This article isn’t for novice engineers. It’s not for beginner producers. It’s for those who don’t mess around when it comes to the quality and features of their recording equipment. This overview is for those who know their stuff and those with super high recording and engineering IQs.
Below, we’ll discuss the top three audio interfaces for professionals (or for those as skilled as the pros).
Top 3 Professional Audio Interfaces
The MOTU 24Ao audio interface makes a pretty strong case for itself to be in more pro engineers’ recording studios. By allowing 72 channels to be used at the same time, it allows for more options and more convenience, all the while delivering clean, crisp sound via a simply designed device.
The Zoom TAC-8 audio interface is built to be the centerpiece of your recording studio, boasting 8 XLR/quarter-inch inputs all on the front of the device. Once you download the included MixEfx software, you’ll be all set, whether you’ll be buckling down to record an album or going on a nationwide tour.
The RME Fireface UC is a solid, reliable audio interface with a total of 10 inputs, two of those compatible with XLR or quarter-inch ins. With two mic preamps, the TotalMix software, and sample rates up to 192kHz, this device can hold its own in the competitive world of audio interfaces. Plus, it claims “simply sensational” latencies.
So many options, they’re almost custom-made
These pro-level interfaces come in all shapes, sizes, and with a ton of features -- so many features it might feel like each device is custom-made for you (that’s not an exaggeration).
One thing that’s common across the board is the number of inputs -- they all have several. And the types of inputs vary from interface to interface. For example, the MOTU 24Ao has only digital inputs, which work great for MIDI instruments. Whereas the Zoom TAC-8 has XLR, quarter-inch, MIDI, S/PDIF, and ADAT inputs, which would be a very nice variety to have.
When you’re looking to grab one of these interfaces, you just have to pick the one that specifically fits your recording needs. After you’ve reviewed the different options, it’ll be more clear which device to choose.
Reasonable price for a reasonable professional
With high quality comes high demand and with high demand comes a higher price, naturally. This means if you’re on a typical DIY budget, these audio interfaces may be out of your price range. For the most part, these professionally ranked interfaces range from about $700 to $1,400. If that amount of money sounds crazy ridiculous to you, then you may want to look into more affordable audio interfaces, like those that use Firewire or USB.
However, if those figures look reasonable to you and can fit within your budget, then read on.
Expansion and software
These professional-grade audio interfaces, most of the time, can be expanded upon with other interfaces. For example, you can connect one of these interfaces to other interfaces to increase your inputs and outputs and easily route your signals elsewhere.
All of the devices in this category come with top-notch software, whether it’s a digital audio workstation or something that gives you some great effects or other plugins. Clearly, these audio interfaces were built with you, the professional, in mind.
As I’m sure you will, just make sure you note what type of operating system the interface is compatible with -- yes, some of these devices work with both Mac and Windows, but some only work with one or the other. It would truly suck for you to receive a brand new interface, get it hooked up with excitement, only to realize it’s not compatible with your computer.
But you know what you’re doing, so surely that wouldn’t happen.
If you’ve gotten this far in the article, that probably means you are not only a pro at what you do, but you also take your job very seriously. You want the best of the best. You’ve most likely researched the top audio interfaces for your recording setup, weighed the good with the not-so-good, and now you’re ready to buy. Pretty much any audio interface in this category will do you good (assuming it’s compatible with your current setup).
Any one of these devices is a safe bet because, well, they’re all great.