Top Audio Interfaces with ADAT [2022 Reviewed]

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ThumbnailTop Audio Interfaces with ADATProRec ScorePrice
PreSonus Quantum 2626PreSonus Quantum 2626
8.5
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Audient EVO 16Audient EVO 16
8.2
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Focusrite Clarett+ 8PreFocusrite Clarett+ 8Pre
8
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Introduction

If you’re planning on recording drums,a live performance or a full band, then you will need an interface with atleast 8 I/O channels. The market is full with a ton of 4 to 8 input audio interfaces that can handle most demanding sessions. However, once you require more than that, you start running out of options. Instead, higher-end interfaces feature ADAT capability that allows you to combine different interfaces and expand the number of I/O channels you could process.

A single ADAT channel (also referred to as optical I/O) allows you to transport 8 channels of input using a 44.1/48 kHz sample rate, or 4 channels at 88.2/96 kHz, or 2 channels at 176.4/192 kHz. An ADAT connector doesn’t directly harbor inputs/outputs, it simply connects multiple units such as audio interfaces and bundles them to act as a single interface. You can then connect your audio equipment to the I/O channels of any coupled audio interface and control them through your computer.

When connecting multiple audio interfaces through ADAT, one of the most common issues you might face is jitter. Jitter occurs when 2 units are out of sync thereby producing inconsistent signals. At high levels, jitter can dramatically affect the quality of your recordings producing undesired cracks and pops. Ideally, you should try and find a unit that offers a world sync clock since it can help synchronize the signals and get rid of any latency/jitter.

With that in mind, don’t assume that all ADAT-equipped interfaces produce great sound quality. At the end of the day, it falls down to the quality of the unit’s preamps and converters. Even if you connect a very powerful audio interface to an audio interface with bad sound quality, each unit will have to process the input signal individually. So before you purchase the “cheapest” audio interface with ADAT out there, take a look at the device’s spec sheet to make sure that it can produce good audio according to your standards.

Top Interfaces with ADAT Reviews

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

Focusrite Clarett+ 8Pre
8/10ProRec Score
8Average Score
ProRec Score – Clarett+ 8Pre
Price to Performance
7
Input / Output
8
Sound Quality
9.5
Connectivity
7
Additional Features
8.5

The Clarett+ 8Pre is one of Focusrite’s high-end units that feature ADAT capability. It is a remarkable audio interface that boasts a 18×20 I/O configuration.

Physically speaking, the 8Pre is considerably large and heavy which hinders its use as a portable device. It does however have rackmounts which are useful in studio environments and its flat upper and lower surfaces enable you to place the unit in a stack. The gain knobs are well-spaced and aren’t too close to the bottom surface. We also appreciate that Focusrite kept 2 mic inputs on the front panel since those are easier to reallocate inputs to.

The back panel of the 8Pre is packed with I/O sockets which include the ADAT I/O connectors, the SPDIF I/O connectors, MIDI I/O connectors, 10 line outputs, and 6 XLR/TRS mic inputs. You’ll also find a 110-220 AC power socket, a USB-C port, and WorldClock OUT which can be used to synchronize the signals between different interfaces.

On the front panel, you’ll find the remaining 2 XLR/TRS mic inputs and two ¼’’ headphone outputs. This panel also features a segmented LED meter, AIR led indicators (activatable through Focusrite Control software) and all the controls which include the 8 gain knobs, 2 headphone encoders, a monitor knob, and a power switch. You’ll also find a DIM and MUTE button along with 2 phantom power toggles for input  1-4 and 5-8.

The 8Pre’s converters offer 118dBA of dynamic range and a maximum sample rate of 192kHz/24-bit depth. They’re extremely accurate and can capture an incredible amount of details. Even for playback purposes, we found that those converters can dramatically improve sound quality and they don’t impose any notable latency.

