Best of 2014: Audio Interfaces

2014 saw the release of some tasty new audio interfaces catering to very different producers and engineers. Here's our pick of the bunch listed in alphabetical order.  
Listed in alphabetical order, here's eight of our favorite audio interfaces we reviewed in 2014.

Audient iD22 USB

What do you get when a company best known for its high-end studio consoles and monitoring solutions makes a USB audio interface and monitoring box? Hollin Jones discovers something stunningly well-designed.

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Price: $699/£449

Pros: Stunning build quality. Flawless recordings. Highly flexible I/O. Incorporate outboard hardware and digital sources. Beautifully designed mixer app. 

Cons: Not technically zero latency monitoring, if that bothers you. 

Web: http://audient.com/products/id22

Focusrite Saffire Pro 26

In the market for a new audio interface with ADAT, lots of ins and outs, excellent preamps and at a keen price? Focusrite’s Saffire Pro 26 might be the answer. Read and watch our world-first video review.

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Price: £299 / $349.99)

Pros: Great value for money, dual headphone outs, buss power. ADAT, SPDIF and MIDI connectivity.

Cons: No rack mount option as of yet. A front panel output meter would have been handy.

Web: http://global.focusrite.com/firewire-audio-interfaces/saffire-pro-26

Focusrite Scarlett Solo

Do you want a very portable 2-in/2-out audio interface with direct monitoring, phantom power, and good bundled software for under $100? We put Focusrite's Scarlett Solo to the test.

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Price: $99.99 / £79.99
Pros: Very portable and well built. Direct monitoring. Halo light system. Phantom power. Good bundled software. 
Cons: Not iOS-compatible. You may have to add phono-compatible output cables. 

M-Audio M-Track Eight

M-Audio M-Track Eight

An 8-in, 8-out audio interface for under $400? M-Audio's new M-Track Eight comes bundled with Cubase LE, has XLR combos for all channels with Octane preamps. But does it make the grade? We find out.

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Price: $399

Pros: No drivers required, XLR combo inputs for all channels, large knobs are easy to spot and use, 2 separate headphone mixes, power button located on the front instead of rear, shallow rack profile, quality bundled software and plug-in effects.

Cons: Very little control over the monitor mix, knobs feel a bit light, no S/PDIF or ADAT optical ports.

Web: http://la.m-audio.com/products/view/m-track-eight

Prism Lyra 2 USB

The Lyra 2 is Prism Sounds first offering into the travel friendly USB audio interface market. Bill Burgess runs it through its paces to see how it stacks up.

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Price: Lyra 1, $2350; Lyra 2 (as reviewed), $3225

Pros: World-class audio conversion. Highly improved depth and imaging. A deeply flexible and functional audio interface.

Cons: Slightly hard to understand software. Higher price may be difficult for some users.

Web: http://www.prismsound.com

Steinberg UR44

You’ll see more inputs than its smaller sibling, the UR22, but the real power of the Steinberg UR44 is found in what you don’t see. It also is compatible with Mac, PC and iOS devices. Matt Hepworth puts the UR44 to the test.

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Street Price: $299.00

Pros: Robust chassis, great mic preamps, oodles of DSP power, iPad-compatibility, and price.

Cons: No signal indicators and no digital I/O connectivity.

Web: Steinberg UR44 website

Tascam UH-7000

Being a regular audio interface is only half of what Tascam's UH-7000 offers. It’s also a high-quality dual mic preamp, with Phantom Power. Joe Albano discovers how well it performs on both counts.

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Price: $599.99 USD (Street)

Pros: High-Quality Mic Pre’s; Flexible Interface w/ DSP effects

Cons: Less I/O than some comparably-priced units

Web: http://tascam.com/product/uh-7000/

Universal Audio Apollo Twin

The sleek and sexy Apollo Twin brings the high-quality preamps and the UAD Powered Plug-Ins from the Apollo into a portable and affordable package. Matt Vanacoro puts it through its paces. [Spoiler alert: Matt bought this interface as soon as he reviewed it!]

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Price: $699 for the Single-processor SOLO and $899 for the dual-processor DUO

Pros: Take the power of the UAD powered plug-ins with you on the go, new Unison mic preamp emulations, both XLR mic preamps are very high quality, quality build and sleek look, hardware buttons to access important preamp features, locking power cable (seriously, why don’t all mobile units have this?)

Cons: None we can think of!

Website: http://www.uaudio.com/interfaces/apollo-twin.html

Rounik is the Executive Editor for Ask.Audio & the macProVideo Hub. As an Apple Certified Trainer for Logic (and a self-confessed Mac fanatic) he's taught teachers, professional musicians and hobbyists how to get the best out of Apple's creative software. He has been a visiting lecturer at Bath Spa University's Teacher training pro... Read More

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