Gear of the Year 2018: Best Interface/Mixer

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We look back at the best interface that emerged last year.

Gear of the Year 2018, Steinberg UR-RT range

WINNER: Steinberg UR-RT range

Price £290 or £468
Contact Steinberg

Of course, Steinberg has a great reputation when it comes to DAWs – Cubase is forever there or thereabouts in our Best DAW category – but actually, its interfaces have always been firm MusicTech favourites. Not that the company can take full credit for the UR-RT range, despite having its name on it…

The range (available as either the 2 or 4, which offer four and six inputs respectively), is actually a joint effort between three companies: Yamaha (Steinberg’s owner/business partner), Steinberg and Rupert Neve Designs. Yamaha has supplied super-clean preamps, while Rupert Neve has added its classic transformer technology, which can be drafted in if you want some sheen on your input signals. Now this is clever stuff, because most interfaces boast either one or the other – a clean signal or some lovely colouration – but the UR range offers both.

The interface is beautifully built, rock-solid in operation and the larger 4 in particular offers a hell of a lot of flexibility for a variety of studio scenarios. Andy Jones said: “Thanks to the RND extras, the interface is heavy and not exactly portable. However, this also makes it very rugged in feel and, to be honest, once you sit it on your desktop and start employing those extra features and routing flexibility, you probably won’t want to shift it anyway.

“You start to wonder why more companies don’t offer variable colour on their inputs. Sure, you get dedicated channel strips and preamps to give you different flavours, but few offer both a pristine signal and a variable tone colouring and that’s what makes the UR range stand out.”

Read our full review for UR-RT2  here or the UR-RT4 here.

Highly commended

Audient iD44

Audient iD44

Price £499
Contact Audient | 01256 381944

The iD44 is the largest of a range that takes the same circuitry as used in Audient’s high-end consoles. Andy Jones said: “There’s just more of everything here, and iD44 is more than a match for a lot of tasks you throw at it. It’s certainly kicked my old interface into touch and I won’t be unplugging it any time soon.”

Read our full review here.

clarett usb

Focusrite Clarett range

Price £369-£739
Contact Focusrite | 01494 462246

Focusrite’s Clarett USB range includes many of the great features from the Thunderbolt line, but cheaper. “The Clarett USB range brings that high-quality sound and Air feature to those lacking Thunderbolt,” said Andy Jones. “That fine Clarett quality comes to USB with a price and I/O options for everybody.”

Read our full review here.

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