The Best Audio Interface: 15 Different Choices of 2018!

The Best Audio Interface: 15 Different Choices of 2018!
Whether you’re a budding bedroom producer or a sound recording veteran, having the best audio interface for your specific needs is necessary for creating and sustaining a professional sound.

This is because it acts as the central hub for connecting all of your instruments, speakers, microphones and studio monitors.

Without an audio interface, it's nearly impossible to have a high quality and professional production setup.

Sure, you can produce music with a pair of headphones and a computer headphone jack, but if you want the highest quality listening and recording experience an audio interface is essential for your production arsenal.

If you don’t know much about audio interfaces though, it can be hard to know which one is right for your studio setup.

There are hundreds of audio interfaces on the market with many different configurations at a wide range of prices. Although having so many to choose from is great, it can also make it more difficult to figure out which one is the perfect audio interface for your needs.

So, to help you decide which one you need, we’re going to break down the process of finding a proper interface by including the key factors and features related to audio interface configuration.

Many factors go into deciding which audio interface is best suited for your needs:

    • Types of and how many speakers being used

    • How many instruments are necessary for recording

    • Which DAW you are operating

But before we give you the master list, let’s take a look at some features that you must understand before purchasing your audio interface.

Things To Consider While Looking For The Best Audio Interface

There are many different features that can play into choosing an audio interface.

For now, let’s focus on the most important features.

    • DAW Software and Operating System Compatibility

    • Computer Ports

    • Size, Shape, and Portability

    • Number of Inputs and Outputs

    • Types of Input & Output Channels

DAW Software and Operating System Compatibility

If you don’t already know, your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is the software you use to arrange music. If you don’t already have a DAW, check out our list of the 10 best DAWs of 2018.

The good news is, most popular DAWs will support the majority of audio interfaces.

So, if you are currently operating a DAW you are happy with, just make sure to check if the DAW is compatible with the audio interface you are thinking about purchasing.

Sometimes a quick Google search for compatibility can be inconclusive, so try reading the manual for an audio interface as it will tell you everything you need to know.

And thankfully, accessing the manual online for the interface can be fairly easy as most manufacturers have them available on their website

Other online resources such as forums, message boards, or even Reddit can also help you determine if your DAW is compatible with your desired Interface.

In some cases, there are audio interfaces and DAWs that are made by the same company to help new producers get a jump start without too much guesswork. In other cases, there might be a package deal between the audio interface company and DAW company to also help you out.

We will discuss those DAW/audio interface bundles later on and provide you with some examples.

But again, you don’t have to worry about this too much, since nearly all popular and highly rated audio interfaces are compatible with crowd favorite DAWs such as Logic, Ableton, and Fruity Loops.

Once you have ensured compatibility with your DAW, you will also have to check the compatibility of the interface with your operating system.

Nearly all audio interfaces are supported on both Mac OS and Windows, but in some cases, they are only supported on one OS. As we mentioned before, OS compatibility can be checked virtually anywhere online.

After you have compiled a solid list of compatible interfaces, the next factor you will have to consider is the connection between the audio interface and your computer.

Device Connectivity

cymatics-best audio interface-connectivity

As we mentioned earlier, the audio interface acts as a middleman between your computer and the speakers.

Due to this fact, the audio interface will have a specific type of cable that allows it to connect to your computer.

Keeping the audio interface’s cable connection in mind is important as your computer may or may not allow the specific type of cable connection.

The 4 most widely used connections for an audio interface include:

1. USB

The USB audio interface connection is most popular with bedroom and home studios, as it is often the most affordable and flexible option. Although the data transfer between USB driven audio interfaces can be slower than the other options for connection, nearly every computer has a USB port (some newer macs don’t include a USB, but do have the ability to add one as an extension) and can be easily utilized by anyone.

2. Firewire

The Firewire connection is typically available on more high-end and expensive interfaces. It allows a faster data transfer rate but is becoming less common amongst audio interfaces. Some modern computers do not have a firewire port, so an adapter may be necessary.

3. Thunderbolt 

The Thunderbolt connection seems to be rising in the ranks of popularity amongst higher end and professional audio interfaces. Most commonly seen on Apple Macbooks, the thunderbolt port is also available on some Windows machines. Additionally, the USB-C can sometimes allow a Thunderbolt 3 cord connection, but in some cases, the Thunderbolt and USB-C port are not always compatible.

