Before I start with the reviews of the top ten best audio interface for GarageBand, I want to explain a little about what the actually audio interface is. An audio interface is a useful device that helps make quality studio recordings at a studio or in your basement. It is an external sound card that has a mic as an input device and speakers or headphones for the output.
What makes an audio interface dependable is its versatility to accommodate a wide range of recordings. For instance, it can record, voice, guitar, and keyboard, etc. while providing features like metering, mixing, Simply connect your (for example) guitar with the interface. You can then easily combine it with laptops or desktop computer via a simple USB port and start recording. Easy peasy, right?
GarageBand, on the other hand, is an incredible software used mainly on MACs and iOS that enables you to create soundtracks for music, podcasts, and even movies. Because it is a very user-friendly app, it is used by both beginners as well as professionals to have complete control over the recordings and ensure the best possible sound quality.
If you want your music to sound its best, you cannot just rely on the inbuilt iOS mic. You have to invest in an audio interface. While finding the right equipment for your needs isn’t very hard if you know exactly what to look for. Yet, due to incompatible audio interface, many people run into problems with their software in the editing phase. To avoid any such situation, I will be including a buyer’s guide. But first, let’s get started with my audio interface reviews!
- 1 Our Recommendations
- 2 Product Reviews
- 2.1 Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools
- 2.2 Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface
- 2.3 Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 2nd Gen
- 2.4 Focusrite Clarett 8Pre USB 18-In/20-Out
- 2.5 Behringer U-PHORIA (UMC404HD) Audiophile
- 2.6 Audient 2 Audio Interface iD4
- 2.7 MeloAudio TS Mini Audio Interface
- 2.8 Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD Audiophile 2×2 USB Audio Interface
- 2.9 IK Multimedia iRig PRO DUO 2 channel professional audio interface
- 2.10 Native instruments Komplete 2
- 3 Best Audio Interface – Buyer’s Guide
- 4 Best Audio Interface – Closing Thoughts
- Scarlett natural sounding mic preamps with ample even gain
- Sample rates up to 192kHz per 24 bit
- Cue mix switching, along with 4 analog outputs
- Headphone output with gain controls
- Has amazing volume control
- Compact sturdy and tough enough to take it along anywhere – even hiking.
- As this model is powered by a USB cable, therefore you don’t need to take a carry a power cable all the time
- Has all the loops and additional software you require to start recording
- Includes free download of The Softube Time & Tone Bundle and 2GB Loopmasters Samples
- Sometimes makes a cracking sound which is distracting
- Doesn’t work with AMD processors for PC
I am starting off my reviews with the world’s best selling audio interface. It reigned supreme for a long time until the 3rd Gen came along recently. This model is popular because of its unmatched features like four analog outputs, MIDI i/o, two Scarlett mic preamps, compact yet flexible design. Besides, it has the same classy sound quality, which is the hallmark of the Scarlet range.
You can take it anywhere. Connect it simply with a USB port, plug the instrument or microphones in and start recording everywhere against a cue mix.Moreover, this model is perfectly compatible with all other major DAWs on PC and MAC.
Overall, this is ideal for anyone who wants a cue mix for recording or performing on the go.
- Four Analog Inputs
- Four mono or stereo Outputs
- 2 natural-sounding microphone preamps
- 2 ¼ inches jacks to take a balanced or unbalanced connection
- A MIDI In and a MIDI out 1 SPDIF in and 1 SPDIF out
- A substantial level control knob helps adjust your monitor levels with ease
- Digital conversion up to 24-bit per 192kHz
- Has an intuitive and straightforward interface
- Accompanying software works great
- Has XLN addictive keys that connect with your keyboard
- The metal body casing is eye-catching
- Secure knobs
- Windows drivers often conflict with this device
- Builds up static often you need to power cycle it, or else you get a cracking sound
- The two microphone plugins are placed right in front of it which sometimes get in the way
This slightly modified and expensive model supports two extra line inputs. And that’s the only significant difference when compared with previous 2i2 and 2i4 models. You can now permanently connect your keyboard, speakers, and computer to it without having to juggle the cords depending on what you need most at a particular time.
In case you have a smaller setup, I would suggest going for the low end and cheaper model. Even a simple base model can handle speakers and headphones.
All in all, a straight forward interface, strong specs and easy to use controls control make this upgraded model another most sought after audio interface in the market. You won’t regret buying it. That’s for sure.
- Impressive I/O flexibility
- A rugged and durable casing
- Has a great digital interface
- Best for studio engineers who need more versatility
- I noticed no hissing or other noises during the recording session
- Great value for the money
- The single stereo output may not be suitable for some users
- The manufacturers should have chosen a different color for the input knobs
Compared to the previous two models, this one has extended sample rate compatibility, increased preamp performance, and a better overall sound. It improves in quite a few areas.
First, it supports recordings at a sample rate of 192k Hz. In addition, the preamp design has also been upgraded to have lower noise and higher gain. When it comes to instrument inputs, this device can cope with even the loudest guitars. Impressive, don’t you think?
