each interface by its most important features: connection type, total number of inputs and outputs and price. 

Audio interfaces have all kinds of connectivity options.

If you need an overview of the different kinds of I/O, or what they mean for your workflow, check out our guide to How to Choose an Audio Interface for Your Home Studio.

The first number you’ll see in the “I/O” section is the total.

The inputs are written to the left of the slash and the outputs to the right.

That means an interface with 12 inputs and 8 outputs would be written “12/8.”

Following that you’ll see a breakdown of the different kinds of I/O connections available.

If you’re interested in a particular brand or interface, use the table of contents to go directly to the product you’re looking for.

With that out of way, here’s the interfaces!

Apogee

Apogee Duet

Apogee’s classic Apple-computer styled interface was the one of the first compact interfaces to bring rackmount quality conversion to the portable format.

It’s single rotary encoder control scheme had a massive impact on interface design for its ease of use.

Built with quality and simplicity in mind, the Duet’s I/O suite offers only analog I/O, headphone output and MIDI over USB.

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 2/4 (2x mic/line/inst in,  2x line out, 1x headphone out), MIDI (over USB)

Street Price: $649 USD

Apogee Quartet

Quartet is the Duet’s big brother. Combining additional analog I/O and digital connectivity with the same high quality onboard preamps and conversion as the Duet, Quartet is a great choice for medium track counts and flexibility.

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O:  12×8 (4x mic/line/inst, 8x optical in, 6x line out, 1x headphone out) MIDI I/O (over USB), Wordclock (out only)

Street Price: $1495 USD

Apogee Element

Element is Apogee’s newest line of interfaces. Designed to be simple and effective without unnecessary features, the Element series combines a fast Thunderbolt connection with Apogee’s renowned preamp and converter design.

Element 24

Connection Type: Thunderbolt

I/O: 10/12 (2x mic/line/inst in, 2x line out, 1x headphone out, 8x Optical I/O) Wordclock I/O

Street Price: $549 USD

Element 46

Connection Type: Thunderbolt

I/O: 12/14 (4x mic/line/inst in, 2x line out, 2x headphone out, 8x Optical I/O) Wordclock I/O

Street Price: $895 USD

Element 88

Connection Type: Thunderbolt

I/O: 16/16 (4x mic/line in/inst in, 4x mic/line in, 4x line out, 2x headphone out, 8x Optical I/O), Wordclock I/O)

Street Price: $1495 USD

Arturia

Arturia Audiofuse

Arturia’s Audiofuse has an impressive amount of connectivity. If it’s possible to plug it to an interface, the Audiofuse has a port for it somewhere on its compact enclosure. These extensive options make it highly versatile for studio use.

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 14/14 (2x mic/line/inst in, 2x phono in, 4x line out, 2x headphone out, 8x optical I/O 2x S/PDIF I/O), MIDI I/O  (⅛”TRS), USB hub,

Street Price: $599 USD

Audient

Audient Sono

Sono is a brand new entry to Audient’s interface line. Aimed at guitarists, Sono features a 12AX7 driven tube amp style preamp and onboard power amp and cabinet modelling from Two Notes.

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 10/4 (2x mic/line, 1x instrument in, 8 Optical in, 2x line out 1x headphone out 1x reamp out)

Street Price: $449 USD

Audient iD

Audient’s iD series is another popular range of desktop interfaces. Audient’s large-format console and AD/DA expertise drive the technology behind the iD range. The iD form factor is compact and perfect for taking on the road.

Audient iD4

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 2/2 (1x mic/line in 1x instrument in, 2x line/headphone out)

Street Price: $199 USD

Audient iD14

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 10/4 (2x mic/line in, 1x instrument in, 8x optical in, 2x line out, 1x headphone out)

Street Price: $299 USD

Audient iD22

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 10/6 (2x mic/line in, 1x instrument in, 4x line out 1x headphone out, 8x optical I/O)

Street Price: $499 USD

Audient iD44

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 20 / 24 (4x mic/line, 2x instrument in, 2x line out 2x headphone out, 16x optical I/O)

Street Price: $699 USD

Behringer

Behringer U-PHORIA

Behringer’s UMC line of interface’s come at an impressively low price point for their feature set. Available in a range of I/O configurations, UMC interfaces offer good performance without breaking the bank.

