The best USB audio interface is very easy to find. In fact, you can easily shop for one whether you are willing to spend a lot or even when budget is tight. These devices are very common and even abundant in the market because most musicians need a USB audio interface. No matter how powerful or expensive your laptop or computer is, if you want convenient, seamless and better recordings and superior audio quality from various audio sources, you need a USB audio interface; hence, you will always see one or a few of these in every home or professional recording studio, club, concert venue, etc.
- 0.1 The Best USB Audio Interface in Simple Terms
- 0.2 What You Should Look for From the Best USB Audio Interface
- 1 Top 10 Best USB Audio Interface
- 2 Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 6 In/6 Out USB 2.0 Audio Interface With Two Focusrite Mic Preamps
- 3 Steinberg UR22 2-Channel USB 2.0 Audio/MIDI Interface
- 4 Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Recording Audio Interface
- 5 Focusrite Scarlett Solo Compact USB Audio Interface
- 6 Behringer UCA202 Audio Interface
- 7 Behringer Xenyx 302USB Mixer
- 8 TASCAM US-366 4-In/6-Out or 6-In/4-Out USB Audio Interface
- 9 Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 USB Audio Interface
- 10 Behringer UM2 Audio Interface
- 11 PreSonus AudioBox USB 2×2 Audio Interface
The Best USB Audio Interface in Simple Terms
Simply described, a USB audio interface is a device that allows you to optimize studio recording. It helps improve power, amplification and sound quality as well. It gives you that extra controlling power over all your devices that you plug into this. You can connect pretty much all of your audio equipment to your best USB audio interface from speakers to microphones to guitars to keyboards and a whole lot more. You no longer have to experience lagging time when connected to your computer with a bunch of audio devices and work simply becomes simpler as generally, the USB audio interface helps you organize your gear.
What You Should Look for From the Best USB Audio Interface
- UserLevel, Requirements and Portability
It is important to determine your user level before choosing a USB audio interface. Are you a beginner and you need less complicated user-friendly devices? Or are youa pro who requires more power and features and you’re well experienced with operation of these devices so you don’t mind extensive controls, knobs, buttons, etc.?
Your requirements must be identified as well. Do you need one with more than 10 inputs and outputs or will 2 just be enough? This is easy to determine, really. If you have a home recording studio or if you’re looking for the best USB audio interface that you can use when travelling, then a compact, portable one should be chosen. If you have a rather large recording studio or you’re a concert or event producer/organizer, then you need larger, more high-powered ones.
Portability also falls under this category. If you’re a travelling musician or you if you have a rather small recording studio and you don’t want a lot of space taken on your work desk, a compact USB audio interface will be a better choice.
- Features, Functions and More
How many inputs and outputs do you require? The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is a 2-input/2-output USB audio interface that would work great in a home recording studio, especially if you don’t play many instruments at the same time. The same brand has another model called the 18i20 which has 18 inputs and 20 inputs. There are even larger ones, however, you have to remember that you are still connecting this to your computer and your computer should also be powerful enough should you be using very large best USB audio interface.
Another feature you should always check are microphone preamplifiers. These should work for both dynamic and condenser microphones. Most USB audio interfaces you will find in the market today include award-winning mic preamps and there’s a lot of these on the list below.
There are USB audio interfaces that are fully bus-powered and there are some that would require a power adapter. If you are more concerned about portability than anything else or if you simply don’t want another power cable on your table, then a fully USB-powered device would be the right one for you.
- Software and OS Compatibility
Of course, the best USB audio interface should work with the existing computer you are using. It’s great though because most of these devices you will find in the market today are compatible with both Windows and Mac computers. Interestingly, the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 is also compatible with iPads. Most models you will find are also compatible with majority of the popular DAWs. Some come with free software such as Ableton Live and more.
Durability should be a huge factor you must consider when choosing a USB audio interface. It is a given that for travelling musicians, these devices will be placed in bags and will have to withstand occasional abuse. Even when you’re in the studio, durability is equally important especially if you are recording or playing music for hours on end. Plugging in and out the instruments and other gear should be done without any issues.
Probably not a concern for some but definitely for most, budget plays a big role when shopping for audio equipment. Setting up a studio whether as a professional or even if it’s just your hobby will cost you money. Buying extra equipment such as the best USB audio interface should hopefully not cost you more than how much you spent for your mixer, computer or other equipment. Depending on your price range, you will find many types of USB interfaces to choose from. If you’re in a tight budget, check out some of the Behringer models included below as these are truly great value for your money.
