10 most popular audio interfaces right now

Interfaces are at the core of our studios and there are many great options out there serving all needs and budgets, with all sorts of inputs & outputs types/counts and connectors. Needless to say that this crucial heart of our DAW workspaces is one of Gearslutz’ favourite topics, so here are the interfaces being talked about the most on the forums:

Audient iD22

Audient iD22


I/O: 10-in/14-out on two analog XLR/TRS combo inputs with mic preamps and DI, two line inputs, balanced inserts, four analog outputs, headphone output and ADAT I/O.

Supports: USB 2.0 on Mac and Windows

Highlights: A compact yet highly capable interface with top-shelf components, an interesting set of inputs & outputs and a very reasonable price. The iD22 also offers 'hands-on' control which is uncommon for its size, and not only does it control the hardware functions but it can modify software parameters as well. What’s not to love?



RME Babyface Pro

RME Babyface Pro


I/O: 12-in/12-out on two analog mic preamps, two line inputs, two balanced outputs, two headphone outputs (single bus), ADAT I/O and MIDI I/O.

Supports: USB 2.0 on Mac, Windows and iOS

Highlights: Unrivaled when it comes to "features-per-size" and powered by RME’s acclaimed super-stable drivers, the Babyface Pro is not only a great mobile interface but also a popular choice for project studios thanks to its excellent mix of sound quality, low latency performance and flexible software routing.



Audient iD14

Audient iD14


I/O: 10-in/4-out on two analog XLR/TRS combo inputs with mic preamps, instrument input, two balanced outputs, headphone output and ADAT input.

Supports: USB 2.0 on Mac and Windows

Highlights: A slick interface for those who don’t need all the features on iD22 but still want the celebrated Audient quality. Thanks to the ADAT port it can be expanded with more inputs, enabling the recording of drum kits with multiple mics (and even small bands if those inputs are used wisely!)





Antelope Audio Zen Tour

Antelope Audio Zen Tour


I/O: 26-in/32-out, four analog XLR/TRS combo inputs with mic preamps, four line/instrument inputs, two reamp outputs, four balanced outputs, two headphones outputs, eight analog outputs (on D-SUBs), SPDIF I/O and two sets of ADAT I/O.

Supports: Thunderbolt (32 channels) or USB 2.0 (24 channels) on Mac and Windows

Highlights: A feature-rich interface with excellent sound quality, plentiful I/O options and an impressive touch-screen control display. The Zen Tour comes equipped Antelope's custom FPGA chip that powers its internal effects engine, which means you can create monitor mixes using some of the finest processors with zero latency.



Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen)

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen)


I/O: 2-in/2-out on two analog XLR/TRS combo inputs with mic preamps and switchable instrument/line inputs, two analog outputs and headphone output.

Supports: USB 2.0 on Mac and Windows.

Highlights: One of the most popular entry-level interfaces, the 2i2 provides professional recording quality at a very low price. As with other interfaces in the Scarlett line the 2i2 was also recently upgraded, and now the "2nd Gen" version of this interface provides even lower latency figures. If more inputs are required look for the 6i6 and 18i8, which expand the I/O count and remain genuinely "affordable."



Antelope Audio Orion Studio 2017

Antelope Audio Orion Studio 2017


I/O: 32-in/32-out on twelve analog XLR/TRS combo inputs with mic preamps, two reamp inputs, two inserts, two headphone outputs, four balanced outputs, sixteen analog outputs on two D-SUB ports, SPDIF I/O, Wordclock I/O and two sets of ADAT I/O.

Supports: Thunderbolt (32 channels) or USB 2.0 (24 channels) on Mac and Windows

Highlights: One of the flagship boxes from Antelope and definitely an "endgame" interface with an astonishing sound and a plethora of features. The 2017 edition of the Orion Studio comes with upgraded A/D converters that elevates the quality even further, and that's not to mention the extensive I/O options and FPGA effects for low latency monitoring with Antelope plug-ins.



Universal Audio Apollo 8P - Thunderbolt 2

Universal Audio Apollo 8P - Thunderbolt 2


I/O: 16-in/20-out on eight analog XLR/TRS combo inputs with mic preamps, two instrument inputs, eight analog outputs, two headphone outputs, Wordclock I/O and two sets of ADAT I/O.

Supports: Thunderbolt 2 on Mac

Highlights: The pinnacle of Universal Audio interfaces with upgraded converters, vast connectivity and four SHARC processors for super low-latency recording with Unison preamps, which means near-zero latency monitoring with the industry-acclaimed UAD2 plug-ins through the Apollo console.



RME Fireface UFX+

RME Fireface UFX+


I/O: 94-in/94-out on four analog XLR/TRS combo inputs with mic preamps, eight analog inputs, eight analog outputs, two headphone outputs, MADI I/O, AES/EBU I/O, Wordclock I/O, two sets of ADAT I/O, MIDI I/O, remote control port and USB memory port.

Supports: Thunderbolt 2 and USB3 on Mac, Windows and iOS

Highlights: RME’s flagship interface is everything one can expect, with top-grade components, abundant I/O, rock-solid performance, extremely flexible routing options through the TotalMix FX app and even an onboard "hardware" recorder! Combine this with RME's legendary stability and you have a definite best-in-class option.



MOTU 1248

MOTU 1248


I/O: Four XLR inputs with mic preamps, eight analog inputs, two instrument inputs, eight analog outputs, two headphone outputs, Ethernet port, Wordclock I/O, two sets of ADAT I/O and SPDIF I/O.

Supports: Thunderbolt 2 and USB 2.0 on Mac, Windows and iOS

Highlight: A versatile interface featuring the latest tech from MOTU and a host of connectivity options. The 1248 also presents a cost-conscious path to audio networking, and the I/O count can be easily expanded by connecting more interfaces with a simple Ethernet cable. If fewer inputs & outputs are required then check out the UltraLite AVB.



Some notes/comments:

  • USB 2.0 still remains a highly popular for audio interfaces despite its limitations and age. Speaking of "old tech", it’s safe to presume that Firewire is pretty much dead at this point with not a single FW interface remaining on our list.

  • Thunderbolt 2 is still quite popular and there’s a good number of audio interfaces equipped with it, but all signs points to change with the advent of USB-C.

  • Ethernet-based solutions are on the rise and whilst not very popular in studios (yet) they’re quickly becoming a favourite for live sound and broadcast applications.

  • Honourable mentions go to the Steinberg UR22, TASCAM UH-7000 and Apogee Duet 2.


So, what are you using on your recording or production rig? Are you using ADAT expansion or other forms of I/O "bulking up"? What's your favourite connector type? Talk about your current setup or your dream configuration below!