Make music like a pro with the best audio interfaces for Mac


Best audio interface for Mac - Universal Audio Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Quad
Our top pick for best audio interface for Mac is Universal Audio's Apollo Twin X Quad.
Photo: Universal Audio

An audio interface serves as a bridge between your Mac and external audio sources like microphones and musical instruments. The hardware is essential for great sound reproduction, whether you’re a professional producer or a beginner. So finding the best audio interface for your Mac can significantly enhance your recording and mixing experience.

In this guide, we’ll explore top audio interfaces available for Mac, including several affordable options. We’ll discuss their features, performance, compatibility and price points to help you make an informed decision.

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Best audio interface for Mac: Who needs one?

First, do Macs need an audio interface? For the most part, yes, but it depends on what you’re doing. An audio interface connects audio equipment to your Mac. And it converts analog audio signals from various sources into digital signals you can alter and record using digital audio workstation, aka DAW, software installed on your computer. The interface often handles digital-to-analog conversion, aka DAC, too, allowing you to listen through headphones or speakers.

Second, do audio interfaces work with Macs? Yes, most are designed to work easily and integrate beautifully with your computer. They typically connect to a computer via Thunderbolt/USB and work with both Macs and PCs. All audio interfaces in our selection connect that way. We reserved the most portable of them for use with MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

Third, what is the best sound quality audio interface? Well, that’s a matter of opinion. Every product we feature below is capable of excellent sound quality, and you can enhance it with included software or popular programs you might buy separately, like GarageBand or Logic Pro, both from Apple.

Keep in mind that if you work with software-based instrumentation and a USB or 3.5mm-jack microphone, you don’t necessarily need an audio interface for your Mac. But for pro-level XLR mics and instruments with 1/4-inch line-level outputs, you do. And in any case, an audio interface can improve vocal clarity, reduce latency and offer more control over audio inputs and outputs.

Table of contents: Best audio interfaces for Mac

Factors to consider when choosing an audio interface for Mac:

  • Inputs/outputs: How many inputs and outputs do you need? Will a two-input audio interface for you and your guitar suffice? Or do you need more for your band?
  • Connectivity: Ensure that the interface you choose works with your Mac’s available ports.
  • Compatibility: Make sure the interface is compatible with your specific Mac model, as well as the version of macOS you are running and your preferred DAW software.
  • Portability: Recording on the go and recording in a dedicated studio call for different audio interfaces. Some are extremely portable but others aren’t.
  • Microphone type: Condenser microphones require phantom power (+48V or +24V options). So if you use, or plan to use, one a condenser mic, be sure to buy an audio interface with phantom power.
  • Quality: Look for high-resolution audio, such as 24-bit/192kHz conversion, and high preamp quality (check the reviews).
  • Software: Some audio interfaces for Mac come with software bundles that drive up the price. If that’s the case, make sure you want or need the software before you pay extra.

Best audio interface for Mac (top pick): Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Quad

Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Quad audio interface
It’s not cheap, but the Apollo Twin X Quad is an excellent audio interface for Mac users.
Photo: Universal Audio

The Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Quad is our top recommendation for Mac users seeking a highly capable and professional audio interface. This audio interface combines a compact form factor, high-end audio quality, flexible input/output options and powerful onboard digital signal-processing capabilities.

The interface features a small footprint and an attractive design. And its control and input/output schemes are intuitive and user-friendly, making it easy to use.

Plus, the Apollo Twin X Quad comes with different software bundles for macOS and iOS as well as PC, depending on where you buy it. The interface includes Universal Audio’s Mac-only Luna DAW software and a bundle of plugins, including compressors, EQs, reverbs and guitar amp emulators to help you achieve various pro audio sounds.

Lots of inputs and outputs

Back view of the Universal Audio Apollo Twin X shows microphone and quarter-inch inputs, plus USB-C. It's the best audio interface for Mac.
The rear of the Apollo Twin X Quad offers a wide array of inputs and outputs.
Photo: Universal Audio

On the back of the unit, you’ll find two combo mic pre/line-level inputs, two sets of 1/4-inch monitor outputs, a power supply input, a Thunderbolt 3 port, an optical input for connecting audio equipment with ADAT or S/PDIF outputs, and a power switch.

The front panel offers a 1/4-inch Hi-Z (short for “high impedance”) input for connecting guitars and a 1/4-inch headphone output.

The device’s controls and LED indicators are conveniently located on the top panel. With just eight buttons and a wheel, you can control all the input and monitor-related parameters. The interface allows you to easily switch between monitors/headphones and different sources connected to the Twin X Quad.

