7 Best Audio Interface for Ableton [The Ultimate Guide]

(Last Updated On: November 23, 2022)
Best Audio Interface for Ableton

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If you’re looking for the best and most compatible audio interfaces with Ableton Live, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve highlighted 7 premium audio interfaces that improve sound quality, reduce latency and work seamlessly with Ableton Live. Whether you’re using Ableton’s session view live on stage or creating music using the arrangement view in your studio, these 7 interfaces will give you an exceptional audio performance.

The 7 audio interfaces we’re introducing today are all top-tier products from renowned companies recognized for their excellent sound and build quality. All of these interfaces are MAC and Windows compatible and guarantee flawless integration with Ableton Live without causing any hardware or software issues.

The audio interface we chose as today’s winner is a Focusrite interface. In addition to being very popular among Ableton Live users, the company has partnered with Ableton, offering the Lite version of Ableton Live whenever you purchase one of their products. It has excellent features, especially for its price point, and is first on our list; we’ll explain why it should rank first on yours too.

7 Best Audio Interface for Ableton

1. Focusrite Clarett 2Pre

The Focusrite Clarett 2Pre is the first of three audio interfaces in the Focusrite Clarett line designed to produce the highest-quality sound. It is one of the most well-known brands of audio equipment currently available and produces some of the best audio interfaces that we have discovered work best with Ableton Live. You won’t run into any compatibility or delay issues using it with Ableton, and it will provide a very smooth workflow.

Main features/specifications:

  • Elite 24-bit/192 kHz A/D and D/A conversion for maximum performance and pristine sound.
  • Two Clarett⁺ preamps with “Air mode,” which simulates the company’s legendary ISA console transformer.
  • 2 Analog inputs and 4 outputs, and 8 digital outputs.
  • Super-low latency that lets you instantaneously monitor effects from native plug-ins.
  • Low noise and high SPL capability of 119dB preventing distortion.
  • USB and USB-C connectivity for easy plug-and-play on your Mac or PC.
  • MIDI I/O for your controllers and synths.
  • 1 TOSLINK Optical (ADAT) in.
  • 1 powerful Stereo headphone output with level control to privately enjoy your music.
  • JFET instrument inputs a vast audio bandwidth that preserves guitars’ true tone and character.
  • Halo indicators that help you avoid clipping.
  • 48V of phantom power. (Selectable On/Off)
  • Exclusive software bundle from Focusrite, XLN Audio and Antares. And Ableton Live Lite.
  • Measurements: 8.27” x 6.34” x 2.17″. Weight: 3.0 lb.

Pros:

  • Affordable.
  • Great build quality.
  • High SPL capability.
  • Exclusive software bundle, including Ableton Live Lite.
  • Easy to use.
  • Super low latency and distortion.
  • Focusrite AIR mode.
  • Powerful and fast and delivers pristine sound.
  • Easy connectivity.

Cons:

  • 1 x Optical (ADAT) in, but no out.

Ableton’s Live Lite program actually comes with many Focusrite products. With this collaboration, it’s safe to conclude that the Focusrite Clarett 2Pre is just one of many Focusrite audio interfaces that work incredibly well with Ableton, and we highly recommend buying it. It’s an impressive interface that will help you achieve excellent results and accompany you as you advance as a music producer.

2. Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen

The second audio interface on our list is also a Focusrite. This one, on the other hand, is aimed more at beginner and intermediate music producers and is more affordable than the Clarett 2Pre. The Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen audio interface has long been a favorite in the music production world for years. The main differences between the Scarlett and the Clarett are that the Clarett is more expensive and has a higher SPL, which means it can withstand louder sounds without distorting or clipping.

Main features/specifications:

  • Elite 24-bit/192 kHz A/D and D/A conversion for maximum performance and pristine sound.
  • Two award-winning, upgraded 3rd-generation Scarlett preamps with “Air mode”, which simulates the company’s legendary ISA console transformer.
  • 4 Analog inputs and 4 outputs.
  • The interface’s inputs and outputs are equipped with analog protection circuitry to protect it from power surges.
  • Super-low latency that lets you instantaneously monitor effects from native plug-ins.
  • USB-C connectivity for easy plug-and-play on your Mac or PC.
  • MIDI I/O for your controllers and synths.
  • 1 Stereo headphone output to quietly enjoy your music.
  • 4 x 4 I/O.
  • 48V of phantom power. (Selectable On/Off)
  • Halo indicators that help you avoid clipping.
  • Exclusive software bundle, Focusrite Red Plug-In Suite, access to the Focusrite Plug-in Collective, and the Focusrite Hitmaker Expansion. And Ableton Live Lite.
  • Direct Monitor circuit that helps monitor your input with very low latency.
  • Free 3-month Splice Sounds subscription that lets you explore new sounds and help fuel your creativity.
  • Measurements: 1.87” x 7.28” x 4.71″. Weight: 1.3 lb.

