Successful live performances are the dream of every musician and artist, independent or signed, which wants to establish a career in the music industry. When it comes to music producers doing live performances, things get a little more complicated.
They have to carry around their equipment, sometimes heavy ones such as their laptop, midi keyboard and drum pads, headphones and their audio interface. This is why the portability of a music producer’s equipment plays an important role when it comes to purchasing them.
The audio interface in particular, is one of the main tools for a music producer, beatmaker or DJ, in order to make a live performance. The sound signal from the laptop, goes into the audio interface, and the interface sends the signal to the monitors or speakers of the venue where the live performance takes place.
The producers, needs to acquire an audio interface with the smallest latency levels possible, so that he can perform without lagging or clipping issues. What is more, he should obtain a small size interface, so that he can carry it around different venues when touring in different cities or even countries.
One very important factor to determine which the right audio interface for live performances is, is its functionality level. The producer, needs to make sure that the audio interface he is about to purchase, is an all-purpose interface, so that he can connect it easily to as many different devices as possible.
Below we have gathered some of the most suitable audio interfaces for live performances. There are several factors that determine whether these products are appropriate for the particular use, so test them carefully to decide which one is the right for you.
What you need to take into consideration
The quality of the product is of major importance in this case. Last thing you need, is a broken audio interface during your live performance, or even worse, while touring around different places where it is difficult to fix the problem that may occur.
Take your time to decide which the right interface is for the purpose that you are going to use it, read the reviews and always prefer the trusted manufactures with the appropriate experience.
Make sure that the audio interface you are about to purchase is functional. Test the device yourself to ensure that it works the way you want, and experiment its functionality with the rest of your equipment.
You need to focus on an all-purpose audio interface, that works appropriately with the majority of sound equipment and music software available in the market, to avoid compatibility issues with the rest of the equipment in the live stages or venues you are about to attend.
The features that come with the audio interface are a nice addition. Search for interface bundles that consist, of cables, music software, isolation pads or other useful items, which otherwise you would purchase separately.
This way you can stay within your budget’s limits, and use the money to acquire or upgrade the rest of your equipment in order to improve your live performances or overall sound quality.
The quality of the audio interface you are about to purchase, depends on the amount of money you are willing to spend. Browse carefully through different types of interfaces, and choose one that is within your financial availability, without compromising on sound quality or features included.
Best audio interface for live performance
1 – Focusrite iTrack Solo
The Focusrite iTrack Solo is a USB audio interface with great sound quality. It comes with a set of headphones, a microphone and XLR cables, which are nice additions to the package. These items can be used with other interfaces and mixing consoles as well, as they are not exclusively designed for the particular audio interface.
The setup of the interface is very simple. You have to plug the USB cable included in the package into the USB port of your laptop, and start the recording or the playback with the music software of your preference.
Furthermore, with the Focusrite iTrack Solo you can record audio into an iPad, by downloading the Focusrite Tape application. This is extremely useful when it comes to remote recordings. For instance, you can record your entire live performance, so that you can listen to it later and focus on the things you need to change or adjust.
The workflow of the audio interface is great. There is no lagging or noise clipping whatsoever, and the final result when it comes to audio playback is warm and very clean sound. The interface comes with a metal casing, which keeps the audio interface secure, very useful for those that need to use the product in remote locations.
The interface works great with most available Digital Audio Workstations in the market, without any issues. Some recognize it automatically when you plug the device into the USB port of your laptop, while in some others you need to select the interface as the your main input or output through the settings, in order to operate it properly.
The feeling that the knobs provide is decent, although they may need some adjustments to balance the levels during recording or playback. The Focusrite iTrack Solo is an awesome audio interface, which works great with the iPad and delivers smooth and clean sound.
2 – Akai Professional EIE
The Akai Professional EIE is one of the most affordable four-channel audio interfaces. It has well-designed switches and knobs, and extremely functioning VU meters with a red indicator light to warn about channel overload.
In addition to these specifications that make it stand out of the rest audio interfaces, the particular device a 2×2 phantom power selection and a pan control which lets you choose between USB and local audio.
Furthermore, the Akai Professional EIE has a very convenient headphone output. It has 16-bit audio quality and it uses class compliant drivers, which are very useful when it comes to updating the product in a regular basis.
The portability of the audio interface is magnificent, as it is very easy to carry it around for your live performances, and the installation part is very easy and simple. The overall design and colors of the interface make it stand out from the rest within a similar price range, which is always a nice addition along with the great functionality.