A quad-core DSP chip for running audio plugins

The Apollo Twin X Quad comes equipped with a built-in quad-core digital signal processing, or DSP, chip, that enables you to run UAD plugins in real time with ultralow latency. The included Console software handles real-time UAD processing and can be routed to any DAW software.

With an impressive D/A dynamic range of 127dB and the lowest noise (-117 dB THD+N) among desktop audio interfaces, the Apollo Twin X Quad delivers organic and spacious sound on par with top-of-the-line professional interfaces used in recording studios.

The optical input allows for stereo S/PDIF operation or connection to gear with ADAT OUT, expanding the number of available input channels to 10 (2 + 8 ADAT).

The Thunderbolt 3 connection ensures lightning-fast processing and minimal latency. It also allows for daisy-chaining up to six UAD-2 devices or four Apollo devices.

Minor negative note: A Thunderbolt 3 cable is not included in the package.

The Apollo Twin Quad usually goes for between $1,100 and $1,500. Looking for a great alternative for a few hundred dollars less? Check out Universal Audio’s Apollo Twin X Duo, below.

Where to buy: Amazon or B&H Photo

Best audio interface for Mac under $1,000 (top options)

1. Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Duo

Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Duo
This is the smaller sibling of our top pick, and an excellent choice that costs less than $1,000.
Photo: Universal Audio

When it comes to Thunderbolt and USB-connected audio interfaces, there are many excellent options for less than $1,000. One of those is the little sibling of our top pick above. It’s the Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Duo. With dual rather than quad DSP chips, this one can run fewer plugins than the Quad.

Like the Quad, the Duo features A/D and D/A conversion derived from Apollo X rackmount interfaces paired with Unison mic preamps for classic mic and guitar amp sounds. And it runs the Luna recording software,made for Apollo (Mac only) and UAD powered plug-ins.

The front panel includes Unison-enabled Hi-Z instrument input, headphone out and a built-in talkback mic for communication in the studio. Dedicated monitor functionality includes monitor remote functions and mono, mute, DIM, and ALT monitor controls. And you can access up to eight channels of additional digital input via optical ADAT/SPDIF inputs.

You can buy this one for about $990.

Where to buy: Amazon or B&H Photo

2. Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 fourth-gen audio interface

Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 4th Gen USB Audio Interface
Focusrite Scarlett audio interfaces are great for more budget-minded Mac users.
Photo: Focusrite

The fourth-gen Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 audio interface is another popular audio interface for Mac users, offering a great balance of features, performance and affordability. It features USB-C rather than Thunderbolt connectivity and costs about $280.

With two upgraded Scarlett mic preamps, low latency and high-quality converters, the Scarlett 4i4 is a versatile interface that can handle a wide range of recording and production tasks. It’s great for both beginners and experienced producers.

The Scarlett 4i4 offers 24-bit/192kHz converters for high-resolution audio, optimized preamp gain structure, low latency and Hi-Z instrument inputs.

The mic preamps on the Scarlett 4i4 include Focusrite’s “Air” mode, which adds a touch of analog tonality modeled on the company’s legendary ISA console transformers. This feature enhances the high-end frequencies and adds a sense of depth and richness to your recordings. The Air mode can be switched on or off, allowing you to customize the effect based on the source and desired sound.

The interface’s USB-C connectivity allows for direct connection to your Mac without the need for a dongle. It also comes bundled with software, including the Studio One Artist DAW and the Studio Magic Plugin Suite, featuring plugins from renowned manufacturers like Maag Audio, Lexicon, and Arturia.

The Scarlett 4i4 is compact and portable, making it a great option for musicians who need a versatile interface for on-the-go recording or small studio setups.

The Scarlett 4i4 is not Thunderbolt 3 compatible, which may be a drawback for users seeking the fastest data-transfer speeds and lowest latency. However, the USB-C connection still provides reliable performance for most recording and production needs.

You can grab Focusrite’s excellent fourth-gen Scarlett 4i4 for just $279.99 (or go with the third-gen model for $199.99).

Where to buy: Amazon or B&H Photo

Best USB audio interface for Mac (top options)

1. Audient Audio Interface iD4 MK II USB

Audient iD4 MKII USB audio interface
Simple USB-C connectivity makes many audio interfaces easy to use.
Photo: Audient

Any of the choices above, like the Focusrite Scarlett interface, are great for USB-C connectivity. But another exceptional choice would be the Audient iD4 MK II two-in, two-out audio interface. USB-C-specific interfaces won’t transfer data as fast as Thunderbolt, but they’re often less expensive and they generally work with both Macs and PCs.

