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If you’ve ever wondered how musicians recording in their bedrooms can make such professional sounding recordings, chances are a good audio interface is part of the puzzle. It seems like more and more big-name artists have risen to fame on the back of self-produced recordings. It’s exciting that talented artists without industry connections or access to a studio can directly share their music with fans. With talent, persistence, and the right equipment, many artists are finding massive fandoms from recordings they make in their bedrooms. And while a lo-fi, amateurish style is a brand for many artists, it’s still crucial to be able to create professional sounding recordings.
There’s a line between lo-fi and sloppy, and the best artists use good equipment to stay on the right side of that line. While this equipment still costs money, it’s far cheaper than the expense of recording in a professional studio, and you can still get incredible results. While most musicians know the kind of instrument they want to use and have a preferred mixing program on their computer, it can be easy to forget that an audio interface is one of the most important things to have to make an amateur recording sound professional. An audio interface is a piece of equipment that is designed to improve the quality of the recording from your mic or instrument to your laptop, tablet, or desktop. Below, we’ve compiled three USB audio interfaces that are great for making home recordings.
1. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Recording Audio Interface
Focusrite is one of the leading names in the audio interface industry. The Scarlett 2i2 USB interface allows you to record with multiple kinds of instruments, and it includes a top of the line mic preamp. The colored indicators allow you to easily tell if you’re clipping, which is an undesired kind of distortion. This, along with a headphone jack, ensures you’re getting a good recording the first time.
Pros: Portable, works with phantom power microphones, produces high-quality recordings.
Cons: While most were pleased with the quality of the hardware, some users found issues with the software and drivers.
2. Focusrite Scarlett Solo USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo is the brand’s simplest and most compact audio interface. As the name might imply, it’s ideal for solo use, especially those who are recording with a guitar and voice. The major difference between this and the 2i2 is that this only has one microphone input, so if you’re only recording with one mic this may be the right one for you.
Pros: Good sound quality, works with phantom power mics, low latency (no delay between sound going into your headphones from the recording)
Cons: As with the 2i2, some users, especially Windows users, found issues with the drivers.
3. BEHRINGER Audio Interface
Many reviewers who had previously used the Focusrite Scarlett found Behringer to be a suitable and more affordable alternative. Included are high-quality Midas preamps, zero latency monitoring, and compatibility with various software programs. The smallest model includes one mic input, one instrument input, and a headphone jack, making it optimal for singer-songwriters.
Pros: Great sound quality, build quality, works with phantom power mics.
Cons: Some users had issues with drivers.