This is a complete buyer’s guide to Best USB Audio Interface For Streaming and Podcasting in 2021. 🤴
The best part?
We bought the 13 USB Audio Interface in the current market and reviewed them based on Sound quality, Input-Output Features, and Weight.
And, finally came to 7 Of The Best USB Audio Interface to our readers. 📗
So without further ado, Let’s dive right in. 🎭
As you plan to take your music and home recording to the next level, you’ll definitely need an upgrade in almost all your equipment and appliances. Of course, your audio interface is where you start from.
There are different types of interfaces, but certainly, a USB audio interface will do you a lot of good; since it helps you work comfortably with your iPhone, Mac, or desktop.
However, the problem is that there are so many products in the market, making it difficult to know which exact one to invest in.
Here, let’s take a look at some of the best standalone USB audio interfaces available in the market, based on genuine customer reviews and personal user experiences. This guide is written to give you an idea of what will work for you and what won’t.
Best USB Audio Interface: Our Top Picks 👌👌
1. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
If you’ve been a user of audio products for a while, then you’d have heard of Focusrite, a company that has been into the manufacturing of quality audio products for over 20 years, and no doubt, their products have continued to prove to be a solution to both professional and amateur musicians.
Headquartered in the United Kingdom and serving a client base that’s spread across over 160 countries, the company’s popularity is not a question at all.
Recently, the company announced a release of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, a top audio interface in today’s market. Let’s talk a bit about the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.
This masterpiece has become one of the most popular USB interfaces and there’s no big surprise about that, considering the company’s reputation.
It comes with a red color exterior that’s not just attractive in look, but also boasts of a good level of durability. Its case is produced with anodized aluminum, making it good enough to withstand life on the road.
The product features 2 outputs and 2 inputs, as well as 2 preamps of standard quality. With just a simple flick of a switch, you’re able to hear what you are recording through your headphones or speakers without having to pass the signal through a computer.
With such a special design resulting in zero latency, you are able to focus on your recording without any distractions.
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 features a 24-bit resolution at sample rates of 96 KKz, giving it a qualitative digital conversion rate. What this does is to ensure that every single detail is captured with absolute clarity which makes it put in our Best USB Audio Interface list.
With the USB connection, you don’t have to go through any long setup process again as all you’ll need to do is to just plug in and you’re good to go.
The product is truly portable, compact, and light, making the carriage very easy. Just throw it into your laptop bag and you are good to go. Additionally, it is also designed to be bus-powered, meaning that there’s no need for any additional power supply.
The front panel features a combination of panels that can hold microphones, as well as instrument-level signals. This makes recording easier and more flexible.
The front panel also features halo indicators that indicate to you when there’s a good enough signal to begin recording. The green color indicates that the signal is good and you should begin recording.
With the monitor dial, you can tactfully control the speaker volume, while the headphone amp sends clarity to signals that are transmitted to the headphones.
Below are some of the Pros and Cons of The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 that earned it a spot in our list of Best USB Audio Interface to get in 2021.
- Features top-notch design and convenient controls.
- Balances input and output conveniently.
- The headphone amp is built to feature much
- Easy to set up and use
- Clear and crisp sound quality.
- Download drivers from public Focusrite website are not exactly compatible.
2. Presonus AudioboxiTwo
Like most other top audio interfaces, the iTwo features a 2-in-2-out USB interface with 24 bit / 96Khz capability in a rugged aluminum desktop case. As expected for a device that lacks an internal power supply, it is light, although with a pretty tough feel.
The device has portability as one of its features, making it handy for use at any time. The iTwo is a dual-purpose device that works well with either an iPad or a Mac/PC, although not at the same time.
With the use of supplied capture duo software, you are able to record to an iPad, and then transfer your recording wirelessly to the Studio One Artist package included on your Mac or PC. Although not official, the iTwo also a gas capability to deliver functionality to a few other iOS devices.
In the front panel, you’ll find two combo inputs that can be independently switched between different functions via XLR. The available preamp of the mic features a class A design with up to 52dB of gain. The inputs can be used in any configuration.
The front panel also features a headphone output with plenty of guts. Behind, you’ll find two main outs, USB and iPad connectors, MIDI in and out.
As a class-compliant device, no software installation would be required to get it working with the Mac – just plug it in and you are good to go. To use on the PC, you’ll need a quick driver installation that aids adjustment of buffer size and sample rate.
