When USB audio interfaces first came along in 1996, it drastically changed things for the better for people recording at home or on a tight budget. With a high quality USB interface, you can get professional-quality audio without paying what the pros pay. It truly is the most affordable way to make music that can compete with the industry standards– you can get your song radio ready just like the music stars.
And what artists can turn down that potential?
3 Best USB Audio Interfaces
If you need to record on the go, a good choice for you may be the AudioBox iTwo 2x2 USB audio interface with the iPad recording system. The pros are strong and the cons are few, so if everything goes smoothly during setup, installation, and use, this bundle could prove to be a useful tool in your recording studio toolbox.
The TASCAM US-2x2 USB audio interface is reliable, both in durability and in delivering high-quality audio. Even though the features it offers are not amazingly unique, it will be there to help you get the job done. For the price range it’s in, this may be a smart addition to your home studio.
The Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 (second generation) has a somewhat even balance of pros and cons. For many users, it works perfectly fine and performs beautifully. But when it doesn’t work -- whether it’s crackling audio or problems with Windows 10 -- it makes recording life miserable. The Scarlett 6i6 comes from a good family, but it’s definitely not the golden child.
Exactly what you need
USB audio interfaces are usually the simplest devices out there, and that’s great news whether you’re a novice, and intermediate-level engineer, or a professional who just likes to keep things simple. One reason these types of interfaces are so simple is because they have exactly the feartures you need to record and not much more than that.
Most USB interface models can pull power from the computer, meaning you don’t need to have an extra outlet to power the interface. This can be especially nice for recording off-site or on the go. USB technology has come a long way from the original, now offering USB 3 — it has only gotten better with each upgrade, so that means it may continue to get better.
Easy to use
Because USB audio interfaces are so simple and usually have just the basics, that makes them extremely easy to use. When I first started recording, I used a USB audio interface — it was made of cheap plastic and had only one XLR/quarter-inch input, but it got the job done, helping me record an entire EP. And I spent well under $200 for the device. And now, nearly 10 years later, I’ve upgraded to a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, which is a USB interface with two XLR/quarter-inch inputs. It, too, does a fantastic job for recording on my own. Nothing fancy, just a reliable little interface.
Likewise, even some pro engineers decide to go with USB interfaces because of their ease of use. If something’s good enough for the pros, it’s probably good enough for DIY artists. In this case, that is the truth.
USB audio interfaces are simple, easy to use, powerful, and — lastly but not leastly — very affordable.
USB interfaces are some of the most affordable devices on the market, and that’s a big draw for a lot of DIYers recording at home. Typically, you can find a decent USB interface for under $300. Compare this to a the audio interfaces that use Thunderbolt, which are in the $500-600 price range, or those that use Firewire, which are in the $300-400 price range. Granted, the more you’re willing to pay, the more features and potentially better quality you might get. But if you’re budget is on the lower end, getting a USB audio interface is the way to go.
Are you looking to keep things simple? Think USB. Do you want an audio interface that has exactly what you need with not a bunch of extra, confusing features? Think USB. Are you trying to stay within your DIY budget? Think USB.
You get the point. If you answered “yes” to any, some, or all of those questions, then a USB audio interface should be in your recording studio. They can be a simple, affordable, and reliable addition to your recording studio setup.