Top 10 Best Low Latency Audio Interfaces (2019 Review) | Sustain Punch

Top 10 Low Latency Audio Interfaces

In this article, we’re going to be discussing and reviewing the top 10 best low-latency audio interfaces of 2019.

Here at Sustain Punch, we pride ourselves on providing the most informative and helpful product buyers guides for our readers. This is why we write articles which are often over 5000+ words in length, so all of your possible FAQ’s are answered in one article.

With that being said, let’s talk more about low latency audio interfaces, shall we?

What is a Low Latency Audio interface?

Low latency audio interfaces are audio interfaces which are designed to minimize the issue of audio latency.

Audio latency is simply the time difference made audibly apparent when an input signal is recorded, and the monitor signal is then heard. Usually, this delay is in ms, and so some may think that this will not be noticeable.

However, the ear and brain is particularly good at recognizing delays and differences in sound. Hence if the latency time is above 10ms, it will be heard.

Low latency is most commonly caused during the following stages:

  • Recording stage (analog to digital conversion),
  • During playback (digital to analog conversion)
  • Dsp (Digital Signal Processing)
  • During transit (Cables, mixers and hard drives)

 

Why is it important to use a low-latency interface for recording?

It’s important to use a low-latency audio interface, especially when recording because most musicians and singers will want to listen to a monitor mix (in real-time). And therefore, if there is a delay between the input signal and the heard monitored signal, it can really be distracting and throw the entire performance.

 

What’s the difference between a low latency and zero latency audio interface?

The only difference here is the phrasing. Both phrases describe an audio interface with near to zero latency.

Now, although some interfaces will boast that they provide zero-latency recording/playback, there will always be some latency, but for as long as it’s below 10ms, humans will not be aware of it.

 

What to look for when buying a zero-latency audio interface?

There are several aspects of a zero/low latency audio interface that are important, before deciding on purchasing one.

Firstly, looking at the audio interface’s latency metrics will provide a clear impression as to the facts on whether it can truly perform, especially when it comes to providing minimal levels of audio latency.

Secondly, we usually advise that our readers stick to well-known brands, who have been established within the audio interface industry for a while. These brands can usually pass on their economies of scale to the end-consumer, and hence you can get a lot of bang for your buck! Not only this, but there’s a reason why these brands have been established for so long, and it’s because they usually provide the best products and customer support.

Finally, always look at customer reviews! These opinions provide invaluable insight into what’s good and bad about the product, brand and their experience when purchasing the product.

Thankfully, we’ve done all of this work for you, and therefore, we’ve only provided the most well-known, reputable, tried-and-tested products for you, our readers!

 

What are the best zero latency audio interfaces?

We’ve featured a list of the top 10 best zero latency audio interfaces below, alongside all of the key information that you’ll be curious about, including whether or not the interfaces are compatible with Mac, PC and the type of connection port, i.e Thunderbolt, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, etc.

So, let’s go ahead and talk about the top zero-latency audio interfaces!

 

Best Low Latency Audio Interfaces of 2019

  • M-Audio M-Track 2X2 C-Series – $ – Skip to Section
  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen) – $ – Skip to Section
  • PreSonus Studio 24c 2×2, 192 kHz, USB-C Audio Interface – $$ – Skip to Section
  • Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface¬† – $$$ – Skip to Section
  • M-Audio M-Track 8X4M Audio Interface¬†– $$$ – Skip to Section
  • iZotope Spire Studio Audio Interface¬†– $$$ – Skip to Section
  • Tascam US-20×20 USB 3.0 Audio Interface¬†– $$$ – Skip to Section
  • Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Solo¬†– $$$$ – Skip to Section
  • MOTU UltraLite AVB USB & iOS Interface¬†– $$$$ – Skip to Section
  • Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo & Quad¬†– $$$$$ – Skip to Section

 

 


M-Audio M-Track 2X2 C-Series


Features

  • 2-in/2-out interface
  • Compact in size
  • Extremely affordable
  • Zero-latency monitoring (6.4ms output latency)
  • Includes Pro Tools & additional software

Technical Specifications

  • 2-in/2-out
    • XLR + TRS input
    • L & R output
  • USB (standard) & USB C connectivity
  • 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response
  • 48v Phantom power
  • 24-bit/192kHz
  • Weight : 0.92kg
  • Dimensions :¬†6.0‚ÄĚ x 2.8‚ÄĚ x 7.8‚ÄĚ inches
  • Compatible with Mac & PC

Summary

The M-Audio M-Track 2X2 C-Series is the most affordable 2-in/2-out audio interface on the list.

