Our #1 Rated
The mic preamps are some of the best we’ve ever come across and sound amazingly natural with stellar low latency. Even when ran at the highest sample rate!
A pocket-sized interface powerful enough to suit a beginner’s home studio needs, and perfect for any vocalists/musicians looking for a basic solution to record and playback music on the move.
The bus-powered Komplete Audio 6 is a 6-channel low-latency interface with 4 analogue inputs and outputs.
The DP88 and Studio 192 Mobile were an absolute dream to work with and we loved the fact it remembered the gain settings for each input and output.
For musicians, vocalist and producers, an audio interface can prove to be one of your best friends when it comes to accurately monitoring sound. Though many computers have reasonably good soundcards built in these days, they can still be prone to issues like latency and radio interference. That’s why if you’re planning to record any kind of audio; be it a microphone for recording vocals, live instruments, MIDI devices, etc, an audio interface is probably one of the best investments you could ever make.
In this article, we’re going to review the following Audio Interfaces:
- Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools
- Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface
- Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 USB Audio Interface
- PreSonus Studio 192 26×32 USB 3.0 Audio Interface and Studio Command Center
- Audient iD4
- Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Solo
- Apogee ELEMENT 46
- Steinberg UR242
- Focusrite Clarett 8Pre
- Arturia AudioFuse
How Should You Choose
A band on the other hand, would need something capable of recording multiple instruments/devices at once.
Then there is the question of things like:
- Portability – If you want something you can just chuck into your backpack, weight and size will play a big factor.
- System Compatibility – Not all devices are compatible with every computer. If you’re looking to use your audio interface with an iPad or similar, the connections and ports will need to meet your system requirements.
- Budget –We’ve included some great audio interfaces for under $200 in this list, but if you’re willing to spend a bit more, you’ll get much better quality, features and functions.
We tried and tested, then hand-picked our top 10 best audio interfaces of 2021 to suit the needs of everyone from PC, Mac and iOS users, bands, best audio interfaces for vocals, best DJ interfaces, those looking for a basic monitoring device, and audiophiles who may be on the hunt for something more professional from the top end of the market.
We tried and tested several of the latest and most talked about audio interfaces to make their way onto the audio gear landscape this year, and the above are what we concluded to be the best audio interface 2021.
All of our recommendations are based on quality, affordability, functionality, reliability and suitability, so you’ll be able to find something basic and suitable to playback your mixes, or invest in a larger unit capable of handling a lot of inputs and outputs as needed.
In terms of which one takes the championship title, it’s clear that Focusrite remain at the top of their league for audio interfaces. As they have for several years! Although we’re huge fans of their entire collection, we really cannot fault the Scarlett range. There is a reason why the 18i8 (in all of it’s generations) is one of the best sellers, and not only due to the precision-controlled preamps either. These interfaces can be put to a number of uses despite not homing a huge assortment of features. The best part is that the 18i8 is capable of producing an industry-level sound quality that the majority of expensive soundcards can’t even cut. They can also take a hell of a beating in terms of durability and ruggedness, and are easy to repair if one of the ports becomes dislodged or faulty. This means you’re going to get a good few years of use out of it as a result, even if something goes wrong.
Hopefully that’s given you a useful overview of some of the best interfaces circulating the market in 2021 so far. Let us know what you’re using to fuel your home studio needs in the comments!
What audio interface is best for CPU?
Unless you go for a DSP-based device, most audio interfaces do not dictate much of the CPU in most computers. It might take some of the load or a little bit, but if your computer isn’t even able to manage the bulk of your projects as it is, you’ll still experience the same issues. Universal Audio Interfaces such as the Apollo Twin MKII on the other hand, are built with processors that can handle all the plugins from the interface directly so you get much more breathing space and RAM to play with.
Will an audio interface improve latency issues?
An audio interface will generally reduce most of it because it can convert the digital signals much easier; however, it won’t have much of an effect on the CPU which can still cause latency issues in DAWs and when using outboard gear. You may still need to play around with the buffer size and sample rate in order to get the right balance with real-time latency. Be sure to make sure your device has the right and most up-to-date drivers installed too.
Can I use an audio interface as a soundcard?
There aren’t too many differences between an audio interface and a soundcard, as an audio interface is essentially an external soundcard anyway. But yes, you can swap your computer’s built-in sound processor for an audio interface, or simply run it along the side since you can alternate between them anytime you need to. If you’re looking to produce music though, we’d say it’s always worth recording and monitoring directly through your audio interface or mixer for the best sound quality.