Pros:

  • Affordable.
  • Great build quality.
  • Compact and lightweight.
  • Exclusive software bundle, including Ableton Live Lite.
  • Easy to use.
  • Super low latency.
  • Focusrite AIR mode.
  • Powerful and fast and delivers high-quality sound.
  • Direct Input Monitoring.
  • Easy connectivity.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t support ADAT and S/PDIF.

The Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen is definitely one of the best budget audio interfaces you can find on the market and a perfect choice if you’re an Ableton Live user. You will be surprised by the performance of this interface which will undoubtedly surpass your expectations regarding sound quality and cost.

3. Universal Audio Apollo Twin X DUO Heritage Edition

The Apollo Twin X DUO Heritage Edition by Universal Audio is one of the most powerful and clean-sounding audio interfaces you can find on the market today and is another great interface if you’re planning on using with Ableton Live. Universal Audio is the leading manufacturer of audio interfaces that focuses on building high-quality recording gear and using Unison technology to deliver superior, high-quality sounds. Combine these two elements, and you’ve got the Apollo Twin X DUO Heritage edition.

Main features/specifications:

  • Two Unison-enabled preamps that deliver clear, powerful sound and enable you to work with plugins that capture the sound of classic preamps like Helios, Neve, API, Manley, and many more with zero latency.
  • Elite 24-bit/192 kHz A/D and D/A conversion for maximum performance and pristine sound with 127dB dynamic range.
  • Dual Core processing that provides extra power and speed along with your computer to run the necessary plugins for your recording session.
  • Thunderbolt connectivity for low latency, fast connectivity, and great stability.
  • LUNA, a music production software that lets you create music with a fast workflow.
  • A number of free UA plugins like the Teletronix LA-2A, 1176LN, Pultec EQs, and the UA 610-B Tube Preamp & EQ, and many more.
  • The Heritage edition features the complete plug-in collections from Teletronix,® Fairchild,® Pultec,® Helios,® and UA.
  • Two line outputs and one optical ADAT/ S/PDIF input that lets you transmit digital audio signals.
  • Built-in Talkback mic that lets you communicate with the artist.
  • Measurements: 6.31” x 6.2” x 2.6″. Weight: 2.4 lb.

Pros:

  • Great build quality.
  • Features Unison-enabled mic preamps for realistic and clear, high-quality sound.
  • Nearly zero latency.
  • Features several high-end free plugins.
  • Plenty of user controls.
  • Free music production software built by UA.
  • Powerful and fast and delivers pristine sound.

Cons:

  • Expensive.
  • ADAT/ S/PDIF input, but no output.

If you want to learn more about the Apollo Twin X DUO Heritage Edition’s compatibility with Ableton Live, you can always visit Universal Audio’s website, which has a tutorial on configuring your interface for Ableton Live. The Apollo Twin X DUO boasts excellent features and sounds and is well worth considering.

4. Universal Audio VOLT 476P

The VOLT 476P is another incredible audio interface by Universal Audio and a superb example of a less expensive UA audio interface that does a fantastic job of helping you create and record music with zero latency.

Main features/specifications:

  • Elite 24-bit/192 kHz A/D and D/A conversion for maximum performance and pristine sound.
  • Built-in tube emulation circuitry that helps emulate the sound of the vintage Universal Audio 610 tube preamp using the “Vintage Mic Preamp Mode.”
  • 4 analog preamp inputs for your mics, synths, and instruments.
  • USB-C connectivity for easy plug-and-play using your Mac, PC, iPad, or iPhone.
  • Built-in analog compressor that is based on Universal Audio’s renowned 1176 compressor, with three push-button modes for vocals, guitars, and drums.
  • Six analog outputs, two headphone outputs, and MIDI I/O for your controllers.
  • Measurements: 11.8” x 5.6” x 8.46″. Weight: 3.85 lb.

Pros:

  • Acceptable price.
  • Great build quality.
  • Features a built-in vintage analog compressor for further mixing.
  • Nearly zero latency.
  • Powerful and fast and delivers pristine sound.
  • Easy connectivity.
  • Retro design.

Cons:

  • Phantom power button is on the front of the interface which could be accidentally hit.

The VOLT 476P is an excellent audio interface if you’re looking for that impressive UA quality. If you want to learn more about the VOLT 476P’s compatibility with Ableton Live, you can always visit Universal Audio’s website, which has a tutorial on creating a song using the VOLT 476P with Ableton Live. You can record your music, compress it, and give your sound that warmth and richness, all for a reasonable price. Of course, you can always opt for a more advanced, expensive audio interface once you feel ready for the upgrade.

