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The Press Desk 9th April 2018 10:33 PM

10 most popular audio interfaces right now
 
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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:

 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?



 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.



 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!)





 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.



 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."



 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.



 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.



 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.



 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!

VenVile 20th April 2018 05:16 AM

I'm supposed UAD's Apollo Twin didn't make the cut.

FS Audio 3rd May 2018 02:57 PM

I/O without preamps
 
If you’re looking for a high channel count, high resolution I/O to couple with an analog board, where the preamps of the board do that job and the I/O is simply I/O, then look at Echo AudioFire 12. I love this unit! It’s simple and the routing is configurable via dedicated software matrix. I’ve always been surprised that most units try to integrate pre-amps and high-impedance inputs and all this stuffed into one unit. If you like the workflow of an analog board and need good I/O between the computer, Echo Audiofire 12 is great!!!!

cyjanopan 4th May 2018 12:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FS Audio (Post 13294316)
If you’re looking for a high channel count, high resolution I/O to couple with an analog board, where the preamps of the board do that job and the I/O is simply I/O, then look at Echo AudioFire 12. I love this unit! It’s simple and the routing is configurable via dedicated software matrix. I’ve always been surprised that most units try to integrate pre-amps and high-impedance inputs and all this stuffed into one unit. If you like the workflow of an analog board and need good I/O between the computer, Echo Audiofire 12 is great!!!!

I used two of these for few years, they're useless compared to real interfaces. Routing is a joke, for example when daisy chaining you can't (or at least you couldn't the last time I used them) send input from second interface to the output of the first one. They are very unstable, I had problems with drops even on the Audiofire 2 which I also had, not to mention two AF12 daisy chained which never really worked. They use ancient firewire connection. Drivers are old and not updated for the last 4 years now. Reselling value is zero at this point. Don't buy it, save yourself a headache.

RKeefe1032 4th May 2018 03:00 PM

The Apollo Twin has to be one of the most popular interfaces, they're everywhere I go, including big studios who use them for mobile and small setups.

Luckily my favorite "home studio/one man band" interface made the list, the Audient iD14. I use their preamps and add some color from Slate or UAD later. The convertors and headphone amp are the best I've heard in a small interface.

bill5 5th May 2018 06:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VenVile (Post 13269078)
I'm supposed UAD's Apollo Twin didn't make the cut.

I'm surprised you're surprised. They're crazy expensive and IMO not worth it.

swartzfeger 6th May 2018 10:41 PM

I guess I'm not surprised the Apogee Element didn't make the cut. Barebones interface, Mac-only (for now), Thunderbolt-only. Fantastic sound and price and incredible latency and integration w/ Logic. Long time UA user and while I do miss the plugins (mostly replaced by Nebula/Acqua), the rest of the UA was 'ok' I guess. Love my Apogee Element!

Then again, with guys like Steve Lacy winning grammys with an iRig + iPhone, I'm not sure Apogee vs UA matters much. :lol:

Diogo C 8th May 2018 02:47 AM

The Element interfaces are rather new and as long as its Mac it automatically rules out basically half the potential users. Their FAQ says that there's no plan to support Windows, hopefully that can change someday?

apologymusicinfo 23rd May 2018 02:11 AM

So, I am experiencing some latency issues when recording and I was told to lower the Hardware Buffer Size in Protools 12. The issue is, the only choice I have for the buffer size is 1028 and cannot lower it in PT.

I did some research and Sweetwater gave this answer on their website in regards to the Antelope Zen Tour and Protools.

"The buffer size that you can select inside of your DAW depends entirely on what USB Streaming Mode has been selected inside the Antelope Control Panel. For example:
selecting SAFE as the USB Streaming mode in the Antelope Control Panel will set the Buffer Size in your DAW to 512 and lower buffer sizes may not appear. If you prefer lower buffer sizes, you may want to try selecting RELAXED as the USB Steaming mode."

My question is, how do I change the USB Streaming Mode of my Antelope Zen Tour to "Relaxed", as they noted? I am having issues locating it anywhere through the interface. Please be as detailed as you can and.....thank you!!

Deleted 86c3d96 23rd May 2018 02:58 AM

I really love the RME BF Pro. I use it in my composing rig, and I never turn off the computer. This interface is just something I never think about. It only has one flaw: no built in dynamics. I have heard RME's explanation, and totally buy it, buy it would be nice to have a dynamics section. I am probably going to upgrade my mix room to the UFX+ USB3/Thunderbolt. I have to think this is the best interface (overall) available today.

Martel80 23rd May 2018 12:56 PM

I own the ID22 and for the price and build quality, Tech supp and also development, I must say that I'm really not surprised to see it on top of the list.

bill5 23rd May 2018 05:59 PM

Side note anyone else getting this at the top of the page (I get many more lines that are the same)?


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etc

submarin 23rd May 2018 06:45 PM

Guys, take the Waves Digigrid IOX on the list!
For the price you´re getting 12 Digico Preamps and converters, a reliable network solution and a very good ASIO performance!

I´m just testing it out now and I´m ready to ditch my RME stuff for it!

oceantracks 24th May 2018 03:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bill5 (Post 13299430)
I'm surprised you're surprised. They're crazy expensive and IMO not worth it.

