Best 2 Channel Audio Interfaces

Top 10 Best 2 Channel Audio Interfaces (October 2020)

Updated - October 1, 2020

The best 2 channel audio interfaces offer fantastic opportunities to record high quality audio from several sources with minimal latency.

Audio interfaces range from large ‘rack’ styled devices through to pocket sized incredibly compact and durable audio interfaces. Some come with full colour LED/LCD displays for input and output levels, others offer portability by being powered by batteries.

Whether you’re looking to record a keyboard, guitar or vocals, the best way to setup your recording station is to plug into your computer and make tracks via a 2 channel audio interface.

2 Channel Audio Interface Connection Types

2 channel audio interfaces come with all sorts of connection types allowing you to connect to your computer via USB, thunderbolt & firewire to name a few. USB is the most popular and widely used mainly because it comes in many different forms ranging from USB Type-A, USB 2, & Micro USB through to the latest USB Type-C connections. Thunderbolt connections are the fastest. You’ll find these are used on some of the more modern and high end 2 channel audio interfaces available on the market.

2 Channel Audio Interface Prices

The price of top quality 2 channel audio interfaces has fallen dramatically in recent years. This is great news if you’re looking to get hold of a device that will give you a fantastic sound without costing the earth. This is because many brands have taken their previous generation 2 channel audio interface models and repackaged them. Usually with some modern nuances to create a budget model of their current range. Don’t be put off by this, these audio interfaces are still great value. They might not have all the latest bells and whistles but they get the job done. Which means you don’t need to pay substantial amounts of money for them.

Depending on what you want to achieve, you’ll priorities different features when finding the best audio interfaces for your situation. If space is an issue you’ll look for a small to medium sized interface that provides you a great experience and end result while not taking up a large portion of your limited space. If you’re in need of a portable audio interface then you’ll probably rule out any rack mountable models. Instead you’ll be looking for small battery powered options.

2 Channel Audio Interface Inputs & Outputs

2 channel audio interfaces come with a range of inputs and outputs. Some will have line inputs, mic preamps, headphone outputs, mic inputs & many other inputs and outputs. Make sure the model you consider has what you need. If you’re kitting out a home studio then you’ll be looking for the best audio interface which features (such as phantom power) the inputs and outputs you need at an affordable price.

Some of the best audio interfaces on the market come with software as part of the package. Pro tools is a popular editing software that we’ve seen offered as part of audio interface packages in the past. Purchasing an audio interface that comes with a reputable editing software is a great way to justify paying more for your audio interface because you’re saving money elsewhere.

What is a 2 Channel Audio Interface

In essence an audio interface allows you to take audio signals and pump them in and out of your computer. The decision on which one is right for you simply comes down to a combination of your budget and how you like to work. Simplistic models exist that simply convert analog audio signals to digital audio signals on the way to your computer. This is because your computer will have software such as pro tools that is able to understand digital audio signals. Allowing you to layer, manipulate and refine the sound and then pump out to a speaker or amplifier. The audio interface will convert your digital audio signals back to analog signals on the way out of your computer. This way the speaker is able to play the sound for you to hear. These types of audio interfaces are known as AD/DA (Analog to Digital/Digital to Analog) converters

Whatever type of audio interface you’re looking for we’ve tried to find the audio interfaces with the best features. While still being considered a great two channel audio interface.

Best 2 Channel Audio Interfaces - Top 10
    1. RME Audio Interface (BABYFACEPRO) - Ultra portable and a customer favourite
    2. Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo (APLTWDII) - Ultra high-quality, low latency audio interface
    3. Apogee One - Make no mistake, this audio interface is fantastic.
    4. Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 - A great competitively-priced option with plenty of connectivity.
    5. RME Fireface UC - The RME Fireface UCX is a professional level soundcard for the studio.
    6. PreSonus Studio 24c 2x2 - The PreSonus Studio 24c 2×2 is their flagship 2-in/2-out low-latency audio interface.
    7. Mackie Onyx Producer 2.2 Audio Interface - A hard-wearing 2-channel interface with high audio and build quality.
    8. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 - The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is, what Focusrite consider, “The world’s best-selling audio interface”
    9. Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2 - The performance of the Komplete Audio 2 is as slick as its looks. Instead of 1 XLR and 1 jack input, the Komplete Audio 2 has 2 combi-XLR/jack inputs for more flexibility.
    10. Apogee Duet USB Audio Interface - The Apple of the Audio Interface world
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RME Audio Interface (BABYFACEPRO)

RME Audio Interface (BABYFACEPRO)

  • ✔ Extremely portable
  • ✔ Bus-powered or mains powered
  • ✔ Premium quality product
  • ✔ Pricey when considering input/output capacity
Ultra portable and a customer favourite
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The Babyface Pro by RME is one of the most portable audio interfaces that we’ve featured on the list, besides from the Apogee Duet of course.

