As you might be aware, 2020 has been a pretty good time to make music and finally get some recording done. Interfaces can be hard to get right now because they are in high demand and sell out quickly. In this article, I'll tell you which ones to look for and grab while you can!
The title of this article says under $1,000, so I figured I would start at the top. Antelope Audio makes some of the best interfaces on the market. They are most known for the clocking technology in the famed 10M Master Clock. The legend continues with Antelope's new gear as well. The company is now on their fourth generation of clocks, which is used in this and many of their larger, more expensive options as well.
The Discrete 4 Synergy Core has 4 console-grade mic preamps, ADAT and S/PDIF I/O, incredible A/D conversion (121dB) and is loaded with a signature FPGA chip as well as 2 DSP chips so you can track with the included analog-modeled plugins without latency. These plugins are often indistinguishable from the hardware and I wouldn't hesitate to commit to them while tracking. Seriously, it's pretty incredible.
If this isn't enough, you can also use this as a Thunderbolt or a USB interface. Built-in are also 4 headphone amps. These interfaces are made for bands to track live!
Audient iD44 - $699
Here at Pixel Pro Audio, we're kinda sorta (definitely) fan boys of Audient. When it comes to pure sound and functionality, the iD44 is tough to beat. It's loaded with 4 of their famous preamps used in their large format consoles and parallel A/D converters for some of the cleanest conversion you'll ever hear. The iD44 is also hugely expandable by using the 2 ADAT I/O ports on the back.
Perhaps the coolest feature of the iD44 is the built-in monitor controller. You can have two sets of speakers and have the ability to program the function buttons on the side. In my studio, I am always switching speakers, flipping to mono and using the CUT button to mute the speakers when tracking vocals. Having a top shelf interface and a high-quality monitor controller in one package is a no-brainer for engineers with little desk space!
If you want the Audient sound, but don't need this many channels, check out the other iD interfaces here!
Solid State Logic SSL2 - $229.99
Yes, you read that correctly. The coveted British console creators have taken a dive into the audio interface market and they are crushing it. The stock preamps are fairly clean. Add the 4K button and you get harmonics and clarity that is reminiscent of a 4000 console. Everything becomes instantly more exciting.
SSL has also bundled the SSL Production Pack software. This includes ProTools First, Ableton Live Lite, SSL Native Vocalstrip 2 & Drumstrip Plug-ins, Native Instruments Hybrid Keys & Komplete Start, and 1.5GB of Samples from Loopcloud.
Check out the details on the SSL2 and SSL2+ in this episode of PPA Unfiltered:
PreSonus ioStation 24c - $299.95
Have you ever wanted a lovechild between a Studio 24c and a FaderPort? Now it's here with the ioStation 24c! PreSonus has taken the studio staple FaderPort and added the preamps and converters of the Studio 24c. This (along with every other PreSonus interface) includes the latest version of Studio One Artist, making it a complete production hub as soon as it's plugged into your computer.
To learn more about the PreSonus ioStation 24c, check out this episode of PPA Unfiltered:
Focusrite Scarlett Solo - $109.99
Of course, you can't search for an audio interface and not see a Scarlett Solo. They are one of the best selling interfaces in the world for a reason. The are clean, sparkly even with the 'Air' mode, include lots of great software (Pro Tools|First, Ableton Live Lite, free plugins, loops and more!), and now are easier to use than ever before. If you're just starting out and don't know where to begin, the Solo is a great starting point that delivers all the tools you need. You can even find them in bundle packs with a microphone and headphones so you can start making music in minutes!
These are our picks for the top interfaces in 2020. If you have any questions for your particular setup, reach out to us on Facebook or give us a call at 855-269-0474. As always, enjoy FAST and FREE shipping on any order in the continental US.
Don't forget to check out our YouTube show, PPA Unfiltered, for gear talk, giveaways and lame jokes!