Which is the best usb external sound card?

Which is the best usb external sound card?

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To record with the PC, you need audio interfaces that act as a physical means to take from a song all the sounds played by the various instruments such as guitars, drums, basses etc. The computer will be able to understand their meaning once they are converted into digital information; subsequently they are stored on the hard disk. When the audio is played, the interface converts digital audio files into analog signals that can be sent to speakers or headphones connected to the PC. Therefore, if you want to get the most out of recording high quality audio on your PC, it must be equipped with a sound card with special characteristics. The first audio interfaces that appeared on the market went hand in hand with the first hard disk recorders; they were very large, the costs were prohibitive and therefore the prerogative of professional recording studios only. In addition, they often required additional hardware cards inside the PC. For this reason they are still known as sound cards. With the advent of new and powerful processors, which made PCs even more performing, the management of previously difficult needs became possible. The first portable USB interfaces therefore began to enter the market; this technological “revolution” brought enormous simplifications, as well as speed, to the recording studios in terms of connections of basses, guitars, synths. Audio recording surged upward, becoming more and more of quality.

Let’s see below what are the best audio interfaces or sound cards on the market.

PreSonus Audiobox iOne – See price or buy

If you want something that fully represents the prime example of how audio technology embodies exceptional value, the PreSonus iOne Audiobox is what you need to take your first steps into the world of computer-based audio recording. Its small size allows for easy transport and therefore is ideal for those guitarists / singers always traveling the world. It has a DI input for both guitar and bass and a 48V, low-noise, preamp input for a condenser microphone. Ideal for recording on iPad via the free Capture Duo app, power comes directly from the USB 2 connection; works with 24-bit resolution and sampling rates between 44.1 and 96 kHz. Just to make sure you don’t miss a thing, PreSonus has included a version of the PreSonus Studio One Artist DAW software, along with over 6GB of third-party resources.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen) – See price or buy

Focusrite, a noble name in the audio interface market that will make it easy for you to succeed. It has so many features that you can record anything, whether at home or in a recording studio: small and space-saving for the desktop, up to 192kHz, 24-bit operation, two XLR combo inputs with a pair of Scarlett preamps, independent LED indicators, balanced line outputs, 48V phantom power, USB 2 connection for data and power, extremely low latency and headphone output with level control from the monitor. Like the product described above, Focusrite also included a software package with some interesting applications: Ableton Live Lite, Focusrite Red 2 & 3 Plug-in Suite, Softube Time and Tone Pack, Novation Bass Station, 2 GB of Loopmasters, Pro sounds First tools (First Focusrite Creative Pack). In short, nothing is missing!

Arturia AudioFuse – See price or buy

New generation, the Artturia AudioFuse has as many as 14 inputs and outputs and ‘DiscretePRO’ preamps with a very low signal / noise ratio. It is not only an audio interface, but it is also a control center with unique and useful functions to ensure maximum efficiency during an audio recording. The list of what this interface has will make your head spin:

  • External hardware processor such as a compressor in the signal flow before analog to digital conversion
  • Digital inputs and outputs such as Word Clock, S / PDIF and ADAT
  • 3-port USB hub for the master key
  • Dongle for e-licenser
  • Zero latency monitoring
  • Integrated talkback microphone with a button to communicate
  • MIDI In and Out ports
  • Two sets of speaker outputs
  • Two headphone outputs with 3.5mm jack sockets
  • Phono inputs for a turntable

What more could you ask for?

RME Fireface UFX + – See price or buy

The high-end price is justified because we are talking about a device with extraordinary capabilities. The audio levels and functionality are remarkable; can handle a huge number of inputs and outputs (up to 188, including MADI, AES / EBU and ADAT Optical); it can connect to your computer via Thunderbolt or super-fast USB 3, although it doesn’t actually need to be plugged into a computer. Thanks to the USB stick located in the front, the Fireface UFX + is able to record stunningly with timestamps on 76 audio channels directly to the unit, eliminating the necessary presence of a PC. Together with the above, it offers crystal clear sound thanks to professional quality converters, along with a wide range of input and output options, TotalMix FX, RME’s innovative and intuitive mixing interface software. And to top it off, it can be managed using an iPad via the RME TotalMix app.

Audient iD4 – See price or buy

The Audient Id4s are large format, inexpensive, and good outlook analog audio interfaces. It has a single mic preamp and a JFET DI designed similar to the input of a classic tube amplifier. To this we add a conversion technology that is class-leading, dual headphone outputs (one 3.5mm and one quarter-inch), console-style monitor control and Audient’s ScrollControl virtual scrolling technology, which turns the volume control into a rotary encoder that can be used to adjust any selected parameter within the DAW.

Steinberg UR22 MK2 – See price or buy

Steinberg knows how to do her job and shows it in this small box, designed to meet the needs of those who are very demanding. A 24-bit / 192 kHz USB 2.0 interface with two Class-A D-PRE mic preamps with 48V phantom power, 2 combo inputs, 2 1/4 inch jack outputs and a headphone jack, the MK2 version, to which are added recording with CC Mode and an additional mini USB socket that acts as an input for an external power supply. Not just an audio interface though: thanks to a pair of MIDI ports, it is perfect for connecting synth modules and hardware keyboards. The software package includes a downloadable version of Cubase AI for Mac and PC and the Cubase LE DAW app for iOS.

Audio interfaces