You need the best audio interface that you can get your hands on, if you want to get maximum value out of your vocals. Why? Because aside from providing your microphone with phantom power, an audio interface actually affects the overall quality of your sound. No joke!
That’s because audio interfaces are also preamplifiers. They take the signals from your condenser mic, which are usually of a low voltage (i.e. very quiet), and amplify them so that they’re of a reasonable volume. After which, they assist with feeding this audio into your computer as a readable audio file that you can edit further via your DAW. Not only that but, if you plug in headphones, this nifty device will also give you audio playback in what’s essentially real-time.
Nowadays most interfaces have very little latency. All of which makes them great for monitoring your levels when recording. Question is though, which audio interface is best? Is there even such a thing? Read on and we’ll dissect the inner workings of the audio interface, as well as give you an overview of 16 audio interfaces that we think are some of the best in 2023.
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The best audio interfaces @ a glance…
15 of the best audio interfaces you can buy in 2023 (+ 1 to avoid!!)
SPOILER: Choosing the best audio interface isn’t as easy as it might seem.
Come to think of it, finding the best audio interface for your specific needs is anything but easy. Because not only is everyone’s setup different – incl. mics, DAW etc. – but there’s not shortage of audio interfaces out there. Each one offering it’s own set of quirks & features (not to mention, drawbacks), which could/ could NOT make it the best AI for you. All very confusing…
Thankfully though, you don’t need to worry about that. Because we’ve done 90% of the legwork for you & (after thorough testing) compiled a list of what we believe to be the best audio interfaces, not just for professional audiophiles, but also beginners too!! All you need to do is read on…
FYI: Beginners – skip the first couple of interfaces, unless of course you want to dive in at the deep end. Our picks for the best beginner AIs start at number 5.
A selection of the best professional audio interfaces…
Oyyy – seasoned pro!
If you’re in the market for an audio interfaces, the following AIs are those which we personally think are worth your time. In other words, offer you a professional-grade of sound & broad level of features at a reasonable £$€.
Aside from near-zero latency & more ports than you can imagine, the preamps are also top notch. Incredibly clean on all of our picks. If we were in charge of a professional studio, we’d be very happy to use any of the following…
1: Arturia AudioFuse Studio
2: Focusrite Clarrett+ 4Pre
3: Universal Audio Apollo Twin X MK II
4: RME Audio BabyFace Pro
Ideal audio interfaces for beginners…
Don’t worry, beginners – not all AIs are as complex as those you’ve skipped past above.
In fact, for you, those would likely be overkill. Unless you’re recording with a full band, a smaller (& cheaper) audio interface will likely suffice. Not to mention be a FAR better way to master the basics & get used to the ‘ins & outs’ of using an audio interface.
So, if you’re after a quality piece of kit + a learning curve that’s not ridiculously steep, then we’d be happy to recommend any of the following…
5: Motu M2
6: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen)
7: Audient iD4
8: Solid State Logic 2+
9: Behringer U-phoriaUMC204HD
10: Mackie Onyx Producer
Best budget audio interface (around £100)
OKay, so while the interfaces above are cheap, they’re no SUUUPER cheap.
See, if you’re really on a budget you can even bag yourself an audio interface for under 3 figures. And it’s not like it’ll be made by some random ‘ling long chong’ brand that you’ve never heard off. Some of the best audio interface brands do budget versions of their most popular interfaces!!
At the time of writing this blog, that’s exactly the case with this AI. So if you’re after the best budget audio interface, we’d suggest taking a good look at the…
11: Presonus Audiobox iTwo
Here’s the best audio interface for solo artists…
What’s the point of paying for features you’re not going to use????
Exactly – that’s where solo interfaces come into their own. See, these are AIs that take ‘small’ to an whole new level. Usually these types of interfaces will give you just 1 XLR mic port, a few basic controls & most likely just as USB out. BUT if that’s all you need – i.e. you’re a solo artist – then opting for an audio interface like this, could be easy way to save some £$€.
In which case, we’d encourage you to waste no time in checking this out – our pick (& one of the most popular) solo audio interfaces on the market today…
12: Focusrite Scarlett Solo
PC Users: avoid this audio interface at all costs!!
Just as there’s the best audio interfaces, there’s also those to watch – i..e tread carefully around.
Because while the vast majority of AIs are purpose-built for Mac systems, some do incur slight glitches when used with a PC. Glitches that can be the difference between whether they’re worth buying or not. Besides, there’s nothing worse than spending X amount of hundred £$€ on an AI only to find out it doesn’t streamline your workflow. That’s like paying for an inconvenience??!!
So here’s an AI that (for us) worked perfectly using Mac, but struggled when connected to a PC…
BONUS: Apogee Duet 3
* As of writing this blog, the issues are still occuring. However if you’re a Windows user who’s serious about purchasing this audio interface, we’d advise doubled checking first before crossing it off your list. Glitches aside, it’s a real good AI – lots of control & sensational pres. Res assured that no Mac user will be dissapointed.
Which is the best audio interface? Our editor’s choice…
Deciding on the best audio interface of 2023 wasn’t easy. In fact, it was such a task that we decided to narrow it down to two: one that’s the most beginner-friendly audio interface and another that’s our ‘go to’ for professional use. Although with that being said, professional and beginner audio interfaces need to have two things in common in order to be even be classed as ‘the best’.
Now obviously, while the best audio interface does somewhat depend on what you’re recording, all great interfaces share a balance of two things: functionality and value. Functionality being how flexible they are in terms of inputs, outputs and overall use. While value harks more towards the quality of the build and preamps in relation to price.
So bearing this in mind we’ve reached two conclusions. The first being that the best audio interface for beginners is the…
Motu M2 = Best Audio Interface For Beginners
We’re particular fans of the screen, however the fact it also boasts an independent set of button for phantom power & direct monitoring, is equally useful too. Make no wonder that upon release the M2 was hard to get your hands on, because for the money, this interface really is a steal for any beginner! And for those after something slightly more professional orientated, we’d say that the
Arturia AudioFuse Studio = Best Professional Audio Interface
is the way to go. Now granted, for some the sheer portability of the Apollo Twin X may mean it pips the Audiofuse to the post, however we’d beg to differ. From a technical standpoint, the Arturia runs rings around the Apollo.
The Audiofuse is newer, feels more solid, has more inputs/ outputs and completely schools the Apollo when it comes to gain. So overall then, for any pro hunting for an interface that’s very much at home in the studio, the Audiofuse is by far one of the most capable out there. In fact, we’re so blown away by the Audiofuse that we’d even go as far as to say that it’s the best and most full-featured interface that we’ve ever come across.
Yep… it’s really that good.
Enjoy this review of the best audio interface & eager for more? Don’t miss out on all our Audio & Sound Advice, as well as our Reviews Of Music Production Gear. Recently, we also published guides on the Best Studio Monitors + another on Impressive Music Studio Desks. Useful if you’re kitting out your studio!
Or, if you’ve still got as burning question about audio interfaces, keep reading to discover even more about why audio interfaces are such valuable pieces of kit…