Audient’s entry is a compact, feature-rich audio interface that offers excellent sound quality and user-friendly controls. With its streamlined design and professional-grade performance, it is an ideal choice for Mac users seeking a high-quality interface for recording vocals, instruments and podcasts.

The iD4 MK II features a single Class-A Audient console mic preamp, providing clean and transparent amplification for microphones. It also offers a discrete JFET DI input for connecting guitars, basses or other instruments directly.

The interface supports 24-bit/96kHz audio resolution, ensuring accurate and detailed recordings. It features high-quality converters and analog circuitry for pristine sound reproduction.

The iD4 MK II includes a large volume knob that doubles as an intuitive monitor control. It also offers a dedicated headphone output with independent volume control, allowing for convenient and easy monitoring. The interface comes bundled with a comprehensive software package.

You can pick up the Audient iD4 MK II for $194 (and if you need to connect more gear, you can try a bigger version for $399).

Where to buy: Amazon or B&H Photo

2. PreSonus AudioBox USB 96

PreSonus AudioBox USB 96
This is a solid choice for a USB audio interface.
Photo: PreSonus

For Mac users on a budget, the PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 is an excellent entry-level audio interface. Despite its affordable price, it offers impressive features, including two upgraded Scarlett mic preamps, 24-bit/192kHz converters and optimized preamp gain structure.

The AudioBox USB 96 comes in an attractive package and includes a USB-A to USB-B cable, a user manual, a warranty card and PreSonus Studio One Artist software. This software bundle also includes the Studio One Magic software, which features Ableton Live Lite, virtual instruments, and nine plugins.

The interface features a sturdy metal housing and comes in two colors: black and blue/silver. Its front panel offers two combo mic pre/line-level inputs that accept XLR and 1/4-inch connectors. It also includes gain dials for each input with LED indicators, headphone volume dial, monitor volume dial and an input/playback mixer dial. The front panel also features a 48V phantom power button for condenser microphones.

On the back of the interface, you’ll find a headphone output, a set of line-level monitor outputs, 5-pin MIDI in/out ports and a USB Type-B port for connecting to your computer. The AudioBox USB 96 is one of the rare audio interfaces that allow you to connect your MIDI controller or instrument directly, making it a great choice for those needing MIDI capabilities on a limited budget. The device’s maximum conversion rate is 24-bit/96kHz.

You can grab it for $99.99.

Where to buy: Amazon or B&H Photo

3. Universal Audio Volt 2 USB Audio Interface

Universal Audio Volt 2 USB Audio Interface
Universal Audio’s Volt 2 USB audio interface is suitable for professionals.
Photo: Universal Audio

The Universal Audio Volt 2 USB audio interface is a versatile and high-quality audio interface designed for Mac and PC users. (It works with iPad and iPhone, too.) It offers two inputs and two outputs, premium audio quality and seamless integration with Universal Audio’s DSP plugins.

The Volt 2 also comes with a studio-quality headphone amp, MIDI connections, 48V phantom power and direct monitoring for latency-free recording. 

The interface offers 24-bit/192kHz audio resolution, delivering exceptional sound quality and detail. It features high-quality converters and premium analog circuitry for transparent and accurate audio reproduction.

Universal Audio’s Volt 2 USB audio interface is designed to work seamlessly with the company’s DSP plugins. It includes the UAD-2 DUO Core processing, allowing you to run UAD plugins in real time with low latency.

You can buy UA’s Volt 2 for $189.

Where to buy: Amazon or B&H Photo

Best audio interface for M1 Mac mini and other desktop Macs (top options)

1. Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 Mk2

Native Instruments Komplete audio 6 Mk2
This robust audio interface is great for M1 Mac mini (or any Mac).
Photo: Native Instruments

The Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 Mk2 is a feature-packed audio interface designed for professional producers and musicians. It offers exceptional sound quality, versatile connectivity options, and a comprehensive software bundle, making it a top contender for Mac users seeking a high-end interface.

The Komplete Audio 6 Mk2 features six inputs and six outputs, providing a wide range of connectivity options. It includes two combo XLR/1/4-inch inputs with switchable phantom power, two 1/4-inch line inputs, four 1/4-inch line outputs, a headphone output, MIDI I/O, and a USB 2.0 connection. This extensive connectivity makes it suitable for recording bands, multi-instrument setups and complex studio configurations.

The interface offers 24-bit/192kHz audio resolution, ensuring pristine sound quality for your recordings. It features premium Cirrus Logic converters, delivering exceptional detail and dynamic range.

Native Instruments includes a comprehensive software bundle with the Komplete Audio 6 Mk2. This bundle includes a full version of Komplete Start, a collection of high-quality virtual instruments, effects and samples. It also includes Maschine Essentials, Ableton Live Lite and Traktor LE, providing you with a wide range of tools and sounds to inspire your creativity.

