There are over 4 billion people online and ever since COVID 19 more people than ever are communicating, working, earning, or trying to establish a business online. Live streaming has become increasingly popular and with platforms like Twitch, you can even earn money. Regardless if you are a gamer, musician, or podcaster, one thing is for sure; you need to stand out. Competition is high and the first essential thing that you need to get right is professional sounding audio.
How do you do that? With a good quality microphone and audio interface. It’s true you can buy USB microphones that plug directly into your computer, but these have less power and inferior sound quality to professional recording studio microphones. These types of microphones use XLR cables which you can’t plug directly into your computer, so you need an audio interface to be the in-between device to help you.
If you’re not sure exactly what an audio interface is, how it works, and the different types, then be sure to read my dedicated and detailed article on the subject titled ‘What is an Audio Interface?’. Remember if you’re going to stream with an audio interface, you will need some audio software to control and manage your audio. This is called a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and you can read about that here. In this article I’m going to focus only on the best audio interfaces for live streaming from low to high price. Regardless of which kind of streamer you are, you will find exactly what you need right there.
PreSonus AudioBox USB96
PreSonus have an excellent reputation for hardware and software. If you buy one of their audio interfaces you also get access to their superb software which is a big bonus. PreSonus’s AudioBox USB 96 is a sleek, minimalist, and solid audio interface. It’s small and rugged, making easy to transport for streamers who like to be on the move. Once COVID is over of course…
On the front you have two mic/line inputs so you can record two sound sources situationally. You also have a MIDI input and output, monitor outputs, and a headphone output on the back of the audio interface. The AudioBox comes with PreSonus’s Studio One which is an incredibly powerful DAW. You also get their Studio Magic Plug-Suite, giving you instant access to a wide selection of plug-ins, virtual instruments, and effects.
This budget friendly, stylish audio interface is superb quality for the price, and the bundle pack makes it versatile for any kind of live streamer.
Audient Evo 4
What I love about the Audient Evo 4 is its minimalistic, sleek design. This stylish little black box can be transported with ease. The dial on the top of the audio interface is surrounded by blue LEDs that light up to show your gain and volume levels. The design of this audio interface is all plastic and it is a little flimsy in places, especially when comparing it to metal cased audio interfaces. It’s not terrible but something to keep in mind.
Audient certainly make the most of its small size as the buttons are very intuitive with multiped functions and shortcuts and available for a more efficient work flow. It features two mic/line inputs, one dedicated guitar input, a headphone output, plus two line outputs for studio monitors. In terms of software you get you get access to the reputable DAW Cubase, plus some additional plug-ins and virtual instruments.
All in all, this is cool little interface and good for the price. The build quality could be a little better but other than that I have no complaints.
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
The Focusrite Scarett Series are my favourite type of budget audio interfaces. I own the 18i8 model and you can watch my YouTube video review right here. These audio interfaces can be seen everywhere these days, due to their sleek, stylish appearance and professional sound quality. The red metal casing is instantly eye catching, and the built-in LEDs on the gain knobs allow you to monitor your audio levels.
This audio interface features two mic/line inputs, a headphone output and two line outputs for your studio monitors. If you do want more inputs and outputs then consider one of their other models like the 4i4, 8i6, 18i8, or 18i20. You also gain access some plug-ins and two DAWs, Ableton Live Lite and Pro Tools First. This is a little misleading though as you can download these free DAWs without buying a Focusrite audio interface. A unique feature on this series is the air button that gives you access to another more expensive preamp sound, boosting the higher frequencies, creating a crisper tone with more presence.
Focusrite are a renowned developer of audio equipment and any audio interface from them won’t let you down.
Solid State Logic 2+
Solid State Logic have been a high-end manufacture of mixing consoles and recording studio hardware since the 1960s. The sound of their mixing consoles is so sought-after that companies like Waves and Universal audio replicate them in a digital form with their plug-ins.
It’s no surprise then that the SSL+2’s preamps are of a much higher quality, and the option to record in 4K gives you superior sound quality. This audio interface is not as portable as the others and its appearance may not be to your taste as it is slightly chunkier, replicating the famous appearance of their sound consoles.
The SSL 2 + features two mic/line inputs, two headphones outputs, line outputs, plus MIDI I/O. This makes it a very versatile unit, plus the controls and LEDs on the front make managing your live stream effortless. Like the others on the list you get access to some software including Avid Pro Tools First, Ableton Live Lite, plus some plug-ins and sounds from Native Instruments.
If you want to spend a little extra for better sound quality then the SSL 2+ may be the perfect interface for your live streams.
Universal Audio Apollo Solo
Now we’re getting to the fancier audio interfaces. Universal Audio create high-end audio related products. Their audio interfaces have an excellent reputation for delivering flawless sound quality and functionality. This is one sophisticated looking piece of hardware, just the appearance of this interface alone screams elegance.
The Apollo Twin features a number of touch controls and buttons, making it incredibly time saving and user-friendly. The buttons have a variety of shortcuts and functions giving you a quicker workflow, plus you have the large volume control knob in the centre.
The Apollo Twin features two mic/line inputs, some monitor outputs, and a headphone output. The front features some colourful LEDs to conveniently monitor gain and volume levels. Like the others on the list you get access to some audio software. LUNA is Universal Audio’s DAW, and some award winning UAD plug-ins.
This is definitely a high-end quality audio interface with sophisticated preamps that probably won’t be required for most live streamers, but it’s nice to have more expensive options on the list to compare to. If you only need one input, go for the Universal Audio Apollo Solo.
Choosing an audio interface for live streaming isn’t easy, but hopefully this list covering a range budgets has made the choose the right one for you. Audio quality for any form of live streaming is critical but don’t forget to work on your content too. Don’t get too caught up on the gear, just choose what you need for your budget and go from there. Great content is key to any live stream’s success, everything else will follow from there.
Need more options to choose from? Be sure to check out my article ‘The Best Audio Interfaces in 2021’. New to recording music and want to know what else need check out my equipment recommendations here.
What do you want to live stream? Let me know in the comments.