Top 11 Best Audio Interface Brands In The World 2020


Audio interfaces are essential components in today’s world of digital audio recording and monitoring. These devices allow our computers (which run our digital audio workstations and other audio software) to communicate with our naturally analog audio equipment (microphones, electrical instruments, speakers, headphones, etc.).

With the ubiquity of digital recording in the professional audio industry and hobbyist audio culture, these audio interfaces are vital.

So, then, it would make sense that there are a multitude of companies dedicated to producing audio interfaces for professional, project, home and mobile studios. In this article, we’ll have a look at the top 11 best audio interface manufacturers/brands on the market.

The top 11 audio interface brands are:

  1. Universal Audio
  2. Focusrite
  3. RME Audio
  4. Prism Sound
  5. PreSonus
  6. Steinberg
  7. Avid & M-Audio
  8. Antelope Audio
  9. Apogee Electronics
  10. Audient
  11. Solid State Logic

Let’s get into each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 11. For each brand I’ll share the country of origin; a bit of history; one or two example of best-selling or flagship interfaces, and a link to the company’s official website.


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Universal Audio

First up on the list, and for good reason, is Universal Audio.

The history of Universal Audio and its original founder, Bill Putnam, is quite remarkable. Bill has made a name for himself and UA for his legendary studio and equipment designs (the LA-2A and 1176 compressors come to mind).

Bill Putnam also fathered the modern recording console, the multi-band audio equalizer and the vocal booth. He was the first engineer to use artificial reverb in a commercial recording and, with his friend Les Paul, was also involved with the early development of stereo recording.

Today, Univeral Audio is a well-respected and highly sought after brand for audio interfaces. Their famous Apollo series has smaller options for solo artist and home studios and more comprehensive interfaces for the professional studio. There’s something for everyone with UA.

Their products are of the highest quality build and design and are used around the world for top-of-the-line digital audio recording, processing and playback.

Speaking of processing, Universal Audio’s digital signal processing engineers have really done a wonderful job at emulating the legendary analog hardware of UA in a digital plug-in format.

On top of that, UA’s audio interfaces handle the processing of the UA plug-ins, freeing up CPU and reducing latency in the process.

Univeral Audio is a renowned audio brand and is one of, if not the best manufacturer of audio interfaces in the world today.

Audio interface examples:

Universal Audio Apollo Twin Mk 2 (link to check the price on Amazon).

Universal Audio Apollo Twin Mk 2

Universal Audio Apollo x16 (link to check the price on Amazon).

Universal Audio Apollo x16

Universal Audio is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top 13 Best Microphone Preamplifier Brands In The World.

Universal Audio was founded in 1958 by Bill Putnam as the manufacturing arm of the United Recording Corporation in Los Angeles, California. After a few acquisitions/mergers, the UA brand was practically phased out by 1967 after a rebranding as United Recording Electronics Industries. In 1999, Bill Putnam Jr. and Jim Putnam reestablished Universal Audio and the brand has since grown spectacularly to become one the best known and most cherished audio interface brands on the world market. The company is headquartered in Scotts Valley, California, USA.

Link to visit the official website of Universal Audio.


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Focusrite

Focusrite is one of the most popular audio interface brands in the world.

A great number of audio hobbyist and home studio owners (including myself) have a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 or another interface from Focusrite. Many professional studios and live sound setups use larger Focusrite Pro units as audio interfaces.

The two distinct divisions (Focusrite and Focusrite Pro) produce superb audio interfaces for the hobbyist/amateur and the professional, respectively. Regardless of your camp, you can expect the best bang for your buck in terms of quality and usability when purchasing a Focusrite audio interface.

Audio interface examples:

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (link to check the price on Amazon).

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Red 8Pre (link to check the price on Amazon).

Focusrite Red 8Pre

Universal Audio is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top 13 Best Microphone Preamplifier Brands In The World.

Focusrite was founded in 1985 by none other than Rupert Neve in England. In 1989, the company was purchased by Phil Dudderidge (co-founder of Soundcraft Electronics Ltd). Today, the Focusite Group owns 6 distinct brands: Focusrite, Focusrite Pro, Martin Audio, ADAM Audio, Novation, and Ampify Music. The company is headquartered in Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom.

Link to visit the official website of Focusrite.