It has an XLR and TRS (1/4″) input, making it ideal for those who are looking at recording both instrument and vocals. Additionally, it provides 48v phantom power, so you can connect and power your condenser microphones with ease.

The audio interface boasts some impressive audio recording metrics, being able to record in 24-bit/192kHz, which is quite a rarity in an interface below $100.

Additionally, it has a frequency response from 20Hz – 20kHz, so you can rest assured knowing that the interface will be able to handle your sub-bass, bass, mid-range and treble frequencies with ease.

As for the unit’s latency, it really performs well, providing a low output latency of around 6.4ms, which is not noticeable to the human ear.

Overall, we think that M-Audio has created a fantastic, budget-range interface which is not only great value for money, but it delivers in its ability to provide high-quality audio recordings, with near to 0 latency (6.4ms to be exact).

Therefore, if you’re just looking for a 2-in/2-out interface, for a very reasonable price, the M-Track 2×2 may be the one for you!

However, there are no mentions of a customer warranty, as with other similarly priced products (Focusrite Scarlet 2i2) which come with a 2-year limited warranty.

 

>>>Check out the Latest Amazon Customer Reviews of the M-Audio M-Track 2×2 C-Series<<<

 

 


Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen)


Features

  • 2-in/2-out interface
  • Sleek design
  • Reputable company
  • Very affordable
  • Compatible with all major DAWs
  • Zero-latency monitoring (Around 6ms)
  • Includes Pro Tools & additional software
  • 2-year limited warranty

Technical Specifications

  • 2-in/2-out
    • 2 XLR/TRS Combination inputs
    • L & R output
  • USB connectivity
  • 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response
  • 48v Phantom power
  • 24-bit/192kHz
  • Weight : 0.92kg
  • Dimensions : 1.9 x 6.9 x 4.3¬† inches
  • Compatible with Mac & PC

Summary

The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is, what Focusrite consider, “The world’s best-selling audio interface”, at least that’s what they state on their website.

Now, we believe them! Why exactly, well because Focusrite has been an industry-leading audio interface manufacturer for years on end, and their Scarlett range has been particularly successful. You only have to take a look at the number of positive Amazon reviews [which we’ve linked to further below] to see how popular the 2i2 interface is.

As for the product specs, it’s a 2-in/2-out interface, which features 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs, making it perfect for those who want the versatility of using the interface to connect either two microphones, two instruments or one of each.

Additionally, it too has some impressive specs, supporting a sample rate of up to 192 kHz / 24-bit.

The interface is also fairly compact, making it ideal for those who may want to take this on the road for recording.

Now, as far as latency goes, we’ve read that it’s around 6ms, from users who have tried it.

Overall, Focusrite is an extremely reputable audio interface provider, known for creating quality interfaces. With that being said, we think that this interface is ideal for the musician/singer who wants a 2-in/2-out interface, with the versatility to be able to plug in both XLR or TRS via each input port. If this is you, why not take a look at the product reviews for yourself, directly below.

 

>>Check out the Latest Amazon Customer Reviews of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2<<<

 

 

 


PreSonus Studio 24c 2×2, 192 kHz, USB-C Audio Interface


Features

  • 2-in/2-out interface with Midi
  • Sleek design
  • Reputable company
  • Affordably priced
  • Compatible with all major DAWs
  • Zero-latency monitoring (Around 3ms – reference)
  • Includes Pro Tools & additional software
  • 1-year limited warranty

Technical Specifications

  • 2-in/2-out
    • 2 XLR/TRS Combination inputs
    • L & R output
    • Midi I/O
    • Phone Output
  • USB C connectivity (Bus Powered)
  • 2 XMAX-L preamps
  • 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response
  • 48v Phantom power
  • 24-bit/192kHz
  • Weight : 0.45kg
  • Dimensions : 7.1 x 6.3 x 1.8 ¬†inches
  • Compatible with Mac & PC

Summary

The PreSonus Studio 24c 2×2 is their flagship 2-in/2-out low-latency audio interface.

