Music-making can be incredibly satisfying, but also incredibly difficult. If you’ve spent any time at all in front of a computer making music, you definitely understand just how important audio interfaces are. Most people start playing music from a young age when they get their first instrument for a gift, so it’s only natural for them to have an interest in making music. There are tons of audio interfaces you can get into, but as with everything, not all are worth the investment. However, a few of them are not only worth it, but will truly elevate your entire music-making experience.
Focusrite Scarlett 3rd Gen
Very few people who even have a passing interest in music-making haven’t heard of Focusrite. It’s a manufacturer that has garnered a lot of respect from music-makers, and for a very good reason. The Scarlett USB audio interfaces have always had amazing sonics and audio flexibility, on top of being very affordable. It preamps up to 56dB gain, the connectivity is balanced, and you get two microphone, line, and instrument outputs, as well as two line-level TRS inputs, and four TRS outputs.
This interface also comes with pre-packaged software which allows plenty of changes to be made on a software level, though some changes can only be done by the software itself. This Focusrite audio interface is incredibly reliable, and with the software included, you’ll be on your way to making great music in no time.
It’s not always that you can find an audio interface designed to feel as if you have an entire professional studio packaged in a single box. The SSL2+ brings you that famous SSL sound that musicians and studios have been using for decades. This is a very compact interface with a lot of professional features, such as four outputs, an MIDI in/out, plus an additional independent headphone out. It also has a unique 4k feature that adds a bit of extra high-end quality to your mix, and it’s easily one of the most pro-feeling features of the SSL2+. It’s a bit pricier than the Scarlett Focusrite audio interface, but it definitely has the features to match the price. It’s an easy recommendation to make, especially if you want to feel like a pro while making professional-sounding music.
Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2
One of the first things people notice about the Komplete Audio 2 is the low price. It’s significantly more affordable than the Focusrite, and even though it’s a budget interface, it provides a lot of value. This two-input, two-output interface is as slick as it gets. Its connections are on combi XRLs, with individual selectors to choose between line and instrument. It also has a hardware monitoring balance knob, as well as an output for headphones with independent control. Even though the features of this interface are relatively basic, at least when compared to the others on this list, it makes the cut because it’s incredibly efficient at what it does. It also comes with amazing software that fully utilises the Komplete Audio’s capabilities, so it easily achieves everything it sets out to do.
Audient Evo 4
This is a relatively new audio interface, and even though it’s been around for about a year, it’s made great strides in popularity. It’s as affordable as it gets, and on the back, you’ll find two combi inputs for mic and line, as well as an instrument input on the front for connecting either bass or guitar, which then overrides the first input from the back. It also has two speaker outs and a central main dial that controls that output’s level, as well as other levels too. It comes with several buttons that control which levels you’re actively controlling, as well as a separate button on the right that adjusts the mix between the input and the DAW. This entire interface is incredibly compact and its solution for the one-dial control is very well thought-out. On top of that, it’s very affordable and it’s a great interface all in all.
Mackie Onyx Producer 2.2
This is an audio interface that is sure to last you years. It comes with an Onyx mic pres that is of high quality, as well as balanced analogue connectivity. With those features in mind, you can be certain that the Onyx Producer 2.2 will be more than able to get clean signals in and out of your DAW. There is zero latency when monitoring the input signals when you’re using the input/DAW mix knob. It also features two jacks on the back for monitor outputs, and two MIDI connectors for in and out. On top of that, it has an extra durable metal case, which is also quite charming to look at, and combined with an interface that will last you for years, this is definitely a piece of equipment to consider.
How to Choose the Best Audio Interface for you
There are plenty of things to know about choosing a good audio interface. After you’ve set your budget for it, some of the first things you should look for are the inputs and outputs the interface offers, and whether or not they’re good for your usage. The type of connectivity is also important, because you don’t want to choose something that you won’t be able to connect to your computer. Sound quality is always something to look out for, but it greatly depends on a lot of factors, and it’s something you should strive to test first before buying. Making sure you’ve figured out exactly what you’re planning on using the audio interface for is the first step towards getting one that suits you best.
Picking a good audio interface is no easy task. There are thousands available on the market and you won’t always have the time to research them all. However, once you find the right one for you, you’ll immediately see a rise in the quality of your music-making, and that’s what important in the end.