Top 10 Best Audio Interfaces Under $1000 (April 2021)

The Best Audio Interfaces Under $1000 - 2021

The best audio interfaces under $1000 offer fantastic opportunities to record high quality audio from several sources with minimal latency.

Audio interfaces under $1000 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 an audio interface. Low and zero latency models are considered to be the best audio interface options on the market.

Audio Interface Connection Types

Audio interfaces under $1000 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 audio interfaces available on the market.

Audio Interface Price Range

The price of top quality 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 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 under $1000 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 under $1000 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.

Audio Interface Inputs & Outputs

Audio interfaces under $1000 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 range.

Some of the best audio interfaces under $1000 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 an 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 audio interface under $1000.

Antelope Audio Antelope Zen Tour Image

Antelope Audio Antelope Zen Tour

  • ✔ 24-bit, 192 kHz audio and Antelope’s signature flawless conversion
  • ✔ Guitar amp modeling and effects processing with virtually 0 latency
  • ✔ Touchscreen control panel
  • ✔ 32 channels via Thunderbolt and 24 channels on USB

If you want a high-quality audio interface for studio, rehearsals and gigs you have to look at this.

Antelope Audio Antelope Zen Tour - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

Antelope doesn’t tend to scrimp on the quality of its products and the Zen Tour is no exception. It’s very compact given how much functionality it offers, and feels solid. It has a small but useful touchscreen which enables you access to all the basic functions of the unit, with the likes of input gains, headphone levels and talkback directly accessible using buttons on the front panel and the large ‘soft’ knob.

At the front are two headphone outs, two re-amping outs and four line/Hi Z inputs, all on 1/4-inch jacks. To the rear are four dual XLR/1/4-inch inputs, two pairs of monitor outs on 1/4-inch jacks, eight analogue outs on a DB25, two RCA sockets for S/PDIF in and out, a power connector and USB and Thunderbolt sockets. On the left-hand side are two pairs of ADAT ins and outs.

Once you have the software installed on your computer and connected you are ready to go. There are six amplifier emulations covering vintage to modern and clean to downright filthy. They sound great and, unlike some software emulations, have a great dynamic response. You also get a great range of EQs and a single compressor.

If you want a high-quality audio interface for studio, rehearsals and gigs you have to look at this. It sounds great and is supremely flexible. Certainly one of the best audio interfaces for guitarists you can buy.


iZotope Spire Studio Image

iZotope Spire Studio

  • ✔ Very unique design
  • ✔ Record, edit, mix and share tracks from your phone
  • ✔ Professional microphone with award winning sound processing technology
  • ✔ Compatible with Android, iOS and iPad

The iZotope Spire Studio is an audio interface designed with the traveling musician in mind.

iZotope Spire Studio - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

Physically, the unit is very small, making it very portable and so, able to be transported almost anywhere.

The unit has 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs so it’s perfect for the singer/songwriter who wants to record vocals and an accompanying instrument simultaneously, such as guitar or piano.

Where the unit differs when compared to most audio interfaces, is in it’s connectivity to the DAW (which happens wirelessly).

The iZotope Spire Studio is only compatible with the Spire app, which can be downloaded onto your android or iOS application, and so this may be a limitation for some.

The audio interface can be powered through a 5v power supply, or it can be battery-powered, which allows for up to 4+ hours of usage.

Overall, This unit is definitely suited for the musician on the move, who are looking for an easy way to record, without necessarily being fussy about the specific DAW they record on.

However, for the price, we think that this is quite expensive, considering the functionality. If you can deal with a unit which is slightly larger, such as the M-Audio M-Track 8X4M Audio Interface, which provides better functionality and higher quality recordings, then we recommend taking a look at that instead.

None-the-less, Spire Studio have created a product which suits a specific criterion, of being highly portable.

Designed to be portable, the unit itself is reassuringly weighty, if a little cumbersome (for a mobile-centric device). Featuring an onboard, front-facing omnidirectional microphone and two XLR/TS combo ports around the rear, with phantom power switching, Spire connects to your iOS device via WiFi. Two 3.5mm headphone ports round off the audio connectivity; one located below the mic and one on the rear, while audio is captured at 24-bit/48kHz.