As part of our testing process, we configured an elaborate setup using the 8Pre’s mic inputs which consists of a guitar, a bass guitar, 2 stereo keyboards, and 2 different mics. We also had several pairs of studio monitors connected for monitoring and a DT 700 Pro headphone for referencing. For both guitars, the 8Pre produced extremely transparent and noise-free audio that sounded very professional. The microphones also produced immaculate audio that had an exceptional amount of detail. For the TLM 103 condenser mic we were using, we had more than enough gain to drive it. However, we had to use the whole 56 dB range to power the Shure SM7B dynamic mic.

To test the ADAT, we connected the ADAT input of the 8Pre to the ADAT output of a Focursrite Octopre interface. We also connected the world sync OUT of the 8Pre to the Clock IN of the Octopre and set the Octopre to sync through World Clock. Both interfaces synced incredibly well and we didn’t notice any jitter. We also had both units running with almost zero latency even with maxed out I/Os.

Putting the unit’s great features aside, the 8Pre does have some drawbacks that we should mention. For instance, the XLR/TRS mic inputs are made from plastic and are slightly off measurements so they don’t grip very well. If you’re using an XLR cable you might even possibly notice a slight wobble. Additionally, the 8Pre is quite expensive considering that you can find interfaces with similar I/O configuration for much cheaper. Take Focusrite’s own Scarlett 18i20 which offers the exact same I/O capability, and only costs half as much. The 8Pre does provide better sound quality and performance, but if you don’t mind sacrificing on sound quality, then purchasing the 18i20 makes much more sense.

Comparing the Clarett+ 8Pre and the Scarlett 18i20 3rd gen, you’ll notice that the 8Pre’s converters offer around 6-7 dB more of dynamic range on both mic and line inputs. The 8Pre also has a much flatter frequency response and lower THD+N specifications. While both units have fairly similar preamps, the 8Pre provides an additional 1dB of gain range. Nonetheless, the 8Pre has superior audio specs in almost all other categories which is expected considering that it costs twice as much as the 18i20.

The Clarett+ 8Pre is also a refined model of the Clarett USB which was released back in 2015. The plus version contains better converters that provide slightly more dynamic range on headphone and line outputs equivalent to around 3 dB and 6 dB respectively. The Clarett+ also has better THD+N specifications (-110 dB) compared to the older Clarett USB (-107 dB). However, that’s mostly about it in terms of audio improvement.

Overall, the Clarett+ 8Pre is one of the few sub $1000 audio interfaces that succeeds in providing a large number of I/O channels while producing high-grade audio. For anyone looking to record full-bands, live-performances, or even basic vocal recording, we recommend the Clarett+ 8Pre as an extremely versatile unit that can handle any number of I/Os.

Focusrite Clarett+ 8Pre Benefits

The unit has a 18×20 I/O configuration.

The 8Pre produces great audio,

The World Clock Out prevents any jitter when using ADAT.

The Focusrite Control software and the ADAT routing matrix are easy to use.

Focusrite Clarett+ 8Pre Drawbacks

The mic input sockets feel a bit cheapish.

The 8Pre is relatively expensive.

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

PreSonus Quantum 2626
8.5/10ProRec Score
8.5Average Score
ProRec Score – Quantum 2626
Price to Performance
8
Input / Output
9.5
Sound Quality
8
Connectivity
10
Additional Features
7

The Presonus Quantum 2626 is a very powerful TB3 audio interface that features 26/26 I/O channels. The unit boasts some incredible audio specifications and an ultra low latency.

The Quantum 2626 is a comparatively large unit that is intended to be used as a rackmount device. The 2626 is a relatively light unit, compared to similar interfaces, weighing just around 6 lbs. However, it does not qualify as a portable unit. The knobs are made of plastic, but they’re of high quality and are incredibly smooth.

On the front panel of the Quantum 2626, you’ll find 8 XLR/line combo input jacks along with their corresponding gain controllers. The channels 1-4 and 5-8 each have a separate phantom power toggle and LED indicator. Moreover, you’ll  find a monitor control knob and 2 headphone jacks with volume encoders on the rightmost part of this panel.

