8 Best iPad Audio Interfaces (2021)

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If you are looking for an audio interface that can be used on the go with your iPad, you’ve come to the right place. Our article about the 8 best iPad audio interfaces is designed to help you find the perfect audio interface for your needs. We will cover all the important topics related to audio interfaces and iPads, especially those related to compatibility and to the features that a good interface should have. After a short introduction, there’ll be a nice selection of our favorite audio interfaces for iPad.

The Purpose of an Audio Interface?

An audio interface is one of the key components in a recording studio. Whether you’re building a professional, semi-professional, or compact home recording studio, an audio interface a crucial device. It’s a bridge between your instruments and/or vocals and your PC, Mac, or iPad/iPhone.

Every instrument or microphone that you want to use and record has to be connected to the audio interface. This device is responsible for the conversion of all the analog signals coming from your instruments/mics to digital. After it converts the signal to digital, the interface then sends the digital audio to your recording device so you can modify it, apply effects, and record it in your DAW.

Along with the previously explained primary purpose, audio interface also enables monitoring of your recordings – you can connect your studio monitors or headphones to it and monitor everything with zero latency. 

What’s so Different About Audio Interfaces for iPad?

Well, it’s not that much about audio interfaces as it is about iPads. Unlike PCs and iMacs, iPads are designed for mobile use – they are battery-operated and are not constantly plugged-in. This means that an audio interface connected to your iPad gets all the necessary power from that iPad. So, the biggest difference between an iPad audio interface and other interfaces is in the power consumption. They are not as demanding when it comes to power requirements as other interfaces. Also, iPad audio interfaces come with iOS-compatible software tools. In some cases, they are even MFi-certified (Made for iPhone/iPad).

Our Top Picks

This post contains affiliate links. See the affiliate disclaimer here.

ProductPriceOverall RatingReview
Shure MViCheck Price on Amazon4.5Read Review
IK Multimedia iRig StreamCheck Price on Amazon4.2Read Review
Zoom U-22Check Price on Amazon4.5Read Review
IK Multimedia iRig HD 2Check Price on Amazon4.5Read Review
PreSonus AudioBox iOneCheck Price on Amazon4.4Read Review
Focusrite Scarlett SoloCheck Price on Amazon4.7Read Review
IK Multimedia iRig Pro DuoCheck Price on Amazon4.2Read Review
Apogee Jam PlusCheck Price on Amazon4.4Read Review

How to Figure Out if an Audio Interface is Compatible with iPads?

Well, ideally, you will buy an MFi-certified iPad audio interface. These interfaces are most definitely compatible with iPads. The problem is – only a few manufacturers cared enough to go through the certification process.

Luckily, many non-MFi audio interfaces are also compatible with the iPad. If you’re not sure, you should check out if an interface comes with a software bundle compatible with iOS. 

Even if the interface doesn’t come with iOS-compatible software, you may be able to use it with some third-party software. You just need to check if your iPad can supply enough power to it.

Technically speaking, the majority of audio interfaces will work with an iPad when using a powered USB hub and Apple Lightning-to-USB Camera Adapter (you would have to connect the interface to the hub and then connect the hub to your iPad using the adapter). However, this setup kind of ruins the whole idea of using the audio interface on the go. But it’s still a workaround that you should be aware of.

After covering the basics, let’s move onto our selection of 8 best iPad audio interfaces. The selection is divided into three sections/price categories – best under $100, best under $200, and best under $500. Just pick the section that meets your budget limit and check out our top suggestions.


BEST iPad AUDIO INTERFACES UNDER $100

Best MFi iPad Audio Interface Under $100 – Shure MVi Digital Audio Interface

Shure MVi Digital Audio Interface

Editor’s Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

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Impressions

Shure MVi is a simple and compact audio interface. It comes with two cables – micro USB to USB and micro USB to Lightning cable. It’s made for iPad/iPhone (MFi device) but it’s also compatible with Windows, Android, and macOS. 

All the inputs/outputs are on the back. You have one combo XLR/6.35mm input (you can connect a microphone or an instrument), one headphone output for monitoring, and one micro USB port for power and communication with an iPad.

The unit has a simple control scheme. There’s a set of touch-sensitive controls on the front panel allowing you to adjust the gain, control the headphone volume, select one of 5 EQ presets (flat, speech, sing, instrument, and loud).

