Looking for an audio interface for Ableton? Suppose you are a musician and you want to improve your professional level as a music producer or else who wants to record from home or a studio. In that case, the first thing you will need is an Audio Interface that allows you to connect your microphones, monitors, and any device from one place.
Generally, all computers have a sound card installed that allows audio input and output. If you only work with headphones, you probably don’t need an audio interface. Still, if you consider recording vocals, guitars, drums, and their cousin, you will seek to capture it with the best possible sound fidelity.
That’s where the audio interface comes in.
Finding the best audio interfaces can be a headache, but here we’ve done the heavy lifting to teach you the best recommendations that suit the type of producer you are.
What is an audio interface?
An audio interface is a piece of hardware that increases the sound capabilities and allows you to connect different audio instruments for music production, such as a synthesizer, microphone, launchpad, digital piano, or a midi keyboard.
Audio interfaces handle both the signals going to the computer and the outputs to powered speakers or headphones. They offer several advantages:
- First, they make the equipment much easier to use since you can connect or disconnect any instrument quickly.
- Second, they improve the audio quality. Integrated sound cards in computers are prone to electromagnetic or radio interference and cause latency.
Why do you need an audio interface?
The interface is a must-have device if you plan to produce music, be it a single song, multiple instruments, or a full set of included electronic drums.
Even the simplest recordings, such as voices for podcasts or game broadcasts, sound better with an audio interface.
The best thing about audio interfaces is that you can get them for very reasonable prices and specifications that adapt to your needs, whether basic or advanced models for more complex productions in a studio or Ableton.
Some advice to buy the audio interface
Each of the mentioned interfaces offers excellent quality.
But to choose the correct one, you must consider what you will use it for. And don’t pay more than that.
For example, if you only need to record two instruments at a time, don’t pay for a four-instrument interface that can cost a lot more.
Or also with the MIDI connections. Not all interfaces have a MIDI connection, but this is not a function that most users through the audio interface.
It’s best to go for what you need and look more specifically at features like preamps, sample rate, or build quality.
Below you will find the list of the best audio interfaces for Ableton available on the market, either for your studios or for your home setup:
7 Best Audio Interface for Ableton – Glance
|1||Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen||View on Amazon|
|2||Steinberg UR22MKII||View on Amazon|
|3||Zoom U-24 Handy Audio Interface||View on Amazon|
|4||Behringer U-PHORIA UMC202HD||View on Amazon|
|5||Audient iD4 Audio Interface||View on Amazon|
|6||Tascam US-16×08||View on Amazon|
|7||Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 Mk2||View on Amazon|
So let’s see the review of these audio interfaces.
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is the best audio interface for a home studio. For less than $200, this audio interface is equipped with two inputs with incredible quality preamps and two outputs.
The Focusrite brand is well known for its excellent preamps that allow you to record audio with the best quality. The 3rd Gen Scarlett 2i2 now also records in 24bit / 192kHz to record more detail and precision. The new “Air” function is perfect for making recordings brighter.
If you are building a home studio and need to record with up to two inputs, the Scarlett 2i2 will be the best option you will find. It is ideal for recording all types of instruments; condenser and dynamic microphones, guitars, basses, pianos, etc.
It allows you to make recordings without latency, with a spectacular sound and a sampling frequency of 192kHz.
In addition, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 comes with Ableton Live to make the best recordings.
If you need more inputs, you can check out the Scarlett 4i4, which is the same board with 4 inputs and adds MIDI connections.
- High-resolution recording up to 24-bit/192kHz
- Low latency
- Good headphone amp
- Direct monitoring
- Air mode
- Excellent value
- Not compatible with Windows
- It doesn’t offer a hardware mixer
Steinberg is a super prestigious brand in audio. It is the creator of Cubase, Nuendo, and hundreds of plugins, creating incredible low-cost audio interfaces.
The Steinberg UR22 features two Yamaha-designed Class A preamps, a 24-bit / 192 kHz audio converter, and a MIDI interface. It is not usual for boards at this price to have MIDI inputs, so it is a point in favor of this board.
With the UR22, you can record tracks without latency and sound with great detail and completely transparent. Its two XLR and line inputs allow recording of up to two instruments and microphones simultaneously.
Compared to other interfaces, this Steinberg is not very aesthetic, but inside it has incredible equipment. As the saying goes, what matters is the inside.
As its manufacturer is Steinberg, with the purchase of this interface, you have at your disposal the original Cubase AL 7 software that supports sampling frequencies in 192kHz.
The UR22 is an excellent choice as a portable USB audio interface to go anywhere.
- Value for money
- Build quality
- Sound quality
- Low noise pres
- MIDI I/O
- Cubase AI and Cubasis LE included
- No XLR outputs
Zoom is a company well known for its guitar pedalboards, but they also make sound interfaces.
