10 Best Audio Interfaces for Mac Users

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In a perfect world you wouldn’t have to worry if the latest and greatest audio interface is designed to work with the computer that you already own – you’ll just have to pony up the money and buy it. What is the best audio interface for mac?

Unfortunately, it’s a world where pandemics can thrive and, more alarmingly, it’s also a world where the latest and greatest audio interface may not work well with your PC because it just won’t properly shake hands with your OS.

Luckily Mac users don’t have to worry too much as a lot of the best ones currently in the market are compatible with MacOS. The problem is that there’s such an abundance of choices that it’s difficult to pick the best audio interface for Mac users.

Apple’s Chosen One

Apogee Duet

Sale
Apogee Duet 3 – 2 Channel USB Audio Interface for Recording Mics, Guitars, Keyboards on MAC and PC -…
  • THE BEST AUDIO INTERFACE FOR ALL YOUR NEEDS: Whether you’re recording vocals, playing instruments, live streaming, or podcasting, the Duet 3 delivers with its legendary sound quality and ease of use.
  • WORLD-CLASS PREAMPS: With up to 65dB of gain and 48V phantom power, you can cleanly and precisely capture any audio source with even the most demanding microphones.
  • HARDWARE DSP MEANS LESS WORK FOR YOU: Capture your best performance and dial in your perfect sound with the Symphony ECS Channel Strip which is powered directly from the onboard hardware DSP. Latency while recording is practically zero.

Last update on 2023-02-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

There’s a partnership between Apogee and Apple that just can’t be matched by other audio interface brands. This results in the Apogee Duet becoming one of the best choices for an audio recording studio that has a Mac at its core.

The Budget Busting King of the Hill

Antelope Zen Tour

Sale
Antelope Audio Zen Tour Synergy Core 18 x 26 Desktop Thunderbolt 3 and USB Audio Interface with…
  • Desktop 8×14 Thunderbolt 3 & USB 2.0 audio interface for Mac/Windows with 4 discrete preamps, 4 Hi-Z/line inputs and 36 real-time plugins included (Thunderbolt cable not included)
  • Craft album-ready recordings on your desktop – The studio-quality recording path is provided by 4 low-noise high-gain discrete ultra-linear preamps, high-spec AD/DA converters with up to 130 dB for artefact-free recording and signature clocking technology for increased width, separation, and detail in your performances
  • 36 real-time analog-modeled plugins included – The plugin library consists of emulations of most coveted and hard-to-find studio analog gear from around the world. The collection spans from a rare Austrian-born EQ to legendary British solid-state processing. A growing library of expansions is available to you in the Antelope software store

Last update on 2023-02-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

It may cost you an arm and a leg but the capabilities of the Antelope Zen Tour can blow anyone away. It’s got everything that you might need both in your present music production requirements and even in the near future because of its rich selection of analog inputs.

Fit for All Budgets

The price of a Mac computer is not something to sneer at when even an entry-level MacBook Air starts at $999. Our budget for an interface, therefore, may vary.

So, I decided to list as many audio interfaces for mac that I could that you can fully take advantage of using a Mac. So, whether you’re a full-blown professional or a newbie, there’s something for you here that you can use on your computer.

What you can expect in the article:

  • Exhaustive list of audio interfaces compatible with Mac.
  • In-depth analysis of the pros and cons of each one.
  • Recommendations on how which one’s the best for your particular price range.

Under $200

There’s plenty of quality to be had in audio interfaces under $200. With a little research, you can make studio-quality music for a lot less than even the biggest music stars of today.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen

Sale
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface for Recording, Songwriting, Streaming and…
  • Pro performance with the finest pre-amps – Achieve a brighter and a more open recording thanks to the best performing mic pre-amps the Scarlett range has ever seen. A switchable Air mode will add extra clarity to your acoustic instruments when recording with your Scarlett 2i2.
  • Get the perfect guitar and vocal take – There’s no need to sacrifice your tone with two high-headroom instrument inputs to plug in your guitar or bass so that they shine through. Capture your voice with clarity and your instruments in all their glory without any unwanted clipping or distortion thanks to our Gain Halos.
  • Low-noise for crystal clear listening – Two low-noise balanced outputs provide clean audio playback. Hear all the details and nuances of your own track or music from Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music. Plug-in your own headphones via the output for private listening in high-fidelity.

