When starting your career as an independent artist, the first thing that limits your decisions is your budget. Limited budgets are responsible for the lack of advertisement, promotion or the purchase of the appropriate sound equipment for most artists.
One thing that all independent artists need in order to record their vocals and be able to practice or record their songs at their own convenience, is their own home studio. There are very affordable sound equipment available nowadays for all kinds of artists, as long as you make the appropriate search to find the most suitable equipment for your studio.
One of the most important pieces of equipment you are going to need, is the audio interface. It the device that will help you record your vocals or instruments, and deliver the sound to your studio monitors or speakers.
In order to record or practice your songs, you need to plug the audio interface into your personal computer or laptop, and then plug your microphone on your interface in order to record your vocals. In case you need to record instruments, there are instrument inputs available on every audio interface.
In order to listen to your recordings and the general sound your interface delivers, you can either hear every sound through the studio monitors, which you will have to connect to the outputs of your audio interface, or through the headphones that can be connected to the headphones outputs of the device.
The price of the audio interface you are about to purchase is one of the main factors that will determine which is the appropriate audio interface for you. There are excellent interface within all price ranges. If you are on a tight budget, you can start small, and upgrade your equipment later.
What to take into consideration regarding the audio interface
The functionality of the audio interface you are about to choose, is the most important thing you should look for between different interfaces. Take your time and find out about the number of inputs and outputs that the interface has onboard, and the switches and knobs that control the volume and effect levels.
Make sure that you test the device yourself so that you get familiar with it, and be certain that you can operate the interface the way you want.
When starting on a budget, the price is one of the factors that will determine whether you are able to purchase the audio interface of your preference or not. Read about the specifications of the interface to make sure that it is worth the purchase, and try to stay within your budget’s limits.
The quality of the product ensure that it can last over time. Make a case of purchasing an audio interface from trustful manufacturers, who have experience in the field of sound equipment. Try to find interfaces with solid structure and good quality knobs and switches, to ensure maximum functionality.
Most audio interfaces come as bundles. You can search and find nice offers of audio interfaces that comes with many additional items, such as microphones, shockmounts, isolation pads, cables and carrying cases. Bundles will provide many useful equipment for you, and will help you save money that you can invest into your career as an artist.
Best audio interface for recording vocals
1 – Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is one of the most popular audio interfaces in the market. It is very sturdy, and it has a beautiful red eye-catching design, with an aluminum feeling that helps the interface stand out from the rest of the competition.
The audio interface includes 48V phantom power, which helps increase the quality and loudness of your condenser microphones. It can also work great with instruments, as it has all the appropriate line inputs, and it delivers an amazing warm sound quality during the recording.
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 comes with a number of additional features, which make its package very valuable for independent artists. It comes with Pro Tools First, a beginner’s edition of Pro Tools, with Ableton Live 9, drum loop packages and scarlet plugins that can add much to over sound of the interface.
The interface has headphone outputs with 1/4 inch jack. It has a great monitoring, that will help notice audio clipping or sudden noises during the recording sessions, and will help you maintain a balanced capture of the sound.
The portability of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is fascinating. It is a great interface for artists that want to record in external places, remote locations or use it for their live performances. Its compact size and easiness to carry, will come very handy for every artist that travels a lot.
If you are a Mac user, you can plug the interface and start using it immediately. If on the other hand you are a Windows user, you have to download the drivers from the official website of Focusrite, and install them into your operating system. The process is very easy, and the drivers will guide you all the way.
Overall, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is an amazing audio interface with many capability and extra features, that are responsible for the increasing popularity of this great device. It delivers excellent sound quality, although you may need to low your buffer levels to avoid any noises or clipping. One of the best options for independent artists.
2 – Audient iD4
The Audient iD4 is a very powerful and yet affordable audio interface, suitable for every type of independent artist. Although it has a bit higher price than the rest of the similar interfaces, the sound results it delivers are worth the investment.
The quality of the audio interface is magnificent. It has a great and very solid structure, which will help the interface handle some minor hits and drops. The structure of the unit is metallic, which is why the interface is much stronger than most of the competition that use plastic to cover the external part of their devices.
The Audient iD4 has an extra input control, which is a bigger knob in comparison to the rest. You can use this knob to make the process of fine-tuning the plugin setting much easier, as it makes it far less confusing and fast.
The preamplifier of the audio interface is awesome. It has no differences than the preamplifiers used in the most expensive Audient products, which is why you get these amazing results. The sound of the preamp provides a steady punchiness, and the higher frequencies tend to be much brighter.
