Are you tired of struggling to set up your home studio?
Do you feel overwhelmed by the multitude of audio interface options available on the market?
If you're a beginner musician or music producer, finding the right audio interface can be a daunting task.
With so many different brands, models, and features to choose from, it's easy to feel lost in a sea of technical jargon and confusing terminology.
But fear not! In this post, we'll help you unlock the mystery and answer the burning question on every beginner's mind: which audio interface is best for beginners?
We'll explore the top options available, consider the essential features, and help you make an informed decision to take your home studio to the next level.
Let's dive in!”
Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen)
- High-quality audio conversion and recording capabilities
- Easy to use and setup, even for beginners
- Comes with a suite of free software, including a digital audio workstation and plug-ins
PreSonus AudioBox USB 96
- Two combo XLR/line inputs for flexibility in recording
- Solid construction for durability and reliability
- Includes Studio One Artist DAW software for recording and mixing
- High-quality audio and MIDI interface for recording and performing
- Built-in loopback functionality for podcasting and live streaming
- Compact and portable design for on-the-go recording
Behringer U-Phoria UM2
- Affordable price point for beginner musicians and producers
- Dual XLR/TRS combo inputs for flexibility in recording
- Compatible with most major DAWs and recording software
- High-quality audio conversion and recording capabilities
- Durable metal construction for reliability and longevity
- Includes Cubase AI DAW software for recording and mixing
Best Overall Audio Interface For Beginners
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen)
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) is a highly recommended audio interface for beginners. It is the simplest model in the Scarlett range, but it does not compromise on performance.
This audio interface provides singer-songwriters with an easy recording process, making it perfect for anyone just starting with music production.
One of the key features of the Scarlett Solo is its upgraded third-generation mic preamp, which now includes a switchable Air setting. This feature reproduces the Air effect of Focusrite's original ISA mic preamp, making vocal recordings sound brighter and more open.
Additionally, the Solo has a high-headroom instrument input, enabling you to plug in your guitar or bass directly to the device. The Scarlett Solo comes with high-performance converters that enable you to record and mix at up to 24-bit/192kHz.
This audio interface also has two hum-free balanced outputs that provide clean audio playback. Finally, the Scarlett Solo is designed to be tough enough for use on the road and connects directly to your Mac or PC via a USB cable.
It comes with all the software tools you need to get started, including Ableton Live Lite and a 3-month subscription to Pro Tools.
Choosing The Best Audio Interface For Beginners
If you’re trying to find the best audio interface for beginners, there are some great options out there. Below are our top picks for music production to get you started on your journey:
- Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen)
- PreSonus AudioBox USB 96
- MOTU M2
- Behringer U-Phoria UM2
- Steinberg UR22C
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen)
- High-quality sound with upgraded 24-bit/192kHz AD-DA converters and a switchable Air mode that reproduces the sound of Focusrite's original ISA mic preamp.
- Compact and portable design that is easy to use, with a single upgraded third-generation Scarlett mic preamp and one high-headroom instrument input to plug in a guitar or bass.
- Comes with a range of free software tools, including Ableton Live Lite, a 3-month subscription to Pro Tools, and a Hitmaker Expansion that includes various professional-sounding models.
- Only one mic preamp and one instrument input, which may limit the versatility for those who need to record multiple instruments or vocals at the same time.
- The headphone output is on the front panel, which may be inconvenient for some users who prefer it on the back.
- No MIDI input or output, which may be a disadvantage for those who need to connect a MIDI keyboard or other devices.
If you're a singer-songwriter looking for a simple recording solution, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) may be just what you need. With high-performance 24-bit/192kHz AD-DA converters, this interface delivers professional sound quality throughout the third-generation Scarlett range.
The Solo features a single upgraded third-generation Scarlett mic preamp with switchable Air mode to reproduce the Air effect of Focusrite's original ISA mic preamp, giving your vocal recordings a brighter and more open sound.
While it may lack some of the more advanced features found in other interfaces, the Scarlett Solo's simplicity is its strength, making it perfect for beginners or anyone looking for a straightforward recording solution.
With a two-year warranty and award-winning customer support, the Scarlett Solo is an excellent option for anyone looking for a reliable and easy-to-use recording interface.
The PreSonus AudioBox USB 96
- Portable and compact design, making it easy to travel with and set up.
- Two high-quality mic preamplifiers with 48V phantom power for condenser microphones.
