After buying a computer, the next step in building your home recording studio is adding an audio interface.
For a new studio, it’s one of the most important decisions you will make.
But with so many options, how do you narrow them down?
What brand should you get? What model should you get? How much should you spend?
Well in this post, I will answer all these questions and more by revealing my top 3 picks for the best audio interfaces for a beginner’s studio.
1. Avid Mbox Mini
This box, priced around 300 dollars, is much more than a simple interface, despite the fact that its the most entry level system offered by Avid.
Here are the key features of the Mbox Mini Audio Interface by Avid:
- Microphone Preamps – two channels
- Direct Box – 1 DI toggle switch
- Digital Converter – 2 Input channels/2 Output channels
- Headphone Distribution – 1 headphone jack
- Monitor Management – 2 outputs, volume control, mute switch
As you can see, this audio interface actually contains a ton of different tools in one box.
If you are looking for a simple budget home studio setup, a device such as this one can simplify your studio setup by condensing several pieces of hardware into one.
2. Avid Mbox
So how does this box compare to the Mbox Mini? As you can see, it’s basically just a slightly larger version of the exact same design.
Except with a few added features, including:
- MIDI connections for controlling your virtual instruments
- Additional Monitor Management Controls
- 4 simultaneous input channels for recording
- 2 DI Inputs
- Higher Sample Rate Conversions
3. Mbox Pro
And last, if you want the flagship interface of the Avid Mbox family, here are the additional features you’ll get when compared to the Mbox:
- 8 channels of inputs/outputs
- Multiple Monitor Outputs
- Even higher sample rates
- 2 Headphone Outputs
- A Firewire connection instead of USB
Which one is right for you?
So how do you sort through the mountain of features in each of these products?
Some of the added features in the the more expensive versions won’t matter to you at all. Others will be nice to have but definitely not essential. And then there are a few which may be absolutely indispensable to you.
So which features should you pay most attention to? Here’s my opinion:
Way back when you were planning the purpose of your studio, there were two important questions you should’ve asked yourself.
- What kind of music will you record?
- How many people will you record at once?
Here’s why these are important:
If you record electronic music, that means you probably rely heavily on virtual instruments and MIDI controllers. Of the 3 interface models, the Mbox is the only one that has a MIDI input. So that’s the one you should get.
Second, if your style of music only uses real instruments, you won’t need MIDI. What you will need is mic inputs. How many depends on how many people you record at once. If it’s just you in the studio, then the Mbox Mini should be more than sufficient.
On the other hand, if you want to record multiple musicians at once, your best option would be the Mbox Pro.
So there you go…which interface is right for you?