Second, it is compatible with the Focusrite Control software. Thus allowing you to configure settings like monitor mix setups and routings.
The layout remains the same for all Focusrite models. Four inputs at the front, monitor dial to control output levels on the right, and stereo level outputs on the rear. The optical input on the rear end can carry eight digital channel inputs. Plus – it also has a USB port for potential connectivity.
With Focusrite’s trademark ruggedness & performance, quickly configurable front channels, and a feature that allows adding eight audio input channels, there’s an awful lot to like here.
- PC USB 2.0 and Mac audio interfaces
- 24-bit/192kHz D-A and A-D conversion
- Range up to 119 dB 2 mic/line ins,
- ADAT in, 2 monitor and 2 line outs plus headphone out
- 8 mic/line ins, ADAT I/O (adds 8 I/O), 2 monitor and 8 line outs plus 2 headphone out and S/PDIF Air enabled preamps
- Software includes XLN Audio Addictive Keys; Focusrite Control, Focusrite Red Plug-in Suite,; Tone Bundle, Softube Time And; Ableton Live Lite and 2 GB of Loopmasters samples
- Sonic performance
- Eight Clarett mic preamps with Air effect
- Easily ccessible metering and monitoring
- Has a very generous IO to handle any recording session
- Has latency issues with latest-gen computers
This newest Focusrite model brings high-quality sound to those who lack thunderbolt connectivity. With two inputs you can play and record two instruments simultaneously
It’s nice to have easy access to so many inputs at the same time.
You can even hook up your entire band without any trouble. Moreover, the Eight Clarett mic preamps have an Air effect. It switches in an analog model of Focusrite’s highly praised classic transformer-based ISA mic pre, elevating your sound to newer heights.
Furthermore, the addictive keys software that comes with this model is well…. Addictive! This is definitely one of the best audio interfaces for GarageBand
- Four dual channel XLR/TRS connectors.
- Every input is linked to a MIDAS preamp.
- It has a corresponding control cluster with a line switch, pad, and rotating gain control.
- Sound leveling and representation are immaculate
- Has an easy installation
- Excellent value for the price
- Amazing overall sound quality
- The pots and connectors are cheaply made, but considering the price, it does make sense
- A dedicated power switch would have been a great addition
- Does not come with required drivers
Behringer is notorious for churning out budget-friendly devices. Unfortunately, most of their devices are crap, but this mode caught my attention straight away. I can’t say for sure whether it was because of the shockingly low price or sound quality. The device doesn’t look as good as Focusrite’s models mentioned above. However, it is easily one of the most versatile audio interfaces I have come across.
In terms of design, it is a standard interface with inputs on the front, outputs on the back, and everything crammed into a sturdy aluminum construction.
In terms of performance, it works like a champ. The vocal recordings are crisp. For guitar recording, it can take active pickups with no issues at all. I am impressed!
Moreover, its audio interface is totally compatible with windows and Mac and works well with most DAWs. In short, this partner for a home studio is as powerful and intuitive as audio interfaces get.
- 2-in 2-out
- USB 2.0 Audio Interface
- One Class-A Audient Console
- Mic Preamplifier
- One Discrete JFET Instrument Input
- All-metal enclosure
- Windows, macOS, and iOS compatible
- iD ScrollControl mode to turn the volume control into the rotary encoder in order to control the plug-in parameters.
- Zero-latency monitoring with monitor mix and pan
- Comes with monitor controller functionality
- Creates music on the go because of its small size and quality sound handling features
- A little fragile so handle with care
- Not very durable
The iD4 is Audient, bringing exceptional audio performance to one of its smallest interfaces. They have crammed a DI, a single microphone preamp, twin headphone, and stereo outs into a single unit that can fit in the palm of your hand.
Furthermore, it has a large rotary encoder acting as primary monitor volume as well as a software control. That’s a lot of features in such a portable device.
Even though the two inputs are very minimal, it can cover your needs – whether acoustic or electronic. It is small and bus-powered, so you can take it along if you want to create music on the go.
- 24 bit / 192 kHz audio sound quality
- 48dB Preamp
- XLR input Line (TRS) input MIDI
- output Balanced Main Line
- Output USB port for connectivity
- Supports XLR & MIDI
- Built-in 48 volts Phantom Power and Preamp
- Multifunctional iPhone compatible audio interface It is compatible with iPhone 5 and later, as well as iPad, Windows, Mac, and Android
- Can record keyboard, guitar, bass, vocals – you name it
- One of the most economical devices
- Quality sound (196 kHz / 24-bit) and resolution
- 48 volts phantom power
- An L & R output would have been nice
MeloAudio is a novice manufacturer, yet my first encounter with their flagship device doesn’t disappoint. This model can go toe to toe with iD4 in terms of cost and performance. While the former costs a little less, the later provides slightly better sound quality (192 kHz / 24-bit).
Additionally, it also provides 48 volts of phantom power. So musicians who require higher operating power because they want to plug in a condenser microphone should definitely give this model a shot. What’s more, it also has MIDI and XLR inputs.