Despite the unit’s size, it has a range of connectivity ports, including XLR inputs/outputs, Line, MIDI & ADAT inputs/outputs, making it very versatile for those who require several input/output types.

Additionally, the unit is housed within an aluminum chassis, and runs on either bus-power or an external power supply… All of which is totally up to yourself.

Not only have RME created a well-built audio interface, but they’ve especially prioritized their efforts on the internal circuitry, with it featuring the latest generation of low latency AD/DA converters, in combination with RME’s ‘Steadyclock’ technology, which helps further reduce noise, helping create a noise-free, clear output sound.

Overall, with all that being said, the RME Babyface Pro is ideal for those who want a portable audio interface, with a wider selection of inputs/outputs than the similarly sized Apogee Duet.

Compatibility
  • Mac & PC & iOS devices
  • Supports all major DAWs
Features
  • Highly reputable brand
  • 24-channel mobile solution
  • A very portable audio interface
  • Aluminum chassis for effective protection
  • High-quality internal circuitry for low-latency
  • Includes software
    • RME’s TotalMix FX
  • Warranty: 2-Year Manufacturers Warranty
Technical Specs
  • USB 2.0/3.0 connectivity
  • 2 XLR inputs
  • 2 XLR outputs
  • MIDI input/output
  • ADAT input/output
  • 2 headphone line outputs
  • 24-bit/192 kHz resolution
  • 20 Hz – 35 kHz Frequency Response
  • Power adapter or bus-powered
  • 48v Phantom Power
Pros
  • Premium quality product
  • Extremely portable
  • Bus-powered or mains powered
  • Very portable
  • 2-year manufacturers warranty
Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo (APLTWDII)

Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo (APLTWDII)

  • ✔ Handles processing, instead of overworking your PC/Mac
  • ✔ Built-in talkback microphone
  • ✔ Less than 2ms round-trip latency
  • ✔ Ultra high-quality audio interface
Ultra high-quality, low latency audio interface
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The Apollo Twin MKII Solo by Universal Audio can be accurately described as the creme-de-la-creme of audio interfaces when it comes to the quality of its components and its overall build. The unit provides 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs, an optical input, as well as 4 line outputs, making it decent for musicians who only need a few inputs for simultaneous recording.

Now, the main selling point of this audio interface lies in the unit’s internal circuitry and the connectivity type (being thunderbolt), which mean that it can provide sub-2ms round-trip latency, which is extremely low! The audio interface comes with a Universal Audio Plugin Bundle, which includes: Legacy versions of the LA-2A, 1176LN, Pultec EQP-1A, plus Softube Amp Room Essentials, Raw Distortion, 610-B Tube Preamp & EQ, and more

Additionally, the interface has some other useful features, such as a built-in talkback microphone, which is ideal for a professional studio environment.

The Apollo Twin is an EDM industry favorite. In fact, in a recent NGHTMRE Snapchat he can be seen using this great interface while teasing one of his newest releases. With a sturdy build and unique look, the Apollo Twin is also an excellent interface with the tone feel and flow of an analog controller. This interface differs from most of the others that we have covered as it requires a Thunderbolt connection to be used with your computer. If you’re looking for an industry leading interface for a professional sound, look no further than the Apollo Twin.

A scaled-down alternative to Universal Audio’s flagship Apollo 8 and 16, the original Apollo Twin has been giving ‘the rest of us’ access to those mythical Unison preamps, first-class I/O and swanky UAD plugins for three years now.

The new Apollo Twin MkII is essentially more of the same, but with a few minor improvements, and an optional DSP upgrade. Let’s start with what’s stayed the same.

The top panel centers on a satisfyingly oversized knob, controlling Monitor or Preamp input levels, as selected with the two buttons flanking it; and six Option buttons, contextualised by an LED icon strip, that again change function depending on whether the unit is in Monitor or Preamp mode. Input and output metering are provided by four five-segment LED ladders.

The back panel and front edge house two combi Mic/Line inputs. It also has a Hi-Z quarter-inch guitar input (overriding Mic/Line 1 when occupied), four quarter-inch output jacks (two Monitor, two Line). Not forgetting the stereo S/PDIF out, Headphones out and a TOSLINK port. This last port is for adding up to eight analogue inputs via ADAT.

