Are you addicted to music?
You may be making music using your computer or laptop, and in these cases, you need an audio interface. There are various grades of interfaces in the world of electronics. When you visit a store to get one, you will definitely be baffled by the variety of choices. Being skeptical with the choice is necessary, so we present you with the ten best iPad audio interfaces 2018 on the market, based on reviews.
- 1 Comparison of the Top-Rated iPad Audio Interfaces
- 2 Focusrite iTrack Professional Dock
- 3 PreSonus AudioBox iTwo iPad Recording System
- 4 Apogee Duet USB Audio Interface
- 5 Roland Duo-Capture EX
- 6 Steinberg UR22MK2 2-Channel
- 7 Shure MVi Digital Audio Interface
- 8 Focusrite iTrack Solo Lightning
- 9 Alesis iO MIX 4-Channel
- 10 Griffin StudioConnect Audio and MIDI Interface
- 11 Alesis iO Dock II for iPad
- 12 iPad Audio Interface Buying Guide
Comparison of the Top-Rated iPad Audio Interfaces
Focusrite iTrack Professional Dock
When you look out for an audio interface that produces easy recording facilities and top-grade audio, you can buy this product. It is compatible with new generations of iPads, including iPad 4 and iPad air, besides other electronic devices. The workstation is sophisticated and based on iPads. It also has USB ports to connect it to various devices. You can record the sound of any instrument, especially guitars with absolute clarity. The device also comes with a warranty and you can enjoy the benefits when you buy it.
- Sleek design. The modern black design provides aesthetics to your studio.
- Multiple functions. It can serve as a charger for your iPad if necessary as well as a dock and recording unit.
- Size. The small dimensions make it a portable audio interface you can take anywhere.
- Quality entry-level recording equipment. This is not professional equipment, but an excellent tool to lay down guide tracks or capturing quality versions of new ideas.
- Sound quality. You’ll hear crystal clear sounds. Many users report it produces the best sound, making it top in its class.
- Diverse instrument options. You can record many different instruments.
- Quality preamp. Sound quality is boosted thanks to an efficient preamp.
- Warranty. You benefit from a two-year defect warranty.
- Features. You’ll love the handy features such as Phantom Power, the dynamic range of over 105dB and recording ability at up to 96kHz sample rate.
- Limited USB functionality. While the USB does supply power to the controller, it doesn’t enable you to use the apps on your devices.
- Limited sound options. You can’t adjust the sound settings and the inputs pan to the Left side. You can’t activate stereo or initiate functionality on the right side.
- Cheap feel. The unit feels fragile and there’s only one point—the lightning connection—that connects your iPad to the Focusrite dock. This isn’t enough grip to protect the parts during rough handling as a movement may cause damage.
- Power setup limits mobility. The dock’s power requirements mean you can’t carry your iPad around while connected.
- Connection challenges. While it’s marketed as a plug and play unit, many users find it difficult to connect MIDI keyboards. Not all of them are compatible.
PreSonus AudioBox iTwo iPad Recording System
If you want an audio interface under $150, this is a recommended product for you. The gadget from Presonus is compatible with iPads and supports MIDI interface. The gadget is supported with updated software, which enables one to record audio with ease. You can make music, recordings and songs with flawless music when you have this top-rated device. It also supports the wireless transfer of music to other devices. There are as many as twenty-seven native effects in the device, supported by four virtual instruments. The review reveals that the device contains demo beats over 6 GB of space, thus providing a comprehensive idea to the beginners.
- Brand options. The brand does have inclusive packages, such as selling the interface along with a mic and headphones; ideal for a first-time studio owner.
- Versatile software. PreSonus provides software with 27 effects, 4 instrument sounds and beats of 6GB in total, that you can sample and use on your projects.
- Compatibility. Most software for recording—even Windows driven—will be compatible.
- Sound features. Enjoy 24-bit resolution and up to 96kHz sampling rate.
- Ease of use. Recording happens through a one-tap process. The files can then easily be transferred (wireless) to production software (Studio One) that are included.