For all the additional settings (limiter settings, phantom power, compression), you will have to use the ShurePlus MOTIV app (iOS/Android). The app is stable and super-easy to use. 

Shure MVi is perfect for private home recordings and podcasting. The max audio quality is 24bit/48kHz.

Advantages

  • Made for iPhone/iPad (MFi-certified)
  • Compatible with macOS, Windows, and Android
  • One XLR/6.35mm input (compatible with microphones and instruments)
  • Headphone output for monitoring
  • Intuitive and responsive controls
  • Automatic compression/EQ/limiter adjustments for optimal performance
  • 5 DSP modes
  • ShurePlus MOTIV app
  • Max recording quality – 24bit/48kHz

Disadvantages

  • The Lightning cable is 3ft long – depending on your setup, this may be too short
  • Only one input

The Most Compact MFi iPad Audio Interface Under $100 – IK Multimedia iRig Stream

Editor’s Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

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Impressions

iRig Stream is another MFi audio interface. It comes with three cables – USB Type-C, USB Type-A, and a Lightning cable. The device is made for iPhone/iPad but it’s also compatible with macOS, Windows, and Android devices. 

The unit is one of the most compact interfaces on the market and it’s perfect for on-the-go use. It has simple control and input schemes. On the top, you have the gain level dial with a super-simple gain indicator (LOW/OK/HIGH). On the top, there’s a mini-DIN connector (for connecting your iPad) and, on the bottom, you have one stereo R/L line input. On the right side, you have one combo headphone output/mic input jack and separate headphone volume and mic gain controls. On the left side, there’s a DC input for connecting an optional power supply unit (iRig PSU 3A), mono switch, and loopback switch.

The mono mode will mix left and right channels into one channel. This could come in handy when using apps that only support mono audio. The loopback mode allows you to mix the incoming audio coming from the microphone and external audio devices with your phone’s audio. With this feature on, the unit will mix three signals – mic input, audio input from your device, and audio input from the external audio source (DJ deck, mixer). 

iRig Stream comes with the iRig Recorder 3 LE audio/video recording app (iOS/Android) but it’s compatible with just any recording app so there are no limitations when it comes to compatible software. The max recording quality is 24bit/48kHz.

Advantages

  • Priced under $100
  • Compact design with intuitive controls
  • MFi device (made for iPhone/iPad)
  • Comes with three cables (USB-A, USB-C, Lightning)
  • One stereo RCA input for external audio devices
  • Headphone/mic combo jack (allows monitoring and recording)
  • Simple gain control with LED gain indicators
  • Record in mono or stereo (Mono switch)
  • Loopback capabilities
  • It can process three input signals simultaneously
  • Powered from your device or from an optional power supply (iRig PSU 3A)
  • Comes with iRig Recorder 3 LE app
  • Compatible with numerous recording apps
  • Max recording quality – 24bit/48kHz

Disadvantages

  • Doesn’t have XLR inputs
  • Some users have experienced delays in loopback mode

Most Versatile iPad Audio Interface Under $100 – Zoom U-22

Zoom U-22

Editor’s Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

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Impressions

U-22 is a simple and compact device. It’s primarily designed for PC and Mac, but it can also work with iPads. The unit comes with a USB Type-B cable. In case you want to connect your iPad, you will have to buy the iPad connecting Kit and two AA batteries (when connected to an iPad, it needs batteries). If you want, you can also buy an optional power adapter and use the adapter instead of batteries. When battery-operated, the unit will deliver 5 hours of operation. U-22 also comes with a download code for Ableton Live 9 recording/mixing software.

On the front side, there’s one XLR/6.35mm combo input with Hi-Z support, line input for additional audio sources, and one headphone output. On the back, you have two USB ports (USB Type-B for connecting PC/Mac and a micro USB port for that optional power adapter). Next to these two ports, there’s one R/L RCA output for connecting powered studio monitors. On the right side, you have three plastic switches – a 48V phantom power switch (engage it when using a condenser mic), direct monitoring switch, and a power source selector (USB or Battery). When using an iPad, that power selector should be set to Battery.

On the top, you have two wheels – a larger volume wheel (controls the volume of the output) and a smaller gain wheel with a clipping indicator. 

The max recording quality is 24bit/96kHz. One thing to be aware of is that you can’t use both inputs simultaneously – when two devices are connected to two available inputs, XLR/6.35mm input will be disabled.

