Best Drum Recording Interface – A Look into the Best Recording Equipment for Excellent Sound
Skill alone is not sufficient for great music. The quality of instruments and accessories used to play a vital role in determining the excellence of your craft more so for instrumentalists. For drummers who look forward to recording pieces for a YouTube channel or a soundtrack in the studio, a good recording interface is a must-have. Recording directly without an interface is a sure way to get a horrible sound. In this regard, an audio interface is a piece of equipment that makes it possible to obtain a clean, high-quality drum sound by recording it through a PC.
I am Chad, an experienced drummer who dedicated all his life to playing in various music bands. I tried different types of this instrument and want to share my knowledge with you. The right drum interface is essential in helping one express themselves much better as a drummer by getting the best sound quality possible. Considering there are hundreds of interface products in the market, not all are of commendable quality and therefore, great consideration is to be embraced when selecting an audio interface. Several factors come into play when considering which the best interface for recording drums is.
However, the most appropriate interface is relative and varies from one drummer to the other as this depends on the player’s needs and preferences. For example, some drummers will find it necessary for an audio interface to have a headphones output port, while others may not regard it highly. Again, depending on the type of drum kit and the number of pieces you have, this will also influence the audio interface one picks in regards to the number of input ports.
Top 7 Drum Recording Interface Brands
Over the years in my extensive drumming career, I have used a wide range of drum recording interface brands, observed their overall quality and the shortcomings. In this review, I will be covering seven of the best interfaces I have used so far, highlighting their features and notable advantages.
Depending on your setup, some of these brands may be ideal for you, and some may not. For example, if you want to record your drumming simultaneously with another instrument such as a piano or a vocalist, you will need an interface that has several input ports. For the highlighted interfaces, these are of commendable quality and outstanding performance, by their suitability for your needs will solely depend on your arrangement and feature preferences. Let’s have a look at them:
Behringer U-PHORIA UMC404HD Audio/MIDI Interface – Audio Interface for Drums
Behringer is a famous music equipment brand that has been around for over a decade and has carved its niche in the music equipment space by delivering excellent quality products. They are a leading manufacturer of high-end recording drum interface. The U-PHORIA UMC404HD Audio/MIDI Interface, one of Behringer’s best, is a top-quality product that is characterized by high performance, efficiency, and reliability. It is one of my favorite products in this line, putting into consideration the flexibility it serves.
One of the outstanding factors about this equipment is that it is an 8-channel music device, which serves both as an A/D and D/A interface. The essence of this is that this makes it possible for the U-PHORIA UMC404HD Audio/MIDI Interface to be used for almost any digital recording need. I love the vastness of the application possibilities of this interface, as one doesn’t have to purchase other interfaces for specified requirements. The unit also utilizes phantom power for every mic input. This means that the interface is not only power efficient but also performs greatly in producing clear and powerful sounds with significantly minimized latency levels.
The excellence of the audio can also be attributed to the circus logic 24-bit converters that translate the input signal to exceptional integrity output signals. In addition, during shipping, the package comes with quality three 20 inches microphone cords coupled with a single stereo breakout cable. It is a device that I like and found of using, as it is one of the most efficient interfaces you can find for recording your instrument right to your digital DAW. Other features that are handy when coupling your drum recording with other instruments or vocals are the ingeniously developed mic preamps. Depending on what one has at their disposal, one can use either XLR or TRS input jacks.
The unit delivers a generous 192 kHz of the resolution, and this makes it possible to use it in really demanding music settings. Considering the awesomeness of the features, I would confidently say that this recording interface’s price point is underrated as it has more to offer than competitor products within the same price range. It is the kind of equipment I would recommend any day for multiple music recording uses more so for drums. Let’s check the good aspects and the low sides of the unit:
- Behringer U-PHORIA UMC404HD Audiophile 4x4 USB Audio/MIDI Interface - Behringer
- Ultra-high quality 8-channel A/D and D/A interface for virtually any digital recording/mixing environment
- The interface features eight channels essential for a wide range of music recording applications
- Utilizes phantom power for all mic ports and this enhances the quality of the voice recorded
- Has 24-bit converters essential in the production of high-quality signals
- It comes with three quality 20” mic cables
- It is compatible with several PCs
- Settings and use of preamps may be challenging and requires learning
Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First
Whenever the brand name Focusrite is mentioned, excellence is an attribute one cannot help but think about. This brand has played a vital role in shaping the digital music instruments industry by steering innovations that have revolved to be esteemed as industry standards. They have some of the best drum mic interface products, as they have ingeniously constructed their digital equipment with a relentless pursuit after impeccable quality and excellence. The Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 is every musician’s desired recording interface as it’s quality standards are second to none. Talk of flexibility, excellent sound quality, irrelevant latency, this unit has it all. Zooming in the specific features, this interface has eight microphone preamps characterized by a natural-sounding tone.