- Extras. You get free tools such as Nimbit store profile and Facebook promotion tools. The brand also provides a Studio Magic plug-in suite.
- Versatile. Any mic or instrument can be connected and you can connect two at once.
- Quality components.The preamps are Class A, ensuring quality sounds.
- Clear warnings. You’ll be warned if the sound clips, by a red LCD light.
- Size and weight. It’s small and light enough at only 1lb to carry anywhere or place in your luggage.
- Complex. Not as easy to use as some other models on this list. A substantial manual is provided, but plug and play systems are more user-friendly.
- Limiting software. Note that the provided software is limited in its capabilities.
- Requires upgrade for full functionality. Many features most customers want—such as mp3 saving—are only available after a paid for the upgrade of software.
Apogee Duet USB Audio Interface
If you need a professional audio interface for iPads, this is the ideal gadget for you. This gadget is a high-priced one, in comparison to other devices. It is priced around $650 and offers a vast range of features. It is a compatible audio interface, supporting all types of devices. It produces good quality records and mixing and is programmed especially for mac. You will find it easy to use, and it features sophisticated qualities like the low level of monitoring for latency, full control of input and output devices and 2 analog inputs. It also features lighting and has a separate USB cable.
- Impressive sound features. 24-bit/192kHz conversion.
- Quality parts. The mic preamps are of international standards, ensuring clear recordings.
- Versatile. The brand now also provides for Windows usage. The input provides for both XLR and ¼ inch connections.
- Size. Where else would you get such a small, portable unit? You can set up your mixer anywhere you go now.
- Comprehensive interface. Despite its small size, the mini audio interface provides color displays so you can easily change levels and control the recording. View multiple functions without having to switch to looking at recording software.
- Practical output. Easily connect to speakers with 2 ¼ inch connections, so you can listen clearly during or after a recording. The headphone connection has its own control, for optimum clarity in your ears.
- Quality sound. Most users report very low noise and good clarity, so can be used for live events.
- Separate purchases required. The lightning and pin cables (30 pins) aren’t included in the initial package.
- Not reliable. The unit tends to cut out without warning or reason, sometimes after slight movements, so it’s not a mobile device when in use. Cutouts also happen when you switch between apps.
- Drivers. The drivers take long and are complicated to update.
Roland Duo-Capture EX
This recording interface has a 3-way power supply mechanism and can run on USB. It can also be operated with BUS power or batteries, so you have a wide range of options of being compatible with the device. It is priced comparatively low and if your budget is under $200, this is the ideal gadget for you. The audio mixer is compatible with various phones and iPads. With a decent clarity of recording sound, it produces good quality music. It works well with the SONAR LE software, customized for music production on Windows.
- Size and shape. It’s a compact design that easily fits into a backpack so you can take your gear anywhere. Not many parts that stick out so they can’t get damaged. The aluminum case protects the fragile inside properly.
- Power options. The BUS powered audio interface makes for mobility. You can plug it into a power outlet or run it off a USB power source or even use an AA battery pair.
- Design. Because the layout resembles the previous Roland DCEX model, those used to that model can easily adjust to working on this one.
- Transforming recording practices. The unit’s functions make it possible to use an ordinary keyboard as a MIDI keyboard, so you need less gear on your desk.
- User-friendly. The setup is quick and simple.
- Versatile. It’s ideal for working on your iPad, but also your normal PC or a Mac.
- Ideal for guitar recording. The Hi-Z input enables you to get better guitar recordings with high impedance.
- Not durable. Its functionality deteriorates even within the first year.
- Lack of accessories. The unit’s power chord isn’t included, meaning you have additional expenses.
- Driver compatibility. Not all programs producers use work with this audio interface, so you can’t play all your music. Even some Apple operating systems cause problems, such as iOS 9.2.
- Lower sample rate. The marketed 48k only applies when the unit is connected to a computer. If working on its own you’ll only get about 44k.
- No mix knob. Some producers love using mixing knobs, but this unit doesn’t have one.
