After buying your music production laptop, the next step is getting the best audio interface for your home recording studio.
Although your computer likely comes with a microphone input port and you can buy low-grade microphones to plug directly into your sound card, you won’t achieve anywhere near the best high level of quality.
The Audio interface is one of the most important decision your going to make.
It will define the quality of sound getting in your music and also out.
I don't want to bother you with theory, but you already probably know that every audio interface converts an analog signal (from the microphone, instrument) to digital (to your DAW).
And the quality of these A/D converters is very important!
Not to mention mics preamps, monitor outputs and other features that every good audio interface can offer to you.
But with so many options, how you can narrow them down?
Which brand, model would work for me?
Well, lets have a look at the best audio interface options for your home recording studio.
Best Audio Interface for Small portable home recording studio
With 2 Microphone preamps and 2 monitor outputs, Avid Mbox is for all of you who has a simple budget for studio.
It is relatively cheap and contains everything you need for a quick start, especially if your chosen DAW is Pro TOOLS.
Mbox and Pro Tools is like bread and butter - works nicely and smoothly. Often you can buy it together in one package.
For less than $250 you can get a quality Audio Interface and excellent professional DAW.
Duet is most commonly used and widely popular among all small portable home recording studios (and also my favorite audio interface).
The quality of AD converters and Mic preamps are extraordinary.
If you check out the reviews, there is no doubt about it.
The clarity, definition, imaging and depth of the sound just almost instantly sky rocketed. Apogee Duet offers 2 Inputs and 4 outputs (good for routing outboard equipment) and is also compatible with Ipad and Iphone.
For a long time, the Apogee Duet was the first choice for everyone who needed a quality and affordable audio interface.
It all changed, when Universal Audio released their Apollo Twin.
The quality of AD converters and MIC preamps is outstanding (comparable to Duet or any other PRO audio interface - it is just matter of taste). However, Universal Audio is famous because of its simulations of legendary analog studio sound through UAD plugins and with Apollo Twin you are buying also onboard Real Time UAD plugins weapon arsenal.
If you want to polish your music with legendary Neve, Studer, API, Lexicon and other vintage EQs, compressors, reverbs or tape virtual simulators, with Apollo Twin you can't go wrong.
Best Audio Interface for Bigger studios
Everybody knows, that there are millions of options on the market.
With the audio interfaces mentioned above I narrowed your possibilities, when it comes to small portable home recording studios.
What about bigger projects?
With my understanding, bigger studios are those where you want to record more instruments (or the whole band) at once, so you need more inputs to plug in.
Also remember, that you always want to make PRO recording, so to record more instruments in one space, it requires basic acoustic treatment to the room.
If you record electronic music, that means you probably rely heavily on virtual instruments and MIDI controllers. You won't need more inputs on your Audio Interface.
In any other case, check out my list of audio interfaces with more inputs/outputs with superior quality of preamps and AD converters that can make things for you.
Quartet from Apogee will be a good choice for all of you, who think that 2 inputs are good, but 4 would be better (in any case).
Excellent quality of converters and world-class preamps with direct digital connection to Ipod, Ipad and Iphone.
Well...maybe Apogee makes the best AD converters and Mic Preamps. Maybe UAD through their plugins can give you the best simulation of analog hardware.
But...you know what?
Every music producer will tell you, that it is just matter of taste. Great sounding hardware doesn't mean that you will be making HIT songs all day long. It is all about experience and how you know to use your tools.
Steinberg UR44 is a great option for everyone on the budget, who has still doubt that 2 inputs will be enough. Robust all-metal construction promises long life, USB 2.0 connection great versatility. In addition, you can find there internal DSP unit that provides a solid FX equipment for live and studio use.
Priced under the $300, Steinberg UR44 USB offers a lot of bang for very little money.
This is a flagship audio interface of MOTU and often preferred in a bigger studios. It offers 28 separate inputs and 32 separate outputs channels.
For Less than $1000, MOTU 896mk3 can give you superb quality of sound with many inputs and outputs!
Probably the most often used audio interface few years ago in mid-range level. Before UADs Apollo and Apogee Symphony came out, everyone used RME. The first version was released back in 2004, and through the years this unit became the reference for audio processing. Fireface 800 offers 56 channels of record/playback.
It is solid, reliable, clean sounding with excellent converters. The biggest benefit has already been mentioned... RELIABLE and PROVEN.
Are you wondering what the absolute best audio interface are in a "real" big professional studios? Peek your head into any pro recording studio…and you’ll find Apogee Symphony. Why?
Because, this truly is the best audio interface in today's market.