Buying Guides, Reviews, and More for Today's Musicians

Top 14 Best Thunderbolt Audio Interfaces (2021 Review)

PreSonus Quantum 2626 26x26 Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface M1 Chip Compatible, 26x26-8 Mic Pres
Universal Audio Apollo x6 Heritage Edition
Apogee ELEMENT 88 - Thunderbolt Audio Interface with 8 World-Class Apogee Mic Preamps and Line Level Inputs, Made in USA
Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII Heritage Edition
Zoom TAC2R Thunderbolt Audio Interface
MSRP
$651.25
$2,443.06
$1,495.00
$999.00
$390.92
Our Rating
94
92
92
90
89
Connectivity
Thunderbolt 3
Thunderbolt 3
Thunderbolt
Thunderbolt 3
Thunderbolt
Audio Resolution
24-Bit/192 kHz
24-Bit/192 kHz
24-Bit/192 kHz
24-bit/192kHz
24-bit/192 kHz
MIDI I/O
Yes
No
No
No
Yes
PreSonus Quantum 2626 26x26 Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface M1 Chip Compatible, 26x26-8 Mic Pres
MSRP
$651.25
Our Rating
94
Connectivity
Thunderbolt 3
Audio Resolution
24-Bit/192 kHz
MIDI I/O
Yes
More Information
Universal Audio Apollo x6 Heritage Edition
MSRP
$2,443.06
Our Rating
92
Connectivity
Thunderbolt 3
Audio Resolution
24-Bit/192 kHz
MIDI I/O
No
More Information
Apogee ELEMENT 88 - Thunderbolt Audio Interface with 8 World-Class Apogee Mic Preamps and Line Level Inputs, Made in USA
MSRP
$1,495.00
Our Rating
92
Connectivity
Thunderbolt
Audio Resolution
24-Bit/192 kHz
MIDI I/O
No
More Information
Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII Heritage Edition
MSRP
$999.00
Our Rating
90
Connectivity
Thunderbolt 3
Audio Resolution
24-bit/192kHz
MIDI I/O
No
More Information
Zoom TAC2R Thunderbolt Audio Interface
MSRP
$390.92
Our Rating
89
Connectivity
Thunderbolt
Audio Resolution
24-bit/192 kHz
MIDI I/O
Yes
More Information

In this article we’re going to be discussing what the top 14 Thunderbolt audio interfaces are that are available in 2021.

However, before we dive right into what the best products are, let’s briefly discuss what the benefits are, to using an audio interface with Thunderbolt connectivity.

What are the benefits of using an audio interface with Thunderbolt connectivity?

Firstly, Thunderbolt is mainly used within audio interfaces for Mac computers, however, there are an increasing number of PC laptops which are appearing on the market which are compatible.

Thunderbolt (particularly Thunderbolt 3) connectivity provides a few interesting benefits, which include, allowing for users to connect up to 6 devices to one port without experiencing a loss in transfer speeds.

Additionally, the Thunderbolt connection type is, in general, significantly faster than both USB 2.0, 3.0 and 3.1 (as highlighted in the graph shown below), so you can be sure that latency issues are less of an issue with these interfaces.

After all, we all want a low-latency audio interface.

How to choose the right Thunderbolt-compatible audio interface?

Thunderbolt connectivity for audio interfaces

Well, firstly you have to take into consideration the basic requirements that you demand from an audio interface, and those basic requirements will usually be the cost, number of inputs, number of outputs and customer feedback/reviews.

With that being said, we’ve displayed all of the above, directly below a bullet-pointed list.

The list itself is ordered by the number of inputs/outputs that an audio interface has, with the secondary ordering being by price.

Rest assured that we’ve done research into all of the following interfaces, and they have all been chosen based on their previous customer feedback, brand and value for money.

With all that being said, let’s discuss the top 14 Thunderbolt-compatible audio interfaces.

Zoom TAC-2R 2×2 – Thunderbolt interface

Zoom TAC-2R Thunderbolt Audio Interface

Features

  • Very compact audio interface
  • Ideal for the ‘on the move’ musician
  • Lightweight
  • Sturdy aluminum chassis
  • High-resolution sound quality
  • Near zero latency
  • 1-year free extended warranty

Technical Specifications

  • Thunderbolt (original) connectivity
  • 2 x XLR/TRS (combined) inputs
  • Switchable phantom power
  • 2 (left and right) line outputs
  • 1 x phone output (mono & stereo monitoring)
  • MIDI In and Out
  • 24-bit/192kHz
  • Weight : 0.71kg
  • Dimensions : 4.8″ x 6.9″ x 1.8″ inches

Customer Review Rating

Read Amazon Customer reviews for the Zoom TAC-2R.

Summary

The Zoom TAC-2R is almost identical in size and features to the previously discussed Resident Audio T2, but there’s two key difference (other than slight aesthetic differences) which is the frequency range, with the Zoom TAC offering a considerably higher range, at full fidelity, of 192kHz, where the T2 can only go to 96kHz, and most likely the largest differentiation is there price.

The Zoom TAC-2R is almost 2x the price of the Resident Audio T2.

Therefore, you have to ask yourself, does the additional money paid really provide enough value to be worth it?