Still a desktop-format 2-in/-6-out interface with 24-bit/192kHz capabilities, the Apollo Twin MkII would be almost indistinguishable from the original were it not now black rather than silver. It connects to your Mac or PC via Thunderbolt, but it has to be powered from the wall; and while the original Twin (still available) could be had in a USB 3 version, it’s not clear whether the MkII will follow suit.

Also a ‘DSP box’ for powering UAD plugin effects (VST/AU/AAX/RTAS), the Apollo Twin MkII features the same game-changing Unison preamps as its predecessor, fed by the Mic/Line and Hi-Z ins. These enable a gradually expanding subset of UA’s classic hardware emulation plugins to be inserted directly into each input path. Physically reconfiguring the preamp’s impedance and gain staging. As an alternative to the regular algorithmic modeling of valves, transistors, amps, EQ. This results in near-zero-latency monitoring and/or recording through them.

When we first reviewed the Twin, there were only three Unison plugins available – the UA 610-B (bundled), the UA 610-A and the API Vision. Since then, they’ve been joined by the Manley Voxbox, Neve 1073 and 88RS; eight guitar and bass amps by Ampeg, Fender and Marshall; and three distortion stompboxes, including the bundled Pro Co Rat emulation, Raw. All of them sound and feel great, and Unison remains a huge and unique selling point for the Apollo Twin MkII.

So, apart from the color change, what else is new? Well, UA has apparently beefed up the AD/DA converters, for even more dynamic range and less distortion, but the MkI was so outstanding in this department that you’ll be hard pushed to tell the difference – it’s still the cleanest, most transparent-sounding interface in its price range.

Other than that, the MkII sees a refinement of its studio workflow with the addition of a talkback mic and front panel access to a few of the monitoring functions of the Console software (see It’s not just the hardware).

The Talk button activates the talkback mic (the tiny hole below the knob), which can be sent to the outputs of your choice for control room communication or quick recording of notes and cues. The Dim button lowers the monitor output level, the Mute switch kills it entirely, and the Mono button switches between stereo and mono output for playback system compatibility checking. Very nice.

In Monitor mode, four of the Option buttons – which weren’t used at all by MkI – now come into play, necessitating the addition of a new row of icons to the LED strip, which has been made a bit deeper to accommodate them.

Apollo’s creed Apart from the Quad Core option, the Apollo Twin MkII is the very definition of an iterative upgrade. If you’re already a happy owner of MkI, the talkback mic and extra monitoring control alone aren’t reasons enough to reinvest. If, however, you’ve been hankering for more DSP than your existing Twin affords you, your day has come – have at it. And, of course, newcomers to the world of Apollo and UAD now get even more for their money, which can only be a good thing.

Given how much we loved the original Apollo Twin, it’ll come as no surprise that the MkII again wins our highest possible recommendation. Far more than possibly the best audio interface ever made. This is a musically empowering hardware/software hybrid. Capable of elevating even the humblest of home and project studios to genuinely professional-quality heights.

Compatibility
  • Mac & PC
  • Supports all major DAWs
Features
  • 2 x 6 audio interface
  • Highly reputable brand
  • Rather compact, metal chassis
  • Near to zero-latency (2ms according to reports)
  • SHARC DSP for running UAD plug-ins without burdening the computer CPU
  • Unison technology providers classic tube and transformer-based preamp models
  • Talkback microphone
  • Warranty: 1-Year Manufacturers Warranty
Technical Specs
  • Thunderbolt connectivity
  • 2-in / 6-out
  • 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs
  • Optical In
  • 4 line outputs
  • Powered by a 12v power supply
  • 24-bit/96kHz resolution
  • 48v Phantom power
Pros
  • Ultra high-quality audio interface
  • Rather portable
  • Handles processing, instead of overworking your PC/Mac
  • Built-in talkback microphone
  • Less than 2ms round-trip latency
  • Comes with full UAD plug-in bundle
  • 1-year manufacturers warranty
Apogee One

Apogee One

  • ✔ Built-in microphone
  • ✔ Usb 2.0 connection for Mac
  • ✔ Die Cast aluminum chassis
  • ✔ Direct monitoring
Make no mistake, this audio interface is fantastic.
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There’s not too much to say here, besides from the fact that Apogee create really high sound quality audio interfaces. However, from the research done, where Apogee lack, is in their customer service. Which isn’t necessarily something you want. Considering you may have questions regarding the interface if things were not to work! On a more positive note, Apogee has a great website, with plenty of information, and video tutorials on how to set up the device and even recording tips & tricks.

Make no mistake, this audio interface is fantastic, it was one of the best, highest sound quality audio interfaces I’ve ever used.

