The Top 11 Audio Interfaces in 2020

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Whether you are a musician, producer, YouTuber, podcaster, or any type of audio creator… you need the best USB audio interface if you plan to create incredible content.

The introduction of the USB audio interface has revolutionized the recording industry, bringing professional studio features and technology directly to your desktop/laptop.

The tools for professional recording have never been so accessible, and all via a simple USB connection.

Regardless of the application, if you’re creating on a PC or Mac, an audio interface is an essential device for your computer-based production.

There are plenty of options to choose from, however… and this is where you can get lost in the fog.

So what is the best USB interface?

While there are several firm favorites, the perfect interface will ultimately depend on your individual needs. Different interfaces will have unique tools and varying input capabilities. So that is what you’ll learn today…

Whatever your requirements are, let’s upgrade your rig so that you can go about your recording without restrictions.

Here are your best USB Audio Interface options!

Focusrite Scarlett 4i4

The Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 will be your reliable studio companion. It is as solid as a rock, and will withstand the harshest of day to day punishment. The Scarlett will cleanly capture your recordings with studio quality for years to come.

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Are you really ready for a USB Interface?

If you need professional production, then you’re ready for a USB interface.

An interface sound card is a serious upgrade from your inbuilt laptop and computer cards, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The obvious go-to sign that you are ready is that you want higher-quality audio input.

Professional studio monitors will also reach their full potential when connected to the output of an interface.

Connectivity is a huge factor. The right interface will enable you to connect crucial studio gear, such as an XLR microphone, and power it with 48V Phantom Power. Have you got your dream condenser mic, but no way of connecting it? Then you’re certainly ready.

If you’re ready to start producing serious audio content, then you are ready to upgrade to a USB audio interface.

The Top 11 USB Audio Interfaces

Editor’s PickBrand
Top PickFocusrite Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen
Runner UpNative Instruments Komplete Audio 2
Best BudgetBehringer UM2

Our Top Pick: Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen

Focusrite Scarlett 4i4

The Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 will be your reliable studio companion. It is as solid as a rock, and will withstand the harshest of day to day punishment. The Scarlett will cleanly capture your recordings with studio quality for years to come.

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The Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 is no stranger to rave reviews, and is often considered the cream of the crop in the world of affordable USB interfaces. Rightfully so, it is as good as it gets, and will deliver professional audio every time.

At a glance, a traditionalist might be forgiven for not being able to locate the XLR inputs.

Fear not, your favorite XLR microphone can be connected by one of the two combo jacks that cater to both XLR or 1/4 inch jack connections. These also have gain control, so you can dial in the perfect level.

If your mic is run through some lush outboard gear, the 4i4 will handle the load. You can also connect your outboards via the combo jack connection.

The other two connections are 1/4 inch line inputs enabling you to connect directly to an electric guitar or synth, for example.

With the ability to handle four mono sources or two stereo sources, you have plenty of room to maneuver.

Once you’re connected, this is when the preamps showcase their talents. Scarlett has been designing preamps for over 30 years, so it is safe to say they are trusted in this sphere.

Your microphone audio will be captured with pristine quality and extremely low noise. If you’re using a dynamic microphone, you can crank the volume to work the preamps whilst maintaining cleanliness.

What makes these preamps unique is their ability to increase the air frequency. By engaging the air function you can expect a brighter presence to your recording. This is particularly effective on vocals and guitars.

While this interface yields professional results, you don’t need to be a tech wizard to set it up. The QuickSetup tool will have you up and running in an instant.

The Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen is a leader on all fronts. It delivers pro-audio, but has the ease of use that a beginner can master.

Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 Key Features

  • 2 x Line Inputs (1/4″)
  • 2 x Combo Inputs (XLR & 1/4″ Line)
  • MIDI In & Out Ports (5-Pin Din Connection)
  • Sample Rate: 192 kHz / Bit Resolution: 24-Bit
  • 4 x TRS Balanced Line Output (1/4″) & 1 Headphone Output (1/4″)
  • Operating System Requirements: Windows 7, 8.1, 10 or later; macOS 10.12 or later.
  • Software Included: Ableton Live Lite, Avid ProTools, three months access to Splice Sounds, one XLN Addictive Keys virtual instrument, Softube ‘Time & Tone’ Bundle, Focusrite Red 2 & 3 Plug-in Suite, Focusrite Control

Runner Up: Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2

Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2

Native Instruments have reinvented interfaces with this back to basics design. It has two-channel inputs and is sleek to the max! This purchase also includes some top of the market software, which you can use to get started and running at studio quality.

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Reassuringly simple in design, the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2 is luxurious in use and astonishingly affordable, it is a prize pick for our runner up.

Having read the review of the Focusrite, you may be thinking that you don’t need four inputs. Look no further than this sleek and great sounding audio interface.

The two inputs feature combo connectivity, accommodating both XLR and 1/4 inch lines. A dual mic combination can be used for a live recording of an acoustic guitar and vocal, stereo recording of an acoustic guitar, or an interview-style podcast… just to name a few applications.

