I hereby declare that I do not own the rights to this image. This picture came from “The Audient Mic Pre Experiment video.”
After extensive research and comparisons I discovered that:
The Audient iD4 (link to Amazon) is arguably the best audio interface you can buy for about $200.
The iD14 (link to Amazon) the best one for about $300.
The Audient iD22 (link to Amazon) is the best audio interface you can buy for about $500.
Lastly, their bigger brother, the Audient iD44 is the best audio interface you can buy for about $700.
Their outstanding performance has to do with their excellent Class-A mic pre-amps and supreme build quality!
Professional music studios use high-end and rather expensive audio interfaces. But when it comes to a home studio setup there are some truly affordable options that will deliver outstanding professional results, without breaking the bank!
On my quest to find the perfect interface, I have accumulated a wealth of experiences. This knowledge I pass on to you in this guide; however, I won’t bore you with unnecessary details; ill keep it simple and down to the point.
I can guarantee that with by choosing any of my recommended audio interfaces, you’ll be able to meet the professional standards of our modern music industry!
The Audient iD22 is my No1 choice. It has the best value for money.
“I see buying an audio interface as an investment“
What blows my mind is that the ASP 8024 (a $42.000 console) shares the same preamps with all the ASP & iD audio interfaces. That means that with an iD interface, you get the same recording quality the ASP 8024 has but only for a fraction of the price(!).
Best audio interfaces for about $150-$300
- Audient iD4 (click to check the current price on Amazon) This is the best budget audio interface in this price range money can buy while maintaining professional recording standards. Period!
- Scarlett 2i2 3rd generation (click to check the current price on Amazon) The Scarlett is a great and popular option also it’s incredible for on the road.
- Audient iD14 (click to check the current price on Amazon) If you need more than two inputs have a look at the iD14. I guarantee you will love this unit!
Best audio interfaces for about $500
- Audient iD22 (click to check the current price on Amazon) This is the interface I currently use (which I love), it’s also the bigger brother of the iD4 mentioned above.
- PreSonus Studio 1824c 18×20 (click to check the current price on Amazon) If for some reason you don’t like the iD22 I’d suggest the Presonus 1824c, this is a great sounding interface with a lot of gain power! Furthermore, it has more inputs/output options since it comes with 2 mic/instrument/line inputs and 6 mic/line inputs!
If you haven’t guessed it already when it comes to Audio Interfaces Audient is my favorite brand. I’m confident that the Audient iD22 provides the best value-money combination with just the right amount of features without breaking the bank.
Important: I recently read a couple of reviews where some stated they got static noise from their iD22. I briefly experienced this issue, but the solution is EASY, and it’s NOT a hardware issue. I simply had to update my iD virtual mixer that comes paired with the iD 22, that solved the problem immediately — talking about an easy fix!
Best audio interfaces for about $1000
- Audient iD44 (click to check the current price on Amazon) Once again, Audient gets the No1 spot. This unit comes with more in & outs than the iD22 and of course once again the Class-A mic preamps.
- Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo (click to check the current price on Amazon) A truly great unit with an awesome build quality! Also, you can add real-time effects with no latency.
Same as his little brothers the iD44 has such a pristine DA conversion that you can clearly hear every small setting adjustment in an eq, compressor, or effect! The Apollo twin also paks a fantastic sound but you will find the best overall recording quality in the Audient iD44.
But is there a difference between the iD series?
I must point out something I just discovered, there is a small difference between the iD44 and the rest of the iD series.
The chip model which is used in the iD44 is of slightly better quality compared to the iD4, iD14, and the iD22.
This chip is responsible for the AD/DA (analog to digital & digital to analog) conversion of a signal.
This results in a slightly fuller tone in the lower large frequency spectrum. But don’t get alarmed since the difference is bearly noticeable.
Watch this awesome video created by Audient comparing the different units together, see if you can notice the difference, (I barely did).
Features to look in a quality Audio Interface:
- Compatibility: You want to make sure that the audio interface is compatible with your OS (Windows, Linux, or Mac). Nowadays, most interfaces are cross-platform compatible. That means there will run on most popular operating systems even being class-compliant (not in need of drivers or third party software for them to function correctly.
- Connectivity: The second thing to look in an interface is connectivity. You want to be sure that you can connect on the unit on your pc or mac without issues. Have a look to discover if your pc has FireWire 400/800, USB2, USB3, or Thunderbolt options available.
- Latency: While it’s completely normal to have some latency while recording, high latency rates may signal that something isn’t configured right or that you need to upgrade a piece of hardware.
In general, latency can be as much a function of use, the computer itself, as well as the interface, therefore, I wouldn’t think about it too much at this stage. Furthermore, my experience is that a good-low-latency audio interface makes a significant difference even on older computers.
- Sound quality: The most important factor that determines sound quality is the A/D converter. An A/D converter is a system that converts an analog signal to a digital format, and the better the converter is the better the sound quality will be.
- Ins & Outs: Most producers I tend to overdo this one. When I bought my second interface, I opted for 9 inputs and 2 outputs. This was completely unnecessary since I was neither planning on recording 9 instruments at once nor recording a full drum set. I’ve seen many professionals that rely on just one or two inputs; however, this depends upon your specific needs as a musician.
Inputs you should consider:
- XLR inputs: Great for connecting microphones.
- Phantom powered XLR inputs: Phantom power is necessary for connecting condenser microphones.
- JACK or Instrument (hi-Z) inputs (For connecting most instruments)
- Digital I/O: You can perform a number of tasks using digital inputs & outputs. Such as connecting compatible studio gear without having to pass again the analog-to-digital conversion stages resulting in a better signal.
For instance, if supported, you could connect an ADAT light pipe I/O to your audio interface and expand your system with 8-channel mic preamps. Digital I/O is not necessary (I rarely use them), but it’s a nice option to have available.