In the past, recording vocals typically meant you had to spend big money at a fancy studio full of expensive audio equipment. These days, however, professionals and hobbyists alike can record crisp, clear vocals at home or in project studios using audio interfaces.
Finding the best audio interface for vocals comes down to your personal preferences, but most modern interfaces easily integrate with digital audio workstation (DAW) software.
As an added bonus, audio interfaces are available online across a range of prices to fit nearly any budget.
Whether you’re just starting out as a singer or you’re a professional vocalist, there’s an interface out there with your name on it!
Choosing the Best Audio Interface for Vocals
When considering audio interfaces for vocals, you want to look for one that matches your unique needs. Some vocal audio interfaces come with lots of complex features, including onboard compression, multiple inputs, and pre-gain settings. If you only need to record yourself, these features may not be necessary.
You also want to look for an audio interface for vocals that works with your equipment. Most audio interfaces feature XLR inputs for standard microphone connections, but others utilize ¼” inputs only. Ensure the interface you choose accepts your microphone cables or instrument inputs to get the most out of your equipment.
If you’re a vocalist or singer who wants the freedom to record at home, finding the best audio interface for vocals can be challenging. To help make your life easier, we’ve spent countless hours researching and testing some of today’s best audio interfaces for vocals, and we’ve compiled a list of the top five picks for singers and vocalists. See our list below to learn more about the different gear we researched:
- Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen)
- Universal Audio Apollo Twin X
- Behringer U-Phoria 204HD
- RODE AI-1
- Mackie Onyx Producer 2×2
Best Overall Audio Interface For Vocalists: Focusrite Scarlett 2I2
- 2-channel USB audio interface with high-performance converters and preamps for clear and detailed sound
- Offers low-latency playback and recording, with balanced TRS outputs and a dedicated headphone output
- Comes with a comprehensive software package, including Ableton Live Lite and Pro Tools First, for a complete recording setup
Connectivity: USB 2.0
Audio resolution: 192kHz/24-bit
Analog inputs: 2 ¼” line/XLR inputs
Analog outputs: 2 ¼” TRS
MIDI I/O: none
- Ableton Live Lite
- Pro Tools First
- 20Hz-20kHz +/- 0.1dB frequency response range
- Separate headphone monitor
- Compact and durable design makes it easy to transport and use on the road, with USB connectivity and no external power required.
- High-performance converters
- Input gain matching is tricky
- Connections feel a little delicate
- No MIDI connectivity
- No digital input/output options
Focusrite makes some of the best audio interfaces for vocals, and if you’re just starting out, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is the perfect solution. In its third generation, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 features dual inputs for both XLR and ¼” TRS, meaning you can record vocals, instruments, or both at the same time.
This feature alone is great for budding singer-songwriters. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 also provides incredibly low latency for vocalists who want to make sure they stay exactly in time with backing tracks or live music. Another nice feature of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen is that it handles buffering well without taking a huge bite out of CPU usage.
Most Professional: Universal Audio Apollo Twin X
Audio resolution: 192kHz/24-bit
Analog inputs: 2 XLR/line inputs
Analog outputs: 2 digitally-controlled analog outputs
MIDI I/O: none
- Suite of powerful software plugins, including Unison preamp emulation technology
- Legendary Unison preamps from big names in music history
- Least expensive of Apollo models available
- Talkback button for communication from mixing room
- Small footprint, fits well in any home studio
- UAD-2 DUO core processing to track through plugins
- May be too costly for hobbyists and bedroom producers
- Unit tends to get hot quickly
- May have too many features for solo vocalists and singers
If price is not a concern, the Universal Audio Apollo Twin X will be the overall best audio interface for vocals. What truly sets this interface apart is that it includes near-zero latency recording through precision-crafted preamps that reproduce sounds from famous names like Manley, Neve, Avalon, and API.
These same preamps have been used on some of music’s biggest hits, and they can all be used right in the Universal Audio Apollo Twin X. Vocalists will love having the ability to change the entire tone of a vocal take, and the Apollo Twin X also comes with its own integrated recording platform, LUNA. Although this unit is costly, it delivers big studio sound that can only be found in the highest-quality studio recordings from the last 50 years.