The back panel of the Quantum 2626 contains the remaining I/O sockets which include 10 line outputs, MIDI I/Os, SPDIF I/Os, preamp outputs, and line returns. This panel also contains dual ADAT I/O ports which can harbor an extra 16 inputs and 16 outputs in addition to a World clock IN/OUT. Aside from that, you’ll find the TB3 port, the 12V external power jack, and a power button on this panel.

Sonically, the Quantum 2626’s preamps offer a remarkable 60 dB of gain range which can drive most inputs including dynamic mics. We found them to be extremely transparent and accurate as they barely alter the audio signal. They produce a rather clean, uncolored, and open sound. The 2626 also has an incredibly low THD+N (<0.005% at min gain) which means that recordings don’t clip even at very high gain levels. Additionally, the 2626 boasts an incredibly low noise floor (<-131 dBu) which translates to artifact and noise-free audio.

The Quantum 2626 features a maximum sample rate of 192kHz and a 24 bit-depth. This is in part due to its powerful AD and DA converters which can provide around 110dB of dynamic range. We found them to be extremely precise and meticulous as they preserve the audio signal with great detail. They are also relatively fast and don’t impose any notable latency. One thing we even noticed is that the 2626 has a very flat frequency response curve in the audible 20 Hz- 20kHz range (+/-0.15 dB deviation).

While the Quantum’s 26×26 I/O configuration is incredibly useful, most of these I/O can be exclusively accessed through ADAT. Nonetheless, the 2626 syncs very well with other interfaces and it doesn’t impose any notable jitter or latency primarily because of the world sync clock. If you were also to use the Quantum 2626 as the master unit, you’ll easily be able to route the ADAT I/Os through the Free Studio One software if you choose to.

Despite the unit’s incredible versatility and prowess, the Quantum 2626 still has some downsides that we should mention. For example, the unit can’t operate in standalone mode and should be connected to a computer at all times. This is somewhat disappointing considering that the 2626 has 8 mic input channels. Additionally, we noticed that our MIDI connectors are a bit laggy possibly due to a faulty unit. Now that alone isn’t really a major drawback as there are multiple workarounds. However, what really frustrates us is Presonus’s tardy customer support. It took them days to reply to us after we reached out with a ticket, and most of their replies were thoughtless automated responses.

The Quantum 2626 released back in 2020 was the first in its line. It was however preceded by Presonus’s Quantum 2 TB3 audio interface back in 2017. The Quantum 2 which was discontinued 2 years later is a 22×24 I/O audio interface which costs slightly more than the 2626. It is a more compact unit that features 4 less onboard I/O channels and 1 less headphone output jack. Additionally, the Quantum 2 doesn’t have different knobs for the different inputs but instead has a single gain knob which you can alter through 2 buttons to choose which input gets affected.

In terms of sound quality, the Quantum 2 has the exact same converters and preamps as the Quantum 2626. In fact, this would prove that the release of the cheaper and more powerful 2626 model is what forced the Quantum 2 to be discontinued.

Overall, we’ve never seen anything as affordable and powerful as the Presonus 2626. With its ultra-low latency, incredible number of I/O channels, and immaculate sound quality, the 2626 contains everything you need to record live-performances, bands, and drums. We recommend the 2626 as an extremely price-efficient TB3 audio interface that will provide a ton of value.

Presonus Quantum 2626 Benefits

The QUantum 2626 can harbor up to 26 input and 26 output channels.

The device has an extremely low latency due to its TB3 connectivity.

The unit has both a World clock IN and OUT which is an essential for ADAT connections.

The Quantum 2626 produces amazing tracks.

Presonus Quantum 2626 Drawbacks

You can’t operate the Quantum 2626 in standalone mode.

Our unit had faulty MIDI connectors.

Customer support is terrible.

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

Audient EVO 16
8.2/10ProRec Score
8.2Average Score
ProRec Score – Audient Evo 16
Price to Performance
9.5
Input / Output
8.5
Sound Quality
7
Connectivity
7
Additional Features
9

The Evo 16 (24×24 audio interface) from Audient is one of the most hyped up interfaces because of its raw power and affordability.