Apogee One for Mac is essentially the same interface as the previous generation’s Apogee One. This newest version has a silver design (which, admittedly, looks pretty sleek) and eschews the iOS connection cables to save the purchaser $100. The converters are the same, the features are the same, and physically it sports the same dimensions.

If you’re not aware of the Apogee One concept, allow me to enlighten you. It’s an incredibly compact audio interface that sports an XLR input. it also sports a 1/4” input tuned for instrument level sources. The XLR input can push out phantom power as needed, and you can utilize both inputs at once. These 2 inputs are accessible via breakout cable, cutting down on the clutter when you’re not using them as you can stow the cable elsewhere.

The Apogee One for iPad, iPhone and Mac is the best portable DAC and headphone amp I’ve tested. By portable, I mean one that plugs into an iOS device and needs no external power to play. It’s the best because it has the most and cleanest output, it’s the best made (all metal), and it has the best ergonomics: a big volume knob right where you need it.

The One comes at a bit of a premium compared to other 2-channel audio interfaces, and it’s pretty clear why. The products finish is stellar, and the dynamic range for the microphone input is far beyond your standard 2-channel interface’s level of excellence. The XLR input on the One is incredibly clean. It has plenty of headroom, and sounds a lot better than it should.

The Apogee One is quite possibly the best interface for the price you pay. Since most interfaces at that price range are almost all the same. The Apogee One stands out for its professional finish and the fact that is has an outstanding microphone.

Forget about everything you know about internal mics. This microphone has amazing frequency response and clarity even for vocals. The Apogee website has demonstrations of all the different applications of the ONE with the internal mic. The end product will surprise you.

Not only does it sound fantastic; it’s super easy to use. Plug it in, and the big knob controls volume in 1 decibel clicks over a wide range. I have no idea why consumer gear makes it so hard to control levels; this piece of gear does it right with a big knob. This metal beauty is well padded and isn’t going to slide around your desk. It’s the perfect combination of sturdiness and lightweight. It’s a solid bar of precision, and the volume control is a dream to spin.

Should you change your mind after owning the One and wish that you purchased iOS/Mac edition, don’t worry—Apogee will sell you an iOS interface kit for $99. The interface itself is not limited or hobbled in any way, it’s exactly the same as the One for iOS/Mac, just minus the cables. It’s nice to know the option is there should you want to exercise it down the road.

Focusrite Scarlett 4i4

Focusrite Scarlett 4i4

  • ✔ High-performance converters
  • ✔ Mix at up to 24-bit/ 192kHz
  • ✔ USB-C powered device
  • ✔ Compatible with Windows, Mac and iPad
A great competitively-priced option with plenty of connectivity.
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Focusrite’s Scarlett USB interfaces have traditionally combined excellent sonics and audio flexibility at affordable price points, and the third generation units keep up the good work.

All units in the range have received physical and technical upgrades, with improved preamps (now up to 56dB gain), balanced connectivity throughout, and the inclusion of Focusrite’s ISA transformer preamp emulation option (Air). On the bus-powered Scarlett 4i4 you get two mic/line/instrument inputs with gain, two line-level TRS inputs and four TRS outputs.

The 4i4 supports Focusrite’s Control application, which means that a number of settings can only be made in the software. The app also handles low-latency monitoring.

As we’ve come to expect from the Scarlett series, the sonics are neutral and the drivers reliable. The Air option tilts the frequency response towards high frequencies, and this can be great for taming undesirable proximity or adding high frequency lift.

With a decent software bundle included, this is a solid upgrade and a great affordable audio interface.

Focusrite’s Scarlett USB interfaces combine excellent sonics and audio flexibility at an affordable price point, and the third generation units have just landed. 

Up for review we have two of the mid-sized units (the 8i6 and 4i4) from a range that starts with the pocket-sized Solo, and tops out at the impressively equipped 18i20. All units in the range have received a physical and technical upgrade, with improved preamps (now up to 56dB gain), balanced connectivity throughout, and the inclusion of Focusrite’s ISA transformer preamp emulation option (Air). There’s now a slicker front panel with LEDs and the halo-style input level meters sitting below a shiny surface. Meanwhile, all units now use USB Type C connectors, although for the foreseeable future will ship with Type C to Type A cables. Finally, Focusrite is rolling out a new onscreen onboarding process that guides you through the setup from the moment you first plug in.