5. RME Babyface Pro FS

RME is one the best audio gear companies in the world, with an unmatched reputation for quality, durability, and performance. The Babyface Pro FS is one of many fantastic audio interfaces by RME that’s an upgrade to the Babyface and Babyface Pro. Despite being maybe the most costly audio interface on our list, it is unquestionably worth the investment.

Main features/specifications:

  • Elite 24-bit/192 kHz A/D and D/A conversion for maximum performance and pristine sound.
  • Two preamps.
  • 12 Analog inputs and 12 outputs.
  • Nearly zero latency for fast monitoring and processing.
  • USB and USB-C connectivity for easy plug-and-play on your PC, MAC, and iOS.
  • MIDI I/O for your controllers and synths.
  • SteadyClock FS circuit for lowest jitter.
  • ADAT/SPDIF I/O.
  • 2 Stereo headphone outputs to enjoy your music privately.
  • 48V of phantom power. (Selectable On/Off)
  • K-slot for theft prevention.
  • Measurements: 1.4” x 4.25” x 7.1″. Weight: 1.5 lb.

Pros:

  • Great build quality.
  • Compact and lightweight.
  • Highly versatile.
  • Easy to use.
  • Nearly zero latency.
  • Powerful and fast and delivers pristine sound.
  • Easy connectivity.

Cons:

  • Expensive.
  • Isn’t compatible with iPads.

The RME Babyface Pro FS is a powerful addition to your sound system setup that boasts flawless Ableton Live compatibility. It’s remarkably compact, provides a warm, full, crystal-clear sound, and is incredibly fast, even with RME’s USB 2.0 drivers. If you have the resources, we strongly recommend purchasing the RME Babyface Pro FS.

6. MOTU M4

The MOTU M4 is the second of two audio interfaces from MOTU’S M-Series. It is another high-quality, reasonably priced audio interface that works well with Ableton Live and produces superb analog sound.

You will be impressed by how fast this piece of equipment is and it’s premium preamps that guarantee crystal-clear sound and very low noise floor, especially considering that it is a budget interface.

Main features/specifications:

  • Elite 24-bit/192 kHz A/D and D/A conversion for maximum performance and pristine sound.
  • Two preamps.
  • 4 Analog inputs and outputs.
  • Very low latency for fast monitoring and processing.
  • ESS Sabre32 Ultra™ DAC Technology with 120dB of dynamic range.
  • Loopback functionality.
  • USB and USB-C connectivity for easy plug-and-play on your PC, MAC, and iOS.
  • MIDI I/O for your controllers and synths.
  • 1 Stereo headphone output to privately enjoy your music.
  • 48V of phantom power. (Selectable On/Off)
  • Full-color LCD screen.
  • 6 GB of loops from Loopmasters, Big Fish Audio, and Lucidsamples. As well as MOTU Performer Lite production software, and Ableton Live Lite.
  • Measurements: 1.75” x 8.25” x 4.25″. Weight: 1.55 lb.

Pros:

  • Affordable.
  • Great build quality.
  • High dynamic range.
  • Highly versatile.
  • Easy to use.
  • Very low latency.
  • Powerful and fast and high-quality sound.
  • Easy connectivity.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t support ADAT and S/PDIF.

If you haven’t yet become familiar with Ableton Live, the MOTU M4 comes with the Lite edition of the software, giving you a chance to get the know the DAW before committing to the full version of Ableton. We can safely say that this audio interface is an excellent choice for Ableton Live users and should not be overlooked.

Read about, Audio Interface vs DAC – differences

7. PreSonus Studio 26c

The PreSonus Studio 26c is an excellent audio interface aimed at DJs and electronic music producers at an affordable price. It features 2 award-winning XMAX-L mic preamps designed to provide a powerful and clean sound. It is highly versatile and comes with a great software bundle that includes Ableton Live lite.

Main features/specifications:

  • Elite 24-bit/192 kHz A/D and D/A conversion for maximum performance and pristine sound.
  • Two PreSonus’ XMAX-L preamps.
  • 2 Analog inputs and 4 outputs.
  • Very low latency for fast monitoring and processing.
  • 115dB of dynamic range.
  • A/B monitoring.
  • USB-C connectivity for easy plug-and-play on your PC and MAC.
  • MIDI I/O for your controllers and synths.
  • 1 Stereo headphone output to privately enjoy your music.
  • 48V of phantom power. (Selectable On/Off)
  • LED monitoring.
  • PreSonus Studio One Artist DAW and Studio Magic Plug-in Suite. And Ableton Live Lite.
  • Measurements: 1.75” x 7” x 5.5″. Weight: 1.6 lb.

Pros:

  • Affordable.
  • Great option for intermediate musicians.
  • Great build quality.
  • Highly versatile.
  • Easy to use.
  • Very low latency.
  • Powerful and high-quality sound.
  • Easy connectivity.