Steinberg UR22MK2 2-Channel
If you seek a good iPad audio interface to produce quality music, you should definitely try out this gadget. It has USB audio interface with 2 ports. The best part is that it is compatible with all recognized audio mixing software and you can edit, master and mix sound from any platform with this device. It has good customer reviews and the cost is under $150. The device is ideal for iPad and has a midi interface. The input and output devices are flexible and it also supports mixing music from mobile devices.
- Exceptional sound capability. 24-bit/192kHz.
- Multiple power options. You can power via a power cable, but also a USB or 5V micro USB.
- Price. An affordable unit, making it ideal if you have a limited budget.
- Provided programs. You get Cubase AI and Cubasis LE with your purchase.
- Multiple connection options. A MIDI input/output is provided and easy iPad connectivity is provided for. Two Analog inputs and two outputs make it easy to customize your recording setup.
- Clear signals. Lights tell you when the levels peak so you can protect your gear.
- Excellent for working with mics. The Class-A D-PRE mic preamps are ideal for mic recording.
- Compatibility. Can work on Windows, Linux, and iOS.
- Functionality. It limits your producing options since it only has an RCA output, a volume is limited and peaking levels are low.
- Not user-friendly setup. Many users complain about wasting time on setup, as some graphics cards and programs can interfere with normal setup & installation.
- Weight. It’s heavier than many units on this list, so it’s not your best option for traveling and portability.
- Sound problems. Many users report sound drops and noise. Despite it being reported the brand has not sorted this out.
Shure MVi Digital Audio Interface
This is a complete digital audio interface with USB, lighting cables and several upgraded features. There are as many as five DSP modes in it. It can adjust the audio features automatically to produce the best grades of sound. It enjoys a good rating and comes from a reputed brand, offering optimum compatibility with external devices. It has an easy control panel on the front deck, enabling the user to select the correct mode, headphone volume, mute and microphone gain. This product is recommended if you want to experience a bunch of good features at an affordable price.
- Design aesthetics. The silver outer shell looks modern and sleek, adding style to a studio.
- Automated features. Certain sound settings happen automatically, such as EQ, compression and limiting. It gives you clear recordings, effortlessly.
- Headphone enables. There’s an allocated headphone output so you can always enjoy quality sounds while recording or playing back.
- Preset modes. Almost all types of recording are provided for with the preset options: Talking, Vocals, Flat, Acoustics, Loud). Once again you get clarity and quality without much effort.
- Protective casing. The metal casing protects the unit well, so it’s more durable than most units. It’s ideal if you plan on moving your equipment around a lot.
- Weight. At only 12.6 oz it’s easy to carry anywhere.
- iPad compatible. Users rave about how easily compatible the unit is with their iPads.
- Intuitive interface. You won’t waste time getting used to the interface because the brand succeeded in creating a user-friendly, intuitive layout.
- Shape. It’s small but still bulky. If you’re looking for a portable unit to place in your luggage, a flatter, square design usually works best.
- Noise. Users report noise on recordings, especially when working with GarageBand.
Focusrite iTrack Solo Lightning
Focusrite offers one of the best devices for making music from laptops and computers. It supports itrack solo lightning and is a cheap iPad interface, priced under $100. The gadget has a sturdy body case, made of aluminum and is ideal for iPhone, Mac and Windows. It can record any sort of music or vocals and supports all types of editing software. You can master the music and send it to other devices. One can use the gadget to produce high-quality music and it is one of the most popular devices in the industry today.
- Sturdy design. With an aluminum outer casing, it’s durable enough to move around and even travels with.
- Software included. The interface purchase includes access to multiple programs such as Ableton Live Lite, Novation products and 2GB of Loopmasters samples. You simply need to download them after receiving your device.
- Warranty. The two-year warranty covers all manufacturing defects.
- Clear indicators. The halos around the knobs tell you when audio starts clipping.
- iPad compatible. Through the lightning connection, the device easily pairs with your iPad.
- Weight. It’s light – and strong – enough to use as your portable recording interface.