Buildwise, the Evo 16’s body is enclosed in a rugged metal and the front panel is made of plastic. The unit has a very premium feel to it, and the control knob and buttons feel incredibly satisfying to use. The Evo 16 also has a very elegant design that capitalizes on simplicity and user-friendliness. Everything is well-labeled and expresses its own functionality, we never had use any online manuals for reference.

As far as I/Os are concerned, the Evo 16 contains 10 line outputs, 6 Line/XLR combo jacks, a USB-C socket, a 90-250 AC power jack and dual optical I/O sockets on the back panel. The ADAT connectors can also sync with other units through the Evo’s world Clock out which reduces jitter/latency.

On the front panel, the Evo 16 features an extra 2 Line/XLR jack inputs in addition to 2 headphone outputs. You’ll also find 8 different buttons which indicate what preamp channel gets affected by the controller knob. The same goes for the 2 headphones and monitor output levels which you can track through the full-color LCD-display. FInally, you’ll find an auto-gain, instrument, function and 48V buttons which also affect the 8 mic channels.

Considering that the Evo 16 features a lot of I/O channels and is rather cheap, we expected mediocre sound quality. However, the unit exceeded our expectations. It is equipped with incredible preamps that provide 58 dB of gain range and a very low THD+N (<0.0015%). They produce noise-free and crystal clear tracks that sound very professional. The auto gain mode is also one of our favorite features on any interface. It automatically detects and sets the gain for whatever input you have which is exceptionally useful for beginners. We had a bass guitar and a Shure SM58 hooked up to the Evo 16 both of which had enough gain and synced really well.

The unit can also sample audio at a maximum 192kHz sample rate and a 24 bit depth. Both the DA and AD converters and the DAC (121 dB) provide a high dynamic range. Our tracks had a ton of details and sounded very accurate to what the mic captured. We can confidently say that this DAC has better audio quality than some $1000 audio interfaces.

The ADCs aren’t on par with the DACs, but they still offer a commendable 112 dB of dynamic range. While not as important for recording as DACs, these ADCs are also capable of preserving any signal you run through with extreme clarity. We ran a couple of audio tracks from our computer’s stream through the Evo 16 which reproduced the signal with immaculate details.

As for the drawbacks, one of the points of contention with the Evo 16 is its simplistic design. Aesthetically? It looks great. Practically? Not the best. If you’re using the full 8 preamp channels then you really don’t want to be constantly altering between the different channels to control with a single  knob. Having dedicated gain knobs instead of buttons is better for all practical purposes. Additionally, with its relatively large size, you would expect the Evo 16 to be used as a rackmount interface. However, the Evo 16 doesn’t come with built-in rackmounts, instead you’ll have to buy optional rackmounts extensions. It would’ve also been nice if the Evo 16 had MIDI and SPDIF connectors.

In our opinion, the Evo line of audio interfaces is more oriented towards home producers/ podcasers/ live-streamers who really value simplicity and usability. While the Evo 16 is the most sophisticated of the series, it was preceded by the more affordable Evo 4 and Evo 8. All 3 units feature the same converters, preamps, and audio specs, however, the Evo 16 provides much more I/O channels. Unlike the Evo 4 and the Evo 8, the Evo 16 features 8 mic channels and dual ADAT capability. It is also the only interface in the series which we think passes as a professional music production unit.

Overall, the Evo 16 is a very powerful mid-range interface that bridges the gap between professionalism and user-friendliness. With its amazing features, remarkable components, and incredible build quality, the Evo 16 is a very well-rounded unit that produces great tracks. We recommend the Evo 16 as a powerful yet affordable audio interface that’ll allow you to record a lot of channels at once.

Audient Evo 16 Benefits

The unit has amazing build quality.

The Evo 16 produces great audio.

It is very simple to use and extremely user-friendly.

The Evo 16 has a ton of useful features.

The unit is very price-efficient.