If you’re a professional musician playing large gigs/shows, where the P.A’s are high-quality and you want everything to sound perfect, the Zoom TAC 2R is probably for you. Otherwise, the T2 is your option!

Now, to further discuss the Zoom TAC-2R!

Well, it’s clear that its size makes it suitable for musicians on the road, for both recording and playing live shows.

It features 2 combination XLR/TRS inputs, both of which have separate phantom power switches, making it ideal in cases where you only need it on the single channel.

Additionally, the unit has a MIDI input and output, so this is ideal for someone who potentially has a keyboard/synth that they want to additionally connect.

Finally, the unit has 2 dual-balanced line outputs which are the left and right feeds, and 1 headphone output. The Zoom TAC-2R also allows you to easily switch between stereo and mono monitoring, which is extremely useful.

Overall, as we previously touched on, if you’re looking for a lightweight & compact audio interface, providing combination XLR/TRS inputs, that offers fantastic sound quality (24-bit/192 kHz), then this may be for you!

However, if you’re a musician on a budget, but you’re looking for a unit with similar features, take a look at the Resident Audio T2.



Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII 2×6 Heritage Edition – Thunderbolt 3

Features

  • A special edition of UA’s acclaimed Apollo Twin MkII interface
  • Includes a premium suite of 5 award-winning plug-in titles from Teletronix, Pultec, and UA
  • Free LUNA recording system download for Mac users
  • 2×6 Audio Interface with Thunderbolt connectivity
  • Sleek design and high build quality
  • Built-in Talkback microphone for easy communication between the engineer and the musician
  • Comes with real-time analog classics UAD plugin bundle: Including UA 610-B Tube Preamp Legacy Pultec EQ, LA-2A and 1176 compressors, Marshall Plexi Classic, Ampeg SVT-VR Classic, and more
  • Runs with all major mac-compatible DAWs
  • Requires 12DC mains power

Technical Specifications

  • UAD-2 Core DSP Acceleration (three different cores to choose from SOLO, DUO or QUAD)
  • 2 high-quality mic/line preamps (inputs)
  • 6 outputs (2 line outputs, 2 monitor L & R outputs and 2 line/XLR outputs)
  • S/PDIF can be used for a single optical input socket, or for up to 8 channels of digital audio via ADAT format.
  • Thunderbolt Connectivity

Customer Review Rating

Read Amazon Customer reviews for the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Heritage Edition.

Summary

The Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Heritage Edition is a 2 input, 6 output audio interface, with Thunderbolt compatibility.

The Apollo Twin MKII Heritage Edition comes in two variations, the Duo (this one) and the Quad, with each one referring to the number of DSP power cores that it has, which provides processing power to run software plugins.

If you’re looking to use this device just as an audio interface, alongside your DAW plugins and the “free” Universal Audio plugins, then the duo core version is ideal…

However, be mindful that as you add more tracks and enable more plugins, the core is being utilized harder.

Therefore, for those who are looking to run more plugins within your recording & live sessions, you’re probably going to be better with the Quad unit.

The way we see it, is if you’re considering this unit, it’s clear that you’re looking for ultra high-quality sound quality and have the budget to pay for it…

Therefore, what’s the additional hundred or so more, when it means that you can upgrade and get the Duo… So that you can access the full potential of the audio interface without being limited by processing power.

More about the Twin MKII itself!

It features a 24-bit/192kHz audio conversion processor so you can be sure that it provides superior sound quality, but then you’re expecting that for an interface at this price-point.

Additionally, the unit has 2 premium Mic/TRS combination preamps, 2 TRS lines out and 2 monitor (L+R) outputs.

The unit comes with UAD plug-in bundle, featuring legacy versions of the LA-2A, 1176LN, Pultec EQP-1A, plus Softube Amp Room Essentials, Raw Distortion, 610-B Tube Preamp & EQ, and more. It also comes with a premium suite of 5 award-winning plug-in titles from Teletronix, Pultec, and UA.

Not only this, but it also has a talkback mic function, for communication with studio talent for recording and live purposes.

It even comes with Console 2.0 software, which features channel strip presets, drag and drop functionality and runs UAD powered plugins.

Overall, the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Heritage Edition is the happy medium of the product line, with it featuring 2 primary DSP cores, meaning that it’s able to handle additional processing in real-time, extremely useful if you’re looking at using this for live performances, live recordings/sessions.

Regardless of the version you choose (Duo and Quad), they both still feature the same “creme-de-la-creme” audio technology, and so you’re still getting the same wondrous dry sound quality in the Duo, in comparison to the Quad.


Universal Audio Apollo Twin X QUAD 2×6 Heritage Edition – Thunderbolt 3

Features

  • A special edition of UA’s acclaimed Apollo Twin X interface
  • Includes a premium suite of 5 award-winning plug-in titles from Teletronix, Pultec, and UA
  • Sleek design
  • Dual core processing – 4 DSP core processors
  • Compact and portable
  • Download low-latency app
  • Features two Unison™ enabled mic preamps
  • Sturdy aluminum chassis
  • Ultra high-resolution sound quality with Apollo AD & D/A converters
  • Near zero latency
  • Up to 8 channels of additional digital input via optical ADAT/SPDIF inpu
  • Monitoring & built-in talkback mic
  • Comes with a selection of UA plugins

Technical Specifications

  • Thunderbolt 3 connectivity
  • 2 x XLR/TRS (combined) inputs
  • Switchable phantom power
  • 2 (left and right) line outputs
  • 2 x phone output (left and right monitoring)
  • A 12V power supply is required for operation
  • 24-bit/192kHz
  • Weight : 1.95 kg (4.29 pounds)
  • Dimensions : 9″ x 8″ x 8″ inches
  • Compatible with Mac & Windows

Customer Review Rating

Read Amazon Customer reviews for the Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Quad Heritage Edition.