Behringer UM2

Connection Type: USB

I/O: 2/2 (1x mic/line in 1x instrument in, 2x RCA/headphone out)

Street Price: $39.99 USD

Behringer UMC22

Connection Type: USB

I/O: 2/2 (1x mic/line in 1x instrument in, 2x line/headphone out)

Street Price: $59.99 USD

Behringer UMC202HD

Connection Type: USB

I/O: 2/2 (2x mic/line/inst in, 2x line/headphone out)

Street Price: $99.99 USD

Behringer UMC204HD

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 2/4 (2x mic/line/inst in, 2x line out, 1x headphone out, 4x RCA out), MIDI I/O

Street Price: $129.99 USD

Behringer UMC404HD

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 4/4 (4 mic/line/inst in, 2x line/RCA, 2x headphone out) MIDI I/O

Street Price: $149.99 USD

Behringer UMC1820

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 18/20 (8 mic/line/inst in, 10x line out, 2x headphone out 8x optical/SPDIF I/O), MIDI I/O

Street Price: $279.99 USD

Focusrite

Focusrite Scarlett

Focusrite’s inexpensive but capable Scarlett series has a strong following.

Scarlett devices come in all shapes in sizes from the single channel Solo to the studio-ready 18i20.

All Focusrite interfaces come bundled with an impressive selection of software including Ableton Live Lite, Pro Tools First, and access to Focusrite’s Plugin Collective program which feature tools and effects from top manufacturers.

Focusrite Scarlett Solo

Connection Type: USB

I/O: 2/2 (1x mic, 1x instrument/line, 2xRCA/headphone out)

Street Price: $109.99 USD

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 2/2 (2x mic/line/inst in, 2x line/headphone out)

Street Price: $159.99 USD

Focusrite Scarlett 2i4

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 2/4 (2x mic/line/inst in, 2x line out, 4x RCA out, 1x headphone out) MIDI I/O

Street Price: $199.99 USD

Focusrite Scarlett 6i6

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 6/6 (2x mic/line/inst in, 4x line out, 2x headphone out, 2x S/PDIF I/O), MIDI I/O

Street Price: $269.99 USD

Focusrite Scarlett 18i8

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 18/8 (2x mic/line/inst in 2x mic/line in, 4x line in, 8x optical in, 2x line out, 2x headphone out, 2x S/PDIF I/O), MIDI I/O

Street Price: $379.99 USD

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 18/20 (2x mic/line/inst in, 6x mic/line in, 8x optical in, 10x line out, 2x headphone out, 8x Optical I/O 2x S/PDIF I/O), MIDI I/O, Wordclock Out

Street Price: $549.99 USD

Focusrite Clarett

The Clarett range is a step up from Scarlett in terms of sonic performance, with higher quality components throughout the analog and digital signal paths.

Clarrett interfaces are available with USB 2.0 or Thunderbolt architecture for ultra-low latency and maximum throughput.

Focusrite Clarett 2pre

Connection Type: USB 2.0/Thunderbolt

I/O: 10/4 (2x mic/line/inst in, 8x optical in, 4x line out), MIDI I/O

Street Price: $439.99 USD

Focusrite Clarett 4pre

Connection Type: USB 2.0/Thunderbolt

I/O: 18/8 (2x mic/line/inst in 2x mic/line in, 4x line in, 8x optical in, 4x line out 2x S/PDIF I/O), MIDI I/O

Street Price: $659.99 USD

Focusrite Clarett 8pre

Connection Type: USB 2.0/Thunderbolt

I/O: 18/20 (2x mic/line/inst 6x mic/line/inst in, 10x line out, 2x headphone out, 8x optical I/O 2x S/PDIF I/O), MIDI I/O, Wordclock out

Street Price: $869.99 USD

M-Audio

M-Audio M-Track

M-Audio has been a major player in the audio interface arena since Avid acquired Digidesign’s influential Mbox hardware brand.