Last update on 2023-02-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Focusrite has found the balance between affordability and quality with their budget segment audio interfaces. Their Scarlett 2i2 series has been at the top of the bestsellers for multiple consecutive years now because of this.

Now on its 3rd generation, the Scarlett 2i2 is on its track again to become the number one audio interface for people who don’t want to spend too much but still want quality output from their equipment.

It also boasts an impressive efficiency in resource management. The Focusrite 2i2 won’t tax your computer much even if there are a couple of plug-ins active.

But perhaps its best feature is that it has Thunderbolt 3 connectivity which means you can power and transfer data from it using just one tiny cable.

So, with the Focusrite 2i2, you won’t have to stumble around looking for cables all the time so you can focus on your music.

We have a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 vs 2i4 review here if you’re interested.

Pros of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen

  • While pickup isn’t the best with the 2i2, the Air circuit definitely helps improve it.
  • Direct monitoring makes ultra-low-latency monitoring possible.
  • The USB-C connectivity makes it perfect for modern MacBooks.
  • Offers a lot of value for the price.

Cons of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen

  • While the chassis feels sturdy and premium, the plastic back and buttons feel a bit flimsy especially when compared to the others on this list.


Check the latest price on the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen

Audient iD4

Sale
Audient iD4 USB 2-in/2-out High Performance Audio Interface
  • Audient iD4 USB Audio Interface OPEN BOX

Last update on 2023-02-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

It’s worth taking note that Audient iD4 is one of the best-built audio interface in the market. The aluminum chassis feels like the same kind of metal used in Mac Books. All four dials, on the other hand, feel like they’ve been expertly machined without any sort of wobble.

It feels far more expensive than the price that they’re currently charging for it.

It performs well too. The relatively low noise floor combined with a 58db gain make for excellent vocal recording.

Check out our Audient id4 vs id14 review here.

Pros of the Audient iD4

  • Excellent build quality that’s worthy of sitting right next to an Apple computer.
  • High performance AD-DC converters.
  • Built-in DAW control is smartly incorporated into a physical iD4 button.
  • Two headphone outputs that promotes collaborative work.
  • iOS compatibility improves its portability.
  • Built-in 6-level meters that even more expensive audio interfaces can’t even get.

Cons of the Audient iD4

  • Could use some more mic inputs.

Apogee Jam+

Apogee Jam Plus – Portable USB Audio Interface for Guitars, Bass, Keyboards and Instruments, Works…
  • PRO INSTRUMENT TONE: Jam+ is a professional, USB instrument input and stereo output. Connect your electric guitar, bass, acoustic instrument with pickup, dynamic mic, or keyboard to your iOS device or computer and capture every detail in high-quality audio.
  • PUT IT INTO OVERDRIVE: Transform your pristine direct signal into a rich, warm overdrive that can provide everything from a clean boost to a thick distortion in the tradition of the most coveted vintage amps and stompboxes.
  • EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO JAM: Included with Jam + is the desktop version of BIAS FX Jam software for FREE from Positive Grid. The bundle includes a premium selection of 3 amps, 6 effects, and a collection of essential pedals. No additional software is needed to plug in and play with professional amp emulations.

Last update on 2023-02-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If portability is the most important feature for you, then Apogee Jam+ takes the cake. It’s a 0.25lbs audio interface that comes in a form-factor that’s more like an oversized flash drive.

It’s a pretty capable audio interface too. Apogee’s legendary AD/DA converters and preamps come standard in the Jam+.

Pros of the Apogee Jam+

  • The king of portable recording.
  • iOS compatibility makes it even easier to record even while you’re on the go.
  • Because it’s bus-powered, you also don’t have to look for power outlets as you record.

Cons of the Apogee Jam+

  • $159 may be too much for what it can do especially if you compare it to a more capable but slightly less compact Scarlett 2i2.
  • No way to monitor through stereo speakers.

Under $1000

If you have a little more than $200 to spend on your audio interface, then you may want to go the premium brand route. Interfaces in this price range are usually from desktop interfaces from big-name brands in the audio industry.

But at this price-range you can also get inexpensive interfaces with more than 2 preamps if you intend to have a jamming session with your friends and bandmates.

Apogee Duet

Last update on 2023-02-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Apogee is the only brand that Apple markets in their website which is a good indication that it should work properly with their computers. The Apogee Duet is their flagship offering.

