The audio interfaces have become a vital part of audio production for some time and have become something that one must-have. With the help of the USB audio interface, such as 8 channel audio interface, it is possible to record with keyboards, instruments, microphones, and other things directly into the computer. These can significantly impact sound creation, and therefore, if you are serious about your music production business, it becomes necessary for you to find the best audio interface.
Digital recording is commonplace these days, and you can easily set up a mini studio at home. You can easily find the audio interfaces with four or more analog inputs. The 8 channel audio interface is the most popular one that can be purchased for a home a professional studio. If your computer lacks the USB ports of a built-in soundcard, you can purchase it to have enough slots for external devices. You can plug microphones, instruments, and your favorite headphones using the audio interface.
One of the best things about USB audio interfaces is that they can be used with other types of computers such as laptops and desktops. The DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software is also a type of recording software that is offered by various manufacturers that will help you record, compose songs and edit them. This offers professional sound quality while at home, which you would otherwise miss out on if you didn't have a good audio interface within your computer.
How to Choose Your Audio Interface
The following are some of the factors that you should consider while looking for your best audio interface:
Number of Inputs and Outputs
You will need to check whether or not the USB audio interface that you are planning to purchase has enough inputs and outputs. These devices come in various types, but most people prefer buying ones with at least four TRS line inputs. The output should ideally be one-quarter-inch headphone jack so that you can wear big headphones when working with your projects. Some interfaces also have mic preamps which can prove to be really useful if you want clean sound without much noise.
The next thing that you need to determine is how many USB ports your computer has. If your computer only has one, you can purchase a device with two inputs or more to make up for the loss of another port.
Not Compatible with all Computers
The audio interface that you are planning to buy should be compatible with both Windows and Mac computers since these are the most widely used operating systems in the world today. It is also possible for USB Audio Interfaces to work with iOS devices using Apple's Camera Connection Kit which lets you transfer files easily between your iOS device and your computer. The only thing that might prove difficult is trying to find an interface that works effectively on Android devices since they usually have less power than iOS devices do. if you own an Android smartphone, you can always purchase a small USB Audio Interface and connect it to your computer before connecting it to your phone/tablet.
The next thing that you need to consider when looking for an audio interface is your budget. Needless to say, the more expensive products are likely to have better features than cheap ones do. In some cases, cheap devices might prove disappointing when compared with pricier alternatives because they don't have any preamps or phantom power for example. This is particularly true if you want a device that doesn't cost a lot of money but comes with high-quality preamps which can make all the difference in your project. On the other hand, companies like Behringer offer great quality products at reasonable prices.
Number of Inputs and Outputs
The number of inputs and outputs will often determine the value of your money. Most USB audio interfaces have two analog inputs with a preamp. To make up for the lack of physical connections, you can use a good interface that has good conversion quality so that you can connect all your devices to it so that they can come under one umbrella.
In case you are looking for an interface with more I/O, then there are some with four inputs which might be ideal if you want to record a drum set or any other instrument where it is hard to mic each individual source in a room filled with multiple sources at once. In addition to this, some high-quality interfaces also have multi-channel inputs which can let you connect your computer with other devices so that the device in question will play all of them at once.
Regardless of whether or not you are looking for an audio interface to use with your existing equipment, there is no doubt that the biggest benefit associated with using audio interfaces is that they are simply fun to work with. This is because most of these units have pretty good preamps and they also have plenty of outputs which means that you can monitor everything without too much difficulty.
Here are our top picks for the best audio interfaces on the market right now.
List of the top audio interfaces
Steinberg is well-known among the people for its music production software. Over time, they have been able to branch out high-quality hardware and have also been quite effective with their audio interfaces. Their 4-channel UR242 is gaining fame in the market because of 24-bit/192kHz resolution, two class A D-PRE microphone preamps, loopback functionality to stream live on the internet, and multi-operating system compatibility. With its solid built, UR242 is definitely worth checking out.
- 24-bit/192kHz resolution
- Front panel headphone bus
- Two class A D-PRE microphone preamps
- Loopback functionality to stream live on the internet
- Compact and heavy-duty design
- Great build quality
- Affordable price tag
- No MIDI or S/PDIF inputs or outputs
- No power button
The UR242 is very useful for people who are looking to record vocals, guitar, or any other instrument in a home studio. It comes with preamps that are quite sturdy in comparison to most other devices in the market.
