If you’re going to be regularly recording audio – whether it’s for a podcast, for a band or something else entirely – then you’ll need to create a home studio. And one of the very most important parts of that home studio is your DAW/audio interface combo.
I recently upgraded my home recording studio, DAW and audio interface and it has made all the difference to my audio quality. The tracks I’ve been recording sound crisper and more professional than ever and I’ve never been prouder to show off my creations! I would be lying if I said I hadn’t listened to my own tracks about 100 times each now…
Most people reading this will already know what a DAW and audio interface combo is. But for those of you just starting out… DAW stands for ‘digital audio workstation’ and refers to the software you use to edit your music. Meanwhile, the audio interface is the physical hardware component that serves as a bridge between your computer and your microphone/instruments. Typically these come packaged together, giving you tight control of the audio coming in.
In this post, I’m going to be taking a look at the very best DAW/audio interface combos. Whether you’re setting up your first home studio or you’re looking to upgrade your existing set-up, these won’t see you far wrong!
So let’s get cracking!
Table of Contents
DAW/Audio Interface Combo Reviews
Presonus AudioBox 22VSL
This is the product I use myself for recording audio, so I can tell you from first-hand experience that it’s excellent.
I chose this product because it offers pretty much everything you could want at a great price point. You get 2 dual-purpose front-panel input channels, a mixer, a headphone jack and more knobs than you can shake a stick at. Moreover, the control software (Virtual StudioLiveTM) is one of my favorites thanks to its intuitive interface and a large number of features. Better yet, it also comes with Studio One Artist for the audio workstation which is equally as good.
If you’re looking for something that can offer all the performance you need to make your recordings sound professional but you don’t want to break the bank or confuse yourself too much – this is an ideal choice!
- 24-bit/96kHz 2×2 USB 2.0 interface
- Mixer control
- LED clip indicator for individual channels
- Includes Virtual StudioLiveTM (VSL) control software and Studio One
Presonus AudioBox USB 2×2 Audio Interface – Including Studio One
If you’re looking to save yourself some money, then you can buy this model which comes with Studio One but not VSL. That said, you do also get 6GB of third party resources thrown into the mix, which you can then use for your tracks!
The hardware is meanwhile pretty much the same deal. You get the same 24-bit resolution but a lower 48kHz sampling rate. There are the same two combo mic/instrument inputs, and you will benefit from zero-latency analog monitoring.
There’s not much to say about this other than it’s an excellent choice for anyone who wants to try their hand with a PreSonus DAW but doesn’t want to foot the bill! You’ll still get crisp, professional tracks but you can save on some extras you may not need.
- 24-bit/48kHz 2×2 USB 2.0 interface
- Zero-latency analog monitoring
- 6GB of free resources!
- Compatible with most recording software for Mac and Windows
- Includes Studio One
Steinberg UR824 Audio Interface
If you’re a professional, and you’re looking for something a bit more complex than the Presonus, then the Steinberg UR824 has you covered. This is a significantly more expensive piece of hardware but as a result, you get a lot more ports (this model is 24 in / 24 out) and even higher quality 24-bit, 192kHz support.
What’s also very impressive about the Steinberg UR824 is that it works with any DAW thanks to the latest dspMixFX technology. That makes it a perfect audio interface to ‘graduate’ to because you can use it with the DAW you’re already familiar with.
That said, the Steinberg UR824 is a rather bulky looking black device – so you really will need a home studio with plenty of space to get the most from it!
- Analog 8 in and out D-Pre Class-A mic preamps support up to +48V
- 2 sets of ADAT optical I/O for 16 in and out
- Latency free DSP powered monitoring using REV-X reverb
- Works with any DAW thanks to the latest dspMixFX technology
- Native VST 3 plug-ins of REV-X and Sweet Spot Morphing Channel Strip
- 2 separate headphone buses with different outputs
- JetPLL ultra-low jitter support
PreSonous Advanced Recording Audio Box 44VSL System
This product sites somewhere between the first Presonus and the Steinberg. That is to say that it’s a step up from what I’m using right now but still affordable for relative beginners. This is a next-gen 4 x 4 USB 2.0 audio and MIDI interface that offers 24-bit resolution and up to 96kHz sampling rates.
You also get a lot of software with this one – Virtual StudioLiveTM Fat Channel DSP software that offers an 8 x 2 mixer for near zero-latency reverb. You also get Studio One ArtistTM DAW.
- 4×4 USB 2.0 audio and MIDI interface
- Virtual StudioLiveTM Fat Channel DSP + Studio One ArtistTM
- 2 combo mic/instrument inputs + 2 combo mic/line inputs
- Class A XMAXTM mic preamplifiers
Final Recommendations and Conclusion
With this selection of DAW/audio interface combinations, there should be something to suit every kind of audiophile. For those of you who are just experimenting, the more affordable Presonus is an excellent starting point that will land you a copy of the brilliant Studio One. For the top of the range, you have the Steinberg UR824 that will take you as far as you need to go.
My choice though and my recommendation is the Presonus Audiobox 22VSL. This is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to get the very best quality sound without breaking the bank. And it’s very affordable too!