In a way, the Apogee Duet is the MacBook Pro of the audio interface world. It’s sleek and beautiful but most importantly, it’s going to help you accomplish all the tasks that it’s designed to do.

Like the MacBook Pro, it’s also a premium device that commands a premium price. At this price, it might be a bit of an investment for a lot of audio professionals. But for a one of the most reliable audio interfaces in the market, it definitely makes a decent case for its high price.

It has one of the best preamps and AD/DA converters on the market which enhances its clarity.

It also has a design like one of Apple’s other bestselling product – the classic iPod. The multi-functional singular knob in the middle even has the same vibe as the iconic scroll wheel.

Pros of the Apogee Duet

  • MacBook-like build quality.
  • Availability right in the Apple Store.
  • Compatibility with iOS.
  • Excellent quality preamps with low noise floor.
  • Low-latency monitoring.
  • Maestro software is very intuitive.
  • 75db of gain.

Cons of the Apogee Duet

  • Overpriced for what it offers. With skill, the output of this audio interface can be replicated.
  • Breakout cable might get on your nerves because it’s easy to leave behind – especially when you’re in a hurry.

Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo

Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo (APLTWDII)
  • Desktop 2×6 Thunderbolt audio interface for Mac and Windows with world-class 24-bit/192 kHz audio conversion, uncompromising analog design, superior components, and premium build quality
  • Real-time UAD processing for tracking through vintage compressor, EQs, tape machines, mic preamps, and guitar amp plug-ins with near-zero (sub-2ms) latency*
  • 2 premium mic/line preamps; 2 line outputs; front-panel Hi-Z instrument input and headphone output, 2 digitally controlled analog monitor outputs, 8 channels of digital input via Optical connection. Apollo Thunderbolt System Requirements MAC- Apple Mac computer with available Thunderbolt port.macOS 10.11 El Capitan, 10.12 Sierra, 10.13 High Sierra, or 10.14 Mojave. WINDOWS- PC computer with built-in Thunderbolt 3 port. Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (64-Bit Edition). Qualified Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter (sold separately)

Last update on 2023-02-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If there’s a company that can go toe to toe with Apogee and Audient in the small-form factor segment, it’s Universal Audio. They’re perennial leaders in the high-end audio equipment market.

Their Apollo Twin MKII in a lot of ways, resembles the Apogee Duet. It’s an upper-tier audio interface with two inputs equipped with outstanding Unison preamps. It also has a large multi-functional control knob in the middle of its face.

But what really justifies its asking price are the two SHARC processors that lets you run all the plug-ins you want while still having virtually zero latency. Just with these processors the $100-difference between this and the Apogee Duet is already worth it.

Universal Audio, however, isn’t done with just the SHARC processors. They also bundle the Apollo Twin MKII Duo with a suite of plugins that costs hundreds of dollars as well. Some deals also offer the Antares Auto-Tune Advanced which, just by itself, is already worth $300.

Pros of the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo

  • Software bundle improves value even if it’s a bit on the pricey side.
  • Duo of SHARC processors help you use the bundled plugins with virtually zero latency.
  • Unison preamps are legendary.
  • Cascade feature lets you connect more Universal Audio interfaces for a truly versatile set-up.
  • Thunderbolt 2 ensures that data transfers are fast and efficient.
  • Rich selection of microphone inputs.
  • Digital inputs.
  • 4 Analog outputs.

Cons of the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo

  • Lacks iOS compatibility which reduces its value as a portable device that you can use on-the-go.
  • Needs an external power supply makes it a bit cumbersome to use when you’re not in a studio.
  • Thunderbolt 3 with a USB-C connector would have made it a little cumbersome to use.

Presonus Studio 68c

PreSonus Studio 68c 6×6, 192 kHz, USB Audio Interface with Studio One Artist and Ableton Live Lite…
  • Compact and feature-rich 6-in/6-out USB-C audio interface (USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A cables included)
  • Loaded with 4 pristine XMAX Class A mic preamps to capture every detail.
  • Studio-grade converters allow for up to 24-bit/192 kHz recording and playback (limited to 4 tracks at 192kHz).

Last update on 2023-02-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you’re looking for more preamps but you don’t have much cash for a premium brand like Apogee, Presonus has got you covered. Their Studio 68c sells for a modest chunk of change and it’s got four excellent mic preamps.

