Looking for the perfect audio interface for your Mac? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Our article about 7 best audio interfaces for Mac is designed to help you find the finest solution for your recording studio. You can find here all the necessary information regarding audio interfaces, interface/Mac compatibility, and all the features you should be looking for.
Why Do You Need an Audio Interface?
An audio interface is a simple but very important device that bridges the gap between analog audio sources (vocals, guitars, instruments) and digital recording devices (PCs, Macs, iPads, Android tablets, iPhones, etc.). Every recording studio needs such a device. The first role of an audio interface is to convert all the analog input signals into digital output signals, allowing you to record and edit all the audio coming from the instruments and microphones connected to it. After it converts the signal, the interface sends that signal to your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) installed on your Mac/PC and then you can edit it, apply different effects, and save the final product.
Aside from the primary purpose, an audio interface also converts digital signal coming from your Mac to analog and allows you to monitor everything you’re recording (through headphones or studio monitors).
Is Every Audio Interface Compatible with Mac?
Technically speaking, any audio interface will work with your Mac, but they won’t all give you the same kind of performance or the same latency. Mac computers are quite capable, especially the latest models, and they deserve some equally good audio interface.
Most of today’s audio interfaces use USB (usually Type-B or micro USB) connection for both – communication with your Mac and power supply. All these interfaces are perfectly compatible with Mac computers but if you want the most reliable performance and the lowest possible latency, you should be looking for an interface with a USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 connection (especially Thunderbolt 3). Thunderbolt 3 connection looks the same as USB-C but it’s twice as fast and supports high-wattage charging. That’s what makes audio interfaces with Thunderbolt 3 connection the best choice for Mac.
Unfortunately, there’s always a downside. In this case, it’s the price. Thunderbolt 3 interfaces are, by default, significantly pricier than USB-C and other USB interfaces.
So, if you’re on a budget, you should probably go for some capable and affordable USB audio interface. And don’t worry – they can also be pretty good and they are perfectly compatible with your Mac.
Our Top Picks
This post contains affiliate links. See the affiliate disclaimer here.
|PreSonus AudioBox USB 96||Check Price on Amazon||4.5||Read Review|
|BEHRINGER UM2||Check Price on Amazon||4.3||Read Review|
|Audient EVO 4||Check Price on Amazon||4.6||Read Review|
|Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2||Check Price on Amazon||4.4||Read Review|
|Tascam US-2×2||Check Price on Amazon||4.4||Read Review|
|Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd GEN||Check Price on Amazon||4.7||Read Review|
|Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Duo||Check Price on Amazon||4.5||Read Review|
What Kind of Interface Should You Get for Your Mac?
Ideally, you will go for some pricey and very capable and versatile audio interface with a Thunderbolt 3 connection. If that’s not an option for you (if you don’t have enough money), look for an interface with a USB-C, USB Type-B, or USB Type-A connection. They will all work with your Mac but Thunderbolt and USB-C interfaces will deliver the most reliable performance and lowest latency.
Aside from connection type, you should pay attention to the available inputs and outputs. You don’t have to buy the largest and most versatile interface on the market, but you need one that would allow you to connect all the microphones and instruments you want.
Depending on the equipment you’re using, you should also pay attention to some additional features like phantom power, MIDI inputs/outputs, optical inputs, etc.
After covering the basic topics, we can move onto the reviews. Below, you can find our selection of 7 best audio interfaces for Mac. The following interfaces are our top suggestions for different price ranges. Hopefully, it will help you find the best interface for your setup and your budget.
BEST AUDIO INTERFACES FOR MAC UNDER $100
Best Audio Interface for Mac Under $100 – PreSonus AudioBox USB 96
Editor’s Rating: (4.8 / 5)
PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 is a simple 2IN/2OUT USB interface, perfect for small home recording studios. It comes with a USB cable, Studio One Artist DAW, and more than 6GB of third-party software tools.