Away from look and functions, the performance is also worth talking about. The Class Amic preamps that come with the device are definitely a big draw for it, giving it a quieter and richer sound than is obtainable in most budget mixing consoles.
The device specifically extracts a lot of performance from microphones. Something else worth looking into is the latency, which is a serious issue for musical performers.
In simpler terms, this refers to the time it takes for a signal to move from input to output, through the computer. The issue with bigger latencies is that it easily creates a disconnection between the performer and their actions.
Normally, performers prefer latencies of up to 12ms or more which makes it put in our best USB audio interface for podcasting list.
In summary, the main virtues of iTwoare versatility and high performing audio. It is also easy to use, with portable interfaces that can be moved between iOS devices and PCs. It is a solid all-rounder and can be moved quite easily from one place to another.
The marketing language of the company suggests that the iTwo is targeted at sound designers, mobile musicians, and podcasters.
Below are some of the Pros and Cons of The Presonus AudioboxiTwo that earned it a spot in our list of Best USB Audio Interface to get in 2021.
- Offering an integrated solution that works on multiple devices.
- Portable and simple to use.
- Rugged design, yet with the right functions to get a beginner going.
- It comes with customary blinding LEDs.
3. Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD 89
Behringer has always been known to not pull punches, especially when it comes to the manufacture of hardware.
Rather, they prefer to throw in their big guns, irrespective of the price they want their hardware to go for and this can be seen evident in this affordable audio interface that is stuffed with so many features to push it up as a favorite entry into the mid-tier market.
Of course, there’s a lot to the functionality and build of this beauty, but its main drive lies in its performance level and how it handles audio works and turn it into perfection.
With a 24-bit/192kHz resolution, four MIDAS designed preamps, and an interestingly wide control complement, it is so easy for this device to outclass most others in its class on paper – but what’s even more amazing is its performance level in the real world situation, as proven by all the positive reviews it’s been raking in from customers since its launch.
A quick look at all its beautiful features and you’ll no longer be surprised why the Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD has continued to be a market favorite.
Thankfully, it even has a very affordable price tag to go to. No wonder some people even prefer it to more expensive units.
- 24-bit/192kHz A/D Resolution
- 4 × XLR/TRS combo inputs, plus 4 × 1/4″ inserts
- 2.0 USB for computer connectivity
- 6 × ¼”. 2 × XLR, 1 × ¼” Headphones, 2 × Stereo
- Low latency monitoring
- +48V Phantom Power
- Bundled Software: Tracktion 4
Surprisingly, years after it was first released, it still gets loads of praise, thanks to the built-in MIDAS mic preamps. Apart from the sound, another feature that has really gotten people talking is the simultaneous capture of four sound sources.
Finally, the presence of a USB bus-powered operation brings a lot of portability to the mix, making it a cool device that’s fit for both home studio sessions and mobile recordings.
Overall, if you are working on a tight budget, or you want a reliable backup, then this device should handle it well for you.
Below are some of the Pros and Cons of The Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD 89 that earned it a spot in our list of Best USB Audio Interface to get in 2021.
- An impressive combination of good looks with performance
- Portable design, fit for on the road and off the road usage
- Impressive input options
- Lack of instruction can be let down for inexperienced users.
4. Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2
It will be a real surprise to talk about the best USB audio interfaces of our time and not mention the Mackie Onyx Blackjack, considering all the amazing performance it brings to the mix.
The Onyx Blackjack was a direct response to a continuous demand for an affordable audio interface that’s high in functionality. In this device, the manufacturers introduced a black channel USB audio interface.
The device has been pulling a lot of reviews from customers since its release, but here, we intend to look at its key functions and features.
On its physical build, the first impression you will get is that of an encased interface with a uniquely designed exterior. The black powder-coated chassis finish looks smart and exotic in its silver highlights.
The unit is better described as wedge-shaped and it appears quite sturdy in construction with a reassuring weight of about 1.5 Ib. The unit is circled by an aluminum bracket.
The bracket although removable is highly functional and provides good visibility to the top panel which features smooth turning knobs. Enough on its physical build, let’s take a look at some of its most salient features.
The panel unit features a USB input port on the left, made for easy connection to a computer. On the right, you’ll see the set of monitor outputs, followed immediately by a pair of Neutrik combo inputs jacks which gives you access to connect XLR 1/4 inch inputs.
The section for input control is mounted at the top of the device and is straightforward and easy to be controlled. Each gain control has an LED light above to indicate the presence of a signal.