4. PCIe

The PCIe is a little different from its cable connector cousins. It works as an internal card-based computer connection platform that is mostly found within desktop computers. The PCIe card is plugged directly into the motherboard and requires a specific slot for installation. The benefits of the PCIe are its high data bandwidth and low latency which allows an audio interface to handle a multitude of inputs and outputs at once.

After you’ve decided which connections are most suitable for your needs and matches your hardware specifications, you will then have to decide how many Inputs/Outputs are necessary for recording and tracking your music.

Size & Shape

Most of the audio interfaces that you'll be using only come in two shapes:

    • Desktop - small in size and portable. The choice of most home-producers.

    • Rack-Mounted - bigger, longer, and bulkier. Requires a rack-mounting desk or cabinet. This is most commonly seen in professional setups.

cymatics-best audio interface-typesDesktop size interfaces are great for beginners, since they are generally less expensive and more portable.

Rack-mount interfaces, however, are geared for more experienced producer, as they can be bigger, require more technical setup, and are best mounted within a specifically made rack.

Upgrading from a desktop interface to a rack-mount interface becomes necessary when adding additional instruments, microphones, or speakers to your production environment.

The main reason is due to the amount of input and output sources that are available.

Since the majority of you are probably beginner to mid-level producers, you most likely won’t need a Rack-mount interface just yet.

Let's look at a quick side-by-side pro’s and con’s list of a Desktop vs. a Rack-mount Interface

Desktop vs Rack-mount Interface: Pros and Cons

Desktop Interface Rack-mount Interface

    • Great for beginners

    • Portable, compact in size

    • Awesome for producers who don’t need too many instruments

    • Typically inexpensive and affordable


    • Amazing sound quality

    • Plenty of different Input/Output configuration options


    • If tracking more instruments or inputs, you’ll need a mixer or more advanced interface

    • Not as high quality


    • Typically quite expensive

    • More advanced in configuration

    • Will require additional knowledge for proper use

    • Large and require a rack for optimal space

Number of Inputs/Outputs

The amount of inputs/outputs you need relies heavily on the hardware you plan on using.

If you are a producer who is content with using mostly software synths and a MIDI/usb keyboard, you will only need an output source for your monitor speakers and a midi or usb input source for your keyboard.

On the other hand, if you are a producer who likes to include live instruments, a subwoofer or additional speakers and multiple microphones, you will need several inputs and outputs to handle all the gear that you will be routing to your system.

The amount of Inputs and Outputs on an interface can span from 1 -2 on simple interfaces…

cymatics-best audio interface-steinberg 16 or more on professional production interfaces:

cymatics-best audio interface-focusrite

Deciding on the amount of (I/O)s you need depends on how many tracks you are looking to record at once as well as how many speakers you would like to connect to your system.

Let’s look at some examples:

    1. Bedroom Producer/Solo - will only need 1 - 4 (I/O). This will depend on budget, genre, and instruments used during recording. For example, if it is only you in your bedroom with an instrument or microphone, DAW, and speakers, you will need very few Inputs and Outputs to connect your desired setup.

    1. Bands/Production Teams - anywhere from 4 - 10 (I/O) necessary, again depending on the genre, instruments being used, and the size of the band or team.

    1. Recording Studios/Engineers - upwards of 16 +. This most likely won’t be a concern of yours for right now, however audio interfaces with I/Os in the double digits are necessary for engineers and recording studios, as they will be tracking live bands, choruses, or even orchestras. Having the ability to record 16 or more inputs at once is far more convenient than tracking each person individually or in small groups.

Note: If you are a drummer who would like to incorporate live drums into your production, having an interface with 8 or more inputs may be necessary to track the full kit. This goes for both electronic kits and acoustic kits that are mic’d.

Types of Input/Output Channels

In order to fully understand audio interfaces, you need to know which types of inputs they will require. Start by understanding which pieces of equipment you plan on using when crafting your next track.

If you plan on recording guitar, your voice, or other live instruments, you will need specified input channels to connect to the interface for proper recording.

For example, you can’t plug a Guitar, which requires a line input, into an XLR microphone input. This is why understanding which inputs are supported on an Audio Interface is incredibly important.


In general there are 4 types of inputs that an Audio Interface will have.