The unit has a nice aluminum chassis with a brushed aluminum front panel. The panel houses two combo mic/INST inputs (XLR/6.35mm). Both inputs are compatible with line-level sources, too. There’s a separate gain dial with a clipping indicator for each input, as well as a 48V button for phantom power. For direct monitoring without latency, you can use the mixer dial. The front panel also houses two volume dials (headphone volume and main volume).
On the back, you have one USB Type-B port, headphone output, R/L stereo line outputs, and two MIDI ports (IN and OUT) for connecting your MIDI controller or keyboard.
The unit is super-easy to use, very reliable and has built-in 24bit/96kHz DA/AD converters. It’s compatible with macOS and Windows.
- Two mic/INST combo inputs with dedicated gain dials and clipping indicators
- Supports Phantom Power (works with condenser mics)
- Allows zero-latency monitoring (Mixer dial)
- Headphone output and stereo line output with dedicated volume controls
- MIDI IN/OUT ports
- Included software tools – Studio One Artist
- Compatible with numerous third-party software tools
- Max audio quality – 24bit/96kHz
- The included software is a bit of a pain to install
Best Audio Interface for Mac Under $50 – BEHRINGER UM2
Editor’s Rating: (4.7 / 5)
BEHRINGER UM2 is one of the cheapest audio interfaces on the market. It’s a 2IN/2OUT interface compatible with Mac and PC. It may work with iPads/iPhones but only with some additional equipment.
The unit comes with a USB cable (used for communication with your Mac and for power supply). You can also download some software tools from Behringer’s website or use any third-party software you like (compatible with Ableton Live, Avid Pro, Steinberg Cubase).
On the front panel, there’s one MIC/LINE combo input and one instrument input. Next to the input, you have two light indicators (signal and clipping). Gain dials for both inputs are located on the top. Headphone output, direct monitoring button, and 48V phantom power indicator are located on the front panel, too.
On the rear panel, there’s one stereo line output, USB Type-B connection/power supply port, and a phantom power switch. On the top, there’s one volume dial that controls the volume for both outputs.
All the controls and inputs are pretty straightforward. The built-in 24bit/48kHz converters deliver decent audio quality for beginners. It’s definitely not a professional-grade interface but it’s still a good choice if you are looking for your first audio interface.
- Two inputs – MIC/LINE LEVEL and INST
- Dedicated gain dials with clipping indicators for each input
- Two outputs – R/L LINE OUTPUT and headphone OUT
- Zero-latency monitoring (Direct Monitoring button)
- Supports phantom power (+48V switch)
- Max quality – 24bit/48kHz
- Very cheap build quality
- Only one volume dial for two outputs
- Outdated ASIO4ALL generic driver
BEST AUDIO INTERFACES FOR MAC UNDER $200
Best Compact Audio Interface for Mac Under $150 – Audient EVO 4
Editor’s Rating: (4.9 / 5)
EVO 4 is a super-compact and quite attractive little device with an impressive set of features packed inside. It comes with a USB-C to USB-A cable and with all the necessary drivers and some proprietary software (EVO Loop-Back Mixer and EVO Control App). The software is compatible with macOS and Windows.
All the inputs/outputs are on the front and rear panels, and all the controls are on the top. The front panel houses one JFET INST input and one headphone output. The rear panel houses two combo inputs (MIC/LINE-LEVEL), one stereo line output, and a USB-C port for power supply and communication with your Mac/PC.
All the controls are on the top. You have only a few buttons there and certain buttons have multiple functions so getting used to them will take some time. The central part is reserved for a large dial with a circular LED Gain/Volume indicator. This dial is used to control the gain of each input as well as the volume of headphones and monitors.
On the left end of the top panel, there’s a 48V button (phantom power for condenser microphones), two buttons labeled as 1 and 2 (for input selection), and a green button used to mute the mic (long press) or engage the ‘smart gain’ feature (automatically adjust the gain for both inputs).
On the right end of the top panel, there’s a mixer button (blends input/output signals) and the volume button (press it and then use that large dial to adjust the volume of headphones/monitors). One thing to be aware of is that EVO 4 doesn’t output audio to both outputs simultaneously. When headphones and monitors are connected at the same time, the monitor output will be disabled/muted.