- Windows compatibility. It doesn’t work as easily with Windows as with iOS.
- Flimsy lightning connector. The connector tends to break easily, making it difficult to keep it in working order when you travel with it often.
- Functionality. Certain features, such as iTrack can only be powered by USB, requiring you to carry your laptop, a USB adapter or an extension with you at all times.
Alesis iO MIX 4-Channel
If you hunt for a 4-channel audio interface gadget from one of the best brands, this is something you need to buy. It is one of the most wanted gadgets on the market and is compatible with condenser microphones. You can make and record any type of vocals or audio. The recording dock comes to you at the best price. It produces a stereo mix from as many as four channels simultaneously. Priced a little over $150, it is within the average budget. It is wise to choose this product from the lot when you seek the price and quality balance.
- Scope. You can record up to four channels at once, where many other interfaces only allow two. This is thanks to four XLR/ ¼” jack connections.
- Versatile controls. One of the units on this list with the most controls and filters, giving DAW users exceptional control during recording. Each channel has a gain knob.
- Clear microphone recording with phantom power. You can easily switch to phantom power when using condenser mics and it’s available on all four channels.
- Headphone options. There’s an allocated headphone output so you can listen to your work. The assigned volume knob helps you control what you hear for optimal mixing conditions.
- Guitar friendly. The ‘Guitar’ switch allows higher impedance. This makes for clear guitar and bass recordings.
- Design. With its plastic exterior and parts, it feels flimsier than others mentioned in this review.
- Expensive. One of the more expensive units on this list.
- Weight. It’s also heavier than most of these interfaces mentioned in the review. Therefore it’s not an ideal portable unit.
- Limited Apple products are compatible. While the console allows connection with most generation iPads, it can’t connect to iPad Air, an iPhone or the Mini model. It may work with the software, but your device won’t fit into the console.
- Not user-friendly. The interface can be complicated to work with.
- Limited options. It doesn’t provide essential connections such as MIDI, RCA or USB.
Griffin StudioConnect Audio and MIDI Interface
This is a top-rated guitar interface that can be connected to your iPads and other devices. It also has a charging dock of 10 watts for the first three versions of iPads. You can use all the apps on your iPad as a MIDI controller when you buy the gadget. The consumer reports are positive about the performance of the device and it allows the users to control the volume of the headphone jack. It produces stereophonic sound and is ideal for recording purposes.
- Design. The futuristic design makes it complementary to any modern iPad DAW interface studio.
- Compatible with multiple iPads. You can use iPad 1, 2 or 3 on this device.
- Separate headphone controls. Stay in charge of the recording by using the allocated 3.5” headphone output and its separate volume control.
- MIDI optimized. It has a MIDI input and output. With provided iPad apps it becomes a MIDI controller.
- Stereo options. You’ll enjoy stereo output thanks to RCA plugs with left and right channels.
- Charger. The unit is powerful enough to charge your iPad while you use it.
- Versatile. You can use it with large or small setups.
- Price. It’s one of the cheapest units in this class, while still providing quality usage.
- Multiple connections. You get an input and output for your iPad, as well as an input and output for MIDI devices.
- Compatible with a top of the range software. The unit enables working with GarageBand, which is a requirement for most producers working on Apple devices.
- Limited iPad options. As with many other interfaces in this review, you can’t use your iPad Air.
- Cheap feel. The plastic exterior feels low quality, so handle with care.
Alesis iO Dock II for iPad
You may buy this device with a multi-channel interface to get seamless compatibility with speakers, guitars, monitors in the studio and all other devices. It works well with all MIDI apps in your gadgets and produces high-quality sound. You can record, mix or master sound from any external device through the 2-channel interface. The volume settings and controls are perfectly compatible, and you will enjoy all the updated software for mastering and editing sound. It is priced around $160, justified by the sophisticated features and flawless mixing capabilities.
- Phantom power enabled. You can work with condenser mics and get excellent sound quality, thanks to the phantom power on the channels.
