These days, computers play a large role in music production. Different software makes it possible for people to fine tune musical compositions from the comfort of their computer screens. The results are mainstream-worthy musical pieces that are clean, crisp, and high quality. To be able to manipulate sounds with your computer though, it’s important that you input the recordings in a way that your software can comprehend.
Analog signals from your voice or instrument need to be turned into digital audio information for your computer to understand and modulate. This is where USB audio interfaces come into play. If you want to leverage tech to optimize your music, this guide should help you find the best USB audio interface to achieve just that.
Top 10 USB Audio Interfaces Comparison Table
|Picture||Name||I/O Configuration||Price||Rating (1-5)|
|Picture||Name||I/O Configuration||Price||Rating (1-5)|
|1. BEHRINGER U-PHORIA UMC202HD||2 input, 2 output||$$$||4.4|
|2. Pyle Bluetooth 3-Channel Mixer DJ Controller Audio Interface||4 input, 2 output||$$||4.3|
|3. Behringer U-Control Uca222 Ultra-Low Latency 2 In/2 Out Usb Audio Interface With Digital Output And Massive Software Bundle||2 input, 2 output||$||4.2|
|4. BEHRINGER XENYX 302USB||5 input, 3 output||$||4.1|
|5. PreSonus AudioBox USB 96: 2x2 USB 2.0 Recording System||2 input, 2 output||$$$||4.1|
|6. Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools||1 input, 1 output||$$$||4.1|
|7. Tascam US-2x2 USB Audio Interface||2 input, 2 output||$$$$||4.0|
|8. Steinberg UR12 USB Audio Interface||2 input, 2 output||$$||4.0|
|9. BEHRINGER U-PHORIA UM2||2 input, 2 output||$||4.0|
|10. M-Audio M-Track 2X2 C-Series||2 input, 2 output||$$$||3.7|
How to Choose the Right USB Audio Interface
Different users have different needs, and that’s why USB audio interfaces come in a wide variety. That said, more complex doesn’t necessarily mean better as you may not actually need some features offered by sophisticated USB audio interfaces.
If you’re looking for the right USB audio interface that meets your needs – both today and in the future – make sure to consider these factors.
- I/O Configuration – Input/output configuration, or simply I/O configuration, pertains to the number and types of inputs and outputs your USB audio interface will allow. Choosing the right I/O configuration ultimately depends on what instruments you want to hook up to your device.
For instance, a singer songwriter might be able to find just enough satisfaction with a USB audio interface that offers just two microphone preamps. Those who want to hook up a variety of instruments however, may find greater use out of a USB audio interface that has instrument-level or hi-Z inputs.
For beginners, digital I/O may not seem like an essential, however they may become necessary down the line as you become more accustomed to your device.
Consider what you want to use with your USB audio interface now and how you might grow as a musician in the future to find out how you can get the best USB audio interface not just for today, but for tomorrow.
- OS Compatibility – While USB audio interfaces are developing and changing at an alarming rate, there are still some models that are only compatible with certain computer operating systems. That is, if you run a Mac, an exclusively PC USB audio interface won’t work with your set-up at all.
Be sure to read more on the compatibility of your chosen USB audio interface before making a purchase to find out whether it can run with your system. If you use both Mac OS and Windows, you may find more versatility and convenience with an interface that’s compatible with both.
- Integrated Software Control – Most USB audio interfaces require third party software for controls. These are widely available across the internet, and can be downloaded for free or at a price, depending on the developer.
These days however, with the constant development of bigger, better audio interfaces, you can purchase a USB audio interface that comes with its own integrated software control system. This makes a world’s worth of difference, especially for dedicated users who really want to leverage their interface to the best of its capacity.
These exclusive software control systems allow you to tweak everything including mixes, and communicate with musicians or artists during recording. But what’s truly desirable about integrated software is that they don’t drain CPU power and they don’t add latency to your recordings, which may be a problem with third party software.
Top 3 Best USB Audio Interface Reviews
Topping our list as the best USB audio interface is the Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD. This USB audio interface comes equipped with 2 output and 2 input provisions, ideal for musicians on the go or those who are just starting out with music production.
The device is straightforward, easy to understand, and fairly easy to use, which makes it a great entry level option for those who want something that eliminates complicated operation. It’s also compatible with a number of different recording software, so you can be sure to get the device to work on both Mac OS and Windows.
With 2-state of the art microphone preamplifiers, the UMC202HD is the perfect companion for singer songwriters who need a simple and easy interface without too many fancy bells and whistles.
The Pyle Bluetooth 3-Channel USB Audio Interface is another close contender that has won over the hearts of countless users. This interface incorporates an audio mixer that gives it superior versatility compared to standard, entry level USB audio interfaces.
It comes equipped with an I/O configuration of 6 jacks which makes it perfect for intermediate and expert users who want more functionality out of a small, compact device. Plus, it comes with Bluetooth wireless streaming ability, which is particularly ideal for users who want to connect with a variety of devices cable-free.
The only downside with the Pyle Bluetooth 3-Channel USB Audio Interface is its phantom power. Significantly weaker than that of the previous option’s, this USB audio interface’s phantom power may be too weak to power the number of jacks that it has.
Working on a budget? The Behringer U-Control UCA222 USB Audio Interface is the best option on the list for those who don’t want to beat up their wallet too much. This budget-friendly USB audio interface comes with 2 output and 2 input provisions which can connect to your headphones, instruments, and mixers.
The device comes bundled with an Audacity music editor software, which you can use to leverage the device to the best of its capabilities. The stereo headphone output makes comes with a dedicated level control, making it much easier to monitor your inputs and outputs.
Compact, straightforward, and simple, the Behringer U-Control UCA222 USB Audio Interface is a powerful audio interface that comes at a reasonable price. Of course, it doesn’t offer a lot in terms of functionality, but it does offer the bare essentials, which can be more than enough for the right type of user.