From a physical standpoint, the interface is designed to look very sleek, with its black center chassis, surrounded by deep blue side compartments.

As for the functionality, it features 2 combination (XLR/TRS) inputs at the front of the unit, and five control knobs for general volume/mixer parameter changes.

As for the back of the interface, it has a MIDI input/output, which other cheaper interfaces do not have. Additionally, it has 2 main TRS outputs, alongside a phones TRS output.

The unit is bus-powered and connects to both a Mac and PC via a USB-C cable.

Now, when it comes to latency, the company have said that the unit has a roundtrip latency of around 3ms, which is extremely low.

Overall, we think that readers who are looking for a 2-in/2-out interface, with the versatility to be able to plug in XLR or TRS into each port, as well as MIDI input and output capability and a phones output, will most certainly want to take a look at the PreSonus Studio 24c 2×2 interface. Not only does it provide a lot of functionality for an affordable price, but the latency levels are very low.

If you’re interested in learning more about what customers think about the unit, take a read of some of the product reviews for yourself that we’ve linked to on Amazon.

 

>Check out the Latest Amazon Customer Reviews of the PreSonus Studio 24c 2×2<<<

 

 

 


Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface


Features

  • 8 Analog inputs / 6 Analog outputs
  • Solid design & build quality
  • Incredible value for money
  • Highly reputable brand
  • Compatible with all major DAWs (comes with Pro Tools)
  • Zero-latency monitoring (Around 7ms – reference)
  • Includes Pro Tools & additional software
  • 2-year limited warranty

Technical Specifications

  • 8-in/6-out
    • 4 XLR/TRS Combination inputs
    • 4 TRS inputs (back of interface)
    • 2 phone out (front of interface)
    • 2 main/monitor outputs (back of interface)
    • Midi I/O
    • SPDIF I/O
  • USB C connectivity (Not Bus Powered)
  • 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response
  • 48v Phantom power
  • 12v power supply powered
  • 24-bit/192kHz
  • Weight : 1.69kg
  • Dimensions : 7.4 x 9 x 2.5 inches
  • Compatible with Mac & PC

Summary

The Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (2nd Gen) is another Scarlett unit that we’ve featured within our list of the top low-latency recording audio interfaces.

The unit is physically quite a large unit, weighing in at around 1.69kg, and this is because, under the sleek chassis, there’s quite a lot of functionality… All of which provides great value for money.

It comes with 4 XLR/TRS combination inputs on the front of the unit, and 4 TRS inputs on the back of the interface, ideal for those musicians/studio engineers who want to be able to comfortably record up to 8 inputs simultaneously.

Not to mention, the MIDI I/O and SPDIF I/O may also be a selling point for some musicians.

Additionally, the unit has 2 phones outputs on the front of the interface, and 2 monitor outputs at the rear of the interface.

Overall,¬†this is a great audio interface for those musicians who don’t want to break the bank, whilst getting a lot of audio inputs/outputs in the process. As for the unit’s latency, it’s around 7ms which is still very good, and the customer reviews of the audio interface (linked to directly below) indicate that the overall verdict on the unit is very good.