EVO control app is a very useful tool that has all the same features as your control panel. With this app, you can record 2 connected microphones as well as your Mac audio at the same time (loop-back). This is quite convenient for streaming purposes and podcasting.
EVO 4 uses high-quality hardware like AKM converters and JFET guitar/bass inputs. The max supported audio quality is 24bit/96kHz.
- Reasonably priced
- 2 combo inputs (XLR/6.35mm)
- One guitar/bass JFET input
- Headphone output and stereo line output
- Adjustable gain and volume
- Smart gain feature (automatic gain adjustments)
- Works with condenser microphones (48V Phantom Power)
- Mixer button for input/output signal blending
- Loop-back feature (mix two mic outputs with computer’s audio output)
- Max audio quality – 24bit/96kHz
- Uses USB 2.0 protocol even though it has a USB-C port
- Only one dial is used for all the gain and volume adjustments
Best Audio Interface for Mac Under $150 – Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2
Editor’s Rating: (4.9 / 5)
Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2 is a compact and versatile USB audio interface. Reliable performance, intuitive user interface, and great audio quality make it one of the best under $150. The unit comes with a USB Type-B to USB-A cable. The software bundle includes Ableton Live Lite DAW, MASCHINE Essentials, and some of the Native Instrument’s effects.
The unit looks quite attractive with that black aluminum chassis and a unique interface. On the front panel, you have two combo inputs (XLR/6.35mm). For each input, there’s a simple INST/LINE switch (allows you to select thy type of device) and gain dial. The right end of the front panel houses the phantom power button, headphone output, headphone volume dial, and the INPUT/HOST mixer dial.
The top panel of the Komplete Audio 2 is divided into two sections. On the left end, there’re two gain level meters, power indicator, and a 48V phantom power indicator. On the right end, there’s a large volume dial for controlling the volume of the monitors.
On the back, there’s just a USB Type-B input and a line-level output for monitors.
Komplete Audio 2 supports higher audio quality than all the previously reviewed interfaces. Thanks to its high-quality DA/AD converters, this magnificent unit supports 24bit/192kHz conversion.
- Sleek and elegant design with intuitive user interface
- Two combo inputs (XLR/6.35mm) with dedicated gain dials and INST/LINE selectors
- Two outputs – headphone and line-level stereo output
- Dedicated volume dials for each output
- Compatible with condenser mics (Phantom Power)
- INPUT/HOST mixer dial (zero-latency monitoring)
- Comes with a great software bundle
- Supports 24bit/192kHz conversion
- Great performance for the price
- Software installation is a painful process (Native Access installer app required)
- Some of the included software tools are just 3-month demos
Most Versatile Audio Interface for Mac Under $150 – Tascam US-2×2
Editor’s Rating: (4.9 / 5)
Tascam US-2×2 is another fantastic product. The best way to describe is – versatile, easy to use, and high-performing. The unit is primarily designed for macOS and Windows. It’s perfectly compatible with iOS devices but you will have to buy an optional DC power adapter (not included in the package). The unit comes with license cards for Ableton Live 9 and Cakewalk SONAR X3 LE and you can download any of these two software tools.
The unit looks quite robust. It has an upward-angled chassis for improved desktop usability. The front panel houses two combo inputs (XLR/6.35mm). These inputs are compatible with microphones, line-level sound sources, and Hi-Z instruments (guitars). For each input, there’s a signal type selector (mic/line or INST), phantom power button, and gain dial with a clipping indicator light.
In the right corner of the front panel, there’s a headphone output, two volume dials (headphone volume and monitor volume), and a mixer dial (INPUT/Computer) that allows you to monitor your recordings with zero latency.
On the back, you have MIDI IN/OUT ports (for MIDI controllers, synths), balanced stereo line outputs, a USB Type-B socket, and a DC input for an optional adapter.
Tascam US-2×2 uses high-quality components like ultra-HDDA mic preamps and NE5532 op-amps. The max supported audio quality is 24bit/96kHz.
