The 5 Best Portable Audio Interfaces (2021)
If you want to record with good sound quality then you need an audio interface. This article will take you through some of the best portable audio interfaces that you can easily travel around with.
Some of the most important considerations to keep in mind when buying an audio interface are the number of inputs, number of outputs, and phantom power.
If you want to record multiple instruments at the same time, then you need to make sure that you have enough inputs. Also, be sure that you have enough outputs for your needs (e.g. mixing desk, routing to other gear, in-ear monitors, etc).
Also, you may require phantom power depending on what gear you’re using, such as condenser microphones, be sure to check the specs of the interface before buying.
- The 5 Best Portable Audio Interfaces – Our Pick
- 1. Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface
- 2. Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo (APLTWDII)
- 3. Roland GOMIXER Audio Mixer for Smartphones
- 4. Behringer U-PHORIA UM2 Computer Audio Interface
- 5. PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2×2 USB 2.0 Audio Interface Blue
- Portable Audio Interfaces – Common Questions
The 5 Best Portable Audio Interfaces – Our Pick
1. Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface
When looking at audio interfaces that have both great quality and a great price, Focusrite Scarlett is usually at the top of the list. Focusrite Scarlett Solo is a great little portable audio interface that’s perfect for anyone looking to get a nice recording wherever they go.
It’s equipped with 2 simultaneous I/O with one XLR and one ¼” jacks and a split ¼” line out. It also has a USB 2.0 and USB-C connection for easy connection with any computer or tablet of your choice, iPads included. You can control the gain with halo technology, essentially giving you an easy visual aid in form of the LED light around the knobs that control gain, which turn red when you go over the line with your gain.
It has phantom power, so you can preamp anything that you can record while keeping the sound quality you need. It’s light, compact and in an aluminum shell, so it’s very road-friendly. Cost is very user friendly, so you don’t have to splash out a lot of money for this sweet deal.
2. Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo (APLTWDII)
UA Apollo Twin MKII Duo is a 2×6 Thunderbolt connected audio interface with premium digital conversion and sound manipulation for analog recordings.
It has two combo XLR inputs, stereo lineout, and a stereo monitor output as well. On the front you have one big knob with several other buttons to control different options, making it quite easy to use.
Of course, for this you’ll need to invest quite a bit, but if you’re looking for a high-end, quality product, this is your pick.
3. Roland GOMIXER Audio Mixer for Smartphones
Technology development has allowed us to easily record and mix sound on our smartphones. But the equipment needed for that is not that developed. Roland GO: MIXER is a perfect solution for anyone looking to record and mix their music on their smartphone.
With it, you’ll get 5 inputs – three ¼” jacks and two 3.5mm jacks for up to 5 instruments at the same time. It also has a monitor ¼” output and is connected and powered through a micro USB cable. It’s light, compact, and really affordable -everything you might need to combine with your phone and record.
4. Behringer U-PHORIA UM2 Computer Audio Interface
Behringer U-PHORIA UM2 is a compact, and affordable audio interface with several options included. It comes with a combo XLR and TRS inputs, as well as a stereo output and a monitor output for headphones. It’s bus-powered, so you won’t need any additional power outlets apart from your standard USB socket through which you connect it to the computer.
It’s equipped with phantom power (48v power) and easy to use interface, as it has only three knobs through which you can control the whole thing easily. This is just what you need if you’re looking for a cheap, reliable option to have with you. It’s sturdily built and can easily take traveling with you wherever you go.
5. PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2×2 USB 2.0 Audio Interface Blue
We finish off this list with another low-end item. PreSonus AudioBox is a small, reliable, quality made, and affordable audio interface. It’s connected and powered through a USB 2.0, with two combo XLR inputs and stereo outputs.
It also comes with a monitor output and a MIDI I/O, which is rare for these interfaces. When you’re recording you won’t feel any latency, as it has zero latency. It’s compact and easy to use and will give you a lot for not that much money at all.
Portable Audio Interfaces – Common Questions
Should you get Mixer or Audio Interface?
When you think of a recording studio you usually think of a huge mixer and an engineer masterfully moving the sliders on it. But in reality, you don’t necessarily need a large hardware mixer.
Software development has made sound mixing digital. Sure some people still like doing it the old way with analog mixer, but as a minimum, all you need is a simple audio interface to connect and transform your analog signal into digital for your computer to read. After that, you’ll just have to mix everything in your DAW (digital audio workstation software, such as Logic, Pro Tools, Ableton Live, etc).
Also, you should know that some of the mixers on the market today do act as audio interfaces as well, so if you’re looking for it, you can get a 2-in-1 option as well.
What does an audio interface do?
An audio interface is, to put it simply, converting your sound from analog into digital, so that your computer can read it. It’s necessary if you want to record your sound through your computer with any decent sound quality.
How many inputs/outputs do I need?
The number of inputs really depends on how many things you want to record at once. If you’re a singer/songwriter, you’ll probably need just two (one for your mic and one for the instrument). If you want to record more, you’re going to need more inputs (as for more instruments or mics at once).
As for the outputs, you should look out to have at least one stereo output, as well as a headphone/monitor out, to ease up your recording sessions.
Does the interface affect sound quality?
Since the audio single will be going through your interface, it has the potential to affect the signal. Ideally, your audio interface will record a clean signal.
If you invest in a decent quality interface, then the sound quality should be good.
If you buy a low-quality audio interface, then you may get noise and distortion introduced into the signal.
Do I need phantom power?
If you have equipment that does need phantom power, then your audio interface will need phantom power.
The most common item that people have that needs phantom power are condenser microphones.
Check your equipment before buying an audio interface to make sure it suits your needs.
Can I use a USB mic instead?
Sound quality recorded through a mic and audio interface is almost always a lot better than using USB mics.
However, USB mics are better than nothing and they may suit your needs.
We hope this article has shed some light on the best portable audio interfaces that you can find online. Be sure to pick something that suits your budget, while also making sure to check the specs, particularly with a focus on inputs, outputs, and phantom power availability.