This audio interface has everything you need, with level controls, headphone output, +48v phantom power, and dual jack outputs for professional monitor speakers.

You can balance the input and host mix for the perfect monitoring level. Whether you prefer to hear more of what you’re playing live, or more of the click and sounds from your DAW.

This feature enables you to dial-in a headphone level to suit your preference.

It is one of the most compact interfaces you will find. It fits nicely on the busiest desktops.

The rubber feet and reasonable weight will ensure it stays in place during recording.

In terms of performance, it goes toe to toe with more expensive brands with its low noise capture. If you’re a beginner, you can also take advantage of the included Ableton Live DAW software.

Considering the little outlay, you’re getting quality hardware and software with the purchase of the Native Instruments Komplete 2. It is not only a perfect choice for a beginner, but more advanced producers will be reveling in this high-end bit of tech.

Native Instruments Komplete 2 Key Features

  • VU Meter
  • 2 x Combo Inputs (XLR & 1/4″ Line)
  • Sample Rate: 192 kHz / Bit Resolution: 24-Bit
  • 2 x TRS Balanced Line Output (1/4″) & 1 Headphone Output (1/4″)
  • Input / Host mix button. For improved monitoring during recording.
  • Operating System Requirements: Windows 10 or later; macOS 10.12 or later.
  • Software Included: Ableton 10 Live Lite, Maschine Essentials, 3 Studio Grade FX, Monark, Komplete Start, (two months free access to samples and loops).

Best Budget: Behringer UM2

Behringer UM2

Interfaces don't come cheap, especially when you require studio performance. This is where Behringer always comes to save the day. The UM2 does everything you need, and at an affordable price to get you started.

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When it comes to affordable audio hardware you can rely on Behringer to offer products in an impressive price range. The Behringer UM2 brings audio interfaces to all of us costing under $50.

It is a top piece of kit… and although the price tag is low, the product build is quite the opposite.

The UM2 offers two audio inputs. One is a combo jack covering XLR and 1/4 inch jack, and the other solely a 1/4 inch input.

With XLR capabilities and the switchable 48V Phantom Power feature, even the highest quality mics can be recorded through this interface. Whether it be your favorite condenser or dynamic mic, that is up to you.

When setting up a home studio, latency can be a real issue to overcome. Caused by delays in processing the mic audio through a computer processor, it can be worsened if your laptop or computer isn’t up to the task.

With the ‘Direct Monitor‘ feature engaged, you will receive the mic signal into your headphones direct. A top feature to combat the nuisance of latency putting your recording and speech out of sync.

The audio interfaces USB connection will power the device and get you started in a New York minute. It is a plug and play device that requires no drivers, and that will work across different types of software.

The Behringer UM2 also boasts XENYX mic preamps, which offer 130dB of dynamic range. So not only will it efficiently perform the basics, this interface will excel with clear and pristine mic performance.

Behringer UM2 Key Features

  • 1 x Line Inputs (1/4″)
  • 1 x Combo Inputs (XLR & 1/4″ Line)
  • Sample Rate: 48 kHz / Bit Resolution: 24-Bit
  • 1 x RCA Line Output (1/4″) & 1 Headphone Output (1/4″)
  • Operating System Requirements: Windows 7 or later; macOS 10.11 or later.

Honorable Mentions

Focusrite Scarlett 4i4

The Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 will be your reliable studio companion. It is as solid as a rock, and will withstand the harshest of day to day punishment. The Scarlett will cleanly capture your recordings with studio quality for years to come.

Buy Now Learn More

There are a lot of fish in the sea, and if the interfaces listed above didn’t catch your eye, check these out! Each of these devices is spot on, and highly recommended.

These were the selections that almost made our top cuts!

Apogee Quartet
The Apogee Quartet is a desktop audio interface of stark beauty. For professional recording, it will deliver ultimate sound quality largely due to the slick preamps that will leave recordings smooth and crisp.
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If you like the idea of an Apogee Quartet sitting on your desktop, but only need the two input capabilities, the Apogee Duet is your dual input alternative, with the same Apogee class but at a lower cost.

Apogee Key Features:

  • 4 x Mic Preamps
  • 4 x Combo Inputs (XLR & 1/4″ Line)
  • MIDI In & Out (USB A Connection)
  • Sample Rate: 192kHz / Bit Resolution: 24 Bit

Arturia AudioFuse

The Arturia AudioFuse offers pure recording fidelity.

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With connection capabilities covering everything from mics to turntables, it is an audio interface of versatility. With latency as minimal as 3 milliseconds, you can lose yourself in your production with this feature-rich interface.

Arturia AudioFuse Key Features:

  • 2 x Phono / Line Inputs (1/4″)
  • 2 x Combo Inputs (XLR & 1/4″)
  • 2 x DiscretePRO Mic Preamps
  • Sample Rate: 192kHz / Bit Resolution: 24 bit

M-Audio Air 192 2X2

The M-Audio Air 192 2X2 is an extremely efficient studio accomplice. Levels are easily adjustable, and on the body of the interface is an LED VU meter to ensure that your mic input level is on point.