Summary

The Apollo Twin X Quad is a 2 input, 6 output audio interface, with Thunderbolt 3 compatibility.

The Apollo Twin X Quad comes in two variations, Duo and Quad (this one), with each one referring to the number of DSP power cores that it has, which provides processing power to run software plugins.

If you’re looking to use this device just as an audio interface, alongside your DAW plugins and the “free” Universal Audio plugins, then the Duo version is ideal…

However, be mindful that as you add more tracks and enable more plugins, the core is being utilized harder.

Therefore, for those who are looking to run more plugins within your recording & live sessions, you’re probably going to be better off with this Quad unit.

The way we see it is, if you’re considering this unit, it’s clear that you’re looking for ultra high-quality sound quality and have the budget to pay for it.

Therefore, what’s the additional hundred or so more, when it means that you can upgrade and get the Quad?

So that you can access the full potential of the audio interface without being limited by processing power.

More about the Quad itself!

It features a 24-bit/192kHz audio conversion processor so you can be sure that it provides superior sound quality, but then you’re expecting that for an interface at this price-point.

Additionally, the unit has 2 premium Mic/TRS combination preamps, 2 TRS lines out and 2 monitor (L+R) outputs.

The unit comes with UAD plug-in bundle, featuring legacy versions of the LA-2A, 1176LN, Pultec EQP-1A, plus Softube Amp Room Essentials, Raw Distortion, 610-B Tube Preamp & EQ, and more.

Not only this, but it also has a talkback mic function, for communication with studio talent for recording and live purposes.

It even comes with Console 2.0 software, which features channel strip presets, drag and drop functionality and runs UAD powered plugins.

Overall, the Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Quad is the most expensive version in the product-line, featuring 4 primary DSP cores, making it extremely flexible and able to handle simultaneous processing with ease.

This version is more ideal for someone who’s going to require this kind of additional processing power, such as electronic music producers, or musicians who want to be able to use plenty of UA plugins, over multiple tracks within a session.

These additional cores also make it the most suited for live performances and live recordings/sessions as it’s less likely to be affected by latency issues.

However, regardless of the version you choose (Duo or Quad), they all still feature the same “creme-de-la-creme” audio technology, and so you’re still getting the same wondrous dry sound quality in the Quad in comparison to the Duo.


Apogee Element 46 12 x 14 – Thunderbolt

Apogee ELEMENT 46 - Thunderbolt

Features

  • Ultra high-quality circuitry & preamps
  • Incredibly reputable company
  • Sleek design
  • Rack-mountable
  • Premium-priced
  • No MIDI Input/Output

Technical Specifications

  • Thunderbolt (original) connectivity
  • 4 x XLR/TRS (combined) inputs
  • Switchable phantom power
  • L + R main outputs
  • 8 ADAT/Optical inputs and outputs
  • Word Clock I/O
  • 24-bit/96kHz
  • Weight: 0.34kg
  • Dimensions : 5.8″ x 3.8″ x 1″ inches
  • Compatible with Mac only

Customer Review Rating

Read Amazon Customer reviews for the Apogee Element 46.

Summary

Apogee is a company that needs no introduction in the audio interface industry.

They are what we like to call the “Apple of the audio interface” world, developing ultra sleek, high-quality equipment that oozes with finesse and luxurious sonic capabilities.

You might tell by now that we’re fans of Apogee, and have used their audio interfaces upon many occasions.

As for the Element 46, well, it’s very similar to it’s younger brother, the Apogee Element 24, but instead the Element 46 has 4 XLR/TRS combination inputs as opposed to the Element 24’s 2.

It’s a 12 x 14 Thunderbolt audio interface unit, which is rack-mountable.

In direct comparison to other units on the list, this one suits being left in the rackmount cabinet (if you’re playing live shows) or in your studio if you’ve got it as part of your studio setup…

What we’re trying to say is that it’s not as portable as other units.

Now, how about operating the unit?

Well, alongside the Element 46 comes the ‘Element Control’ software, which provides virtual control of important hardware parameters, including input gain, output level and low-latency monitoring.

However, what you’re getting from this Apogee unit is a Mac-compatible ultra-low latency interface, and with its 2 analog inputs, accompanied by some mighty mic preamps…

It’s clear that this unit is made for someone who’s putting sound quality above everything else.

Overall, the Apogee Element 46 is marketed as a premium-quality unit and with knowing the quality of their other units, we can safely assume that this unit provides exceptional sound quality.

It’s ideal if you’re looking for unit providing 4 XLR/TRS inputs.

