Making your own home studio recordings, is a dream for many music producers and artists. Having your own space to create music or record your songs is a significant advantage, as it gets easier and more comfortable to be creative when working in your own home studio.
You can adjust your schedule and practice as many hours as you wish, without having to pay large amount amounts of money to a professional recording studio and a sound engineer. You have the convenience to practice on your music the hours that work best for you, take breaks and not worry about the time.
In order to achieve this, you need an available space that you can soundproof and set up your equipment. When it comes to equipping your home studio, assuming that you are on a budget like most of the artists that are just starting their careers in music, you need to acquire the most important equipment first, and upgrade them later, when you feel more comfortable financially.
Some of the most necessary equipment you are going to need as a beginner for your home studio recordings are: e personal computer or a laptop, music software (DAW), a pair of studio monitors, a microphone and an audio interface.
The audio interfaces is one of your most important tools, as it captures the sound signal from the microphone or the line inputs, and delivers it to your studio monitors and into your computer, so that you are able to make your recordings.
There are many available affordable audio interfaces available in the market, within very logical price ranges, which deliver excellent sound quality. We have made a list with some of the most suitable audio interfaces for home studios, and we recommend them below. Before you choose the one that you prefer, make sure that you read carefully its specifications and reviews.
What to consider before buying an audio interface for a home studio
The functionality of your audio interface is the thing that you should focus on. You need to be able to operate it effectively, and that it is the appropriate tool for the exact job that you need to accomplish.
Make sure that the audio interface of your preference works great with the microphone that you use, it has all the appropriate controls, switches and volume levels and that it has the right connectivity in accordance to your personal computer, such as USB, Firewire or Thunderbolt.
The quality of the audio interface of your choice is another important factor, that will determine whether you should purchase an interface or not. Make sure that you read carefully all the specifications of the product, buy from trustworthy manufacturers, and that you test the audio interface yourself to make sure everything works properly.
Most audio interfaces come with many additional features that you may find useful along the way. You should look for audio interface bundles, which consist of microphones, isolation pads, cables, shockmounts and carrying cases.
Such bundles will help you save up money, because buying all these items separately would be much more expensive and time consuming.
For beginners, it is advised that you aim for an all-purpose audio interface, so that you can record both vocals and instruments equally well, in order to keep your money investment within your budget’s limits. Make sure that you check the prices carefully, aim for audio interface bundles to save money and acquire more useful tools and products using the special offers.
The audio interfaces that we recommend in this article, are some of the most affordable ones in the market, so read about their specifications, features and quality standards to decide whether they are the appropriate equipment for your home studio.
Best audio interface for home studio
1 – BEHRINGER U-PHORIA UM2
The Behringer U-Phoria UM2 has many extremely powerful capabilities. It is an audio interface with a direct output monitor, which helps with latency problems. This is very handy when I comes to recordings, as latency is one of the most important issues many home studios have to face.
In order to operate the audio interface properly, download the drivers from the official website of the Behringer Company. This is essential in order to record more than one inputs of the interface. 48V phantom power can be found only on line input one, so you cannot record multiple condenser microphones at once.
In order to manage to record more than one microphones at the same time, you have to connect an external pre-amplifier to the second input, an plug your second microphone on the pre-amplifier. The installation of the audio interface is very simple, and it takes very little time to start using it from the moment you set it up into your computer.
The Behringer U-Phoria UM2 has no reported lagging or popping problems, and the sound quality that it delivers exceeds the expectations, especially when you consider its price. The sound is amazing, very clear and completely responsive when electric instruments are used with the interface, such as electric guitars.
The design of the audio interface is very simple and basic, and the structure of the exterior is made of plastic. There is no software included in the package, and the interface is automatically recognized by your operating system, once connected to your computer.
In order to operate the Behringer U-Phoria UM2 through your music software, you have to go to options and select this particular audio interface as your main input and output sound source. It works properly with most of the Digital Audio Workstations available in the market.
2 – Lexicon Alpha
The Lexicon Alpha is an awesome piece of device. The software installation of this audio interface is as fast as it gets, and you can start recording your songs as soon as the interface is plugged in and you have installed the appropriate music software.
It is an amazingly easy-to-use audio interface, and you do not need to read the manuals in order to learn how to operate it, as the device almost guides you through the process. The interface has zero latency, and functions properly in every aspect of a regular home recording.
The volume of the recording and the playback, can be controlled with the monitor mix, which a very useful function of the Lexicon Alpha. There is no obvious delay when recording this way, and the sound it delivers is crispy and clean, meeting very decent sound quality standards.