Top 10 Best USB Audio Interface
The Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 is one of the most in-demand best USB audio interface of today. Compact and attractive with its red color, this will definitely be a great accent on your desk. More than just being a piece of decoration though, the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 is a powerful device. It has 6 inputs, 6 outputs and 2 headphone outputs with separate level controls. There are larger versions of this, the 18i8 (18 inputs, 8 outputs) and the 18i20 (18 inputs, 20 outputs). The Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 and the other larger models are not bus powered. You have to use the included power supply. This high-quality USB 2.0 audio interface features two award-winning Focusrite mic preamps. It is compatible with Windows and Mac computers as well as iPads with its 24bit 96kHz audio interface. It has a large main monitor control and unique gain halos to safeguard levels as well.
So far, there are already too many features for such a small device, right? Focusrite makes your purchase even more worth bit by including authorization codes for Ableton Live Lite, the Scarlett Plug-in Suite, Softube Time and Tone Bundle, Red 2 and Red 3 Plug-in Suites and the Novation Bass Station. You even get 1GB worth of Loopmasters samples.
You can easily find a brand new Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 for a reasonable price. It is rated generously by very satisfied users with an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars online alone. For its price and the features it offers, and in addition, it is probably one of the sturdiest USB audio interfaces you will find, you are truly getting your money’s value with the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6.
Latest customer reviews and prices of Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 6 In/6 Out USB 2.0 Audio Interface With Two Focusrite Mic Preamps
The Steinberg UR22 2-Channel USB 2.0 Audio/MIDI Interface is another device that easily claims a well-deserved spot on this list. Steinberg worked hand in hand with an audio equipment industry leader, Yamaha, to build this best USB audio interface and make sure it is the best of its kind within its price range. It is small enough to bring with you if you need one for a gig and it is super durable with its rugged full-metal casing. You will also appreciate how you’re getting the capability to deliver amazing sound quality with the Steinberg UR22 as it has a 24-bit resolution and a maximum sampling rate of 192 kHz. What’s even more impressive is that it is built with two industry-acclaimed D-PRE microphone preamps.
There is a generous number of inputs, outputs and controls on the Steinberg UR22. It has 2 TRS inputs, 6 TRS outputs, 2 Neutrik combo inputs and high-impedance input. It works on 48V phantom power and it also features pad switches. Furthermore, its console has a master volume knob, DIM, mono and mute monitor level controls. If you’re a DJ or a travelling producer, you are truly getting more than enough with this 2 input – 2 output device. Your purchase even includes the Cubase AI 6 DAW.
Rated generously by many users and reviewed highly by critics and professionals plus it works on both Windows and Mac computers, you really won’t have anything to complain about with the Steinberg UR22.
A smaller version of the Scarlett 6i6, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is a USB-powered audio interface that is perfect for the travelling musician. It is small and lightweight with a rugged metal unibody case. Just like the 6i6, it has the classy red case that will surely stand out in your working area. It features high quality mic preamps and you can only expect excellent performance from this 2-input/2-output USB audio interface.
Without having to touch your computer, you can switch from speakers or headphones with each through the direct monitor function of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 which is perfect for recording. It works on 24-bit resolution and has sample rates of up to 96 kHz. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, like the 6i6, generously provides you with a number of included authorization codes. Just download online and begin working on your preferred program – Ableton Live Lite, Scarlett Plug-in Suite, Red 2 and Red 3 Plug-in Suite. It is also compatible with all major DAWs should you prefer using what you currently have.
Fully USB-powered, you don’t need any power adapters to use the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 which makes it very portable. This is definitely an affordable best USB audio interface, even a bargain considering its features. You can get the package with a Scarlett microphone and pair of headphones. Rated an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars by almost 700 customers, whether you’re an entry-level DJ or producer or a travelling musician, you will definitely enjoy working with the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo Compact best USB audio interface is an even smaller version of the previous two Scarletts we covered above. Designed for personal use if you wish to listen to your music in super high quality or if you have a home recording studio, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo is a very compact and simple 2-input/2-output audio interface. It has 1 Focusrite microphone preamplifier with 24-bit conversion and maximum sampling rate of 96 kHz. It body still has that same Focusrite Scarlett look – red in a super sturdy anodized aluminum unibody chassis.