    1. Microphone Input - enables you to connect a microphone right into the interface. In most cases you will need a microphone with an XLR cable to connect to the interface

    1. Line Input - also used for microphones or instruments such as guitar or bass

    1. DI Input - used for live instruments such as guitars or basses. You may need to plug your guitar into a DI box before then plugging it into the audio interface, however some audio interfaces allow you to plug the quarter inch guitar cable directly into the audio interface

    1. MIDI input - used for midi based keyboards or controllers


In addition to proper inputs required for plugging in any instruments or microphones that you will be using, you’ll have to consider the types of outputs that you will need. Most beginner interfaces will have RCA or TRS outputs that connect directly to your studio monitors

    1. RCA - Very common on most audio interface. The RCA output is recognizable by its white and red cable combo.

    1. TRS - Similar to the RCA, the TRS is separated by left and right cables to allow connection to monitor speakers. TRS outputs require ¼ inch cables for connection.

    1. MIDI - Has a few different possible configurations. The first is similar to RCA and TRS and acts as a typical output port for connecting to speakers. Some MIDI configurations include a “thru” port which emits a copy of everything received at the input port, allowing data to be forwarded to another instrument in a "daisy chain" arrangement.

    1. XLR - Usually very typical on mixers and not so much audio interfaces, this output is an extremely high fidelity and high quality output.

For beginning or even intermediate producers, a simple interface with microphone, DI, and MIDI inputs are the only necessities.

In fact, a lot can be achieved with only 1 of each input.

As for outputs, the bare necessity is an RCA output that can connect to studio monitors.

Surprisingly, many big name and rising artists still use a very simply setup audio interface, as they only record quick vocals/phrases, guitar, and keyboard.

If live instrument tracking needs to be done, many artists will head off to a full studio that requires the attention of a professional audio engineer.

Additionally, when upgrading an audio interface there are other factors to think about that will continue to advance your workflow and overall production.

Such aspects like latency play into effect when recording and tracking music.

You may start to notice that some audio interfaces can handle latency better than others.

If you are a producer that does not record live instrument you will not have to worry too much about latency issues.

Price Ranges

Now that you have a fairly in-depth understanding of how an audio interface works and what types of requirements you need to look out for, let's take a quick look at price ranges.

For the purpose of this article, we’re going to include audio interfaces for all levels of production ability.

And to make it easier for you to locate the best audio interface for your needs, we have broken down the list into three groups:

    • Entry-Level (200 USD max.)

    • Mid-Level (200 - 1,000 USD)

    • Pro-Level (1,000+ USD)

Note: Each group is also organized by cost for further convenience.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at our picks for the 15 Best Audio Interfaces of 2018.

Entry-Level Models

These interfaces are best suited for producers who have just begun or are thinking about beginning their production journey.

1. Behringer U-Phoria UM2 (29.99 USD)

cymatics-best audio interface-behringer

(Amazon/Guitar Center/Musicians Friend/Sweet Water)


    • DAW Compatibility - Avid Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Steinberg Cubase, and many more.

    • OS Compatibility - Mac OS and Windows.

    • Device Connectivity - USB.

    • Shape - Desk, portable.

    • Inputs - Its simple configuration allows for a microphone, guitar/live instrument, and headphone input.

    • Outputs - RCA.

    • Additional Perks - Phantom power for condenser microphones, 48kHz resolution for professional audio quality.

Don’t let its small size and extremely low price point deter you from the fact that this interface is a decent option for beginners who are on a thin budget, or even professionals who travel and need something inexpensive to add to their travel arsenal.

Check out the full list of specifications and features on the Behringer website.

2. Behringer U-Control UCA202 (29.99 USD)

cymatics-best audio interface-behringer control

(Amazon/Guitar Center/Musicians Friend/Sweetwater)


    • DAW Compatibility - Compatible with most DAW’s. Behringer also offers free software on their website.

    • OS Compatibility - Mac OS or Windows.

    • Device Connectivity - USB.

    • Shape - Desk, portable.

    • Inputs - RCA.

    • Outputs - RCA, for best results, plug this into your 4 channel (or more) mixer and then into your speakers via RCA to RCA or RCA to quarter-inch.

    • Additional Perks - High-resolution 48 kHz converters for high-end audio quality.