The Akai Professional EIE works with most of the Digital Audio Workstations without any problems reported. It has analogue level references, and it functions properly when you plug in multiple instruments, along with the microphones.
The interface has four inputs that deliver amazing sound and four USB port at the back, so that you can connect equipment such as a midi keyboard or a drum pad, in order to prevent you from using all the USB ports of your laptop when performing live.
The functionality of the analog meters is awesome. They work in real time without delays or lagging issues, and there is no need of software installation for the Akai Professional EIE, as you can plug it into your laptop and start your recording or playback right away.
3 – Novation Audiohub
The Novation Audiohub is considered to be one of the best audio interfaces for music producers, beatmakers and DJs, especially those who need a useful tool for their live performances. The interface has four outputs, with the capability of sending backing tracks from outputs one and two, and monitoring with outputs three and four, using your headphones.
The particular audio interface, is bus- powered, it comes in a very affordable price compared to similar interfaces, and the outputs available are very loud. In addition to this, the outputs produce a green light around the knobs, which indicates when the signal is clipping or is too loud.
The headphones output have an A/B option, and the hub option makes it convenient to trigger virtual instruments using your midi keyboard or pad controller. The Novation Audiohub is a small and strong interface, so it doesn’t require much space and it can fit into your backpack easily when travelling.
You can use this audio interface with multiple USB controllers without facing any substantial problems. The output light is especially helpful when it comes to checking the line inputs or the microphones that you are about to use, before gigs or live performances.
The overall sound quality the Novation Audiohub is more than decent, although its fascinating functionality is what makes this great audio interface stand out from the pack. It is advised that you use USB Chroma cables with the device, in order to improve the user experience. It is a very important help, especially when performing live under difficult occasions, with multiple line inputs and USB connections on your audio interface.
The functionality levels of the device are high, along with the record and playback quality. It has excellent portability, making it one of the safest option when it comes to using it remotely. The Novation Audiohub is an awesome product, which offers great value for the money invested in it.
4 – Shure MVi
The Shure MVi is an audio interface that keeps the tradition of high quality products manufactured by Shure alive. It is very easy to connect the device into your personal computer or laptop, and equally easy to operate it.
The interface has a decent sound quality, depending on where you want to apply it, and it is more than certain that exceeds all expectations, if you consider its very affordable price. It is a heavy audio interface and gives the impression of a very tough product, which can handle drops from small heights, scratches or general misuses.
The Shure MVi works great with Windows, and IOS devices. The sound it delivers is smooth and pretty clear, although if you increase the gain it starts capturing unwanted background sounds and a minor amount of hiss.
The audio interface has low voltage phantom power, so it will be difficult to work well with all condenser microphones, although it still manages to provide power for some of them. For better results, you can plug in an external pre-amplifier, and enhance the low signal to a significant level.
The Shure MVi works great with the majority of the Audio Digital Workstations without any issues. All you have to do is open your music software, go to settings and select the Shure MVi as the input and output sound source of your preference, so that it starts working properly.
There is no installation software needed in order to use the audio interface, and the set up will only take a few minutes from your time. The sound quality is very nice, and provides a smooth and warm feeling, while you can listen to all the details of the recorded audio clearly, without background or room noises, provided that you adjust the gain levels carefully.
5 – IK Multimedia iRig PRO DUO
The IK Multimedia iRig PRO DUO is a very easy-to-setup audio interface. In the package there are included all the necessary cables to connect the device properly to your laptop and rest of the sound equipment.
The structure of the audio interface seems solid, although it is plastic. The weight of the unit is very low, which increases the portability levels of the device a lot, making it very convenient for remote recordings, live performances and tours.
A manual for beginners is also included in the package, which contains specifications about power supplies you may need, in order to operate the interface properly. The gain knobs of the device are flat, which reduces the risk of accidentally changing the level adjustments.
The IK Multimedia iRig PRO DUO is immediately recognized by any operating system, after you plug it in. It performs great with most of the commonly used DAWs, and you can set up and start using it very fast, without manuals or instructions.
The sound quality of the audio interface is excellent. It reduces noises to the minimum, and the sound signal is generally clear. It has not particular latency issues, a fact that makes this audio interface suitable for music producer, who want to perform live using multiple line inputs.
The phantom power works well with most of the condenser microphones, and there are several IK applications that you can find and download for free in their official website, and you can use them along with the IK Multimedia iRig PRO DUO.
Overall, an impressive audio interface, with amazing and clear sound quality, which can be used with an iPad or your laptop for your live performances or recordings. One of the best option for those on a budget that are looking for a simple yet effect audio interface.