The Best USB Audio Interface Round-up

Our 2012 roundup of USB Audio Interfaces had become out of date, so we have replaced it with a new one: USB Audio Interface Roundup

The most notable interface that was omitted from the new roundup was the M-Audio Fast Track Pro Mobile below. It's still a good quality unit, but stocks of new ones are low and you'll most likely find second hand ones available today.

2 Channels

M-Audio Fast Track Pro Mobile

M-Audio Fast Track Pro Mobile

Portable recording technology has taken huge strides towards making things smaller while retainiing functionality and quality. The M-Audio Fast Track Pro Mobile is a perfect example of this mobile trend, packed with recording features housed in a small package. You get 2 front-panel mic/line inputs with phantom power for condenser microphones, inserts for outboard effects, balanced and unbalanced analog outputs, S/PDIF digital I/O, MIDI I/O, and many more. Being portable has limitations, but these compact USB audio adapters are ideal for recording small tracks or solo live performances. Manufactured by: M-Audio | Retails for about $210.00 | Check out the latest price and reviews at Amazon.com

6 Channels

MOTU Audio Express

MOTU Audio Express 6 x 6

If you prefer Firewire connectivity while at the same time appreciate the compatibility of USB, you should check out the MOTU Audio Express. It has 6 x 8 physical input/output channels that operate independently and simultaneously. Its front panel knobs are very easy to use and you can also visually monitor your audio with its indicators and meters. Controls and connections are simplified for quick setups and tear downs, great for those that don't want to waste time learning about every piece of gear they have. It supports sample rates of up to 96kHz and comes with a mixing software called CueMix. Finally the Audio Express 6x6 can double as a portable live mixer, allowing you to use it without your computer in live situations. Manufactured by: MOTU | Retails for $395.00 | Check out the latest price and reviews at Amazon.com

8 Channels

M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R

M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R

The Fast Track Ultra 8R takes the top spot on our list with its extensive functionality, solid build and audio quality. This 8 input phantom powered interface is designed for small to medium scale studio work. Its intuitive controls are conveniently situated on the front making it easy to record drum kits or a small band performance with impressive 24-bit/96kHz audio quality. The eight input Octane preamps continue to be a studio favorite because of its quiet operation and good headroom. Another advantage that the Fast Track Ultra 8R brings is its MX Core DSP technology which allows for professional channel routing, effects routing and monitor submixing, turning this reasonably priced USB interface into a powerful virtual mixer. If reliability and performance is important in your book, then get this. Manufactured by: M-Audio | Retails for $499.00 | Check out the latest price and reviews at Amazon.com

Tascam US-2000

Tascam US-2000

The Tascam US-2000 is sought after for its splendid mixture of affordability, features and quality. It gives you 16 inputs and 4 outputs and can handle them with respectably low latency. You get 8 XLR Mic input ports with phantom power and 6 1/4" TRS balanced Line/Guitar inputs, all of which are more than enough for capturing small band performances or recording acoustic drum tracks. The housing, switches, and over all build is impressive and sturdy, something that others in the same price range would be lacking. Good visual monitoring is provided for by the responsive limiter lights, rounding up the features of this workhorse USB audio adapter. You will simply find it hard to find a better deal. Manufactured by: Tascam | Retails for $400 | Check out the latest price and reviews at Amazon.com

We don't currently have any reviews of 16 channel interfaces, so if this is what you are looking for then you might like to check out the TEC Award winner Universal Audio Apollo 16.

If you want to see our latest reviews for 2014, please go to http://www.hitsquad.com/usb-audio-interface/

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My interface :O

Audiobox 1818 vsl is definitely a good value for the price. I've heard the saffire pro that's in the same price range supposedly has better A/D but I haven't had a problem

M-audio vs Presonus

I would really like to know for what reason you decided that the fast track ultra came up ontop of the Presonus 1818VSL since im currently trying to decide between the two.

FYI

Feel free to send a mail with your conclusion to lyhricon at gmail.com

The top three USB interfaces

The top three USB interfaces on this list are quite close to each other in terms of quality so it was really a tough choice. Since one of them had to be the top pick, we went with the Fast Track Ultra 8R because of its great sounding preamps, expanded output options (two headphones monitoring is quite nifty), and ofcourse Pro Tools SE which is great for those that are just building their home studio. Another important factor that helped it get its top spot is its value - if you check with Amazon, you can get it at a very tempting price!

In fairness to the Audiobox 1818VSL, users swear that its preamps sound better than the others, and we do agree on certain applications. Another nifty feature of the 1818VSL is its ADAT capability for expansion, which is useful if you will require more connectivity options in the future. Having said that, good luck with your pick!

the best ???

Motu Microbook 2 is in my opinion the best for its quality and price

Roland UA 55 Quadcapture

You could add the Roland UA-55 QuadCapture,USB 2.0,which is very affordable and really great, with some nice features like Autosense (automatically settings the audio inputs at their best level regarding the incoming signals). 2mic/line inputs (6.35/cannon connectors), 1 digital stereo in, 2 analog outs and 1 digital, MIDI in & out, very nice and intuitive GUI, 2 excellent pre-amp (the very same as V 700 series),ground lift (!) to avoid hums and ground loops,phantom power. Last but not least,very stable drivers, pristine sound. Really a good challenger to more expensive audio interface. Using it for weeks, I'm impressedbyf this nice looking audio interface, and realky happy with it. It comes with a free version of Sonar X LE for the beginners who want to record directly out of the box. Good deal :)

I've never been a fan of

I've never been a fan of auto-leveling, maybe I'm old skool that way, I'd have to play around with this feature before I could be convinced it's a good thing. In my experience auto-levelers don't adjust quickly enough and the levels go all over the place if you're recording something with wide dynamics.

Have you checked out the Alesis io4?

After doing a bit of research before buying my usb audio interface, strictly for home use, I settled on the Alesis io4. It has 4 inputs which can be for microphone or guitar. It has midi in/out which was also important for me. Cubase LE is included, all for the (relatively) inexpensive price of $150. I am interested in hearing what one of the experts would say about it.

Thanks,

Ed

Alesi IO4

Hi I just bought the Alesi IO4 which looks great but I have yet to use it! This is because the Cubase Le5 which comes with it has so far crashed 2 laptops. I am looking for another piece of software that will allow the Alesi to talk and record on my (3rd) laptop! Any clues?

DAW Software

Alesi iO4 is compatible with all major music production software. Try using Audacity, its a free audio recording and editing software that's easy to use.

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