This interface is a decent option for beginners who are on a thin budget, or even professionals who travel and need something inexpensive to add to their travel arsenal.

Additionally, this can be a versatile way for bands to use their live sound mixer in accordance with this interface without worrying about spending extra money on new recording equipment.

This mini interface is also a great choice for bedroom producer who aren’t looking to record live instruments or vocals and are happy with using usb instruments, such as the Maschine or a Keyboard.

Check out the full list of specifications and features on the Behringer website

3. Focusrite Scarlett Solo [2nd Gen] (99.00 USD)

cymatics-best audio interface-focusrite solo

(Amazon/Guitar Center/Musicians Friend/SweetWater)


    • DAW Compatibility - Compatible with most DAW’s. Includes Pro Tools, First Focusrite Creative Pack and Ableton Live Lite, Softube Time and Tone Bundle.

    • OS Compatibility - Mac OS and Windows.

    • Device Connectivity - USB.

    • Shape - Desk, portable.

    • Inputs - XLR, Line.

    • Outputs - RCA.

    • Additional Perks - 2GB of Loopmasters samples and monthly Focusrite plugin collective offers. Supported sample rates: 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, 176.4 kHz, 192 kHz.

This small yet surprisingly powerful interface comes loaded with amazing features that are perfect for beginners or producers looking to learn more about ProTools and Ableton Live Lite.

In addition to its amazing internal features, this interface is emblazoned in an eye catching red body paint that is sure to add a nice touch to any studio setup.

Focusrite also offers the 2i2, 2i4,6i6, and 18i8 models which include additional analog inputs as well as additional line outputs that will give you more options when routing speakers, instruments, midi and microphones.

Check out the full list of specifications and features on Focusrite’s Website.

 4. PreSonus AudioBox USB 2x2 (99.00 USD)

cymatics-best audio interface-pre sonus usb

(Amazon/Guitar Center/Musicians Friend)


    • DAW Compatibility - Compatible with most DAWs. PreSonus recommends using its very own Studio One.

    • OS Compatibility - Mac OS and Windows.

    • Device Connectivity - USB

    • Shape - Desk, portable.

    • Inputs - 2 combo mic/instrument inputs.

    • Outputs - 2 balanced ¼” main (L/R) line outputs, 1 stereo ¼” headphone output.

    • Additional Perks - 48V phantom power for condenser microphones, 24-bit resolution and 44.1 and 48 kHz sample rate.

As another great choice for beginners, PreSonus also offers a more inexpensive 1 Mic Preamp model as well as a 2 Mic preamp model that can be used with iPads.

If you are a brand new producer who has not used DAW software such as Logic or Ableton, the PreSonus Audiobox comes ready to use with Studio One 3 software which will allow you to start recording ideas and sounds immediately.

The interface offers two Mic and Instrument inputs as well as a Midi input for keyboards for maximal recording abilities for the solo musician.

Check out the full list of specifications and features on PreSonus’ Website.

5. Audient iD4 (198.00 USD)

cymatics-best audio interface-audient



    • DAW Compatibility - Compatible with most DAWs. Professional reviews state ProTools as the best pair for this interface.

    • OS Compatibility - Mac OS, iOS, and Windows.

    • Device Connectivity - USB.

    • Shape - Desk, portable.

    • Inputs - XLR, Line.

    • Outputs - Left and Right 1/4" TRS main speaker outputs, 2 headphone outputs.

    • Additional Perks - 24-bit/96kHz audio quality and over £500 worth of plugins and software with ARC.

Our last pick for the best entry level audio interface is another power packed mini-machine.

This interface has a cool space age design that supports DI and XLR mic input, with quarter inch to RCA speaker output.

Another interesting feature of this interface is the Monitor Pan, which allows you to mute your speakers without having to physically turn them off.

Not to mention, the iD button on this interface can be used as a hardware function key which allows such options as ScrollControl, Mono, Mono + Polarity, Dim, and Talkback. These configurations can be made within the master section of the iD mixer.

Check out the Audient Help Desk for more information regarding this unique interface

Check out the full list of specifications and features on Audient’s Website.

Mid-Level Models

Our selection for the best mid-level audio interfaces include those with more inputs, outputs, features, and therefore will be at a higher price point.

Audio interfaces at the mid-level tier are incredibly powerful desktop interfaces and will be more durable than their entry-level counterparts.