- Reasonably priced
- Upward-angled design for improved desktop usability
- Compatible with macOS, Windows, and iOS devices
- Two combo inputs (XLR/6.35mm) compatible with mics, line-level sources, and instruments
- Gain dials for each input
- Compatible with condenser mics (Phantom Power)
- MIDI IN/OUT ports (for MIDI controllers, keyboards, drums)
- Headphone output with a dedicated volume control
- Balanced line-level outputs with a dedicated volume dial
- INPUT/COMPUTER mixer dial (direct monitoring)
- Comes with two DAW software tools
- Max audio quality – 24bit/96kHz
- Power adapter for iOS devices is sold separately
Best Audio Interface Under $200 – Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd GEN
Editor’s Rating: (4.9 / 5)
Focusrite is, by far, the most popular brand on the market. That’s partially because of the great marketing but also because of the quality of the product and, naturally, because of the price. Compared to audio interfaces made by other manufacturers, Focusrite audio interfaces offer the same (or better) versatility and audio quality at a lower price. That’s probably the biggest advantage of Focusrite Scarlet interfaces.
On the front panel, there are two combo inputs (XLR/6.35mm). For both of these inputs, there’s a dedicated gain knob with a gain level indicator around it. Also, next to each input, there are two buttons – INST and AIR. You’re supposed to press the INST button when using a guitar/bass. AIR feature makes your recordings brighter (it simulates Focusrite’s ISA mic preamp).
The front panel also houses a headphone output, two volume dials (headphone volume and monitor volume), direct monitoring button, and a 48V phantom power button (additional power for condenser mics).
On the back, there’s just a stereo line-level output for monitors and a USB-C power/communication port. You get to play with all kinds of effects and virtual instruments that come with the unit (software bundle). The max audio quality is 24bit/192kHz.
- Attractive design and intuitive user interface
- Two combo mic inputs (XLR/6.35mm) compatible with line-level sources and Hi-Z instruments
- Dedicated gain knobs for each input
- Compatible with condenser microphones (48V Phantom Power)
- AIR feature (simulates ISA mic preamp performance)
- Two outputs (headphone OUT and line-level output) with dedicated volume controls
- Zero-latency monitoring
- Comes with Ableton Live Lite and a bunch of Focusrite FX software tools
- 24bit/192kHz – max audio quality
- Some of the software tools are just demo versions
- It has a USB-C port but doesn’t use USB 3.0/3.1 protocol
BEST AUDIO INTERFACES FOR MAC UNDER $1,000
Best Thunderbolt 3 Professional Audio Interface for Mac under $1,000 – Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Duo
Editor’s Rating: (5 / 5)
Unlike all the previous audio interfaces, Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Duo is more of a professional interface and it’s a perfect choice for Mac. This is a Thunderbolt 3 interface using high-end DA/AD converters and Unison-enabled preamps. It comes with a power adapter and a huge software bundle that includes the Console software (for macOS and iOS), 14 different guitar/bass amp emulators, EQs, compressors, etc., and Luna recording software.
The input/output scheme is quite intuitive. The whole unit is angled upward for improved usability. The front panel houses only one 6.35mm Hi-Z guitar input and a headphone output. On the rear panel, you have two combo inputs (XLR/6.35mm) for microphones and line-level sources. Furthermore, the rear panel also houses two sets of line outputs, optical input, Thunderbolt 3 connection, and a DC input. That optical input allows you to connect sources with ADAT outputs and get 8 additional inputs. It can also be configured for stereo operation (2 additional inputs).
The controls and indicators are on the top. It may seem confusing at first but the control panel is actually quite intuitive and, once you get used to it, you will love it. You have 8 buttons, one large dial, and all kinds of LED indicators around them. The general principle when it comes to UAD Apollo Twin X Duo controls is that you have to select the mode (preamp/monitor), select the feature you want to control, and then use the available controls (those that are lit up).
Preamp mode is designed for controlling the input parameters (select input, adjust gain, turn on the hi-pass filter, turn on the phantom power, etc.). Monitor mode is designed for controlling the monitors and headphones (adjust volume, use the talk-back feature, dim the monitors, enable mono mode, etc.).
