Best Computer Recording Audio Interfaces in 2020



Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First Review:


Summary:
The 2i2 3rd Gen is a solid advancement to the product line. Generation III helps this brand to remain at the forefront of audio interfaces. I had sold a previous interface and found myself in a pinch where I needed to get something recorded and produced within 48 hours. I found myself with a 2i2 3rd Gen and it was perfect.

Good things you should know:
Contrary to other reviews, you DO NOT need any external drivers. It truly does remain plug-and-play, as they say. External drivers are solely optional, as your specific setup might warrant them. Here was my scenario; plug in USB to laptop, open DAW, set input to 2i2, record. Latency - what latency? That's a thing of the past.

Bad things you should know (that do not reduce the rating whatsoever):
The bundled software (ProTools First, Ableton Live Lite) is a train wreck and will require much more than the 20 minutes they estimate to set yourself up. It requires creating multiple accounts on platforms for downloads and digital licensing (if you're not already set up). The included software largely remains a means to make the product more marketable. Your BEST options remain to buy a monthly subscription to ProTools ($$), buy Reaper ($), or use Audacity (for free).



Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First Review:


Summary:
The 2i2 3rd Gen is a solid advancement to the product line. Generation III helps this brand to remain at the forefront of audio interfaces. I had sold a previous interface and found myself in a pinch where I needed to get something recorded and produced within 48 hours. I found myself with a 2i2 3rd Gen and it was perfect.

Good things you should know:
Contrary to other reviews, you DO NOT need any external drivers. It truly does remain plug-and-play, as they say. External drivers are solely optional, as your specific setup might warrant them. Here was my scenario; plug in USB to laptop, open DAW, set input to 2i2, record. Latency - what latency? That's a thing of the past.

Bad things you should know (that do not reduce the rating whatsoever):
The bundled software (ProTools First, Ableton Live Lite) is a train wreck and will require much more than the 20 minutes they estimate to set yourself up. It requires creating multiple accounts on platforms for downloads and digital licensing (if you're not already set up). The included software largely remains a means to make the product more marketable. Your BEST options remain to buy a monthly subscription to ProTools ($$), buy Reaper ($), or use Audacity (for free).



Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First Review:


Summary:
The 2i2 3rd Gen is a solid advancement to the product line. Generation III helps this brand to remain at the forefront of audio interfaces. I had sold a previous interface and found myself in a pinch where I needed to get something recorded and produced within 48 hours. I found myself with a 2i2 3rd Gen and it was perfect.

Good things you should know:
Contrary to other reviews, you DO NOT need any external drivers. It truly does remain plug-and-play, as they say. External drivers are solely optional, as your specific setup might warrant them. Here was my scenario; plug in USB to laptop, open DAW, set input to 2i2, record. Latency - what latency? That's a thing of the past.

Bad things you should know (that do not reduce the rating whatsoever):
The bundled software (ProTools First, Ableton Live Lite) is a train wreck and will require much more than the 20 minutes they estimate to set yourself up. It requires creating multiple accounts on platforms for downloads and digital licensing (if you're not already set up). The included software largely remains a means to make the product more marketable. Your BEST options remain to buy a monthly subscription to ProTools ($$), buy Reaper ($), or use Audacity (for free).



BEHRINGER audio interface (UMC22) Review:


Reviewed as a $40 piece of computer audio recording equipment. First of all, I am a sound engineer with about 15 years in the trade. I have experience with all sorts of equipment ranging from low end to mid grade. I am absolutely blown away at what this $40 box is able to accomplish. Recording vocals and acoustic guitar with an SM57 sounded lifelike. I will follow up with some sound samples. You will not be disappointed with this, ESPECIALLY if you are new to recording and need a simple "songwriter" type setup. On one input, plug in your microphone, and on the other, plug in your guitar, keyboard, etc. Behringer has free multitrack software for download in case you don't have any, although I cannot speak for its usefulness, but I am sure it is fine. I repurposed an old Cubase program I purchased MANY years ago, and it worked flawlessly. Of course, there is always the hassle of setting up the software, making sure the busses are correct and the inputs are all set, but if you don't know how to do that, you need to learn these recording basics because these are essential to the craft.