If you’ve find yourself at a stage of producing that allows you to upgrade your system with a bigger budget, look no further than these 6 suggestions.

6. Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 (199.00 USD)

cymatics-best audio interface-komplete audio

(Amazon/Guitar Center/Musicians Friend/Sweetwater)


    • DAW Compatibility - Compatible with most DAWs, comes with Cubase LE 8.

    • OS Compatibility - Mac OS and Windows.

    • Device Connectivity - USB.

    • Shape - Desk, portable.

    • Inputs - 4 analog inputs: 2 balanced mic/line/instrument (XLR); plus 2 balanced line (1/4" TRS).

    • Outputs - 4 balanced analog outputs (1/4" TRS).

    • Additional Perks - 48V phantom power for using condenser mics and active DI boxes. Comes with Komplete Elements, Traktor LE 2, and Cubase LE 8.

This is a great audio interface from industry favorite Native Instruments.

It comes with an extremely clean and symmetrical design making it aesthetically pleasing with any studio setup.

This interface features a wide range of connectivity for its price. It features plenty of outputs and inputs, so you should be able to connect it to almost any home studio setup with ease. This will allow you to plug in your studio monitors and your subwoofer with no problem

A high quality interface from one of the best companies in the industry, this interface is a must have for beginner producers looking to step up their production quality.

Check out the full list of specifications and features on Native Instrument’s website.

7. Steinberg UR44 (234.99 USD)

cymatics-best audio interface-steinberg ur44

(Amazon/Guitar Center/Musicians Friend/Sweetwater)


    • DAW Compatibility - Compatible with major recording software, however Cubase is recommended.

    • OS Compatibility - Mac OS and Windows.

    • Device Connectivity - USB 2.0.

    • Shape - Desk, large.

    • Inputs - Two line inputs, and four mic XLR preamps.

    • Outputs - Four output channels, MIDI I/O ports.

    • Additional Perks - Compatible with iPhone and iPad.

Another amazing mid-level audio interface comes from Germany company, Steinberg.

The UR44 offers a multitude of input and output options for a wide array of recording opportunities.

With plenty of ways to record multiple instruments and microphones at once, this powerhouse is great for vocal groups and small bands.

If you’re a mid-level producer looking to step up your game and really enhance the ability of your studio, this interface is a great choice.

Check out the full list of specifications and features on Steinberg’s website.

8. PreSonus Audiobox 1818VSL (399.95 USD)

cymatics-best audio interface-audiobox1818

(Amazon/Guitar Center/Musicians Friend/Sweetwater)


    • DAW Compatibility - All major recording software.

    • OS Compatibility - Mac OS and Windows.

    • Device Connectivity - Power/USB sync LED.

    • Shape - Rack-mounted.

    • Inputs - 2 combo mic/instrument inputs and 6 combo mic/line inputs with high-headroom.

    • Outputs - Balanced main L/R outputs and 8 balanced line outputs.

    • Additional Perks - Includes a free download of Studio One 3 and 6+ GB of third-party resources after product registration.

The PreSonus Audiobox is a bit of a step up from its 2x2 counterpart that we looked at previously.

This interface is a rack-mount and will require some additional knowledge to properly set it up in your production environment.

One great feature about this interface is that no extra hardware other than your computer and speakers are necessary.

That means there’s no need for a hardware mixer or outboard effects racks, making this interface a phenomenal all-in-one package.

Overall, the Audiobox 1818VSL is a great choice for Mid-level producers who are looking to set up their home studio for advanced recording opportunities.

This is especially true if you’ve started to mix, master, and do client work for people. You will definitely want to pick up this rack-mount for heightened sound and production quality.

Check out the full list of specifications and features on Presonus’ website.

9. Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 [2nd Gen] w/ Pro Tools (499.99 USD)

cymatics-best audio interface-18i20

(Amazon/Guitar Center/Musicians Friend/Sweetwater)


    • DAW Compatibility - All major DAWs.

    • OS Compatibility - Mac OS and Windows.

    • Device Connectivity - USB.

    • Shape - Rack-mounted.

    • Inputs - Two newly designed instrument inputs.

    • Outputs - Ten balanced analog outputs, including a dedicated stereo pair.

    • Additional Perks - Red 2 & 3 Plug-in suite, Softube Time & Tone Bundle, and 2GB of Loopmasters samples.

