The ability to create and record music is a skill that requires years of dedication, hard work, commitment and the ability to have some fun while you are at it. Besides learning how to play a musical instrument or learning how to sing, recording sounds and creating tracks is also an equally commendable skill that lasts a lifetime.
Mastering sound recording is not expensive and tedious as it once used to be, thanks to strides made in electronics and audio modelling softwares. If you have a laptop computer, all you need to do today is scout out for a good audio interface that matches your taste and requirements you are ready to begin, it is that simple. Using a DAW (Digital audio workstation) software, an audio interface and a personal computer is indeed more than enough to get a great start at sound recording. Mastering the art of mixing and recording is an uphill journey in which you have to know about your equipment and the features that they have as much as knowing your music itself.
Today we are looking at the best audio interfaces around, available at less than $500. Let’s jump right in! Also check out audio interfaces under $200.
Audient iD14 High Performance USB Audio InterfacePro: Simple package that is easy to use, Packed with features like a DSP mixer and Full monitor control functionality, robust construction, excellent value for money
Con: More input and output options would have made it more versatile
Made from top quality components, the Audient iD14 high performance interface packs quite a punch even though it is a USB powered design. The preamps on the Audient do their job really well despite the optimizations for a small package. This is an interface that is targeted mainly at budding DJ s and Sound engineers who are looking to and learning how unlock the secrets to creating superb mixes. The Audient despite being simple, leaves no stone unturned in including features that a professional would use. A brilliant and a compact device at a great price, the Audient has a metal body and is designed to last.
Roland QuadCapture Audio InterfacePro: Auto sense, the smart system that automatically sets an input levels for your recordings. Intuitive and easy to use interface. Value for money product.
Con: Buggy drivers. Known issues like hisses and crackling during setup and recording sessions have been noted, again due to driver compatibility issues.
The Roland Quad capture features the Auto Sens, a smart on board system that automatically sets up in the input levels for you. Quite a bit of smart engineering on this one! The Roland is a 24 bit 96Khz system that gives you some really low latency levels during recording. Equipped with plenty of input and output options, the Quad Capture is a professional grade portable option for someone who travels a lot.The Quad capture also provides direct box functionality to be able to work better with signals.The onboard electronics are beautifully packed in an aluminium build This is a sturdy and a robust system.
Zoom UAC-2 Two-Channel USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Audio Interface for Mac and PCPro: Two combo inputs, high resolution audiophile quality set up, bus powered, no external ac adapter or batteries required.
Con: May not be the ideal choice for a DJ set up. Not for you if you are professional looking for more options.
Built considering a home set up the can be used professionally, the zoom USB is the perfect choice for a musician who plays instruments. The Zoom UAC has two combo XLR and TRS inputs targeted at vocals and instrument recording.. Each of the pre amps have a 48v phantom powered setup. Record your instruments at 24 bit/192khz high definition audio with ease. The Zoom is a simple and an easy to use audio interface at a great price.
Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 Professional 20 In/20 Out Firewire Audio Interface with Eight Pre-AmpsPro: True blue professional studio interface, large host of inputs and outputs. Award winning superior audio quality producing preamp.
Con: A device the packs in so many features in such a small. Set up will have a steep learn in curve. Not for someone who is looking for simplicity.
A true blue, block buster of a product from Focusrite. The Sapphire Pro is indeed a professional set up, not lacking in almost any features. A total of 20 inputs and 20 outputs along with the 8 onboard preamps are a testament to the nature of versatility, quality and power, this baby packs under the hood.This is a focusrite and coming in at this price, it rocks!
M-Audio M-Track Eight 8-Channel USB Audio InterfacePro: User friendly controls lay out, High quality product, has M -Audio Octane Preamp technology
Con: Not audiophile certified can record at 24 bits/96Khz only
Equipped with 8 XLR combo inputs and 8 balanced outputs, at the outset, the M Audio hints at being a great product. Upon closer inspection, you will be introduced to the pre amps, which boast of a High headroom. The M Audio M- track indeed packs a lot of punch whilst offering a number of features and a great balance of Input and Output options. Coupled with a crystal clear sound quality, the M-Audio is a must have for a someone who is looking to to go professional.
Avid Fast Track Solo with Pro Tools Express -Channel Audio InterfacePro: Hardly any driver issues especially with the MAC since it has been built considering PC connectivity. Covers all input and output essentials really well.
Con: There are better and cheaper alternatives especially for as low as $200 that can rival the features and the power of the Fast track solo.You have to upgrade soon ince you decide to go pro.
Offering seamless integration with your PC or your MAC computer, the Avid Fast track is a great tool for audio recording. A well rounded package, the fast track solo offers ample connectivity with the two inputs and outputs. The individual gain control is a welcome feature that gives a lot of control during recording session. The 48 V phantom powered Mic and instrument input along with the monitoring features that the Fast track solo comes with, makes this a brilliant option for a home studio setup.
Roland audio interface OCTA-CAPTURE UA-1010Pro: The natural choice for DJs looking for a multi tasker of an audio interface to give them seamless integration and control over their music especially during live scenarios.
Con: Significantly expensive,requires a lot of commitment to extract some great quality out of this, given the learning curve involved.
With the name Roland, comes their intelligent AUTO SENS technology that automatically sets optimal input levels for a recording session. The Octa Capture features independent direct mixers that opens up a lot of possibilities during live performances. With the pre amp packing a lot of power, this Audiophile quality system is an absolute rock star. The Roland shall quite possibly be one of the systems that offer the lowest latency at the level of quality that they can record at. Superb and an extremely powerful product.
Presonus Audiobox 1818VSL – 18 Input / 18 Output Audio InterfacePro: 18 input and outputs, rugged construction, universal compatibility
Con: 24 bit/ 192Khz would have cemented this product as a must have for professionals
The presonus audiobox is an absolute frenzy of Input,output options. The Audiobox has combo XLR inputs and these, along with the balanced line inputs and unbalanced line outputs, give absolute control in a recording situation. The Audiobox promises noise free recording and has certainly taken steps to ensure connectivity that can lead to low or almost no noise recordings. Designed to be a multi tasker’s dream, the Audiobox does a great job of integration with instruments and equipments alike while it gives superb control with dedicated knobs, to monitor and record the incoming signals. Working with balanced and unbalanced signals would have never been as easy before, thanks to the sheer number of dedicated inputs and outputs them present on this set up.