Some interfaces have poorly sounding preamps, and this greatly affects the quality of the output. If you are one of the players who delight in extreme loudness, this unit has a resourceful gain, which you can crank up to the maximum during live settings and recordings. However, one of the features that bring about concerns for drummers in need of several input ports is the integration of two input ports only. Improvisation would be a necessity in case there would be a need to connect more than two instruments, and this is not convenient. When it comes to the outputs, the manufactures were generous enough as the unit features ten output ports. These include a pair of headphone ports with dedicated gain knobs, two stereo outputs and a MIDI port among others.
One of the aspects, I like the most is the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20, the instrument unbelievably cancels latency, thanks to the superior conversion rates characteristic of the unit, seeing that it has a sample rate of 192 kHz. Owing to the minimum latency levels, it would not be necessary to integrate with a DSP. Noteworthy, the unit also has an iOS control. Unlike many other audio interfaces for drums, the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 has a free adjustment app, and this enables on to carry cues right from their iOS handheld device such as iPhone. Though a limited offer, once on purchases this unit, they are given free access to several essential features and plugins including Maximal 2 and Pivot. These come in handy in expanding sound option opportunities.
In addition, the packages come with Pro Tools, some of them issued free while others are available for purchase. Some of the resourceful digital tools available include Ableton Live Lite, Loopmasters samples, and the Focusrite creative pack. Some of the featured effects and simulations can be selected free upon registration while others will cost a few more bucks. Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 has a considerable range of frequency response, seeing that it has a range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
Also, it supports a wide range of sample rates ranging between 44.2kHz up to 192 kHz. In regards to compatibility, this interface works efficiently with Windows 7 PCs or higher, and Mac PC gadgets are running on iOS version 10.10 or later. Quality comes at a price, and I would say that the investment in purchasing this unit is worthwhile in the end. Without giving it a second thought, I would recommend this unit to both professional and hobbyist’s drummers. Let’s take a glimpse of the notable positives and the negatives that stood out:
- Eight natural-sounding Scarlett mic preamps with plenty of even gain; two newly-designed instrument inputs, ten 1/4-inch balanced jack outputs including a dedicated stereo pair; two headphones output with dedicated gain controls; MIDI I/O; S/PDIF in and out; ADAT I/O (expand your channel count)
- Class-leading conversion and sample rates up to 192kHz / 24 bit; Super-low roundtrip latency for using your plug-ins in real time without the need for DSP; Focusrite iOS Control - download the free Focusrite iOS Control app and adjust cue mixes remotely from an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch
- It comes with several Pro Tools for increased flexibility and sound options
- Free plugins are offered for enhanced recording options flexibility
- It has low latency
- It has a Focus iOS control essential for managing interface settings efficiently
- It is compatible with a wide range of PCs
- Use of Pro tools might be challenging, and this requires some bit of learning
- It is considerably pricy
Alesis MultiMix 8 USB FX | Eight-Channel USB Audio Mixer with Integrated DSP Effects
The Alesis MultiMix 8 USB FX Audio Mixer is a reliable quality piece of equipment that is a great option if you’re on a budget. It is one of my favorite sound equipment in regards to drum recording, considering that it comes with its DSP effects. Looking at its specifications, the mixer has eight input channels, making it convenient when suing multiple instruments or when playing a kit with more pieces than the standard. The mixer features a 16-bit stereo USB port that makes it possible to record to the PC or playback from the device.
There are also XLR input ports, and these give the user increased options in regards to the instrument cables to use. There are also controlled high-pass filters, which can be switched on and off, and this enhances the sound quality options when recording. Another thing I like most about it is that the mixer can work with an iPad, but one has to purchase an Apple USB adopter for this functionality to be used. I have tried this, and it brings about a lot of convenience when managing the sound settings right from the handheld device. Coming with the Cubase LE software, the mixer is ready to connect with the PC without necessitating the installation of drivers.
The DSP effects can be bypassed using the footswitch control. There is also an AUX bus resourceful during external processing. One can listen to the output simultaneously via headphones and external speakers, as the mixer has both ports with separate level controls. These are essential as in some settings. One would need to listen to their output without necessarily having to use the monitors. In addition, the mixer features colorful LED metering, which makes it easy for the user to track the control levels on the mixer.