In the early days of digital home recording, if you wanted to use Pro Tools, Mbox was essentially your only option.

Today the Mbox  has been succeeded by the M-Track line which comes bundled with Pro Tools First and a bundle of entry-level Waves plugins

M-Audio M-Track 2x2M

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 2/2 (2x mic/line in, 2x instrument in, 2x line out), MIDI I/O

Street Price: $149 USD

M-Audio M-Track 8x4M

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 8/4 (4x mic/line in, 2x line in, 2x instrument in, 4x line out), MIDI I/O (⅛” TRS)

Street Price: $299 USD

M-Audio M-Track Eight

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 8/8 (8x mic/line in, 2x inst in, 8x line out, 2x headphone out)

Street price: $399 USD

MOTU

MOTU MicroBook IIc

MOTU is another manufacturer that’s been around since the early days of digital audio. Their rack MIDI interfaces are a staple of large format studios everywhere.

MOTU produces a huge range of interface products that combine solid AD/DA conversion and build quality with a powerful DSP environment.

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 4/6 (1x mic in, 1x instrument in, 2x line in, 1x ⅛” TRS, 2x line out, 2x ⅛” TRS line out, S/PDIF out)

Street Price: $249 USD

MOTU Track 16

Connection Type: USB 2.0/Firewire 400

I/O: 16/14 (2x XLR in, 2x instrument in, 2x line in, 4x line out, 2x headphone out, 8x optical I/O)

Street Price: $549 USD

MOTU 4pre

Connection Type: USB 2.0/Firewire 400

I/O: 6/6 (2x mic/line, 2x mic/inst, 4x line out, 2x headphone out, S/PDIF I/O)

Street Price: $449 USD

Native Instruments

NI Komplete Audio 6

Komplete Audio 6 was one of the first products in the Native Instruments hardware lineup.

With a capable feature-set, Komplete Audio offers bundled NI software to get you started creating with their popular synths, samples and effects right away.

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 6/6 (2x mic/line, 2x mic/inst, 4x line out, S/PDIF I/O)

Street Price: $239 USD

Presonus

Presonus AudioBox

Presonus is a major player in the interface industry that caters to all budgets.

AudioBox USB 96 is their simplest, most cost-effective audio interface. 

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 2/2 (2x mic/inst, 2x line out, 1x headphone out), MIDI I/O

Street Price: $99.95 USD

Presonus Studio

The Studio Series is Presonus’ intermediate-level range of interfaces. With great conversion quality and an impressive feature set, the Studio Series comes bundled with Presonus’ Studio One Artist DAW software and Studio Magic Plugin Suite.

The newly announced “c” models sport the forward looking USB-C port for modern connectivity

Presonus Studio 2|4

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 2/2 (2x mic/line/inst, 2x line out, 1x headphone out), MIDI I/O

Street Price: $149.95 USD

Presonus Studio 2|6

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 2/4 (2x mic/line/inst, 4x line out, 1x headphone out), MIDI I/O

Street Price: $174.95 USD

Presonus Studio 6|8

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 6/6 (2x mic/line/inst in 2x mic/line in, 4x line out, 1x headphone out, 2x SP/DIF), MIDI I/O (via breakout cable)

Street Price: $249.95 USD

Presonus Studio 1810

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 18/8 (2x mic/line/inst 2x mic/line, 4x line in, 8x optical in, 6x line out, 2x headphone out, 2x S/PDIF I/O), MIDI I/O.

Street Price: $299.95 USD

Presonus Studio 1824

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 18/18 (2x mic/inst/line in, 6x mic/line in, 10 line out, 8x optical I/O, 2x S/PDIF I/O), MIDI I/O, Wordclock out

Street Price: $399.95 USD

RME

RME Babyface Pro

German manufacturer RME’s “-face” line of USB and Firewire interfaces are highly respected audio tools. The Babyface Pro shares it’s design inspiration and desktop form factor with the Duet and offers extended connectivity with access to RME’s TotalMix DSP environment.

