The 7 Best Audio Interfaces for Recording Acoustic Drums (2023)

drum-recording

When recording drums, you need an audio interface that is of good quality and has enough inputs for all of your drum mics. You can always borrow, or you may already have some small audio interface with 1-4 inputs that will suffice, but even a basic mic setup for drums can easily take 8 microphones.

When you’re looking for an audio interface to record the 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.

My top recommended audio interface is the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen. This is an 18-in, affordable audio interface from a reputable company.

My second recommended audio interface is the Behringer U-PHORIA UMC1820. This is a budget-friendly audio interface that is expandable with up to 18 inputs.

The 7 Best Audio Interfaces for Recording Drums (2023)

1. Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen
Top Pick - Affordable audio interface from a great brand, expandable up to 18 inputs.
2. Behringer U-PHORIA UMC1820
Budget Pick - Budget interface from Behringer, expandable up to 18 inputs.
3. RME Fireface UFX II
Pro Pick - High-end, high-quality, top-shelf 30-in/30-out audio interface with exceptional capabilities.
4. Presonus Studio 1824c
Versatile, all-encompassing 8-in/10-out audio interface at a reasonable price.
5. Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Duo Heritage Edition
High-quality, popular, and extremely versatile 10-in/6-out audio interface with great software and plugins.
6. TASCAM US-16x08
Budget-friendly, 16-in audio interface with powerful microphone preamps for a clean delivery.
7. Roland OctaCapture
Very compact 10-in/10-out interface (2ins/outs are coaxial).

Let’s compare these in more detail.

1. Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen

Top Pick
Affordable audio interface from a great brand, expandable up to 18 inputs.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

In my opinion, the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 is the best audio interface for drummers if you’re looking for something affordable while still maintaining great sound quality. Even though the company is known for its high-end products, its 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 get a pretty nice bundle of audio software. But, the best feature of Focusrite Scarlet 18i20 is its preamps – high-quality preamps that 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. Behringer U-PHORIA UMC1820

Budget Pick
Budget interface from Behringer, expandable up to 18 inputs.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

The Behringer U-PHORIA UMC1820 is one of the best value-for-money purchases on the market right now. For an extremely affordable price, you get 8-inputs and 10-outputs which is more than enough to record an entire acoustic drum kit.

Not only does the Behringer interface have a wide selection of ins and outs, but it also features Midas-designed mic preamps that are excellent for audio reproduction. The zero-latency nature along with 24-bit/96kHz resolution ensures superb value for money.

The UMC1820 is truly a great purchase, especially considering the rugged rackmount construction and design. It’s powered by a 12V DC power supply which is included in the package and also has phantom power.

All in all, for the given price, you’ll likely find a better value-for-money purchase that is capable of recording your entire drum set.

3. RME Fireface UFX II

Pro Pick
High-end, high-quality, top-shelf 30-in/30-out audio interface with exceptional capabilities.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

The RME Fireface UFX II is a high-end but very high-quality audio interface with staggering 30 inputs and 30 outputs to work with. Granted, the price range is pretty steep, however, if you have the budget, what you get is unlike any other audio interface.

This audio interface is stacked with features. With premium sound, more than enough ins and outs, AD/DA converters, and excellent connectivity options that integrate impressively with any software and production situation.

Along with analog and digital ins/outs, you also have two headphones jacks, two MIDI ins/outs, USB, and a Clock input/output. When it comes to versatility and connectivity, this interface is hardly beatable. Additionally, it features 4 pad-free mic circuits.

The RME Fireface UFX II is a pro-grade audio interface, complete with its own ARC USB remote for optimal control, and brings a whole new meaning to a feature-packed design.

4. Presonus Studio 1824c

Well-rounded
Versatile, all-encompassing 8-in/10-out audio interface at a reasonable price.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

The Presonus Studio 1824c is a neatly-designed and versatile audio interface with 8 inputs, 10 outputs, Digital ins/outs, 2 headphone jacks, a MIDI in/out, and a USB connection. For the dedicated price range, it’s a truly well-rounded solution.

It comes with included software like Studio One Artist and Studio Magic Plug-in Suite and features a rackmount design. When it comes to audio reproduction quality, it boasts a staggering 24-bit/192kHz resolution and XMAX Class A mic preamps.

Apart from the included plug-ins and effects, this audio interface has an LED monitoring display for a more accurate workflow, along with zero-latency mixing capabilities. It works with Mac, Windows, iPad, and Android devices.

In a nutshell, the Presonus Studio 1824c hits the sweet spot between versatility, connectivity, and price. It’s a great purchase that is more than suitable and capable of recording an entire drum kit.

5. Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Duo Heritage Edition

High-quality
High-quality, popular, and extremely versatile 10-in/6-out audio interface with great software and plugins.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

The Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Duo Heritage Edition is a feature-packed, high-quality audio interface with an excellent array of included software, 10 inputs, 6 outputs, a TRS headphone jack, a USB-C Thunderbolt connector, and phantom power.

It features AD/DA conversion with a 127dB dynamic range that ensures crystal-clear connection and audio reproduction quality. This aesthetically-designed audio interface has two mic and one instrument preamp along with 24-bit/192kHz resolution.

When it comes to software, the Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Duo Heritage Edition includes 5 Heritage Edition plug-ins and a UAD Analog Classics Bundle with Unison Emulations. Additionally, with the Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, it boasts a surprising less than 2ms of latency.

The Twin X Duo HE is an excellent audio interface with great features for recording an entire acoustic drum kit.

6. TASCAM US-16x08

Budget-friendly
Budget-friendly, 16-in audio interface with powerful microphone preamps for a clean delivery.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

The TASCAM US-16×08 is an entry to mid-level audio interface with 8 XLR and 8 line inputs, 8 line outputs, a 1/4″ stereo headphone jack, a MIDI in/out, and a USB-B connection. This is a great, affordable audio interface that is ideal for recording an acoustic drum kit right off the bat.

It comes with 8 Ultra-HDDA mic preamps for seamless operation and has an almost latency-free monitor mixing. This interface is multi-compatible, ensuring Mac, Windows, and iOS compliance, and is powered by a 12V DC power supply.

The TASCAM is a convenient interface, with all the controls placed on the front panel for easy access. It’s the embodiment of a simple yet flexible desktop/rackmount design that is perfect for beginner music producers to get into recording.

Overall, if you want a budget-friendly, simple, multi-compatible audio interface with enough inputs and outputs and quality sound reproduction, the TASCAM US-16×08 is an audio interface you should consider.

7. Roland OctaCapture

Compact
Very compact 10-in/10-out interface (2ins/outs are coaxial).
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

The last 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 device, Roland had to make compromises by 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 that 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.

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.

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.

Conclusion

I 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 I believe that these seven are currently the best in their price range. Keep in mind that to record an acoustic drum kit, you will need an audio interface with at least 8 inputs.

My top pick is the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen, an 18-in, affordable audio interface from a well-known company.

My budget pick is the Behringer U-PHORIA UMC1820, an affordable audio interface, expandable with up to 18 inputs.

Mike O'Connor

I've been playing drums for over 18 years. I work as both a session drummer and a drum teacher, and I love to share my knowledge and tips on this site. You can also find me on the Electronic Drum Advisor YouTube channel.

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