With several ¼-inch input ports, a drummer can record their drumming simultaneously with another instrument such as a guitar. I am convinced that this is one of the best options for any drummer in search of a reliable recording interface. It has so much to offer at a very competitive price point. I would recommend it to all drummers, more so those on a budget. Here is a summary of what has impressed me regarding the advantages and disadvantages.
- Eight-channel mixer with mic, line, and guitar-level inputs; 16-bit, 44.1/48 kHz stereo USB output for easy recording and playback from your computer
- XLR inputs with gain trim, switchable high-pass filters, and 48V phantom power; Works with iPad via Apple USB Adaptor (sold separately).
- The DSP can be bypassed using the footswitch control
- It features eight channels, therefore, giving the user more input options
- The equipment is class compliant and doesn’t need installation of drivers to function
- Has an AUX buss essential for external processing
- It can be connected with an iPad using the Apple USB adaptor
- It has a large exposed control panel making the control knobs susceptible to breaking and damage
Behringer X AIR XR12 12-Input Digital Mixer – Best Audio Interface for Drums
Another of Behringer’s ingenious recording interfaces is the Behringer X AIR XR12. It is a sturdy and efficient piece of equipment, offering enhanced options in regards to connectivity, processing, and preference adjustments. Firstly, this interface is among the first to feature a Wi-Fi router. The X AIR XR12 has a tri-mode variant, which comes in handy when connecting to networks and with other devices. As it is the industry’s standard, this interface supports USB connectivity and therefore facilitates stereo recording. It is an equipment one would consider hands-off as it features revolutionary auto-mixing.
I find it great that the interface has four inbuilt X32 effects engines, and these are awesomely essential features that facilitate the processing of clean signals, which produce incredibly fresh output sounds. In addition, the unit offers the user high-quality FX racks, laying on the table increased sound quality options and impeccable performance. Though it has a relatively high price point, it is a unit worth the cash and I would recommend it any day. Here are the merits and drawbacks of the group:
- Built-In Tri-Mode Wifi Router
- USB Connectivity and Stereo Recording
- It features an onboard Wi-Fi router
- It features a hands-free auto-mixing functionality
- It has four inbuilt X32 effects engines, and these are efficient in processing clean signals for enhanced output quality
- It features top-quality FX racks
- It is easy to use
- It is somewhat pricy
Tascam US-16×08 Rackmount USB Audio/MIDI Interface – Best Interface for Recording Drums
Tascam is one of the main players in the sound equipment space, having demonstrated great keenness in designing and manufacturing high-performance products. The Tascam US-16×08 Rackmount interface is one of the best that I’ve used so far, more so for recording drums alone. It has 16 input ports for mic and instruments, and these can be linked to the PC for great sound quality and managing output during live sessions.
The interface has high-end mic preamps designed to minimize noise while delivering super clean signals and a generous 56dB of gain. The unit also features 8-line inputs, and two of these are switchable for direct input connectivity with other instruments such as guitars. In regards to the outputs, the interface has eight balanced ports for linking with multiple monitors and speakers. Two of these ports have level controls, which have been positioned on the front panel of the interface for efficient monitoring. It is one of the best products in the market when one considers latency levels, as it has an onboard DSP that facilitates minimal latency input mixing and recording.
Noteworthy, the interface has four-band equalizers and compression effects integrated on each of the channels, and this makes it possible to obtain varying output qualities by adjusting these variants. Another functionality that I love most about this unit is that you can conveniently switch between the interface and preamp mode. One of the essential attributes to consider when selecting any instrument is whether it has multi-purpose functionality. The Tascam US-16×08 Rackmount usability extends to serving as a standalone microphone preamp. The unit comes with PC drivers both for Mac and Windows operating systems. Also, it comes with USB 2.0 drivers for compatibility with Mac handheld devices such as the iPad. For enhanced options, the Tascam US-16×08 Rackmount has a pair of MIDI input and output ports that are located at the back of the interface.
I must say that this unit has excellent portability, as it is sleek and sizable for convenience when carrying around and during storage. Considering that it has separate level controls for the headphones and the monitor outputs, one can conveniently listen to the quality of the production without cranking up the monitor levels. With these high-end features highlighted, I would recommend it to both novice and seasoned drummers. Let’s shift gears to looking at the units’ admirable features and downsides:
- Captures 16 mic and line inputs to your computer with clear sound quality and advanced features to manage big sessions
- Eight Ultra-HDDA microphone preamps deliver the cleanest and quietest operation in their class while delivering up to 56dB of gain
- It features high-end preamps for superior sound quality
- Has switchable channels to accommodate direct guitar input essential when jamming with bandmates
- It has independent volume controls for enhanced flexibility
- It is considerably easy to use
- It features 16 inputs for connectivity with more instruments and mics
- It is considerably expensive
PreSonus Studio 1824c 18×20, 192 kHz, USB-C Audio Interface, 8 Mic Pres-10 Line Outs-ADAT
PreSonus is a name that has associated with incredible quality sound equipment. The PreSonus Studio 1824c is an audio interface that uses the USB type C when linking with a PC during recording. It is one of the best interface for recording drums, featuring two input ports that can be used as a line, mic or instrument ports and six separate line or mic inputs all linked to superior XMAX mic preamps each powered by phantom power for enhanced boost and outstanding sound quality.
