When it comes to streaming – whether creating content for your podcast, YouTube, Facebook among others, the best audio interface is the meat and bone of content creation. Audio interfaces for streaming are available that are compatible both for thunderbolt and USB which are suited for various media devices.
But first, What is an audio interface? An audio interface is a small device that allows you to plug in various content creation equipment such as a microphone, instruments among other signals into your computer. When you use an audio interface on your PC, it acts as the sound card for your computer.
If you are intending to purchase an audio interface for streaming, it is paramount to determine the kind of ports your computer has. Otherwise, you will end up buying an interface that is not compatible with your computer and you be forced to spend extra money to purchase an adaptor.
If you are interested in buying the best audio interface for streaming in 2021, then you are on the right website. We are going to list a number of some of the best audio interfaces that you can buy from the market in the New Year. Besides that, we will endeavor to give you the pros and cons of each interface with the intention of helping you make the best choice easily.
Why would you need an audio interface?
An audio interface acts as the middleman between your audio recording and its interpretation by the computer. It will help to accept the input methods you are using and then convert them into a clean, digital representation on your PC.
What Should You Look for in an Audio Interface?
When buying an audio interface, there are a number of factors that you must take into consideration. However, these factors vary from person to person depending on how you intend to use the interface. Here are some factors to look for:
There are two various types of audio inputs:
- XLR input
- 3.5mm jack
You can use only one of the inputs on your interface. Before you purchase an audio interface, ensure that you check your media device and see what kind of interface it supports. This is paramount because if you buy an interface that is not compatible with your computer, you will be forced to spend extra money on an adaptor.
The 3.5mm jack is commonly used on musical instruments such as guitar, wireless lavalier among others. In most cases, the jack is male.
The XLR input on the other hand is a female port that is commonly used on microphones. They usually come with an international configuration so it fits all female ports comfortably.
There are various types of output options. The output allows you to connect to the speaker or amp that you are using. The most common output channels include:
- Line out
- Phantom power
It is generally essential to know the phantom power especially if you are using condenser microphones. This is important to know because condenser mics require more power for them t work well. The phantom power needed for the condenser is 48v.
Audio interfaces come with different means of supplying power. Some interfaces come with a single switch that supplies power to all inputs but also there are other interfaces that have separate switches for each output channel.
If you are using condenser microphones, it is advisable to go for an interface with separate switches for each input channel. However, phantom power is not necessary if you are not producing music because condenser mics are mostly suitable for music production.
Most of the modern audio interfaces do not require an external source of power supply. They are designed with a bus-power or it derives its power from the audio interface that is connected with it. The USB port can supply up to 0.5A of power which is sufficient to run the interface.
Similarly, most audio interfaces lack a power switch. This implies that it will be powered when your computer is powered. Therefore, the interface is powered by the computer.
Therefore, when buying an audio interface, you need to consider the power supply. For instance, if you are going to use it in a dark room, then a power switch is necessary.
The longevity of an audio interface is critical to consider because it will reduce the issues related to operating your interface. Although you might not be carrying your interface from place to place, it needs to have solid construction.
Consider the crucial parts of the interface such as the buttons, ports, knobs, and switches. When these parts are poorly made, they will fail after a few days of use which will affect the functionality of the interface.
To avoid frustrations from using a poorly constructed of various parts of the interface, ensure that they are made from high-quality material. An interface with a solid build quality will give you a satisfying user experience in the long run.
Drivers and software
The software and drivers of the audio interface is a critical factor to consider. If the drivers and software of the interface are poorly written, it will result in malfunctioning of the interface.
The driver software allows you to easily control the depth of the interface. Look for an interface with good settings such as 24 bit and 48 kHz. The bigger the bit depth of the interface, the better the recording ability. A big bit of depth helps to prevent clipping. For normal home recording, we recommend that you acquire an interface with a bit depth of 24-bits.
In layman’s language, latency is the time it takes for audio content to go through the interface into the computer and finally to the speaker. The higher the sample rate and smaller buffer, it will result in a faster transfer of signal from the microphone and converted into the digital signal, sent into the computer, and converted into an analog signal which will be amplified by the speaker.
We will endeavor to list audio interfaces with acceptable latency so that they can give you the best service. Read on to know the top-notch audio interfaces for streaming to buy today from the market.
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The best audio interfaces for streaming!
1. BEHRINGER audio interface
Are you working on a budget but want an audio interface that compatible with most recording software? Look no further than the BEHRINGER audio interface. It comes with a 2×2 USB audio interface which you can use to record both for instruments and mics.
The BEHRINGER audio interface provides a resolution of 48 kHz which is greatly detailed to help you to have a high-quality recording.
Besides being a great device for high-quality recording, it is compatible with most OS and recording software. Therefore, the BEHRINGER audio interface is a versatile audio interface that can be found in the market today.
Some of the recording software that is compatible with the BEHRINGER audio interface are:
- Steinberg Cubase
- Ableton live
- Avid pro tools
Besides that, if you are using a Mac and you want to use the BEHRINGER audio interface, then no driver is required because it is core audio supported. Also, you can download windows from Behringer and use it.
Moreover, the BEHRINGER audio interface is paired with well-performing MIDAS preamps which are designed for Mac and it comes with more than 48v phantom power.
