Best Audio Interface Under $1000 [2023 Compared]

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ThumbnailInterfaces under $1000ProRec ScorePrice
UA Apollo Twin X DUO HE

UA Apollo Twin X DUO HE

9.6
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Audient iD44 MKII

Audient iD44 MKII

9.4
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Apogee Duet 3

Apogee Duet 3

8.7
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Introduction

$1000 is a solid budget for purchasing an interface these days. You can get a high end model for home use that falls in the “more expensive” range. But before you go spending that money, focus hard on what it is you are trying to achieve. An interface that may be a good fit for someone else, may not be the right selection for your use case.

When choosing an audio interface for under $1000, the main things you want to focus on are the preamps, converters, input output configuration and then any additional bells and whistles.

However, unless you know what you need, it might be wiser to hold off on expensive interfaces and try a cheaper option first instead. That way, you’ll have a better picture of what you’re looking for in an audio interface.

Some interfaces such as the Apollo use a DSP, some great plugins, as well as unison preamps that emulate more expensive hardware without needing to drop a house payment on the real-deal. If you don’t absolutely need it, you don’t need to spend this much on an audio interface, and there are some fantastic mid-range devices you can look at.

While the lack of expensive equipment won’t hold you back, it would be far-fetched to say it doesn’t offer much over entry-level gear. A good set of A/D and D/A converters will make each signal you record, and every recording you play back sound better. When combined with a quality headphone amp circuit, this makes all the difference.

How much you spend also depends on how many inputs/outputs you need, whether or not you want the finest possible preamps for your vocal recordings, and at what quality you need to record your instruments and sound effects, though your option will be filtered by your choice of OS.

Other than that, any interface between $75 to $1000, whether it’s a Behringer or Apogee, is just as reliable as the other and can last years. Odds are, you probably can’t tell the difference between their preamps since they’re so non-existent to most ears, and even so, if your recordings don’t sound good on a decent device, the issue isn’t the interface.

Top 3 Audio Interfaces under $1000

All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

9.6ProRec Score
Twin X DUO HE
Price to Performance
9
Input / Output
9
Sound Quality
10
Connectivity
10
Additional Features
10

Twin X DUO HE Benefits

  1. The 10-in/6-out 192 kHz/24-bit Heritage Edition Apollo Twin X DUO’s preamps provide enormous value, emulating far more expensive amplifiers with amazing accuracy. The unison preamp integration is top notch, and the textures we got from recording vocals and instruments is top tier. The amp signal is clean, strong, and transparent, and the sound is pristine.
  2. The onboard DSP is super useful for zero latency tracking, and the sound quality is excellent, with low noise levels, and true sounding output through its unison preamps for clear, punchy, and rich recordings. The upper frequencies are detailed and transparent, and there isn’t a cloudy bottom either.
  3. Apart from hardware the effects that you can use on the virtual mixer, particularly the LA2A is some of the best emulations of that compressor and a permanent stay on our vocal channel. You also get the ability to track with every emulation/plugin live, even to just audition them.
  4. Among other LUNA features, the built-in talkback feature is extremely useful for low-latency live recording, especially when used with the UAD effects with no added lag. The plugins and consoles both add up to a great system, and lead to a fantastic signal when recording on your DAW.

Twin X DUO HE Drawbacks

  1. The Apollo Twin X DUO’s initial setup can get tedious. It took a substantial amount of troubleshooting online from UA and online videos to figure it out. With too many settings and work involved, it’s more complex than it needs to be.
  2. The windows drivers are not completely stable, and we got a few freezes a week from the audio driver, even with a fresh version of Windows 11 and up-to-date drivers. DAWs are still better off since they use Windows ASIO drivers, but if you do anything else such as streaming on Discord or Zoom, the interface uses the default Windows drivers, you can expect some crashing.

All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

8.7ProRec Score
Duet 3
Price to Performance
8.5
Input / Output
8
Sound Quality
9.5
Connectivity
9
Additional Features
8.5

Duet 3 Benefits

  1. The 4-in/2-out 192 kHz/24-bit Apollo Duet 3’s AD/DA conversion is absolutely amazing for an interface its size. The output is exceptionally detailed with a huge dynamic range, and its inputs sound crystal clear. The zero Ohm headphone amp flattened our headphones’ frequency response phenomenally, and provided fantastic clarity.
  2. The Apogee Duet 3 is incredibly portable in form factor and minimal in design. The breakout cable is sufficiently long, and does well to hide connectivity behind out desk. The setup is nice and clean, and the travel case is great when you’re on the move.
  3. The interface has a lot of useful features, including the ability to quick-mute without using the mouse, quality stereo imaging, glow under the main control dial, the added ECS Channel Strip, and a built in DSP FX that gives fantastic recordings. We plugged in our P-bass straight in for tracking and printing with the suggested settings on the ECS Channel Strip, and with a few minor adjustments, the tones were phenomenal.
  4. The preamps have enough Judie for our BeyerDynamic headphones and there’s barely any latency with the DSP channel. With excellent midrange clarity, punchy well-defined bass, and even sparkling highs with an accurate, airy sound, you can expect professional quality from your home studio.

