Best Audio Interface – Six Great Choices Under £400
Making the connection – six of the best audio interfaces
One of the key elements in home recording is having the best audio interface you can afford. This is the connection between your music and your recording software. So, it figures that your recordings will only sound as good as the interface will allow.
There are hundreds and hundreds of audio interfaces available, presenting a bewildering array of options to the user. Which is the best for you? To help you along a little, here is a mini guide to six of the best audio interface models currently available for under £400.
1. Presonus Studio 26 Audio and Midi Interface
You might know Presonus for their great large-scale mixing desks, such as the StudioLive series. There’s no reason you shouldn’t consider them for a great value home set up too. The Presonus Studio 26 interface offers superb bang for the buck. And when it’s a name like Presonus, with their incredible heritage in audio excellence, you know the quality is going to be spot on.
The Studio 26 is a 2 in/4 out interface which connects to your computer over USB. It allows you to record two signals simultaneously, for example, vocals and guitar on their own tracks in your studio software. This increases the potential when it comes to mixing and producing music immensely.
The front of the unit features the two XLR/line inputs, along with settings to control the gain for each track, the levels of the output and also a control for headphone volume. Two bright LED ladders show the strength of signal being received, meaning your audio needn’t clip when it is being recorded.
2. Focusrite Scarlett Solo Studio
As far as packages go, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo Studio is pretty special. Comprising a quality Focusrite Scarlett USB audio interface with a superb condenser mic and monitoring headphones makes for a complete package to get you up and recording digitally in no time.
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo is a two channel audio interface. It requires only a single USB cable to transfer sounds from guitars, microphones or line-in sources (like keyboards or synths). It also records two channels at the same time, and gives you complete control over what you hear.
The included condenser mic is ideal for recording either vocals or acoustic instruments, and the DJ quality headphones ensure whatever you are hearing is played back in superb audio fidelity.
3. Audient ID4
Audient, like Presonus, is a big name in the world of high end studio equipment. The technology they’ve packed into this Audient ID4 home studio interface is in keeping with that reputation.
It features specialist electronics to ensure guitars or line-in signals are represented in the best way. We also like how the oversized volume knob can also be re-assigned within your recording software to control parameters.
The icing on the cake is the huge package of free audio plugins you get with the ID4 though. You get two plugins worth over £350 from effect masters Eventide, along with lessons and offers for other useful online resources. Well worth a look.
4. Audient ID14
Staying with Audient and we have the big brother to our previous entry. The Audient ID14 is a 10 in / 4 out audio interface which boasts the same expert quality AD converters as the high end console units.
What you’re getting with this enhanced version is the ability to record more sources at once. This means you can utilise the included optical input to add up to eight additional tracks.
The incredible free software is all still correct and present, making this one of the biggest bargains we’ve seen in the interface world.
5. M-Audio M-Track 2×2
Next up is an interface from a huge name in audio technology. M-Audio has been producing monitor speakers, studio controllers and other bits of quality tech for decades now. The M-Audio M-Track 2×2 is a great example of this.
It’s a USB audio interface featuring the ability to record two channels at once. What marks this interface out as different is the fact that it incorporates the newer USB-C connection protocol to allow for quicker data transfer speeds. In practice, this should allow for perfect, hassle free transfer qualities. It should also future-proof it for newer laptops and computer systems.
It’s not a small unit, so does take up a touch more desk space, but the oversized volume knob at the centre of the unit did impress us during testing.
6. M-Audio M-Track 2×2 Vocal Studio
We’ll round the list off with more of an extension of the previous entry. The M-Audio M-Track 2×2 Vocal Studio package combines the aforementioned M-Audio M-Track 2×2 USB audio interface with a Nova condenser mic and a pair of M-Audio HDH40 headphones. You also get all the necessary cables, and a useful shockmount for the microphone to eliminate any errors from poor mic technique.
It’s geared – as you’d image from the name – towards vocalists making their first steps into fully-fledged recording, and it is a superb option for anyone in that situation.