jrmasteringsmall

best audio interfaces
 

Looking for the best audio interface for your DAW home recording studio in 2020?

An audio interface is another essential part of the DAW home recording studio.

Its purpose is to import music or vocals from an outside analog source (such as a microphone or a line-in) and convert it into digital information that can be recorded to your computer hard drive.

An audio interface is also needed if you are producing music (and not externally recording anything).

Note: Most firewire audio interfaces also have a mic pre-amp, which is adequate. No separate pre-amp is needed, unless you're looking for a tube/analog hardware pre-amp.

Before getting into my recommendations, I'd like to say that I've worked on 1,000's of songs that were mixed using high-end audio interfaces all the way down to the cheap Focusrite audio interfaces. I've found that material recorded with higher-end interfaces does sound "better," but with good clean recording and proper mixing and mastering, you can get great sounding results from a lower priced ($500) audio interface. The average person couldn't tell the difference if done correctly.

I was going to do a big "top ten" review, but with audio interfaces it's really not needed. These are your three best choices. Anything else is an unneeded risk.

 

Best Audio Interface 2020 - CHEAP


Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools
(1 mic / 1 line in)

I actually worked with a few different Focusrite audio interfaces as part of a test group, several years ago. The sound quality was very good. But, latency and number of inputs depended on the price of the unit.

This has to be one of the best deals I've ever seen for an entry level sound engineer or music producer! You get a high quality audio interface AND the ProTools DAW for only $99! WOW!

But there are a few catches with this unit.

1. This is a personal home unit. It has only one mic and one line input. Obviously, you can't mic a whole drum set in a recording session, you have only one mic input! But this works for many. Most music producers only need a mic input and they're good to go.

2. Latency on these cheap Focusrite audio interfaces can be bad. Why is this an issue? When you play your instrument samples using a keyboard, there's a delay from when you strike the key to when the note plays. Also, when you sing you can hear a delay in your headphones.


The delay is affected number of tracks. If you have only 5 tracks, you probably won't have any problems. If you're rappin to beats, you have one stereo track and a few vocal tracks. This interface is for you.

But, If you're doing 25 track royalty free songs or recording 25 track rock songs, for get it. The delay will be big and you might get crackles and a lot of crashes during mixing. The frustration will force you to buy a better unit if you are working on big projects.

Audio mastering, you should have no problems because it's only one stereo track.

Would I buy something an audio interface like this? If all I had was $100 and I was just starting out with nothing, probably because it comes with ProTools too. At the very least, just to learn with this cheap gear. But I would upgrade this thing ASAP!

People talk about the sound quality with the cheap audio interfaces and they're right, its great! But it's weak when it comes to recording, producing, mixing, etc. You'll see when you push the number or tracks on el cheapo!

 

Best Audio Interface 2020 - MID PRICED


Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII SOLO

(2 mic / 1 line in)

This audio interface is a latency upgrade from the Focusrite Solo I reviewed above.
This audio interface is also an outstanding choice!  It combines not only an audio interface but a high quality effects processor.  I use UA effects processors to some extent on everything I mix and master.  This is a great "bank for your buck" piece of gear since it combines two pieces of gear in one.

 

 

Best Audio Interface 2020 - HIGH PRICED


RME Fireface UFX USB 2.0 or Firewire High

(4 mic / 8 line in)

I've been using an RME Fireface audio interface for several years. RME interfaces are industry standard for the price. Sound quality is great, but I wouldn't say it's incredibly better that the $500 Focusrite audio interfaces. The average person would not be able to tell the difference with all things (recording, mixing, mastering) being equal.

What you're paying for is speed! I would say the latency on this RME is roughly 3-4 times better than the $500 Focusrites. That means if you're having problems at 15 tracks with a cheaper audio interface, you won't experience these problems until 50-60 tracks using this RME.

You can save $100 and get an RME with a few less inputs, but it's not worth it. This unit with all the inputs holds its value very well. You could buy this for around $1,500, use it for three years and sell it on eBay for $1,000. Not that you would want to, but I'm just saying RME is industry standard gold!

Most of the songs mastered on this page were mastered using this audio interface!

 

{article 163}[layout]{/article}

The Music Production Secrets Series
by John Rogers

  

My Best Mixing & Mastering Articles

Set Mixing Levels For Each Instrument

How to set mixing levels for each instrument is a question I see all over the Internet.  I'm going to explain exactly how to set mixing levels in this article.

 

Read more ...
My First Music Video!

Here's the first music video I directed, Mahalin Muli by JAI, released on July 10th, 2018.  I also wrote more than half of the script. 

Read more ...
How To Master Pop Rock, Punk, Alternative, And Country
 In this article I will discuss how to master pop rock, punk rock, alternative rock and country songs.  Every genre (style) of music has its own set of sonic qualities that are unique to the genre.  These sonic qualities are a "must to know" if you want to audio mastering your own pop rock, punk rock, alternative rock and country songs music. Read more ...
How To Master Hip Hop And Rap
 In this article I will discuss how to master hip hop and rap songs.  Every genre (style) of music has its own set of sonic qualities that are unique to the genre.  These sonic qualities are a "must to know" if you want to audio mastering your own hip hop or rap music. Read more ...
Why Do Songs Need To Be Mastered?

