When choosing the best USB audio interface for you, let’s first check out the Pros and Cons of USB bus.

PROS:

  • Every single computer on the market has at least one USB port. This means you won’t need to buy additional hardware (or new computer) to start using the audio interface. Of course, your existing computer must meet the system requirements of the Digital Audio Workstation (such as Cubase, Ableton, Adobe Audition, …) you are going to be using.
  • There is no form of chipset incompatibility with USB devices. A USB interface can be used on (almost) any USB port on any computer.

CONS:

  • USB packets data rather than streams it like FireWire does. USB requires the sent packets of data to finish transmission before the device can receive more data. This results in not that stable synchronization and performance. This can impact performance and stability to some degree.
  • USB is used by a wide variety of hardware peripherals, resulting in an increase in the chance that conflict with another device could occur.

Depending on how many tracks you need to record simultaneously, there are audio interfaces with different input (channels) counts. I compiled a list of the best and most popular USB audio interfaces on the market.

Note that by channels and inputs I mean inputs with actual MIC preamps. So you can plug in a microphone directly without an additional preamp. For example, there are models considered to be let’s say 8 inputs, but only 4 of them has preamps. So be careful, input count can be sometimes misleading.

 

 

Best One Channel (MIC Preamp Input) USB Audio Interface

If you only need to record one channel at a time, you can always start with a single channel audio interface. The best one I came across is:

 

Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd Gen)

 

INPUTS: 1 | CONNECTION TYPE: USB | POWER: via USB | SAMPLE RATE: up to 192kHz/24-bit

SUITABLE FOR: Singer-Songwriters and Guitar Players

If you need only one MIC preamp for your recording sessions, this model will suit your need just great. It’s compact and very portable. It is powered via USB, this means you can carry and record stuff even outside where you have no electricity. Just plug it in your laptop and you are good to go. Scarlett Solo is ideal for instance if you sing and play the guitar at the same time. As you can see it has one MIC preamp (for a microphone) and one LINE input (for let’s say a guitar).

Last update on 2021-05-18.

 

 

Best Two Channels (MIC Preamp Inputs) USB Audio Interface

If you need two MIC preamps I would choose this model:

 

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen)

INPUTS: 2 | CONNECTION TYPE: USB | POWER: via USB | SAMPLE RATE: up to 192kHz/24-bit

SUITABLE FOR: Singer-Songwriters and Guitar Players, Accordion, Clarinet…

With this Scarlett model, you can use two microphones at the same time. Of course, you can still use one mic and a guitar as you would with Scarlett Solo. But this model has two MIC prams so you have a bit more options to record stuff. For instance, if you need to record an accordion for which you need at least two microphones, one to each side. Or maybe you want to record singing in a duo with your significant other 😀

Last update on 2021-05-18.

 

Best Four Channels (MIC Preamp Inputs) USB Audio Interface

If you need to record with 4 microphones simultaneously this Behringer model will do the job. It is also the best for the price.

 

Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD

INPUTS: 4 | CONNECTION TYPE: USB | POWER: 5v DC | SAMPLE RATE: up to 192kHz/24-bit

SUITABLE FOR: Small Choir, Chamber Group…

Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD is really a great piece of an audio interface which comes with a great price considering all the features. It comes with 4 state-of-the-art MIDAS MIC preamps. Just be careful that this model cannot be powered via USB. It just consumes too much energy for a USB port to handle power. So you need to be recording where electricity is available.

Last update on 2021-05-18.

 

Best Eight Channels (MIC Preamp Inputs) USB Audio Interface

If you need to record a whole rock band you will need at least an 8 channel audio interface. At least. Just for the basic drum kit track, you need microphones for: drum, kick, snare, two toms, floor tom, two overheads for cymbals. That’s total of 8 channels to be recorded at the same time. But this is a bare minimum, some prefer even more for a basic drum kit. For instance top and bottom snare, a separate microphone for hi-hat, even mics for all the cymbals separately, and so on. Considering this, even 8 channel audio interface wouldn’t be enough. But if it suits you, you should definitely check out this 8 channel U-Phoria from Behringer.

 

Behringer U-Phoria UMC1820

INPUTS: 8 | CONNECTION TYPE: USB | POWER: 5v DC Adapter | SAMPLE RATE: up to 192kHz/24-bit

SUITABLE FOR: Basic Drum Kit, Rock Band

It comes with the same specs as a 4 channel model. Also with MIDAS preamps, basically everything the same, just more input channels.

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BEHRINGER U-Phoria UMC1820, Black, 8-Channel
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Last update on 2021-05-18.