There are also direct monitoring controls that allow for zero-latency monitoring, by sending the signals inputted straight to the headphone.
There’s also a switch that allows easy mono/stereo monitoring. The second part of the top panel features knobs for controlling the headset volume.
Moving on to software and setup, this device may not really need too much technical expertise to operate, although you need to have a basic knowledge of how to handle the different functionalities. On Windows 10 for instance, you would be able to download a functional driver without any intervention.
Once installed on Windows 7, the driver will instantly result in a fully functional setup. With proper installation, Mackie’s interface becomes solid in operation, with no chance for any audio glitches or even dropouts. Its performance is also going to impress anybody who cares about picking out sound components.
In all, the Mackie Onyx Blackjack although budget-friendly has a lot to offer. If you are working on a budget, and don’t see any need to upgrade in the nearest future, and then this beauty is absolutely the right pick for you which makes it put in our best USB audio interface for recording drums list.
Below are some of the Pros and Cons of The Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 that earned it a spot in our list of Best USB Audio Interface to get in 2021.
- Affordable price
- Rugged design
- Impressive performance
- Questionable driver support
- Lacks MIDI connectivity.
5. Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII
One look at this device and you’ll evidently know that it comes with a whole lot of features and functionalities. Although small in look, there’s something about the rugged design of the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII that stands it out from most other audio interfaces in its class.
On its physical features, this device comes in a desktop format 2-in/-6-out interface, with capabilities measuring 24-bit/192kHz. Its black color easily gives it out as a device that’s ready for some real work.
It uses Thunderbolt to connect freely to Mac or PC, although it has to be powered from the wall. The front edge and back panel feature Mic/Line inputs, 4×¼” output jacks, stereo S/PDIF out, TOSLINK port, headphones out, and a Hi-Z ¼” guitar input.
At the top panel lues an oversized knob, preamp input levels, as well as six option buttons. Like some of the previous products in this review, the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII also features an LED that signifies when it is on or off.
On sound and performance, this device has often been described in reviews as synonymous to singing directly into a preamp or firing your guitar through a distortion pedal, without any delay between input and output.
The company while manufacturing this interface ensured that the AD/DA converter was beefed up, giving birth to less distortion and of course more dynamic range. No doubt, it is easily the best among interfaces in its price range when it comes to sound cleanliness and transparency.
It is not just ordinary hardware and if you the quality Apollo stands for and all the quality it has been delivering in all its sound products, then you’ll certainly know better not to joke with the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII.
Below are some of the Pros and Cons of The Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII that earned it a spot in our list of Best USB Audio Interface to get in 2021.
- Impressive audio quality
- New Quad Core option
- Real-time monitoring
- Superb UAD- plugins
- Thunderbolt cable not included.
6. Steinberg UR242
It will be a real surprise to talk about the best USB audio interfaces of our time and not mention the Steinberg UR242, considering all the amazing performance it brings to the mix.
For real, this interface is not only a beauty to behold, but it also brings the right blend to style, functionality, and performance. Although a low budget interface, the performance of the Steinberg UR242 will get you dazed.
It is portable and looks like it’s lacking in features, but in the real sense, it has all the functionalities that you will need from an averagely priced interface.
This masterpiece has become one of the most popular USB interfaces and there’s no big surprise about that, considering the company’s reputation.
It comes with a fine color exterior that’s not just attractive in look, but also boasts of a good level of durability. Its case is produced with anodized aluminum, making it good enough to withstand life on the road.
On its physical features, this device comes in a desktop format 2-in/-6-out interface, with capabilities measuring 24-bit/192kHz. Its black color easily gives it out as a device that’s ready for some real work. It uses Thunderbolt to connect freely to Mac or PC, although it has to be powered from the wall.
The front edge and back panel feature Mic/Line inputs, 4×¼” output jacks, stereo S/PDIF out, TOSLINK port, headphones out, and a Hi-Z ¼” guitar input. With the USB connection, you don’t have to go through any long setup process again as all you’ll need to do is to just plug in and you’re good to go.
The product is truly portable, compact, and light, making the carriage very easy. Just throw it into your laptop bag and you are good to go.
Below are some of the Pros and Cons of The Steinberg UR242 that earned it a spot in our list of Best USB Audio Interface to get in 2021.
- Impressive body look
- Durable and long-lasting
- Good sound quality
Best USB Audio Interface: What To Consider
Now that you’ve known some of the best brands of USB audio interfaces available in the market for musicians and sound enthusiasts, it is natural for you to be triggered to get one for yourself.
