A common question among bedroom producers and professionals alike is “which interface should I get?”. With some strong releases in the audio interface market this year, it’s difficult for us to decide on which is truly the best. That’s why we’ve given the task to you, our readers!
1Focusrite Scarlett 3rd Gen
The Scarlett range is the best-selling range of interfaces the world has seen, according to Focusrite. We gave this new generation of interfaces a 9/10, impressed by the Air (high-frequency lift) function, the low noise, great sound and intuitive ‘gain halo’ meters. The great thing about the third generation of Scarlett devices is that there is a model available for any level of producer, ranging from the Scarlett Solo, up to the 18i20.
In our review of Solid State Logic’s six-input mixer, we boldly claimed that this came with no drawbacks. Why? Because of its large console sound quality, sporting SSL SuperAnalogue preamps and circuit design. Also, because of its built-in G-Series buss compressor, its flexible routing and monitoring, its robust design and spacious layout. When a piece of pro-audio gear carries the Solid State Logic badge, it has a huge reputation to live up to. For us, SSL SiX delivered, but do you think it’s deserving of the crown this year?
3Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2
The software bundle included with Komplete Audio alone is enough to sway many people into purchasing one of these interfaces. With its sleek design that will be familiar to NI fans, the Komplete Audio 2 is a USB 2.0 powered interface, sporting two XLR/jack inputs with 48v phantom power and 2 stereo jack outputs at an affordable price. It’s compact enough to fit on any desktop and even take around with you should you desire. Live Lite, Monark, Replika, Phasis, Solid Bus Comp, Komplete Start and Maschine are all featured in the bundle, which is a bargain – but is it enough to win your vote?
4UA Apollo X
On the higher end of audio interfaces comes Universal Audio’s Apollo X series, with the X6 going under our microscope in April of this year. Not only does Apollo X offer multi-channel, high-quality audio I/O boasting Unison preamps, but it also functions as an external DSP processing unit. This takes a massive load off the CPU of the host computer when using Universal Audio’s elite-class UAD plug-ins in the recording, mixing and mastering processes. With the ability to carry digital audio signals of up to 192kHz and improved conversion, the Apollo X range compromises very little. It’s up to you whether Universal Audio has bagged a winner here.
Steinberg went big with the AXR4T, offering 32-bit/384kHz sample rate, which left many wondering “why?”, but probably pleased many sound designers who can now capture audio at extraordinary sampling rates and slow them down for sonic experimentation. Beyond its staggering audio rate, Steinberg AXR4T boasts four preamps emulating Rupert Neve Designs SILK and onboard, realtime effects processing. The interface offers 12 analogue inputs, two are mic/line/Hi-Z inputs, two are mic/lines, and the remainder are standard line-level inputs (all lines are balanced). A high-res LCD display shows I/O level metering and provides access to every parameter and setting of the interface. Is Steinberg’s AXR4T your champion in this bout?
Roland may be better known for its range of synths and drum machines but with the Rubix range, but with the Rubix range, they’ve returned to designing audio interfaces. The Rubix44, a four-in, four-out USB interface is physically impressive, with an exceptional level of controls and options in a great layout. That’s not to mention its affordable price tag, which was impressive enough to be given our Value Award. It offers low-latency, audio rates up to 192kHz and offers a built-in compressor/limiter. This is the last in our nominations, so you can vote below to see if it comes first in the rankings of Best Interface/Mixer of the Year.
Check out all the Gear Of The Year 2019 categories here.