If you want to improve your professional level as a DJ streamer, one of the first things you will need for quality streaming will be a good audio interface, but… What are the best audio interfaces of 2023?
Usually, your computer’s motherboard has audio support that allows the audio input and output on the PC. If you only work with headphones, you probably do not need an audio interface, but if you are considering using a good microphone or more audio inputs, you will obviously seek to capture it with the best fidelity and audio quality possible.
- What is an audio interface?
- The 7 best audio interfaces for your streaming in 2023
- Audio Interface Buying Guide
- What is better an audio interface or a streaming mixer?
What is an audio interface?
Audio interfaces are hubs for audio inputs and outputs, which nowadays offer you mixing options, either through physical controls on the interface itself or through a sequencer via software.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty, let’s clarify what is an audio interface. First of all: you’ve probably heard the terms: audio interface, sound interface, external sound card, etc. It’s all the same thing, with different names, but a sound card is an audio interface.
Basically, an audio interface is the hardware that allows you to transfer the sounds you want to capture to your PC or DAW (digital audio workstation or music production software). That is to say, the audio interface is what allows you to pass the acoustic sound, the analog signal (for example, the one produced by any microphone), to a digital signal, which is what your computer can read and process.
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What is the best audio interface? Top 7 audio interfaces for Streaming in 2023
Finding the best audio interfaces can be a headache, but at Wavezoo we’ve done the work for you, to show you a complete buying guide. So we can show you which audio interface is best for you, and suits the type of DJ streamer you are.
Below you will find this year’s list of the best audio interfaces for your DJ setup:
Behringer UMC204HD U-phoria – The cheapest Audio Interface
- 24 bits and 192 kHz
- 2 inputs and 4 outputs
- 2 XLR / 6.3mm jack combi inputs
- MIDAS-designed microphone preamplifiers
- 48V phantom power included
- Hi-Z input
- Signal and saturation indicator
Behringer is a brand that combines the quality-price ratio very well. The UMC204HD model has more powerful audio processors at very cheap prices.
The UMC204HD is an audio interface with a very simple design. The inputs are on the front with their respective potentiometers to adjust the gain, as well as wheels for monitoring and headphones. It has one of the best resolutions on the market 24-bit/192 kHz and has microphone preamplifiers – very useful if we use a professional dynamic microphone.
Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s a sound card that takes up the same amount of space as many others. It will meet many of your expectations when choosing an audio interface.
M-Audio AIR 192|4
- 24Bit 192Khz resolution
- INPUTS: 2
- OUTPUTS: 2
- MIDI: NO
M-Audio, a reference brand, enters the game of who makes the best and cheapest audio interface. The AIR 192 series can be considered as a quality external mixer or sound card.
In terms of controls it is quite minimalist. Only 5 controls on the front of the card, one to control the microphone input, a second for the other audio input, one to monitor the direct audio or USB input and two others to control the 2 outputs, headphone and LR.
If you are just starting in the world of music streaming, it is a very good option.
Presonus Studio 24 C
- High resolution 24bit/192 kHz
- XLR INPUTS: 2
- MICROPHONE PRE-AMPLIFIERS
- OUTPUTS: 2
PreSonus is a reference in the audio world. Its new Studio models use more advanced audio processors and microphone preamplifiers in their inputs.
The Studio 24c is an audio interface with a very simple design. The inputs are on the formal part with their respective controls to adjust the gain, monitoring, mixing, and headphones. Like the other audio cards in this top audio interface, it has a great resolution of 24 bit at 192 KHz, and it also has MIDI input and output in case you need to add a keyboard.
It is an interface of proven quality without an excessive price, highly recommended for music streaming.
Also, check out the Presonus Revelator io24, probably the best value for money streaming interface. It offers great sound quality and a variety of features, including two XLR inputs, two line inputs, and two headphone outputs.
Elgato Wave XLR – Microphone and Digital Mixer Interface
- Microphone audio interface with XLR to USB-C high quality connection.
- Elgato Wave Link application. Allows you to mix multiple audio sources and create two independent mixes for use with OBS or any streaming software.
- Exclusive Clipguard technology prevents microphone sound distortion.
