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Best Audio Interface for Home Recording: UK Guide for 2017

Best Audio Interface for Home Recording

Throughout the years, audiophiles and music producers have been greeted with a handful of innovations. These advancements have given these individuals a much easier and more efficient way to produce their music and create something truly special. Of course, obtaining the best audio interface money can buy is highly recommended. Unfortunately, this task isn’t something that can be accomplished, without time, patience and research. Within this comprehensive guide, you will learn precisely what to look for in a brand new audio interface for your home recording studio for either PC or Mac computer.

What Makes a Good Audio Interface?

Before going any further, you should take the time to examine this device and its precise purpose. What is this device actually used for? Well, an audio interface is capable of recording external audio and transferring it to your computer. This type of audio equipment is pertinent for those that want to create and develop their own songs. Whether you play guitar or drums, the device will be able to pick up the audio you produce and convert it to data on your computer.

When attempting to figure out precisely what a good audio interface should entail, you should know exactly how the device would be used. You also need to determine how you will be connecting the device to your system. Line-level inputs are perfect for those that wish to connect their interface to preamps or DVD players. A good audio interface will deliver everything you need to enhance your music. Since each artist has different goals, the features of a good audio interface will also vary.

What to Look For

As mentioned above, each artist desires something different, so the purchase needs to align with your own individualistic preferences and goals. Below, you will learn exactly what to look at, when purchasing one of these devices.

  • Input and Output – First and foremost, you should examine the input and output configuration. When making this determination, you should always opt for a USB output port. At the same time, you should align your inputs towards the items that you wish to be able to record. If you wish to be able to connect your guitar directly to your interface, you will want to ensure that an instrument-level input is included. This will generally be referred to as a hi-Z input.
  • Connectivity – You should realize that this device must connect to your computer or Mac in one way or another. With this in mind, you will need to choose between USB and FireWire. At the same time, you should realize that USB is available in different varieties. Opting for a newer USB 2.0 port will allow the device to transfer data quicker. Make sure that the connectivity type will work seamlessly with your computer and you should be fine in this area.
  • MIDI Inputs – Although this isn’t a necessity, you should not ignore the potential of MIDI inputs. If you have midi controllers, which only have MIDI outputs, you will definitely need this feature. It could prevent you from buying an additional MIDI interface in the future, so it is well worth adding.
  • Headphones Outputs – Some musicians will definitely want to be able to monitor their music, during the recording process. If you fit into this category, you will want to ensure that your interface is equipped with a headphone-level output. If you can find an interface, which comes with front headphone level outputs, you will benefit greatly.
  • Digital Signal Processing – Next, you should attempt to figure out, whether you can scrape by with the basic DSP, or whether you want special DSP effects. Some of the newer models will allow additional effects, such as physical modeling. Bass management is also an option. If you feel that these features are necessities, you should ensure that they’re available.

Now that you’ve learned exactly what to look for in your next audio interface, it is time to explore some of the best models on the market. These will be broken down in greater depth below.

Top 10 Audio Interfaces

Product Image 

Title

Price Range

Rating (1-5)

Brand

Apogee One

Apogee One

Under £300

4.3

Apogee Logo
Focusrite Scarlett Solo

Focusrite Scarlett Solo

Under £90

4.4

Focusrite Logo
Focusrite Clarett 8 Pre X

Focusrite Clarett 8 Pre X

Under £950

4.5

Focusrite Logo
RME Fireface UCX

RME Fireface UCX

Under £800

5.0

RME Logo
M-Audio M-Track Eight

M-Audio M-Track Eight

Under £250

4.0

M-Audio Logo
Focusrite Saffire Pro 24

Focusrite Saffire Pro 24

Under £200

4.4

Focusrite Logo
Alesis iO4

Alesis iO4

Under £150

4.5

Alesis Logo
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Under £120

4.4

Focusrite Logo
Mackie Onyx Blackjack

Mackie Onyx Blackjack

Under £150

4.5

Mackie Logo

Product Image 

Title

Price Range

Rating (1-5)

Brand

Our Top Picks for 2016

Best Audio Interface For Mac

Apogee One

If you are in the business of recording music, then you know how important it is to have the right equipment. The best audio interface for Mac will consist of a high-quality microphone. Even if you just like to record music for fun it is still nice to sound great and that is just what this microphone can do for your recordings. 

With the technology that went into designing this microphone you will easily be able to sound like the professionals.

