It is a Brave New World in the field of Audio Recording and Music Production these days. The Market is full of brand new gear this year and we’re right on top of it. The audio interface market has more recently exploded in the last year and we’re going to shed some light on what you should get to fit your Music Production and Recording needs. Obviously, there are some quite pricey options out there, so to make everyone happy we’ll look at options for the reasonably average joe. However, all the companies I will mention will typically have a higher end options with more inputs and outputs if that suits your needs better. Enter, Top Audio Interfaces on the Market 2018.
1) Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen)
This option by Focusrite is a more affordable option and great for those just starting out. Coined, “The Best Selling USB Audio Interface in the World”, the Scarlett has 2 inputs and 2 outputs and supports sample rates up to 192khz. A great introductory interface, it also comes bundled with many different software programs including, Ableton Live Lite.
Another affordable option, the Audiobox 44 VSL, has 2 mic/line inputs as well as 2 mic/instrument inputs for added flexibility. Though cheaper in price however it still has Class A preamps for pristine audio quality when recording. The device itself is connected via USB and supports sample rates up to 96 kHz. This is another good choice, especially for the new producer just getting his or her feet wet.
What can I say? Focusrite makes a lot of different audio interfaces. The Saffire line is yet another line of great interfaces from Focusrite. This one in particular is a 2 in/4 out interface with award winning preamps and professional analogue to digital converters. It is connected via USB and also comes with Ableton Live Lite and Novation’s Bass Station Synthesizer. Yet again a great interface for the beginning producer.
The Focusrite Clarett 2Pre is smallest in the Clarett line but still packs a punch. It contains 2 mic/line/instrument inputs and 4-line outputs. The USB and USB-C interface also has an optical ADAT port for extra added expansion if need be. The device is also capable of recording all the way up to 192 kHz with high quality A-D/D-A converters. Focusrite recently announced that their interfaces also have very low latency, low enough to track with plugin on the same channel path. All in all, for the price point this is a very solid audio interface.
Arturia has joined the audio interface game with their Audio Fuse line of devices. The interface features 4 analogue inputs and 4 outputs with 2 headphone outs. It also contains above average preamps and has room for expansion through either SPDIF or ADAT format. While a bit pricey for what you get, this interface is still a great option to explore.
The Quantum 2 is a recent release from PreSonus in the newest Quantum line of products. It features 24-bit/192kHz converters that have 120dB of dynamic range. The class A XMAX analog preamps are recallable and have incredibly high headroom for delivering an accurate depiction of detail in your recording. The interface itself contains 4 inputs and 2 out, with an expandability option via ADAT and SPDIF connection. All in all, this interface is a bit pricey, but there is no denying its power and quality.
Apogee has been a superb company creating high-end A-D and D-A for years in the commercial studio environment. More recently it seems their focus has been shifted to accommodating the mobile producer who records on their laptop to their favorite DAW. The Duet features a USB 2 connection and a breakout XLR cabling system to connect your inputs and playback your outputs. It also has recording sample rates ranging from 44.1 to 192 kHz. The Duet also comes with Apogee’s famed Maestro Software in order to interface with the unit directly and is bus powered. Overall this is a great sounding audio interface with only 2 inputs but the preamps are absolutely second to none.
8) Audient iD14
Audient is a famed audio company who is known for their pristine sounding mixing and recording consoles. With the release of their iD line, they have brought this same pristine quality to Producers and Engineers for a much lower price. The Audient iD14 is a 2-channel input and output interface, and features an optical in ADAT port making it expandable if need be. The preamps sound incredible and even serving as a monitor controller this interface is in a league of its own. The device is also bus powered; however it needs to be plugged in to give adequate phantom power to microphones that need it. Overall this is a solid tool for the job.
A fan favorite of sorts, the Apollo Twin has been a favorite for current Producers and Engineers for quite some time now. The interface features quad core duo technology, allowing you to run processing straight to the device and not take as much processing from your computer. It also contains UAD’s famous Unison technology allowing users to record through their prestigious plugins with almost no latency. On the device itself, it contains a Thunderbolt connection and 2 analogue inputs which can be expanded via the ADAT optical port. It also has 2 main monitor outputs as well as 2 more outputs to hook up a second set of reference monitors. Boasting features like this, it is no wonder why UAD claims the Apollo Twin is the best sounding desktop audio interface on the market.
10) UAD Audio Arrow
Now for the newest audio interface to hit the streets, The UAD Audio Arrow was just recently released earlier this month and has taken the audio community by storm. The device features 24bit/192kHz conversion with Thunderbolt 3 bus power, meaning no power supply is needed. The Arrow is 2 input 2 output, and has UAD’s infamous Unison technology ingrained for almost no latency while recording through their Unison plugins. The Arrow also has an instrument line in as well as a headphone jack on the front panel. In my opinion, for the price this your best bet when it comes to an audio interface at the moment. Small. sleek, and mobile, given the price point, there is no better option, especially with UAD’s world class preamps and audio converters.
Written for SoundOracle.net by Mitchell "The Innovator" Tillotson, Producer
Mitchell “The Innovator” Tillotson is a Music Producer, Musician, Songwriter, and Sound Designer hailing from the greater Baltimore area. Growing up as a Military Brat in the early 90’s and 2000’s and listening to producers like Teddy Riley, Rodney Jerkins, The Neptunes, and Timbaland, he fell in love with music at an early age. The recent Fullsail Music Production Grad and Navy Veteran grew up deejaying the local scenes in the Baltimore/DC areas and is now starting to take the music world by storm. Follow @iamtheinnovator on Twitter.
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