Best Audio Interface For Ableton [2022 Buying Guide]

Alex | Last Updated On April 25th, 2022 | This post may contain affiliate links.

When it comes to music creation and recording, Ableton has claimed itself as a household DAW. Many beginners turn to Ableton instead of Fruity Loops, Logic, or Pro Tools as they start their production journey.

Any great DAW needs an adequate audio interface for the best sound and quality. The best audio interface for Ableton is the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Solo. This Thunderbolt-equipped audio interface is widely praised for its exceptional audio quality. It features an outstanding pre-amp and has a wide variety of I/O options and features.

However, the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Solo may be out of your budget. This is why we’ll go over the best audio interfaces for Ableton at a wide range of price points.

If you’re a producer interested in enhancing your bedroom setup, you’ll need a sufficient audio interface. It’s also important to note that Ableton doesn’t require any special audio interfaces. Anything that works on FL Studio, Logic, Reaper, and other DAWs will work on Ableton as well.

So if you want to change DAWs in the future, you can always bring your audio interface with you.

By the way, for audio interface for pro tools, you may check out our guide here.

So now, let’s jump into what audio interfaces are and why you need one for your music production setup.

Table of Contents
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Comparison of the Best Audio Interface For Ableton

photo of the Universal Audio<br> Apollo Twin MKII SoloUniversal Audio
Apollo Twin MKII Solo
Professional Level Thunderbolt AudioSee On Amazon
photo of the Focusrite<br> Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen)Focusrite
Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen)
Budget-Friendly USB AudioSee On Amazon
photo of the RME<br> Babyface Pro FSRME
Babyface Pro FS
Professional Level USB AudioSee On Amazon
photo of the Audient<br> iD44Audient
iD44
Premium USB AudioSee On Amazon

Reviews of the Best Audio Interface For Ableton

The Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Solo is a Thunderbolt interface that offers premium performance. If you have a home studio, you’ll be more than satisfied with the Apollo Twin MKII Solo.

See On Amazon

High Level Summary

The Apollo Twin MKII is a desktop-format 2-in/6-out audio interface with 24-bit/192 kHz capabilities. It’s powered through a wall plug and has a top panel that centers around a satisfyingly oversized knob that controls the monitors or preamp input levels.

There are two buttons for the monitors and preamp as well as six additional option buttons that change the interface’s function depending on whether the unit is in monitor or preamp mode.

Review

There aren’t many manufacturers that get almost everything right every time. Universal Audio is part of this select group.

This isn’t an audio interface you can just plug in and immediately start using to its fullest potential. After connecting the device and powering it on, you’ll need to download and install the UAD software.

Without the software, you won’t be able to register and authorize the processes for the hardware and software.

However, once you spend a few hours using the Apollo, you’ll learn exactly how to use it fairly quickly.

Overall, this is the most affordable audio interface entry into the professional audio quality marketplace.

What We Like
Incredible Audio Quality -

You won’t find a Universal Audio interface that doesn’t offer outstanding audio and recording quality. The Unison preamps always over-deliver and you’ll have more than enough flexibility with its I/O configuration.

Excellent UAD-2 Plugins -

Universal Audio plugins are some of the best on the entire market. I recommend playing around with a few of the plugins you find interesting and seeing what works for you.

Real-time Tracking And Monitoring -

The Apollo Twin MKII Solo offers premium processing power and low latencies which makes it comfortable to record and track your music.

Know Before Buying
Thunderbolt Only -

This audio interface is Thunderbolt compatible only. This means the connectivity port on the back of the interface requires a Thunderbolt cable.

Thunderbolt Cable Not Included -

An inconvenience about the Apollo Twin MKII is that it doesn’t come with a Thunderbolt cable.

See On Amazon

Focusrite audio interfaces absolutely dominate the entry-level USB audio interface market. This is because they are inexpensive, easy to use, and offer excellent performance right out of the box.

See On Amazon

High Level Summary

The Scarlett 2i2 is notable because of its versatility and usability. Unlike the Apollo Twin, you don’t need an external power source since it draws power from the USB. Just plug this audio interface into your computer and you can begin recording immediately.

