You might wonder what they can get for audio interface manufacturers. After all, there are many high-capacity boxes on the market that do a great job of getting and getting high-quality sound into your computer.
But times change, and audio interfaces are changing with them. Increasingly, we’re seeing features aimed directly at podcasters and streamers, such as loopback modes that allow you to integrate microphone and device inputs with audio from the apps you’re running. The widespread adoption of USB-C connectivity is also noteworthy.
We think it’s fair to say that audio interfaces are starting to look a little nicer, too, as tools you’re happy to have front and center on your desktop. More intuitive controls mean they’re getting easier to use, too.
Based on our shortlist, we asked you to vote for the best new audio interface of 2022. There were some very strong contenders, but there could only be one winner, and that was…
1. Universal Audio Volume 4 and 476 P
In the year Having struck gold in 2021 with its one- and two-channel models, UA has gone a little more expansive this year with new four-channel Volt Audio interfaces.
Like the existing Volt 476, the Volt 476P has a built-in 1176-inspired compressor. But it replaces the line inputs on channels 3 and 4 with two additional microphones, bringing the total to four.
Each preamp can be switched to Vintage mode for an “album-ready” sound – which mimics the tone of UA’s classic 610 tube preamp – and you also get three compressor presets tailored for vocals, guitar and synth/drum machines.
The Volt 476P is capable of up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution and also features dual headphone outputs, 48v phantom power, direct monitoring and MIDI I/O.
The Volt 4, on the other hand, does not have a built-in compressor, but is the first of the inexpensive Volts to offer four channels. There are two preamps and line inputs on channels 3 and 4 that provide the aforementioned vintage mode. Again, there’s 24-bit/192kHz conversion, 48v phantom power, direct monitoring and MIDI I/O, but one headphone output.
2. Audience ID44 MKII
The ID44 was already a stunning bit of kit, but the MkI always looked a bit ‘meh’ in its uninspired silver and black heart. What can a paint stain do?
At the very least, the iD44’s main strength is the superb quality of its microphone pres and switches. The MKII version ups the performance even further. Somehow the Observer managed to improve the iD44’s Analogue to Digital Converter (ADC) THD+N image by an impressive 9dB to a class-leading 112dB.
Digital to analog converters (DAC) are similarly clean, with negligible noise and 126 dB of dynamic range.
The iD44 (MKII) has a new versatile digital internal audio loopback feature that allows users to capture playback from multiple applications on the computer, all simultaneously with the microphones plugged into the interface.
A new dual-headphone amp, on the other hand – with both a 1/4-inch plug and a mini-jack – means three headphones can now be plugged in at once.
Sound quality is where the ID44 MKII really shines; Everything else is glued on the cake. But that ice cream is deeply layered and uniquely delicious.
Read the audience ID44 MKII review
3. Focusrite Clarett+ OctoPre
Most audio interfaces offer two or four micro inputs. If you want to record multi-mic’d drums or simply need more microphone inputs, you can choose one of the few interfaces with eight mic inputs. However, many interfaces include additional line or digital inputs that allow you to extend the microphone input options by using an additional microphone input device.
This is where Focusrite’s OctoPre comes into play. Part of the company’s Prosumer Claret+ range of USB audio interfaces, the OctoPre is a mic pre and AD, no computer interface DA converter.
This makes it easy to understand, but you can also combine it with a suitable interface from any manufacturer.
It offers improved sonic performance over the original Clarett instruments with lower noise imaging on both inputs and outputs, better dynamic range and new AD and DA converters.
The OctoPre was already great and this update brings it in line with other Clarett+ units. It’s not cheap, but it’s a great way to extend your I/O.
Read the Focusrite Clarett+ OctoPre review
4. Audience Evo 16
With EVO 16, not much was added to the EVO audio interface range until the audience was fully defined. While the EVO 4 and 8 are compact, portable devices, its bigger brother is a complete 24-in/24-out studio device that offers some smart features.
The EVO 16 is designed to sit on your desktop or on a shelf and is notable for including a full color screen. It’s contextual, so it shows different information depending on what you’re doing.
The screen helps to enable a one-touch control system, and settings can be made without looking at your computer monitor. Adjustments appear instantly.
The EVO 16 comes with eight EVO pre-amps that give you 58dB of mic gain, while the converters give you 121dB of dynamic range. You also get the EVO range’s SmartGain feature, which can be used to automatically set the gain for eight channels simultaneously at the touch of a button.
Expandability, meanwhile, is aided by the inclusion of optical I/O – you can add up to 16 additional microphone channels via ADAT and SPDIF.
Audio quality is where the ID44 really shines. Everything else is icing on the cake, but this icing is deep and uniquely delicious.
Read the audience ID44 MKII review
5. Arturia Minifuse 4
Arturia’s MiniFuse 1 and 2 audio interfaces were released into the wild in 2021, but MiniFuse 4 took another year to make it to market.
With a 4-in/4-out interface (the clue is in the name), it offers 110dB of dynamic range and an equivalent input noise of -129dB. MIDI I/O and a USB interface are on board, and there are dual headphone outputs.