Advantages

  • Designed for PC/Mac but works with an iPad, too
  • Battery-operated when connected to an iPad (two AA batteries required)
  • Comes with Ableton Live recording/mixing software
  • Two inputs – XLR/6.35mm combo input and line input
  • Two outputs – headphone output and RCA line output
  • Hi-Z support
  • Phantom power (48V)
  • Direct monitoring with zero latency
  • Simple and intuitive controls
  • Max recording quality – 24bit/96kHz

Disadvantages

  • Only one input can be used at a time (when line-in is active, XLR/6.35mm input is disabled)
  • Additional equipment required when using the interface with an iPad

Best Guitar Audio Interface for iPad Under $100 – IK Multimedia iRig HD 2

IK Multimedia iRig HD 2

Editor’s Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)

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Impressions

iRig HD 2 is one of the most compact guitar amps for on-the-go use. It comes with all the necessary equipment and doesn’t require any adapters for the iPad. You will get two cables (USB cable and Lightning cable), a Velcro strip, and a mounting clip for the mic stand. The device is not MFi (it’s not certified), but it works with iPhones and iPads. You will also get the AmpliTube app for iOS/macOS with all kinds of effects (amps, pedals, mics, etc.),

The unit looks like a slightly larger thumb drive. It has a simple control and input scheme. On the top, you have the iRig logo and a simple clipping indicator. The indicator is basically just one LED light that changes the color depending on the signal gain (red–high, orange–good, green–low).

The bottom panel houses one 6.35mm INST Hi-Z input and one 6.35mm Hi-Z amplifier output (for connecting amp or mixer). The top panel houses a micro USB port (for connecting your iPad) and a headphone output. 

The gain dial is located on the left side and FX/Thru switch is on the right panel. This switch allows you to choose whether you want to send a processed (FX) or unprocessed (Thru) signal to your amp.

The max recording quality is 24bit/96kHz.

Advantages

  • Reasonably priced
  • Super-compact – perfect for mobile use
  • Hi-Z guitar input
  • Adjustable gain
  • Two outputs – 3.5mm headphone output and 6.35mm amplifier output
  • FX/THRU switch – send a processed or unprocessed signal to your amp
  • Max recording quality – 24bit/96kHz

Disadvantages

  • Doesn’t deliver reliable performance with Windows devices

BEST iPad AUDIO INTERFACES UNDER $200

Best USB/iPad Audio Interface Under $120 – PreSonus AudioBox iOne 2×2

PreSonus AudioBox iOne 2x2

Editor’s Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

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Impressions

Unlike the previous devices, PreSonus AudioBox iOne has a more ordinary design and it’s a bit bigger (it is not exactly pocketable). This audio interface comes with two separate USB connections – one USB Type-B for your PC/Mac and one USB Type-A MFi port for your iPad. 

The front panel houses one XLR mic input and one ¼-in instrument input with separate gain controls and clipping indicators for each input. On the right end of the front panel, there’s one ¼-in headphone output and two volume knobs (headphone volume and main volume). The unit also supports direct monitoring and phantom power (48V). Two backlit buttons for these two features are located right next to the main volume dial. 

On the back, there are two USB inputs (USB Type-B for PC/Mac, USB-A MFi input for iPad/iPhone) and R/L stereo line outputs. 

The unit comes with Studio One 3 DAW software for Windows and Mac and Studio Magic Plug-in Suite with all kinds of effects and virtual instruments. For iPad use, you can download the recording software called Capture Duo. The free version allows only stereo recording. Multitrack recording is supported but it will cost you $10 to unlock this feature. The Capture app allows you to transfer all your recordings wirelessly to Studio One software for further editing and mixing. AudioBox iOne is also compatible with many third-party recording software tools. The max recording quality is 24bit/96kHz.

Advantages

  • Dedicated MFi port for connecting iPads
  • Two inputs – XLR mic input and a ¼-in instrument input with Hi-Z support
  • Dedicated gain controls for each input
  • Phantom power for condenser mics
  • Direct monitoring with zero latency
  • Two outputs – headphone OUT and R/L line outputs
  • Comes with Studio One 3 DAW and Studio Magic Plug-in Suite for PC/Mac
  • Comes with the Capture recording app for iPad
  • Max recording quality – 24bit/96kHz

Disadvantages

  • Lacks line input and MIDI in/out ports
  • Multitrack recording through the Capture app is not free

Best Bang for The Buck – Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen

Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen

Editor’s Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

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Impressions

Focusrite Scarlet is one of the most popular and highest-rated lines of audio interfaces on the market. All the Scarlet interfaces offer great quality and versatility for the price, and that’s what makes them incredibly popular. Today, we are reviewing Scarlet Solo 3rd Gen. It’s the most compact and cheapest of all the interfaces from the Scarlet line.