This microphone is the first studio-quality microphone and USB audio interface for Mac computers and iPads. You can record professional quality music via your iPod touch, iPhone, Mac computer, or iPad. Just think how convenient this is going to make your home studio. This microphone is capable of running off batteries and it will even charge your other iOS devices, while in use. This is truly one of a kind microphone.

The Mastero recording app gives you complete control of hardware parameters. You can adjust the input selection and monitor low latency. The AD/DA conversion will deliver the same high-quality sound to your headphones as you are recording.

Pros

  • Direct easy connections to iPads, iPods, or Mac computers
  • Produces pristine sound quality
  • AD/DA conversion delivers studio quality sound to your headphones
  • Battery operation eliminates the need for all those messy electrical cords
  • Capable of charging other iOS devices while in use
  • The recording app gives you complete control of your music

Cons

  • Only works with Mac and iOS devices
  • Battery compartment is slightly difficult to access

Overall, the Apogee One is definitely a high-quality microphone and interface that will offer you durability and longevity.


Amazon Customer Reviews

"Excellent performance!" - By Marcela Aguilar
"Five Stars" - By Amazon Customer

Best USB Audio Interface

Focusrite Scarlett Solo

If you are in the business of recording music, then you know how important it is to have the right equipment. The best audio interface for Mac will consist of a high-quality microphone. Even if you just like to record music for fun it is still nice to sound great and that is just what this microphone can do for your recordings. 

Not only does with this USB 3 audio interface come packed full of features, but also the casing alone is to die for. The casing is constructed of a beautiful aluminum topped with a smooth finish. Inside the casing you will find a Focusrite microphone preamp, which lets you record your favorite tunes. This interface is sleek and light, which makes it very transport friendly, but it’s tough enough to stand up to harshest of punishment.

The +48V phantom power allows you to use any microphone that you want. Simply plug the interface into any MAC or PC, plug in your instruments, and you will have your own recording studio setup and ready to go. The XLR input is designed to make your microphone sound even better. The unique control knobs will actually monitor your gain levels and let you know when you are too loud. If they light up green all is good, but if they light red you are too loud.

Pros

  • Compatible with MAC or PC
  • Light and sleek casing provide portability
  • Very durable interface
  • XLR input makes your microphone sound even better

Cons

  • Lack of speaker outputs
  • A little more expensive than the competitor brand

Overall, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo is designed to offer superior sound quality and a long service life.


Amazon Customer Reviews

"Great for a home studio" - By Charlie Norman
"Great bit of kit for the price." - By Dogshark

Best Thunderbolt Audio Interface

Focusrite Clarett 8 Pre X

If you are looking for an amazing audio interface that can provide you with excellent sound and you do not care to spend a little extra money, then you need to consider the Focusrite Clarett 8 Pre X. 

As a music-recording enthusiast, you know how important it is to have good sounding recordings and this is exactly what this interface has to offer, plus so much more.

The mic preamps offer you plenty of gain, yet they keep the noise and distortion to a minimum. The new special “Air” feature can switch into an analogue mode. The 24/192 conversions offer 119 dB ranges. Basically, this is one of cleanest ways to get music in and out of your DAW.

The ultra-low round-trip latency really cuts your work in half. There will not be any need to build two different mixes. You can actually monitor the input that you are recording with Focusrite control software mixer.

This set up was specially designed for studios. Upon the purchase of this product you will receive separate rear panel inputs for your mic, line, and instrument. The monitoring section on the interface gives you’re a clear view of analog and digital input levels. This is not to even mention the high-power headphone outputs.

Pros

  • Mic preamps offer all the gain you will ever want, while keeping distortion low
  • Switch to analogue mode using the new “Air” feature
  • 119dB of range
  • Cut your work in half with the ultra-low round-trip latency

Cons

  • Expensive interface
  • Specifically designed for studio use only, which limits your usage options

Overall, the Focusrite Clarett 8 is designed to offer a high-quality sound and longevity. All in all, this could quite possibly be the best Thunderbolt audio interface for Mac users.


Best Firewire Audio Interface

RME Fireface UCX

If you are searching for the best firewire audio interface, you should definitely keep the RME on your list of prospects. It is compatible with most iOS devices including the iPad. Its design is very compact, so it will not bog up a lot of space in your home studio. The RME FireFace is compact, but this does not alter its ability to help the music enthusiast to produce high-quality sounds.