- Multiple сonnections. You get two inputs and two outputs. It’s also MIDI enabled with an input and output. You can attach a speaker system to the ¼ “ outputs to share the recording with everyone in the room or to listen while you record.
- Separate headphone connection. Your headphones are plugged into a separate output; toggle with the volume knob to get optimum levels for listening.
- Guitar optimized. Use the high impedance switch and input to capture clear guitar sounds.
- Footswitch. A feature not often seen, the footswitch enables you to use the iOS interface during live performances and create excellent audio.
- User-friendly. It’s easy to use and understand.
- Noisy. Recordings have hums and noises.
- Limited Apple compatibility. It doesn’t accommodate the iPad Air.
iPad Audio Interface Buying Guide
So how do you know which one should go home with you? We’ll help you gain some perspective. Below you’ll find main features that are important, especially if you’re planning on driving your DAW with your iPad.
The main concern with many of the units mentioned in the reviews above is whether they’ll accommodate all Apple products. Unfortunately, many brands only provide support for older models:
- iPad 1
- iPad 2
- iPad 3
- iPad 4
But what about being compatible with the iPad Air or even iPad Mini? You’re faced with some challenges:
- The consoles can’t accommodate their sizes.
- The ports don’t work on them.
- The software is not compatible.
While we hope this problem is addressed in the near future by all brands, for now, you have to make alternative plans. You can opt to use the older Apple devices or use converters. However, they don’t come standard with the interfaces, so you’ll have to source it separately. If you do use a compatible Apple device, you also need to think of these aspects below.
Class Compliant Mode
Will the audio interface easily link with your Apple device? When a device is a class compliant it will function automatically the moment you connect it to your computer or iPad. It doesn’t require you to download drivers, as the interface will use your computer/iPad’s built-in drivers.
Many drivers are generic and as long as the manufacturing brand made your new interface compliant, you’ll have easy use of it. The term you may be familiar with is ‘plug-and-play’.
Examples of ones applicable to this review include:
- USB MIDI Device Class.
- USB Mass Storage Class.
If the device doesn’t have this compliance and you prefer using those types of tools, it will be difficult to customize your equipment setup.
A compliant unit benefits you in many ways:
- Setup is easier.
- You don’t have expenses on downloading software.
- You can start enjoying your device immediately.
- Lowest latency.
With Apple devices, you have a specific connection requirement. As you saw, most of the interfaces are compatible with lightning connectors.
These connectors can be found on many Apple devices made from 2012 onwards. It acts as a charging port but is also how it connects to other devices such as monitors. It can send data across, or simply charge the device.
If your audio interface doesn’t make provision for this connection, you won’t be able to use it with a new iPad.An alternative is the 30-pin dock connector, found on older Apple models. Check what your device requires before you purchase your equipment.
There’s a reason marketing material mentions an interface’s mic preamps in the list of hardware. In some scenarios, they’re the only way you’ll get quality sound from your microphones.
While other instruments are plugged into the consoles directly, mics deliver sound waves picked up in their vicinity. To make this type of audio clear and loud, preamps are essential. This is an important consideration if you want to obtain vocal recordings of a professional quality in your studio.
Features of a preamp you need to consider include:
- How many inputs and outputs there are, to offer you setup & recording options.
- If it’s connected to phantom power which is essential for vocal recording.
- An analog/digital converter in these units means you can directly use the recording on your digital device.
- Low cut filters help reduce certain frequencies—especially the lowest ones—to make the recording clearer, canceling out a noise.
When you pick your audio interface, ensure it’s got the inputs you’re most likely to work with:
- ¼ “ connectors
This relates to connecting the instruments, your headphones and the speakers if applicable.
Have you made a decision yet? This equipment turns anyone with an iPad into a potential music studio owner. With sufficient input options and quality components – and a sharp ear to pick up on distortions – you can mix mind-blowing audio.
If this is your focus, we suggest you take a look at the Alesis iO MIX 4-channel. With the multiple channels and knobs, you have more control over the eventual product. And the stereo output is an amazing bonus.
Ready to produce your first hit?