The drivers of the Audient iD4 work very well and they look solid. They prevent you from facing any potential issues with the interface, and they are a nice addition to the quality of this great product. The customer service of the company is nice too, and they are willing to help you with every problem that may occur with their product.
Overall, the Audient iD4 is a very well working audio interface, which will make the recording and playback process very comfortable for every independent artist. It delivers amazing sound, very warm in the low ends, adding punchy and bright sound to the higher frequencies, to make your audio sound clear and crispy, making every single detail stand out.
3 – BEHRINGER U-PHORIA UMC204HD
The Behringer U-Phoria is a very affordable, all-purpose audio interface, one of the most effective option for independent artists. Aside from its incredible price, it is able to supply 48V phantom power to support any condenser microphone for you recording.
In addition to this, the audio interface can provide analog to digital conversion, so it makes the process of plugging it to your laptop very easy and fast, for those who want to work from remote locations, with maximum sound results and functionality.
The Behringer U-Phoria has two XLR inputs, to which you can also connect 1/4 jacks when it comes to recording instruments, such as electric guitars, bass etc. What is more, the device has separate adjustments, both for the gain and for padding, for each one of the two inputs.
The audio interface has increased levels of flexibility, due to its capability of connecting to MIDI on the back part, and the monitoring ability in studio monitors, speakers or headphones. The power of the interface is provided from the USB port, which means that you avoid dealing with extra cable and additional power bricks to operate the device.
You do not need to install any drivers in order to start using the Behringer U-Phoria, although it has been reported that some Windows users had to download them from the company website, and install them manually into their computers in order to operate the interface.
The microphones preamplifiers of this particular audio interface are more than great. They can be used to amplify the loudness of a condenser microphone perfectly, without any sign of self-noise, or the capture of background unwanted room or external sounds.
All in all, the build and structure quality of the Behringer U-Phoria is awesome. The knobs and switches work great, and have the perfect amount of resistance to avoid any sudden leveling changes during recording. The inputs and outputs of the interface feel very solid and stable. The interface is among the best recommendations when it comes to independent artists.
4 – MOTU micro lite
The MOTU micro lite is a fascinating audio interface, with very powerful features, designed to make it provided high-level user experience to its owners. It has a very strong structure, accompanied with a great workflow, capable of being used in every type of recording.
Instead of using MIDI adapters, you can use the five inputs of the interface to save up room on your studio desk, and avoid connectivity issues that will slow down your projects. Its timing is very stable, and has the capability of keeping the notes steady without dropping them no matter what.
The MOTU micro lite works significantly well when integrated with synthesizers, midi keyboards or pads. Although the particular device does not give the ability of routing, it still does the job it supposed to do very fast and without overload problems.
The design of the audio interface is clean, and the structure of the unit is more than solid, giving the impression that it can last over time. To operate the device, you can head up to the company’s website and download the updated drivers, install them to your computer or laptop following a very fast and easy process, and you are ready to start working with the interface.
Sometimes, the MOTU micro lite faces minor issues when it comes to integrating with the software. It can be difficult for the interface to recognize the connect devices. In order to fix this minor problem ,you can try to unplug the devices and restart the audio interface, so that you can make it the only sound option available.
There are no compatibility issues with the audio interface whatsoever, as there are drivers included in the package in CD format. The device is capable of handling large numbers of midi channels and tracks simultaneously, without any lagging or popping problems. A very reliable interface that works great, is very easy to setup and delivers awesome sound quality.
5 – Novation Audiohub
The Novation Audiohub is a great product working perfectly well with laptop setups, which makes it absolutely suitable for electronic music producers and all kinds of independent artists. It can be used for your live performance, as you can load and play stereo backing tracks with it.
This audio interface has four outputs. The device gives you the ability to send your backing tracks through the two of the four outs, and monitor your clicks and backing tracks with the rest of the outputs, using headphones or studio monitors.
The Novation Audiohub can handle multiple devices, such as midi keyboards, drum pads and synthesizers without facing any overload problems. The workflow of the device is great, and it is very compact and rugged so that it does not acquire too much space into your home studio.
The audio interface has green LED indicators that look great, especially with low studio lighting. The device is very easily recognized by the majority of the well-known Digital Audio Workstations, which makes it capable of working great no matter the music software the artist uses.
One of the main advantages of the Novation Audiohub, is its ability to connect with large numbers of devices and work well with them, without any lagging problems. The sound of the microphones is great, with a subtle presence in the middle-high frequencies, which add character to the voice.
Overall, this audio interface is a fascinating device, which does the job it was designed to do extremely well. The Novation Audiohub is definitely worth the money, as it is one of the highly recommended audio interfaces for music producers and independent artists.