However, if you’re looking for even more inputs, whether or not it’s better to choose the Element 24 and then expand with an ADAT (optical) device, such as the Behringer 8-ch AD/DA Converter, is certainly an option.

Otherwise, if you want to stick with Apogee, why not take a look at their Apogee Element 88, which has even more inputs, we’ve featured it next on the list. 


Apogee Element 88-Thunderbolt Audio Interface

Apogee ELEMENT 88 - Thunderbolt Audio Interface

Features

  • Ultra high-quality circuitry & preamps
  • Incredibly reputable company
  • Sleek design
  • Rack-mountable
  • Premium-priced
  • No MIDI Input/Output

Technical Specifications

  • Thunderbolt (original) connectivity
  • 4 x XLR/TRS (combined) inputs
  • 4 x XLR inputs
  • Switchable phantom power
  • 2 monitoring TRS outputs (frontside)
  • L + R main outputs
  • L + R alt outputs
  • 16 ADAT/Optical inputs and outputs
  • Word Clock I/O
  • 24-bit/96kHz
  • Weight: 1.58kg
  • Dimensions : 13.5″ x 5.5″ x 1.8″ inches
  • Compatible with Mac only

Customer Review Rating

Read Amazon Customer reviews for the Apogee Element 88.

Summary

Apogee is a company that needs no introduction in the audio interface industry.

They are what we like to call the “Apple of the audio interface” world, developing ultra sleek, high-quality equipment that oozes with finesse and luxurious sonic capabilities.

You might tell by now that we’re fans of Apogee, and have used their audio interfaces upon many occasions.

As for the Element 88, well, it’s very similar to it’s two younger brothers, the Apogee Element 24 and 46, but instead, the Element 88 has 4 XLR/TRS combination inputs and 4 standard XLR inputs, giving you a lot more freedom when it comes to channel availability

It’s a 16 x 16 Thunderbolt audio interface unit, which is rack-mountable.

In direct comparison to other units on the list, this one suits being left in the rackmount cabinet (if you’re playing live shows) or in your studio if you’ve got it as part of your studio setup…

What we’re trying to say is that it’s not as portable as other units.

Now, how about operating the unit?

Well, alongside the Element 46 comes the ‘Element Control’ software, which provides virtual control of important hardware parameters, including input gain, output level and low-latency monitoring.

However, what you’re getting from this Apogee unit is a Mac-compatible ultra-low latency interface, and with its 8 analog inputs, accompanied by some mighty mic preamps…

It’s clear that this unit is made for someone who’s putting sound quality above everything else.

Overall, the Apogee Element 88 is marketed as a premium-quality unit, capable of handling 8 channels of XLR (4 with TRS functionality) simultaneously, whilst providing exceptional sound quality.

It’s ideal if you’re looking for unit providing 8 XLR inputs, suiting professional sound engineers/musicians who are looking for a high-quality recording/live audio solution.

As we’ve previously discussed, Apogee charge a substantial amount to allow their customers access to 8 channels, when instead, you could try to keep costs down by purchasing the Element 24 and then expanding its functionality with an ADAT (optical) device, such as the Behringer 8-ch AD/DA Converter. Which provides as many inputs for half of the price.

However, we realize that some will still want to choose the Apogee Element 88 despite the price-point, but we’re just here to outline the potential solutions no matter your budget.



Focusrite Clarett 8Pre 18×20 8 channel – Thunderbolt

Focusrite Clarett 8Pre

Features

  • Ultra high-quality circuitry & preamps
  • Incredibly reputable company
  • Sleek design
  • Rack-mountable
  • Premium-priced
  • Focusrite Control: Remote control from iPhone, iPad or iPod touch
  • 2GB Loopmasters samples
  • Ableton Live Lite, Red 2 & 3, Softube time & tone bundle is included as a free download

Technical Specifications

  • Thunderbolt (original) connectivity
  • 8 x XLR/TRS (combined) inputs
  • Switchable phantom power
  • 2 monitoring TRS outputs (frontside)
  • 10 line outputs (2 of which are monitor outputs)
  • MIDI input/output
  • SPDIF input/output
  • 24-bit/192kHz
  • Weight: 5.6kg
  • Dimensions : 8″ x 18″ x 24″ inches]
  • 2-year manufacturers warranty
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows

Customer Review Rating

Read Amazon Customer reviews for the Focusrite Clarett 8Pre.

Summary

Focusrite is another company that needs zero introduction within the audio interface industry… Mainly because they’ve been creating industry-leading products at extremely affordable prices for years. Not only this, but the brand doesn’t use its affordability to mask any quality issues.

On the contrary, they use only the best circuitry and even include 2-years manufacturers warranty with their products… With that being said, the Clarett audio interface that we’re going to be discussing offers a 24-bit/192kHz audio resolution, so you can expect ultra-high sound quality.

The Focusrite Clarett is another unit on the list which suits being rack-mounted from the outset; It features 8 XLR/TRS combination inputs and 10 TRS line outputs. Additionally, the unit has MIDI input & output capability, optical input/output, S/PDIF input, and output.

Where the unit really excels is regarding its 8 specifically-designed microphone preamps, which include a unique analog-sounding “air” effect mode. This mode emulates the sound of Focusrite’s classic transformer-based ISA preamps and thus provides a more vintage, signature sound… And a sound which is behind thousands of hit records.