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At an extra cost, you can upgrade to Midi connectivity if you wish.

M Audio Air 192 Key Features:

  • VU LED Meters
  • 1 x Combo Input (XLR & 1/4″)
  • Sample Rate: 192kHz / Bit Resolution: 24 bit
  • Includes: DAWS, Virtual Instruments, and Effects

PreSonus AudioBox USB

The PreSonus AudioBox USB is made of heavy-duty steel. Even the knobs are made of durable metal. To put it bluntly, this PreSonuscan can take a battering.

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If you want to make music on-the-go, this is prepared for the road. A USB connection will power the device, and it is compact enough to drop in your laptop bag. You can be recording with the high-performance quality of a PreSonus wherever you lay your hat.

PreSonus AudioBox USB Key Features:

  • LED Clip Indicator
  • MIDI In & Out (5-Pin)
  • 2 x Combo Inputs (XLR & 1/4″)
  • Low Latency Mixer Control (Blend In Signal with Computer Playback)

Roland RUBIX24 USB Audio Interface, 2 in/4 out

Combining portability with a powerful performance, the Roland Rubix24 is destined to get your productions to studio quality. The Rubix24’s dual mic preamps deliver low noise and high fidelity.

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For music production, it has some intricate features not found on a lot of interfaces. There is a compressor and limiter to make easy work of taming dynamic sources and avoid your input levels clipping.

Roland Rubix24 Key Features:

  • MIDI In & Out (5-Pin)
  • Power: USB Type B or DC 5V
  • 2 x Combo Inputs (XLR & 1/4″)
  • Includes: Ableton Live Lite DAW

Tascam US-1x2

Do you make your music on a tablet? The Tascam US-1×2 can receive its power from a standard USB connection or a USB 2.0. It also has connectivity with iPads and other iOS devices.

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Although there is only one input channel to record with, it’s a good one. The Ultra-HDDA (High Definition Discrete Architecture) mic preamp is low in noise, and will complement any condenser mic needing phantom power.

Tascam US-1×2 Key Features:

  • 1 XLR Input
  • 1 1/4″ Line Input
  • Sample Rate 96kHz / Bit Resolution 24 Bit
  • Zero Latency Monitoring (Direct Monitor Button)

Universal Audio Apollo Twin

There is no denying that Universal Audio designs seriously high-end products. Investing in the Apollo, you can expect premium results. The two Unison mic preamps are crafted to replicate classic tube models offering serious sound quality.

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Universal Audio is one of the most elite brands, and this interface is one of the best tools for a professional studio. Furthermore, there is a comprehensive list of audio software included.

Universal Audio Apollo Twin Key Features:

  • 2 x Unison Mic Preamps
  • 2 x Combo Inputs (XLR & 1/4″)
  • Comprehensive Plug-In Bundle
  • Sample Rate: 192 kHz / Bit Resolution: 24-Bit

Vault AI22

The Vault AI22 gives the USB interface a retro makeover. The two inputs cater to XLR and provide 48V Phantom Power, covering your condenser mics.

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If you want a vintage look to your studio tools, the AI22 is more than fit for professional use. Located on the rear panel, TRS line outputs are available, to help you connect to your studio monitors.

Vault AI22 Key Features:

  • 2 x Combo Inputs (XLR & 1/4″)
  • +48V Phantom Power Support
  • Input Monitoring Control Dial On Front
  • Sample Rate 96kHz / Bit Resolution 24 Bit

What Is A USB Audio Interface?

Interfaces are studio devices that enable you to get sound in and out of a computer or laptop. To record your voice or any instrument that doesn’t have a USB plugin, you will need an interface.

While basic recordings using a built-in sound card are possible, interfaces will be a serious upgrade in recording quality.

Interfaces will generally supply 48V Phantom Power and accommodate XLR connections, allowing you to use condenser microphones. Such power used to be supplied by a mixing desk, but developments in technology have enabled us to power interfaces via a USB connection.

Although you may come across a USB 1.1 audio interface, USB 2.0 is considered the most popular option, and is virtually the industry standard.

Of course, if you choose to go with a USB microphone, you won’t necessarily need a USB interface. But you will need one if you choose to use an XLR mic.

It’s Time To Get Creative

There you have it! The top 11 USB interfaces.

You’re itching to get started, then hopefully, learning about the top 11 interfaces has taken you a step closer to starting production with the quality that you need.

All the USB interfaces found in this post will give you studio quality. And when paired with the right mic, you’ll have the tools to create an awesome production.

Audio interfaces have variable features. A good place to start is determining your input requirements. This will go a long way in whittling down the interfaces to find the perfect one for your individual needs.

Now over to you, level up with the use of your perfect interface!