Best Budget Option: Behringer U-Phoria 204HD
- 2-channel USB audio interface with MIDAS preamps and 24-bit/192kHz converters for high-quality sound
- Compatible with a wide range of recording software and offers zero-latency monitoring for real-time playback
- Features 2 combination XLR/TRS inputs, 2 TRS outputs, and a dedicated headphone output with level control.
- Ultra-low latency
- 48v phantom power available
- Supports XLR and TRS inputs
- No individual input control for phantom power
- Linux support is questionable
- Inputs are mono only
When it comes to finding the best audio interface for vocals on a budget, Behringer’s U-Phoria 204HD has you covered. For the price, the U-Phoria 204HD is hard to beat, and singers love that the U-Phoria 204HD produces studio-quality sound at 24-Bit/192 kHz.
As an added bonus, this interface features two XLR/TRS inputs for simultaneous vocal recording as well as a MIDI I/O for extended use in the studio. The MIDAS-designed pre-amps included in this budget audio interface make it sound like a much more expensive piece of gear, and vocalists can use the U-Phoria 204HD with all of the most popular DAWs, including Pro Tools, Live and Cubase.
Best Travel Audio Interface For Recording Vocals on the go: RODE AI-1
- 2-channel USB audio interface with Class A preamps and 24-bit/96kHz converters for high-quality sound
- Comes with a range of useful features, including a dedicated headphone output, zero-latency monitoring, and phantom power
- Compatible with both Windows and Mac computers and offers seamless integration with RODE’s recording software, the RODE NT1-A Complete Vocal Recording Solution.
- Compact size and excellent build quality is perfect for on-the-go recordings
- Onboard headphone amp makes monitoring easy in noisy environments
- Neutrik combo input allows for vocal or instrument recording
- Only offers single-channel recording
- May not be suitable for dynamic mics
- Poor noise shielding
You never know when or where musical inspiration will strike, but with the RODE AI-1, you won’t have to worry. This audio interface is perfect for travelling. Its compact size makes it easy to place in a backpack, or even a large purse or handbag.
Although the RODE AI-1 only provides one input, it does let you record both XLR and ¼” TRS. This means even if you want to switch things up and record a guitar track to dub over later, the RODE AI-1 can get the job done.
Honourable Mention – Mackie Onyx Producer 2×2
- 2-channel USB audio interface with high-resolution 24-bit/192kHz converters for clear and detailed sound
- Features Mackie’s renowned Onyx mic preamps for pristine recordings with up to 60dB of gain
- Offers zero-latency direct monitoring, MIDI I/O, and a range of software, including Pro Tools First and Waveform OEM, for a complete recording package.
- DAW Essentials Collection
- Waveform OEM DAW
- Can be used for live streaming and VoIP calls
- Includes two XLR/TRS inputs
- Comes with DAW Essentials Collection and Waveform OEM DAW
- Preamp may be lacking for quiet vocal performances
- Gain knob sensitivity may be an issue
- Direct input signal tends to be low
Mackie is a name known in the music industry for creating affordable “pro-sumer” products, and the Onyx Producer 2×2 is no exception. This audio interface is affordable for most mid-range budgets, but it still produces a crisp, clear signal for varying vocal styles.
One drawback is that it doesn’t really do well with quiet vocals, but if you’re looking for an all-around versatile audio interface at a reasonable price from a name-brand manufacturer, the Mackie Onyx Producer 2×2 is worth checking into.
Final Thoughts On The Best Audio Interface For Vocals
No matter which audio interface you choose, remember that you can upgrade later. If your budget is a concern right now, find a unit you can afford and start there. In time, you can upgrade to a better audio interface.
Also, remember that more is not always better. Sometimes, the best audio interface for vocals is the simplest, so choose one that meets your needs. There’s no reason to pay more for an interface that includes tons of special features if you won’t end up using them.
We encourage you to try different options, but at the end of the day, your specific needs are really the only factors that should influence your purchase decision. Think about how you plan to use your interface, what kinds of recordings you’ll be making and where you plan to record. With these factors in mind, you’ll be sure to find the best audio interface for vocals in your price range.