As is becoming common these days, the Mini Fuzz 4 has a virtual stereo loopback channel that lets you record audio alongside the inputs to easily create ‘content’, while the bundled software includes Ableton Live Lite, Analog Lab Intro and Native Instruments’ Guitar Rig 6. L.
In our review of the MiniFuse 2, we noted that it’s a “feature-rich device with some subtle yet convenient options you don’t always get at this price point.” We’ve also praised its intuitive design, great sound and attractive appearance, and the MiniFuse 4 ticks all the same boxes.
6. PreSonus AudioBox GO
AudioBox Go is a super simple audio interface that gives you everything you need to start recording.
This 2-in/2-out, 24-bit/96 kHz device comes with a PreSonus XMAX-L preamp that provides 50 dB of gain and +48v phantom power. This comes with a combo jack, which gives you a line-level input for synths, drum machines and the like, and there’s a second dedicated instrument input for electric and bass guitars.
There are balanced 1/4-inch outputs on the back, and the headphones come with their own level control on the front. A mixer control is included for monitoring purposes, and there are controls for both the inputs and the main output.
Basically, just plug in, set your standards and, well, go. It’s that simple. This particular audiobox is perfect for impromptu, off-the-cuff recording, when the last things you want to worry about are complicated routing, compression settings, headphone mixing, and so on.
Read the PreSonus AudioBox Go review
7. Focusrite Vocaster range
You won’t be surprised to learn that the Vocaster interface range is designed specifically for podcasting. It consists of two devices, both of which promise good sound quality and leave you to a serious conversation to “avoid technical problems”.
Despite their simplicity, the Vocaster One and Two (as they’re known) come with podcast-friendly features like Auto Gain, which adjusts your levels, and an Enhance feature to make your audio sound clearer. Three presets are included here to make things even easier.
There’s also a mute button if you need it, a Loopback feature that lets you quickly mute your microphone if you want, and play pre-recorded parts (interviews, jingles, background music, etc.) from your computer.
Speaking of which, the accompanying Vocaster Hub software lets you organize, record and mix your show.
In short, if you want to get your podcast up and running quickly, one of Vocaster’s got you covered.
Read the Focusrite Vocaster One review
Read Focusrite Vocaster Two Studio Review
Promising to deliver great results wherever life takes you, the iRig Pro Quattro I/O features four low-noise mic presets with Hi-Z and line-level instrumentation, RCA and TRS inputs. You also get XLR balanced, 3.5mm stereo and headphone outputs, and MIDI I/O.
The device is designed to work with your iPhone, iPad, Android device, Mac or PC, but can also be used as a standalone mic preamp or line mixer. It comes with a built-in limiter and provides direct monitoring.
The iRig Pro Quattro I/O features a built-in “digitally enhanced MEMs” microphone, and optional stereo mic capsules are available. There’s a stereo mode that mixes up to two channels of up to four audio sources for streaming or recording, with mono mode adding compatibility for those who want to post to social media.
In multichannel mode, meanwhile, the XLR mic/Hi-Z instrument and mic/line combo jacks or RCA/3.5mm stereo line inputs are routed to channels 1 through 4, respectively, to separate channels in your DAW.
Unashamedly multi-tasking and highly versatile – other features include a loopback mode and built-in limiter – the iRig Pro Quattro I/O is exactly the kind of tool many of us need in the increasingly multimedia worlds in which we work.
Read the IK Multimedia iRig Pro Quattro I/O review
9. Positive Grid Ref
The Positive Grid Riff is a slim USB audio interface designed with electric guitar and bass players in mind. It can be fully integrated with the company’s award-winning amp and effects software, Bias FX 2.
The rugged metal enclosure has one 1/4-inch instrument input as well as one 1/4-inch line-level output and 1/8-inch headphone output.
An oversized control knob at the top of the interface allows you to toggle between the riff’s various parameters, including input and output levels, a live monitor level – for zero-latency monitoring – and three preamp emulations. This knob is fully customizable and can be assigned to perform functions such as changing amp models in Bias FX 2.
While this sleek, no-nonsense interface won’t win the hearts of seasoned home producers or recording fanatics, it will certainly please guitarists or bassists looking to get into home recording. Uncomplicated layout and ease of use means players with zero recording experience can set up in minutes.
Read a positive Grid Ref review
10. Apogee Boom
This year, Apogee appears to be the latest pro-level audio company to release a more affordable audio interface, following a trend set by the likes of SSL and Universal Audio.
The Boom is a 2-in/2-out device that connects via USB-C. There’s a little more to it, though, because it has some onboard DSP. This enables channel strip recording with Symphony ECS. Mastered by legendary mixing engineer Bob Clearmountain, this analog-style 3-band EQ, compression and drive gives you power.
The boom offers one 1/4-inch instrument input and one combo mic/line/instrument input. The onboard preamp provides 62 dB of gain.
At the other end of the signal chain are two 1/4-inch balanced outputs and a 1/4-inch headphone output.
There’s also a Loopback mode perfect for streaming. Configured via Apogee Control mixer software, this allows you to mix and balance your analog inputs with audio from any applications you run, all ready to send to Twitch, YouTube or Instagram.
We also have to add, with its low-profile design and purple aluminum case, we think the Boom looks great. It’s not the most important thing in an audio interface, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.