I think they are worth every penny.

bill5 24th May 2018 04:26 AM

You're certainly entitled to your opinion.

howardellison 9th June 2018 05:25 PM

What speaks to me is the Sound Devices MixPre 3 (there's also a 6), because it has a good quality brickwall limiter. Very few similar boxes do. Normally I do all dynamics in post, digitally: better quality than analogue, imho, and above all, reversible. But... voice gigs come along that are a medley of normal performance and shouting. Working without an engineer, I absolutely need that safety factor so that no digits get injured in making the work.
Only last week, a client commented ahead of booking "We worry about home studios. Levels all over the place". Glad I was of my analogue assistant!

locojohn 9th June 2018 06:26 PM

I guess MOTU 828es isn’t popular then.... What a shame!

Dallon426 11th June 2018 06:46 AM

Babyface Pro rules them all. I'd love to see more versions of the babyface. Thunerbolt 3, more inputs, Even a babyface Pro 1 with one Mic and one Hi-z

Dallon426 11th June 2018 06:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RKeefe1032 (Post 13296829)
The Apollo Twin has to be one of the most popular interfaces, they're everywhere I go, including big studios who use them for mobile and small setups.

Luckily my favorite "home studio/one man band" interface made the list, the Audient iD14. I use their preamps and add some color from Slate or UAD later. The convertors and headphone amp are the best I've heard in a small interface.

Sorry but the headphone jack is garbage on the audient. It lacks depth and transparency. The Apogee Duet and Babyface Pro have excellent headphone amps, far superior. Actually out of all the interfaces I have tried I would ranf audient id14 at the lowest in terms of sound. Focusrite, presonus, tascam, all of them are much much much better

MarkyGoldstein 17th June 2018 02:24 PM

I suggest to anyone to go higher class in converters. Save your pennies.

Vern 18th June 2018 03:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cyjanopan (Post 13296598)
I used two of these for few years, they're useless compared to real interfaces. Routing is a joke, for example when daisy chaining you can't (or at least you couldn't the last time I used them) send input from second interface to the output of the first one. They are very unstable, I had problems with drops even on the Audiofire 2 which I also had, not to mention two AF12 daisy chained which never really worked. They use ancient firewire connection. Drivers are old and not updated for the last 4 years now. Reselling value is zero at this point. Don't buy it, save yourself a headache.


I was surprised to see someone actually advocating for the Echo Audiofire 12 in this thread lol.

While they are quite old at this point, use firewire connections, really aren't supported/updated anymore, don't have the nicest routing interface, and no bells-and-whistles included really; they are still a great value for anyone that wants a lot of I/O to their console.

I have three of them daisy-chained together and working great for the past six years, and after an upgrade with the Black Lion Micro-Clock they sound incredibly good for the price I paid for everything compared to many converters. Self-admittedly, as you had mentioned, they were a bit unstable (don't even try recording 96khz on all three at the same time), but their ease of connectivity, use, price, sound quality (with the micro clock), and mass amount of I/O was pretty unbeatable for a few years there.

With that being said, I'll still probably upgrade to an Antelope or RME in the near future; but by selling all three units I will probably be coming out with almost 1K in fun money for the next converter purchase. peachh

DiParis 3rd July 2018 09:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by swartzfeger (Post 13301477)
I guess I'm not surprised the Apogee Element didn't make the cut. Barebones interface, Mac-only (for now), Thunderbolt-only. Fantastic sound and price and incredible latency and integration w/ Logic. Long time UA user and while I do miss the plugins (mostly replaced by Nebula/Acqua), the rest of the UA was 'ok' I guess. Love my Apogee Element!

Then again, with guys like Steve Lacy winning grammys with an iRig + iPhone, I'm not sure Apogee vs UA matters much. :lol:

Nothing on that list changed my mind, I'm buying the Element 24.

swartzfeger 3rd July 2018 10:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DiParis (Post 13400221)
Nothing on that list changed my mind, I'm buying the Element 24.

It's a killer box. No fancy OLED screen, barebones... nothing about it is sexy except the sound, which can't be touched at that price range.

ilias 11th July 2018 05:50 AM

Prism soundof lyra 2 owner here. Extremely happy with my interface. Sound quality is incredible.

I would put motu in a better place than the other products in the list.

Dallon426 11th July 2018 08:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by swartzfeger (Post 13400283)
It's a killer box. No fancy OLED screen, barebones... nothing about it is sexy except the sound, which can't be touched at that price range.

If only they me it available on Windows

McNewlove 10th October 2018 07:04 PM

Hello sluts, I am seriously considering getting the ta scam uh 7000 for my home studio, but I hear the Burr Brown converters that used to make it a hot pick for sound quality has been changed by Ta scam in newer versions.

Anybody has experience with both new and older version of the uh 7000 and can you please give insights about any changes if any?

Thanks

Dallon426 11th October 2018 12:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by McNewlove (Post 13563342)
Hello sluts, I am seriously considering getting the ta scam uh 7000 for my home studio, but I hear the Burr Brown converters that used to make it a hot pick for sound quality has been changed by Ta scam in newer versions.

Anybody has experience with both new and older version of the uh 7000 and can you please give insights about any changes if any?

Thanks

Tascam has horrible Latency and I do not suggest buying such an old interface. You are far better of with a UAD, RME, or Apoggee product

Martel80 11th October 2018 05:50 PM

Sold my AUdient ID22 to get an ID44 a month ago.

What a great interface !!! kfhkh

McNewlove 11th October 2018 06:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dallon426 (Post 13564850)
Tascam has horrible Latency and I do not suggest buying such an old interface. You are far better of with a UAD, RME, or Apoggee product


OK but what about the sound quality of ta scam, will only record soft synth

Dallon426 12th October 2018 01:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by McNewlove (Post 13565541)
OK but what about the sound quality of ta scam, will only record soft synth

I promise you. Avoid Tascam. Decent sound quality, but nothing better than any of the interfaces I listed.