Best USB Audio Interfaces

Top 10 Best USB Audio Interfaces (October 2020)

Updated - September 1, 2020

The best usb audio interfaces offer fantastic opportunities to record high quality audio from several sources with minimal latency. USB connections offer substantially higher bandwidth than USB and therefore offer low latency.

USB audio interfaces can support many inputs both analog inputs and digital inputs. They come in many different shapes and sizes ranging from small form factor through to mountable rack models.

USB 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 an audio interface. Low and zero latency models are considered to be the best usb audio interface options on the market.

What Is A USB Audio Interface?

USB audio interfaces are not a new thing. There have been many iterations of the different types of usb ports used ranging from the original usb type-a through to the current most modern usb type-c ports. Each iteration has improved on the last. Offering fast speeds and higher bandwidth transfer rates.

If you don’t have a computer with usb type-c ports don’t worry, there are several adapters (many audio interfaces come with one as standard) to convert usb type-a to usb type-c connectors. This allows you to use a usb type-c audio interface on a computer that doesn’t have a usb-type c port.

USB is probably still the most popular audio interface connection type however this doesn’t mean they’re the best. Choosing a modern usb format is a much better idea than cutting corners and choosing an outdated usb 1.0 model and suffering the consequences of low data transfer rates. This can lead to latency and an overall poor experience.

Rest assured a modern usb audio interface is beyond capable of handling high quality, large data streams. They can easily convert audio signals and act as the mic preamps & equalisers for improved sound quality if necessary.

USB 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 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 usb audio interfaces for your situation. If space is an issue you’ll look for a small to medium sized interface. One 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.

USB Audio Interface Inputs & Outputs

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 usb audio interface which features (such as phantom power) the inputs and outputs you need at an affordable price range.

Some of the best usb audio interfaces 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. This is 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.

Audio interfaces have a variety of different ports, inputs and outputs. Headphone outputs are popular with interfaces allowing you to listen to the sounds without the need for an amp other outputs. Many inputs can exist on a single interface. They range from mic inputs, line inputs, analog inputs and digital inputs.

Overall we think usb is a great choice if you’re looking for an audio interface for personal or small scale use. We’ve collected a list of the best usb audio interfaces on the market to help you find the right one for you.

Best USB Audio Interfaces - Top 10
    1. RME Audio Interface (BABYFACEPRO) - Ultra portable and a customer favourite
    2. Roland OctaCapture Audio Interface - The most affordable audio interface that we’ve featured on the list
    3. Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 - A great competitively-priced option with plenty of connectivity.
    4. M-Audio AIR 2X2 - M-Audio AIR 2X2 is one of the most affordable 2-in/2-out audio interface we've listed.
    5. 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.
    6. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 - The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is, what Focusrite consider, “The world’s best-selling audio interface”
    7. RME Fireface UC - The RME Fireface UCX is a professional level soundcard for the studio.
    8. PreSonus Studio 1824 Audio Interface - The Presonus Studio 1824c 8-channel audio interface is a premium-priced, rack-mountable model.
    9. Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 with Pro Tools - This interface will take your growing studio to the next level.
    10. Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 USB Audio Interface - Made by Focusrite, the industry leaders in music technology
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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
Roland OctaCapture Audio Interface

Roland OctaCapture Audio Interface

  • ✔ The brand has a proven track record
  • ✔ The product has a near-perfect customer review rating
  • ✔ A large number of inputs/outputs
  • ✔ Impressive technical specifications
The most affordable audio interface that we’ve featured on the list
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The Octa-Capture by the Roland Corporation is the most affordable audio interface that we’ve featured on the list.

It’s compatible with both Mac and PC, and can be used with the majority of DAWs, making it versatile for your setup.

It features eight premium-quality preamps, which boast the same internal components as their V-Studio 700 and M-400 V-Mixer mixing desks.

It has 8 XLR/TRS combination inputs, which allow users to plug in a combination of 1/4″ jacks and XLRs, ideal for live band recording sessions and to record instruments such as drums, where you may need microphones and DI capability.