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo has 1 XLR mic input and 1 line/instrument input. It also comes with 1 1/4-inch TRS headphone jack. Fully powered via USB, you don’t need a power adapter anymore. It comes with a 48V phantom power switch. In addition, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo also has 2 gain knobs with halo signal indicators. Easily compatible with most DAWs, you can use the Focusrite Scarlett Solo with your Mac and Windows computer.
Like the previous Scarlett models covered, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo already includes Ableton Live Lite, Novation Bass Station virtual instrument, Scarlett Plug-in Suite, Red 2 and Red 3 Plug-in Suite, Softube Time and Tone Bundle and 1GB worth of sample content from Loopmasters.
This USB audio interface with a pair of headphones and a mic. The price is hard to beat and the numerous positive reviews on the Focusrite Scarlett Solo tell it all – it is definitely the best in its price range.
Of course, a list of best audio equipment won’t be complete without the ever-reliable German brand Behringer. Always making sure that an item is affordable enough for beginners and the general population, the Behringer UCA202 Audio Interface is a rather impressive and very highly-rated USB audio interface that’s available at a reasonable price. It has all the basic features you need and more for an audio interface you can use for your home recording studio or even for travelling musicians. For impressive audio quality, it features high resolution 48 kHz converters. This analog mono 2-input/2-output audio interface also has a stereo headphone output and a dedicated level control. An additional S/PDIF optical output is also available for direct digital conversion.
The Behringer UCA202 Audio Interface works on both Mac and Windows computers and it is fully USB-powered so no external power supplies or adapters needed. All you need is your USB cable and you’re good to go. Because Behringer has always been consistent in providing superior quality products, expect the Behringer UCA202 best USB audio interface to be of your service for many years with its rugged and very durable construction.
Your purchase of the Behringer UCA202 Audio Interface already comes with a ton of free software including a free recording and editing software that you can download at the Behringer website. Other software you can get for free with your purchase are KRISTAL Audio Engine and Audacity. If it’s value for money you’re looking for, you are definitely getting a bargain with the Behringer UCA202 Audio Interface.
Another budget audio interface from Behringer but this time even better, the Behringer Xenyx 302USB Mixer is an ultra-compact and ultra-low noise analog mixer that comes with a built-in USB audio interface. You are getting a lot more than what you’re paying for with this audio interface/mixer. It can be fully powered via USB or you can also use the external power adaptor which is included in the package. As many users would recommend, if you need more power of if you’re maximizing all functions and features of the Behringer Xenyx 302USB Mixer all at once, it is best to use the power adaptor than just relying on USB power.
The Behringer Xenyx 302USB Mixer is a tiny device and it’s so portable you can take it with you if you’re travelling for a show and you can use USB power which makes it even more ideal for the musician on-the-go. No drivers needed, you can just plug and play the Behringer Xenyx 302USB Mixer to make it work. Whether you’re using a dynamic or condenser microphone, you will appreciate how powerful the high headroom XENYX preamp microphones. Dynamic range at 130 dB and bandwidth of 10 Hz to 200 kHz make it even more impressive. This device also features an XLR and 1/4-inch combination input and a stereo USB/Line channel and in addition, there’s also a dedicated 2-Track input. And just like the other best USB audio interface covered above, this also comes with free software download that you can get from the Behringer website.
TheTASCAM US-366 4-In/6-Out or 6-In/4-Out USB Audio Interface is as good as you would expect a high-powered superior quality USB audio interface to be. In fact, it is arguably of the best, if not the best, you will find in its price range. Very sleek and classy looking with a shiny finish, the TASCAM US-366 is sturdy and very durable; you can expect to be of your service for many years. It has built in high quality High Definition Discrete Architecture (HDDS) microphone preamplifiers. Up to 24-bit/192kHz recording is supported and it has an on-board digital mixer and digital effects as well. The on-board digital mixer has a selectable multi-track mode or stereo mix mode. On-board effects include compressor and EQ insert and reverb send.
Interchangeable 4-input/6-output or the other way around, the TASCAM US-366 has two XLR/TRS inputs with a full 48V phantom power supply. For even more function, it also has 2 RCA analog unbalance outputs, 2 balanced TRS analog outputs, footswitch remote connectivity and digital coaxial/optical inputs and outputs. The software included in the package is the Cubase LE6. This best USB audio interface is compatible with both Mac and Windows computers.