The tagline of Audient iD44 is 'For the Creatives' because it comes with a layout inspired by the mixing consoles. The best thing about iD44 is that it is capable of sitting neatly on a usual home or a project studio desktop. You can also have a number of expansion options through the Opticat I/O, and for connecting the outboard gear, its two channels have dedicated sends and returns. Whether you consider it a dealbreaker or a gamechanger, the Audient iD44 comes with some serious features for those who love big studio workflow and controls.
- Two Class-A mic/line preamps
- 44.1 kHz to 192 kHz sampling rates
- Optical I/O for expansion
- Bus-powered or with a PSU connection
- Stylish and handsome design
- 4-way LED meters are beautiful
- Well laid out control elements
- No MIDI or S/PDIF inputs or outputs
The iD44 is a great performer with sound quality that manages to impress. It has the looks of a studio workhorse with the size of a compact desktop device. Whether you are looking for an interface for your laptop, iPad, or any other mains powered hardware, this device will help you get it done easily.
Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 3rd Gen
This interface by Scarlett is an inbetweener as it is capable of bridging the gap between the 4i4 and 8i8 while offering some additional I/O options with a jump in price. There are 2 preamps that 8i6 has, with MIDI I/O, 4 line inputs, and 8 maximum simultaneous inputs. Basically, the 8i6 caters to a specific crowd that prefers using S/PDIF but doesn't like to use any additional inputs that they may not be using.
- 2 Class-A mic/line preamps with 48V phantom power
- 4 line inputs, 2 hi-Z instrument inputs for guitars and basses
- 8 simultaneous inputs with S/MUX handshaking
- Huge jump in I/O connectivity over the 4i4 model
- Classy design that is well suited to a home or project studio setup
- No MIDI In or Out ports
If you don't have a lot of requirements, 8i6 is an excellent option. It's the cheapest unit on this list that offers digital inputs and outputs, meaning there are more options for your future expansion. This interface gives you good connectivity with 4 line inputs and 2 hi-Z instrument inputs for guitars and basses.
RME Fireface UCX
This is an 8 channel audio interface by RME and is packed with features that are meant for professional use in studio recording and mobile. The 8 analog inputs also include two combos XLRs, and it also offers a lot more than just a few output options. This way, you get options of digital connectivity because it is able to work with USB 2, 3, and Firewire 400. If you don't have any budget issues and want a versatile and powerful audio interface, then RME Fireface UCX is recommended for you.
- 3 top-of-the-line mic/line preamps
- 6 balanced analog inputs, 1 instrument input, 2 headphone outputs
- 32 channel MIDI I/O with 16 channels of S/MUX connectivity
- 24 bit A/D converter with 105 dB dynamic range
- Maximum power through Class Compliant mode on USB 3 ports or MacBooks
- Consistent streaming at low latencies thanks to 'Zero CPU Load' technology
- Integrated mixer under the hood for monitoring and routing everything clearly.
The Fireface UCX is basically a professional interface for high-end project studios, mobile recording systems, or small mixing desks. It even has an integrated mixer so you can monitor and route everything with ease. This unit comes in two models, USB 2/3 and Firewire 400 connectivity options for flexibility depending on your setup. If you are looking for a pro-grade audio interface that gives plenty of I/O connectivity options, then the RME Fireface UCX will get it done without any issues.
Roland Studio Capture
This is a flagship model by the Roland audio interfaces and offers everything meant for professional studio use. This 16 channel interface has a combo of XLR/TRS jacks, a S/PDIF input, and 4 TRS line inputs. Its output options are also awe-inspiring, whereas the extra features can support multiple input/output options. If you want a reliable interface with 16 analog inputs that can fit in a large studio or desktop, then you can go for the top-rated Roland Studio Capture.
- 16 Class-A analog inputs with pad, phantom power, and +48V of switchable options
- MIDI I/O for 32 channels that is even compatible with classic Roland keyboards
- S/PDIF digital input and 2 headphone outputs
- Built-in DSPs make processing easy and latency is kept at bay
- 10-in/6-out USB audio interface built into the unit provides 2 headphone outputs
- Not for mobile use, which may be an issue if you are recording on the go
This is a flagship model that has all the specifications that can cater to any producer or studio. You get 16 analog inputs with phantom power, pads, and +48V of switchable options. One deft feature is the S/PDIF input and 2 headphone outs that make it an ideal choice for professional studio works or large-scale home recording setups. You can even connect it to keyboards via MIDI I/O if you want to create some electronic music.
There is a natural price progression with audio interfaces, which is that you can get more by spending more. You can easily find 4, 6, and 8 channel audio interfaces which can be an ideal choice for your personal use or even if you plan to use them on the go. In the end, you need to make sure that whatever you choose, it must be according to your needs to have a flawless recording experience for a long time.