As the mobile production set-up becomes the norm, we take a look at five great, compact audio interfaces…
As the portable recording rig becomes an astonishingly powerful reality (and rapidly becomes the norm), there are certain bits of gear that are essential to these new, pared-down set-ups. The hub of everything is, of course, the audio interface.
If you are aiming to take your studio mobile, here are five great compact audio interfaces that deserve a place in your laptop bag.
Roland Duo Capture Mk II
The Roland Duo Capture Mk II is one of the most affordable interfaces on the market, despite being produced by one the world’s most prestigious music technology brands. In provides a USB unit with small footprint (roughly 5” x 4”), with ¼” jack mic/ guitar input, along with a stereo mini-jack line-input, stereo mini-jack line out and standard jack headphone output.
As you might expect from Roland, it’s super-reliable with great sound quality, and as it can be powered via USB, is convenient to boot. With a price (at time of writing) less than £60, it takes some beating…
Buy the Roland Duo Capture online here.
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Second Generation (2nd Gen)
In relatively short period of time, Focusrite has grown from being newcomers to the audio interface market (though it had plenty of pro-audio experience, along with experience of designing devices for other brands) to being, arguably, the market leader. Through employing premium signal paths in affordable units with solid construction and design, it raised the bar for other manufacturers to meet.
The Scarlett 2i2 became one of the best selling audio interfaces ever, so it was a huge surprise when the brand announced it was going to try and improve on an already stellar product. In 2016, Focusrite announced the release of the Scarlett 2i2 Second Generation (2nd Gen) and the results certainly did not disappoint. The Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen is one of the most compact audio interface models in its range, but it doesn’t compromise on the brand’s foundation of supreme audio quality and signal path. This 2-input, 2-output USB design features two, award winning Focusrite mic-preamps (with phantom power for condenser microphones), which provide low noise, high dynamic range and detailed, transparent sound of a standard, which sets a precedent at its price-point. There has also been a significant improvement with latency – in fact it’s almost non-existent clocking in at a mere 2.74ms.
These double as line/ instrument inputs, via XLR combo jack, with two unique LED gain halos allow you to visually monitor your signal. Two balanced TRS jack outputs are fitted to the rear, with headphone output to the front. A comprehensive software package is included with the Scarlett 2i2 2nd Generation so you can create music straight out of the box.
M-Audio M-Track 2X2M C-Series Audio Interface
If you want a great quality audio interface then M-Audio is always a great place to start. The M-Audio M-Track 2X2M C-Series Audio Interface is ideal for compact studios or those who who want to be able to record on the move, and in hotel rooms, offering a simple 2 in/2 out design. There are both XLR and instrument inputs, great for recording acoustic artists, plus useful features such as a dedicated headphone out with independent volume control as well as MIDI IN/OUT connections. It’s built like a tank, includes two high impedance inputs for capturing electric or bass guitar at once and includes all the USB cables you need, as well as Steinberg Cubase LE, Air VST software suite and manuals.
M-Audio M-Track 2X2M C-Series Audio Interface offers everything you need to record studio quality demos anytime, anywhere and is an extremely budget friendly option too!
The Tri-Capture expands on the functionality of the Duo-Capture in several key ways, whilst maintaining the same, high quality and reliability. This unit is also a USB device, but provides an XLR mic preamp with phantom power, and separate guitar/ line input via a ¼” jack. In addition, a separate stereo aux input is included, via a pair of jack sockets. Each of these has an individual volume control on the front panel. Outputs are via a pair of RCA connectors or ¼” headphone jack socket.
Perfect for singer songwriters, or all manner of composers, the Tri-Capture is built with Roland’s trademark quality and reliability.
Buy the Roland Tri-Capture online here.
Focusrite iTrack Studio
The iTrack Studio is in many ways, everything you need for a portable studio other than the computer itself. At the heart of the package is an iTrack Solo audio interface, which is compatible with Mac, PC and iOS.
This USB unit provides a single Focusrite mic-preamp with phantom power, ensuring the same high quality signal path as other devices in the range, along with an instrument/ guitar input- each with independent gain controls. A pair of RCA outputs is equipped at the rear, with USB socket and device link for connecting to iPad.
The package also includes a pair of studio monitor headphones, a large diaphragm condenser microphone and a mic cable, too. A suite of software completes the pack, including Ableton Live Lite and whole host of Focusrite plug-ins, too (Mac and PC).
Buy the Focusrite iTrack Studio online here.
All of the above provide great solutions for anyone looking for compact audio interfaces that will fit easily into a laptop case or bag.
You can find a full range of compact audio interfaces in our online store here.