Regarding the technical details, it records at a maximum of 96kHz sample rate, has a frequency response from 20Hz to 40 kHz, and delivers extremely low roundtrip latency with the help of Roland’s proprietary vs streaming technology.

Overall, when taking into account that the audio interface has incredibly customer reviews and even comes with a 1-year manufacturers warranty, it definitely holds it’s own on this article being a product to beat.

Compatibility
  • Mac & PC
  • Supports all major DAWs

 

Features
  • Incredibly reputable company ‘Roland’
  • Durable aluminum chassis which is rack-mountable
  • Eight premium microphone preamps
  • Ultra-low latency driver
  • Includes software
    • Cakewalk Sonar X1 LE
  • Requires power adapter
  • Warranty: 1-year manufacturers warranty

 

Technical Specs
  • USB 2.0
  • MIDI input/output
  • 4 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the front)
  • 4 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the back)
  • 8 TRS outputs (on the back)
  • Supports all major DAWs
  • 24-bit/96 kHz resolution
  • 20 Hz – 40 kHz Frequency Response
  • 48v Phantom Power

 

Pros
  • The brand has a proven track record
  • The product has a near-perfect customer review rating
  • A large number of inputs/outputs
  • Impressive technical specifications
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.

M-Audio AIR 2X2

M-Audio AIR 2X2

  • ✔ Hi-Speed USB-C connection
  • ✔ Studio grade capture
  • ✔ XLR+1/4" TRS combo input
  • ✔ 5-pin MIDI in/out
M-Audio AIR 2X2 is one of the most affordable 2-in/2-out audio interface we've listed.

With the AIR 192|6, you can create 24-bit/192kHz studio-quality recordings with an intuitive and easy-to-use audio interface. The AIR 192|6 enables you to record up to 2 channels at once with its 2 dedicated XLR+¼” balanced combo inputs, and 2 all-new ¼” instrument inputs that have a specially designed gain and impedance stage to provide the most accurate representation of a guitar or bass plugged directly into the interface.

It has an XLR and TRS (1/4″) input, resulting in it being a perfect fit for those looking to record both vocals & instruments. It’s worth noting that this audio interface provides 48v phantom power, so you can connect and power your condenser microphones as well.

The audio interface boasts some impressive audio recording metrics, being able to record in 24-bit/192kHz, which is quite uncommon in low costing audio interfaces. Additionally, it has a frequency response from 20Hz – 20kHz, so you can rest easy knowing that this audio interface will be able to handle your bass, sub-bass, mid-range and treble frequencies without a problem. The unit performs well in terms of latency , providing a pleasingly low output latency at around 6.4ms, which by the human ear, is not noticeable.

Overall, we think that M-Audio has created a fantastic, budget-range interface which is not only great value for money, but it delivers in its ability to provide high-quality audio recordings, with near to 0 latency (6.4ms ). So, if you’re in the market for a 2-in/2-out audio interface, for a low price, the Air 2×2 is a great low latency digital device worth considering.

However, there are no mentions of a customer warranty, as with other similarly priced products (Focusrite Scarlet 2i2) which come with a 2-year limited warranty.

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.

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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or Choose Your Preferred Region

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.

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 1824 Audio Interface

PreSonus Studio 1824 Audio Interface

  • ✔ Best-selling audio interface series
  • ✔ Sleek black metal chassis
  • ✔ Rack mountable
  • ✔ Switchable “Air” function
The Presonus Studio 1824c 8-channel audio interface is a premium-priced, rack-mountable model.
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The Presonus Studio 1824c is a premium-priced, rack-mountable audio interface suitable for any professional musician/sound engineer’s studio setup.

It comes with a range of inputs/outputs, including 8 XLR/TRS inputs and 8 TRS outputs (not including the 2 main TRS outputs), as well as MIDI, S/PDIF and ADAT connectivity.