The Zoom U-24 does not disappoint. It is a compact interface with 2 inputs and 4 outputs that has everything you need to record high-quality audio in 24-bit / 96kHz frequency.
It is equipped with two low-noise preamps that allow good recordings.
This board is compatible with Mac OS, Windows, iPhones, and iPads via USB. But to get it to work on your phone, you must purchase the Lightning to USB adapter.
It also has MIDI connections for connecting synths, controllers, or keyboards, which is pretty impressive for a $ 150 interface.
With the purchase of this Audio Interface, you also have a download code for Ableton Live 9 Lite and start producing music with hundreds of VST plugins and effects.
This mini board has blown us away with its incredible potential at such a small price.
- Great for the price
- MIDI I/O
- Very portable
- Includes Ableton Live 9 Lite
- Includes access to Pro Tools
- Single headphone output
The Behringer brand is a German company founded by Swiss engineer Uli Behringer. This company has excellent quality audio equipment.
The UMC204HD is equipped with two MIDAS-designed preamps with 48v Phantom Power. Of course, they are not the same preamps MIDAS uses in their 2000 euro equipment and consoles, but they are an excellent adaptation.
Its structure is made of metal and looks pretty robust; in fact, it is inscribed with the inscription “Made like a tank.”
It’s a great board that can record tracks at a 192kHz sample rate to mix the best sound.
Its cost is very affordable and offers excellent value for it.
- Durable build quality
- Low latency
- Good sound quality
- Great preamps
- Plastic buttons and knobs
- No level meter
The Audient iD4 is an amazing sophisticated audio interface. It has everything you need to record decent quality audio.
Equipped with two inputs, it simultaneously allows the recording of up to two voices or instruments. Audient’s preamps are also class A for recording condenser microphones with the highest quality.
It records at a 24bit / 96kHz sample rate which is perfect for good quality recordings.
Its settings are basic and simple to use. You plug in the USB interface and your instruments and start recording. It does not require complicated settings.
Its panel has an exciting button called “iD,” which reduces the playback volume to hear the control room quickly.
Plus, it comes with Cubase LE9, multiple plug-ins, and hundreds of loops to start recording your entire production immediately. There is no way to go wrong with this interface.
- Excellent sonic performance
- Easy to use
- Great build quality
- Compatible with Windows, Mac and iOS
- Using iOS devices requires both a camera adaptor and a powered USB hub.
Tascam is a California-based company that manufactures professional audio equipment.
The Tascam US-16 × 08 is an excellent affordable interface with 16 inputs and 8 outputs. While most offer two inputs, this interface went to the next level and gave us 4 inputs. It is ideal if you need to record multiple instruments simultaneously.
The ultra HDDA preamps are made by Tascam and provide up to 56dB of gain with almost zero noise.
In addition to being compatible with Windows and macOS, this interface also supports iOS devices such as iPhones or iPad. The lightning-USB adapter is not included in the package.
It can record at a 96kHz sample rate and is compatible with most DAWs. This audio interface includes Ableton Live Lite 9 software and Sonar X3 LE.
- Easy to setup
- Easy to use
- Clean sound
- Affordable USB interface
- MIDI I/O
- Rocker type power switch
The Komplete Audio 6 Mk2 is manufactured by Native Instruments, the famous producer of audio software like Traktor, and VST plugins like Kontakt.
It also makes equipment such as the Komplete Audio 6 Mk2. This interface has a total of 6 inputs (2 XLR / Line + 2 Line + 1 SPDIF digital stereo + 1 MIDI) and 6 outputs (4 line for control + 1 SPDIF + 1 MIDI).
It records in 192kHz and 24 bit that allows recording in good quality. It uses 48v Phantom Power.
The downside is that not that good compared to other interfaces, and they can deliver a low recording level with microphones. So it is not so recommended for condenser microphones.
With purchasing this interface, much free software such as Ableton Live, Traktor Pro 3, and more from Native Instruments are included.
- Sleek design
- USB powered
- MIDI ports
- Good driver performance
- No monitor outputs except headphones.
7 Best Audio Interface for Ableton – Buying Guide
Before choosing the ideal Audio Interface for you, there are certain basic aspects to consider, such as the number of inputs or outputs, the type of connection, and other basic technical specifications:
Inputs and outputs
The most important difference between the different models of audio interfaces is the number of inputs and outputs it has. Before choosing a model, you must ask yourself: how many inputs and outputs do you need? What kind of work are you planning to record? Are you planning to capture just one instrument, one instrument + one microphone, or multiple instruments?