This unit is not exactly made for iPads and it’s definitely not the most convenient choice for iPad use, but it will work with some additional equipment. You would have to buy a powered hub and a USB Camera Connection Kit (for iPads with Lightning port) or a USB-C to USB-A adapter (for iPad Pro).

The front panel houses one XLR mic input and an instrument/line-level input. There’s a gain dial with a circular gain/clipping indicator for each input. Next to the mic input, you have the phantom power button (for condenser mics) and the AIR button (for simulation of the ISA mic preamps). The instrument input is compatible with line-level and with Hi-Z signals – you just have to press the INST button when using Hi-Z devices.

On the right side of the front panel, there’s a headphone output, a large volume dial, and a direct monitoring button (enables zero-latency monitoring).

On the back, you have R/L line-level outputs and a USB-C port for connecting PCs/Macs/iPads.

The unit comes with Ableton Live Lite and with First Focusrite Creative Pack. You will also get a large plug-in suite and a temporary Splice subscription. All these software tools are designed for PC/Mac. For recording to iPad, you will have to use some third-party software tool. The max recording quality is 24-bit/192kHz.

Advantages

  • Small footprint
  • Intuitive controls
  • Two inputs – XLR mic input (with phantom power support) and INST input
  • INST input is compatible with line-level and Hi-Z signals
  • Dedicated gain knobs for both inputs with intuitive gain/clipping indicators
  • AIR feature for mic input (ISA mic preamp simulation)
  • Two outputs – headphone output and R/L line output
  • Direct monitoring with zero latency
  • Included software – Ableton Live Lite, First Focusrite Creative Pack, plug-in suite, temporary Slice Subscription
  • Max recording quality – 24bit/192kHz

Disadvantages

  • Not officially tested with iPad
  • Requires additional equipment in order to work with an iPad
  • The USB-C connection uses USB 2.0 protocol (not USB 3.0 or USB 3.1)

The Most Versatile Portable iPad Audio Interface Under $200 – IK Multimedia iRig Pro Duo

IK Multimedia iRig Pro Duo

Editor’s Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)

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Impressions

iRig Pro Duo is incredibly versatile, especially for its size. It comes with three proprietary DIN cables for different devices (Lightning cable for iPads, USB-C cable, and a USB-A cable). The packaging also includes two AA batteries (required for mobile use with iPads). There’s an option to use a power adapter to supply power to the unit but the adapter is not included (sold separately). The unit is compatible with all kinds of devices (iOS, Android, Windows, macOS). When battery-operated (using NiMH rechargeable batteries) will deliver 3.5-10h of use depending on the load. When using alkaline batteries, you will get much less (30min-3h).

This compact boxy device has quite a few inputs, outputs, and controls but still doesn’t look too complicated. There’re two combo XLR/6.35mm inputs on the bottom. Both inputs are compatible with Hi-Z instruments, mics, and line-level sources. On the top, you have 2.5mm MIDI IN/OUT ports, DIN connector, and a DC power input for an optional power adapter.

The left panel houses R/L line outputs with a dedicated volume dial and a phantom power switch (for condenser mics). On the right panel, there’s a 3.5mm headphone output with a dedicated volume dial and a direct monitor switch (zero-latency monitoring). Finally, the top panel houses two gain dials with two LED gain/clipping meters. 

The unit comes with a bunch of software tools for different platforms. For iPads, you can use the AmpliTube app, VocaLive, iRig Recorder, MicRoom, and SampleTank. The max recording quality is 24bit/48kHz.

