The Best Audio Interface For Recording

Trying to figure out which the best audio interface for your needs to get can be one of the most confusing and overwhelming pieces of equipment to purchase for your recording rig depending on your background with computers.  We will do our best to help you in making your decision as to what audio interface is best for your needs.

What Is An Audio Interface


An audio interface is hardware that allows you to connect microphones to it and converts signals to something that your computer can read.  This is an essential part of your recording rig, and I like to think of the audio interface as the brain of your recording rig.  everything plugs into it, and it registers what is happening.

Tips For Getting The Best Audio Interface For You


When looking through the audio interfaces below, think of what you are wanting to record.  How many mic inputs will you need at a time?  If youThe Best Audio Interface Tips are recording a drum set, you will need several.  If you are recording a podcast, you may only need one or 2, depending if you will be speaking with someone else.  Other things to consider, is what your computer can do.  All of these audio interfaces will require a specific operating system that they will work with, and I do suggest to use a computer with at least 8 GB of RAM.  With that being said, let's take a look at some of the best audio interface options! (the following products contain affiliate links.  This means at no additional cost to you, I get paid if you click through and make a purchase)

The Best Audio Interface Suggestions


Focusrite Scarlett

The Focusrite Scarlett series features a USB connection to your computer and has sample rates of up to 24-bit/192kHz.  This interface series is compatible with Mac OS X 10.10 or later and PC Windows 7 or later.

Scarlett Solo

  • 1 mic preamp
  • 1 XLR input
  • 1 1/4" input

Last Checked Price: $109.99

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Scarlett 2i4

  • 2 mic preamps
  • 2 XLR inputs
  • 2 1/4" inputs

Last Checked Price: $219.99

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Scarlett 6i6

  • 2 mic preamps
  • 2 XLR inputs
  • 4 1/4" inputs

Last Checked Price: $249.99

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Scarlett 18i8

  • 4 mic preamps
  • 4 XLR inputs
  • 8 1/4" inputs

Last Checked Price: $379.99

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Scarlett 18i20

  • 8 mic preamps
  • 8 XLR inputs
  • 8 1/4" inputs

Last Checked Price: $549.99

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Focusrite Clarett

The Focusrite Clarett series has a USB connection to your computer and has sample rates to 24-bit/192kHz.  These include several Focusrite plug-ins for your recording software.  It is compatible with Mac OS X 10.11 or later and PC Windows 7 SP1 or later.

Clarett 2Pre

  • 2 mic preamps
  • 2 XLR inputs
  • 2 1/4" inputs

Last Checked Price: $439.99

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Clarett 4Pre

  • 4 mic preamps
  • 4 XLR inputs
  • 4 1/4" inputs

Last Checked Price: $759.99

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Clarett 8Pre

  • 8 mic preamps
  • 8 XLR inputs
  • 8 1/4" inputs

Last Checked Price: $869.99

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Universal Audio Apollo Twin

The Universal Audio Apollo Twin series has a thunderbolt connection to the computer and has sample rates up to 24-bit/192kHz.  It includes some of Universal Audio's state of the art plug-ins.  The Apollo Twin series is compatible with Mac OS X 10.10 or later and PC Windows 10 64 bit(will need a thunderbolt adapter if using on PC).

Apollo Twin SOLO

  • 2 mic preamps
  • 2 XLR inputs
  • 2 1/4" inputs
  • 1 SHARC processor

Last Checked Price: $699.00

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Apollo Twin DUO

  • 2 mic preamps
  • 2 XLR inputs
  • 2 1/4" inputs
  • 2 SHARC processors

Last Checked Price: $899.00

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Apollo Twin QUAD

  • 2 mic preamps
  • 2 XLR inputs
  • 2 1/4" inputs
  • 4 SHARC processors

Last Checked price: $1299.00

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Universal Audio Apollo 8 Quad

The Apollo 8 Quad has a Thunderbolt connection to the computer and has sample rates up to 24-bit/192kHz.  It includes some of Universal Audio's state of the art plug-ins.  The Apollo 8 is compatible with Mac OS X 10.10 or later and PC Windows 10 64 bit or later (Must have thunderbolt adapter for PC).

  • 4 mic preamps
  • 2 instrument preamps
  • 4 XLR inputs
  • 8 1/4" inputs
  • 2 1/4" Hi-Z

Last Checked Price: $1999.00

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PreSonus Studio

The Presonus Studio series has a USB connection to the computer and has sample rates up to 24-bit/192kHz.  The Studio Magic plug-in bundle is included.  The Studio series is compatible with Mac OS X 10.8.5 and up and Windows 7 Sp1 and up (Intel 2GHz multi-core processor or better).