The XMAX preamps on this audio interface allows for a high gain and high headroom. It also has a excellent gain range of -15db to 65db which is a lot better than others in the same price category.

Presonus also equips their Studio 68c with MIDI I/O which are often omitted even in more expensive audio interfaces. This lets you hook up MIDI keyboards and drum machines that you may want to use.

All these excellent features are wrapped in an all-metal chassis that feels it’s durable enough to survive a couple of tumbles. For such an inexpensive package, there’s certainly a lot of goodies to be enjoyed with the Presonus Studio 68c even whether you’re a full-pledged audio professional or a beginner music producer or musician.

Pros of the Presonus Studio 68c

  • Inexpensive price makes professional features accessible to beginners.
  • The 4 preamps and the MIDI I/O would go a long way in making band-recording sessions a breeze.
  • USB-C connectivity makes this future-proof and easy to use with newer Mac computers.
  • 65db of gain is much better than expected.

Cons of the Presonus Studio 68c

  • Studio One Artist isn’t the most intuitive DAW.
  • Needs external power source.

Behringer U-Phoria UMC1820

Behringer U-PHORIA UMC1820 Audiophile 18×20, 24-Bit/96 kHz USB Audio/MIDI Interface with Midas Mic…
  • 18X20 Usb2.0 Audio/Midi Interface With Adat I/O For Recording Microphones And Instruments
  • Audiophile 24-Bit/96 Khz Resolution For Professional Audio Quality
  • Compatible With Popular Recording Software Including Avid Pro Tools*, Ableton Live*, Steinberg Cubase*, Etc.

Last update on 2023-02-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

For an affordable price you can even go for the Behringer U-Phoria UMC1820 audio interface equipped with an astonishing 8-preamp input setup designed by Midas.

It’s a rack mount audio interface that can record up to 8 audio sources simultaneously. So, it’s a great option if you’re buying it for a studio set-up.

However, if you want to bring it around, you can simply remove the mounts on the sides and you can bring this around like a desktop audio interface too. So, whether you want to record inside the studio or from a friend’s garage, this can be a great option.

Behringer gained a bad reputation in the past because of sub-par gear. However, they’ve been trying to gain some market share lately by offering a lot of value in their new products. If you can look past the branding, then you’re going to be surprised by the quality of U-Phoria UMC1820

Pros of the Behringer U-Phoria UMC1820

  • Inexpensive for an 8-input audio interface.
  • The removable rack mount makes so much more versatile.
  • The duo of headphone outputs makes it a great interface to use when collaborating with other music produces.
  • Zero latency direct monitoring.

Cons of the Behringer U-Phoria UMC1820

  • There’s an ugly hole on the sides if you choose to remove the rack mount which puts it in a bit of danger for accidental spillages.
  • Isn’t compatible with iOS.
  • Needs external power source.

RME Babyface Pro

RME Audio Interface (BABYFACEPRO)
  • Includes: 4 x Analog I/O, 2 x Phones Output, 1 x ADAT I/O, 1 x MIDI I/O, USB 2. 0, TotalMix FX, Class Compliant Mode, 2 x Line/Instrument Input
  • High-end yet portable interface incorporates newly designed analog and digital circuits
  • Energy saving technologies provide supreme fidelity with no compromises in level, noise or distortion.

Last update on 2023-02-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The very first thing you’re going to notice about the Babyface Pro from RME is that it’s extremely well-built. It’s made from a precisely cut block of aluminum that gives it a premium aesthetic like a MacBook Air.

But it’s got more than just aluminum that it has in common with Apple’s bestselling computer. It also tapers from the top to the bottom which gives it a sleek look.

For such a sleek device, it’s extremely functional too. It’s got a nice selection of I/O that won’t leave you wanting for more. It also sports top quality preamps and AD/DA converters that can rival the likes of Apogee and even Antelope.

Pros of the RME Babyface Pro

  • Sleek design looks good next to any MacBook.
  • Compatible with iOS ensures you can record even when mobile.
  • Bus-powered so you don’t even have to plug it in when there are no outlets available.
  • Complete list of digital I/O which cannot be said about the Apogee Duet, its closest rival.

Cons of the RME Babyface Pro

  • Needs Thunderbolt 3 USB-C to make it truly on-par with modern MacBooks.
  • Takes a little longer to learn how to use.

