(Last Updated On: November 24, 2023)
Musicians, pod casters, voice overs and audio directors have an imperative need for audio interfaces. An audio interface is essentially what enables a computer to turn it into a basic home studio set-up. Even the basic most audio interface can allow individuals to pursue their music-making careers by enabling them to record instruments and playback their work on studio monitor speakers in the comfort of their homes.
The audio interface allows the plug-and-play USB feature to further aid their instrument recording needs. In this regard, we have compiled some of the best entry-level audio interfaces in the article. We suggest you have a look at them.
The advancement of technology in this modern era combined with the curtailed manufacturing expenses are one of the main reasons that have led individuals to record at home without breaking their budgets to pay for a professional studio setup.
A typical audio interface is a piece of essential equipment that is needed to make high-quality recordings of instruments like guitar, piano, etc. Or to records high-quality vocals on your computer. It is essentially the device that is at the heart of a typical home recording studio. You connect your audio interface to your computer usually via USB on thunderbolt or fire wire depending on the device.
And with the right adapter or appropriate leads, you can also record straight from your handheld devices. The audio interface has various inputs on the front Which are suitable for connecting microphones or guitars even a line out for a synth or Digital piano. So, you can move all sorts of high-quality recordings as it is very versatile as this interface also has MIDI input and output.
Furthermore, you can connect headphones for studio monitors, so that, you can hear what you’ve done. What’s going on is that you are recording and analog signal using your microphone or your instrument meanwhile the interface is doing analog to digital conversion and outputting an audio stream that can be stored and edited on your computer.
There is also a reverse happening as the digital audio from your computer is streamed through the interface Where you have the digital to analog conversion so that you can hear what you have done.
Additionally, an Audio Interface is a central hub of connectivity in a home studio setup, therefore, it is safe to say it is one of the most crucial starter pack equipment.
That being said, for a quality setup, there’s a need to invest in a decent Audio Interface to better cover the recording requirements with minimal to zero latency, therefore, buying a good quality interface is always advantageous.
If you’re a budding artist and want to start your setup yet you’re immensely overwhelmed by the products in the market to cater to your needs, then the following list has got you covered with some of the decent most Audio interface options in the market.
So, without any further ado let’s dive in and take a look at each option keeping in view their strengths and weaknesses, and who they might be suitable for:-
Best Entry Level Audio Interfaces (Comparison)
|RME MADIFACE USB
|11.65 x 6.75 x 3.8 inches
|MOTU UltraLite AVB
|11.42 x 7.48 x 3.54 inches
|RME FIREFACE 802
|1.7 x 19 x 9.5 inches
|Onyx Artist 1.2
|4.4 x 6.4 x 1.9 inches
RME’s small, convenient, and bus-powered designed MADIface interface provides MADI I/O over USB 2.0 and also supporting the full format 64 channels for recording and playback for both IOS and Windows.
Therefore, allowing both input methods to be used for full redundancy maneuver. MADI’s both I/O can run at once to provide full 128 channels input and output access which is generally mixed and routed by a powerful digital real-time mixer – TotalMix.
Furthermore, without the aid of any computer, this compact box provides an astonishing bi-directional format converter which converts coaxial to optical and the other way around all at once and also provides active repeater operations.
However, another amazing feature due to the entirely new generated signal, jitter suppression by SteadyClock, and reclocking of the MADI output, this interface provides elegant and sophisticated format conversion.
This efficient interface also comes with an option to disable the internal mixer and routing matrix – Disable TotalMix. Therefore, allowing all input and output data to go direct to the recording or come directly from playback without the involvement of any mixing or routing.
Apart from the input port manual selection and configuration, this smart interface also has an Auto Select option which allows automatic input selection, allowing to send data over both inputs simultaneously. Auto Select puts the device into zero latency and redundancy mode. Furthermore, if one input fails it will allow MADI to switch to the other option in real-time.
Apart from the obvious advantage of seamless redundancy operation, another main pros of MADIface is its standalone operation and that it needs no external power supply.