Studio 2X4

  • 2 mic preamps
  • 2 XLR inputs
  • 2 1/4" inputs

Last Checked Price: $199.95

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Studio 6X8

  • 4 mic preamps
  • 4 XLR inputs
  • 4 1/4" inputs

Last Checked Price: $299.95

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Studio 1810

  • 4 mic preamps
  • 4 XLR inputs
  • 4 1/4" inputs

Last Checked Price: $399.95

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Studio 1824

  • 8 mic preamps
  • 8 XLR inputs
  • 8 1/4" inputs
  • 2 of the XLR and 1/4" inputs are Hi-Z

Last Checked Price: $499.95

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Audient iD

The Audient iD audio interface series has a USB 2.0 connection to the computer and has sample rates up to 24-bit/96kHz.

Audient iD4

  • 1 mic preamp
  • 1 XLR input
  • Mac: OS X 10.7.5 and up
  • PC: Windows 7 and up

Last Checked Price: $197.22

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Audient iD14

  • 2 mic preamps
  • 2 XLR inputs
  • Mac: OS X 10.7.5 and up
  • PC: Windows 7 and up

Last Checked Price: $298.80

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Audient iD22

  • 2 mic preamps
  • 2 XLR inputs
  • Mac: OS X 8 and up
  • PC: Windows 7 SP1 and up

Last Checked Price: $479.99

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Audient iD44

  • 4 mic preamps
  • 4 XLR inputs
  • Mac: OS 10.7.5 and up
  • PC: Windows 7 SP1 and up

Last Checked Price: $699.00

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Apogee Element

The Apogee Element series has a thunderbolt connection to the computer and has sample rates up to 24-bit/192kHz.  It is compatible with Mac OS X 10.10 or later and iOS, NOT compatible with PC.

Apogee Element 24

  • 2 mic preamps
  • 2 XLR inputs
  • 2 1/4" inputs

Last Checked Price: $595.00

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Apogee Element 46

  • 4 mic preamps
  • 4 XLR inputs
  • 4 1/4" inputs

Last Checked Price: $895.00

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Apogee Element 88

  • 8 mic preamps
  • 8 XLR inputs
  • 4 1/4" inputs

Last Checked Price: $1495.00

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Antelope Audio Discrete

The Antelope Audio Discrete series uses a thunderbolt or a USB connection to the computer and has sample rates up to 24-bit/192kHz.  These include the Basic FX pack from Antelope Audio.  The Discrete series is compatible with Mac OS X 10.11 and up and Windows 10 and up (8 GB of RAM minimum).

Discrete 4

  • 4 mic preamps
  • 4 XLR inputs
  • 4 1/4" inputs

Last Checked Price: $999.00

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Discrete 8

  • 8 mic preamps
  • 8 XLR inputs
  • 8 1/4" inputs

Last Checked Price: $1595.00

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Sample Rate Explained


The best way to explain sample rate is to think of how a video tape works.  If you see the tape pulled out, it is actually a series of photographs that are put together and changed frequently that create the illusion of a video.  The same can be said for music.  The computer will take a series of "snapshots" of the audio waves, and put them together to create music.
That said, we can now see that the higher the sample rate the better the quality.  Now you might be telling yourself that you want the highest sample rate possible, but let's also consider that your computer can only process so much due to the amount of RAM that it has.  Before you spend more money on what you think the best audio interface is, consider that if your computer can only process, so much, then you are going to end up lowering the sample rate.  Thus, you could have just purchased a cheaper interface.

Understanding Bit Rate


It is best to think of bit rate like a stair case along the waves from the sound source.  the higher the bit rate, the more "stairs" there are.  Therefore, we can think of a bell curve of a sound wave when considering this rate.  The higher the bit rate the more captures a sound will have.  I had a professor that had us compare to the evolution of video games.  If you listen to how "blocky" the Mario song is, this is a great example of a low bit rate.

RAM Recommendations For The Best Audio Interface


After discussing sample rate and bit rate, you will notice that the amount of RAM your recording computer has is incredibly important.  To get the best audio interface for you, we will need to focus on what your capabilities are.  I will suggest that your computer should have no less than 8 GB of RAM.  This day and age, that will be easier and cheaper to achieve, but if you are operating on an older computer, you will want to be aware that you may need to make some upgrades, or you will need to lower your sample rate and bit rate.

Additional Considerations For The Best Audio Interface


Now that we have discussed many different topics regarding audio interfaces, it is important that we look at the big picture.  Your computer, DAW software, and audio interface work hand in hand with your microphones and plugins.  Do not blow all of your money to get the top-of-the-line best audio interface, if you are going to need to be skimpy on the rest of your recording purchases.  Be sure that you are purchasing the audio interface that works with your budget.
Conversely, be sure that you have a good quality audio interface, with very low to no buzz.  I cannot tell you enough how frustrating it can be when trying to record with a client and have a sound that you cannot get rid in your mix.  The interfaces that we mentioned in this article will have this quality, but if you do not purchase one of these, be sure to read reviews carefully to avoid this being an issue.  It will save you many headaches in the future!

Final Thoughts On The Best Audio Interface


If you have any questions about which is the best audio interface for you, or need any help with selecting recording equipment for your studio, please feel free to contact us through our contact us page found here.  Don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for the latest Blackskye Media updates!

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