Cons:

  • Headphone jack is in the back of the interface.
  • Could face firmware issues.
  • Doesn’t support ADAT and S/PDIF.

Keep in mind that just because an audio interface is relatively cheap compared to other high-end interfaces doesn’t mean it will fail to perform or provide anything less than superb sound. And The PreSonus Studio 26c is a prime example of this, as it’s such a powerful and versatile interface that will surprise you with its remarkable features. There are other best DAW’s too which can record vocals with crystal-clear high-quality sounds.

Buying Guide

An audio interface is not something you should purchase on a whim. You don’t want to buy the first audio interface your eyes lay on, connect it to your computer only to discover that your DAW doesn’t support it or that the microphone input you were hoping to use for recording isn’t available. This is why there are a few factors to consider that will keep you from choosing the wrong audio interface. And some of these factors are:

Number of Inputs and Outputs

How many instruments, microphones, controllers, and monitors you want to use will determine how many inputs you need. If you plan to record a band, you will typically require a minimum of 8 inputs to accommodate the guitarists, singers, drummer, etc. If you’re a bedroom producer who wants to use an audio interface to create EDM or anything electronic, two inputs may be more than enough.

Your outputs depend entirely on how you intend to listen to your music. Is it via headphones? A pair of speakers? More than a pair? The more speakers you want to use, the more outputs you’ll need.

Portability

Unless you need an audio interface for just your studio, your only workspace, having a small, lightweight audio interface on hand is undoubtedly more practical. However, it is recommended that you go for an audio interface that is lightweight and small enough to fit in your backpack if you intend to travel or produce music outside your house or studio.

Audio Quality

Better sound quality, greater gain, less latency, and distortion are the main reasons music producers invest in an audio interface. So, while choosing your new audio interface, make sure its components and preamps are of excellent quality so you can efficiently boost instrument-level signals for a more dynamic sound.

Build quality

If you frequently tour and need to take your audio interface with you, you will undoubtedly need a robust interface. It is best to opt for an audio interface that is solidly built rather than one constructed of cheap plastics that will damage the interface if it accidentally gets knocked out. Remember that a poor-quality interface with weak switches and knobs will eventually affect your sound and start causing issues.

Noise Floor

The microphone preamps, analog-to-digital (ADC) conversion process, and the natural noise produced by electronic circuitry cause what is known as “noise floor.” The noise floor is the minimal level of noise that may be heard through an audio system when no signal is present, which influences the dynamic range. A high dynamic range translates to a low noise floor and better sound quality. So when shopping for a new audio interface, aim for one with the lowest noise floor.

FAQs

How do I use Focusrite in Ableton Live?

Setting up your Focusrite audio interface in Ableton Live is pretty straightforward. 1- Connect your interface to your computer via USB, and make sure it’s powered on. 2- Open Ableton Live, click on “options” (or Live if you’re on a MAC), then “preferences.” 3- Select the Audio tab, set your Driver Type to ASIO (or CoreAudio if you’re on a MAC), and select your audio interface as the Audio Input and Output Device. 4- You can also use the Audio tab to change the sample rate and buffer size.

Do I need an audio interface for live performance?

Yes. An audio interface is absolutely necessary, whether it's for a live band performance with numerous musicians or a live DJ performance using Ableton's session view. You can use its multiple inputs for various instruments, microphones, synthesizers, and mixers and complete volume control over your live performance. Additionally, it will considerably reduce latency and improve sound quality, both of which are crucial if you want to deliver a flawless performance.

Can you use 2 interfaces with Ableton?

Yes. But the procedure differs between Windows and Mac. For MAC users, all you have to do is plug in your two interfaces, access “audio devices,” click the + button on the bottom left corner, and click on “create aggregate device,” where you add your device and your audio interfaces’ inputs and outputs. It's a little trickier for Windows users. You will need to download "ASIO4ALL" from asio4all.com, install it, and then connect both of your audio interfaces. Once you've completed these first two steps: 1- Open Ableton Live, click on "options" then "preferences." 2- Click the Audio tab, set your Driver Type to ASIO, and select ASIO4ALL as your audio device. 3- Click on "hardware setup," then the "Advanced view"(or the screwdriver), and click on all the inputs and outputs that you'd like to activate. 4- Click on "input config" and activate all of them, then repeat the same process in "output config." Your audio interfaces should now be completely functional with Ableton Live.

Conclusion

We hope we have spared you some time searching for the best audio interface for Ableton Live. We have covered what we consider to be the top audio interfaces, most of which are also quite reasonably priced. And even though Focusrite occupies the top two spots on our list today, all of our picks are solid performers. Whether it be due to their excellent sound quality, portability, or durability, all 7 of them promise a smooth workflow with Ableton and will undoubtedly astound you with their audio performance.

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