 

 

 

 


M-Audio M-Track 8X4M Audio Interface


Features

  • 8 Analog inputs / 4 Analog outputs
  • Sleek black and grey design
  • Affordable pricing
  • Established, reputable brand
  • Compatible with all major DAWs (comes with Pro Tools First Edition)
  • Zero-latency monitoring (Around 2.59ms – reference)
  • Includes Pro Tools (First Edition) & additional software
  • 2-year limited warranty

Technical Specifications

  • 8-in/6-out
    • 4 XLR/TRS Combination inputs
    • 4 TRS inputs (2 located on the front, 2 located on the back)
    • 4 TRS outputs (located at the rear of the unit)
    • MIDI I/O
  • Featured Crystal Preamps (MAudio developed)
  • USB-C connectivity
  • 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response
  • 48v Phantom power
  • 12v power supply powered
  • 24-bit/192kHz
  • Weight : 1.36kg
  • Dimensions : 9.4 x 2.4 x 7.7 inches
  • Compatible with Mac & PC

Summary

The M-Audio M-Track 8x4M audio interface is the older brother to the M-Audio M-Track 2X2 C-Series, which we talked about earlier, and comes with the same rugged metal chassis,.

This older brother is packed full of functionality, and has more inputs, outputs and upgraded technology inside, with M-Audio boasting their newly developed Crystal Preamps.

The interface has 4 XLR/TRS combination inputs located on the back, alongside 4 TRS inputs, which are split between the front and back of the unit

Additionally, the audio interface has 4 TRS ouputs, which are located at the back of the unit. All of which makes for a sleek-looking, highly functional unit.

It has a MIDI I/O, and can be connected to your Mac / PC via USB-C connectivity.

However, the unit is not bus-powered, and requires a 12v power supply.

Overall, the unit really delivers in providing ultra-low latency times (being around 2.59ms), and combined with the amount of inputs/outputs, really makes for an appealing audio interface.

Therefore, if you’re able to deal with 8-inputs and 4-outputs, at this affordable price, then the M-Audio M-Track 8x4M interface may be the one for you.

We recommend taking a read of the customer reviews on Amazon (linked to directly below), which are extremely positive.

 

Check out the Latest Amazon Customer Reviews of the M-Audio M-Track 8X4M<<<

 

 

 


iZotope Spire Studio Audio Interface


Features

  • 2 analog inputs / 2 analog outputs
  • Highly compact & portable audio interface
  • Wireless connectivity to phone or tablet
  • Sleek design with nice LED lights
  • Simple user interface
  • Sleek black and grey design
  • Optional battery power
  • Only compatible with Spire App for recording
  • Zero-latency monitoring (Exact amount not specified
  • 45 days limited warranty

Technical Specifications

  • 2-in / 2-out
    • 2 XLR/TRS Combination inputs
    • 2 1/8″ outputs (headphone outs on front and back)
  • Grace Design custom preamps
  • 48v Phantom power
  • Battery-powered (4-hour life) or 5v power supply powered
  • 24-bit/48kHz
  • Weight : 0.72kg
  • Dimensions : 4.8 x 4.4 x 3.4 inches
  • Compatible with Android & iOS

Summary

The iZotope Spire Studio is an audio interface designed with the traveling musician in mind.

Physically, the unit is very small, making it very portable and thus, able to be transported almost anywhere.

The unit has 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs so it’s perfect for the singer/songwriter who wants to record vocals and an accompanying instrument simultaneously, such as guitar or piano.

Where the unit differs when compared to most audio interfaces, is in it’s connectivity to the DAW (which happens wirelessly).

The iZotope Spire Studio is only compatible with the Spire app, which can be downloaded onto your android or iOS application, and so this may be a limitation for some.

The audio interface can be powered through a 5v power supply, or it can be battery-powered, which allows for up to 4+ hours of usage.

Overall, This unit is definitely suited for the musician on the move, who are looking for an easy way to record, without necessarily being fussy about the specific DAW they record on.

However, for the price, we think that this is quite expensive, considering the functionality. If you can deal with a unit which is slightly larger, such as the M-Audio M-Track 8X4M Audio Interface, which provides better functionality and higher quality recordings, then we recommend taking a look at that instead.

None-the-less, Spire Studio have created a product which suits a specific criterion, of being highly portable.

