Audacity is a powerful open-source digital audio workstation popular for podcasting, music recording and audio editing. To get the most out of Audacity, having a dedicated external audio interface is recommended for improved sound quality over your computer’s built-in sound card.
In this guide, we will cover how audio interfaces enhance Audacity recordings, key features to look for, audio interface recommendations for different needs and budgets, tips for setup and use with Audacity, and answers to frequently asked questions.
Table of Contents
Best Audacity Audio Interfaces
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface
- Bundled Software - Mac/Win/iPad Pro
- with 2 Mic/Line/Instrument Inputs
- USB 2.0 Audio Interface
One of the best choices you can make for audio interfaces for Audacity is the amazing Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. This audio interface has a great build and will be your friend for a long time, just like the audio interfaces I described above. It is a large, not particularly portable audio interface that is primarily used in studios. Focusrite employs a USB type C, which distinguishes it from the other devices stated in terms of the connection and proves that its compatibility is indeed on fire! The audio interface for any DAW, especially Audacity, is Focusrite Scarlett.
Choose the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 if you want a straightforward UI or if you’re a beginner. It’s a staple of the internet; while not the best user interface ever created, it provides more than enough to get you going. You can connect two microphones or instruments to its two front inputs, each of which has a separate preamp and gain control. The Scarlett 2i2 has USB 2.0 for connecting to a computer and two line outputs on the backplate for connecting to two monitors. Additionally, it is USB-C compatible so you can connect your iPad Pro with it.
If you only wish to plug in a pair of headphones and don’t have speakers, the interface box also has a 1/4-inch headphone connector and a 3.5mm converter. According to its specifications, the Scarlett 2i2 can convert 24-bit/192kHz samples, allowing you to record a lot of detail from microphones or musical instruments. If your microphone requires some DC power to operate, you also have a switch for 48V phantom power.
You may use this audio interface quickly and anyway you like because it has two channels and two microphone preamps. This audio interface’s sound output has an excellent frequency response and superb resolution, bringing out the best in every type of sound. You can see why Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 should be purchased because it is the greatest audio interface overall for this post. It gives everything the ideal shape. This is the Best Audio Interface for Audacity in 2023.
Zoom H4N PRO Digital Multitrack Recorder
- Four-channel recording up to 24-bit, 96 kHz. Built-in stereo X/Y microphones, up to 140 dB SPL
- 2 XLR/TRS inputs with locking connectors. Records directly to SD/SDHC cards up to 32 GB
- 4-in/2-out USB audio interface. Monaural speaker: 400 mW 8 Ω
Instrument cables and microphone XLR cables can both be used with the H4n Pro. Additionally, it contains a clever locking system that stops the cords from being yanked out while a recording is being made. Let’s go into some technicalities since the Zoom H4n Pro is primarily a 4-track recorder but also a great USB interface.
Two mic preamps on the H4n Pro make it a wonderful choice for podcasters because all you need to do to start recording is plug the mics in. The H4n Pro’s adaptability allows you to attach it to a camera hotshoe and record high-quality audio that you can sync to video. Although it technically isn’t as amazing as some of the other solutions on this list, we thought its compactness and adaptability merited a position here. It can convert 24-bit/96kHz audio as well. Particularly considering that this little guy also has phantom power of +24V or +48V.
The Zoom H4N PRO audio interface has a superb USB 2.0 connection that enables amazing connectivity and Audacity device compatibility. Since I mentioned Audacity, you should be aware that Zoom H4N PRO is extremely versatile and is compatible with any other audio editor. The Zoom H4N PRO has four channels and is compatible with anything you wish to attach it to. The built-in microphones are a unique feature of this audio interface, doing a wonderful job and producing outstanding sound.
Behringer U-PHORIA UMC404HD Audiophile
- 4x4 USB 2.0 Audio/MIDI interface for recording microphones and instruments
- Audiophile 24-Bit/192 kHz resolution for professional audio quality
- Compatible with popular recording software, including Avid pro tools, Ableton live, Steinberg Cubase, etc.