This audio interface features two line/XLR inputs. You can also plug your mics and line-level instrument at the same time. The 3rd generation Scarlett 2i2 is equipped with an ‘Air’ mode that gives your vocals a boost in sound quality.

Review

If you want to set up your first home studio and are on a tight budget, the Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) is an excellent choice. It’s lightweight, easy to travel with, and offers great processing power.

This audio interface provides a great bit and sample rate, producing CD quality or hi-fi resolutions. Furthermore, the 3rd generation Scarlett 2i2 improves on the generation 2 model with upgraded mic preamps, high-performance AD/DA converters, optimized preamp gain structure, and more.

Coming in at less than $200, this audio interface is a must-have for music producers that can’t afford to shell out top dollar. The best way to describe this audio interface is ‘value’ and is one of the best audio interfaces for Windows.

What We Like
Easy To Set Up And Use -

The Focusrite is a simple plug-and-play audio interface.

Low-latency Monitoring -

Compared to recording without an audio interface, the Scarlett 2i2 provides seamless tracking and monitoring.

Know Before Buying
Lightweight Build Quality -

This audio interface is lightweight which makes it vulnerable to getting dragged by extended cords.

Can’t Accurately Match Gain Levels For Dual Inputs -

This is a minor inconvenience that requires extra time to set up.

See On Amazon

The RME Babyface Pro FS is an extremely powerful and portable bus-powered USB audio interface. It features an innovative, low-profile housing with a clean look and simple interface. Thanks to two digitally controlled microphone preamps, you can benefit from reference-quality recording.

See On Amazon

High Level Summary

This interface is equipped with a fully flexible 288-channel mixer with a 46-bit internal resolution. There’s latency-free processing, a 3-band EQ, a low-cut filter, echo, and reverb.

The RME Babyface Pro FS is USB-C compatible and comes with USB-2 and USB-C cables.

Review

This audio interface features a sleek and elegant control panel, an array of six pushbuttons, a rotary encoder, and a multifunction LED display. Furthermore, four LED bands to indicate preamp gain settings, input and output levels, phantom power status, clipping, and which channel has been selected for adjustment.

The mic preamps offer some serious competition to expensive outboard preamps. Using a Neumann U87 to record vocals into this audio interface produced perfect quality.

Although there are several audio interfaces in desktop packages with similar I/O capabilities as the Babyface, most of them cannot compete. The RME Babyface Pro FS is a premium audio interface with high-quality preamps and converters.

What We Like
Elegant Construction -

The Babyface is constructed with premium materials that are heavy and durable.

Incredible Quality -

The audio quality is comparable with the Apollo Twin and other premium audio interfaces.

Know Before Buying
Minimal Controls On The Front Panel -

There are not as many controls as some people would desire on the front panel of this interface.

Some Software-based Functions -

A few of the features require a connection to the RME computer software.

See On Amazon

The Audient iD44 is a USB audio interface that’s well-built and has a high-quality preamp. Known as one of the best home studio interfaces, the Audient iD44 has four input and four output channels.

See On Amazon

High Level Summary

Digitally, this audio interface is equipped with high-quality Burr-Brown AD/DA conversion chips. These provide superb conversion quality up to 24-bit/96 kHz.

Furthermore, the Audient has a total of 20 inputs and 24 outputs in a 4×4 analog configuration.

Review

Everything about this audio interface and smooth and consistent. This audio interface works like a dream in Ableton and is extremely compatible.

I’d say this interface is in-between the entry-level interfaces and the super high-end professional studio interfaces, making it the perfect high-level bedroom interface.

What We Like
Build Quality -

Immediately out of the box, you’ll feel that this audio interface is built like a tank. The build quality is extremely solid and feels well put together.

Four Mic Preamps -

This audio interface features four Class A Audient console preamps that offer 60 dB of gain.

Know Before Buying
Sample Rate -

Many audio interfaces with 20 inputs and 24 outputs provide a 192 kHz maximum sample rate. The audient only goes up to 96 kHz.

See On Amazon

Do I Need an Audio Interface?

While we 100% recommend any music producer to use an audio interface, they aren’t technically required. This is because you can use Ableton with your computer’s built-in audio drivers.