 

Check out the Latest Amazon Customer Reviews of the iZotope Spire Studio<<<

 

 

 


Tascam US-20×20 USB 3.0 Audio Interface


Features

  • 20 analog inputs / 20 analog outputs
  • Large interface with multiple I/O
  • Three operational modes (Audio interface, Digital Mixer & 8-Channel Digital Mic Preamp)
  • Eight Ultra-HDDA preamps
  • Zero-latency monitoring (Around 11ms when using USB 2.0 – reference, USB 3.0 latency is unknown)
  • 1-year limited warranty

Technical Specifications

  • 20-in / 20-out
  • Thunderbolt connectivity
  • MIDI I/O
  • Coaxial I/O
  • Optical S/MUX I/O
  • 48v Phantom power
  • 24-bit/96kHz
  • Weight : 2.7kg
  • Dimensions : 5.2 x 2.3 x 8.7 inches
  • Compatible with PC & Mac

Summary

The Tascam US-20×20 audio interface is a unit designed for those who require many inputs and outputs for a reasonable price (when costing it per input/output).

Tascam have been in the industry for years, and are known for creating more affordable audio recording equipment.

With that being said, the Tascam US-series has received a large amount of positive feedback, all of which can be seen from the customer reviews featured on Amazon (we’ve linked to those below).

The unit itself has three operational modes, which include the Audio Interface, Digital Mixer and 8-Channel Digital Microphone Preamp.

Additionally, it comes with a MIDI I/O for those who may want this.

However, the saying goes that “you get what you pay for”, and regarding the unit’s roundtrip latency, it stands at around 11ms (when using USB 2.0), but this is USB 3.0 compatible, so we’re guessing that it must be faster (which would make sense considering the positive customer feedback).

Overall,¬†The interface has fantastic customer reviews (which we’ve linked to below), and therefore if you’re looking at an affordable interface which provides more inputs/outputs, then this unit may be ideal for you.

 

>>Check out the Latest Amazon Customer Reviews of the¬†Tascam US-20×20<<<

 

 

 


Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Solo


Features

  • 2 analog inputs / 6 analog outputs
  • Premium-priced audio interface by Universal Audio
  • Solo Processor
  • Ultra high-quality internal circuitry
  • 2 mic/line preamps
  • UAD Plugin bundle (Compressors, EQs, etc), suitable for all major DAWs
  • Zero-latency monitoring (Sub 2ms with their UAD Processing)
  • 1-year limited warranty

Technical Specifications

  • 2-in / 6-out
    • 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs
    • 4 line outputs
  • Thunderbolt connectivity
  • 48v Phantom power
  • Powered by a 12v power supply
  • 24-bit/96kHz
  • Weight : 1.74kg
  • Dimensions : 6.0 x 8.0 x 8.0 inches
  • Compatible with PC & Mac

Summary

The Apollo Twin MKII Solo by Universal Audio is the creme-de-la-creme of audio interfaces when it comes to the quality of its components and build.

It provides a 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs, and 4 line outputs, making it decent for musicians who only need a few inputs for simultaneous recording.

Now the real selling point of this interface is in the internal circuitry and its thunderbolt connectivity, which allow it to achieve a sub-2ms latency. And this is when using UAD plugins, which are supplied.

As mentioned, the unit comes with a Universal Audios plugin bundle, which include

Legacy versions of the LA-2A, 1176LN, Pultec EQP-1A, plus Softube Amp Room Essentials, Raw Distortion, 610-B Tube Preamp & EQ, and more

Additionally, the unit has a built-in talkback microphone, which is useful in a home studio environment.

Overall,¬†if you’ve got a large budget, and you’re not looking for an audio interface with too many inputs, then the Apollo Twin MKII Solo may be for you. Additionally, the company provide upgraded versions (which have more processing power), the Duo and the Quad.