The hardware very much keeps alive the original mission of capturing ideas quickly. We were able to capture recordings right away, without even needing the app. Not only is speed a priority, but also sound quality. To be sure of achieving the best possible recording, Spire features a one-click sound-checking function, which is as simple as it sounds.

The original app used iZotope’s vast heritage of audio processing and continues that here. The layout is familiar to those who used the original version. One feature we felt was lacking, previously, was the ability to trim audio files. This new edition doubles the number of tracks to eight and a trim function has now been added. Despite the eight tracks, only two can be recorded simultaneously and plugging into the first input will defeat the onboard mic. To keep the mic you’ll need to plug your external source into the second input.

Editing tracks can be achieved within the app with very simple mixing and DSP options at your disposal. Various amp models, reverbs and delays are available, so you can effectively polish a whole track within the Spire ecosystem and publish to social media directly. Alternatively, if you feel your project could do with some finer tweaks, a stems export function is also available for easy transfer of any recordings to your DAW.

It may seem pricey for a two-in, two-out interface, especially one tied to iOS, but as a standalone recorder it’s worth it. The speed in which you can lay down ideas is perfect for creative types, backed by powerful iZotope software tools to take those ideas to fruition. In future we’d like to see the hardware opened up to all platforms, with MIDI added. For now though, Spire Studio ticks lots of boxes for anyone looking to expand their iOS production setup.


RME Fireface UC Image

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.

RME Fireface UC - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

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.


Focusrite Scarlett OctoPre Dynamic Image

Focusrite Scarlett OctoPre Dynamic

  • ✔ Flexible analogue compression on every channel
  • ✔ Eight natural-sounding 2nd generation Scarlett mic preamps
  • ✔ Focusrite precision AD/DA conversion up to sample rates of 192 kHz
  • ✔ Eight balanced line outputs

Scarlett OctoPre Dynamic is ideal for expanding any high quality, multi-channel recording system.

Focusrite Scarlett OctoPre Dynamic - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

Expand your setup with eight mic/line inputs, eight line outputs, Focusrite precision conversion up to 192 kHz AD/DA and analogue compression on every channel. The OctoPre Dynamic builds on the features of the OctoPre, adding analogue compression to all input channels and eight channels of precision D-A conversion. With dual ADAT* optical I/O, it’s ideal for expanding a 18i8 or 18i20 – or any interface with ADAT I/O. Scarlett OctoPre Dynamic is ideal for expanding any effective, multi-channel recording system. With its high-headroom mic, line and dual instrument inputs and analogue compression, it’s ideal for tracking drums as well guitars, keyboards, vocals and more. Meanwhile the eight outputs give you the option of expanding your analogue outputs over and above the OctoPre.

When you buy an audio interface, a bunch of I/O options usually go ignored. WordClock, ADAT and SPDIF are present on most interfaces, but are rarely ever used. However, by making use of these connections, you can vastly enhance your interface’s potential, expanding from perhaps only a stereo input to sufficient inputs for a whole multi-tracked drum recording. The Focusrite Scarlett OctoPre Dynamic provides an extra eight analogue inputs, each with its own mic preamp and compressor, to any ADAT-equipped interface.

With eight channels of Focusrite’s 2nd generation preamps and built-in precision 24-bit / 192 kHz conversion, the OctoPres present an ideal way of adding eight extra mic/line inputs to a DAW or digital console. And there are eight analogue line outputs too, perfect for stand alone use in a live sound environment.

For the bass guitar, we used one of the two instrument inputs on the OctoPre Dynamic, and were again very impressed with the clarity of the signal. On both the bass and the lead vocal, we tried dialing in a healthy dose of compression with More mode engaged. The single-knob compressor control acts as both a threshold and make-up gain in one as you turn the dial, so you don’t lose level as you turn it up. This makes it very quick and easy to dial up a sound and move on to the next track, but also a little tempting to overuse the compression. On the bass, this pulled the attack back a little, but did smooth out the performance nicely and made each note prominent in the mix, while on vocal, the compressor simply demanded to be turned up.