Looking specifically at the review units, both gain a couple of extra inputs over their predecessors (the 2i4 and 6i6). So, for the 4i4 you get two mic/line/instrument inputs with gain, two line-level TRS inputs and four TRS outputs. The 8i6 also has two mic/line/instrument inputs with gain, and gets four line-level TRS inputs, four TRS outputs and stereo S/PDIF in/out. Both units include MIDI in/out. For headphones, the 4i4 has one front panel output with level and the 8i6 two outputs with individual level. The larger interface requires an external PSU which, though understandable, is moderately annoying given it’s pretty compact. The smaller 4i4 is USB bus-powered.Both the 4i4 and 8i6 support Focusrite’s Control application, and this means that a number of settings including pad, line/Hi Z instrument selector, and the Air option mentioned above can only be set via the software. The app also handles low-latency monitoring, so there’s no direct monitoring knob as per the 2i4, although it’s worth noting that the 3rd Gen 2i2 and Solo interfaces continue to use this system. Whether you view this as extra flexibility or unnecessary complexity is personal preference, but I like the software option, particularly when you take into account that there’s an accompanying nifty iOS app that effectively adds in remote control capabilities as well. A further positive is the monitor mix system which allows easy creation of low latency mixes for each output stream. Finally, both interfaces support Focusrite’s Loopback feature, whereby a further mix panel allows you to quickly route inputs, DAW outputs or a custom blend of both back into the DAW.

As we’ve come to expect from the Scarlett series, the sonics are neutral and the drivers reliable, and both units operate at up to 192kHz. The Air option tilts the frequency response towards high frequencies, and this can be great for taming undesirable proximity or adding high frequency lift. There’s also a decent pack of bundled software including Ableton Live Lite 10, Pro Tools First Focusrite Creative Pack, Focusrite Red 2 and Red 3 plugin suite, Softube Time and Tone bundle, XLN Audio Addictive Keys and Focusrite Plug-In Collective. This is a solid refresh and both review models deliver a noticeable upgrade on predecessors.

RME Fireface UC

RME Fireface UC

  • ✔ Up to 192kHz sample rates
  • ✔ Provides revolutionary ultra-low latencies even with multiple channels
  • ✔ Class compliant MIDI ports
  • ✔ Compatible with Windows 10 and Mac
The RME Fireface UCX is a professional level soundcard for the studio.
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This interface boasts excellent parameters, many inputs and outputs (8 in/8 out) and also the ability to connect via USB and FireWire.

But the main thing about the Fireface UCX is the clean untainted sound and stable performance. The included Total Mix FX software, although it looks slightly outdated, has some impressive functionality.

This interface, largely due to its impressively stable handling, is excellent for capturing performances of all kinds. With the abundance of inputs and output it’s suitable for recording drum kits and large ensembles.

That said, for the average home studio, its capabilities are probably overkill. Most home recording does not involve drum tracking. This is generally reserved for bigger studios, hence the price of the Fireface UCX.

The Fireface UC is ostensibly the same as RME’s Fireface 400, providing 36 channels of analogue and digital I/O with only the interface format changed from FireWire to USB.

The analogue inputs are split across the unit with two mic/line and two instrument/line sockets at the front and the remaining four at the rear on balanced TRS sockets.

Six of the analogue outputs appear as TRS sockets, which can be used for feeding a 5.1 surround system, while at the front is a single TRS socket for either headphone monitoring or an unbalanced stereo monitor path.

There is a single knob and two-digit LED display on the front of the unit that enables control of all output levels (analogue and digital) as well as the four front input gains. The driver interface has a dedicated page for control of the analogue I/O with gain faders, pad switches, phantom power for the mic inputs and impedance switching for the instrument/line inputs.

Also on this page are settings for the overall gain structure of the analogue inputs, TRS outputs and headphone outputs. There are three ranges: 10dBV (unbalanced), +4dBu (balanced) and a Hi Gain (outputs) or Lo Gain (inputs) which offers more headroom for those who work with high-gain level balanced outboard. This is a unique function that really enhances the interconnection flexibility of the unit.

We know many engineers who spend countless hours (which equates to lost revenue) trying to iron out compatibility issues with their interfaces. If one was to add up the cost of these lost hours, the price difference between the Fireface UC and an alternative (cheaper) product disappears and in fact reverses.

We would heartily recommend this unit to anyone looking to buy a non-FireWire interface.

PreSonus Studio 24c 2x2

PreSonus Studio 24c 2x2

  • ✔ Easy-to-use Mixer knob for low-latency direct input monitoring
  • ✔ High-powered headphone output
  • ✔ USB-C compatible powered 2x2 audio interface
  • ✔ Compatible With Windows 10 and Mac
The PreSonus Studio 24c 2×2 is their flagship 2-in/2-out low-latency audio interface.
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From a physical standpoint, the interface is designed to look very sleek, with its black center chassis, surrounded by deep blue side compartments.

