The interfaces on this list are in order from lowest to highest cost, and we've stuck with ones that include 2XLR inputs - that said, if you want to scale up or down, each interface has models with more or fewer XLR connections, but with the same internal functionality and processing.
For this video let’s stick to interfaces with 2XLR mic inputs, and know that if you’re interested in a particular one, you can usually scale up or down. Also, this list will be in order from lowest to highest cost.
The Presonus Revelator offers 2 XMAX-L preamps, which offer a clean and flat frequency response - the unit seems geared toward streaming and podcasts, since it offers internal loop functionality, and built-in presets that you can access via the front panel. It also comes bundled with Studio One Artist, Ableton Live Lite, and Studio Magic Plugin Suite.
The Presonus Revelator is currently on sale for $149.
The Minifuse offers 2 very quiet preamps with an input noise of -129dB and 110dB of dynamic range. On the back, we get midi in and out, USB-C connectivity, a USB hub that can be used to power and connect keyboards or even charge a phone, and our left and right outputs.
The software bundled in is great as well - including Ableton Live Lite, 4 of Arturia’s FX, Guitar Rig 6 LE, and Analog Lab Intro, a well-rounded synth collection.
The current price of the Minifuse 2 is $149.
The Rubix 22 offers 2 XLR inputs with low noise while the D/A converter has the ability to record up to a 192kHz sampling rate. On the front panel, we control the gain, if the instrument input is Hi Z, the monitor output level, and the individual headphone level.
On the back, we can switch between 2 different USB power sources, and lift the ground to remove hum if it’s present.
It’s currently on sale for $174.99.
The 2 Mic Preamps on the SSL2+ are relatively clean and balanced, with the option to engage the 4K function, which introduces mild harmonic distortion and very subtle compression, indicative of SSL’s larger format consoles. The monitor section is also unique, letting you monitor either the input or the signal from your DAW.
We get 2 headphone amps as well, and 2 stereo component outputs. It also comes bundled with Melodyne, IK Multimedia Amplitude, Native instrument hybrid keys, and the Vocal Strip and DrumStrip plugins designed by Oxford.
The SSL2+ is currently on sale for $229.
Black Lion Audio puts an emphasis on A/D and D/A conversion and clocking, making for reliable monitoring and increased purity of the recorded signal. On the front, we get 2 XLR, instrument input combos with Hi-Z options, an input and playback monitor blend like the SSL2+, and headphone output.
Lastly, it comes bundled with the Studio Artist One DAW, and plugins from Izotope, Brainworx, and Lindell Audio.
The current price is $270.
The Volt 276 offers 2 clean preamps - the vintager button introduces even and odd harmonic distortion, indicative of their 610 tube preamp. What sets this interface apart is the built-in 1176 compression with 3 settings, including one for vocals, guitar, and a super-fast setting likely adding in some wanted distortion.
We can monitor the computer’s output, or click direct to hear the inputs. Additionally, the interface comes bundled with UAD’s LA-2A and Pure Plate plugins.
The current price is $299.
The Audient iD14 includes the same preamps as larger format Audient consoles, and a great-sounding JFET instrument input, perfect for DI guitar and bass. One unique feature is the iD software, which allows you to use the large monitor knob as the control for a plugin parameter - which could be helpful for automation.
An optical input in the back lets you add up to 8 additional external preamps to its A/D conversion, and the unit comes bundled with Cubase, Amp simulations, and more.
The current price is $299.
This interface includes 2 very clean, low-noise XLR, line, and instrument combo inputs with phantom power isolated to each channel. On the front we get access to headphone outputs, and a blendable monitor output letting you monitor the input and computer output separately or collectively.
On the back we get an optical input, letting us connect external TASCAM preamps.
What’s unique about this interface is its built-in processor, which lets you introduce EQ, reverb, and compression prior to the signal hitting your DAW - perhaps saving you some CPU during a mix.
The current price is $399.
Although the Focusrite Scarlett is their most popular, the Clarett has a greatly improved sound - the preamps are incredibly transparent with an optional Air function to boost high frequencies. On the back, we get 4 line outputs and an optical input to connect external preamps.
The bundled software is equally impressive and includes Antares Auto-tune access, Relab’s LX480 reverb, and a lot more.
The current price of the interface is $499.
This interface offers 2 preamps with up to 65dB of gain, hi-z inputs, super low noise, and 127dB of dynamic range, all monitored through the LCD screen on the front. The interface comes bundled with 37 effects, from guitar modeling to other analog classics, as well as their BitWig DAW.
So this would be a great choice if you’re looking to quickly get into recording and want high-quality hardware and software with one purchase.
The current price of the unit is $549.
This interface is probably the more portable on this list, with a slim desktop design; despite the small footprint there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. The clocking is accurate to within 1 quadrillionth of a second, while the preamps have an incredible signal-to-noise ratio of 116.3dB.
Inside the unit 2 DSP chips are active, one for monitoring and general display, the other as an internal processor, allowing latency-free EQ, reverb, echo, and more within their desktop software.
The current price of the unit is $999.
You’ve probably heard of this interface if you’ve been looking for one - it’s the only interface that offers Neve preamps, the same ones used in their 88RS console. In short, that’s the main appeal of this unit, you get the same harmonic distortion and slightly non-linear response of a 70s NEVE recording console.
We can monitor the input and output, as well as connect more preamps to the back, letting the interface handle their A/D conversion.
Its current price is $1249.
Like some of the other entries on this list, the DigiGrid has great preamps, DI inputs, a solid headphone amp and more, but what sets this interface apart is the ethernet connectivity, allowing for remote use, up to 256’ feet. This lets you move around any large facility and take the interface with you.
If hooked up to the same network as your main computer, you could use an iPad or secondary device to control the software, while changing levels with the interface.
The current price of the unit is $1,399.
The UXCII is similar to the Babyface Pro that we covered early - it includes the same incredibly low jitter, and super clean mic preamps, but adds some additional line inputs and outputs. What makes this interface truly unique is the ability to record without a computer or additional mixer.
Simply connect a USB drive or external hard drive up to 2TB to the back and record audio directly to it.
The current price is $1699.
Last up we have a truly special interface - with it we get 2 incredibly clean, low-distortion preamps with software-controllable high pass filters, phase inversion, mid-side routing, and soft-clipping. The included Verify software can analyze audio for its accuracy down to the sample.
This ensures that your analog signal, or other recordings you have, are 100 percent accurate - making this a reliable option for forensic audio, or any incredibly particular engineer.
The current price is $2,649.