If you’re a streamer on Twitch, YouTube or any other platform, and need to up your audio game, then you’ll want to consider adding one of the best audio interfaces for streaming to your rig. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the top audio interfaces aimed directly at streamers to help you elevate your content.
From reducing latency to increasing your connectivity, a dedicated streaming audio interface can make a world of difference to the quality of your audio. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned streamer, our list has something for everyone. So sit back, grab a coffee and get ready to take your streams to the next level with our pick of the best audio interfaces for streamers.
Best audio interfaces for streaming: MusicRadar’s Choice
The interfaces we’ve listed below tend to fall into one of two camps: either they’re a dedicated audio interface built specifically for streaming, or they’re an ‘ordinary’ audio interface you hypothetically could use for streaming. With that in mind, we’ve chosen one of each type to recommend. For streamers with little interest in using an interface for a broader purpose, eg. recording music or podcasts, then the IK Multimedia iRig Stream is a superb and affordable option. Small enough to fit in without dominating a space, yet simple enough for anyone to use, it has all the tools you want and none that you don’t.
As an all-rounder, it’s easy to recommend the MOTU M2. Musicians and podcasters will love the visual audio signal meters on the front of the unit, but the pre-amps are the thing that convinced us most, offering a level of clarity and cleanliness that the others can’t match. Adding the vital loopback functionality streamers will need into the mix gives it the edge over other similarly priced interfaces.
Best audio interfaces for streaming: Product guide
The IK Multimedia iRig Stream is a dedicated device, built from the ground up to start your streaming journey off right. Slightly smaller than the average smartphone, the iRig Stream connects directly to any PC, laptop, tablet or phone, and the fact you can power it directly from those devices allows for the ultimate in portability.
We’re big fans of the loopback functionality, which means you can stream audio from multiple sources at once, and the bundled app suite is also great for anyone starting out. If you have a slightly bigger budget, there’s also the new 4 input, 2 output iRig Stream Pro which takes things up a gear with 24-bit 96 kHz audio.
PreSonus audio interfaces have always been a touch under-rated in our opinion, offering genuine innovation at very sensible prices. The PreSonus Revelator io24 may have a slightly dodgy name, but it’s a perfectly capable audio interface for streaming, with the usual connectivity you’d expect from an interface but with added software integration that elevates it above some of its competitors.
The built-in effects are genuinely useful, adding vital compression to your voice audio, and the ability to save settings you like to recall again in the future ensures consistency in your streams.
Elgato will be a familiar brand to those already active in the streaming, gaming and vlogging worlds thanks to its broad range of dedicated products for these pursuits. The Elgato Wave XLR is one of the most simple devices on this list, but maybe that’s a good thing. It assumes your only aim is to connect a microphone and get the sound into your streaming platform and, at that, it succeeds.
We like the inclusion of phantom power so higher-quality condenser mics can be used, and the bundled software makes things as easy as possible to get up and running.
The TC Helicon GO XLR appears, on first glance, to have been lifted directly from the Guardians of the Galaxy’s ship. When it’s powered up, the wash of coloured RGB lighting is a sight to behold. But while its vibrant control surface, complete with motorized faders, is all neon colours and big fleshy buttons, underneath that you’ll find one of the most capable audio interfaces for streamers on the market.
You get plenty in the way of connectivity, and a nice selection of bundled effects to boot. If your setup features a dedicated streaming computer, and a regular gaming computer, and a console, then congrats, you’ve just found the interface for your needs.
A look on YouTube will show you that streaming is not all about gamers showing off their skills. More and more musicians are using the platform to host tutorials, jam sessions or Q&As, and it makes sense they’d need an audio interface that is as at home recording music as it is streaming. The MOTU M2 audio interface is a great option, as it can do everything a streamer would want, like loopback audio and instant feedback on volume levels, with the specialist tools a musician would favour like full MIDI I/O and a fantastic set of preamps for clean and clear recordings.
Admittedly it lacks some of the flashy tools and effects of a dedicated streaming interface, but as a high quality tool for musicians to get involved it’s a pretty compelling offer.
Audient’s range of audio interfaces have long been favoured by the audio production community for their combination of high quality preamps and low relative cost. The Audient EVO 4 is, in our eyes, therefore one of the most interesting propositions for streamers because it packs so much into such a small unit.
It has the features a musician would expect, like a pair of XLR/jack inputs, class compliant drivers and phantom power, along with some additional skills for the streaming user like loopback functionality and auto gain. This last one is interesting because the unit automatically monitors the volume of the incoming signal and trims it, if necessary, to ensure it doesn’t distort or clip. Highly recommended.
Read the full Audient Evo 4 review
We know it can be exciting, when you’re starting out, to lust over the expensive gear you’ll use when you’ve made it big, but spare a thought for the trusty tools you’ll more likely start out with. The Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD is an inexpensive, nicely packaged audio interface featuring the basic features you’ll need to embark on your streaming adventure. It has a couple of XLR inputs for microphones, connects up via the USB connection at the rear, and even offers visual feedback of signal levels thanks to a couple of small LEDs on the front.
It’s not the highest quality interface in terms of pure sonic capability, but for the vast majority of users the U-Phoria line will do a perfectly decent job for not a lot of cash.
Best audio interfaces for streaming: Buying advice
A decent audio interface can revolutionise your streaming setup, giving you a real boost in terms of the audio capabilities of your rig and, in turn, amping the overall quality your streams can output. Here’s what you need to consider when buying one for your streaming setup.
Will a streaming interface make my audio sound better?
If you’ve been using a computer or laptop’s internal sound card to manage your audio, you’ll notice a few significant benefits immediately. Chief among them is the improved sound quality; by using a dedicated audio interface to replace an OEM soundcard, you’ll instantly notice a leap in the clarity and cleanliness of your recorded voice. This is because dedicated audio interfaces feature better preamps, which boost your microphone’s signal, and have higher quality A/D (analogue to digital) converters, meaning more power to cleanly amplify the performance of your audio.
What other benefits are there?
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You’ll also benefit from having tighter control over the volume levels and, in some cases, the tonality of what you’re recording or streaming. This can help you achieve a more balanced sound, particularly if you’re using multiple sound sources, and reduce the risk of distortion or audio glitching.
What connections do I need?
It’s always handy to have more connectivity too. Think of the audio interface as the central hub for anything that makes a sound; the best streaming interfaces usually feature multiple inputs and outputs, so you can introduce more sound sources (and destinations) to your system. You might, for example, have your PC audio, microphone and a sample player all connected at once, with the audio being routed out to both a set of monitor speakers and headphones. You’ll want to consider loopback functionality too, which essentially means you can route the audio coming from your computer (e.g. a game) and have it play through your streaming platform. It sounds obvious, and like something they’d all just be able to do, but it isn’t. Loopback is the streamer’s friend. Trust me.
Having a dedicated audio interface for streaming games on YouTube, Twitch or any other online platform can significantly enhance the quality of your audio. With improved sound quality, increased volume control, reduced latency and more connectivity, a USB audio interface is a sound investment for any streamer looking to take their audio to the next level.
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