The Best Audio Interfaces for Guitarists contains our top 5 picks for recording into your DAW. All these interfaces offer specific hardware and/or software solutions for recording your guitar.
Best Audio Interfaces for Guitarists
A good audio interface is essential when recording your guitar and thankfully these days we are spoilt for choice. This Best Audio Interfaces for Guitarists list contains some of the top-rated products available on Thomann. These are the products you should check out before buying a new interface for your studio setup.
When buying an audio interface ask yourself the following questions:
- How many inputs you are likely to need and what will you be plugging into them?
- Will you ever want to play or jam along with other musicians?
- Do you need to record acoustic guitars or vocals? If so, microphone inputs with preamps will likely be a consideration as well
- Are you ever likely to need MIDI inputs/outputs for your equipment?
There are many things to take into consideration and sometimes these may be influenced by your DAW and computer setup. Thankfully, there are some great audio interfaces at all price points to consider. As a bonus sometimes interfaces come bundled with software; another important aspect to consider!
IK Multimedia AXE I/O Solo
This IK Multimedia AXE I/O Solo+AmpliTube 5+Tonex bundle is a great example of the ‘complete package’ for guitar recording. It comes with a dedicated audio interface for recording your guitar plus it includes IK’s popular Amplitube and Tonex software.
- The interface includes a Hi-Z instrument input at the front, of which input 1 is with Z-Tone (variable impedance)
- A JFET circuit adds subtle harmonic enhancements
- Active circuit for use with active pickups
- Input for both line and microphone signals using discrete class-A preamps
- AD/DA conversion with 24-bit/192 kHz
- Switchable 48 V phantom power
- Mic/Line input on the back via XLR/jack combo socket
- An amp output on the front for re-amping
- Two balanced line outputs on the back using TRS jacks
- Stereo headphone output with its own volume control
- MIDI I/O
With features like these, the AXE I/O is certainly a versatile piece of hardware for anyone recording guitar. I like that it has a dedicated JFET circuit that complements the guitar, plus it handles both line and microphone inputs for added flexibility. The re-amping functionality can be very useful when you need to do another version of an already recorded track, just through a different guitar amp.
When you factor in all those virtual amps and effects in the bundled software, the IK Multimedia AXE I/O Solo+AmpliTube 5+Tonex bundle looks a bit of a bargain!
RRP – EUR 349 *
Universal Audio Volt 1
The Univeral Audio Volt 1 is a minimalist, yet well-specified audio interface. It could be perfect for many applications, including players on the move.
- 24 Bit / 192 kHz AD/DA converter
- Integrated microphone preamp with vintage mic preamp mode
- Switchable +48 V phantom power
- Headphone amplifier
- Direct monitoring
- One Mic/Instrument/Line combo input on XLR / Jack
- MIDI input and output
The UA Volt 1 has all the basics you need and includes UA’s Vintage Mic Preamp Mode which should help you get some nice recordings into your DAW.
This package also includes some really useful bundled-in software which makes it an even sweeter deal. If you are on a budget, then I would recommend this smaller interface, especially as some of the free software is really useful. For example Ableton Live Lite and the Softube Marshall Plexi Classic Amp Softube Time & Tone Bundle.
Universal Audio offers a whole range of Volt series audio interfaces, right up to the range-topping VOLT 476P. If you find yourself needing more inputs, then you can go further up the range to find what you require.
RRP – EUR 119 *
Next up is the SSL 2, a great all-rounder, which includes a touch of the SSL 4000 series console sound! It is simple, yet has a great sound and offers a very useable user interface with minimal fuss.
- 24-Bit/192 kHz AKM converters
- Mic preamps with a 62 dB gain range, 130.5 dBu ON
- Neutrik connectors
- Alps pots
- Legacy 4K switch per channel that emulates the SSL 4000 series consoles
- +48 V Phantom power
- 5-Stage level meter for each input
- 2 Mic-/Line-/Instrument inputs on combo XLR/Jack
If you want a quality polished sound then this SSL2 is worth considering. I like that it gives you a taste of SSL’s high-end console sound with many users loving these little boxes for that very reason.
You’ll find some useful bundled software for recording, but what impresses most is the use of high-quality components; for example, Neutrik connectors and Alps pots. Both are small yet worthwhile upgrades that should make this unit last for a very long time.
For guitarists, those high-quality inputs are great for avoiding clipping with high gain or active humbucking pickups. Many cheaper audio interfaces can clip far too easily; thankfully, these SSL interfaces won’t give you that issue.
RRP – EUR 199 *
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen is a good start for anyone that wants to start making recordings at home. It offers plenty of benefits for someone starting out, but will also hold up well once you have advanced further. Focusrite also bundles in plenty of useful software with regular, free, software packages added after you register your purchase. Plus, they throw in a copy of the Softube Marshall Silver Jubilee 2555 to get you started.
- 24-bit / 192 kHz
- Two Scarlett microphone preamps
- +48 V phantom power
- Switchable Air function
- Two Mic/instrument/line inputs on XLR/jack combo balanced
- Headphone output
The Air button emulates the classic ISA 110 mic preamp found on the Focusrite Studio Console. It can be applied to the microphone preamps and adds a little shine and sparkle to your recordings. It just takes a button push to activate it and so you have that added benefit you can play with on your guitar tracks (or vocals, etc)
For me, the current, 3rd Gen models, represent the best version of the Focusrite Scarlett yet. Focusrite has ironed out all the old issues, such as driver software problems, experienced with previous generations of the Scarlett
The Scarlett range represents a great buy and offers lots of key features you would want for your home studio setup. Again, versions with more inputs and features are available if you need something more comprehensively equipped.
RRP –EUR 159 *
Lastly, we have the MOTU M6 which offers you four dedicated inputs, which can be switched between line and instrument levels. The M6 is perfect for players that require a more flexible setup; I also really like the dedicated level metering on the front panel and dual headphone outputs.
A great interface if you need to work more with microphones, as you can switch individual phantom power for all four inputs.,
- 24 bit / 192 kHz AD/DA converter
- Four Microphone preamps with +48 V phantom power each and individually switchable
- Four Inputs (switchable to Hi-Z instrument input) on XLR/Jack combo
- Two Line inputs on balanced jack
- Four Line outputs on balanced jack
- Twin stereo headphone outputs
- MIDI I/O
- Loopback function
- LCD level display
- A/B monitor switch
This MOTU audio interface uses the ESS Sabre32 Ultra DAC Technology normally found on very high-end interfaces. Plus, it has what you would describe as ultra-clean preamp circuits, making it great for recording acoustic guitars, etc
The loopback feature channels to your host computer/DAW setup and allows it to route the computer output back to the computer, where you can mix it with up to four mics. Plus, the A/B monitor switching allows you to use two sets of monitor speakers to listen to your mix through.
A great interface that is perfect for more advanced singer/songwriter setups or for small band recordings.
RRP – EUR 499 *
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