*Other notes: make sure you download the ASIO4ALL driver located at the Behringer website, and that driver also has an official website as well.
Upon plugging in the UMC22, the generic drivers install and appear to make your box ready to use, but this is very misleading. The generic ASIO drivers that install upon plugging in this unit for the first time do not play well with this box, and this confused me for a few minutes as I thought they were the drivers that were intended to be used. These generic drivers will also cause the popping and clicking ('weird' as one reviewer put it) noises that some users stated they heard while recording, thinking the unit was faulty. You won't be disappointed. Try this box, especially if you are on the fence between this and other similar options units.



BEHRINGER Audio Interface, 4-Channel (UMC404HD) Review:


----------------OVERVIEW----------------
PROS
• (4) great MIDAS design preamps with XLR/TRS combo jack for mic/line/inst signals
• Pad for each preamp
• Very small footprint
• Dual monitor output with A/B and mono switches
• Can be powered from the USB bus

CONS
• Single phantom power switch for all channels (all 4 on or off) – be careful with mixed sources (ribbon mics, acoustic guitar pickups, etc)!
• No internal effects for use during low latency monitoring

----------------Value Rating: HIGH----------------
First off, the value of this interface is FANTASTIC if you simply need a no-frills interface with four preamps. I’ve done direct comparisons with other USB devices, with four preamps, (main example being the Focusrite 18i8). For several hundred dollars less the Behringer UMC404HD provides:
• A set of preamps that, according to a few recording tests I’ve done, sound EXTREMELY similar to competitors
- (my YouTube channel, B6Music, will have video reviews and product comparisons showing this soon)
• A much smaller footprint

And you’ll only sacrifice a few features, which I did not find worth $200+ plus more dollars. Those included:
• Expandability using ADAT and/or SPDIF connections
• DSP for effects during low-latency monitoring
• A second headphone out with separate gain (but 4 of these can be added for as low as $20 via a headphone amp)

----------------Sound----------------
As stated above, the preamps definitely give more expensive competitors a run for their money. There were very little discernable differences (audibly and visually, using frequency analysis software). Preamps offer plenty of gain and are warm, smooth clean, etc. The phantom power works as it should, although, there is but a single switch which means additional gear may be required if you are mixing sound sources that don’t play well with phantom power. MIDI I/O is basic with a single 5-din connector for both in and out (ie: 16 channels in, 16 channels out).

----------------Usability----------------
Usability is great. All jacks, knobs and buttons and located fine and use is intuitive. The device is MAC and PC compatible and will work with most any DAW. I have been using this with MAC OSX El Capitan 10.11.1 and Logic Pro X. It has been flawless and requires no drivers or downloads. I have not personally used this on Windows but I know they advertise compatibility and the device will work with most current versions by downloading drivers from Behringer’s website. Another GREAT feature, which is not common on interfaces with this many preamps, is that it can be bus powered. That means, if you are mobile and don’t have a place to plug in the AC adapter (included) you can power the interface from your laptop.

----------------Build----------------
All of the gain and volume knobs feel great. They operate smooth and feel very stable. The construction is small and, overall, the build and finish quality is great. I have no complaints about any of the jacks, buttons, knobs, LEDs, etc…
Included
In the box you’ll get:
• UMC404HD interface
• AC Adapter
• USB Cable
• Documentation
And as download (I did not use the downloads and there is not much in the documentation about what is included) you can get:
• Audio recording, editing, podcasting software
• 150 instrument/effect plug-ins

----------------Conclusion----------------
If you just need a couple extra preamps, vs other inexpensive interfaces which usually only have two, the Behringer UMC404HD is a fantastic choice. Although you sacrifice a few features, I’d use this interface, to save a few bucks for other gear, over most other options in the sub-$400 range – beyond that I’d step up to a bigger 8-preamp unit. It’s fantastic for small studio setups and for a mobile rig.



Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First Review:


So this is my, wait for it, 3rd focusrite product. First I owned the scarlett solo and it worked for a few months before giving out.. bummer. So I thought, maybe the quality is bad because its not as good of a product since only one mic input and no midi. Okay so I bite and buy this one. First product I received out of the box was defective and wouldn't even turn on, so I sent it back and got a replacement from amazon.. ok cool. Fast forward now and one of the mic inputs just stopped working. No reason,, just stopped. So the product is great when it works but BOY this thing is not built to last. A true money hole.

