One of today’s wonders is how technology manages to shrink things and that includes audio gear! To that end we have selected ten bus-powered portable audio interfaces (listed in alphabetical order) that can be taken anywhere:
This “One” is actually 'two': One “White” for Mac computers (USB) and One “Black” for Mac computers and iOS devices (USB/Lightning) - the first being upgradeable to support iOS devices through a separate kit. Both White and Black share the same hardware feature set and boast Apogee’s industry-standard converters. The One features a 1/8" headphone/speaker stereo output and uses a small breakout cable with a XLR connector for the microphone preamp and a 1/4" connector for the instrument input. On top of this little box we have an internal condenser microphone, three-LEDs input/output meters and a controller knob to set levels - everything can also be controlled from the included 'Maestro' mixing app. This hefty little unit comes with mounting clip for a microphone stands and can also charge your iOS device when connected to a power supply (not included) and it will even operate with a pair of AA batteries. It’s safe to say that it will work anywhere, anytime! Read our users reviews.
The excellent sound of the acclaimed Audient consoles can now go anywhere with you with the iD4, the latest entry in Audient’s USB audio interface range. The iD4 packs one Audient 'flagship' mic preamp, a high-quality JFET instrument input, two 1/4" balanced outputs, two headphone outs (1/4" and 1/8"), direct monitoring and a big central controller that can set both the unit's output volume and control software parameters through the ScrollControl feature - just hover your mouse on a control that’s on your screen and spin the wheel - voilà, you have control. Having Audient’s overall excellence and great mobility on a portable interface couldn’t lead to anything other than very attractive package and the iD4 is exactly that!
The latest iteration of Behringer's audio interfaces takes advantage of the brand’s latest acquisitions & developments and comes with a pair of renowned MIDAS preamps, two stereo balanced 1/4" outputs, MIDI I/O, a headphone output with dedicated volume control and latency-free monitoring. The UMC204HD can deliver up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution, ships with a full version of the Tracktion 6 DAW and has the extremely low pricing one usually expects from Behringer. Read our user reviews.
The second generation of Focusrite’s 'Scarlett' range of USB interfaces brings new tech under the hood which delivers better sonics and a greater ease of use, with improvements on both mic and instrument amps to handle the most diverse recording situations. Featuring one microphone preamp, an instrument input, a headphone output, direct monitoring, one unbalanced RCA stereo output and packed with a fistful of software and plug-ins (including some goodies from Softube), the Scarlett Solo should be perfect for singer-songwriters and electronic music producers without multiple I/O needs. If an extra input for mics or instruments is required you can add fifty bucks and reach out for the Scarlett 2i2, which has the same feature set of the Solo but adds another mic preamp and has balanced outputs with TRS instead of RCA connectors. Read our user reviews of the 2i2.
An interface that is geared towards ultimate fidelity and sound quality with a very clever design, the MIYO features 1/8" outputs for headphones and speakers and a stereo (also 1/8") input for recording, all with pristine AD/DA conversion (up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution). The MIYO is a class-compliant device (it works without drivers) and besides working as an USB interface for computers and mobile devices, it can can also work as a standalone headphone amp/splitter and analog-to-digital converter. The MIYO features a smart metering system that automatically alternates from input to output automatically and provides great resolution with full-color/intensive variable LEDs. Everything is neatly packed in a super slick, ultra compact yet strong aluminum enclosure that fits in the palm of your hand. If you don’t need mic pres, instrument inputs or MIDI and great audio quality is all that matters to you then the MIYO is definitely worth checking out.
This is one of the most “universal” interfaces out there, supporting Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, and it comes with a very pro-oriented set of features that include; two XLR/TRS combo inputs for microphones and instruments, two balanced 1/4" outputs, a 1/8" headphone output with dedicated volume control, direct monitoring and MIDI I/O. The iRig Pro Duo can be powered with two AA batteries or through an optional DC power adapter, and it connects with pretty much any device out there. The units ships with three cables for MINI-DIN to USB, Micro-USB-OTG and Lightning connectors. It also comes with a great app package that includes the Cubasis LE DAW software and some Amplitube, SampleTank, T-Racks and other IK plug ins.
RME has upgraded the popular 'Babyface' interface and taken it to the next level by squeezing a ton of technology on a very compact package running through USB for ultimate compatibility. With 12 inputs and 12 outputs (4 analog and 8 digital), the new Babyface Pro interface comes with 2 mic pres, 2 line/instruments inputs, ADAT/SPDIF and MIDI I/O. As with other RME interfaces the Babyface Pro comes with the amazing Totalmix FX software for ultimate routing flexibility and latency-free monitoring with EQ and reverb. It runs on Mac, Windows and iOS devices. It is a very serious choice for those who require more I/O without sacrificing portability and sound quality.
The new UR22 MKII introduces support for iOS devices and features the same pair of great quality Yamaha D-preamps, a Hi-Z instrument input, balanced stereo outputs, MIDI I/O, and a headphone output with a dedicated direct monitoring volume control that made the first model so successful. Packed into a rugged metal chassis, with standard USB 2.0 connection and shipping with Cubase Ai DAW software for Mac/Windows and the Cubasis LE software for iPad, the UR22 MKII was already a strong contender within the mobile interface category and MKII gives it a real boost. Read our users reviews of the UR22 MKI.
Tascam has been almost synonymous with audio recording since the old Portastudios in the 1980s, but the brand is ready for the 21st century with its latest interface offerings and the iXR is a prime example of their efforts to stay current. The iXR is a capable interface with two combo XLR/TRS inputs for microphones and instruments, a pair of 1/4" balanced outputs with dedicated volume control, MIDI I/O, 1/8" headphone output with its own volume control and a direct monitoring knob. The iXR can be powered by Tascam’s optional BP-6AA battery pack and also comes with Cubasis LE software for iPad.
Known for its compact, reliable and affordable field recorders, Zoom brings their expertise to the interface market with the UAC-2, a USB3 interface that comes with two combo XLR/TRS inputs with mic preamps and line inputs, MIDI I/O, balanced stereo TRS output with a big knob for control, headphone output and switchable mono/stereo direct monitoring of incoming signals. The UAC-2 boasts Burr-Brown converters for the ultimate in sound quality and the choice of USB3 was Zoom’s solution to deliver all the power required by its high-spec components. This is also a class-compliant unit that works with iPad (connection kit not included) for mobile recording (apps not included) and on the PC/Mac side it uses Zoom’s MixEfx to provide control software controls over inputs, outputs and latency-free monitoring with reverb. A Thunderbolt version, the TAC-2R, is also available. Read our users reviews.
Are you recording outside the studio? Producing anywhere/everywhere? Why not start a thread in our Remote Possibilities sub forum and share your experiences and setups with us.