Audient Evo 16 Drawbacks

The simplistic design can be a bit annoying.

The unit doesn’t come with built-in rackmounts.

The Evo 16 doesn’t have MIDI and SPDIF connectors.

Verdict

audio interface ADAT scoring model comparison

Based on our scoring model, you can see that there is only a 0.5 score variance between the highest and lowest scoring unit. Of all the categories, you’ll find the highest variance (3) in the connectivity category followed by a 2.5 categorical variance in the Price to performance and sound quality category. The  Quantum 2626 outperforms both the Clarett+ 8Pre and the Evo 16 in the  connectivity category because of its better TB3 connectivity. It also scores 8 in the price to performance and sound quality category, but doesn’t lead in either. Instead, the Evo 16 scores the highest in the Price to performance category while the 8Pre takes over when it it comes to sound quality.

The Presonus Quantum 2626 exhibits a  stable behavior throughout scoring above 7 in all 5 categories. It also scores the highest in 2 out of 5 categories which are the Input/Output and Connectivity categories. The Presonus is the only unit in the bunch that offers 26 I/O channels in addition to  MIDI, SPDIF, and Worldclock I/O connectors. The 2626 also boasts an incredibly low latency compared to the other 2 units because of its superior TB3 connectivity. It does however score the lowest in the additional features categories, but that’s only because the other 2 units offer extra non-mandatory features. Nonetheless, it still provides all the essential features you need to produce great tracks.

We should also mention that the Evo 16 performs incredibly well as it scores the highest in both the price to performance and additional features categories. It costs almost half as much as the 8Pre but still provides similar sound quality and performance. It is also equipped with extremely useful features like the auto-gain button and the reprogramable function button. For anyone on a tight budget, we recommend the Evo 16 as a very powerful and versatile interface that can perform very demanding tasks.

However, according to our according model which is backed up by extensive testing, the best audio interface with ADAT capability is the Presonus Quantum 2626. Leading with an overall score of 8.5, the Quantum 2626 emerges as the most adept unit of the 3 which can produce great sound quality. With its incredible number of I/Os, remarkably low latency, and phenomenal converters, the 2626 can handle recording  full-bands, live performances, and drum sets while pumping transparent and accurate audio. If you’re looking for a rather inexpensive audio interface with ADAT, we recommend the 2626 as a great purchase that you can’t go wrong with.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most important aspect of choosing an ADAT Audio Interface?

While the most important aspect of choosing an audio interface is sound quality (preamps and converters), for interfaces with ADAT, you want to make sure there isn’t any notable jitter. Unsynchronized units may produce undesired pops and cracks. Getting an interface with a WorldClock Sync will minimize these unwanted effects.

How much should I spend on an ADAT Audio Interface?

If you want an Audio interface that can produce decent sound quality, then you should expect to pay something upward of 400$. You could find cheaper audio interfaces with ADAT, however, most of these contain very basic converters, preamps, and might not feature enough mic inputs. At the $400-500 margin, you will find a lot of well-polished and powerful units that can produce great sound quality. Anything beyond that will provide even better audio specifications/features, but you should expect to get less value to your dollar because of diminishing returns.

How do I use ADAT to expand my Interface I/O?

In order to utilize your ADAT connectors, you’ll need to have at least 2 units with ADAT capability. You would then connect a toslink cable from the ADAT output socket of one interface to the ADAT input of the second. Afterwards, you have to change the settings of the units to sync through ADAT. If both units feature World Sync, you could instead set the units to sync through world sync which reduces jitter and latency.

Is there an alternative to ADAT?

Optical I/Os (ADAT) are the most practical and common type of connectors used to bridge audio units. You could find audio interfaces with SPDIF capability, however, SPDIF channels can only transport a single stereo signal per connection (2 mono signals) which is still limiting. There are some audio interfaces that feature AVB connectivity which allows you to bridge all I/Os of any 2 audio interfaces. However, they’re not very popular and are usually much more expensive than audio interfaces with ADAT.