If Money Isn’t an Object… ($1000 and beyond)

For some lucky people, budget isn’t a concern when it comes to their audio gear. If you’re one of them, then some of the following interfaces can be what you’re looking for.

Antelope Audio Zen Tour

Antelope Audio Antelope Zen Tour Thunderbolt and USB Portable Audio Interface
  • 4 mic pres & 4 line/hi-z ins with phantom power, 8 analog outs, 2 headphone and 2 reamp outs, plus an array of digital I/O, built-in talkback, and a touchscreen control panel
  • FPGA-based hardware models of vintage gear and equalizers, at no cost
  • 24-bit, 192 kHz audio and Antelope’s signature flawless conversion

Last update on 2023-02-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

For this premium price you can have the absolute best portable audio interface in the world no matter which computer you have – the Antelope Audio Zen Tour. While it’s not the most expensive audio interface out there, it’s definitely in the top 10.

What does a New York apartment rent money in audio interface form get you?

For one thing, it gets you the best I/O configuration for a portable audio interface in the market. It’s got two independently-configurable headphone outputs, two reamp outputs, four guitar/D.I. inputs, 4 XLR/TRS combo inputs, two sets of monitor outputs, S/PDIF, line out, Thunderbolt 2 port, 2 sets of ADAT optical inputs, and USB 2.0 connection. You’ll even have a talk back mic!

The Antelope Audio Zen Tour also has the most intuitive controls on an audio interface. It has a small LED touchscreen, a large control knob and a couple of buttons. The touchscreen is the heart and soul of the control system as its functions change depending on the mode you set it.

Pros of the Antelope Audio Zen Tour

  • Rich selection of analog and digital I/O for such a small piece of kit makes it appropriate for so many more recording scenarios.
  • iOS compatibility makes it a great option for mobile recording situations.
  • Top quality preamps and converters ensures clear vocals and crisp instruments.
  • Talkback mic feature is an excellent added value.
  • Intuitive touchscreen controls almost makes the Orion Studio software redundant.
  • USB and Thunderbolt connectivity ensures you can use it with a wide variety of computers.
  • Expandable through 2 sets of ADAT.

Cons of the Antelope Audio Zen Tour

  • Power supply makes portable form-factor a little redundant.
  • Price puts it out of reach for a lot of beginners and even professionals especially when cheaper ones can produce music of similar quality.

Apogee Quartet

Apogee Quartet – USB Audio Interface – 4 Inputs with World-Class Apogee Mic Preamps and Professional…
  • AD/DA conversion for recording up to 192kHz / 24-bit.
  • USB 2.0 High Speed connection to Mac or PC.
  • Direct digital connection with iOS devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. 30-pin/ Lightning cable sold separately).

Last update on 2023-02-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Of course, we can’t forget about Apogee for this price segment. It is, after all, a company that prides itself in prioritizing Macs and iOS devices. If brand loyalty is important to you, then you’ll probably be getting this one over the Antelope Zen Tour.

In an effort to topple Antelope Zen Tour for the top dog position in the portable desktop audio interface, Apogee pits the Quartet. It’s a high-end desktop audio interface that marries the excellent Apogee preamps and AD/DA converters with a better control module.

Pros of the Apogee Quartet

  • Apogee’s preamps, converters, and word clocks are top notch internals that deserve all the praise.
  • 75db of gain ensures great pickup.
  • Excellent customizable control system allows for quick changes and makes you feel at home with your audio interface.

Cons of the Apogee Quartet

  • Old model but the good thing about that is that there’s room and opportunity for improvement.

Final Verdict

If you have the cash, then there’s no reason not to get the best which, in my opinion, is the Antelope Zen Tour. It’s got everything that you might need such as expandable inputs, iOS compatibility, and top of the line preamp and converter combo. Furthermore, it’s a newer audio interface compared to its closest rival, the Apogee Quartet.

However, Apogee’s entry in the sub-$1000 category is the perfect one to get if you’re getting more serious in your music production career. In a way, the Apogee Duet is like a MacBook Pro in the sense that it’s got everything that you’ll need and nothing else.

Michael Ocejo ( Editor-in-chief )

Michael loves audio production. He especially enjoys the technical aspect of making music sound good! Michael also loves spending time with his friends and family and enjoying parties.

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