As for the functionality, it features 2 combination (XLR/TRS) inputs at the front of the unit, and five control knobs for general volume/mixer parameter changes.

As for the back of the interface, it has a MIDI input/output, which other cheaper interfaces do not have. Additionally, it has 2 main TRS outputs, alongside a phones TRS output. The unit is bus-powered and connects to both a Mac and PC via a USB-C cable.

Now, when it comes to latency, the company have said that the unit has a roundtrip latency of around 3ms, which is extremely low.

Overall, we think that readers who are looking for a 2-in/2-out interface, with the versatility to be able to plug in XLR or TRS into each port, as well as MIDI input and output capability and a phones output, will most certainly want to take a look at the PreSonus Studio 24c 2×2 interface. Not only does it provide a lot of functionality for an affordable price, but the latency levels are very low.

The Duet is a 2-channel FireWire audio interface that features the amazing sound quality that made Apogee Electronics famous. With control functions built directly into Apple’s Logic Pro, Soundtrack Pro and GarageBand software, Duet empowers you to create professional recordings effortlessly on your Mac.

With Duet, you can plug in guitars, keyboards, and microphones to record your music, or simply experience how much better your favorite tracks in iTunes sound. Duet is compact and powered by FireWire, so you can pack up your studio and go anywhere your music takes you.

Its dual, 1/4″ high impedance inputs allow you to combine and record your two favorite instruments, whether it be two guitars, one bass, one guitar, etc., simultaneously using your favorite Core Audio-compatible application. You can also capture vocals with two microphone inputs that have phantom power and 75dB of gain. Whether you’re noodling out new ideas, completing a personal tune, documenting a podcast, or recording a live performance, your new little buddy can handle it. The flexible breakout cables come with icons to make it easy to know what goes where, keeping everything in order, out of the way, and properly connected for maximum input and output, with minimal mess.

Duet’s bus-powered FireWire interface frees you from the traditional four-wall studio setting. So grab your laptop, find a spot where inspiration takes you, whether it’s in the solace of a park or in the echoey confines of a subway tunnel, turn it on, and start doing your thing.

If you don’t have Logic Pro, Soundtrack Pro, Garageband, don’t panic. Apogee’s includes it’s own Maestro software, so you’ll still be able to work with any Core Audio-compatible application. Maestro allows you to turn the Duet’s multifunction control knob into a one-click manager. Maestro will help you manage all of Duet’s capabilities and settings, including I/O level, source selection, muting, mic/instrument gain mode, assign MIDI function controls to the controller knob, assign meter display, and more. Speaking of meter display, Duet comes with LED I/O meters to help you monitor your levels for maximum effectiveness.

Duet is not only great for it’s input and interface functions, but it delivers amazing sound quality as well. Whether you’re listening to your iTunes collection or latest composition through powered speakers connected to the 1/4″ outputs or via the headphone jack, you’ll not be disappointed by the crystal clear, playback performance.

Mackie Onyx Producer 2.2 Audio Interface

Mackie Onyx Producer 2.2 Audio Interface

  • ✔ High-resolution 2 in x 2 Out 24-bit/192kHz recording
  • ✔ Bus-powered for easy mobile recording with no power adapter needed
  • ✔ Built-Like-A-Tank design to survive day-to-day abuse
  • ✔ Compatible with Windows and Mac
A hard-wearing 2-channel interface with high audio and build quality.
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With high-quality Onyx mic press, balanced analogue connectivity and operation up to 24-bit/192kHz, the bus-powered Onyx Producer is more than capable of getting clean signals in and out of your DAW. There are two identical mic/line inputs with combination XLR/jack connectors. Each has a manual green backlit switch to select a Hi Z instrument, and there’s a global backlit switch for 48V phantom power.

Input signals can be monitored with zero latency using the Input/DAW Mix knob, and rounding off the front panel are a large Monitor level knob and headphone output with level knob. Round the back you’ll find a pair of 1⁄4-inch jacks for the monitor output, and also a pair of MIDI connectors (In and Out), which is very handy. Throw in the robust metal case and you’ve got a compact, workhorse device that should last for years. You get a DAW – Tracktion T7 – in the box as well.

The multitude of compact 2-in/2-out USB interfaces can be bewildering, not least because, for such a simple concept, there are a lot of variants and price points. 

Mackie’s latest units, the Artist 1.2 and Producer 2.2 (which we have on review), are at the simpler and more affordable end. Even so, with high quality Onyx mic pres, balanced analogue connectivity and operation up to 24bit 192kHz, they’re perfectly capable of getting clean signals in and out of your DAW. Throw in the robust metal case and you’ve got a compact workhorse device that should last for years.