However, the performance of a built-in audio driver is usually horrendous. The latency will be completely out of sync which causes a noticeable delay between playing a note and hearing it back. This means that the use of built-in drivers for any serious music-making is near impossible.

Even a super budget-friendly audio interface is exponentially better than no audio interface.

Why Are Audio Interfaces Important?

Hand adjust volume of the audio interface for Home recording, external sound card.

Now let’s dive into the importance of audio interfaces and the value they provide.

In any type of music studio, an audio interface offers three important qualities:

1. Audio Quality

Your computer’s built-in sound quality is usually mediocre at best. Unless you installed an external sound card, your motherboard’s onboard sound card will never compete with a dedicated external audio interface.

If you’re producing music, an audio interface will allow you to hear and export the highest quality level possible.

2. Latency

The most important reason why you should buy an audio interface is because of latency. Latency is the time it takes for a signal to move from your computer to an external device and vise-versa. An input latency of 15 milliseconds, for example, means that it takes 15ms for an input signal to reach your computer and be rendered into sound.

Lower latencies offer more instantaneous output and a smoother experience. Built-in sound cards on motherboards never offer adequate latency. This means that if you record vocals into a USB microphone, there will be a massive delay until you can hear your voice back.

External audio interfaces offer a low enough latency where the sound will be played back immediately without any delays.

3. Connectivity

If you plan on playing and recording instruments, an audio interface is a necessity. This is because you’ll need XLR, TS (line) inputs, and line/RCA outputs. You won’t have these from a built-in soundcard. To receive all these connectivity options, you’ll need an external audio interface.

Latency vs. Price

As you climb up the audio interface ladder, you’ll find two apparent truths:

  1. More ports
  2. Lower latencies

As a music producer, it can be enticing to spend a large amount of money on the audio interface with the lowest possible latency. Who wouldn’t want less than 2ms latency?

However, it’s essential to know that beyond a certain point, a lower latency won’t make that much of a difference. In fact, it’s physically impossible for humans to detect latencies lower than 8ms. Even latencies below 25ms are nearly impossible to detect.

Most beginner audio interfaces offer latencies as low as 13ms. This is good enough for the majority of applications.

What About Ports?

Audio interface for recording or mixing - sound/audio card - woman's hand holding audio plug - grunge background

The last thing we need to discuss is the number of connections or ports you need.

This is because the main reason why you need an audio interface is to connect your instruments and microphones to your computer.

The majority of audio interfaces offer the following input options:

  • Mic input (XLR)
  • Line input (TS/TRS)

Output options typically include:

  • RCA output for connecting monitors
  • Headphone output
  • Line output for connecting monitors

Although you can use adapters to connect different ports, these are the standard inputs and outputs an audio interface offers.

For example, you can use an XLR to MIDI cable to connect an XLR input to a MIDI port. This is why you need to evaluate what your production setup requires.

If you’re exclusively a singer, it’s better to get an interface like a Scarlett Solo that has separate inputs for a mic and guitar. However, a Scarlett 2i2 with two XLR inputs will be better if you need to record two mics simultaneously.

USB vs. Thunderbolt

USB and thunderbolt port

Until just recently, every producer would simply buy a USB audio interface since every computer came with standard USB ports.

However, modern computers are abandoning the standard USB port in favor of Thunderbolt and USB-C. For example, my Macbook Pro has three Thunderbolt ports. This means that any audio interface I purchase needs to be compatible with Thunderbolt ports.

Although there are Thunderbolt-specific audio interfaces, they are more expensive than normal audio interfaces. Thunderbolt audio interfaces offer better performance since the port uses more advanced technology that offers faster transfer rates.

This is why I recommend buying a standard USB audio interface and then connecting it to your Thunderbolt port via adapter if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option.

Conclusion

Ableton is an outstanding DAW because of its widespread support and ease of use. You can’t go wrong with any of the Ableton-specific audio interfaces we went over in this guide today.

Whether you want a more affordable option in the Focusrite or are willing to shell out top-dollar for an Apollo Twin, your music production will be more than outstanding.