Overall, this is a great audio interface with Thunderbolt connectivity for anyone who’s looking for 8 XLR/TRS inputs/8 Line outputs, additional functionality combined with a 2-year manufacturers warranty and unique preamps offering their custom “air” effect mode.

However, if you’re looking for even more inputs/outputs, whilst still looking for a Focusrite unit with 2-year manufacturers warranty, take a look at one of the ‘older brothers’ in the series, which we’ve featured below.


Focusrite Clarett 8PreX 26×28  – Thunderbolt

Focusrite Clarett 8PreX style:8PreX – 26 in / 28 out

Features

  • Ultra high-quality circuitry & preamps
  • Incredibly reputable company
  • Sleek design
  • Rack-mountable
  • Premium-priced
  • Focusrite Control: Remote control from iPhone, iPad or iPod touch
  • 2GB Loopmasters samples
  • Ableton Live Lite, Red 2 & 3, Softube time & tone bundle is included as a free download

Technical Specifications

  • Thunderbolt (original) connectivity
  • 8 x XLR/TRS (combined) inputs
  • Switchable phantom power
  • 2 monitoring TRS outputs (frontside)
  • 10 line outputs (2 of which are monitor outputs)
  • MIDI input/output
  • SPDIF input/output
  • 24-bit/192kHz
  • Weight: 5.6kg
  • Dimensions : 8″ x 18″ x 24″ inches]
  • 2-year manufacturers warranty
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows

Customer Review Rating

Read Amazon Customer reviews for the Focusrite Clarett 8PreX.

Summary

Focusrite is another company that needs zero introduction within the audio interface industry… Mainly because they’ve been creating industry-leading products at extremely affordable prices for years. Not only this, but the brand doesn’t use its affordability to mask any quality issues.

On the contrary, they use only the best circuitry and even include 2-years manufacturers warranty with their products… With that being said, the Clarett audio interface that we’re going to be discussing offers a 24-bit/192kHz audio resolution, so you can expect ultra-high sound quality.

The Focusrite Clarett is another unit on the list which suits being rack-mounted from the outset; It features 8 XLR/TRS combination inputs and 10 TRS line outputs. Additionally, the unit has MIDI input & output capability, optical input/output, S/PDIF input, and output.

Where the unit really excels is regarding its 8 specifically-designed microphone preamps, which include a unique analog-sounding “air” effect mode. This mode emulates the sound of Focusrite’s classic transformer-based ISA preamps and thus provides a more vintage, signature sound… And a sound which is behind thousands of hit records.

Overall, this is a great audio interface with Thunderbolt connectivity for anyone who’s looking for 8 XLR/TRS inputs/8 Line outputs, additional functionality combined with a 2-year manufacturers warranty and unique preamps offering their custom “air” effect mode.


PreSonus Quantum 2626 26×26 Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface

Features

  • Up to 26-in/26-out when expanded via dual ADAT Optical
  • Ultra high-quality circuitry & preamps
  • Presonus’ fastest Thunderbolt 3 interface interface, with round-trip latency of less than 1 ms
  • Sleek design  & Rack-mountable
  • Premium-priced
  • XMAX Class A analog microphone preamps
  • Studio One Artist and Studio Magic Plug-in Suite included
  • 1-year warranty

Technical Specifications

  • Thunderbolt (3) connectivity
  • 8 x XLR/TRS (combined) inputs
  • Switchable phantom power
  • 1 monitoring TRS output (frontside)
  • 8 line outputs
  • 2 main outputs
  • 2 preamp outputs
  • MIDI input/output
  • SPDIF input/output
  • 24-bit/192kHz
  • Weight: 2.27 kg (5 pounds)
  • Dimensions : 7.5″ x 19″ x 1.75″ inches
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows

Customer Review Rating

Read Amazon Customer reviews for the Presonus Quantum 2626 Audio Interface.

Summary

The Presonus Quantum 2626 is a 26X26 audio interface, and is noted as being the fastest audio interface that Presonus has in its vaunted audio interface lineup.

The unit itself is fairly premium-priced, and for this, you’re getting a Thunderbolt 3 compatible interface (meaning minimal latency), featuring 8 XLR/TRS combination inputs, alongside 8 line outputs and a range of additional features, including MIDI input/output, SPDIF input/output and last of all, the unit’s fantastic XMAX Class A analog preamps.

A vintage mode used in hundreds of hit songs. However, where the Presonus unit stands out is with its connectivity, using Thunderbolt 3, as opposed to the Clarett using the original Thunderbolt connection.

The bitrate of Thunderbolt is 10 Gbps in comparison to the Thunderbolt 3’s 40 Gbps. So the Presonus is the clear winner here when it comes to having near to zero latency issues, unless you’re looking at the expensive Universal Audio Apollo series units.

The Presonus Quantum 2626 interface does have fantastic internal equipment, and the fact that they allow users to stack additional Presonus Quantum devices via Thunderbolt to achieve more inputs/outputs makes it great for a studio looking at expanding further down the line

Overall, Presonus are incredibly well-known and reputable within the field. This Quantum 2626 interface is ideal for a studio who wants high-quality recordings, near to zero latency with its Thunderbolt 3 connection, and are open to the ability to expand operations further down the line, with the ability to stack multiple units for more inputs/outputs.