Another rack-mount choice in the mid-level category is the 18i20, which is the older brother of the Focusrite Solo.

Loaded with tons of features and I/O possibilities, this rack-mount is a solid choice for any mid-level studio setup.

Not to mention, this interface will take your growing studio to the next level with its amazing sound quality and expansion options.

The price seems to be very right with this rack-mount, it offers nearly all the same features and possibilities of competing rack-mounts but at half the cost.

Check out the full list of specifications and features on Focusrite's Website.

10. MOTU UltraLite AVB (649.00 USD)

cymatics-best audio interface-motu

(Amazon/Guitar Center/Musicians Friend/Sweetwater)


    • DAW Compatibility - All major DAWs.

    • OS Compatibility - Mac OS, iOS, and Windows.

    • Device Connectivity - USB 2.0.

    • Shape - Desk, portable.

    • Inputs - Analog I/O includes 2 mic inputs, 2 guitar inputs, 6 line inputs.

    • Outputs - 8 line outs including dedicated main left and right outputs.

    • Additional Perks - Web app control from any device with CueMix and onboard vintage modeled effects.

Although this might not concern of you at this point, the coolest feature about the UltraLite from MOTU is its ability to link to additional MOTU AVB equipped audio interfaces.

By either connecting via Ethernet cable or an audio network, you have the ability to link multiple interfaces together for endless possibilities.

In addition to its incredible ability to connect with other interfaces,the UltraLite boasts incredible sound quality that is great for any setting from Studios to Live environments.

Overall, this interface is incredibly powerful and is recommended for highly experienced mid-level to pro-level producer who need access to a wide array of inputs and outputs.

Check out the full list of specifications and features on MOTU’s Website.

11. Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Solo (699.99 USD)

cymatics-best audio interface-apollo twin

(Amazon/Guitar Center/Musicians Friend/Sweetwater)


    • DAW Compatibility - All major DAWs.

    • OS Compatibility - Mac OS and Windows.

    • Device Connectivity - Thunderbolt.

    • Shape - Desk, portable.

    • Inputs - 2 premium mic/line preamps, Hi-Z instrument input, and 8 channels of digital input via optical connection.

    • Outputs - 2 line outputs, headphone output, and 2 digitally controlled analog monitor outputs.

    • Additional Perks - Console 2.0 software features channel strip presets, drag & drop functionality, dynamically resizable Windows, and ability to buy and use UAD powered plugins.

The Apollo Twin is an EDM industry favorite.

In fact, in a recent NGHTMRE Snapchat he can be seen using this great interface while teasing one of his newest releases.

With a sturdy build and unique look, the Apollo Twin is also a high quality interface with the tone feel and flow of an analog controller.

This interface differs from most of the others that we have covered as it requires a Thunderbolt connection to be used with your computer.

If you’re looking for a high quality interface for a professional sound, look no further than the Apollo Twin.

Check out the full list of specifications and features on UAudio's Website.

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Pro-Level Models

The Pro-Level choices we’ve included in this list are 4 of the most powerful and incredible rack-mounts in the interface world.

If you’ve ever been in a professional studio, you’ve definitely seen a rack-mount interface as a staple.

The rack-mount allows for high performance audio quality, extremely organized routing potential, and a multitude of I/Os that will satisfy any studio setup.

We do not recommend these to beginners, as they take a considerable amount of additional knowledge regarding routing, setup, and configuration in general.

 12. Antelope Audio Zen Studio (1,795.00 USD)

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(Amazon/Guitar Center/Musicians Friend)


    • DAW Compatibility - All major DAWs.

    • OS Compatibility - Mac OS and Windows.

    • Device Connectivity - USB 2.0

    • Shape - Rack-mounted, portable.

    • Inputs - 12 Mic/ Line Inputs, 2x ADAT inputs, stereo S/PDIF input.

    • Outputs - Stereo monitor outputs, two headphones outputs, and eight analogue line outputs.

    • Additional Perks - Massive parallel DSP and effects processing. Battle-tested zero-latency USB audio interface. Extremely flexible routing and mixing capabilities.

The Audio Zen Studio from Antelope is a high quality, professional, and even portable audio interface.

Although it looks a lot like it's rack-mount counterparts, it is actually designed to be used for professionals on the go.