This is plug and play device that is very easy to install, since all you need to do is plug it into your PC or Mac computer. The RME will transform any live performance into a studio-quality recording that will impress your fans.

Pros

  • Plug and play installation process
  • Suitable for live and studio recordings
  • Very compact, but top-of-the-line interface
  • RME remote control included in package
  • Incredibly well made and built to last
  • FireWire connectivity is wonderful

Cons

  • Firmware must be updated after installation process is complete
  • More expensive than the competitor brand

Overall, the RME FireFace UCS is designed to offer superior high-quality sound recordings. This interface is suitable for the amateur and professional.


Amazon Customer Reviews

"RME UCX has not let me down of any front." - By Rags In Rags

Best 8 Channel Audio Interface

M-Audio M-Track Eight

If you’re looking for an incredibly well-rounded interface, which is capable of doing it all, you should definitely check out the M-Audio M-Track Eight. This incredibly versatile audio interface is undoubtedly the best 8 channel audio interface. 

The unit comes with everything any audiophile could ever need, including USB 2.0 connectivity. The device is capable of recording at resolutions of 24-bit/96 kHz. Suffice to say, you can rest assured knowing that the audio’s clarity will be unblemished, during the recording process.

The unit comes with a handful of plugins, which will allow you to add your own personal touch to your finalized music. Among these, you will find TrueVerb, Manny Marroquin Delay and AudioTrack. For added peace of mind, the unit comes with dual headphone outs. This guarantees that you’ll be able to listen to and monitor your music, as it is recorded. The 8-channel setup offers enough functionality to satisfy nearly any musician. The pros and cons associated with this unit will be provided below.

Pros

  • 8-channels is more than enough for most musicians
  • Dual headphones outputs are great
  • 2 front-panel instrument inputs offer easier access
  • Dedicated line-input ensures clean clarity
  • 24-bit/96 kHz resolution deliver immaculate audio quality
  • Feels sturdy and is definitely built to last

Cons

  • Might be a little too complicated for beginners

All in all, there are tons of features to like in the M-Audio M-Track Eight. It might be a little too much for newbies, but they’ll eventually grow into it. Once they have, they can rest assured knowing they’ll no never need to upgrade to something bolder. This makes this unit well worth its price tag. Check it out for yourself right now!


Amazon Customer Reviews

"I decided to purchase the M-Audio M-Track Eight & I'm very pleased that I did" - By Paul Gronow

Best 16 Channel Audio Interface

Focusrite Saffire Pro 24

In all honesty, there are very few musicians, who will ever need a 16 channel audio interface. However, some will and these individuals will want to make sure that they obtain the best 16 channel audio interface imaginable. This is where the Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 fits into the picture. 

Despite being fairly affordable, this should be your number one choice. The unit comes with a total of 16 inputs and 8 outputs. The 24-bit/96 kHz FireWire interface is capable of recording your music, without flaws. The unit comes with JetPLLTM jitter elimination, which helps to ensure that your audio is recorded with no impurities.

The front of the unit is equipped with 5-LED metering. This allows you to keep track of the performance of your inputs, at any time. This unit is equipped with two Focusrite preamps, which are easily accessible. These hookups will provide you with the ability to record, with virtually no distortion. Once the unit has arrived, you will instantly recognize that it has been built with precision and care. The unit is well built and the knobs and switches are amazingly sturdy. More pros and cons will be listed below.

Pros

  • 16 inputs is more than enough for everyone
  • 8 outputs
  • Front 5-LED metering keeps the musician aware, at all times
  • Incredibly well made
  • FireWire connectivity is excellent
  • Fairly affordable for a 16 channel interface
  • Saffire Mix Control is very helpful

Cons

  • Some will experience audio problems, when utilized as a normal sound card
  • Setup can be a little strenuous and time-consuming

All in all, the Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 is an excellent 16 channel interface. If you need this type of functionality, you should definitely consider investing in this specific model.


Amazon Customer Reviews

"Fantastic audio interface!" - By Ben Uzzell
"Just perfect for Voice Overs" - By H. Da Vita

Best 4 Channel Audio Interface

Alesis iO4

The Alesis iO4 just happens to be one of the best 4 channel audio interface on today’s market. This device is capable of recording up to four 16-bit monologue tracks simultaneously. One great option that you will have with the Alesis is the fact that you can delete small portions of the recording, when an audio mishap occurs. 