The TASCAM US-366 is considered as one of the remarkable USB audio interfaces within its price range. It is compact at 9.8 x 8.5 x 8 inches and weighs less than 2 pounds. It is perfect for use whether you’re a travelling musician or you simply want to use this in your home recording studio.
The last of its kind on our list, this is the fourth Focusrite Scarlett model that is truly impressive, it rightfully deserves this spot. Just like the first three that has been covered above, this USB audio interface still keeps the classy look with its sturdy and durable red casing that will definitely look great in any work desk. It is built-in with two award-winning microphone preamplifiers from Focusrite. With dynamic range of 105dB, you can only expect great professional-quality music with the help of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 USB Audio Interface.
A 2-input/4-output device, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 best USB audio interface features XLR/TRS front-panel connectors combined with dual mic/line instrument inputes. Conversion remains at superior and precise quality at up to 24-bit with sampling at 96kHz. Compatible with both Mac and Windows, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 USB Audio Interface also has a number of included software such as the Ableton Live Lite and other software produced by Focusrite and more.
Weighing just less than 3 pounds with a size portable enough for you to keep it in your laptop bag, travelling musicians and DJ’s as well as home recording studio owners will definitely enjoy working with the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 USB Audio Interface. Powerful, sturdy with its rugged metal unibody case and such an impressive-looking device, you can’t go wrong with this. In fact, hundreds of customers has already given it almost perfect ratings. There’s nothing really to complain about with the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 USB Audio Interface.
The final Behringer on this list is not as affordable as the first two but still less expensive than most USB audio interfaces of its kind in the market today. The Behringer UM2 Audio Interface sells for less and it is just right to say that this is a sturdy and durable piece of device. It is highly portable too so you won’t have problems bringing it along with you should you need to travel for the job. Mean for home recording studios and for professionals who need a boost on audio quality, the Behringer UM2 Audio Interface is a 2×2 USB audio interface that is best used for instruments and recording microphones. You can get superior and professional sound quality with its 48 kHz resolution. Even better, it is built with a XENYX mic preamplifier, the best in the industry today.
Weighing just 11.2 ounces and its dimensions are at 8.2 x 6.1 x 3.5 inches, you will be pleasantly surprised with the power that the Behringer UM2 best USB audio interface can offer despite its size. It works on both Mac and Windows computers as well so you won’t have any issues in compatibility. It is also compatible with most popular recording software such as Ableton Live, Steinberg Cubase, Avid Pro Tools and more.
Very user-friendly and rugged, most customers who purchased the Behringer UM2 Audio Interface gave praises for its ability to produce great audio quality and how its durability cannot be matched by others within the same price range. Definitely the USB audio interface that gives you the bang for your buck, the Behringer UM2 Audio Interface is absolutely worth every penny you spend on it.
The last spot on this list goes to another impressive USB audio interface that is well loved by many amateurs, entry-level producers and DJ’s and professionals as well. The PreSonusAudioBox USB 2×2 Audio Interface sells at a lesser price which is definitely a great deal. Highly reviewed by customers who already own it, this bus-powered USB audio and MIDI interface boasts of 24-bit resolution and an impressive enough sampling rate of 44.1 and 48 kHz for remarkable audio quality. It has 2 combo mic and instrument inputs matched with high-performance, high-headroom, low noise mic preamplifiers that will give you superior audio quality especially when recording.
The PreSonusAudioBox USB 2×2 Audio Interface is very simple and user-friendly which is why even beginners love it. It is compatible with most DAWs and will work with no issues on either a Mac or Windows computer. It comes with Studio One 3 Artist DAW software and you get more than 6GB worth of third-party resources such as samples and more.
Another feature that many users of the PreSonusAudioBox USB 2×2 Audio Interface love about it is that it is so light and compact so you won’t have any problem bringing it along with you should you need to work with it in different venues. Since it is bus-powered, you also don’t need a power adapter or supply when you use it. The package already includes a USB cable.
While many customers are all-praises with the Audiobox, the only issue others have to face is that it lacks some features that are in the first place not even found in the best USB audio interface within this price range. The PreSonusAudioBox USB 2×2 Audio Interface is an impressive piece of equipment but you have to understand its features and know whether it’s something you need before you buy it.