Duet 3 Drawbacks

  1. The biggest issue with the Apogee Duet 3 is the lack of functional metering. While the device is minimal in design, it’s too form over function, needing us to lean on the Apogee Control app to access even the most basic information.
  2. The firmware is still a tad buggy, and despite up-to-date software and firmware, we still had disconnects, which were only fixed when the interface was unplugged, and plugged back in. It isn’t the most stable, but the audio quality is great when it works.

All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

9.4ProRec Score
iD44 MKII
Price to Performance
9.5
Input / Output
10
Sound Quality
9
Connectivity
9
Additional Features
9.5

iD44 MKII Benefits

  1. The 20-in/24-out 24bit/96khz Audient iD44 MKII’s preamps are leaps and bounds ahead of some similar offerings. Working with an SM7B as well as a Neumann TLM-102 to record a guitar session, the preamps have distinct clarity, warmth, and natural reverb as well. As for gain, we only had to set the dial to 3 O’Clock to get a good feed for the mic, and got exponentially louder past 12. There was plenty of gain to drive our gear with no adjustment or makeup gain needed.
  2. Unlike some other interfaces, the iD44 MKII can completely bypass the internal preamp. This is particularly useful paired with the insert/return feature, which allowed us to use outboard preamps and go into the return straight into the ADCs, skipping the internal preamps.
  3. The interface’s AD-DA conversion is brilliant. The sounds are warm and rich on both vocals and our acoustic guitar, and the untamed transients are very apparent with great harmonics as well. The noise floor and latency are fairly low as well, outputting 7ms latency with 256 samples at 44kHz/24-bit.
  4. Function-wise, the iD44 MKII has surprisingly flexible monitoring and routing or a desktop interface. The LED meter in the center is particularly handy for setting track levels to references outside the DAW. The choice of adding flick switches as opposed to buttons is a positive as well, since they’re harder to accidentally press.

iD44 MKII Drawbacks

  1. The Audient iD44 MKII is lightweight, and the build quality doesn’t come across as durable with excessive use. Despite being made out of metal, it feels a bit flimsy.
  2. While not super loud, we did get some audible popping when turning the unit off. This wasn’t as apparent when turning it on, though Audient might issue a firmware update that ramps volume when turning the unit on/off.

Verdict

under $100 interfaces scoring model comparison, quantitative analysis

Based on our scoring model, the categories with the most variance are Input/Output and Additional Features. In the former, Audient’s iD44 MKII has more than twice the amount of ports as the second in place Twin X, whereas the ultra-portable Apogee Duet 3 has the least number of ports. In the latter, while the Audient has a couple more features, including programmable keys, talkback, and scroll control, the Apollo’s more useful UAD dual-DSP effects, Unison preamps, and LUNA features place it half a point higher, leaving the Duet 3 in last place.

The Heritage Edition Twin X DUO not only offers a lot of software, but also has extraordinary sound quality, emulating far more expensive amplifiers with its unison preamps to deliver more detailed and transparent signals than the somewhat worse Apogee Duet 3, and the iD44, which scores the lowest in that category. While not as important, the Twin X also boasts a superior Thunderbolt port to the other two’s USB-C, and despite its high price tag, offers a lot of value with its extra features and plugins like the LA2A. The Duet does the worst in this regard, armed with only its DSP-powered ECS Channel Strip FX and extra USB port.

If you’re looking for the lowest price, the Duet 3 is the best option, however, if you want value, the Audient iD44 is a steal. Not only does it offer substantially more I/O with ADAT expansion, its list of features holds up well against the more expensive Apollo Twin X DUO, though its build quality is not as pristine. One noteworthy detail is that despite its higher price, the iD44 doesn’t have the same crystal clear preamps, zero Ohm headphone amps, or the same accurate sound. However, if you need the ports, the Duet only offers a fraction of the iD44’s I/O.

All things considered, the best audio interface under $1000 based on our scoring model is the Heritage Edition UA Apollo Twin X DUO with an average of 9.6 points. While the Twin X has a hefty price tag, it offers remarkable value for each dollar you put in. Not only do you get preamps that punch far above their weight with instrument/vocal recordings, but you get a decent amount of I/O for more complex setups, and a ton of usability with dual-DSP effects and bundled plugins. If it fits your budget, UA’s Apollo Twin X DUO will make for an excellent addition to your studio setup!

Frequently Asked Questions

How much should I pay for an Audio Interface?

How much you pay for an audio interface depends on your needs. If you need a professional device with a ton of I/O for a live band, you’re going to need an expensive interface upwards of $500. Conversely, if you’re recording soft synths on your own, an inexpensive $150 2-in/2-out unit will get the job done and then some.

Do expensive Audio Interfaces sound better?

In general, yes. While price itself doesn’t affect sound, more expensive audio interfaces tend to have better preamps and converters. Alternatively, a big-budget interface may just be charging you for extra features you don’t want or need instead of better core components, so some due diligence is required.

Do I need an Audio Interface as a beginner?

Absolutely! Even if you just make beats or electronic music, an audio interface can make all the difference in sound quality when you’re recording. If you’re just starting out, even a budget interface will still be leaps and bounds ahead of your computer’s sound card.

What is the difference between cheap and expensive audio interface?

While cheap interfaces do offer respectable features, quality, and can sound fantastic if you know what you’re doing, more expensive options will have quieter preamps with better characteristics, build quality, and a wider set of features including DSP processing, AIR and Vintage circuits, ADAT expansion, more I/O, and other assorted bells and whistles.