You can pick up this audio interface on Amazon for $249 $179.

Where to buy: Amazon or Adorama

2. MOTU M4 4×4 USB-C Audio Interface

MOTU M4 4x4 USB-C Audio Interface
The MOTU M4 is a solid choice for an M1, M2 or M3 Mac.
Photo: MOTU

The MOTU M4 audio interface works well with Apple silicon-powered machines with M-series chips. The M4 provides fast speed for monitoring live inputs (mic, guitar or keyboard) through your computer, thanks to MOTU’s expertly engineered USB drivers, which deliver class-leading, ultra-low 2.5 ms Round Trip Latency (at 96 kHz with a 32 sample buffer), the company noted.

The four-channel interface includes metering for recording live music (which not every interface has). At this price you don’t find many interfaces with a full color LCD featuring  detailed level meters for all inputs and outputs.

Quiet preamps add to the interface’s overall quality. And you can use the M4 as a stand-alone mixer.

The interface’s driver provides loopback channels to your host computer, so you can route computer output back to the computer. At that point you can mix it with live mics and/or guitar inputs from the M4 in your host software for live streaming or podcasting.

Performer Lite or Live Lite production software is included, along with hundreds of loops, one-shots and sounds from Big Fish Audio, Lucidsamples and Loopmasters.

The MOTU M4 goes for about $270.

Where to buy: Amazon or B&H Photo

Best audio interface for MacBook Air and MacBook Pro (top options)

1. IK Multimedia iRig HD 2

IK Multimedia iRig HD 2
If you’re a guitar or bass player, iRig could be your portable audio interface.
Photo: IK Multimedia

What audio interface works with Macbook Air? Like all of the audio interfaces featured here, IK Multimedia’s iRig HD 2 and the Behringer interface below work well with MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

The big difference between iRig and the Behringer interface, though, is that iRig is instrument-specific. With so many guitar players in the world, we thought we’d include it. The compact and portable audio interface is designed specifically for guitarists and bassists using Macs or iOS devices. It offers high-quality sound, convenient features and compatibility with popular guitar apps.

iRig HD 2 fits easily in your pocket or guitar case. It features a 1/4-inch instrument input, a 1/4-inch output for connecting to an amplifier or headphones, and a Lightning/USB cable for connecting to your Mac or iOS device. This simplicity and portability make it a go-to choice for guitarists and bassists who require a streamlined setup without sacrificing sound quality.

The interface provides 24-bit/96kHz high-resolution audio, ensuring accurate and detailed recordings. It also features a built-in preamp with adjustable gain control, allowing you to dial in the perfect input level for your instrument.

The iRig HD 2 includes a headphone output with a dedicated volume control, enabling you to monitor your playing without latency. This feature proves particularly useful for practicing or recording on the go.

The interface is compatible with popular guitar apps and software. IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube, for example, provides access to a vast array of virtual amplifiers, effects and cabinets so you can explore different tones.

The iRig HD 2 is bus-powered, meaning it draws power from your Mac or iOS device, eliminating the need for batteries or an external power source. This feature enhances its portability and convenience.

iRig HD 2 costs $99.99. Want a bit more? Try iRig HD X for $129.99 (and for that you get higher-quality recording, a bigger software bundle and more device compatibility).

Where to buy: Amazon or B&H Photo

3. Behringer U-Phoria UM2 USB Audio Interface

Behringer U-Phoria UM2 USB Audio Interface
This affordable audio interface could suit M1 Mac mini users quite well.
Photo: Behringer

The Behringer U-Phoria UM2 is a budget-friendly audio interface that offers solid performance and essential features for Mac users. It’s great for beginners, and it’s the least expensive item on this list.

The U-Phoria UM2 features a compact and lightweight design, making it highly portable and suitable for on-the-go recording or small studio setups. It offers a single XLR/TRS combo input, a 1/4-inch instrument input and RCA line outputs.

The interface provides 48V phantom power for condenser microphones and includes a dedicated headphone output for monitoring. It offers 16-bit/48kHz audio resolution, which is sufficient for most entry-level recording and production needs.

The interface is compatible with popular DAW software and works seamlessly with Mac systems. It also comes bundled with Tracktion DAW software, providing a solid platform for recording, editing and mixing your music.

The U-PhoriaUM2 offers limited input and output options, which may not be sufficient for more advanced recording and production requirements. However, for beginners or those with basic recording needs, it provides a cost-effective solution.

It’s currently available for just $59 from Amazon.

Where to buy: Amazon or Adorama


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