UPDATE: okay so, as I said these units are amazing when working. Super easy to use, and picks up great signals. Midi feature is also nice. So my defective unit was able to be replaced by the amazing customer support since it was still within warranty. My anger from previous review has subsided and I’m appreciative they were able to get me a new working unit. :) (this was through American music sound, not amazon as amazon warranty is only 30 days)



IK Multimedia iRig HD 2 digital guitar interface for iPhone, iPad and Mac (IP-IRIG-HD2-IN) Review:


Big improvement over non-HD version. I have an iPhone, which made using the old iRig models difficult at best. The quality of sound was usually good, but using an adapter with the iPhone 7, deteriorated the sound
The HD (non 2) does NOT work with the 7. The HD2 sounds fantastic. I love the ability to control volume and gain, since my guitars have various levels of output.
The HD2 works with other non-irig apps, such as Tonebridge and it sounds great with that as well. BTW, if you have not tried free Tonebridge you should try it. Incredibly well done sounds that are virtually a match for the sounds of the songs that they have done.
There is one MAJOR issue with the HD2...you cannot charge the phone while using the HD2, and the battery drains fairly quickly. I get maybe 90 minutes worth. This effectively removes it from being used effectively on stage. To fix their oversight, IK multimedia will sell you a charging device for
$69.99. This is a HUGE ripoff. They should sell it at cost if they cared about their customers.
I have a lot of $ invested in IK products, hardware and software, and I am frustrated with them for this bad decision.



PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2x2 USB Audio Interface Review:


I purchased this USB audio interface as a temporary solution. The last interface that I purchased, the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6, was WAY too buggy and I had to send it back. So I wanted to get something that was closer to 'pro' quality, and that was going to take time to save up money. So I looked for a temporary solution, in the meantime. I went with the Presonus, because I had an Amazon gift card and it was under 100$. It gets the job done in a basic sense. It's plug & play on Mac OsX, and it can handle basic sound duties for production, mixing, or DJing (I have not tried instrument or voice recording. If you're on a tight budget, are a beginner, need a quick/cheap travel interface then this is a good one. I really only have to critisms. 1) the control knobs are small and tight. So dialing in an exact volume is tricky. 2) this interface periodically makes itself 'unknown' to my computer. About once a week, I'd say I'll come to my Mac and Ableton will say 'no audio device connected' and I have to go in preferences and tell it to use the Audiobox as it's input and output. Those are my only 2 gripes. Other than that it works for the time being.



IK Multimedia iRig 2 Guitar Interface Adaptor for iPhone, iPod Touch & iPad (IPIRIG2PLGIN) Review:


Big improvement over non-HD version. I have an iPhone, which made using the old iRig models difficult at best. The quality of sound was usually good, but using an adapter with the iPhone 7, deteriorated the sound
The HD (non 2) does NOT work with the 7. The HD2 sounds fantastic. I love the ability to control volume and gain, since my guitars have various levels of output.
The HD2 works with other non-irig apps, such as Tonebridge and it sounds great with that as well. BTW, if you have not tried free Tonebridge you should try it. Incredibly well done sounds that are virtually a match for the sounds of the songs that they have done.
There is one MAJOR issue with the HD2...you cannot charge the phone while using the HD2, and the battery drains fairly quickly. I get maybe 90 minutes worth. This effectively removes it from being used effectively on stage. To fix their oversight, IK multimedia will sell you a charging device for
$69.99. This is a HUGE ripoff. They should sell it at cost if they cared about their customers.
I have a lot of $ invested in IK products, hardware and software, and I am frustrated with them for this bad decision.



Rode RODECaster Pro Podcast Production Studio Review:


Having worked with several other mixers in the past I found the Rodecaster Pro to be a dream to work with. It was easy to setup, has just enough customization to make it's operation easy but still feel professional. The quality of the unit bumped the quality on the sound I was getting from my Samson Q2U mic's significantly. The real magic came when I added to Rode NT1A mics which the system natively supports. Everything that comes out of the device sounds like it's from a professional studio. Rode has done a fantastic job of supporting the device as well with several firmware updates bringing increased features and functionality to the device.