The unit has two ¼-output ports located on the back of the interface, and these have their controls positioned on the front panel with separate mute or mono switches. It also features eight separate ¼ inches line output ports. For greater user flexibility, the unit has a pair of headphone output ports, each having different mix streams. Noteworthy, the output signal via these headphones ports is stereo. Monitoring and visualizing control levels and mix settings is not such a hassle as the unit has colorful LED metering that is conveniently conspicuous. With Studio magic plugin included in the package, the drummer has numerous sound quality options in regards to controls, mixing and recording.
Another of my favorite functionalities offered by the PreSonus Studio 1824c is the option to directly monitor the mix control utilizing the free UC surface provided. The PreSonus Studio 1824c is one of the best audio interfaces that would work perfectly when recording drums. Let’s see the pros and the wanting factors of this audio interface:
- 24-Bit/192 kHz, USB-C 18x20 1U rack mounted audio interface (8x8 at 192 kHz)
- 2 mic/instrument/line inputs and 6 mic/line inputs all with XMAX Class A mic preamps and +48V phantom power
- It features superior XMAX microphone preamps for high-quality sound
- It a pair of dedicated headphone ports each having a separate mix stream
- It has colorful LED metering for easy visualization of control levels
- Has insignificant latency rates when mixing and recording
- Package includes Studio Magic plugin
- It is a little pricy
Apogee – Element 88 Thunderbolt Audio I/O Box for Mac – Best Interface for Recording Drums
Apogee is a top sound equipment brand known for its high-performance systems. If you’re looking for an audio interface that will give you super clean sound and with minimal latency, the Element 88 would be a perfect pick. It is ingeniously drafted to enable drummers to record their best grooves efficiently without any sound hitches. This device had to make it to my list of favorite recording interfaces owing to its original features, uncommon among other audio interfaces in the market. One of the things I like most about it is the single port connectivity with Apple devices, specifically Macs, in order to enhance low latency.
The interface has a 1.41 M/s roundtrip at a frequency of 96 kHz, which enables it to output a quality sound. When using this equipment, I have figured out an added advantage since I can as well connect two audio ports from the recording interface directly to your computer. This will enable me to record my play without any interference and in the end, have a perfect audio sound. Also, with several ports in the drum audio interface, you can introduce as many mics as possible to enhance a substantial, clear and clean sound from the interface.
When recording a drum sound, one realizes that the speed at which music moves from the source to the recording interface is intensively fast hence saving and creating more time for the advancement of the sound being recorded. With the above features, the apogee drum sound interface is the best drum recording interface one can get due to its high performance. When using the equipment, you’ll notice how easy it is to operate it. This is because there is no wide range of settings while using it.
In comparison to other sound system brands, I would highly recommend apogee’s drum audio interface for its durability and its high performing ability. With all the features included in the equipment, I have confidently embraced the same for excellent output. Having mentioned the significance of the apogee audio interface for recording drums, below are some pros and cons of the same:
- 16 in x 16 Out Thunderbolt audio I/O Box
- 8 analog inputs with world-class mic preamps and selectable 48V phantom power for connecting microphones, instruments or line-level devices
- Exceptionally quality sound
- Selectable 48V phantom power for connecting microphones, instruments or line-level devices
- Eight analog inputs
- Minimized sound latency
- Easy to use
- It is considerably expensive
Which Is Your Favorite Drum Recording Interface?
Now that we have looked at some of the best recording interfaces in the market, which one best appeal to you? Before picking one, you should take into consideration the number of inputs you require, as this is very important. A reliable recording interface characterized by excellent performance is essential for obtaining super clean records of excellent quality.
It is essential if you’re looking forward to not only record your drumming but also your bandmates including vocalist, then an interface with several mics and line inputs is a must. You should also take into consideration factors such as latency rates, inbuilt effects, plug-ins, and compatibility with other gadgets such as handheld devices. In case you’ve used any the reviewed audio interface for recording drums, please leave me a comment and share your opinion with me below. What is best for you? Which features are essential for your comfortable playing?