 

>>>Check out the Latest Amazon Customer Reviews of the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Solo<<<

 

 

 


MOTU UltraLite AVB USB & iOS Interface


Features

  • Highly reputable company MOTU
  • Heavy-duty casing
  • 36-simultaneous audio channels
  • 10 analog inputs / 8 analog outputs
  • 8-channel Optical I/O
  • IOS & Android support (wireless control from devices)
  • USB 2.0/USB 3.0 compatible
  • DSP powered mixing – 48 channels & 12 busses
  • Zero-latency monitoring (5ms latency –¬† referenced from Amazon Reviews)
  • 2-year limited warranty

Technical Specifications

  • 18-in / 18-out
    • 2 TRS Guitar inputs
    • 2 XLR inputs
    • 6 line inputs
    • 8 line outputs
    • 8-channel optical I/O
    • MIDI I/O
  • USB Connectivity
  • 48v Phantom power
  • Powered by a 15v power supply
  • 24-bit/192kHz
  • Weight : 1.13kg
  • Dimensions : 8.6 x 7.o x 1.75 inches
  • Compatible with PC & Mac

Summary

The MOTU UltraLite AVB interface is truly the interface for professional musicians and engineers. Why do we say that, well because everything about it leans towards large-scale recording functionality.

It provides 36 simultaneous recording channels, offering 10 analog inputs and 8 analog outputs, which are a selection of XLR and Line ports. The optical I/O also provides even more input and output capability.

The unit connects to either a PC or Mac via USB 2.0 / USB 3.0, offering high data transfer speeds.

Additionally, the digital mixer for the Ultralite AVB, provides 48 channels and 12 busses, all of which can even be controlled with your Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android device, by using the web app served by the physical hardware itself.

Not to mention, the UltraLite AVB can be further expanded, using the MOTU AVB Switch, which enables you to connect up to five MOTU interfaces, so the possibilities are endless.

Overall,¬†the MOTU UltraLite AVB is an interface which is ideal for live setups, professional studios, and aspiring home studios… All of which comes at a cost, but considering it’s made by MOTU, you know that it’s an interface that will provide ultra high-quality recordings and last for a long time.

None-the-less, MOTU is such a reputable brand, that combined with the 2-year limited warranty and the low latency time, it will certainly be an interface to consider.

 

>>Check out the Latest Amazon Customer Reviews of the MOTU UltraLite AVB<<<

 

 

 


Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo & Quad



Features

  • 2 analog inputs / 6 analog outputs
  • Duo or Quad Processor
  • Premium-priced audio interface by Universal Audio
  • Ultra high-quality internal circuitry
  • 2 mic/line preamps
  • UAD Plugin bundle (Compressors, EQs, etc), suitable for all major DAWs
  • Zero-latency monitoring (Sub 2ms with their UAD Processing)
  • 1-year limited warranty

Technical Specifications

  • 2-in / 6-out
    • 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs
    • 4 line outputs
  • Thunderbolt connectivity
  • 48v Phantom power
  • Powered by a 12v power supply
  • 24-bit/96kHz
  • Weight : 1.74kg
  • Dimensions : 6.0 x 8.0 x 8.0 inches
  • Compatible with PC & Mac

Summary

The Apollo Twin MKII Duo & Quad by Universal Audio is the creme-de-la-creme of audio interfaces when it comes to the quality of its components and build.

It provides a 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs, and 4 line outputs, making it decent for musicians who only need a few inputs for simultaneous recording.

Now the real selling point of this interface is in the internal circuitry and its thunderbolt connectivity, which allow it to achieve a sub-2ms latency. And this is when using UAD plugins, which are supplied.

As mentioned, the unit comes with a Universal Audios plugin bundle, which include

Legacy versions of the LA-2A, 1176LN, Pultec EQP-1A, plus Softube Amp Room Essentials, Raw Distortion, 610-B Tube Preamp & EQ, and more

Additionally, the unit has a built-in talkback microphone, which is useful in a home studio environment.

Overall,¬†if you’ve got an even larger budget than the Solo requires, and you’re not looking for an audio interface with too many inputs, then the Apollo Twin MKII Duo or Quad may be for you. Additionally, the company provide upgraded versions (which have more processing power), the Duo and the Quad.

 

>>>Check out the Latest Amazon Customer Reviews of the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo/Quad<<<

 

 


Conclusion

As you’ve realised, we’ve done our very best to provide a range of low-latency audio interfaces to suit any readers budget. So whilst we cannot neccessarily provide one specific product recommendation, all of the above products are excellent in providing low-latency audio recording and monitoring.

If you have any questions, feel free to access our contact page, or leave a comment and we’ll do our best to reply as soon as possible.