The unit uses a UAD Dual-Core DSP chip that processes all those UAD plugins with minimal latency. All the processing is performed inside the included UAD Console and then routed to any DAW you’re using.
Thunderbolt 3 connection is a perfect choice for Mac computers. It enables the fastest possible processing and the lowest possible latency. This connection is specific because it also allows you to daisy-chain up to 4 Apollo interfaces and significantly expand the number of available inputs. The max recording quality is 24bit/192kHz.
- Compact design with intuitive user interface
- Thunderbolt 3 connection
- 2 combo mic inputs (XLR/6.35mm) compatible with line-level sources
- Hi-Z instrument input
- Optical input
- Headphone output
- Two line-level outputs
- Phantom power
- Simple, intuitive, and responsive controls
- Comes with Console software (for macOS and iOS), 14 UAD plug-ins, and Luna recording software
- UAD dual-core DSP chip for onboard processing
- Daisy-chain up to 4 Apollo interfaces to get more inputs
- Max audio quality – 24bit/192kHz
- It doesn’t come with a Thunderbolt 3 cable even though it’s quite expensive
This concludes our selection of 7 best audio interfaces for Mac. We hope it made some things clearer and maybe even helped you find the perfect interface for your needs. If you need additional info about audio interfaces in general and about audio interfaces for Mac, check out the following Buyer’s Guide. All the important features you should be paying attention to when buying an audio interface are listed in this Guide.
Buyer’s Guide – What to Pay Attention to When Buying an Audio Interface for Mac?
Connection to your Mac
As discussed in the introduction, the ideal audio interface for Mac will have a Thunderbolt 3 connection. However, these interfaces are much more expensive than regular USB interfaces. If you have certain budget limitations, then go for a USB-C or just a USB audio interface. They will all work with your Mac and you won’t experience any compatibility issues.
Inputs and outputs (type and number of available I/O)
Depending on the existing equipment (mics, instruments) you want to connect to the interface and use in your recordings, you should be looking for the right kind and the right number of inputs and outputs. The most common inputs are XLR, 6.35mm Hi-Z inputs, 6.35mm line-level inputs, or some combination of those three. Have in mind that some audio interfaces support only XLR and 6.35mm INST inputs but not line-level inputs. Pricier and more advanced interfaces also have additional inputs – MIDI inputs/outputs and TOSLINK inputs. You don’t have to buy the most versatile and most expensive interface on the market. You just have to find the one that meets all your requirements.
When it comes to outputs, you have two most common types – headphone outputs and R/L 6.35mm line outputs. These outputs are designed for monitoring. Some interfaces, usually pricier ones, have multiple headphone outputs and multiple line outputs.
Controls and indicators
Audio interfaces with dedicated gain controls and gain level meters for each input are much more convenient than those using only one dial for multiple inputs and those using only a single LED clipping indicator.
Phantom power and Hi-Z support
Not all audio interfaces work with condenser microphones. If you have a condenser mic, look for the interface that has a phantom power 48V switch/button. Regular interfaces without phantom power support won’t be able to drive condenser mics.
If you are planning on recording a guitar or bass, look for the interface with Hi-Z inputs (inputs that support high-impedance signals). Hi-Z inputs look the same as line-level inputs (it’s a regular 6.35mm TRS input) so be extra careful when choosing the right interface for your guitar.
Direct monitoring (zero-latency monitoring)
Direct monitoring is a feature that allows you to monitor all your recordings with zero latency. Most musicians as well as podcasters find this feature very important.
Included software tools
Most of today’s interfaces will work with many different software tools and DAWs, but if you don’t really want to pay additionally for the software tools, you should pay attention to the included free tools and recording software.
What’s the Best Audio Interface for Mac?
Depending on your budget, your preferences, and your equipment, different audio interfaces will be considered best. Our selection of 7 best audio interfaces for Mac gathers audio interfaces from various price ranges but also interfaces with different inputs, outputs, and different features. Check out our list and find the perfect audio interface for your recording studio.