12 why need audio mastering

Why do songs need to be mastered?  I've seen this question on the Internet many times.  The answer I always see is "Because all songs on the radio have been professionally mastered, yours should be too."  This is a true fact, but not an answer.

 

Read more ...
How To Mix And Master Songs

If you're into "do it yourself projects" my mastering book will show you EXACTLY how I mastered every style of music on this website.  Get it here Audio Mastering Secrets!

Mastering Hardware Equipment You Need For Your DAW Home Recording Studio

7 mastering hardware equipment daw recording studio

Here's the basic hardware you need to master music:

 

Read more ...
What Does Channel Mean In Music And Mixing?

It's the most basic of all questions, but someone asks it at least once a week.  In this article, I will explain what channel means in music and mixing

 

Read more ...
How To Master Movie Soundtracks, Classical, and Jazz
 In this article I will discuss how to master movie soundtracks, classical, and jazz songs.  Every genre (style) of music has its own set of sonic qualities that are unique to the genre.  These sonic qualities are a "must to know" if you want to audio mastering your own movie soundtracks, classical, and jazz music. Read more ...
Best Room Size For Audio Mastering DAW Home Recording Studio

6 best room size for audio mastering

So, what is the best room size for audio mastering in your DAW home recording studio?  Technically, you can properly mix or master in any room size.  But, I believe a smaller room is better than a very large one for someone who's just starting out. And when I say smaller I mean closer to 12'x15' than to 20'x30'.  I've mixed and mastered songs for a number of years in a 20'x30' room.  It took me a few days to get used to it, but after that I could do it.

 

Read more ...
What Does Mastering Do To A Song?

10 what is audio mastering

What does mastering do to a song?  Your main goal in audio mastering is to replicate the sonic qualities of a well professionally mastered commercial song, in the same genre and style as the song mix you are working on.

 

Read more ...
Fixing A Bad Mix With Mastering

A lot of mastering engineers are afraid to make drastic changes to a mix they are working on.  That, or they're stuck in the familiarity of always making only small changes. 

In this video I show how you can turn a weak mix (definitely wouldn't call it bad) into a great sounding master, simply by pushing your levels a little more than you might be used to.

 

Read more ...
Top 17 Common Music Mixing Mistakes And How To Fix Them!
audio music mixing mistakes
 
These are the Top 17 most common music mixing mistakes I see daily.  Correcting them could will improve your audio mastering results and make your mixes sound more professional.
 
 
Read more ...
Audio Mastering Software Processors

Here are the series of audio mastering software processors I've used on the over 30,000 songs I've mastered since 1999.  In this video, I use mostly izotope ozone plugins because it's easier to explain using them.  In real-life, I do mix in a few hardware pieces, and a waves plugin.

 

Read more ...
How To Master EDM, Pop Dance, Synth
 In this article I will discuss how to master EDM, pop dance and synth songs.  Every genre (style) of music has its own set of sonic qualities that are unique to the genre.  These sonic qualities are a "must to know" if you want to audio mastering your own EDM, pop dance and synth music. Read more ...
Learning And Calibrating Your Speakers For Your DAW In Audio Mastering

3 calibrate speakers audio mastering daw

Learning and calibrating your speakers for your DAW in audio mastering is a very important step in the audio mastering process.  When I first start out with NEW speakers (though I never change them now), I listen to my favorite hit songs in every genre and style.  Songs that I know from my years of experience have X amount of bass, X amount of brightness, etc.  I know how these songs are "supposed" to sound.

 

Read more ...
Can You Master A Song That's Already Been Mastered?
Can I master a song that's already been mastered?  Yes!  Every month I master songs that have already been mastered.  Read more....
 
Read more ...
How To Prepare Your Songs For Mixing
prepare songs for mixing

In this article, I'll show you how to prepare your songs for mixing.

 

Read more ...
What's The Difference Between Mixing And Mastering

8 difference between mixing mastering

What's the difference between mixing and mastering?  A lot of people new to music don't know the answer to this.

 

Read more ...
Creating Headroom In A Mix

17 how create headroom in mix

OK

To create a mix for mastering with proper headroom is pretty simple. 

 

Read more ...
Mid Side EQ In Mastering

This is a quick video on how a mid-side processor works, and how to check the stereo field of your mix using a mid-side processor equalizer.

 

Read more ...
Why Does A Mix Need Headroom And Dynamic Range?

16 why do songs need mastering

Why does a mix need headroom and dynamic range?  In one sentence, it gives the mastering engineer more room to work with.
 

Read more ...
A/B Comparison In Mastering
In this video I do a quick A/B comparison of a few songs.  In my audio mastering secrets video series, I get a lot more in-depth into exactly what you are trying to achieve sonically for your genre/style of music.
 
Read more ...
What Is Reverb Effect In Music | How To Use Reverb

This article discusses what is the reverb effect in music and how to use it?  The reverb effect is used to simulate space. When reverb is applied to a dry vocal or instrument track, it will sound like it was recorded live in the space size that was selected on the processor. Common space size options include a small room, vocal plate, large hall, etc.

 

Read more ...
Cheaply Soundproofing Your Room For Audio Mastering

1 cheaply soundproofing room studio

I had to write a quick note on this, as I was reminded about it while thumbing through a popular mixing book that had a 15 page section on speaker resonance and room sound proofing.  I must say, a very exciting 15 pages!  Ha!

 

Read more ...
Go to top