The Scarlett OctoPre Dynamic made for a really great tool. With that and the Red 8Pre, we had a 16-channel recording console in a 2U rack, eight of which included compression. And since it’s over Thunderbolt, you shouldn’t have any issues recording that many channels simultaneously, either. The lack of filters isn’t a big deal, but it would definitely be interesting to see if the slightly better-spec’d Clarett OctoPre also gains a Dynamic version for users who would like to use the Air mode as well.


Universal Audio Apollo x8 Thunderbolt Image

Universal Audio Apollo x8 Thunderbolt

  • ✔ Record with near-zero latency
  • ✔ Easily connect to pro-level studio gear
  • ✔ Includes Power Supply
  • ✔ Track and mix with powerful HEXA Core processing

The Apollo offers a huge improvement on Universal's audio interface predecessors.

Universal Audio Apollo x8 Thunderbolt - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

The incredibly designed Apollo 8 from Universal Audio is a phenomenal rack-mount interface. Its ability to reach a high level of dynamic range allows for extreme clarity, depth, and intimate accuracy on any recording. With plenty of connectivity options, it’s possible to chain a few of them together. In the attempt to find the most optimal sound recording experience.

If you’re looking for create professional sounding recordings one thing is for sure. You’re going to require a professional industry leading audio interface. Something that will perform with the precision and stability needed for larger more demanding sessions. Cue in the Avid HD I/O. A high-performance Pro Tools HD|Seris 8 x 8 x 8 analog and digital audio interface. One that’s designed to completely integrate with Pro Tools HD|Systems. The interface features premium A/D and D/A conversion and advanced circuitry. Giving you pristine sound quality and clarity and the lowest possible latency.

The Apollo offers a huge improvement on Universal’s audio interface predecessors. HD I/O features premium A/D and D/A conversion. Allowing you to experience improved audio fidelity and a sweeping dynamic range. Not to mention ultra-low jitter and the lowest possible latency in your recording sessions. With specific configurations, you can make use of built-in sample rate conversion. As well as a soft clip tool for hassle-free recording.

The Apollo I/O is delivered in three arrangements, so you have the option of picking the interface that best fits your connectivity needs. Additionally, you can increase your digital or analog I/O. By simply installing an HD I/O option card into one of the unused bays. You can install a single option card in HD I/O 8x8x8. Or a maximum of two additional cards in HD I/O 16×16 Digital. Although the HD I/O 16×16 Analog arrives with the max number of four cards, you can optimize your I/O by switching any card.

The Apollo audio interfaces completely integrate with Pro Tools|HD. You can achieve high levels of dependability, performance, and command of your outputs, inputs, and routing. Straight from within your Pro Tools interface. You’ll also experience an increased production quality and improved workflow fluidity than with any previous interface. If you desire to use your interface with Pro Tools| HD and alternative DAW software, you’re able to do so with ease.

Finding a great audio interface will improve the capability of your production setup and the quality of your sound. Let’s recap how you should choose the correct mac audio interface thats right for you. Start by gaining a general understanding of how you would want to connect your setup. Then consider the live instruments that you will be using. There are lots of audio interfaces on the market that are affordable, durable and support a wide array of amazing features that will get you on track to capture your required sound.

Desktop compatible interfaces are a great option for Entry and Mid-Level Producers. Rack-mounted interfaces are perfect additions to Mid-Level and Pro-Level producers. Producers who have vast audio production knowledge and are looking to ramp up their output to the max.

Making music with a simple setup of headphones and a laptop can only get you so far. At some point audio production becomes an issue. Having a well routed and professionally optimized production setup will greatly enrich your sound design, production and workflow.


RME Audio Fireface UFX II Image

RME Audio Fireface UFX II

  • ✔ Ultra-low latency operation with USB and FireWire
  • ✔ All inputs and outputs can be used at the same time
  • ✔ Direct USB Recording
  • ✔ Best low latency performance

This is one of the most reliable and fully featured interfaces on the market.

RME Audio Fireface UFX II - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

This is one of the most reliable and fully featured interfaces on the market. It runs on good old USB so there’s no trouble running it on MacOS. It’s quite striking how Steinberg has reflected the look of the UFX II in the AXR4. The Fireface UFX has 60 channels of audio! Digitally controlled high-end preamps, reference class converters and full 192 kHz operation.

