An excellent audio interface is crucial to any studio setup. Indeed, without a studio interface, it may be impossible to achieve top-notch audio quality and project efficiency. Of course, the narrative is not different when working with drummers or on a drum production. You’ll need to add an audio interface for drums into the mix.
This begs the question – what are the best audio interfaces for drums?
There is little doubt using only one mic with a drum will not cut it. However, while most people can achieve relatively satisfactory results with two drum mics, having up to four mic inputs for drums can open up a world of better possibilities. Indeed, many renowned recording audio engineers have achieved exemplary results with only four mics for big bands.
Of course, you’d need to know some vital things about mic placement and direction.
But first, it is crucial that you’re using a top-of-the-line audio interface. This way, you can combine your micing skills with the perfect audio interface and achieve your desired results. However, before you can do this, you have to know the top recommend audio interfaces for achieve top-notch results with drums and other instruments. Thankfully, we can help!
In this article, we’ll go through our list of the best audio interfaces for drums. Bear in mind that all the interfaces have at least four XLR microphone inputs, as well as other inputs. Additionally, you’ll also find pro tips on how to use an audio interface for drums and the best ways to place your microphones.
So, let’s jump into it!
Recommended Drum Audio Interfaces
In a few moments, you’ll discover our selection of the top audio interfaces for drums on the market today. Of course, you can rest in knowing that only the audio interfaces with excellent specifications made it into our list. That said, keep reading to explore our compilation of the best audio interfaces for drums.
1) Universal Audio Apollo x8 Heritage Edition
Next on our list of the best audio interface for drums is Universal Audio’s Apollo x8 Heritage Edition, and with good reason too. This audio features remarkable AD/DA audion converters as well as UAS’s signature HEXA core processing, which aids seamless plug-ins. Undoubtedly, these specs are some of the best on the audio interface scene.
Now, let’s shed more light on what precisely these interface features mean for you.
With its high-end converters, the Apollo x8 Heritage Edition produces fantastic, open sounds in a dynamic range between 129db and -118db. This allows you to attain the lowest signal-to-noise relation that you achieve with any audio interface. Of course, this naturally translates to an unparallel sound production quality.
Besides, UA’s Apollo x8 Heritage Edition audio interface features exceptional Unison technology preamps. This is alongside a Dual Crystal clocking and a purchase bundle of Realtime Analog Classics Plug-in Bundle. To give you an idea of what this means, those plug-ins offer the most accurate analog audio equipment simulations.
Indeed, with an Apollo x8 Heritage Edition, you can achieve exceptional sonic detailing, power, and texture when you record drums. Also, the plug-ins also help to boost your audio depth and character!
2) Focusrite Scarlett 18i20
First on our list is the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20, which is arguably the best audio interface for audio drum production. Indeed, this audio interface provides the best blend between high-quality sound production and affordable costs. You see, although the Scarlett series features top-quality products, they are available at considerably lower prices.
As for its specific features, the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 offers a combination of 8 inputs (6 behind it and 2 at the front). Furthermore, the interface also has 10¼ output channels, MIDI in/out, 8-volume knobs for its input channels, and an LED input display to complete it.
However, that is not all.
If you use peripheral digital connections, including (S/PDIF and ADAT), you can record as many 18 channels in one go! You also get some pretty cool audio software when you purchase the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20.
Interestingly, the most distinctive feature of this audio interface is its preamps. Generally, Focusrite is a company famous for its high-end preamps. But, the Scarlett 18i20 may just be the model that takes the cake!
This is especially impressive when you consider the cost of this audio interface. All in all, the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 is an excellent choice if you’re in the market for drum audio interfaces.
3) Behringer U-PHORIA UMC404HD
Finally, to top off our list, we have another product from the stables of Behringer, the U-PHORIA UMC404HD audio interface. This model is also one of the top options in terms of efficiency and high-quality performance.
The U-PHORIA UMC404HD has 8 channels, which may function as either an A/D or a D/A interface. In other words, with this audio interface, you can practically carry out any digital recording at all. This flexibility that it offers is one of the many reasons the U-PHORIA UMC404HD made it onto our list.
In addition, the U-PHORIA UMC404HD also supplies phantom power in every of its microphone input. So, recording with condenser mics on this interface is no problem at all. More importantly, the U-PHORIA UMC404HD audio interface is a sure-fire way to attain powerful and clear sounds at minimal latency levels.
Now that you know the best audio interfaces for drums, let us examine how to use them. Keep reading to discover more.
4) Behringer U-Phoria UMC1820 USB Audio Interface
The Behringer U-Phoria UMC1820 is another audio interface for drums that deserves a spot on our list of the best. This is primarily because this audio interface also offers a decent combination between affordability and quality. Indeed, if you’re on a budget and you need an excellent audio interface, this is a great place to look.
