Step 1 - Audio Interfaces
You’re not going to get far with your studio with audio and other signals in and out of your computer! That’s where a USB Audio Interface comes into the picture. An Audio Interface connects to your computer and provides inputs and outputs for microphones, instruments and more; monitor outputs for Studio Monitors; Headphone outputs and other connection types, such as MIDI ins and outs for Controllers and Keyboards, digital signal connections, and more.
There are multiple things to think about when deciding on an Audio Interface, but arguably the two most important points that should be considered are the Computer connection format the Interface uses and the number and types of inputs and outputs it provides. Interfaces generally connect using USB 2.0, Thunderbolt, and Firewire. Which is the best for you depends mainly on your computer — if your computer has no Thunderbolt port, then choosing a Thunderbolt audio interface wouldn't be a wise decision!
The number of inputs and outputs you’ll need depends on how many sources you want to record simultaneously, as well as how many other devices you need to connect with outputs. You’ll also want to look at how many of the inputs support microphone connections. For many home studios, two ins and outs, with two microphone preamps is a good place to start, you can track a couple of mics or a stereo keyboard, while feeding studio monitor speakers and headphones. If you need more than two inputs, to possibly record a drum set or if you want to track a few players or a full band all at once, there are interfaces available that will give you up to 32 simultaneous inputs.
Certain audio interfaces also offer great extras such as plugins and other software. Some Audio Interfaces also come with basic DAW Software. Several other interfaces provide onboard mixing capabilities, reverb and other effects, and so on. While essentially just an added option, onboard DSP is also a valuable bonus, and can make your recording process much more streamlined.
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
Key Features - Presonus AudioBox iTwo
+ High quality Microphone PreAmps with 25 years worth of experience behind them
+ Excellent digital performance with 24-bit resolution at sample rates of up to 96 KHz
+ A rugged metal unibody case can withstand the riggers of touring
+ Bus Powered so you don't need a power supply, making it more portable
+ Included software such as Red 2 & 3 Plugins, Ableton Live Lite and Softube time and tone bundle
+ Unique LED gain halos so make sure that you're not clipping
+ Direct Monitor function for hearing exactly what you're recording while playing
Presonus AudioBox iTwo
Key Features - Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
+ High-quality audio I/O for Mac®, PC, and Apple iPad®.
+ Tightly integrated software including; Studio One V3 Artist, VST Plugins, Effects and Loops
+ With Capture Duo you can record on your iPad and transfer wirelessly to your DAW
+ Intelligent rhythm feature with full-keyboard chord recognition
+ Class A Preamps and Award Winning analog signal processors
+ Built to travel with ultra strong metal that weighs next to nothing
+ Internal analog mixer for zero-latency monitoring, unlike iOne, iTwo lets you create your own mix
M-Audio M-Track Plus (MK2)
Key Features - M-Audio M-Track Plus (MK2)
+ Delivers studio-grade 24-bit/96 kHz audio resolution in a compact and friendly format
+ The sleek M-Track Plus features a durable metal case to withstand the rigors of the road
+ Accommodates any input, from an Electric Guitar to a Professional Condenser Mic
+ USB Port provides both power and a data connection to and from your laptop or desktop computer
+ Comes with 3 software selections: Cubase LE; Ableton Live Lite; and Waves Audio plugins
+ Phantom power switch delivers 48V to the XLR inputs for use with Condenser Microphones.
+ Multi-color LED metering provides instant visual feedback of the input levels.
Key Features - Steinberg UR22
+ Maximum sampling rate of 192 kHz and a resolution of 24 bits
+ Features Yamaha's highly-acclaimed D-PRE preamps
+ Full metal chassis is rugged enough for any environment
+ Latency-free hardware monitoring and an intuitive Mix knob
+ Compatible with all major audio editing, mastering, and music production software
+ Equipped with a MIDI I/O — Connect your favorite Synth, a Drum trigger module or MIDI Controller
+ Comes with Cubase AI: an intuitive feature set for composing, recording, editing and mixing.
Roland Duo Capture EX
Key Features - Roland Duo Capture EX
+ Two premium-grade, digitally controlled Mic PreAmps (VS Preamps)
+ Two XLR/TRS combo inputs plus independent phantom power for each channel
+ Low-noise, wide-ranging power supply. Designed to deliver a clean, balanced input and output
+ Hi-Z input switch for direct connection of an electric guitar or bass
+ Compatible with all major computer platforms, including WDM/ASIO, Core Audio, and iOS
+ Compact and solidly housed in an aluminum case, easily fits in a backpack, and weighs just 1 pound
+ Includes Cakewalk Sonar LE Music Production Software
Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6
Key Features - Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6
+ Record and play music with 4 analog ins/outs, digital in/out, MIDI, and low-latency performance
+ Two mic inputs armed with high-end pre-amps and Cirrus Logic converters deliver pristine sound
+ MIDI in/out for master keyboard, MASCHINE or any third-party MIDI controller
+ Headphone output with independent level control and source switch
+ Completely USB powered, with an extra sturdy custom USB socket
+ Comes with Komplete Elements – a full production package of sounds and effects.
+ Also comes with Traktor LE - for digital DJing and Cubase LE for recording and arranging songs.