Overall, it is an excellent entry-level audio interface option. Especially when it nonetheless offers a dedicated control room section with talkback, main-phones, fader, and mute groups and remote controllability, etc. via Mackie or OSC protocol.
|Best for entry level
|Not even a single Con reported
For newbies, RME’s MADIface might be pricey but at the same time, it is worth every penny if seen in the long run. It provides zero-latency monitoring for recording and provides your DAW playback without having to change any routing. It’s all done in the RME software that comes with this box and TotalMix. Overall, it is an excellent investment for entry-level.
MOTU Ultralite AVB is an excellent choice for low latency catering to your personal needs from recording in studios to performing onstage. This audio interface allows you to send and receive analog and digital audio over a standard network.
Its internal mixer correspondingly provides all kinds of DSP processing, summing, and routing options too. The USB 2.0 connectivity combined with additional I/O can without difficulty increase the competences of your MOTU Ultralite AVB.
Aesthetically, the MOTU Ultralite AVB has a minimalistic, all black, and compact metal body with a touch of light blue detailing here and there. However, a stunning feature is the backlit LCD screen on the front panel which provides a clear insight on signal activity.
This interface comes with a 10 in and 6-out analog I/O with two microphone preamps, two HiZ guitar inputs, and a 117dB dynamic range that makes it one of the most remarkable gears on the market. Additionally, this also offers digital inputs via optical and MIDI I/O.
Similar to MOTU’s higher-end models, this Ultralite interface also comes with an inclusive DSP mixer which provides numerous advantages in an assortment of settings.
This digital mixer supports up to 48 inputs using AVB expansion along with 12 stereo busses which let you set up complicated routing operations. Furthermore, connecting your interface with a wireless router allows you to access all of the internal mixing operations over any other device connected to the same Wi-Fi network, therefore, making this stellar audio interface into a completely proficient standalone mixer.
One more impressive use of this interface is the AVB’s Ethernet connection and AVB switch this feature lets you link another Ultralite AVB interface or any other AVB device to your present interface by using only one Ethernet cable.
However, using the MOTU AVB Switches, an audio network of a maximum of 5 units can be set up consequently linking hundreds of channels of I/O over numerous rooms.
All in all, this interface also provides powerful built-in effects and routing options and has an amazing advantage of providing detailed sound quality with non-existent latency as the unit records at sample rates up to 192kHz.
Though, the only minor, standing disadvantage can be that this AVB interface can only be upgraded using an Ethernet cable to connect with your computer and therefore cannot be upgraded using the USB connection. However, it is a minor inconvenience and can be overlooked for all its advantages.
|12 stereo busses
|Up-gradation is possible but only with Ethernet wire
|Built in routing options
|High-quality and reliable
To conclude, it is necessary to note that though the UltraLite AVB is not at all a cheap unit, this classy audio interface has verified its value by providing powerful mixing tools, extraordinary sound quality, and more I/O options than most entry-level users will ever need to use.
Additionally, its DSP mixer is tremendously convenient especially when it works as a standalone mixer on its own. This interface has to be a solid win and therefore worth its price tag.
The upgraded version of Fireface 800 is the new Fireface 802 which delivers about 30 input and 30 output channels alongside 12 analog and 18 digital channels max to enable recording onto 30 tracks.
However, its analog channels include 8 balanced TRS sockets for line level in the back panel with four microphone inputs on the front panel.
With added 12 analog outputs that are divided between 8 TRS jacks on the back panel and two stereo headphone outputs on the front panel as well.
Basically, the dual DSP operated TotalMix software is planned to route whatever and wherever you want.
This interface comes with about 15 fully independent stereo sub-mixes along with a Control Room segment that delivers numerous features found on desktop controllers, I.e. monitor, mono/stereo, dim and talkback switching. This unit also panels the 2 headphone outputs.
Furthermore, effects can be efficiently applied to signals on the way in or out, with an additional feature of monitoring input signals whilst recording the un-processed signal. All input channels have a single effect for reverb and delay, and subsequently, all output channels have effect return fader therefore, reverb can be added to one or both headphone mixes whilst preserving a dry sound in the focal monitoring mix.
