Using an audio interface or a portable digital recorder is a must in audio production. The number of inputs in the device you choose depends on what you will use it for most of the time.
In the table below I show the number of inputs needed according to each type of audio product:
|Type of Audio Project||Minimum Number of Inputs|
|Podcast, Voice-Over, Audiobook Narration, radio station, TV station||One or two people: 2 inputs|
Several artists: 4 – 8 inputs
|YouTube Channel||1 – 2 inputs|
|Vlogging||1 – 2 inputs|
|Freelance Game Acting|
Studio Game Acting with multiple actors
|1 – 2 inputs|
4 – 8 inputs
|Personal Music Studio|
Commercial Music Studio
|2 – 4 inputs|
8 – 16 inputs
|Large orchestra||Several 8 or 16 input units in chain|
Why I recommend it: This audio interface is really easy to connect and start working with. The sound quality is amazing, and it’s offered at a very competitive price, in comparison to the great Focusrite Scarlett 18i20. It offers 4 XLR/TRS inputs, plus other 4 TRS inputs, 1 Midi in and out, and 2 headphone outputs with their own volume knob.
Compared to the competition: Not only this M-Audio AIR but some other interfaces that feature very similar characteristics do present some incompatibility issues with AMD processors. Zoom devices, on the other hand, are pretty compatible with any kind of system. Some of them work as portable mixing desks providing all the comfort of using faders, knobs and pads.
Why I recommend it: Focusrite provides amazing sound recordings thanks to their famed preamplifiers. This is a very practical interface for all purposes. The AIR option on each XLR input provides a brighter and more open sound when recording, something that you would have to achieve by using extra plugins in your DAW in the mixing stage.
It has 2 XLR inputs and 4 balanced TRS inputs, plus 2 Midi ports (1 in, 1 out). In case you need a couple more XLR inputs, you should better pick the Focusrite Scarlett 18i8. In both models, make sure your computer has a USB C 2.0 port.
Compared to the competition: Other competitors can also offer very good quality interfaces for a lower price, but the background and top reviews of the Focusrite preamps make their interfaces be chosen without a second thought. It’s a matter of personal choice and most of the time that decision relies on having a previous experience with Focusrite products.
Why I recommend it: This has been a nice surprise in the audio market. Excellent quality at a very low price. It has 2 XLR inputs with built-in state-of-the-art Midas pre-amplifiers and 2 TRS inputs. You can make a very good job using a good quality condenser mic.
Compared to the competition: Anyone might think that its low price reflects lower expectations when producing any kind of audio product with this model. But the tests have proved that the quality of the Midas preamps has almost nothing to envy from Universal Audio and Focusrite interfaces. It’s a good option for a basic budget.
Digital Portable Recorders
Why I recommend it: Perfect for podcasters. It records directly to a micro SD card and also to your favorite DAW. It has 4 XLR inputs for dynamic or condenser microphones, 4 headphone outputs with their own independent volume control, 2 channels for connecting mobile devices (1 mini TRS, 1 Bluetooth), and you can set built-in effects on each of them (compressor, de-esser, ducking, high-pass filter, noise gate, plus the extraordinary Aphex aural exciter and Big Bottom effects).
Compared to the competition: With this device, you can record any type of voice-over product with excellent quality in a very comfortable and simplified process. The excellent built-in effects can save you a good amount of money in extra plugins to edit the recording in your DAW. Check all the details in this video.
Make sure you upload to the sound pads all the necessary sound effects, intro, and outro music, even pre-recorded interviews or any other kind of audio file you want in your final product. Your voice and your guests’ will sound professional and gorgeous!
N.B.: It needs power (12-15V) but the AC adaptor is included. You can also power it through the USB connector with an external power bank (not included).
Why I recommend it: This is one of my favorite recording tools. It’s an audio interface and portable digital recorder at the same time. Very reliable and easy to use. Very popular for film, TV, and voice-over audio products, as well as live music recordings (it stands up to 140 dB, just amazing!). The built-in mics are really good, and you can use them in stereo mode, independent mics, or combine their sound in a mono track.
Compared to the competition: I like Zoom products very much. Its sister recorder is the H5 which allows you to use other types of Zoom microphones (including their shotgun SSH-6), but honestly, if I need to use a shotgun mic, I prefer to connect a Sennheiser MKH 416 or a Rode NTG5. You can also connect a high-quality lavalier mic (mini TRS) directly to its own input.
If I were to buy this recorder for the first time, I would also get the accessories pack (windshield, power AC adaptor, USB cable, stereo mic splitter cable). It’s completely worth it and available at a very affordable price.
Why I recommend it: This is a very reliable 1 input recorder. You can connect the included lavalier microphone (excellent quality), or any of the other lavalier brands you like or may already have. It works with a single AAA battery.
Compared to the competition: In addition to having a strong belt clip, this portable recorder can record just one input at a time. The Zoom F1 offers 2 inputs and also an excellent lavalier mic, it works as an audio interface, but the short life of the belt clip is what makes some people get annoyed.