Your audio interface is the forgotten hero of your studio. You might not think about it too much, but it sits there dutifully doing its essential job, never getting a word of thanks in return.
As such, we thought it only right and proper to invite audio interfaces to our gear of the year party. We gave you a list of some of the finest I/O boxes to have come to our attention in 2017; it was up to you to decide which one of them deserves to be crowned the best of the year. Let's see how you voted...
The MusicRadar Best in music tech awards 2017 are brought to you in association with Softube - Tools for the Audio Professional
SPL Crimson 3
They say: "The new Crimson 3 now comes with the SPL Phonitor Matrix and a built-in Talkback Microphone."
Mackie Onyx Producer 2X2
We said: "The Producer 2.2 offers Onyx mic preamps, zero-latency direct monitoring, 48v phantom power, 1/4-inch monitor outputs and headphones outputs. You also get two mic pres on XLR/TRS combo inputs with Hi-Z instrument switches per channel, along with MIDI I/O."
Roland Rubix 44
We said: "Roland has refreshed its line-up of USB audio interfaces by introducing the new Rubix range. This comprises three products, all of which are compatible with PC, Mac and iPad.
As you'd expect, the Rubix22 is a 2-in/2-out model, while the Rubix24 adds a couple of additional outputs and a built-in compressor/limiter. If you want another two inputs on top of that, you can choose the Rubix44."
Apogee Element 46
We said: "If you’re happy with software-controlled hardware, Apogee’s Element interfaces offer glorious audio quality, and the preamps are among the best-sounding available."
Antelope Audio Discrete 8
We said: "The Discrete 8 is a Thunderbolt and USB 26-input/32-output audio interface that features eight ‘console-grade’ mic preamps, plus two new modelling microphones."
PreSonus Quantum 2
We said: "The 22-in/24-out Quantum 2 uses the Thunderbolt 2 bus and features 24-bit/192kHz converters with 120dB of dynamic range. It offers two combo mic/instrument inputs and two combo mic/line inputs, each with a digitally-controlled XMAX preamp and +48V phantom power. You also get four 1/4-inch TRS line outputs, and a headphone output with dedicated volume control."
RME Fireface UFX+
They say: "The Fireface UFX+ becomes the centre of any multitrack studio because it is able to handle up to 94 channels I/O with ease. With unprecedented flexibility, compatibility, the inclusion of DURec (Direct USB Recording) and RME’s famous low latency hardware and driver designs, the Fireface UFX+ raises the bar to new heights."
We said: "AudioFuse provides a beautiful and contemporary approach to audio interfacing with a great design, compatibility with a huge range of possible audio sources, a great sound and a highly tactile control set."
Winner: Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII
We said: "Far, far more than possibly the best audio interface ever made, this is a musically empowering hardware/software hybrid, capable of elevating even the humblest of home and project studios to genuinely professional-quality heights."