The Behringer U-Phoria UMC1820 features a set of 8 top-of-the-line MIDAS standard microphone preamps that help you achieve incredible sound quality. Moreover, the UMC1820 also has 24-bit audio converters that work at 192 kHz. This is particularly surprising considering how affordable the audio interfaces.
There is also the perk that both beginners and pros can conveniently handle the UMC 1820.
Additionally, the 8-option XLR inputs that come with the Behringer U-Phoria UMC1820 allows you to record your entire drum mic set (including overhead mics) in one take! That, combined with the fact the audio interface offers zero-latency, makes the Behringer U-Phoria UMC1820 a topic in audio productions that involve drums.
Indeed, you get to enjoy German audio engineering at its speak!
5) Tascam US-16×08
The most distinctive feature of the Tascam US-16×08 is arguable its noiseless operations while offering clean audio signals at an impressive 56dB gain. Furthermore, this audio interface also features top-notch preamps and 8 input options. Out of these 8 input lines, two are switchable to allow you to enjoy direct connections with other instruments (aside from drums).
Moreover, the Tascam US-16×08 also has eight output ports, which allow you to connect to both monitors and external speakers. Also, of these 8, two boast level controls enable you to have some control over your audio outputs.
We should also mention that the Tascam US-16×08 audio interface for drums is also one of the best when it comes to operating at a lower latency level. This is because the interface has a built-in onboard DSP that supports minimal latency whether you’re recording or mixing.
Other perks of the Tascam US-16×08 are that it features four-band equalizers, allowing you to attain various qualities in your audio outputs. You can also switch relatively quickly its interface mode and preamp mode. This multi-functionality is another reason the Tascam US-16×08 is considerably popular as an audio interface for drums.
The Tascam US-16×08 also features different drivers (both Mac and Windows OS) that may come in handy depending on your choice. Lastly, the gadget also has a pair of both MIDI input, as well as output ports.
How To Use a Drum Recording Interface
Using an audio interface for drums is relatively straightforward. However, in addition to the interface itself, you will require a capable computer, XLR cables, and as many mics as you need and your audio interface can accommodate. Of course, it goes without saying that you need a drum set that’s available.
Then, after placing your mics on and around your drums, you’ll connect them to your audio interface. Then, using a USB cable, you can then connect your new audio interface for drums to your computer. Although some interfaces use thunderbolt connectivity, more often not, you’ll have the option of using a USB cable.
Then, you’ll need to install a Digital Audition Workstation (DAW) onto your laptop (if you don’t already have one). It is on here that you perform all the magic (recording, editing, or mixing) you want to do with the audio you record. Popular DAW options include Logic, Cubase, Pro Tools, and Ableton Live.
With tools such as these, you eliminate the need for an expensive recording studio!
Finally, let us explore the best ways you can mic your drums such you achieve high-quality recordings and eventual audio production.
Essential Tips on Drum Mics Placement
There is no doubt that properly placing your drum mics is crucial to the quality of audio you get during recording. That said, let us share some crucial tips to putting mics on a drum set.
The most basic method of placing mics on a drum set is to put one mic on the kick drum, another one micing the snare, and then another two as overhead mics.
Kick Drum Mic Placement
Where you place your kick drum microphone depends on the results you’re trying to achieve. If you want a highly focused drumbeat recording, placing the mic inside the drum may be the best way to get there. However, placing the mic in front of the kick drum can get you a bit of the entire drum sounds at once.
Moving the mic further out (approximately 12 to 18 inches) in front of the kick drum will help you capture more of the entire drum kit sounds coming through.
Snare Drum Mic Placement
Here, placing the mic’s capsule slightly above the drum’s rim but pointing at the drumhead’s center will typically get you the best results.
Overhead Mic Placement
Here, you may need a bit of experimentation to find out which method works best for you. That said, here are a couple of options you can try:
- Spaced Pair: In this case, one mic sits overhead on the left side of the drum kit while the other mic sits opposite it on the right side. However, both mics maintain equal height from the floor and equal distance from the kick drum’s center.
- XY Setup: Here, the two overhead mics are directly above the kick drum’s center. But, one points to the drum kit’s left while the other points to its right.
- Glyn Johns Method: In this case, one overhead mic sits about 3 feet above the snare drum. Then, the other overhead mic angles to the right side of the floor tom and 3 feet from the snare. However, the mic on the ‘tom’ side should be slightly higher than the floor tom but pointing at the snare drum.
The audio interface you use to record a drum session plays a critical role in the quality of results you get. Thankfully, you know the best audio interfaces for drums that we recommend for audio production enthusiasts. You may choose any one of the interfaces on our list, safe in the knowledge that you’re acquiring a start-of-the-art gadget.
The perfect audio interface, alongside our tips on mic placement and setting up the interface, may be what you need to take your audio production to the next level.
Do let us know the audio interface you pick and how it works for your drums!