With the continuous development of cheaper and cheaper decent quality options for musicians out there to use for recording themselves at home, the markets for these products are just booming. I remember my first audio interface to this day – I was 11 and I was extraordinarily curious about recording myself play guitar so I got a small Behringer Xenyx mixer which came with a USB audio interface. There weren’t many options for a guitarist back then if you just wanted a simple interface for your instrument. Nowadays, it is a whole different story and throughout this article we will be looking at some amazing products you can find and buy – and we will be looking especially at those that give you a lot of bang for your buck.
What To Look For In A Guitar Audio Interface
When buying an interface with the sole purpose of using it to record guitar to your computer many of the standard parameters relevant for an audio interface are no longer relevant. For example extended i/o and connectivity is not very relevant as theoretically you will only need one line ¼ inch input for your guitar. However, good A/D converters are still relevant. Background noise is very relevant. A preamp is relevant as well and its dynamic range is very relevant. One of the most important aspects in my opinion is value for the money you spend on such a unit.
Best Audio Interfaces For Guitar
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the coolest audio interfaces for guitar that you can find on the market today:
Apogee Jam For Mac And Windows
Apogee is a well-known company in the audio interface market. They make great audio interfaces and this one is no exception. It can convert analog signal to digital signal at up to 24 bit / 96 kHz. What I like about this product is its immediacy and ease of use. You just plug it in and it is ready to go, no driver installation, no messing around with settings. Plug in you guitar, plug the interface into your computer and raise the gain slider on the side of the unit to raise the level. The background noise on this is very low and level you get from it is high enough. Overall, I believe this product delivers excellent value for the money you spend on it.
IK iRig HD
The iRig is very similar in shape and size to the Apogee Jam – one of the main differences between them is that the iRig only works with Apple devices. It comes with a decent preamp and a 24 bit / 48 kHz analog to digital converter. The input noise is very low (the manufacturer says it is -97 dB RMS, which I haven’t checked but judging by how it sounds, I tend to believe them) and the preamp has a dynamic range of 26 dB. The product comes with some amp modelling software to use with your Apple tablet, phone or computer which is pretty cool. Similar to the Apogee, it is very easy to use – plug it in, grap your axe and shred away.
M-Audio M-Track 2×2
This unit from M-Audio differs dramatically in shape and size from the previously mentioned products – but in what a way! The first thing that strikes me is how cool the design for this thing is. It looks absolutely fabulous. I digress; Looks is not the only thing this product has going for it. It sports a very cool A/D coverter which can convert analog signal to digital at up to 24 bit / 192 kHz which is just wow for this kind of money and size. The preamp is really good as well and it sports two inputs: one ¼ inch line input and one XLR which can also deliver +48V so if you fancy mic-ing up your amp, you can do it very successfully with this unit. In my opinion this can very well work as a full-fledged audio interface for your home studio given the fact that it has such a great converter, such good preamps and very good monitoring options, with both a headphone output and two ¼ inch line outputs to connect to your speakers.(It also has direct monitoring so you can easily record without latency) I’d say that the value for the money with this product is simply amazing.
Line 6 POD Studio GX
Line 6 is a very well-known manufacturer in the world of guitar effect pedals and processors and this audio interface proves that they know the needs of their customers well – one ¼ inch line input, one 1/8 inch headphone output and a volume knob – as simple as it gets. The A/D is standard at 24 bit/ 48 kHz and the preamp is also decent. What makes this special is the way it is bundled with POD Farm 2.5 which a great amp/ effect pedal modelling plug-in which you can use standalone or with a DAW. It also sports direct monitoring so you do not have to worry about latency.
In my opinion the above presented items are some of the best cheap audio interfaces for guitar. Because of the flexibility, the build quality and the overall integration and sound, the M-Audio M-Track 2×2 is my favourite. It can be used as a guitar interface solely and it will work awesome. But what if one day you want to record guitar and vocals? – you can do so without a sweat. The fact that it can serve as a full-fledged audio interface for a small home studio setup is just amazing for the money. Having owned several M-Audio products, I recommend this with a lot of confidence.