The Onyx Producer 2.2 features two identical mic/line inputs with combination XLR/jack connectors. Each has a manual green backlit switch to select a Hi Z instrument, and there’s a global backlit switch for 48V phantom power. The unit itself is USB bus powered, and there’s no option to use an external PSU, which keeps things simple. Input signals can be monitored with zero latency using the Input/DAW Mix knob and rounding off the front panel are a large Monitor level knob and headphone output with level knob. Round the back you’ll find a pair of 1⁄4” jacks for the monitor output, and also a pair of MIDI connectors (In and Out), so the Producer 2.2 also doubles as a MIDI interface, which is handy.

The Onyx Producer 2.2 uses the built-in OSX Core Audio drivers and there’s a downloadable USB driver for Windows 7 or later. Once up and running you’ve got a bunch of green and green/red LED indicators (signal level, MIDI input activity and USB connection), so you can see at a glance what’s going on.

The unit is pretty compact and the layout self-explanatory. We particularly like the rubberized gain knobs as they’re easy to grab even though the knobs are quite small. The headphone output is also nice and loud. The unit has rubber pads on the bottom and this combined with its weight makes it nice and stable when you’re plugging up leads or adjusting settings. If you’re new to recording there’s also a bundled copy of Tracktion T7 with the DAW essentials plugin pack so you won’t need an additional DAW to get started.

So, any annoyances? First up, the Input/DAW Mix control influences both the headphones and Monitor output. Not a biggie, but the balances we need for headphones and monitors are often quite different, so if you’re recording someone else and want your own blend in the monitors, that’s not an option. Furthermore, staying on the subject of the Mix control there was also a bit of bleed through from the DAW output even when the knob was turned totally to Input. Again, not unusual in this sort of device, but worth mentioning.

Nevertheless, we think Mackie have done a pretty good job here, delivering a no-nonsense, robust interface, capable of excellent fidelity that you can still slip into your satchel. Bravo.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

  • ✔ Two high-headroom instrument inputs to plug in your guitar or bass
  • ✔ Record and mix at up to 24-bit/ 192kHz
  • ✔ Two balanced line inputs, suitable for connecting line-level sources
  • ✔ Air mode to give your recordings a brighter and more open sound
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is, what Focusrite consider, “The world’s best-selling audio interface”
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The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is, what Focusrite consider, “The world’s best-selling audio interface”, at least that’s what they state on their website.

Now, we believe them! Why exactly, well because Focusrite has been an industry-leading audio interface manufacturer for years on end, and their Scarlett range has been particularly successful. You only have to take a look at the number of positive Amazon reviews [which we’ve linked to further below] to see how popular the 2i2 interface is.

As for the product specs, it’s a 2-in/2-out interface, which features 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs, making it perfect for those who want the versatility of using the interface to connect either two microphones, two instruments or one of each.

Additionally, it too has some impressive specs, supporting a sample rate of up to 192 kHz / 24-bit.

The interface is also fairly compact, making it ideal for those who may want to take this on the road for recording.

Now, as far as latency goes, we’ve read that it’s around 6ms, from users who have tried it.

Overall, Focusrite is an extremely reputable audio interface provider, known for creating quality interfaces. With that being said, we think that this interface is ideal for the musician/singer who wants a 2-in/2-out interface, with the versatility to be able to plug in both XLR or TRS via each input port. If this is you, why not take a look at the product reviews for yourself, directly below.

Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2

Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2

  • ✔ Flexible input options
  • ✔ Premium audio quality at 192 kHz and 24 bit
  • ✔ VU Meter for accurately adjusting levels
  • ✔ Compatible with mac and windows 10
The performance of the Komplete Audio 2 is as slick as its looks. Instead of 1 XLR and 1 jack input, the Komplete Audio 2 has 2 combi-XLR/jack inputs for more flexibility.
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Komplete Audio 2 is a two-input, two-output design with two identical mic/line/instrument inputs. Connections are on space-saving combi XLRs with individual selector switches to select between line and instrument. 48V phantom power, meanwhile, is engaged globally via a single switch. As well as the inputs, the front panel includes a hardware monitoring balance knob (Input/Host) and headphone output with independent control.

The main output level is controlled from a large output level knob on the top panel. Here you’ll also find the input meters, alongside phantom and USB indicators. Round the back you’ve got the USB B connector, a pair of balanced outputs on TRS 1⁄4-inch jacks and a Kensington Security slot. The performance of the Komplete Audio 2 is as slick as its looks, and though the features are basic, it does its job admirably. And when you consider the excellent software bundle, it’s great value.