Presonus Quantum 26×32 interface – Thunderbolt 2

Presonus Quantum 26x32 Thunderbolt 2

Features

  • Ultra high-quality circuitry & preamps
  • Presonus’ fastest & best-selling audio interface line
  • Sleek design  & rack-mountable
  • Ultra-low latency with its Thunderbolt 2 connectivity
  • Premium-priced
  • Versatile, with the ability to achieve 96×96  by stacking up to four Quantum 2s via Thunderbolt
  • XMAX Class A analog microphone preamps
  • Studio One Artist and Studio Magic Plug-in Suite included
  • 1-year warranty

Technical Specifications

  • Thunderbolt (2) connectivity
  • 8 x XLR/TRS (combined) inputs
  • Switchable phantom power
  • 2 monitoring TRS output (frontside)
  • 8 line outputs
  • MIDI input/output
  • SPDIF input/output
  • 24-bit/192kHz
  • Weight: 2.72kg
  • Dimensions : 7″ x 19″ x 1.8″ inches
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows

Customer Review Rating

Read Amazon Customer reviews for the Presonus Quantum 2 26 x 32 interface.

Summary

The Presonus Quantum 2 is a 26 x 32 audio interface, and is noted as being part of one of PreSonus’s fastest and best-selling audio interface lines that Presonus have.

The unit itself is premium-priced, and for this, you’re getting a Thunderbolt 2 compatible interface (meaning minimal latency), featuring 8 XLR/TRS combination inputs, alongside 8 line outputs and a range of additional features, including MIDI input/output, SPDIF input/output and last of all, the unit’s fantastic XMAS Class A analog preamps.

Now, this unit is priced similarly to the Focusrite Clarett 8Pre unit, which features the same amount of combination XLR/TRS ports, but comes with 2-year manufacturers warranty(compared to Presonus’ 1-year warranty)and has some nice sounding preamps which have the ability to emulate the sound of Focusrite’s classic transformer-based ISA preamps when in “air” mode…

A vintage mode used in hundreds of hit songs. However, where the Presonus unit stands out is with it’s connectivity, using Thunderbolt 2, as opposed to the Clarett using the original Thunderbolt connection.

The bitrate of Thunderbolt is 10 Gbps in comparison to the Thunderbolt 2’s 20 Gbps… So the Presonus is the clear winner here when it comes to having near to zero latency issues, unless you’re looking at the expensive Universal Audio Apollo series units.

The Presonus Quantum 2 26 x 32 interface does have fantastic internal equipment, and the fact that they allow users to stack up to four Quantum 2s via Thunderbolt to achieve 96 x 96 inputs/outputs makes it great for a studio looking at expanding further down the line

Overall, Presonus are incredibly well-known and reputable within the field. This Quantum 2 22 x 24 interface is ideal for a studio who wants high-quality recordings, near to zero latency with its Thunderbolt 2 connection, and are open to the ability to expand operations further down the line, with the ability to stack multiple units for more inputs/outputs.


PreSonus Audio 48×48 interface – All Line Inputs – Thunderbolt 2

PreSonus Quantum 4848 48x48

Features

  • Ultra high-quality circuitry & preamps
  • Presonus’ fastest & best-selling audio interface line
  • Sleek design  & rack-mountable
  • Ultra-low latency with its Thunderbolt 2 connectivity
  • Premium-priced
  • Versatile, with the ability to achieve 192 x 192  by stacking up to four Quantum 2s via Thunderbolt
  • XMAX Class A analog microphone preamps
  • Studio One Artist and Studio Magic Plug-in Suite included
  • 1-year warranty

Technical Specifications

  • Thunderbolt (2) connectivity
  • All line inputs
  • 32 channels of DB25 line-level I/O 
  • 2 monitoring TRS output (frontside)
  • 8 line outputs
  • 24-bit/192kHz
  • Weight: 2.72kg
  • Dimensions : 7″ x 19″ x 1.8″ inches
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows

Customer Review Rating

Read Amazon Customer reviews for the Presonus Quantum 2 48 x 48.

Summary

The Presonus Quantum 2 is a 48 x 48 ‘All Line Input’ audio interface, and is noted as being part of one of PreSonus’s fastest and best-selling audio interface lines that Presonus have.

The unit itself is premium-priced, and for this, you’re getting a Thunderbolt 2 compatible interface (meaning minimal latency), featuring 32 channels of analog balanced line inputs/outputs via DB25.

As we’ve previously talked about, it’s clear that the Presonus units stand out when it comes to discussing the Thunderbolt connectivity, as it uses Thunderbolt 2.

The bitrate of Thunderbolt is 10 Gbps in comparison to the Thunderbolt 2’s 20 Gbps… So the Presonus is the clear winner here when it comes to having near to zero latency issues, unless you’re looking at the expensive Universal Audio Apollo series units.

This particular unit can be combined with 4 other Quantums via the Thunderbolt connections on the back, meaning that it’s expandable to 192 x 192. Ideal for a studio looking at expanding further down the line

Overall, Presonus are incredibly well-known and reputable within the field.