It is recommended that at least you opt for an interface with two inputs. This will allow you a minimum of versatility. On the other hand, purchasing an interface with more inputs is advisable if you have more complex recordings in mind. When in doubt, they should remain absent.
Types of Input
Any audio interface integrates at least one line input to connect instruments such as guitars or basses and an XLR microphone.
Many interfaces integrate analog inputs that combine XLR and line in one space. This gives you a little more versatility when connecting microphones with different inputs.
Digital inputs are not essential for beginners, but they are useful for professionals who need to record multiple channels, such as drum kits, simultaneously. A digital input allows you, for example, to connect a microphone preamplifier with multiple connected devices through a single input.
- Line input: Used for instruments such as piano, guitar, bass, etc.
- XLR input: The XLR input is generally used for microphones.
- MIDI: MIDI connection with synthesizers, drums, and other devices.
As for the outputs, you will likely only need one stereo pair to connect your studio monitors and one for headphones. These are essential to be able to listen to your musical productions.
Types of connections
When connecting the audio interface with your instruments to your computer, you can choose between several options:
The USB connection is one of the most common, so a USB audio interface is very convenient. You can connect a USB audio interface to mac computers, pcs, and other devices without problems.
The Thunderbolt connection is not as versatile as the USB, but it does have some advantages. Depending on the version of the connection, Thunderbolt can transfer data up to eight times faster than a USB connection. Many professional sound engineers prefer the thunderbolt option.
Apple desktop and laptop computers carry this entry. To use it with a pc, you must have a compatible board.
Firewire and PCIe
A few years ago, the firewire connection was the standard for connecting audio and video to a computer. However, the development and speed of USB and thunderbolt connections have become somewhat outdated.
The PCIe connection is the same as that used by a video card in a desktop computer. However, they are not the most convenient for recording sessions or connecting audio interfaces.
For these reasons, we have chosen only USB and thunderbolt audio interfaces in this comparison.
The form factor is a term that refers to the size and shape of an audio interface. Audio interfaces are usually the same shape and can vary greatly in size, but they are classified into two main types:
- Desktop interfaces: desktop interfaces are quite small. They are ideal for home recording as they do not take up much space and can easily be placed under the monitor or computer.
- Rack interfaces: rack audio interfaces are designed for professionals who have other racks in their studios. These models are very thin and wide so that you can place several rack devices, one on top of the other, and thus take advantage of the space. Due to their wide shape, they integrate more inputs and outputs than desktop interfaces.
One of the most important aspects of choosing an audio interface is knowing what audio quality they can work with. The most important technical specifications in terms of audio, beyond the quality of the internal components, are the bit depth and the sample rate.
Without going into technical details, the higher the bit depth, the higher the sound quality. One bit depth equals 6db, so a 16-bit depth audio interface has a dynamic range of 96 dB.
This measurement is considered the standard quality for CDs, but the range is somewhat limited, and the softer parts of your songs may sound somewhat noisy.
The safest thing is to opt for 24-bit audio interfaces that provide a dynamic range of 144 dB, which means that your recordings will have a much higher quality. 24-bit is considered the standard today in the professional world.
A sample is a piece of audio that is captured. The sample rate indicates the number of times the audio interface can capture samples in one second. The 44.1 kHz sample rate measurement is the standard for cd quality. This means that 44,100 pieces of audio information are captured in one second.
The human ear can only pick up frequencies to 20 kHz. However, due to today’s technology to record audio, some models work with sample rates up to 192 kHz.
What measurements do you need in an audio interface?
This depends on how you plan to use the recordings. Mp3 files and CDs will sound great at 16-bit / 44.1 kHz measurements. On the other hand, 24-bit / 96 kHz is used to satisfy the most demanding audiophiles looking for higher quality and superb audio clarity. Anything above is unnecessary unless you want to work with audio for Hollywood movies.
What to consider when buying an audio interface?
Before buying an audio interface, you should review the quality of its preamps, the number and types of inputs, and the compatibility with the DAW.
How many inputs and outputs are you going to want?
Knowing how many inputs and outputs, also written as I/O, is important when choosing your interface and midi functions and optical input.
How much quality should you look for?
Without getting into the science garden of sound and digitization, we can tell you that generally, 26bits / 96khz, you can produce professional music without a problem.
We have spent a lot of time thoroughly researching audio interfaces for Ableton. Audio interfaces are wonderful devices that allow you to record sound from multiple inputs onto your computer, one of them being your microphone (you know, the thing you use to sing into).
They are also something that every Ableton user should have. The quality of sound you can get from these devices is unmatched by anything else.
The first step to getting a good audio interface for Ableton is figuring out what you need. This will depend on your budget and the number of tracks you are recording at once.
We hope that you were able to find the perfect interface for your needs. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask in the comments section, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.