- Comes with a free license for PreSonus' Studio One Artist DAW, a complete recording solution.
- Limited to two combo mic/instrument inputs, which may not be sufficient for larger recording sessions.
- No digital connectivity options, such as S/PDIF or ADAT.
- Basic monitoring features, with no EQ or effects processing.
The PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 is a great recording interface for those on a tight budget. With its two combo mic/instrument inputs, this interface is ideal for singer/songwriters, podcasters, and guitar-bass collaborations.
The AudioBox USB 96 also comes with a mix control that allows you to control the level between the input signal and computer playback without hearing annoying delays. Additionally, it has a pair of balanced line-level outputs, an ultra-loud, crystal-clear headphone out, plus MIDI I/O, so you can connect your favorite synth or MIDI controller.
This recording interface is built to travel and is bus-powered, making it easy to use on the go. The AudioBox USB 96 is also compatible with virtually all Mac and Windows audio-recording software, making it a versatile option for any user.
Furthermore, it comes with a free license for PreSonus' Studio One Artist DAW, giving you a complete recording solution. Studio One is easy to learn and enables you to compose, record, and produce your masterpiece without getting distracted by the tools.
One area where the AudioBox USB 96 falls short is in its limited input channels, which may not be suitable for more complex recording needs. It also lacks some features that are commonly found in more expensive recording interfaces, such as built-in effects and a higher number of outputs.
However, for basic recording needs, this recording interface is a great option for those on a budget. Its compact size, ease of use, and compatibility with popular recording software make it a great choice for home recording enthusiasts or anyone looking for a portable recording solution.
Related Reading: Best Beginner DAW Software for Music Production – 5 Options
Related Reading: Best Audio Interface for Vocals – Our Top 5 Picks
Related Reading: The 17 Best Audio Interfaces for Home Studios and Music Production
The MOTU M2
- High-quality audio interface with exceptional preamps and converters for recording and monitoring.
- Compact and portable design, making it easy to take on the go for recording sessions or live performances.
- Comes with a variety of software and plugins for recording, mixing, and mastering, including a DAW and effects.
- Only offers two inputs and outputs, which may not be sufficient for more complex recording setups or larger bands.
- Some users have reported compatibility issues with certain operating systems or software.
- The price point may be higher than some other entry-level audio interfaces, making it less accessible for those on a budget.
The MOTU M2 is a 2-in/2-out USB audio interface that delivers exceptional studio-quality sound, driven by ESS Sabre32 Ultra DAC technology, with best-in-class speed and ultra-low latency of 2.5 ms.
The M2 is equipped with two combo XLR/TRS mic/line/hi-Z guitar inputs, each with individual preamp gain and 48V phantom power, and independent hardware monitoring in mono or stereo. The M2 also features full-color LCD metering for all inputs and outputs, allowing for professional-level volume control and feedback.
The M2's hardware driver includes loopback channels to the host computer, making it easy to combine computer audio with live mics and/or guitar inputs for real-time streaming and podcasting. It is compatible with Mac, PC, and iOS devices, with no drivers required for Mac and plug-and-play operation.
Overall, the MOTU M2 delivers on its promise of exceptional sound quality, low latency, and professional-level metering. Its loopback feature is also a standout feature, making it ideal for those who need to stream and podcast live.
However, it lacks some of the advanced features found on more expensive interfaces, such as additional inputs/outputs and advanced routing capabilities. Nevertheless, it is an excellent choice for musicians and podcasters who demand top-quality sound and low latency, all in a compact and affordable package.
The Behringer U-Phoria UM2
- Compact and portable design, making it easy to use and transport for recording on-the-go
- Affordable price point, making it a great option for beginners or those on a budget
- Includes a powerful XENYX mic preamp, providing high-quality audio recording capabilities
- Limited inputs and outputs, with only 2 inputs and 2 outputs available
- Some users have reported issues with driver compatibility, which can be frustrating when trying to use the interface with certain software
- Build quality may not be as durable as some higher-end interfaces, which could impact the longevity of the product
The Behringer U-Phoria UM2 is a highly-portable, ultra-compact 2 x 2, 48 kHz USB interface, ideal for solo musicians who want to capture their musical ideas on the go. With its studio-grade XENYX Mic Preamp and combination XLR/TRS input, this interface offers exceptional sound quality and unparalleled flexibility.
