When choosing the best audio interface for you, you first need to look at two things.
- First is what type of connection your computer has.
Nowadays most of the audio interfaces come with USB. There is also a FireWire which is slowly phasing out but still in use due to being known for having very low latencies. Thunderbolt is also becoming more and more popular especially on newer Macs which they have it onboard natively. Also, more and more PC motherboard manufacturers are adopting this standard. If not, you can still have it with some PCIe thunderbolt extension cards.
- The next thing you should take into consideration is how many simultaneous inputs do you need.
Lots of people overdo it. They buy a card with many inputs and they don't use them at all. For instance, you don't need 20 inputs to record 20 tracks or 20 people in your band if you can record them one at a time. It's important to know how many inputs you will need at any given time to record at ONCE. Simultaneously. So for example, if you're just a singer-songwriter and you're just going to play guitar and sing at the same time. Or play a keyboard and sing at the same time. Or just do one of the other you only need two inputs.
But for instance, if you want to record drums maybe you want four mics on the drum kit. A kick, snare, and overhead. You're going to need four microphone preamps in that audio interface. If you need eight microphones on your drum kit or you want to record a drum kit and a guitar player at the same time, you need even more.
So the main thing to consider is how many inputs you can imagine you will need in the near future to record at the same time. BUT. Be aware that some audio interfaces let's say are considered having eight inputs but only have four microphone preamps built-in. And the other four inputs are line level inputs. If you have keyboards or DJ equipment or if you have other external microphone preamps, it's fine. But you really want eight microphone preamps
So make sure we not only check the input channel count but the number of preamps in there. This way you know how many microphones you can plug right into the interface.
I compiled a list of the best and most popular audio interfaces on the market, considering connection type and how many inputs it has. By inputs, I mean MIC actual preamps.
- Here is my compiled list of the best USB audio interfaces currently on the market