When starting off on your recording journey it can be difficult to decide on which recording interface to buy. Also, keep in mind that the answer to the above question could be no interface. If you play an instrument and sing and want to record your song ideas this can be done with an app on your phone. However, to make a quality recording a good quality interface will likely be required.
I think a good starting point is to determine how many inputs you need now, and perhaps try to determine how many you may require in the not-so-distant future. If your going to be recording your voice and instrument tracks one at a time, and any drum tracks will be created using virtual instruments or recorded at another studio, you could likely get away with an interface that has two xlr/1/4” combo inputs. If you want to record an acoustic guitar and your vocal at the same time I would suggest an interface with two to four combo inputs. Let’s say you intend to record your acoustic drum kit or your entire band. Depending on how many mics you intend to use I suggest considering an interface with four to eight inputs, and even one that has ADAT inputs to allow for expansion at a later time.
Before suggesting specific interfaces I would like to mention that there are many companies selling excellent interfaces. I am only including the brands that I have had experience with directly, and also ones that have caught my attention in the past when I was doing research for myself or others. The following are my suggestions for interfaces:
|Two Channel Interfaces|
|Audient Evo 4|
|Focusrite Scarlett 2i2|
|Focusrite Clarett 2Pre|
|Solid State Logic SSL2+|
|Universal Audio Apollo Solo|
|Universal Audio Apollo Twin|
|Four Channel Interfaces|
|Audient EVO 8|
|Universal Audio Apollo x4|
|Eight or more Channel Interfaces|
|Focusrite Scarlett 18i8|
|Focusrite Clarett 4Pre|
|Focusrite Scarlett 18i20|
|Focusrite Clarett 8Pre|
|RME Babyface Pro FS|
|RME Fireface 802|
|Universal Audio Apollo x8|
As you will see, with further investigation, the price of the above interfaces can vary a lot. For the most part, I feel that the “You get what you pay for” concept applies here. Look at what you require for inputs and features and then determine what you can afford to spend. There are many variations of the RME and Universal Audio interfaces. A thunderbolt interface may be worth considering to achieve lower latency. Don’t be discouraged though by the higher price of some of these interfaces. If you have awesome songs and you are a talented musician/producer, you can create inspiring art on any of the above units.
I recommended the above brands for the following reasons:
Audient: I own an Audient eight channel mic pre and am happy with the sound of this unit. Also, Audient stood behind their product when I needed assistance.
Focusrite: A friend has owned a Focusrite interface for several years and has positive things to say about his interface. I own Focusrite mic pres which sound great and have worked flawlessly for many years.
RME: I own an RME interface and it has been flawless for many years. I would certainly consider purchasing another one if I had to replace mine.
Solid State Logic: I do not have personal experience with the SSL unit, however, I did find its feature set to be intriguing when I was doing research for another person. The online demos I listened to sounded very good as well.
Universal Audio: I own a few products made by UA and they are excellent. I also find the ability to use the UA plugins in real-time with close to zero latency very enticing.
Everything in this article is based on my own opinions and experiences. Your mileage may vary based on your own situation and requirements.