The 5 Best Audio Interfaces for Mac (2021)

Are you looking for an audio interface for your Mac? You can get high-quality audio recording and monitoring thanks to these external devices with either USB or Thunderbolt connectivity.

They have microphone preamps, inputs for connecting instruments, headphone preamplifiers, MIDI signal management, etc. In short, it’s the nerve center of your home studio! But which one do you choose?

My recommendation as the best audio interface for Mac is the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo, while the Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen is a more affordable option that still provides good audio quality. 

The 5 Best Audio Interfaces for Mac (2021)

1. Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo
Editor's Choice - One of the best audio interfaces available featuring high-quality audio conversion and thunderbolt connection
2. Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen
Runner Up - Audio interface for PC/Mac with switchable air function
3. Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD
Affordable Option - Two-channel USB audio/MIDI interface with good-quality MIDAS
4. PreSonus AudioBox USB 96
Bus-powered USB audio interface with Studio One Artist DAW software
5. Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen
Compact USB bus-powered audio interface with +48 V phantom power

Let’s compare these in more detail.

1. Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo

Our Top Pick
One of the best audio interfaces available featuring high-quality audio conversion and thunderbolt connection.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

The Apollo Twin MK 2 is an audio interface that offers high-end conversions and many features all in a robust construction with minimalist aesthetics.

Pros

  • High-end converters with a dynamic range of 127 dB
  • Low level of distortion and noise
  • Real-time recording and processing of sound

Cons

  • Thunderbolt cable not supplied with the interface

Universal Audio are heavy hitters in the industry of audio interface. Their Apollo 8, Apollo 8p, and Apollo 16 are all amazing and capable interfaces, but less useful for those that don’t need such a huge variety of connections, or for those that want a compact interface.

The small solution to this is the Apollo Twin, which works with a Thunderbolt connection—a very useful feature for Mac users!

Number of Inputs2 Mic/Line, 1 Instrument
Number of Line Outputs4
Number of Headphones Outputs1
USB Bus-Powered?No
Phantom power?Yes

The dark metal color goes well with the new MacBooks. The converters have also been slightly improved.

A talkback microphone has been integrated and new monitoring functions have been added to the hardware.

2. Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen

Runner Up
Audio interface for PC/Mac with switchable air function.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

Focusrite are very well-known for creating very decent audio interfaces for affordable prices. Like its predecessors, this one offers a good sound quality, ease of use, and great portability. To these are added a greater number of outputs, connectivity, more efficient preamps, and good software.

The 3rd generation of Focusrite interfaces are also smaller and more compact than the previous generation.

Pros

  • Solid construction with great audio quality
  • Can record and mix up to 24 bit/192 kHz
  • Travel is made easy with its portability. It’s also USB-bus powered.
  • “Air” function allows clear and detailed vocal and guitar recording
  • Loopback function allows recording of audio sources simultaneously

Cons

  • Preamps not as good as Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo when you push the gain very high
Number of Inputs4
Number of Line Outputs4
Number of Headphones Outputs1
USB Bus-Powered?Yes
Phantom power?Yes

The Scarlett 4i4 is equipped with four analog I/Os. This makes it the extended successor to the Scarlett 2i4 (2nd Gen), which only has two inputs.

The “Air” function allows you to enter details, especially when recording vocals or acoustic instruments. A Loopback function is intended for podcast creators and streaming users.

The audio interface is good for a beginner and can be used directly to record guitar in the home studio.

3. Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD

Budget Pick
Two-channel USB audio/MIDI interface with good-quality MIDAS.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

Although this is a 2-channel USB interface, just like the U-Phoria UM2, you immediately have the feeling of having a much higher quality piece of hardware in your hand.

Pros

  • Ideal for beginners
  • Decent microphone preamps for the price
  • Compatible with common recording software
  • Impact-resistant metal housing
  • Low-noise mic preamps in MIDAS design
  • Can also be used under Windows without a driver

Cons

  • Audio quality not on-par with higher-end pro audio interface (though you wouldn’t expect it for this price)

The housing is made of powder-coated metal and has rounded corners. Only the front panel is made of plastic.

The Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD is supplied with electricity via a USB connection. The UMC202HD uses the same converters and MIDAS-Design mic preamps as the U-Phoria UMC404HD.

These two interfaces are automatically recognized on the Mac. 

Number of Inputs2
Number of Line Outputs2
Number of Headphones Outputs1
USB Bus-PoweredYes
Phantom powerYes

This audio interface is easy to use and is compatible with all professional production software (Steinberg Cubase, Ableton Live, Avid Pro Tools, etc.)

4. PreSonus AudioBox USB 96

Great for beginners
Bus-powered USB audio interface with Studio One Artist DAW software.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

Simple and practical, the PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 interface is good for beginners, but its quality and numerous functions will also satisfy the most discerning on a budget. Solid, but light, it will appeal, above all, to traveling musicians.

Pros

  • Good quality user interface at an entry-level price
  • Quite easy to use
  • Extensive recording kit for professional voice and vocal recordings
  • Easily transportable
  • Good option for beginners

Cons

  • No power ON/OFF button: you must unplug the USB cable to turn it off

The AudioBox is “bus-powered,” so it gets its power from the computer, but only from the computer. This is because the interface does not have a separate power supply connection.

The PreSonus packs a license for your DAW Studio One Artist in its AudioBox Bundle.

Number of Inputs2
Number of Line Outputs2
Number of Headphones Outputs1
USB Bus-Powered?Yes
Phantom powerYes

The PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 interface is especially suitable for beginner musicians on a low budget who want to start with a simple device.

It allows for basic recording needs for musicians as well as producers and podcasters. Its design makes it perfectly adaptable to travel while transporting it.

5. Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen

A quality compact audio interface
USB bus-powered audio interface with +48 V phantom power.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

Focusrite’s Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen. is a good-quality entry-level USB audio interface. It is recommended to anyone looking for an interface to record their voice or instrument at home.

Pros

  • Reasonable price
  • Good portability
  • DAW and additional plugins included

Cons

  • Only one mic and one line input

Externally, the third generation of the Scarlett audio interfaces differs little from its predecessor. A welcome innovation on the Scarlett Solo can be found on the back. Instead of cinch sockets, there are now symmetrical jack outputs for connecting studio monitors.

Number of Inputs2
Number of Line Outputs2
Number of Headphones Outputs1
USB Bus-PoweredYes
Phantom powerYes

Best of all, this external sound card connects directly to your Mac or PC via the supplied USB cable. No external power is required—just plug your sound card into your computer and start recording.

In summary, this audio interface will be perfect for amateur producers concerned about their mobility. It will also be great for songwriters who accompany themselves with an instrument and a microphone.

Conclusion

The Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo audio interface offers good performance with a Thunderbolt audio interface. Housed in a compact and elegant housing, this audio interface will delight YouTubers and traveling musicians.

I think the Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen offers the best value-for-money when it comes to home studio audio interfaces for Mac. Ideal for getting started in good condition, this entry-level offers everything one would expect from such an instrument: good audio quality, well-thought-out controls, and a quality DAW software bundle.

If you are looking for a lower-budget model, you will get decent sound with the U-Phoria UMC202HD. For an affordable price, you’ll enjoy a sleek design, rugged construction, a comfortable grip, and sound quality commensurate with high-end models.

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