- Professional-quality preamp with up to 75 dB of gain for amplifying low-sensitivity microphones.
- 48-volt phantom power for use with condenser microphones.
There is not much to say about a brand as well known as Elgato. Besides being a quality product, the Wave XLR model has a mute button, perfect for streaming, and it also converts any XLR microphone into a USB microphone with direct connection to your computer.
It also has a headphone output so you can monitor the sound, and a dial with which you can control the gain of your microphone, the volume of the sound mix you are outputting, monitoring and even phantom power (if you need it).
Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Generation – Professional sound card
- High-quality microphone preamplifiers.
- Captures and mixes up to 24-bit/192 khz
- Two balanced outputs
- This audio interface is the most recommended and best-selling on the market, thanks to its high quality audio pickup. It is a very powerful sound card, plus it is a brand with many years of experience in sound.
The Scarlett Solo is a desktop interface, quite small and compact for an interface of these characteristics. We are talking about an interface with a preamplified XLR input and a jack output. Its connection is USB-C and is compatible with both PC and Mac. It has a red brushed aluminum finish that gives a great quality touch.
It includes a 48V Phantom Power preamp, plus the AIR function of Focusrite products, which emulates the sound of a transformer-based preamp and adds a high-end brightness to the signal.
This audio interface is perfect for getting started in the world of streaming, especially if you want to take a step up in audio quality for your stream.
EVO 4 – The best audio interface of 2023
- 2-input / 2-output USB audio interface.
- Loopback function
- 24 bit resolution 44.1 – 96 kHz, 113 dB AD/DA dynamic range
- 2 microphone preamps with 58 dB gain, 2 combined microphone/line inputs via XLR/jack combo connectors, separate headphone output, 6.3 mm jack plug
- Multifunctional rotary control with minimalist LED ring
- Low latency software mixer
- 48 volt phantom power (also for bus operation).
The audio interface of the year, EVO – is a relatively new brand, but comes from British audio specialist Audient. It combines a smart and fast minimalist design with innovative audio technology.
Streaming or creating content with the versatile features of the EVO 4 is a joy. In addition, the EVO 4 features a new Smartgain mode that automatically adjusts the microphone level, allowing you to stay focused on your performance and forget about annoying peaks, clipping and distortion.
The loopback function allows you to record the computer output simultaneously with the microphones, ideal for streamers. The clean, warm and precise EVO preamps have a gain range of 58 dB and bring out the best in every microphone. With a dynamic range of 113 dB, the built-in high-power converters deliver detailed recordings to any DAW.
Even monitor mixes via headphones or connected active studio monitors are effortlessly possible due to the extremely low latency. In addition, the 2 XLR combo jacks feature a stable 48 volt phantom power supply and provide connections for microphones and other line-level sources.
TC Helicon Go XLR Audio and Voice Mixer for Streamers
- Multi-channel mixer. With the 4 motorized faders we can manage the microphone, game audio, music and chat for example.
- MIDAS studio quality preamplifier with phantom power. Perfect for boosting XLR microphones.
- Voice FX. Voice effects such as reverb, echo, pitch shifting, megaphone, robotic, etc. in real time.
- Configurable RGB lighting.
- Cough” button for automatic muting.
- Output power: 10 W
- USB 2.0
The Go XLR mixer took the streamer community by storm when TC-Helicon announced it in late 2019. Today it is the most used mixing console by streamers.
It is an audio interface with a simplified, intuitive design and large buttons, which frees us to think about what we are going to do or put the audio effect we want. Undoubtedly, it is an audio mixer for music streaming, where with the push of a button we will get the effect or mix of audio channels we want.
It also includes adjustable voice effects on the knobs, so we can control the exact level of the effect at all times. If you’re on a budget, you can opt for the GoXLR Mini, with fewer knobs and functions, but just as practical.
Audio Interface Buying Guide – What should I look for when buying an audio interface?
Before choosing the ideal audio interface, there are some basic aspects to consider, such as the number of inputs or outputs, the type of connection and other basic technical specifications:
Inputs and outputs
The most important difference between different models of audio interfaces is the number of inputs and outputs it has. Before choosing a model you have to ask yourself: How many inputs and outputs do you need? What kind of work do you plan to record? Do you plan to capture only one instrument, one instrument + one microphone or several instruments?