RME Audio

The Germany-based RME Audio gets a spot on this list as an audio interface manufacturer founded on innovation, transparency and reliability. The company focused on the design and production of high-quality analog-digital audio devices including internal sound cards, MADI solutions, converters and, of course, audio interfaces.

RME is said to be the first company to ever deliver professional audio over USB 2.0 and has been at the forefront of audio in USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt technology. All RME products are based around its propreitary core technologies.

If you’re looking for professional results with industry-leading clarity and precision, RME Audio is a brand you should seriously consider. Each RME audio interface is designed to preserve audio as it was originally intended with nothing added and nothing taken away.

Audio interface examples:

RME Babyface Pro (link to check the price on Amazon).

RME Audio Babyface Pro

RME Fireface UFX+ (link to check the price on Amazon).

RME Fireface UFX+

RME Audio was founded in 1996 by Ralf Männel and Matthias Carstens in Haimhausen, Germany, where the company is still headquartered today.

Link to visit the official website of RME Audio.


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Prism Sound

Since its inception in 1987, Prism Sound has become a distinguished British manufacturer of high-end audio interfaces, converters and the modular components of such devices.

Prism Sound products can be found in professional mixing and mastering facilities around the United Kingdom and the world.

With an rarely-paralleled attention to detail and focus of digital audio, Prism Sound has made a name for itself as one of the best in the business at producing uncompromisingly precise audio interfaces for the working professional.

Audio interface examples:

Prism Sound Atlas HDX (link to check the price at B&H Photo/Video).

Prism Sound Atlas HDX

Prism Sound ADA-8XR (link to check the price at B&H Photo/Video).

Prism Sound ADA-8XR

Prism Sound was founded in 1987 by two former Neve engineers named Graham Boswell and Ian Dennis. The Prism Group features Prism Sound (focusing on recording and production), Sadie (focusing on audio tools and software) and Spectral Measurement (focusing on audio measurement devices). The company is headquartered in Cambridgeshire, England, United Kingdom.

Link to visit the official website of Prism Sound.


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PreSonus

PreSonus is a fairly popular audio brand with a wide variety of products in such categories as software, loudspeakers, mixers and, of course, audio interfaces.

The brand is well-known for its Studio One digital audio workstation as well as for its superb audio interfaces.

Regardless of where you are in your audio journey, PreSonus has a product for you. This is true of their interfaces as well, with options for the beginner, the hobbyist and the working professional.

The company has been in the game for a long time and this experience shows in the breadth of their product selection; the bridging of quality and affordability in their products, and their great success in the audio market.

Audio interface examples:

PreSonus AudioBox 96 (link to check the price on Amazon).

PreSonus AudioBox 96

PreSonus Quantum 4848 (link to check the price on Amazon).

PreSonus Quantum 4848

PreSonus was founded in 1995 by Jim Odom and Brian Smith in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA, wehere the company is still headquartered today.

Link to visit the official website of PreSonus.


Steinberg

Steinberg is likely best-known for its digital audio workstations Cubase (focused on music) and Nuendo (focused on post-production). The company also produces an impressive range of audio interfaces for small and large audio setups alike.

Steinberg’s audio interfaces draw on the experience of Steinberg itself and from it’s parent company Yamaha (the acquisition took place in 2004).

The result of such experience is a line of exceptionally high-quality interfaces designed for various project sizes from the small home studio to the professional music/audio studio.

Audio interface examples:

Steinberg UR22 MKII (link to check the price on Amazon).

Steinberg UR22 MkII

Steinberg AXR4T (link to check the price at B&H Photo/Video).

Steinberg AXR4T

Steinberg was founded in 1984 by Karl Steinberg and Manfred Rürup in Hamburg, Germany. Steinberg was acquired by Pinnacle Systems in 2003, which was then acquired by Yamaha in 2004. The company is headquartered in Hamburg, Germany.

Link to visit the official website of Steinberg.


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Avid & M-Audio

Avid Technologies is an audio-visual equipment manufacturer and producer of the industry standard Pro Tools digital audio workstation. The company owns M-Audio as a subsidiary, which is an audio hardware manufacturer.

Between the two companies, there is a wealth of supurb audio interfaces and digital I/Os.

