When recording drums, you need an audio interface that is both good quality and has enough inputs for all of your drum mics. This article will show you the best options.
After all, you can always borrow, or you may already have some small audio interface with 1-4 inputs that will do just fine for vocals, guitars, or keyboards, but even a basic mic setup for drums can easily take 8 microphones.
When you’re looking for an audio interface to record your drums that you can use in the long run, you really shouldn’t be looking for anything under 8 inputs. This also extends to anyone starting their music studio, as more inputs enable you to easily record more instruments at once, which can give you a ton of opportunities while working.
We’ve put together a list in which we’ll show you what we consider to be 5 of the best audio interfaces for acoustic drum recording, among the lot of them currently in the market.
- The 5 Best Audio Interfaces for Recording Drums (2022)
- 1. FocusriteScarlett 18i20
- 2. Roland Octa-Capture USB 2.0 Audio Interface
- 3. Steinberg UR824
- 4. Behringer U-Phoria UMC1820
- 5. PreSonus Studio 192
- How do you record acoustic drums?
- Do you need a mixer or audio interface to record drums?
- How do you record drums with an audio interface?
The 5 Best Audio Interfaces for Recording Drums (2022)
1. FocusriteScarlett 18i20
In our opinion, the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 is the best audio interface for drummers that are looking for something affordable while still maintaining great sound quality. Even though the company is known for its high-end products, their Scarlett series really brings quality at a somewhat cheaper price range.
As for hardware, it packs 8 combination inputs (2 in front, 6 in back), 10 ¼” outputs, MIDI in/out, as well as 8 volume knobs for inputs, LED input panel, and 2 headphones inputs and volume knobs. However, you can also record up to 18 channels with the use of additional digital connections (S/PDIF and ADAT).
Apart from that, it will bring a few standard buttons. Also, together with this interface, you can also get a pretty nice bundle of audio software along with it.
But, the best feature of Focusrite Scarlet 18i20 is its preamps—high-quality preamps for which the company is famous for are neatly packed in and give you pristine sound, which you won’t expect at this level of equipment.
All that being said, it’s easy to conclude that this audio interface is a great investment at this price, as it gives you versatility and quality for a rather low price.
2. Roland Octa-Capture USB 2.0 Audio Interface
Our next audio interface is the Roland Octa-Capture. This sweet little thing is offering you everything you need for serious recording or live performance while getting it all in a compact and slim case to make it easy to take on the road.
Even though this audio interface has a rack option, its main characteristic and goal is compactness. With standard 8 (as the name suggests) combined XLR/TRS inputs, 8 ¼” outputs, as well as MIDI and S/PDIF I/O, the main difference you’ll notice from other interfaces is the lack of knobs and buttons. To get everything in this compact little thing, Roland had to make compromises making multi-function knobs, but together with a big LED display, you really won’t feel the difference.
The sound coming from this interface is pristine, as Roland put inside their high-end quality preamps, which will give you a truly clean sound and make your recordings better. Also, this interface comes with great software, simple and intuitive, which will take away the need for a manual. A great addition to this interface is also the option of automatic gain setting—a great help when you need to set up your gear quickly.
All in all, this is a great little compact audio interface which will make your life so much easier if you plan on taking it on the road. It will also provide you with the best quality sound anywhere you go.
3. Steinberg UR824
Steinberg UR284 is somewhat bigger and more equipped than the previous interfaces, and it will give you some more space for work. With its standard 8 I/O, USB connection, and two ADAT spaces, you can have a total of 24 inputs and outputs from this thing, covering most of what you need to record. The interface itself is rather minimalistic in build, and everything on it is analog. The problem can be a lack of MIDI or S/PDIF inputs or outputs, but that can be ignored with this much working space in an interface.
The main selling point of this interface is its integration with Cubase—the software will automatically read the interface and will get you a customized interface specially made for it. This will allow you to completely control your interface from the computer. Another neat option is its iPad integration. You can connect and control your interface by simply connecting it to the iPad and using the free app.
Even though it’s a bit pricier, this interface will get you high-end quality sound, great control, and a huge variety of options to work with.
4. Behringer U-Phoria UMC1820
Behringer U-Phoria UMC1820 is a great audio interface coming at a great price, with loads of options contained. Even though Behringer had made a couple of mistakes in the past, this audio interface is a great addition, whether you plan on using it in the studio or in a live performance.
The interface itself has 8 XLR/TRS inputs and 8 ¼” outputs, as well as MIDI, ADAT, and S/PDIF I/O, as well as an array of standard knobs and buttons. This interface will give you a clean and crisp sound through its powerful MIDAS preamps. Due to its light construction, you will find it very easy to take this interface on the road with you, especially with its removable rack holds on the side. Another great feature UMC1820 is giving you is the ability to use the input as direct instrument lines without the need for unplugging.
This is a great addition for anyone looking for budget-friendly options to use with loads of options and abilities.
5. PreSonus Studio 192
PreSonus Studio 192 is often slightly more expensive, but it can still fit the price range and offers a great number of options and quality for that amount of money.
It has 8 built-in I/O (8 combine inputs and ¼” outputs) as well as two ADAT I/O and S/PDIF. These combined will give you a maximum of whopping 26 inputs and 32 outputs that will cover all of your needs for any recording session. Besides that, this is the only interface on this list with a USB 3.0 connection, but it will also function fully without any loss in sound with just a USB 2.0 connection. Also, it comes with a built-in talkback mic, as well as its own control software, which can be used on Windows, Mac OS, or iPad.
All in all, this is a great interface for anyone looking to buy something a little more serious, with high-end quality sound and loads of options for a somewhat smaller price compared to other high-end interfaces on the market.
How do you record acoustic drums?
To record acoustic drums you need some drum mics, an audio interface, and recording software. You can use drum mics or individual microphones for each drum or you can alternatively use overhead drum mics depending on what type of sound you are going for and what budget you have available.
See our article on how to record drums for more information.
Do you need a mixer or audio interface to record drums?
You do not need a mixer to record acoustic drums. If you have an audio interface that has enough inputs, then you can just record these directly into some DAW software and then you can mix the sounds digitally from the DAW after.
Optionally, you can also use a MIDI controller, and you want to use some hardware for better interaction with the software.
How do you record drums with an audio interface?
To record drums using an audio interface, you simply connect the audio interface to your computer (usually via a USB cable), then you connect each of the mics to the inputs on your audio interface using XLR cables.
Make sure to set the inputs high enough on your audio interface. Then create a bunch of audio tracks on your DAW software, set the inputs, and then press record.
There are many other steps such as gain staging and applying effects, EQ, and more. However, these are the basics for how you record drums using an audio interface. You do not need an external mixer or other equipment as all of this can be done within the DAW.
We hope that this list will at least somewhat help you with your decision about buying the perfect audio interface for yourself. There are, of course, loads more similar devices on the market, but we believe that these five are currently the best in their price range, and you will not make a mistake whichever of them you choose to buy.