Apogee Duet USB Audio Interface

Apogee Duet USB Audio Interface

  • ✔ Very reputable brand
  • ✔ The most portable audio interface on the list
  • ✔ Beautifully engineered, with fantastic aesthetics
  • ✔ High-quality preamps and sound quality
The Apple of the Audio Interface world
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The Apogee Duet 2 is the world’s best-sounding and most convenient computer DAC for desktop audio. It’s also a professional monitor controller and headphone amplifier. The best part is it all sits on your desk with one big, beautiful knob for easy fingertip control. Building on the success of the original Duet, while taking into consideration customer feedback, Apogee has set a new standard in A/D conversion for home and project studio with the Duet 2. Simply put, after several years of working at home with an original Mbox, opening my first session with the Duet 2 was akin to listening to the song with brand-new ears.

The Apogee Duet is the Apple MacBook Pro of the Audio Interface industry. It’s sleek design is highly attractive, very durable and extremely portable. Perfect for the professional musician who wants high-quality recordings in the studio and on the road.

The Apogee Duet is the perfect audio interface for anyone looking for more inputs/outputs than the Apogee One. Whilst it doesn’t feature the same in-built microphone that the Apogee One has. It has legendary status microphone pre-amps and internal circuitry, for that high-quality sound.

There are cheaper audio interfaces than those provided by Apogee across their range but the first thing to note is that if you’re Mac-based, you’ll struggle to find a company whose approach is so tailored to Apple’s product-range, with rock-solid integration guaranteed. While we always think break-out cables don’t provide the most professional-looking solution. We’re aware that this is simply personal taste. The implementation of a combined cable here makes perfect sense, allowing the Duet 2 unit to fit snugly in a laptop bag.

The audio quality of Duet 2 is extremely good too, blowing most of the competition away not just among the array of cheaper interfaces available but also out-performing some of those retailing for higher prices.

The Apogee Duet is a stylish, AD/DA audio converter that provides 2 analog inputs with mic preamps and selectable 48 volt phantom power for connecting microphones, instruments or line-level equipment. 4 analog outputs including 2 balanced 1/4” outs for speakers or outboard gear, 1/4” stereo headphone output. A USB 2 connection to connect to a Mac; a MIDI port; and a digital connection for iOS devices.

Apogee units are pricier than similar interfaces from companies like Edirol, Steenberg, ProSonus. However the Apogee claim to fame is outstanding audio quality and great build quality. I found the Duet easy to set up and configure. The controls and the built-in screen simplify adjustments and the Duet looks great on the desktop. The only downside is that the Duet costs about twice as much as competitive units.

A big benefit of the Duet is that it works on both Mac and iOS devices. Giving you the ability to capture high-quality audio on your phone.

In order to record a microphone or analog musical instrument, we need to convert the analog signal into something the computer can read. Conversely, in order to hear audio stored on our computer or iOS device on something other than the built-in speakers, we also desire to convert the ones and zeros of the computer into something our speakers can play.

Overall, the Apogee Duet is a fantastic audio interface for those musicians who are fine with having only 2 inputs/4 outputs. Ideally, we imagine it’s suited to musicians who are on the move and want to record high-quality audio, as well as those who might not want the larger interfaces and want the premium Apogee preamps at a more affordable price (in comparison to other Apogee products).

Compatibility
  • Mac & PC & iOS devices (including iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, with the lightning and 30-pin cable)
  • Supports all major DAWs
Features
  • Apogee is the ‘Apple of the Audio Interface world’
  • Incredibly beautiful, minimalistic design
  • Impeccable sound quality with 2 fantastic mic preamps
  • Ability to connect to iOS devices
  • Premium-spec build quality
  • Very portable
  • Designed and built in California, USA
  • Warranty: 1-Year Manufacturers Warranty
Technical Specs
  • USB 2.0 connectivity
  • 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs
  • 2 Line outputs
  • 1 Line stereo headphone output
  • MIDI connectivity (USB-A Type)
  • 24-bit/192 kHz resolution
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz Frequency Response
  • Requires power adapter
  • 48v Phantom Power
Pros
  • Very reputable brand
  • Very portable
  • Been utilized for many commercial projects
  • Beautifully engineered, with fantastic aesthetics
  • High-quality preamps and sound quality
  • 1-year manufacturers warranty
Cons
  • Only 2 inputs/4 outputs
  • Need to purchase the 30-pin lightning cable separately, for connection to iOS devices
  • Has been on the market since around 2013, so the technology isn’t exactly new
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