Of course, it is a good idea to grab one of these and begin closed-door production, however, you don’t want to hit the market as a novice, so you don’t get cheated a
If you don’t end up buying a unit you won’t enjoy it. To achieve this, you need to go over a variety of products, looking at specs and a lot of other things, before committing yourself to an eventual purchase.
Yes, it is important to look at specs, but apart from it, there are other things you may want to also check out, before settling for your choice USB audio interface. Here, we’ve outlined some of them.
Of course, as an aspiring music producer, there’s a lot to do, and a lot of new grounds to still conquer, hence, you will most often see yourself traveling across different places.
To be honest, most other gadgets and equipment you will have as an upcoming sound person will be heavy and you don’t want to have an interface adding more negative weight to the mix, so you need to look out for only interfaces with relatively lower weight when making your purchase.
The smaller the better, remember that rule of thumb? Formally, audio interfaces used to be very big to perform well, but these days, we’ve seen manufacturers reduce size drastically, still throwing in some really big functionality into the mix.
So don’t be scared, grab something very lightweight. The point is that you want to make travel as easy as possible, therefore increasing your productivity rate.
This is really a no brainer. After all, you are buying an audio interface; therefore sound should be something important. Of course, it is important, perhaps more important than a lot of other factors.
So before hitting the market, whether online or offline, ensure to do your homework, make researches on the sound quality of different brands and products before making your purchase.
Thankfully, the products we’ve listed above all represent well in sound, so grabbing one of them would be just fine. Check the product specification to know its sound quality and go for the one that offers a lot.
Basically, an Audio jack deals with a lot of input and outputs, so you will want to check that feature to be sure that it is compatible with what you want. Loom out for specifications to know its input rating and output rating.
Check out online reviews if you want to have knowledge beforehand. Additionally, you can check the systems that a device supports, to be sure that you can have a go with them, before going for the purchase.
How To Properly Maintain a USB Audio Interface
Like every other high-end music production gadget, your audio interface needs some maintenance too, to keep it working at its best. For a product of its class, you don’t want to impede your productivity because you have to run to a technician for quick fixes once in every while.
Of course, you can avoid all that if you know the proper ways to maintain your device. Having discussed a lot about the best brand, it is only logical that you also learn how to maintain. Observe the following steps to keep your audio interface working as perfect as new for a very long time.
Keep the Interface Away from Dust Attack:-
By now, you already know that dust is an enemy to most gadgets; the audio interface is no exception. Ensure to store it in a location that’s not directly prone to dust and learn to clean it once in a while.
Additionally, you can get a bag for it, after all, most of the brands we reviewed can comfortably fit into a laptop bag, so it’ll not be a bad idea to put it in a bag when you are not using it.
While it is good to keep away dust from the gadget and one of the important ways of doing it is a thorough cleaning. However, don’t let moisture rest on the Interface or penetrate into it when you are cleaning since this can possibly have a negative effect on it.
When cleaning, use dry clothes with a little soak of water to wipe off the dirt from the system. Additionally, don’t eat or drink close to the Interface as that can draw potential risk of spillage.
Read the Manual Properly:-
Most manufacturers of USB audio interfaces attach an operator manually to the pack before delivering it to you.
There are product specific instructions in these manuals, so you would be doing yourself better by going through the manual and understanding every instruction before an operation.
Even as an experienced operator, it is also important to read the manual before operating a new product, since there may be brand-specific information attached to each. Also, ensure that every operator reads and understand the manual so that they don’t end up damaging your prized possession for you during use.
📗FAQ’s on Best USB Audio Interface
Below are a couple of queries on Best USB Audio Interface that everyone is expecting to answer and I did include the same for my readers.
What is a USB audio interface used for?
When an audio interface is used with a computer, it can act as the computer's sound card.
Do I need a USB audio interface?
Effectively a USB microphone is a mic that contains an audio interface. This means you simply plug the mic's USB lead into a USB port and it will work.
Can a USB mixer be used as an audio interface?
A mixer with a built-in USB or FireWire audio interface is worth a look.
How important is an audio interface?
They can greatly improve the sound quality of your recording at the same time.
There you have it, everything you need to know before owning your first USB audio interface. Now that you know the best brands available for purchase, as well as what really to look out for, you’re now an order away from owning your own audio interface. Get your music career on track by grabbing one today.