Top 5 USB Audio Interfaces: Record Your Synths Via USB

Mackie Onyx BlackJack Audio InterfaceSo, you are looking for the top 5 USB audio interfaces? Well, take a look at these and see what you think. Although I have included 5 of them here, I would recommend you go with the #1 option. It’s still perhaps worth looking at the other 4 audio interfaces for comparison purposes, but really the #1 is the #1 for a reason. You might as well just get the best one, right?


Please note:
I will receive a commission if you buy through any links on my website, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I use myself or products that I think are great after doing research.


#1 – Mackie Onyx Blackjack

Pros

  • Amazing sound quality
  • Extremely durable
  • Comes with Tracktion 3 Basic bundle
  • Excellent build
  • Zero latency
  • Easy to use
  • Powerful interface for a very reasonable price

Cons

  • Some people have had driver issues, but these seem to have been resolved with updates.

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Mackie is a well-known brand of recording equipment. In fact, they feature in my list of the best budget studio monitor speakers. With the Onyx Blackjack, they have made a really solid, durable USB recording interface. It has superb sound quality, with the preamp having great presence. There is no latency, and it is very easy to use. Although some users complained of having driver problems, this has since been resolved with later driver updates from Mackie. Other than that, it’s a great interface for a very reasonable price.

#2 – Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Has everything you need
  • Good build quality
  • Convenient controls
  • Comes with Ableton Live Lite software
  • Low latency
  • USB powered
  • Near-professional sound quality

Cons

  • Limited features
  • You still need a direct input box
  • Some people report issues with drivers, but updated drivers seem to have resolved this

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So here you have a USB audio interface that is affordable and has everything you need. It is solidly built, which means it should last you for years to come. The sound quality is almost professional, and probably a skilled engineer could make a professional project using this. The controls are convenient, it has low latency, and is USB powered. Another great thing is that it comes with Ableton Live Lite software, so you can get started recording straight away.

Unfortunately, some people have reported problems with the drivers, but this problem seems to have been resolved since they did a driver update. It’s also worth noting that you will need a direct input box in addition to this.

#3 – Focusrite Scarlett Solo

Pros

  • Small
  • Very well built
  • High-quality preamp
  • LED ring helps prevent clipping
  • Direct monitoring
  • Records up to 96Khz
  • Comes with several music programs
  • Noise-free
  • Great value for money
  • Compressor is great
  • Zero latency

Cons

  • Only has RCA style output jacks
  • Some people report driver issues

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So once again we have another small, well-built USB audio interface with a high-quality preamp. It has direct monitoring, which means you can listen directly to the signal you are playing into the device without hearing it routed via your computer; this is great to keep track of what you are actually playing. It is noise free, has a great compressor, and can record up to 96Khz digital audio.

It also comes with several music programs. You get the Lite version of the popular Digital Audio Workstation called Ableton Live. In addition to this, there is the Scarlett plugin suite and the Novation Bass Station plugin. The only two negatives are that it only has RCA style output jacks, and some people are reporting driver issues (although that can be fixed by using ASIO4ALL).

#4 – Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6

Pros

  • Looks great
  • Solid construction
  • 6 inputs and output
  • Records 24-bit, 96Khz audio
  • Very low latency
  • Nice big volume knob
  • Indicator lights to show you what’s happening
  • MIDI in and out
  • Digital audio in and out
  • Good headphone input
  • Comes with 3 music programs
    • Komplete Elements
    • Traktor LE 2
    • Cubase LE 6

Cons

  • Comes with poor quality USB cables
  • Some users report driver issues
  • Bad customer service from Native Instruments

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Here we have a nice audio interface from Native Instruments. It is very well built and looks great, with a large volume knob that is ideal for making fine adjustments to the level. The indicator lights on the top are excellent for seeing what’s going on with the various input and outputs. It has very low latency and can record very high-quality digital audio. It comes with 3 free music programs: Komplete Elements, Traktor LE 2, and Cubase LE 6, although these are very limited versions of these programs.

Unfortunately, it comes with poor quality USB cables which seem to cause popping and clicking sounds for some people. Also, the drivers can cause problems for some users. This is a great shame considering all that is so good about it, and considering that Native Instruments are known for having such bad customer service, so you are unlikely to get much help from them.

#5 – PreSonus AudioBox

Pros

  • Fantastic sound quality
  • Looks great
  • Comes with free Studio One DAW software
  • Very solid construction
  • Great value for money
  • Ideal entry level audio interface

Cons

  • Doesn’t do line-in recording
  • Excessive preamp gain
  • Some people report driver problems
  • Not good for headphones with high impedance

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Well, here is an audio interface that really has people divided. Many people are saying that this is excellent value for money and a really good audio interface with great sound quality that runs flawlessly on Windows. Other people are reporting awful driver problems and warn not to buy this audio interface at all. It does look great and has a really solid build, and is very good value for money. It also comes with a basic DAW called Studio One. Again, some people like it and some people think it sucks.

Sometimes in life, it may be a case of getting what you pay for. If you are not a professional and you have limited money, this might suit you fine. However, if you are looking for something closer to a professional standard, you may want to aim a little bit higher.


I hope you found this review of the top 5 USB audio interfaces helpful, but if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I will reply as soon as I can.

All the best,
Marcus.

4 Comments

  1. Andrea

    Hey! love your site. I like that you mixed video and writen reviews. Is that you in the videos? I´m just an amateur at recording. What would you recommend for me? I want something that is the best quality for a cheap price. I am also looking into microphones. Do you have a review page for those? Please let me know!

    Reply
    1. Marcus (Post author)

      No, that’s not me in the videos, sorry. If you want to make electronic music for free, you can try Audio Tool , which is a free online music making program. As for vocals, I don’t sing myself, so I’m not sure about the best microphones.

      Reply
  2. HKMan

    I am new to electronic music! Found your site while I was browsing the internet in search of some avoidable audio equipment. I like the Mackie Onyx Blackjack that you recommended! Will differently check it out. I am also looking for software for audio too . Can’t wait to start making some noise! 😛

    Reply
    1. Marcus (Post author)

      Thanks, HKMan. I’m glad you found it helpful. Best of luck with your quest to make some noise!

      Reply

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