Most importantly, this interface can stream 2 outputs and 2 inputs with ultra-low latency to your PC to ensure that you get a high-quality recording.
- Compatible with various popular recording software
- More than 48v phantom power
- Audiophile resolution of 48 kHz
- Does not require any drivers
- Ultra-low latency
- 2×2 USB audio interface
- Emits static with some units
2. Focusrite Scarlett Solo
Another USB audio interface in our list is the Focusrite Scarlett Solo which comes with different accessories to make it more useable.
When you purchase the Focusrite Scarlett Solo, you will get some accessories such as tone bundles, Focusrite creative pack, Ableton live lite, and soft tube time.
What makes the Focusrite Scarlett Solo stand apart from the crowd is the super-low latency which helps to send signals faster. Also, the low latency allows you to use the interface without a DSP in real-time.
Moreover, Focusrite Scarlett Solo is compatible with Windows 7 and above. Also, it can be used on Mac OS X 10.10 and above.
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo is the leading interface in the conversion and sample rates of up to 192 kHz per 24-bit.
Apart from that, the frequency range is up to104 dB and a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz for every extra 0.25dB.
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo is ideal for use both by live streaming experts and beginners. Thanks to its high depth and sample rates, you will get the highest audio quality.
Also, it comes with phantom power; therefore, you can use it with a condenser microphone without any problem. Apart from that, it comes with basic editing pro tools that are of great use if you do not have DAW. So you can start using the interface immediately without any problem.
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo comes with 2 XLR and ¼ inch jack which allows you to connect two opposing microphones if you are recording with two mics. Both the inputs have mic preamps which help to boost the mic output.
- Compatible with Windows and Mac
- Low latency
- Ideal for both professionals and beginners alike
- Uses power phantom
- High sample rates and conversion
- Features 2 XLR and ¼ inch jack
- Comes with basic editing tools
- Quality controls have mechanical issues
3. Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII
One of the most popular audio interfaces that are top-rated is the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII. It stands out because of its high-end conversion rate which classic sound quality.
It comes with various input methods for both mics and musical instruments. It comes with a wide dynamic range which helps to expand the monitoring control. Apart from that, it has the best sound card which helps in music production.
The Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII is a small interface that can fit in your pocket. It comes with 4 output channels and 4 inputs as well. Besides that, there is an option to use a thunderbolt connection if your PC is thunderbolt compatible.
Apart from that, the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII is compatible with both Mac and computers. It comes with an inbuilt UAD processing which allows you to enjoy a warm, rich analog sound from the mixing and tracking from the UAD plugin.
Another amazing feature that makes the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII stand out is the technology it uses. It uses the unison mic preamp technology which gives you the control to recreate the sound of microphone preamp without the use of any software. This technology makes the sound better as compared to when you use any software.
When you purchase the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII, you will get a real-time analog plugin bundle from UAD. The plugin bundle includes features such as EQs, channels strips, reverb plugins, guitar amp emulators, and delays. This bundle plugin gives you all that you need to start recording your content.
- Comes with an inbuilt microphone
- Uses the unison technology
- Comes with real-time bundle plugin which helps you to start recording your content
- Has 4 input and 4 output channels
- High-end converts
- Classic sound output
- Expanded monitoring controls
- Uses thunderbolt connection
- Comes with inbuilt UAD processing
- UAD plugins require payment
4. Audient iD4
Audient iD4 is a relatively new audio interface in the market but it is a worthy mention in this realm of interfaces. What makes it stand out if the large studio consoles at a pocket-friendly price.
The Audient iD4 comes with the top-notch inbuilt preamps for the microphone. It is ideal for use with larger audio mixers.
In terms of design, the Audient iD4 is compact and small in size and it is constructed with a metal enclosure which ensures that it will last for many days to come.
The microphone preamp is high performing which ensures that you get a top-notch audio recording. Besides that, there is a high performing converter with a high sample rate of up to 96 kHz per 24-bits.
Apart from that, the Audient iD4 has a super low latency rate which ensures that you enjoy the fastest conversion rate. The small size allows you to place the interface on the desktop while recording.
On the upper part of the interface, you will find most of the controls which are well labeled for easy identification and use. Therefore, you will not find any problem using this audio interface.
- Small and compact size
- Easy to use
- High-performance inbuilt preamp
- Ideal for large audio consoles
- Durable thanks to the metal enclosure
- High-quality microphone preamp
- High-performance converter
- Super-low latency
Long gone are days of using low powered and overburdened onboard audio interfaces. Welcome to some of the best audio interfaces for streaming for 2021. Now that you know some of the best brands in the market today, it is our sincere hope that you will be able to make the right choice easily.
There are plenty of audio interfaces in the market, but not all of them are the best. If you would like to start creating content for your social media platform, you do not have to struggle with the various consoles, with the best audio interface for streaming, you are good to go.
The interfaces that we have featured in this post are not only user-friendly but also produce impressive audio quality. Depending on your audio content creation category, we hope that you will be able to find one that suits your budget and recording needs. We would love to recommend the BEHRINGER audio interface thanks to low latency, compatibility with various recording software, and the fact that it does not require any drivers.