The sends to both effects correspondingly can be run individually or together. However, to maintain the balance between them, things can be changed using their separate volume controls, but as there’s only one auxiliary-send there has to be some extent of the unavoidable compromise.
The DSP within this quite efficient Fireface interface handles all the signal processing. This also comes with 4 groups: solo, mute and faders, and trim mode for volume adjustments for all of the routed signals of a channel at the same time.
Whilst using this interface the use of TotalMix is unavoidable. However, the TotalMix provides 3 fader banks to adjust hardware input, software output, and hardware output. Therefore, allowing any signal to be routed wherever the user wants within the structure using any set of combinations.
Lastly, RME also offers ample of factory presets that can help the users to set up and get going as soon as possible along with the advantage of storing presets that have clicked with user’s personal needs. Therefore, without any doubt, this is an excellent option for not only entry-level basic mixing and routing but also for semi-pros as well.
One of the main advantages that Fireface802 has over to its older version: Fireface 800, is that it supports USB 2.0 that provides compatibility with all up-to-date Macs and PCs. The package completes itself with zero latency, outstanding driver support, pristine and detailed audio quality and all-inclusive feature set.
|No Con is yet reported
|Excellent audio interface
The feisty RME Fireface 802 undoubtedly meets the requirements of all advancement from entry-level and semi-pro interfaces. Having said that, TotalMix adds a degree of complexity that will require some commitment if the user is to make full use of its processing power.
The range of features on offer impresses, however many will be surplus to requirements for those mixing in Pro Tools or Logic, and some may find the dark and muddled appearance of the user interface a bit off-putting.
Mackie audio interface is a great onyx artist series sound recorder for content and song writers to compose their vocals. Regardless of whether you’re following your most recent melody thought or doing a live stream, the Onyx interface conveys genuine studio-quality sound with the greatest headroom and super low noise.
It has consolidating high-goal 24-digit/192kHz converters with Mackie simple hardware and embedded Like-A-Tank equipment plan is best for home studios, portable account, and double mic applications. Additionally, with zero-inactivity direct controlling guarantees you to hear yourself continuously.
Further, it includes two XLR/TRS combo data links with Onyx mic pres, each is outfitted with phantom force and Hi-Z instrument switches for increased flexibility. This audio interface also gives you the ability to catch your notes and experience media with unblemished constancy at home or in a hurry.
The audio interface likewise has underlying MIDI input/output for regulators, synths, and many more. The quality Onyx mic preamps with dynamic reach 48V ghost power provide a better recording experience.
In addition, the audio interface has studio condenser mics ¼TRS contribution for interfacing guitar and bass with the Hi-Z switch. It requires a USB 2.0 network for quick exchange speed and low latency to endure everyday maltreatment. The foothold music creation programming is also included.
|Super quality sound recordings
|Problems working with windows
The Mackie audio interface Onyx artist 1.2 is ideal for artist lyricists, content makers, and portable chronicle. This highlights an Onyx mic pre with ultimate power and a ¼” line contribution with a Hi-Z switch for a speedy and simple composition. Further, you can enjoy your flawless song with zero noise interference.
As it is important to invest in a quality Audio Interface if you want to set up a studio for good quality production, therefore, it is recommended that for a complete newbie setup with a constrained budget, the safest bet would be to invest in RME’s MADIface Audio Interface as it covers all the basic needs an entry-level user might need and more.
However, if the entry-level user has a bit more leverage to their budget, they can opt for MOTU’s Ultralite AVB Audio Interface as it comes with a DSP that is a powerful mixing tool as well as a monitoring backlit LCD screen. Although if someone wants to go full out and buy a semi-pro interface, they can choose RME’s Fireface 802 however it is recommended to check the user’s compatibility with using TotalMix at entry-level as Fireface 802 needs to be used with TotalMix at some point in time.
To conclude, it is safe to disclaim that the comparison is only between items on this list. All audio interfaces being debated are exceptional choices in their own respective ways. Each audio interface caters to the users’ needs in different ways therefore with the assistance of the aforementioned information regarding the best entry-level Audio Interface you will surely be able to judge better and invest in whatever supports and cater to your personal needs to advance your production career.
Recommended Readings (Rated Recommendation)