This interface has been noted for being exceptional for classical and live work but is also a great fit for any studio.

If you are an experienced producer looking for a portable interface with rack-mount qualities, look no further than the Audio Zen.

Check out the full list of specifications and features on Antelope Audio’s Website.

 13. Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt 2 (2,495.00 USD)

cymatics-best audio interface-apogee

(Amazon/Guitar Center/Musicians Friend/Sweetwater)


    • DAW Compatibility - All major DAWs.

    • OS Compatibility - Mac OS and Windows.

    • Device Connectivity - Thunderbolt 2.

    • Shape - Rack-mounted.

    • Inputs - 30 Analog inputs: XLR, Line and more.

    • Outputs - 32 Analog outputs.

    • Additional Perks - 24-bit -192kHz sampling rate. Includes Waves plugins.

The Ensemble Thunderbolt 2 Audio Interface from Apogee is one of the world’s most popular professional audio interfaces.

The Apogee expanded software allows you to stack up to four Apollos in one system over Thunderbolt for Mac, which enables maximum studio growth.

This interface is an amazing addition to a professional home or project studio setup.

Check out the full list of specifications and features on Apogee Digital's Website.

14. Universal Audio Apollo 8 Thunderbolt (1,999.99 USD)

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(Amazon/Guitar Center/Musicians Friend/Sweetwater)


    • DAW Compatibility - All major DAWs.

    • OS Compatibility - Mac OS and Windows.

    • Device Connectivity - Thunderbolt 2

    • Shape - Rack-mounted.

    • Inputs - 4 Line, and 4 XLR mic inputs.

    • Outputs - 2 Dedicated monitor outputs and 8 line outputs.

    • Additional Perks - Includes “Realtime Analog Classics Plus” UAD plugin bundle. Next-generation 24-bit/192 kHz Apollo A/D and D/A converters.

The incredibly designed Apollo 8 from Universal Audio is a phenomenal rack-mount interface.

Its ability to reach a high level of dynamic range allows for extreme clarity, depth, and intimate accuracy on any recording.

With plenty of connectivity options, it's possible to chain a few of these bad boys together for the most optimal sound recording experience.

Check out the full list of specifications and features on Universal Audio’s Website.

15. Avid HD I/O 16x16 Analog Interface (3,599.00 USD)

cymatics-best audio interface-avid

(Guitar Center/Musicians Friend)


    • DAW Compatibility - Pro Tools HD.

    • OS Compatibility - Pro Tools HDX, HD Native System.

    • Device Connectivity - Digi Link Mini.

    • Shape - Rack-mounted.

    • Inputs - 16 Analog.

    • Outputs - 16 Analog.

    • Additional Perks - Tons of additional I/O possibilities via AES/EBU and more.

The Avid HD I/O 16x16 Analog Interface is an absolute powerhouse of a machine.

It offers the highest performance audio interface designed for Pro Tools HD systems and can capture every single nuance and element of a recording.

This beast is an amazing addition to a highly professional studio wizard’s arsenal.

Don’t worry too much about this interface just yet as the tech specifications are not necessary to anyone below a professional recording engineer.

Check out the full list of specifications and features on Avid’s Website.


Finding a great audio interface will improve the capability of your production setup and the quality of your sound. Let’s recap how you should select the right audio interface.

Start by gaining a general understanding of how you would like to connect your setup, and also take the live instruments that you will be using into consideration.

There are plenty of audio interfaces on the market that are affordable, durable and support a wide array of amazing features that will get you on track to achieving your desired sound.

They range from Entry Level to Mid-Level to Pro-Level.

Desktop interfaces are great for Entry and Mid-Level Producers, while rack-mount interfaces are amazing additions to Mid-Level and Pro-Level producers who have extensive audio production knowledge and are looking to ramp up their output quality to the max.

Remember to keep these features  in mind when purchasing an audio interface:

    • DAW software and Operating System Compatibility

    • Device Connectivity

    • Size and Shape or “Form Factor"

    • Number of Inputs/Outputs

    • Types of Inputs

Now get on Amazon or go to Guitar Center and pick out the audio interface that is perfect for you!

Making music with a simple setup of headphones and a laptop can only get you so far before audio quality will become an issue.

Having a well routed and professionally designed production setup will greatly improve your sound design, production and workflow.

Leave a comment below to let us know which audio interface you prefer!

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