PreSonus is known for producing high-quality audio equipment, and the 1824c doesn’t disappoint, with its high sound resolution (192kHz/24-bit) and XMAX preamps.

Additionally, the unit is compatible with most popular DAWs and even provides iPad/Android compatibility.

Overall, this unit is priced at quite a premium price, and we think that this is a fantastic choice for those wanting plenty of inputs/outputs… However, we personally prefer the next discussed Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (3rd Gen) which is the same price.

Compatibility
  • Mac, PC, iPad & Android
  • Supports all major DAWs
Features
  • Highly reputable manufacturer
  • Sleek metal chassis
  • Rackmountable
  • Low latency unit with high-quality XMAX mic preamps
  • LED monitoring on front of the interface
  • Compatible with iPad* & Andoid*
  • Software included:
    • PreSonus Studio One Artist
  • Warranty: 2 Year Manufacturers Warranty
Technical Specs
  • USB Type C or USB-A connectivity (2 versions)
  • MIDI input/output
  • 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the front)
  • 6 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the back)
  • 2 TRS headphones outputs (on the front)
  • 8 TRS outputs (on the back)
  • 2 TRS main outputs (on the back)
  • S/PDIF input/output
  • 8 channels of ADAT Optical I/O (4 channels at 96 kHz)
  • Supports all major DAWs
  • 24-bit/192 kHz resolution
  • 48v Phantom Power
Pros
  • Reputable brand
  • Plenty of Inputs/Outputs
  • 2-year manufacturers warranty
  • Impressive technical specifications
  • Rack-mountable
  • Compatible with iPad & Android
Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 with Pro Tools

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 with Pro Tools

  • ✔ Class-leading conversion and sample rates
  • ✔ Focusrite iOS Control app
  • ✔ Two headphones output
  • ✔ Eight natural-sounding Scarlett mic preamps
This interface will take your growing studio to the next level.
Buy From Amazon.com
or Choose Your Preferred Region

Another rack-mount choice in the mid-level category is the 18i20, which is the older brother of the Solo. Loaded with tons of features and I/O possibilities, this rack-mount is a solid choice for any mid-level studio setup. Not to mention, this interface will take your growing studio to the next level with its amazing sound quality and expansion options. The price seems to be very right with this rack-mount, it offers nearly all the same features and possibilities of competing rack-mounts but at half the cost.

Focusrite’s Scarlett audio interfaces are now a well established range, and using the same mic preamp design as the FireWire Saffire range, it’s a given that the front end is going to be at least as good as any at this price.

The 18i20 has 18 inputs and 20 outputs, and is effectively a Saffire Pro 40 with USB rather than FireWire. Though there are a few notable differences. Such as word clock only being on the 18i20 and no optical S/PDIF option for the 18i20. Although it may not appear to be a big step up from the Scarlett 18i6, they’re worlds apart in terms of physical connectivity.

At 3kg, the 18i20 is a hefty unit. Although the Scarlett series’ red livery has been carried through to the case. The black front panel is a far more serious and professional-looking affair. It all feels very solid. While we prefer the rubberised black mic preamp knobs to the shiny silver monitor and headphone knobs. It’s obviously not a deal breaker.

Like many current audio interfaces, the 18i20 tackles the ‘studio hub’ role successfully, bringing together input, output, software monitoring and hardware monitoring. Having two separately configurable headphone feeds, for example, is very useful. As are the physical Mute and Dim buttons and additional software monitoring options (including mono).

Two front-mounted mic/line/instrument inputs are joined by six rear-mounted mic/line inputs (all on combo connectors). All eight mic preamps feature individual front panel gain knobs, along with 48V phantom power switched on/off in two banks of four. Inputs 1 and 2 get manual switchover for high impedance instrument input and a 10dB pad switch.

There are ten analogue outputs on balanced TRS jacks, the first two of which are labelled ‘Monitor’. The front panel also has two dedicated headphone outputs with individual level controls. The other ten inputs and outputs are digital, with stereo S/PDIF via RCA and eight further channels on ADAT lightpipe. The latter can also handle S/PDIF or four channels of SMUX at 96kHz.