All in all, this is an ideal device for people who want a compact, versatile, and budget-friendly model for their audio mixing needs.
- Interface Type: USB 2.0
- Converter: 24-bit
- Sample Rate: Up to 192kHz
- Inputs: 2x XLR/TRS combo
- Warranty: 3 years limited
- Has a rich and full audio output
- Astonishing noise-canceling ability
- 3 years warranty keeps you plenty covered
- A great option for people on a budget
- As this is an older model it has limited inputs
- This is an older model
I have reviewed Behringer’s UMC 402HD model before, so this is a previous model. The only reason I include it in my list is because of its meager cost when compared with the latest model.
The clarity of this basic audio interface is astonishing, and the sound comes out very full and rich, replicating whatever you throw at it.
In case your recording venue has ground loop issues that cause significant hum in recordings, then this little device can take care of the record with absolutely non-existent noise in the output. It is silent. Even when the volume is cranked up, you hear no noise.
- Two Neutrik combo jack inputs
- Two balanced TRS outputs
- MIDI in/out
- Dual ultra-low-noise pre-amps with phantom power
- TRS balanced outputs & a 1/8″ headphone jack Lightning
- USB and MicroUSB cables
- Professional audio along with true mobility
- More robust than previous IK multimedia’s iRig model
- Comes in two models – corded and cordless
- The package includes lighting and USB cables
- Batteries could have been better in cordless models
- Won’t work as efficiently when it has low batteries
It is a widely compatible interface. Featuring everything you would expect from a dual-channel audio interface. For instance, phantom power, MIDI, signal metering, direct monitoring, and XLR/Hi Z inputs. More than enough to work with multiple devices.
It is fairly robust, and the cordless model works best when fully charged. Once the charge drains, it becomes less stable over time.
Overall, it may not have natural and sexiest sounding preamps, yet as a utility for your music box, you cannot ignore this economical bargain.
- Two combi-XLR/jack inputs
- Stereo jack out VU Meter
- USB 2.0
- Essentials software bundle
- 48V phantom power
- 192 kHz and 24 bit Audio Quality
- Very light, portable and has an attractive design
- High power and zero latency output sounds
- VU Meter for accurately adjusting levels
- Has pretty big volume knob to adjust the output levels
- While recording you can hear the playback due to Input/host mix feature
- Only allows direct monitoring to headphones
The last audio interface on my list is stylish and aesthetically pleasing Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2 interface. Simple design, elegant and dirt cheap – there I summed up this device for you.
The device comes bundled with a range of Komplete Start software. It has 15 synths sample instrument along with various effects
This viable portable solution for pc or laptop recording is everything a novice music producer needs to get started. In short, a Komplete solution. See, what I did there?
Best Audio Interface – Buyer’s Guide
If you are still not sure which one of the best audio interface for garageband fulfills your requirements, I will be writing a buyer’s guide below to help you out. You can use the following criteria to decide which interface to call in.
Ideally your interface should support macOS as well as windows. iPads have also become quite popular for recording music so I consider iOS support just as valuable. However, if you are using a USB interface with your iPad it may require additional adapters. Of course, this feature becomes less important in case you just want to utilize the interface with a desktop in your home studio.
Ease of use
The ease of use is essential. You shouldn’t have to read through the manuals how to connect the interface with your device. Connecting any device or instrument with it should be easy. Moreover, the gain levels should be easy to adjust. Models like Native Instruments Komplete 2 have really big volume knobs to ease volume adjustment. The placement of phantom power buttons and clipper indicator lights – whether in front or rear – also adds to the ease of use.
If you like to record music on the go or outdoors, you need to consider a model which is light enough to not burden your backpack and has a good battery. The last three models on my list are very lightweight and portable. So you can check these out.
The sound quality isn’t exactly a distinguishing feature among best audio interfaces for garageband. This is because most interfaces available in the market today are capable of recording a noise-free quality sound at 96 kHz rate and 24 bit depth. So sound quality should be least of your worries when it comes to shopping for your interface.
The included software can be a bonus. However, it is never a deal-breaker. Usually, the included software is a “lite” version of software such as ProTools, Ableton or StudioOne used by professionals to better control the audio. If you are looking at audio interfaces then I assume you already have a recording software package in mind which you like. So, you can go with any package you like.
Even if you are a solo artist and need only one or two devices connected to your interface, I always recommend going for more inputs. More ports mean you don’t have to toggle the cords and can leave your devices plugged in. Nevertheless, if you are on a budget then you can go for older less expensive models. They normally have limited inputs.
Any instrument with a MIDI out needs an interface that has support for the specific five pin input style. Many modern instruments and MIDI controllers can plugin directly with the USB so if you are just setting up your home studio, you shouldn’t worry about this feature.
Best Audio Interface – Closing Thoughts
There, you have it – all the information you need to shop for the best audio interface for GarageBand. All the models I included in my article are below 1000 bucks because anything above starts to get into the category of professionals which is usually a concern for bigger studios. These models work best for solo recordists. Happy recording!