The Fireface UFX II has 30 ins and 30 outs with 4 digitally controlled mic preamps on the front, another 8 analog on the back and the rest in ADAT, AES/EBU and S/PDIF digital. The latency and performance of RME’s USB technology are second to none and supports audio resolutions up to 192kHz. Along with the excellent monitoring screen, MIDI I/O and wordclock features, you can also plug in a USB stick in the front and record directly to it. Imagine taking an instant mix from a recording session or live show. The internal TotalMix FX software gives full routing access and hardware mixing with DSP effects.


Presonus Quantum 26x32 Thunderbolt 2 Low-Latency Audio Interface Image

Presonus Quantum 26x32 Thunderbolt 2 Low-Latency Audio Interface

  • ✔ Very good sound quality
  • ✔ Rack mountable
  • ✔ Control session using an iPad or Android tablet
  • ✔ Built-in talkback microphone

Another excellent choice for professional studios

Presonus Quantum 26x32 Thunderbolt 2 Low-Latency Audio Interface - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

The Presonus Quantum audio interface is the most expensive unit featured on this list, and when taking into account exactly what it offers, it’s easy to see why.

Similarly to the MOTU 828es, the Quantum provides thunderbolt 2 (and thunderbolt 3 compatibility) connectivity, helping ensure low-latency times.

Additionally, it has a wide range of inputs/outputs and provides users with the ability to expand up to 96-in / 96-out through stacking up to 4 Quantum interfaces together.

Not to mention, it also provides that capability to remotely control the levels using the free UC Surface touch-control software for iPad and Android tablets

Overall, we think that Presonus have created a good quality interface here, but we see all of the same, if not more features in the MOTU 828es, which can also be expanded and even provides web-app remote control for all devices, not just Android and iPad tablets.

Compatibility
  • Mac & PC, iOS*, Android* & Linux*
  • Supports all major DAWs
Features
  • 26-in/32-out audio interface
  • Well-known audio interface brand
  • Rack mountable unit
  • Sturdy aluminum metal chassis
  • Expandable if you need more I/O (Up to 96-in / 96-out)
    • Stack up to 4 Quantum interfaces
  • Remote control from iPad & Android tablets
  • Talkback microphone
  • 10 LED display lights for inputs
  • Comes with software:
    • Studio One DAW, UC Surface touch-control, Studio Magic plugin-in suite
  • Warranty: 2-Year Manufacturers Warranty
Technical Specs
  • Thunderbolt 2 (Thunderbolt 3 compatible)
  • 26-in / 32-out (at 44.1 or 48 kHz)
  • 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the front)
  • 6 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the back)
  • 2 main Line outputs
  • 8 line outputs
  • MIDI input/output
  • 2 x ADAT optical input/output
  • S/PDIF input/output
  • Powered by a power supply
  • 24-bit/96kHz resolution
  • 48v Phantom power
Pros
  • Very good sound quality
  • Rack mountable
  • Expandable (up to 4 additional Quantum interfaces)
  • Remote session control using an iPad or Android tablet
  • Built-in talkback microphone
  • Low latency
  • 2-year manufacturers warranty
Cons
  • A very expensive unit ideal for professional studios
  • Doesn’t provide as many features as the MOTU 828es, which is more affordable

RME Audio Interface (BABYFACEPRO) Image

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

RME Audio Interface (BABYFACEPRO) - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

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

MOTU Ultralite AVB USB iOS Interface Image

MOTU Ultralite AVB USB iOS Interface

  • ✔ Fantastic customer reviews
  • ✔ Ability to connect up to 5 MOTU devices
  • ✔ Ability to network with other interfaces and computers
  • ✔ Reputable brand

Well received from previous customers, fantastic customer reviews

MOTU Ultralite AVB USB iOS Interface - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

The MOTU UltraLite AVB interface definitely holds up as being a high-quality audio interface, and that’s apparent from the customer review ratings.

