Audio Interface/External Soundcard Recommendations

So currently I am recording straight out of my mixer into my Zoom H4n portable recorder and then uploading those recordings to play around with in Logic and Ableton, but I’m looking to get myself an audio interface to record directly from my mixer into the computer itself.

Any recommendations or experiences that anyone could share with me would be much appreciated!

How many ins and outs do you need?

I’m not really sure at the moment, just trying to get an idea of what other people use in a similar situation. Probably no less than 2/4 ins and 2 outs.

what is your budget?


So many variables and such a question with proposed budget will easily get 100 different suggestions from as many different posters.

1-Whether you have Firewire 800 or 400 on your computer. Some newer MacBookPro’s only now have Lightening or Thunderbolt.
2-USB interfaces have come a long way but if you are running a number of other (for instance) Ableton Live peripherals via USB or even other Native Instruments similar Sample/Launchpad type devices…then an USB Audio Interface may not be greatest option due to fact that audio Interfaces using true high speed USB 2.0 bandwidth, and do so very efficiently with multiple audio and midi tracks, tends to be somewhat USB bandwidth hungry and Fire Wire may be better.
3-I do not use VSTi’s at all, having vast hardware synth set up AND hardware effects racks–takes quite a load off any computer and audio interface, esp. effects.
Earlier this year I went with Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 rack unit USB audio interface and I happen to use Reaper for my DAW with the SWS Extensions. Have had 8+ hardware synth audio inputs recording at once, sister midi tracks for most if not all (except the A4…), plus for the $499., you have ADAT expandability, SPDIF, and Word Clock.

4-For same amount of cash you can get Focusrite Saffire 40 Fire Wire, which my Scarlett 18i20 USB is actually the exact same preamps, features.

5-You could easily spend ALL of $1000. on something by RME but even Behringer just released a new dual Fire Wire/USB capable Audio Interface for only $250. that’s essentially a copy of my 18i20, with addition of Behringer’s newly acquired company, ‘Midas’, and that interface has MIDAS Preamps. That would leave you coin for a mid range price set of decent monitors.

6-suggest reading reviews on various interfaces on SOS, home recording dot com, audiofanzine, KVR, evn gearslutz, because nothing beats knowledge to be gained/shared in any of those places.

7-Lastly, although there’s so many other variables to one’s personal needs; I wanted to have level knobs for majority of channels, including my monitor outputs, a power switch, and dual headphones out–all on the front surface of rack.
also wanted audio interface to be able to work in standalone mixer/summing mixer, of which I happily got all my desires with the 18i20.

Whatever you project as your ‘minimum requirements’, learned it’s pragmatic to simply double those numbers as to have versatile routing options and expansion options. Why keep buying another interface for more channels when do it right first time? I can even use my iPad along with camera connection kit with my 18i20 if wanted…bang for your buck!

It would be easy to spend $1000 on an audio interface these days. But I think for your needs, you could likely spend around half that and still have everything you need.
For example, i’ve got a fair amount of gear. But because I never use it all at the same time, I don’t have a lot of use for an interface with a ton of inputs and outputs. So I got a MOTU Audio express. It essentially has 4 ins and 4 outs. Its robust, sounds good enough to my ears, has Firewire and USB and it’s inexpensive. Job done! I think they are around $400 over there.

Get a RME or a Steinberg, best support on the market.

Second that. I now have the Fireface UC and it is stellar in every way, can be found for way under $1000

focusrite scarlett series works well and very easy to setup if you’re starting off and don’t want to break the bank.

6i6 is a good mid point & its around $250, and gives you quite a bit of options- the most i’ve seen for an entry level audio interface that still has good sound quality

If you don’t need mic pres, try Virus TI Snow. 2 in/2 out (with excellent converters!) on USB, very reliable, and you will spend less than your budget (look on Ebay) for an outstanding synth. I’m working with M-Audio ProFire 610 (pretty good for some 400 bucks) and Virus, both with ASIO drivers, so I can switch between them fast and easy. ProFire has mic pres, more ins/outs and good converters on output, but the sound from Virus is… something little bit different :slight_smile:

I second the RME recommendations.

I like the Virus TI Snow but the audio over USB can be problematic for some. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it as a main audio interface, despite it being a very capable synth too.
My main studio interface is a MOTU 828 MkIII and I use a Saffire Pro 14 with my laptop. Both work efficiently over FireWire.