Lastly, there’s MIDI In/Out, word clock out and a mains input socket. The 18i20 can also run as a signal mixer in standalone mode. Display-wise, the front panel hosts eight 5-part LED input meters as well as USB Active and clock Locked indicators.

The combo inputs automatically switch between mic and line sources based on plug type, and the 60dB of gain handles low-level signals well. The input LEDs do the job, although there’s no option to switch them to output monitoring. One minor issue: in some circumstances, the monitor mute and level can be a bit slow to respond. Focusrite say it’s a software problem that’ll be fixed soon in an update.

Phantom power can only be turned throughout inputs 1-4 and 5-8 at a time. No on an as needed. so if only input 3 needs phantom power you must push the phantom power 1-4 button engaging it for all 4 inputs. Don’t worry as this will NOT damage or affect the other inputs using dynamic mics and will only hurt older ribbon mics.

Comes with more than enough software to start and point you to more if you’re new and feel the need to build up a plugin collection. It has everything you need and nothing you don’t. Cannot be beat for the price. Metal construction, beautiful red brushed aluminum on the top, it’s a shame to rack mount it. Knobs and buttons are heavy and confident as well as the solid click when inserting cables. It has some weight to it too. I’m blown away by the ability and features of this amp! No regrets and now I see why this audio interface for mac is so popular!

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 USB Audio Interface

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 USB Audio Interface

  • ✔ Highly reputable brand
  • ✔ Very impressive technical specs
  • ✔ Tried and tested, as it’s the 3rd Generation of the product
  • ✔ Ultra-low latency
Made by Focusrite, the industry leaders in music technology

The Scarlett 18i20 (3rd Gen) by Focusrite is their third iteration of this phenomenally successful series. And with each generation, Focusrite seems to iron out any flaws and add functionality.

It is an 18 input unit, with 8 XLR/TRS combination inputs, as well as a MIDI input & output, S/PDIF input & output, and the ADAT inputs/outputs.

The reason that this interface features two sets of ADAT inputs/outputs as it requires both sets to be used simultaneously when running the unit at 96kHz.

The unit itself is very physically pleasing, and can be rack-mounted. It also includes a range of software, which will delight any musicians who may be starting out.

As for the technical capabilities of the unit, as expected, it can provide a 192kHz sample rate, which is very impressive.

Overall, since it’s extremely new, there are few customer reviews in existence. However, when taking into account the previous versions and their customer reviews, it definitely suggests that this is an interface to look at.

 

Compatibility
  • Mac & PC
  • Supports all major DAWs

 

Features
  • Newly released audio interface
  • 18 inputs and 20 outputs
  • Eight high-quality mic preamps
  • Made by Focusrite, who are leaders in the music tech industry
  • 3rd Generation of the Scarlett 18i20
  • Durable metal chassis which is rack-mountable
  • Sleek aesthetic design
  • Includes software
    • Pro Tools, Ableton Live Lite, Softube time and tone bundle, Focusrite’s Red plug-in Suite, 3-month splice subscription and 1 free XLN Addictive Keys virtual instrument
  • Requires power adapter
  • Warranty: 2-Year Manufacturers Warranty

 

Technical Specs
  • USB C connectivity
  • MIDI input/output
  • 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the front)
  • 6 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the back)
  • 2 TRS/Headphone outputs (on the front)
  • 10 TRS/Line outputs (on the back)
  • S/PDIF input & output
  • 2 x ADAT input & output
  • 24-bit/192 kHz resolution
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz Frequency Response
  • 48v Phantom Power

 

Pros
  • Highly reputable brand
  • New technology, with it being a new release
  • Tried and tested, as it’s the 3rd Generation of the product
  • Ultra-low latency
  • 2-year manufacturers warranty
  • Very impressive technical specs

 

Cons
  • Phantom power can only be applied to bulk inputs (i.e 1-4, 4-8)
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