First things first, this audio interface isn’t really attractive. It is somewhat large and bulky, but if you are a professional, I doubt you give much thought to the design. However, the best feature of this audio interface is its excellent USB 2.0 cable connection, which works flawlessly and accurately with all of your devices. This audio interface from Behringer also does a fantastic job with Audacity because it will bring out the best in it.
You’ll hear sounds with outstanding quality! This is due to the fact that this audio interface operates at a 24-bit/192kHz audio resolution. It will function with headphones, microphones, and other gadgets. The Behringer U-PHORIA UMC404HD is the one to choose and use for a considerable amount of time if money is not an issue and you just want to find the best audio interface for Audacity.
PreSonus Studio 24c 2×2
- Mobile-ready, bus-powered 2-in or 2-out USB-C audio interface; no power supply needed (USB-C to C and USB-C to A cables included).
- Loaded with 2 pristine XMAX-L solid-state mic preamps to capture every detail.
- Studio-grade converters allow for up to 24-bit or 96 kHz recording and playback.
An great audio interface with exceptional build quality and a full metal chassis is PreSonus Studio 24c 22. Based on that, you may conclude that this audio interface is a robust, small, and light one. You will enjoy the fact that this audio interface is also aesthetically pleasing.
The connection uses a cable with a USB 2.0 end, just like with other audio interfaces. You will notice Audacity’s compatibility and simplicity of use right away when using it. You have two microphone preamps that are simple to connect to, and when combined with the phantom power of +48V, they will operate with outstanding strength. The sound is very fantastic overall.
Steinberg UR22MKII 2-Channel USB Interface
- 2 x 2 USB 2.0 audio interface
- 24-Bit/192 kHz & Two Class-A D-PRE mic preamps
- Compatible with all major audio editing, mastering, and music production software
This audio interface is entirely compatible with USB 2.0 and can be connected to a variety of devices, particularly those on which Audacity is running. This audio interface is considered to produce great audio quality overall, and its microphone preamp will function well with any microphone you may be using. A superb sound will result from your microphone’s frequency response working along with your audio interface.
Buying Guide: Choosing an Audio Interface for Audacity
Here are the key factors to consider when selecting an audio interface to use with Audacity:
Ensure the interface has ASIO (Windows) or Core Audio (Mac) drivers to reduce latency for Audacity. Avoid generic drivers.
Prioritize interfaces with premium preamps, high-resolution converters (24-bit/192kHz), and clean mic/instrument inputs for best sound.
Number of Inputs
Consider how many mics or instruments you want to record simultaneously. 2 inputs is fine for one at a time. 4+ enables multi-mic recordings.
Look for XLR, 1/4″, MIDI and other ports to connect mics, instruments, monitors and other studio gear you need.
Interfaces with zero-latency monitoring allow hearing your live inputs without Audacity delay. Great for multi-track recording.
Compact, portable interfaces are great for using Audacity on laptops and the go. Bigger desktop interfaces offer expandability.
Determine how much you can spend. Great basic interfaces for Audacity start around $100-150. Expect to spend $200-500+ for more advanced professional-grade interfaces.
Stick with established pro audio brands like Focusrite, PreSonus, MOTU, Audient, etc. for reliable performance and support.
How much do I need to spend on an Audacity interface?
High quality basic interfaces can be found for $100-150. For advanced I/O and preamps, expect to invest $200-500+ for a more professional-grade unit that will last you years.
What’s better for Audacity – USB or Thunderbolt?
USB works great for most users. Thunderbolt offers lower latency and higher bandwidth but at increased cost. Weigh connectivity needs vs budget.
Should I look for an interface with onboard DSP?
Onboard effects like reverb can be useful but aren’t mandatory. Prioritize recording quality first – preamps, drivers and conversion quality matter most.
How many inputs and outputs do I need?
A basic 2×2 interface works well if you only record one track at a time. 4 inputs allow simultaneous multi-mic recording like drum kits and choirs. 6+ inputs suits larger ensembles and complex projects.
What specifications matter most?
Focus on audio quality – preamp quality for gain staging, converter bit depth (24-bit) and sampling rate (>48kHz) for capturing everything in your recordings. Also ensure low latency drivers.