The UM2 also features an additional 1/4″ instrument input and a powerful Phones Output for direct monitoring of your session, making it the perfect solution for recording vocals and direct instruments without the need for a DI.
One of the standout features of the UM2 is the free download code for the full version of Tracktion, one of the world's fastest and easiest Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) for composing, recording, editing, mixing and sharing your music with the world.
The UM2 is also compatible with popular recording software such as Avid Pro Tools, Ableton Live, and Steinberg Cubase, providing users with an array of software options to suit their needs.
The state-of-the-art, +48 V-powered XENYX Mic Preamp is comparable to stand-alone boutique preamps, providing exceptional sound quality that is perfect for both vocal and instrumental recording. While the UM2 offers exceptional sound quality and flexibility, it does have some drawbacks.
The interface only offers 2 inputs and 2 outputs, which may not be sufficient for more complex recording setups. Additionally, the interface is limited to a 48 kHz resolution, which may not be suitable for more professional-level recording.
However, for the solo musician who is looking for a highly-portable and easy-to-use recording interface, the Behringer U-Phoria UM2 is an excellent option that offers exceptional sound quality and unparalleled flexibility.
The Steinberg UR22C
- High-quality preamps and converters for accurate and clean sound recording and playback.
- Sturdy and compact design with metal casing, making it durable and easy to transport.
- Compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems and supports a range of recording software.
- Limited number of inputs and outputs, which may not be suitable for more complex recording setups.
- No built-in DSP processing, meaning that effects and EQ adjustments will need to be done through external plugins or software.
- The included Cubase AI software may not be suitable for all users and may require additional investment in more advanced software.
The Steinberg UR22C is a portable audio interface that delivers exceptional sound quality in a compact and versatile package. The interface is ideal for composing and producing music anywhere, with its 2 top-class mic preamps, 32-bit/192 kHz recording quality, MIDI inputs and outputs, latency-free monitoring with DSP effects, and fast, reliable connectivity to computers or iOS devices.
Its rugged metal casing and lightweight design make it perfect for travel, while the included Cubase AI recording software and Cubasis LE iOS recording app make it a great music-making companion.
The UR22C's built-in DSPs provide zero-latency monitoring with effects for every DAW, with straightforward control of all routings and settings. The device is powered by Yamaha's custom-designed SSP3 DSP chip, offering users latency-free monitoring, together with the highly acclaimed REV-X reverb, Sweet Spot Morphing Channel Strip and Guitar Amp Classics for users of any DAW software.
The Loopback function of the UR-Cs offers an easy way of streaming performances live to the Internet. The interface is compatible with all major audio software supporting the ASIO, Core Audio, or WDM standard, providing a fully integrated, DSP-based monitoring setup wherever you are and with whichever DAW you use.
Overall, the Steinberg UR22C is a great audio interface for music producers and composers who need a portable, high-quality recording solution. However, some users may find the lack of a headphone volume control to be a drawback, and the included software may not be suitable for everyone.
Nonetheless, with its robust build quality, excellent sound quality, and versatile connectivity options, the UR22C is a solid choice for musicians on the go.
Best Audio Interface for Beginners FAQ
Q: Which audio interface is best for beginners?
A: The best audio interface for beginners depends on their needs and budget. However, some popular options for beginners include Focusrite Scarlett Solo, PreSonus AudioBox USB 96, and Behringer U-Phoria UM2.
Q: What is an audio interface?
A: An audio interface is a device that allows you to connect professional audio equipment to your computer. It provides higher quality audio inputs and outputs than the built-in sound card on your computer.
Q: What do I need to consider when choosing an audio interface for beginners?
A: Some important factors to consider when choosing an audio interface for beginners include the number and type of inputs and outputs, the quality of the preamps, the compatibility with your computer, and the budget.
Final Thoughts on Which Audio Interface is Best for Beginners
In conclusion, choosing the best audio interface for beginners can be a challenging task, but it's important to prioritize your needs and budget. Look for a device that is easy to use, offers good sound quality, and has the features you need to get started with your music production journey.
Keep in mind that there are plenty of great options available, ranging from entry-level models to more advanced and professional-grade interfaces. By doing your research and taking your time to select the right interface, you can make the most out of your music production experience and set yourself up for success.
We hope this guide has been helpful in giving you a better understanding of what to look for when choosing the best audio interface for beginners.