The interface provides 36 audio channels, providing 10 analog inputs alongside 8 analog outputs, in which there is a selection of XLR and Line ports (we’ve provided the specifics in the technical specs section). Additionally, it includes an optical input/output to increase the overall input and output capability.

It’s compatible with both a PC and a Mac, via a USB 2.0 connection (although it’s compatible with USB 3.0), offering high data transfer speeds and minimal latency.

Additionally, the Ultralite AVB digital mixer provides 48 channels and 12 busses, all of which can even be controlled with your Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android device, by using the web app served by the physical hardware itself… Perfect for recording or performance environments.

Not to mention, the UltraLite AVB can be further expanded, using the MOTU AVB Switch, which enables you to connect up to five MOTU interfaces, so the possibilities are endless.

Overall, the MOTU UltraLite AVB is an interface which is ideal for live setups, professional studios, and aspiring home studios… All of which comes at a cost, but considering it’s made by MOTU, you know that it’s an interface that will provide ultra high-quality recordings and last for a long time.

None-the-less, MOTU is such a reputable brand, that combined with the 2-year limited warranty and the low latency time, it will certainly be an interface to consider.

Compatibility
  • Mac & PC & Web App control on any device (iOS, Android, Linux, etc)
  • Supports all major DAWs
Features
  • MOTU is a leading company in the industry
  • 18-input/18-output audio interface
  • Heavy-duty chassis
  • Capable of system expansion and device networking
    • Connect up to five MOTU interfaces
    • Ability to network with other interfaces and computers
  • Web app control from any device (using a local area network)
  • Quick setup presets
  • Near to zero-latency monitoring (5ms latency as referenced from Amazon Reviews)
  • Requires power adapter
  • Warranty: 2-Year Manufacturers Warranty
Technical Specs
  • USB 2.0 connectivity (compatible with USB 3.0)
  • Ethernet cable input
  • MIDI input/output
  • 1 XLR input (on the front)
  • 2 TRS inputs for guitar (on the front)
  • 1 XLR input (on the back)
  • 6 TRS/Line inputs (on the back)
  • 6 TRS/Line outputs (on the back)
  • L & R Line outputs (on the back(
  • S/PDIF input/output
  • 24-bit/192 kHz resolution
  • 48v Phantom Power
Pros
  • Reputable brand
  • Fantastic customer reviews
  • Ability to connect up to 5 MOTU devices
  • Ability to network with other interfaces and computers
  • Web app control via any device (iPad, iPhone, etc)
  • 2-year manufacturers warranty
  • Very impressive technical specs

MOTU 828es 28x32 Thunderbolt USB 2.0 Audio Interface Image

MOTU 828es 28x32 Thunderbolt USB 2.0 Audio Interface

  • ✔ Incredibly sound quality
  • ✔ Rack mountable
  • ✔ Expandable (up to 5 additional MOTU devices)
  • ✔ Web-app control

Lowest latency times (1.6ms roundtrip) and designed to perfection

MOTU 828es 28x32 Thunderbolt USB 2.0 Audio Interface - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

The MOTU 828es has to be our favourite audio interface featured on the list. Why? Well, it offers so much functionality and in-turn, ease of use, that we can’t not love it.

Firstly, this is a rack-mountable interface that has both USB and Thunderbolt connectivity, which is quite rare to see.

It comes with 28-inputs and 32-outputs ranging from the mass of available XLR/TRS, Line, MIDI, ADAT and S/PDIF ports.

Due to the quality of its internal circuitry, and the ESS Sabre32 Ultra DAC Technology, it can provide an impressive 1.6ms of round-trip latency, which is less than any other interface featured on this list.

And whilst we’re on the topic of the ESS Sabre32 Dac Technology, this is the same technology used in MOTU’s ultra-expensive 1248 model.

However, the really attractive part of using the MOTU 828es is the ability to remotely control the interface, using any device, via the web-app feature, which is ideal for recording/live situations where you want to see how something sounds from another physical location. As well as this, the MOTU 828es can be expanded, by adding up to 5 additional MOTU devices together, in case your home/professional studio needs to expand operations.

Additionally, the unit provides a talkback mic, A/B mix buttons, and even the ability to connect a footswitch to remotely control the talkback microphone, whilst you’re busy using your hands.