If you are a music producer that wants to record or playback multiple tracks at once, this is the perfect audio interface for you. It can easily manage one, two or even three tracks simultaneously, although it would be suggested that you do not use it with more than these numbers, as latency problems may occur.
In order to achieve the best recording results possible, you need to test different settings through the DAW that you are going to use. Some setting might have to be changed in different music software, because every DAW has its own way of functioning.
The Lexicon Alpha delivers high sound quality recordings, in a very convenient way without causing any particular latency or clipping problems. The vocal input quality is fascinating, very comfortable when laying over harmonies and you can achieve maximum recording and playback results, when used in a well-soundproofed studio environment.
3 – Steinberg UR12
The very affordable price is one of the main advantages of the Steinberg UR12. It is a high quality product from Steinberg, which is expected as the company is part of Yamaha. The particular audio interface, comes with four D-Pres, and has an additional headphone jack used for two individual mixes.
The interface has six inputs, four of which have pre-amplifiers. It has four outputs, which are more than enough for almost every home studio. The audio interface has a very solid structure. It has internal channel strip with equalizer, compressor and reverb, which makes it deliver great value for the money invested.
There are two headphone out puts on the Steinberg UR12, which make double monitoring very easy. Like most modern audio interfaces, it has separate outputs for your speakers or studio monitors, and MIDI inputs and outputs. A nice addition is the class compliant more that makes the interface available for iPads, if you want to use it remotely.
The interface is not powered by USB. It needs a power adapter to function, and it provides a very steady power supply for multiple microphones, one of the things that it makes it stand out from the rest of the interfaces within the same price range.
In order to control the output volume, which is the volume of your studio monitors, you need to adjust the knob that control it. This makes it a little more difficult to achieve the best volume balance when you are trying to use both the monitors and the headphones at the same time.
The overall sound quality of the Steinberg UR12 is awesome. Considering the very affordable price, it is worth the features and the high functionality level of this well-designed audio interface. It an all-purpose interface, making playback an recording very easy and convenient for every music producer that wants to use this product in his home studio.
4 – Focusrite Scarlett Solo Compact
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo Compact does not make any compromises when it comes to high sound quality. It sound awesome both when recording and during playback, and in such a very affordable it is audio interface truly worth its money.
The interface works great when recording vocals, even when the recording room is not well soundproofed and there are obvious sound reflections. It manages to reduce such noises as much as possible, although that depends on what type of microphone you are going to use too.
The sound the Focusrite Scarlett Solo Compact delivers is warm and smooth, and the installation takes only a few minutes from your time. You just have to plug the interface into your personal computer or laptop, and it gets recognized fast by your operate system, with no effort from your side.
For the price that it is offered, the product is very nicely designed. It feels heavy and strong, so that it can handle minor scratches or random drops over time. It is a great audio interface, especially for beginners, and it makes the recording process as easy as it gets, with its simplistic although very effective functionality.
The sound of the Focusrite Scarlett Solo Compact when recording electric instruments such as guitars is very clean, with no signs of clipping or unwanted noises. It has a very smooth sound result, and it is very small in size, which makes it a very portable audio interface for remote recording or live performances.
Overall, this audio interface is a magnificent and very useful product for every music producer that want to equip his home studio. It is very easy to set up, and you can learn how to operate it very easily after some sessions, tests and experimentations. A very affordable and high quality audio interface.
5 – Alesis IO2 Express
The Alesis IO2 Express come in a very simple case made of plastic. The design of the switches and the knobs is minimal, and the input jack along with the headphones output are metal, which gives a feeling of nice structure to the audio interface.
The installation of the interface is very simple and fast. You can simply plug it into your PC or laptop, and the operating system does the rest. You may need to adjust the setting from the windows option or the windows mixer, and select the particular audio interface as your main input and output source, but other than that, you do not have to do anything else.
Both the self-noise and the external noises and unwanted sounds are minimal when recording with the Alesis IO2 Express. Even with headphones on, you can hear only very obvious external sounds, which makes the overall recording process extremely effective, and the final sound result awesome and clean.
The interface works great with vocals. Adjusting the knobs to accomplish the sound you want for your recording is very easy, due to their precision. The absence of noise is a huge advantage for the audio interface, both when recording vocals and electric instruments. Especially when it comes to instruments, noise levels where minimal, even when the gain was increased substantially.
The Alesis IO2 Express is a great audio interface, with a very simplistic design and very effective functions. It is one of the best options when it comes to making home studio recordings, and it recommended for every beginner artist or music producer, who is on a budget and wants to equip his home studio.