Advantages

  • Super-compact
  • Comes with all the necessary cables
  • Compatible with all kinds of devices – iOS, macOS, Android, Windows
  • Comes with a bunch of software and recording tools for iPad/Mac/PC
  • Two XLR/6.35mm combo inputs (for instruments, mics, and line-level sources)
  • 2.5mm MIDI input/output
  • Adjustable gain with gain/clipping indicators
  • Phantom power
  • Two outputs – R/L line outputs and a headphone output (with dedicated volume controls)
  • Runs on batteries (either rechargeable NiMH or AA alkaline)
  • Max recording quality – 24bit/48kHz

Disadvantages

  • The power adapter is sold separately 

BEST iPad AUDIO INTERFACES UNDER $300

Best Portable Guitar Audio Interface for iPad Under $250 – Apogee Jam Plus

Apogee Jam Plus

Editor’s Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)

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Impressions

Apogee Jam Plus is, just Like the iRig HD 2, a very compact guitar audio interface for iPad. It’s one of the simplest and easiest-to-use audio interfaces on the market. It is a perfect device for mobile use. The packaging includes three cables (USB-A, USB-C, Lightning) and an adapter for the mic stand. 

The unit comes with the BIAS FX JAM software (pedals, amps, presets). No additional equipment is required so you can start recording right after you install the software. You can also use any third-party recording software for iOS (Logic, GarageBand, etc.). The max recording quality is 24bit/96kHz.

The input/output scheme is pretty straightforward. There’s a 6.35mm guitar input on the bottom, and a headphone output and micro USB port on the top.

The controls also seem simple but are a bit more complicated. On the top, there’s one dial, one button, and three LED indicators. The dial is used for gain adjustments but also doubles as a button that activates one of two modes – Clean (for clean and noise-free tone) and Overdrive (amp and pedal simulation). That button allows you to engage the output blend mode (allows you to monitor with zero latency and blend input/output signals).

Advantages

  • Super-compact
  • Compatible with iPad, Mac, Android, PC
  • Comes with all the necessary cables
  • Doesn’t require batteries or an external power supply 
  • Straightforward input/output scheme
  • One Hi-Z guitar input
  • One headphone output
  • Adjustable gain
  • Clean and Overdrive modes
  • Blend mode for zero-latency monitoring
  • Comes with BIAS FX JAM software
  • Compatible with all kinds of third-party recording apps
  • Max recording quality – 24bit/96kHz

Disadvantages

  • Not compatible with line-level audio sources
  • It takes some time to get used to controls and LED indicators

This concludes our selection of 8 best iPad audio interfaces. We hope it helped you understand the importance of audio interfaces and maybe even find the model you like. In case you need more info or want some tips on what to look for when buying an audio interface for iPad, check out our Buyer’s Guide. 


Buyer’s Guide – Things to Pay Attention to When Looking for an iPad Audio Interface

Compatibility

As discussed in the introduction, not all audio interfaces are designed for use with an iPad/iPhone. Most audio interfaces can be used with an iPad but they require some additional equipment (Apple camera cable adapters and powered USB hubs). Only a few devices are tested with an iPad and don’t require additional equipment. Even fewer are actually MFi-certified. 

So, the best option is some MFi-certified iPad audio interface. The second-best option is an interface that’s been tested with iPad and comes with iOS-compatible software. If those audio interfaces aren’t good enough for you (whether because they don’t have enough inputs or the right number of inputs), you can try using almost any audio interface but don’t forget to buy a powered USB hub and all the necessary cable adapters.  

Inputs/Outputs

The simplest iPad audio interfaces have only one input (whether XLR, 6.35mm/XLR combo, or only 6.35mm), one gain knob, and one headphone output. More advanced (and more expensive) audio interfaces have multiple XLR, 6.35mm, and combo inputs. They also may have MIDI inputs/outputs, optical inputs, multiple line outputs and headphone outputs, etc. 

Price

The price of an interface is closely related to the number of available inputs/outputs but also to the quality of internal components (primarily the quality of the DAC/ADC chip). The cheapest interfaces are priced around $50. You will have to spend a bit more if you want a perfectly reliable performance. The good news is that most iPad audio interfaces are priced under $300 so you won’t have to spend a fortune on a great one.

Connection to the iPad

Ideally, the interface will have the same kind of connection as your iPad but, since that’s usually not the case, you will have to think about this and buy the right kind of adapter. Without the adapter, you won’t be able to use the interface.

Additional features

Depending on your needs and preferences, you should be looking for an interface with gain/clipping meters for each channel or an interface that features phantom power, or direct monitoring support. Most (but not all) audio interfaces have all these features.

What’s the Best iPad Audio Interface?

There can’t be only one right answer to this question because the number of great options for all kinds of needs is huge. All these audio interfaces have different controls, features, different input/output schemes, and different price tags. You have to think about so many things before you narrow your list down to only a few options. The best advice we could give you is to scroll up and check out our selection of 8 best iPad audio interfaces. 

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