The sophisticated and innovative technologies used in these audio interfaces is a testament to the dedication to quality that both Avid and M-Audio have for themselves and the audio-visual industries at large.

Though many of the audio interfaces from Avid and M-Audio are designed for use with Pro Tools, they can be used with other DAWs as well.

Audio interface examples:

Avid HD I/O 16×16 (link to check the price on Amazon).

Avid HD I/O 16×16

M-Audio AIR 192|14 (link to check the price on Amazon).

M-Audio AIR 192|14

Avid Technology was founded in 1987 by Bill Warner in Burlington, Massachusetts, USA. In 2004, Avid acquired M-Audio, a company focused on audio interfaces.

Link to visit the official website of Avid.


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Antelope Audio

Antelope Audio may not be as well known as other brands on this list but rest assured it is fully deserving of a spot.

The company has a strong background in digital audio equipment manufacturering and has dedicated this experience into designing and producing products for high-definition audio in home and professional studio environments.

Having designed so much high-end digital technology, it’s no wonder Antelope’s audio interfaces are so awesome.

The core value of the company is to bridge the cold world or digital with the warm world of analog. Antelope’s audio interfaces do just that, allowing us to harness the power of digital audio without sacrificing the warmth and fullness typically associated with analogue gear.

Audio interface examples:

Antelope Audio Zen Tour Synergy Core (link to check the price on Amazon).

Antelope Audio Zen Tour Synergy Core

Antelope Audio Discrete 8 Synergy Core (link to check the price on Amazon).

Antelope Audio Discrete 8 Synergy Core

Antelope Audio was founded in 1985 by Igor Levin in Santa Monica, California, USA, where it is still headquartered today.

Link to visit the official website of Antelope Audio.


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Apogee Electronics

Apogee Electronics is an award-winning company focused on digital audio hardware and software. It makes sense that, with their expertise, Apogee would be capable of producing excellent audio interfaces.

Apogee designs and manufactures high-end audio interfaces at affordable costs to the customers in the consumer and professional markets.

Their cherished Symphony I/O is a benchmark in digital audio technology and is one of many popular products from Apogee.

Audio interface examples:

Apogee Symphony Desktop (link to check the price at B&H Photo/Video).

Apogee Symphony Desktop

Apogee Element 88 (link to check the price on Amazon).

Apogee Element 88

Apogee Electronics was founded in December 1985 by Betty Bennett (president of Soundcraft USA),  Bruce Jackson, and Christof Heidelberger. The company is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, USA.

Link to visit the official website of Apogee.


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Audient

Audient made a name for itself early on in its existence as a manufacturer of afforable high-quality mixing consoles. Today, the company puts that same deciation into audio intefaces along with other audio technologies.

Audient audio interfaces find themselves in professional and home studios alike. Each interface is designed carefully and built with quality and longevity in mind. The solid philosophies of Audient have produced great success for the company which is shown in the popularity of their interfaces in studios around the world.

Audio interface examples:

Audient iD4 (link to check the price on Amazon).

Audient iD4

Audient iD44 (link to check the price on Amazon).

Audient iD44

Audient was founded in 1997 by David Dearden and Gareth Davies (previously of Soundcraft). The company is headquartered in Herriard, Hampshire, United Kingdom.

Link to visit the official website of Audient.


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Solid State Logic

Last on the list is the legendary company Solid State Logic. This highly-revered company is the manufacturer of some of the world’s most chaerished mixing consoles and other excellent recording studio hardware.

Although the product lines may be small (the company only has two audio interfaces on the market), SSL is a household name for audio professionals. This acclaim comes from their groundbreaking audio production consoles and, now, their innovative personal studio equipment.

Solid State Logic’s audio interfaces are largely inspired by the high-end analogue circuits of their other legendary products. The classic design and use of high-quality components make the SSL interfaces an excellent choice when audiophile-quality audio is required

Audio interface examples:

Solid State Logic SSL 2+ (link to check the price at B&H Photo/Video).

Solid State Logic SSL 2+

Solid State Logic was founded in 1969 by Colin Sanders in Stonesfiled, Oxfordshire. The company was sold to Audiotonix Group in 2017. It is headquartered in Begbroke, Oxfordshire, England.

Solid State Logic is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top 13 Best Microphone Preamplifier Brands In The World.

Link to visit the official website of Solid State Logic.

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