This is definitely an improvement that cannot be denied, since other brands may force you to delete the entire podcast.

You will have four different recording modes to select from including stereo, mono, 16-bit, and 24-bit. This allows the musician to record an acoustic guitar micing, even with two microphones. This interface is perfect for the newbie or garage band-type musician, plus it can be used for podcasting, as well.

Pros

  • Extremely affordable
  • Multiple recording modes to select from
  • Compatible with iPad, Mac, and PC
  • Records 4 microphones simultaneously
  • Very lightweight and portable
  • Plug and play design

Cons

  • Electrical power cable is extremely short and only measures around 4-5’ in length

Overall, the Alesis iO4 is a quality interface that is suitable for amateur studio recording. One thing is for sure, it will not break the bank, but it will produce a high-quality sound recording.


Amazon Customer Reviews

"Inexpensive simplicity in a small box." - By Mooger
"Works very well indeed." - By Mark G. Thomason

Best Budget Audio Interface

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Many musicians are required to operate on a budget. Don’t worry. Once your music begins to take off, you’ll be able to splurge a little more. Until then, you may want to opt for the best budget audio interface money can buy. If you sympathize with this sentiment, you should check out the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. 

This incredibly affordable interface is compatible with Mac and Windows computers. It delivers professional performance and is capable of delivering 24-bit/96 kHz digital conversion. The unit utilizes a direct monitor function, which provides zero-latency tracking.

The Focusrite mic preamps are definitely impressive and have won numerous awards of the years. The front panel provides you with easily accessible inputs for your microphone, guitar and your headphones. All of the interfaces’ controls are also found on the front panel. This makes the unit easy to use, so it is more than suitable for those that are new to music recording. The unit is effortless to setup and can be used in a plug and play manner. More pros and cons will be provided below.

Pros

  • One of the most affordable interfaces on the market
  • Focusrite microphone preamps are undoubtedly some of the best
  • 24-bit/96 kHz digital conversion is the best money can buy
  • Zero-latency tracking for enhances audio quality
  • Setup couldn’t be easier
  • All settings are easily controllable from the front panel
  • Convenient inputs on the front

Cons

  • Maybe a little too restrictive for some
  • May struggle with multiple tracks

At the end of the day, it is truly hard to complain about the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface. For the solo artist, this one is well worth its friendly price tag. If you’re on a budget and want a cheap interface, this one is well worth exploring in greater depth.


Amazon Customer Reviews

"Quality product that does it right" - By A. Roberton
"5 Stars? More like 10. Top notch." - By Mr. R. Ferguson

Best for Guitars & Keyboards

Mackie Onyx Blackjack

Each individual musician is different. Not only will their masterpieces take on a different sound, but also the instruments utilized will vary incredibly. If you’re the type of musician, who loves guitars and keyboard, you will want to check out the Mackie Onyx Blackjack, which is undoubtedly the best for guitars & keyboards. 

This professional USB audio interface is immensely affordable and is more than reasonable for the majority of musicians. One of the most convenient features of all is the USB bus-powered setup, which helps you eliminate clutter.

This unit comes with a front panel microphone hookup, which will make your life a little bit easier and will give you the ability to ensure that your audio is just perfect. No need for a Direct input box .The built-in DI for each input gives the musician the ability to directly connect their basses and guitars to this interface. The high-quality onyx mic preamps are undoubtedly impressive and will give you the ability to produce high-quality music, which you can be proud of. More pros and cons will be explored below.

Pros

  • Very affordable, yet will deliver a professional performance
  • 24-bit recording and playback
  • Direct connection for guitars and basses
  • USB bus-powered delivers more convenience
  • Very rugged and built to last
  • Preamps are wonderful

Cons

  • Might be a little limited for some

All in all, the Mackie Onyx Blackjack is an excellent purchase for many musicians. If you work alone or with another musician, this interface cannot be ignored. Be sure to check it out for yourself today! You will not be disappointed.


Amazon Customer Reviews

"More than I expected!" - By Joe Faulkner
"Excellent results now I AM a rock star" - By JD Geary

Conclusion

All in all, there are many musicians, who wish to take their music to the next level. Purchasing the best audio interface for your money and specific musical style is highly recommended. Above, you have been able to familiarize yourself with the important features of an interface, as well as some of the market’s best models. Now, it is time to go out there and find the one that matches your desires the best.

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