Let’s start with a quick intro of what an audio interface is. It’s intermediary audio equipment that connects external XLR input devices (eg., mics, guitars) to your computer. Interfaces convert analog audio signals to digital signals that your computer and recording software can use for editing.
The best audio interface for podcasting for you will depend on how you’re recording your podcast and what your needs are.
For those in a hurry and want to know which is the Best Audio Interface – Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Generation).
Why do you need even need a USB audio interface?
If you have an XLR mic or device, you will need an audio interface or mixer. Without an audio interface, you won’t be able to record your voice from the XLR mic to your computer to edit and share.
XLR mics are powered by phantom power, so audio interfaces are needed because they will provide phantom power to the microphones. Interfaces also have a headphone jack and built-in preamps for mics.
There are many other features that’ll help with creating better audio quality. I go into the key factors of what to look out for when choosing an audio interface down below. But first, let’s get into the best audio interfaces.
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen)
Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen)
BEST FOR SOLO PODCASTING
Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD
Presonus AudioBox iTwo 2x2
Steinberg UR22C 2x2
Table of Contents
5 Best Audio Interfaces
1. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) – Best Overall
Focusrite has been around since the 1980s and their audio interfaces are synonymous with the best of the best. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is an icon of audio interfaces, featuring two XLR inputs. This is the best USB audio interface for podcasting, music, and more at home.
The audio quality is great, clean and clear. The mic preamps give you accurate audio levels as it features separate gain control for mic inputs and the headphone output. This audio interface is widely compatible with macOS, iOS, and Windows. This is one of the best interfaces out there and a best seller for good reason.
2. Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen)
A little brother to the Scarlett 2i2 above as this only has one input. If you’re podcasting solo and know you won’t need more, this is a great choice.
The Scarlett Solo is also popular with guitarists recording solo. It’s simple and easy to use. Really, it doesn’t get much easier than this. It’s Focusrite-quality and you get it at an affordable price.
3. Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD
Behringer is another reputable brand in the audio recording field for its audio equipment. Like the Focusrite 2i2, the U-Phoria UMC202HD USB audio interface has 2 preamps with +48 volt phantom power.
It features zero-latency which means you can record voices without any lag. It comes with different channel versions such as 1-channel, 4-channel, and 8-channel. You can go with the one that has 8-channel if you want more flexibility.
This interface is compatible with both Windows and Mac, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility.
4. Presonus Audio Box iTwo
The Presonus iTwo is another good audio interface that comes in a compact and clean design. You don’t have to worry if you have a guest for your podcast, it has two XLR inputs with this interface. It’s one of the better audio interfaces to use it on the go as it is quite portable and their Studio Magic Plug-in Suite can be used with an iPad to record. They also have their DAW, Studio One Artist, that has a nice UI.
Weighing 1.35 pounds, this audio interface is a good option for if you record podcasts on the go.
5. Steinberg UR22C 2×2
This audio interface will make a good choice for those who want durability from an audio interface in its build. This is the best audio interface that will last longer than your expectations. It features one XLR mic input with phantom power.
It’s compatible with iOS, OS X, and Windows. Apart from its build quality, it can deliver studio-quality sound. With the purchase of this interface, you’ll also get a free download code for Cubase AI 7.
Key Factors to Consider Before Buying an Audio Interface
How you record and use your podcast equipment will determine the best audio interface for you. The following factors are ones you should be considering when buying an audio interface.
Number of I/O (Input/Out)
The first thing you need to look for is the number of inputs and outputs. Take a look at your recording needs and how many mic inputs will be needed. Look at how many headphones / sound monitors you’re going to use. Do you have a podcast co-host or will you have guests on your podcast?
If you’re going to regularly need 3-4+ mic inputs, you might want to look into a mixer for audio recording. USB mixers are usually better for controlling audio quality of more input. A USB mixer is similar to interfaces with their USB connection to the computer.
Interface Connection Types
There’re three types of connections and all are USB – typical USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and USB-C. Though most interfaces still use USB 2.0, newer audio interface models are starting to use USB 3.0 and even USB-C.
For podcasting, you don’t normally need to look for this in a USB audio interface. This is useful if you want to record instruments like guitars or keyboards for your podcast. You connect them using the MIDI ports.
Ah, the money question. Which audio interface is going to provide you with the best bang for your buck for recording your podcast?
I found the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is the best overall value interface for podcasting. The Scarlett Solo is also good, but I think that for a little more money, you get the extra mic input. You never know when you’re going to have a guest on your podcast show and you need the extra microphone input for recording.
If you have a higher budget and you need more XLR microphone inputs, you can look to get the Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 (3rd Gen) and get up to 8 inputs.
There are many audio interfaces out there. Define what your needs are first and that’ll help with deciding the best audio interface for you.