It is recommended that you opt for an interface with at least two inputs, this will allow you the minimum of versatility. On the other hand, if you have more complex recordings in mind, it is advisable to acquire an interface with more inputs. When in doubt, it is better to have too many than too few. The same goes for a DJ mixer.
Any audio interface integrates at least one line input, which is used to connect instruments such as guitars or basses, and an XLR microphone input.
Many interfaces integrate analog inputs that combine both XLR and line inputs into a single space. This gives you a little more versatility when it comes to connecting microphones with different inputs.
Digital inputs are not essential for beginners, but they are very useful for professionals who need to record several channels simultaneously, such as drum kits. A digital input allows you, for example, to connect a microphone preamp with multiple devices connected through a single input.
When it comes to outputs, you will most likely only need one stereo pair to connect your studio monitors and one for headphones. These are essential for listening to your music productions.
Types of connections
When connecting the audio interface with its instruments to your computer, you can choose between several options:
The USB connection is one of the most common connections, so a USB-C audio interface is very convenient. You can connect a USB audio interface to Mac computers, PCs and other devices without any problems.
The Thunderbolt connection is not as versatile as USB but has certain advantages. Depending on the version of the connection, Thunderbolt can transfer data up to eight times faster than a USB connection. Many professional sound engineers prefer the Thunderbolt option.
Apple desktops and laptops come with this input. To be able to use it with a PC you will need to have a compatible board.
Firewire and PCIe
A few years ago the Firewire connection was the standard for connecting audio and video to a computer. However, with the development and speed of USB and Thunderbolt connections, it has become somewhat obsolete.
The PCIe connection is the same as the one used by a video card in a desktop computer although they are not the most convenient for recording sessions or for connecting audio interfaces.
Form factor is a term that refers to the size and shape of an audio interface. Audio interfaces usually have the same shape and can vary greatly in size, but they are classified into two main types:
- Desktop interfaces: Desktop interfaces are quite small. They are ideal for home recording as they do not take up much space and can easily be placed under the monitor or on top of the computer.
- Rack interfaces: Rack audio interfaces are designed for professionals who have other racks in their studios. These models are very slim and wide so that you can place several rack devices on top of each other to make the most of the space. Due to their wide shape, they integrate more inputs and outputs than desktop interfaces.
One of the most important aspects when choosing an audio interface is to know what audio quality they can work with. The most important technical specifications in terms of audio, beyond the quality of the internal components, are bit depth and sample rate.
Without going into technical details, the higher the bit depth, the better the sound quality. One bit depth is equivalent to 6dB, so an audio interface with bit depth of 16 has a dynamic range of 96 dB. This is considered standard CD quality, but the range is somewhat limited and the softer parts of your songs may sound noisy.
It is safer to opt for 24-bit audio interfaces that provide a dynamic range of 144 dB, which means that your recordings will be of much higher quality. 24-bit is considered standard nowadays in the professional world.
A sample is a piece of audio that is captured. The sample rate indicates the number of times the audio interface can capture samples in one second. The sample rate measurement of 44.1 kHz is the standard for CD quality. This means that 44,100 pieces of audio information are captured in one second.
The human ear can only pick up frequencies up to 20 kHz. However, due to today’s audio recording technology, some models work with sample rates up to 192 KHz.
What measurements do you need in an audio interface?
This depends on what you plan to use the recordings for. MP3 files and CDs will sound great at 16-bit/44.1 kHz. On the other hand, 24-bit/96 kHz is the measurement used to satisfy the most demanding audiophiles looking for higher quality and superb audio clarity.
Anything above that is not really necessary, unless you want to work with audio for Hollywood movies.
What is better an audio interface or a streaming mixer?
The truth is that nowadays there is little difference, any modern USB audio interface includes its own mixer via software, or even in some models we still find analog mixers. Everything will depend on the number of inputs you are going to work with.
- An audio interface works as a translator between a microphone and the computer or PC. It takes the analog signal coming from the microphone and transforms it into a digital signal.
- A mixer, on the other hand, mixes multiple signals, with the ability to add effects such as reverb, delay, compression, etc.