For all your recording needs, having a great audio interface is vital for creating amazing content with amazing sound.
Whether you’re a musician, a podcaster, or any kind of audio and visual creator, having good sound quality is the most important part of your production.
Most audio interfaces feature XLR ports for XLR microphones that record sound that is second to none.
In this article, we’ll discuss exactly what XLR means and what an audio interface is, as well as some of the best on the market that have features you should look for.
What Is XLR?
The term XLR is an abbreviation for X Connector, Locking Connector, Rubber Boot. Currently, there are several XLR cables available with different pins, ranging from 3 to 7.
When buying an XLR connector, you need to make sure that the XLR cable is compatible with both the mic and the audio interface (see also ‘Can You Use A USB Mic With An Audio Interface?‘).
XLR is the standard for recording high quality music. This is because they balance the signal that isolates noise.
XLR is often used by professional audio content creators like streamers and musicians, to produce the best music recording and sound possible.
There are USB ports on most audio interfaces for USB inputs, however, they simply don’t hold up against an XLR input.
What Is An Audio Interface?
Audio interfaces convert instrument and microphone signals into a format that your computer and software can understand.
The interface can also send audio from your PC to studio monitors and headphones.
Although some interfaces connect to your computer using Thunderbolt, Firewire, or even Ethernet, USB audio interfaces are often the typical method.
Before You Buy
There are a number of things you should consider when looking for your own audio interface that can accommodate XLR connections.
We’ve compiled a short buyer’s guide for you to refer to before you make your purchase.
First, you should think about what you want to do with the audio interface you get.
Knowing exactly what you intend to do with your audio interface and your needs will help you determine which one is best for you.
Maybe you’re using the audio interface for studio recording, podcasting, or music demos.
Making a list of everything you want to do with an audio interface is a great place to start before you purchase one.
Think about how your audio interface will hook up to your computer. You’ll need an audio interface with the correct ports, such as a USB interface, Thunderbolt, or Firewire.
Some audio interfaces are known as “hybrids” and support more than one type of connection, but knowing exactly what you need is a good way to narrow your search.
You should also consider how many signals you need to connect the interface simultaneously.
If you’re a musician, you might need to hook up a microphone, guitar, and drum kit all to one audio interface.
It is important to think about other connections you might need to make as well, such as microphone preamps, monitors, and headphone feeds.
You should make a list of all the inputs and outputs you need and also their respective formats.
Good sound quality is, of course, the most important feature to think about when buying an audio interface.
Fortunately, even the least expensive equipment still delivers great sound quality.
The differences in audio and tonality often differ between different manufacturers, and it is also down to the quality of the equipment you use with your audio interface.
Best Audio Interfaces With XLR
Now that you know what to consider before you buy an audio interface, you can start shopping for one.
Below is a list of some of the best audio interfaces on the market that offer XLR compatibility.
They are categorized by experience and skill level, so you know exactly how advanced these audio interfaces are.
These audio interfaces with XLR provide all the basic features an interface should have. They are low-cost models but still deliver excellent sound quality.
Typically, they provide only one or two inputs and support one pair of headphones and monitors.
- Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 – this model provides two inputs for a microphone, line, or instrument and has an amazing mic preamp, a headphone output, and a speaker level control for a pair of speakers.
- PreSonus AudioBox USB – this interface has two inputs for microphones or instruments and includes volume control for headphones and speakers, as well as MIDI connection support.
These audio interfaces have more features than beginner models.
Some of these useful additions include multiple inputs, cue mixes, onboard DSP, and higher quality electronics.
Often, these interfaces connect to a computer via USB, Thunderbolt, or both.
- UAD Apollo Twin MKII – this interface provides two mic or line inputs and one guitar or bass input. It also comes with onboard DSP, plugins for classic compressors, reverb, amp simulators, and equalizers. This model can also be expanded with multiple UAD interfaces as your recording studio grows.
- PreSonus Quantum 2626 – this model features eight mic or line inputs, sixteen digital inputs, and eight analog and sixteen digital outputs. It also has two headphone levels and volume control for one set of studio monitors, along with MIDI support.
These interfaces are top-of-the-line, professional-quality audio equipment.
They have high-quality converters and features, and are perfectly suitable for a sophisticated recording studio.
These devices often have USB, Thunderbolt, or Ethernet connection ports, but may also have special connectors for ProTools HDX systems.
- RME Fireface UCX – this device offers superior audio quality for recording, two mic inputs, six line inputs, and eight line outputs. It also provides digital inputs and outputs as well as word clock connection with MIDI and latency-free effects for tracking.
- Antelope Audio Zen Tour – this interface offers four mic and four line or instrument inputs, eight analog outputs, two headphone outputs, and two speaker outputs. Furthermore, it provides digital inputs and outputs, reamp outputs, and an onboard DSP for effect plugins.
When it comes to audio interfaces with XLR, it’s important to consider everything before making your purchase.
Hopefully, this article will help you choose the perfect sound equipment for you and your recording needs.