Overall, when taking into account all of the above, including the pros and (not so many) cons, it’s clear why we really like the MOTU 828es.

 

Compatibility
  • Mac & PC, iOS*, Android* & Linux*
  • Supports all major DAWs

 

Features
  • 28-in/32-out audio interface
  • A very well-known and reputable brand
  • Rackmountable
  • Sturdy aluminum metal chassis
  • Near to zero-latency (1.6ms according to their website)
  • Check mixes instantly with A/B buttons
  • Web app control from any device (iOS, Android, Linux, Mac, PC, etc)
  • Ability to expand network and connect up to 5 MOTU interfaces
  • Plenty of input/output types
  • Talkback mic
  • Warranty: 2-Year Manufacturers Warranty

 

Technical Specs
  • Thunderbolt 2 (Thunderbolt 3 compatible) & USB 2.0 connectivity (USB 3.0 compatible)
  • 28-in / 32-out
  • 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs
  • 8 Line inputs
  • 8 Line outputs
  • MIDI input/output
  • 2 x ADAT optical input/output
  • S/PDIF input/output
  • Powered by a power supply
  • 24-bit/96kHz resolution
  • 48v Phantom power

 

Pros
  • Built-in talkback microphone (and remote use using a footswitch)
  • A/B mix buttons
  • Less than 1.6ms round-trip latency
  • 2-year manufacturers warranty

How do I pick the right audio interface for me?

How to pick the right audio interface for your requirements

As we’ve discussed within our other audio interface buyers guides, it’s important to keep in mind a few things before making a decision on a specific audio interface.

Now, we can safely assume that price is an important aspect, with this article being about audio interfaces under $1000, but there are plenty of other fundamental aspects to look for, here are the main ones:

The number of inputs & outputs – It’s granted that each person looking to purchase an audio interface for $1000 or less will have different usage requirements, and a large aspect of usage,  is the number of inputs and outputs that are available to you. For example, those who are looking for an audio interface which is capable of recording a live band session will require more inputs than say a singer/songwriter or a vlogger/live streamer.

Connectivity type – Each audio interface will have different connectivity types, ranging from USB, Firewire, through to Thunderbolt, and that’s not to mention the upgrades, for example, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, etc. Generally, the newer the technology used, the faster the connection, and the less likely there will be any kind of roundtrip latency.

Bitrate & Sample Rates – To put it simply, the higher the bitrate and sample rate, the better the overall audio quality. Therefore, it’s important to bear this in mind when choosing an audio interface. Most of the audio interfaces that we’ve featured within this article have bitrates of 24-bit and deliver sample rates of up to 192kHz, meaning that they account for enharmonic frequencies (both high and lower pitches) and do a good job in converting the analog sound to digital. However, with that being said, most sound engineers will argue that sample rates above 96kHz do not provide any “intrinsic sound quality improvements across the 20Hz-20kHz region”, as it’s beyond the scope of human hearing.

Device & DAW Compatibility – This is another important aspect to consider, as certain interfaces will not be compatible with specific Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs). Additionally, device compatibility is another important consideration, with certain audio interfaces being compatible with Mac, PC or even an iOS device such as the iPhone or iPad. None-the-less, we’ll clearly indicate which interfaces are suitable for certain devices.

Warranty – Since you’re clearly looking to spend $1000 or less on an audio interface, making sure that it has a decent product warranty/guarantee is important. Therefore, we’ll be sure to highlight the length and type of warranty supplied with each audio interface that we recommend further below.

Physical Size – So where are you going to keep this new audio interface, will it be on your desk with your other music equipment, or in fact held in a rack? If you can answer these questions, you’ll have a clear indication as to the physical requirements and limits you have on your new audio interface.

Brand – For some shoppers, brand can be everything. And whilst we agree that brand reputation is important, as it’s likely to demonstrate that the company provides great quality products, hence they’re talked about a lot and gain fans and loyal users, try not to discount newer brands. With that being said, we’ve done hours of research and customer review evaluation to find the creme-de-la-creme of the audio interfaces, and we’ve featured all of them further below.

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