In this latest buyers guide we list six of the best interfaces of varying price points and specs to help you plug into your studio…
Best Entry Level: Audient iD14
Contact Audient +44 (0) 1256 381944
There is a heck of a lot to like about the Audient iD14, despite there not being a heck of a lot to look at! The interface is one of the company’s entry-level models, but features the same ASP8024 Class A microphone preamp circuit as used in Audient’s consoles. Reviewer Huw Price said: “The preamps sound clean, transparent and classy.
Noise levels are commendably low and we think they can hold their own with most mid-priced standalone solid state preamps. The DI is impressive, too. With electric guitar, it produced a detailed and full-frequency tone with natural playing dynamics and no sterility.
The iD14 isn’t lacking anything essential. Audient has concentrated on audio quality rather than gimmicks and the result is attractive, sonically impressive and fiendishly useful.” He concluded: “A classy interface featuring all the quality you’d expect from Audient at a very affordable price.”
Read Original Review – Audient iD14
Best Hi-end: DiGiGrid DiGiGrid IOS
Contact Sonic Distribution 0845 500 2500
With Waves software and DigiCo hardware, you know this is a quality interface. The 2U unit connects to your Mac or PC via Ethernet cable, and provides eight analogue mic/line inputs and eight outputs, plus two headphone outputs – as well as AES/EBU and S/PDIF digital, Wordclock and MIDI I/O.
By using Ethernet, rather than a protocol such as USB, FireWire or Thunderbolt, the DiGiGrid is able to communicate with multiple DAWs simultaneously, over large cable runs. Reviewer Mike Hillier said: “IOS is designed cleverly, to appeal both to the small home studio user and professional studio owners.” He concluded: “DiGiGrid IOS is a very exciting interface, offering a powerful DSP engine alongside an impressive I/O selection.”
Read Original Review – DiGiGrid IOS
Best All-round: Focusrite Clarett 8Pre
Contact Focusrite on +44 (0) 1494 462246
The Focusrite 8Pre is a great all-rounder with a spec to handle just about anything. It has 18 audio inputs and 20 outs, with eight analogue ins and 10 outs plus eight ADAT I/Os and stereo S/PDIF I/O making up the remainder. It features Focusrite’s latest Control software, a big improvement over the company’s MixControl. Reviewer Andy Jones said: “Clarett does everything it sets out to do, and very well.
It has great mic pres, offering superb recording and the routing software offering the ultimate in recording flexibility. 8Pre performed admirably well, with zero latency, and it will give multi-recordists their speed.” He concluded: “Focusrite’s Clarett 8Pre is better, faster and it certainly is easier. And flexible and rock-solid, too. Thunderbolts are go (sorry).”
Read Original Review – Focusrite Clarett 8Pre
Best iOS and More: iConnectivity iConnectAudio4+
Contact Sonic Distribution – 0845 500 2500
iConnectivity doesn’t really want to push the iOS side of the 4+ too much, but the unit does connect your mobile and studio worlds very well. Luckily, reviewer Mike Hillier detailed its other benefits, too.
“It has a very impressive set of specs, but the most interesting thing about the 4+ is that not only can it interface your iOS device, but it can also interface with a Mac or PC simultaneously, and – most importantly – therefore allows audio and MIDI to be sent directly between the iOS device and the Mac/PC over USB. This means that no D/A or A/D conversion is necessary for audio.
It is a must-have device for any musician or engineer who wants to integrate their iPad and a great first interface to link all your studio gear. An excellent innovation. The iConnectAudio4+ streamlines your iPad workspace.”
Read our review – iConnectAudio 4+
Best for Live: Soundcraft Ui16
Contact Sound Technology 01462 480000
The Ui16 is the ugly part of a live mixing experience combined with a software front end. The thinking is that you rack the interfacing part away and control the beast from anywhere with a wi-fi connection – and it works superbly.
Reviewer Andy Jones said: “The designers have really thought about who is using this mixer, and where and how they are using it. There’s no messing around, just one password and you are ready. I see it as more of a live mixer than a studio one, but on the road the possibilities are many and varied. But the best bit is to see new tech being used in such a zero-fuss and downright useful way.
A great concept superbly realised. Practical, easy, versatile and a great sound.”
Read our review – Soundcraft Ui16
Best Mobile: RME Babyface Pro
The Babyface Pro is out-and-out aimed at the mobile community. It can be used with or without a computer, and iPad connectivity extends its practical use even further.
Reviewer Andy Jones said: “The Babyface Pro is a fine unit. It’s not the cheapest interface around, but it screams quality and you just feel you can trust it to go pretty much anywhere with you. It’s also aimed at the real world. Everything from cabling to the casing is thought through and you get the impression there are musicians and producers behind the design.
Robust, compact, easy to install, sounds great and loads of routing options. A great mobile interface!”
Read our review – RME Babyface Pro