This Quantum 2 48 x 48 interface is ideal for a studio looking for an ‘all line input’ audio interface, which offers high-quality recordings, near to zero latency with its Thunderbolt 2 connection, and are open to the ability to expand operations further down the line, with the ability to stack multiple units for more inputs/outputs.


Universal Audio Apollo x6 16 x 22 Heritage Edition – Thunderbolt 3

Universal Audio Apollo x6 Interface

Features

  • Includes premium suite of 10 award-winning plug-in titles from Teletronix, Pultec, and UA
  • Free LUNA recording system download for Mac users
  • High-quality A/D & D/A conversion with lowest signal to noise ratio
  • HEXA Core processing, featuring 6 UAD DSP chips
  • 2 Unison-enabled microphone preamps
  • Surround formats (up to 5.1)
  • Built-in talkback feature
  • Sleek design  & rack-mountable
  • Ultra-low latency with its Thunderbolt 3 connectivity
  • Premium-priced
  • Included 16 UAD powered plugins
  • 1-year warranty

Technical Specifications

  • Thunderbolt (3) connectivity
  • 2 x mic preamps
  • 2 x XLR inputs
  • 6 x Line inputs
  • Switchable phantom power
  • 2 monitoring TRS output (frontside)
  • 8 line outputs (including L & R monitor)
  • SPDIF input/output
  • 2 x ADAT S/MUX input/output
  • 24-bit/192kHz
  • Weight: N/A
  • Dimensions: N/A
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows

Customer Review Rating

Read Amazon Customer reviews for the Apollo x6 Heritage Edition.

Summary

The Universal Audio Apollo x6 16 x 22 is a Thunderbolt 3 (but compatible with Thunderbolt 1 & 2 Macs – with a special adapter) audio interface, which coupled alongside it’s 6-core Hexa Core processors, means that it offers incredibly low (less than 2ms) latency and provides 50% more processing power than the previous Universal Audio Apollo units.

The unit’s Unison Preamp technology allows for users to recreate sounds of the classic LA-610 preamp, without it sounding like an emulation, but more like a near exact-match sound processing. This provides studios with a range of stylistic options when it comes to achieving the right sound for their project.

The special Heritage Edition includes many premium plugins that enhance your ability to create amazing recordings.

One potential disadvantage of this unit is the fact that it only features 2 XLR/TRS inputs (located at the rear). None-the-less, it has an ADAT optical input/output, so you have the ability to expand this capacity if this doesn’t suit your needs… Or purchase a device that provides more XLR inputs.

Overall, Universal Audio have definitely upgraded the technology in this interface when comparing it to previous Apollo units. For us however, we prefer a unit with more XLR inputs, but this may be ideal for some!


Universal Audio Apollo X8P 16 x 22 Heritage Edition – Thunderbolt 3

Universal Audio Apollo x8P Interface

Features

  • Includes premium suite of 10 award-winning plug-in titles from Teletronix, Pultec, and UA
  • High-quality A/D & D/A conversion with lowest signal to noise ratio
  • HEXA Core processing, featuring 6 UAD DSP chips
  • 2 Unison-enabled microphone preamps
  • Surround formats (up to 7.1)
  • Built-in talkback feature
  • Sleek design  & rack-mountable
  • Ultra-low latency with its Thunderbolt 3 connectivity
  • Premium-priced
  • Included 16 UAD powered plugins
  • 1-year warranty

Technical Specifications

  • Thunderbolt (3) connectivity
  • 8 x XLR/TRS combination inputs
  • 6 x Line inputs
  • Switchable phantom power
  • 2 monitoring TRS output (frontside)
  • L & R monitor line output
  • 2 x ADAT S/MUX input/output
  • 24-bit/192kHz
  • Weight: N/A
  • Dimensions: N/A
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows

Customer Review Rating

Read Amazon Customer reviews for the Apollo x8P Heritage Edition.

Summary

The Universal Audio Apollo x6 16 x 22 is a Thunderbolt 3 (but compatible with Thunderbolt 1 & 2 Macs – with a special adapter) audio interface, which coupled alongside it’s 6-core Hexa Core processors, means that it offers incredibly low (less than 2ms) latency and provides 50% more processing power than the previous Universal Audio Apollo units.

The unit’s Unison Preamp technology allows for users to recreate sounds of the classic LA-610 preamp, without it sounding like an emulation, but more like a near exact-match sound processing. This provides studios with a range of stylistic options when it comes to achieving the right sound for their project.

The special Heritage Edition includes many premium plugins that enhance your ability to create amazing recordings.

Despite this unit not having an SPDIF input/output, it does feature 8 XLR/TRS combination inputs which is fantastic for those looking to plug multiple hardware in simultaneously. Additionally, the unit has 2 ADAT S/MUX inputs & outputs.

Overall, Universal Audio have definitely upgraded the technology in this interface when comparing it to previous Apollo units. And because it has more analog inputs than the x6 unit, we do like it! 

We imagine that commercial music studios will be interested in an interface such as the Universal Audio Apollo X8P 16 x 22, for its high audio quality (being able to also support 7.1 surround formats), low-latency, HEXA Core processing chips and versatility.


