The converters in your interface make all the difference when it comes to audio quality. Here are some recommendations for interfaces that will give you high quality audio. Contact me if you would like a personal review and recommendation for your studio. I also do setup and installations to help getting all the gear connected and operating properly.
Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII & Apollo 8
A good interface is always the core of any studio. UA has been able to provide an affordable option in the Apollo line of interfaces. The Twin MKII is a tabletop interface that is portable and powerful. You can also run the UAD line of plugins directly from the internal SHARC chips inside these devices. The name refers to how many SHARC processing chips are inside the device when you see Solo, Duo, or Quad. In most cases, the Solo or Duo are adequate for your studio.
MSRP on Twin Solo $699 • Twin Duo $899 • Twin Quad $1,299
MSRP on Apollo 8 Duo $1,999 • Apollo 8 Quad $2,499
Focusrite Scarlett 18i20
The Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 is the perfect rack-mountable centerpiece to your studio. With a total of 18 inputs and 20 outputs, record anything from a drum kit to multiple instruments, vocals, synths and keyboards. This 1u interface is affordable and provides excellent audio quality for any musician or engineer looking to get more serious about their studio setup. The 8 mic preamps give you direct control over your input levels right on the front of the interface. This is great for anyone that doesn't want to buy a bunch of outboard mic preamps. The LED meters on the front panel give you a visual guide to the levels to make this a great initial interface for any studio. The optical ADAT I/O allows you to add 8 more channels of input and 8 channels of output to your rig. This is perfect for adding another 8 channel mic preamp to give you 16 analog inputs. Then you could add an 8 channel headphone mixer to make your studio a veritable force for any recording project.
Antelope Audio Orion 32+
This beast is a 32 channel input and output interface that gives you immense power to customize your studio setup.
Orion32 Plus follows in the footsteps of Orion32 -- the world's first 32-channel AD/DA converter. The Orion32 Plus delivers 32 channels of analog I/O via DB25, 32-simultaneous tracks of 24-bit, 192 kHz via Thunderbolt and USB, and 64 tracks via MADI (at 48 kHz). In addition to providing flexible connectivity options via Thunderbolt, MADI and USB, Orion32+ also incorporates ADAT and S/PDIF I/O and a pair of mastering-grade, zero latency monitor outputs -- capable of delivering up to 129 dB dynamic range.
Orion32+ also includes Antelope's powerful FPGA DSP engine, which is optimized to run customized EQ, compressor and reverb effects. The entire Antelope hardware-based FPGA effects library is available to Orion32+ owners at no additional cost.
Focusrite Red 4
There's never been a better Focusrite audio interface than the Red 4Pre. Featuring four specially developed 'Red Evolution' mic preamps with 'Air' transformer emulation, high-headroom instrument inputs, a new low-noise conversion design plus a grand total of 58 inputs/64 outputs. Red 4Pre incorporates dual Thunderbolt 2 ports for the lowest round-trip latency, and direct connection to Pro Tools HD systems. Plus, you can connect up to 64 additional channels via the built-in Dante Ethernet-based audio networking. The software-controlled mic pres deliver clear audio performance, and include Focusrite's unique 'Air' effect, authentically recreating the sound of the transformer-based preamps in the classic ISA range - ideal for bringing out the breathy quality of a vocal or adding presence to an acoustic guitar. The price just dropped on these units, too! So now's a great time to get a solid interface that has many capabilities to upgrade your studio down the line.
Antelope Audio Zen Studio
A portable HD interface that gives you loads of inputs and outputs for a great studio setup in a small package. Zen Studio is powered by Antelope Audio Acoustically Focused Clocking, providing the most analog-sounding A/D & D/A conversion on the market. Zen is enhanced by Antelope's battle-tested USB technology, as in the top-selling 32-channel Orion interface which is the centerpiece of the live playback rigs for artists such as Rihanna, Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake.
Zen Studio DSP is based on a custom FPGA device with massive parallel processing capabilities - eight times more powerful than DSP chips used in similar devices. The unit is fully controllable using an intuitive desktop application on both PC and Mac, offering flexible signal routing and DSP-based Effects along side custom presets.
All audio I/O is available simultaneously for a total of 38 possible input and 32 output channels, plus 24 simultaneous I/O channels via USB. Users can create up to four independent zero-latency mixes assignable to any outputs, including the two independent headphone outputs and monitor outputs.
Behringer U-Phoria umc404HD
The UMC404HD is a great option for studios that are just getting started. This little box gives you 4 MIDAS preamps that will give you pristine audio quality via a USB connection. Ever since its formation in the 1970s, MIDAS has had a long history of innovation and leadership in the world of audio mixing consoles. Employed by the most famous touring acts and installations world-wide, legendary MIDAS consoles such as the XL4 and Heritage H3000 quickly became industry standards. Now you can have all that in an interface that takes up very little space on your desk. The zero-latency monitoring also helps with tracking and mixing. I really like the XLR monitor outputs that this interface provides. This gives you a more stable connection to your monitors for beautiful audio playback. At the retail price of $99.99 you really can't go wrong with this option.
Apogee ONE is an all-in-one portable, USB audio interface that gives you everything you need to make professional recordings on the go. Connect a microphone, guitar or use ONE's exceptional built-in omnidirectional microphone to easily capture your music without compromise. ONE even lets you record with a microphone (built-in or external) and guitar simultaneously. Using Apogee's industry-leading AD/DA conversion and mic preamp technology, ONE produces pristine music, podcast, and voice-over recordings while also delivering studio quality sound to your headphones for precision mixing or hi-fi listening. With an intuitive controller knob and seamless compatibility with Mac OS X, ONE is easy for anyone to use and works great with GarageBand, Logic Pro X, Pro Tools, Ableton or any Core Audio compatible application.