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 12/12 (2x mic in, 2x /inst/line in, 2x line out, 2x headphone out, 8x optical I/O,), MIDI I/O (via breakout cable),

Street Price: $749 USD

Steinberg

Steinberg UR-RT

Designers of the popular Cubase and Nuendo DAW software, Steinberg has entered the hardware game with interfaces of its own.

UR-RT2 and UR-RT4 are versatile interfaces with custom wound Rupert Neve input transformers switchable at the preamp stage.

Steinberg UR-RT2

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 4/2 (2x mic/line/inst in, 2x line in),   

Street Price: $349.99 USD

Steinberg UR-RT4

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 6/4 (2x mic/inst, 2x. mic/line, 2x line in, 6x line out, 2x headphone out) MIDI I/O

Street Price: $599.99 USD

TASCAM

TASCAM US

Magnetic tape legend TASCAM produces excellent digital recording tools.

The well designed US line of interfaces are yet another fully-featured choice with quality conversion and preamps onboard.

TASCAM US-1×2

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 2/2 (1x mic in, 1x line/inst in, headphone out, 2x RCA I/O)

Street Price: $119.99 USD

TASCAM US-2×2

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 2/2 (2x mic/line/inst in, 2x line out, 1x headphone out) MIDI I/O

Street Price: $179.99 USD

TASCAM US-4×4

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 2/2 (4x mic in, 2x line/inst in, 2x line in, 4x line out, 2x headphone out), MIDI I/O

Street Price: $229.99 USD

TASCAM US-16×08

Connection Type: USB 2.0

I/O: 16/8 (8 mic in, 2x inst/line in, 6 line in, 8 line out) MIDI I/O

Street Price: $299.99 USD

Universal Audio

Universal Audio Arrow

Arrow is Universal Audio’s newest, most compact interface. There’s never been an easier way to get into the UA hardware ecosystem and take advantage of the superbly modelled analog plugins.

Connection Type: Thunderbolt 3

I/O: 2/4 (2x mic/line in, 1x instrument in, 2x line our, 1x headphone out).  

Street Price: $499 USD

Universal Audio Apollo

Apollo is Universal Audio’s flagship line of audio interfaces.

With a broad range of configuration and connectivity options, real-time UAD Console environment, Unison preamp modelling and industry standard UAD-2 plugins, Apollo is the interface to beat for features and performance.

Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII

Connection Type: Thunderbolt 2

I/O: 10/ 6 (2x mic/line in, 1x inst in, 8x optical in, 4x line out, 2x headphone)

Street Price: $699 USD

Zoom

Zoom UAC/TAC

Zoom’s USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt interfaces combine great connectivity with incredibly low latency figures at a very reasonable price.

The UAC or TAC interfaces are great options if speed is a top concern.

Zoom UAC-2

Connection Type: USB 3.0

I/O: 2/2 (2x mic/line/inst in, 2x line out, 1x headphone) MIDI I/O

Street Price: $249.99 USD

Zoom TAC-2R

Connection Type: Thunderbolt

I/O: 2/2 (2x mic/line/inst in, 2x line out 1x, headphone) MIDI I/O

Street Price: $349.99 USD

Zoom UAC-8

Connection Type: USB 3.0

I/O: 18/20 (2x mic/line/inst, 6x mic/line, 10x line out, 8x optical I/O, 2x S/PDIF I/O), MIDI I/O, Wordclock I/O

Street Price: $599.99 USD

Zoom TAC-8

Connection Type: Thunderbolt

I/O: 18/20 (2x mic/line/inst, 6x mic/line, 10x line out, 8x optical I/O, 2x S/PDIF I/O) MIDI I/O Wordclock I/O

Street Price: $649.99 USD

Interface value

There’s a lot of choices out there, but everyone needs an interface to get started with digital audio.

Even though it’s important, it doesn’t have to be scary.

Now that you know the different interfaces that are out there, you’ll have a better overview of the which products you’ll be looking at for your choice.

If you still need more help making a decision, head over to How to Choose an Audio Interface for Your Home Studio for more info!

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