Universal Audio Apollo X16 18 x 20 Heritage edition – Thunderbolt 3

Universal Audio Apollo x16 Interface

Features

  • Includes premium suite of 10 award-winning plug-in titles from Teletronix, Pultec, and UA
  • High-quality A/D & D/A conversion with lowest signal to noise ratio
  • HEXA Core processing, featuring 6 UAD DSP chips
  • 2 Unison-enabled microphone preamps
  • Surround formats (up to 7.1)
  • Built-in talkback feature
  • Sleek design  & rack-mountable
  • Ultra-low latency with its Thunderbolt 3 connectivity
  • Premium-priced
  • Included 16 UAD powered plugins
  • 1-year warranty

Technical Specifications

  • Thunderbolt (3) connectivity
  • 8 x XLR/TRS combination inputs
  • 6 x Line inputs
  • Switchable phantom power
  • 2 monitoring TRS output (frontside)
  • L & R monitor line output
  • 2 x ADAT S/MUX input/output
  • 24-bit/192kHz
  • Weight: N/A
  • Dimensions: N/A
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows

Customer Review Rating

Read Amazon Customer reviews for the Apollo x16 Heritage Edition.

Summary

The Universal Audio Apollo x6 16 x 22 is a Thunderbolt 3 (but compatible with Thunderbolt 1 & 2 Macs – with a special adapter) audio interface, which coupled alongside it’s 6-core Hexa Core processors, means that it offers incredibly low (less than 2ms) latency and provides 50% more processing power than the previous Universal Audio Apollo units.

The unit’s Unison Preamp technology allows for users to recreate sounds of the classic LA-610 preamp, without it sounding like an emulation, but more like a near exact-match sound processing. This provides studios with a range of stylistic options when it comes to achieving the right sound for their project.

The special Heritage Edition includes many premium plugins that enhance your ability to create amazing recordings.

Despite this unit not having an SPDIF input/output, it does feature 8 XLR/TRS combination inputs which is fantastic for those looking to plug multiple hardware in simultaneously. Additionally, the unit has 2 ADAT S/MUX inputs & outputs.

Overall, Universal Audio have definitely upgraded the technology in this interface when comparing it to previous Apollo units. And because it has more analog inputs than the x6 unit, we do like it! 

We imagine that commercial music studios will be interested in an interface such as the Universal Audio Apollo X8P 16 x 22, for its high audio quality (being able to also support 7.1 surround formats), low-latency, HEXA Core processing chips and versatility.


MOTU 828es 28×32 Thunderbolt/USB 2.0 Audio Interface

MOTU 828es 28x32 Thunderbolt USB 2.0 Audio Interface

Features

  • Incredibly reputable company MOTU
  • 2 microphone preamps
  • Built-in mixer with onboard DSP effects
  • Sleek design  & rack-mountable
  • Low latency with its Thunderbolt 2 connectivity
  • Fantastic value for money
  • 1-year warranty

Technical Specifications

  • Thunderbolt (1,2 & 3) connectivity
  • 2 x XLR/TRS combination inputs
  • 8 x TRS line inputs
  • 2 XLR monitor outputs (front)
  • 8 x TRS line outputs
  • MIDI input & output
  • S/PDIF input & output
  • 2 x optical input & output
  • 24-bit/192kHz
  • Weight: N/A
  • Dimensions: N/A
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows

Customer Review Rating

Read Amazon Customer reviews for the MOTU 828es.

Summary MOTU is an extremely well-known and reputable US audio interface and recording equipment manufacturer and one in which we have to feature in our list.

This Thunderbolt (2) & USB compatible audio interface has such spectrum of features, from the range of available inputs through to its impressive 123dB of dynamic range, and ultra-low roundtrip latency times which average roughly 1.6ms (via thunderbolt) and 1.9ms (via USB). 

The unit provides users with two mic preamps, 8 analog line inputs, 8 analog line outputs, 2 XLR outputs and a pair of stereo headphone outputs. Not only this, but it comes with 16 channels of ADAT, stereo S/PDIF, MIDI, and word clock input/output.

Overall, considering the price-point of similarly functioned audio interfaces, the MOTU 828es provides great value for money, and would be a fantastic unit for most studio setups.


In Conclusion

Since we realize that each reader will have different requirements from an audio interface, we’ve provided a variety of Thunderbolt-compatible audio interfaces for you to choose from, with a clear indication of their prices and technical specifications.

Therefore, it’s incredibly hard for us to recommend one audio interface. With that being said, we’ve included our specific ‘Editor’s Recommended’ Thunderbolt audio interfaces below:

PreSonus Quantum 2626 – $ –  The second most inexpensive, expandable unit on our list. It provides a high-quality 24-bit/192kHz recording quality, with MIDI and has fast Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, and it comes with a 1-year warranty

Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Heritage Edition – $$ –  For those who want a moderately priced unit, with near zero latency, fast Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, outstanding recording quality, many premium plugins, and a 1-year warranty, the Apollo MKII Heritage Edition is a great option in its price range.

Universal Audio Apollo x6 – $$$ – Incredible recording quality, HEXA core processing for powerful multitasking, expandable, 2 XLR and 6 line inputs, fast Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, includes 10 premium plugins, and has a 1-year warranty. This is a premium quality product that justifies the high price tag it comes with.

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