Audio Interfaces for your Mac
Get the right Audio Interface for your Macbook, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini, iMac and Mac
There are a few things to watch out for if you have a late model Mac.
First, the PCI interfaces are not going to work with any of the Mac Pros, and of
course not with any of the Mac Books, Mac Book Pros or iMacs. Today's
Mac Pro has a PCIe slot format. This will
not work with PCI cards. Most of us would probably
not need a
Mac PCIe interface. Professionals with high i/o needs may want to go the
MOTU PCIe route with a
MOTU 24io, and a
MOTU 2408 Mk 3. These are for large multi track systems with digital
mixers. The Home studio enthusiast has many other options and they are
mainly firewire options. That is what we'll mainly focus on here.
Tweak: This is the back of a
Tascam FW1884, and
audio interface with plenty of i/o. Click the pic to enlarge.
When comparing features like i/o be sure to check out these comparison charts
Firewire interfaces generally work well with the
current iMacs, MacBook Pros, Mac Minis and the Mac
pro. Note that newer Macbooks do not have firewire. USB 2.0
interfaces are valid for those Macbooks and all the others as well. At the
bottom of the page you'll find lots of polls, user reviews and discussions from
Keep in mind there are more audio interfaces that will work with
your Mac. This is more of a list of those that should form the basis of
your research. I am not including Digidesign interfaces here because they
have done extensive compatibility theses on
their website. That is where you should research matching your Mac to
an appropriate Digidesign or m-audio interface.
When considering any audio interface there are 4 things that create the
perfect storm for you.
- 1. excellent functioning drivers for your OS and applications
- 2. excellent sounding converters
- 3. excellent sounding preamps
- 4. sufficient and appropriate i/o for your studio
You can always add on different preamps and converters to nearly any audio
interface. Preamps will plug into the line inputs and converters
will use s/pdif i/o. But there are two things you cannot change,
or fix, with the interface you eventually choose. You can't go in and
re-write driver code. The drivers manage the "traffic" from inputs to
software to outputs and are at least partially to blame for latency issues,
clicks and pops, and other nasties. Also you cannot change your i/o.
If you get a box with 2 analog inputs and outputs, even if you buy a 100 channel
mixer you can't change the fact that from the standpoint of the computer you
have 2 channels in and 2 out and that will limit how many tracks you can record
at one time to two. Its a great plan to get more i/o than you need.
You can do this by choosing an interface with an ADAT "lightpipe" input.
This gives you 8 digital inputs into your system. You could add a rack of
8 analog preamps that have ADAT digital out.
The back panel of the MOTU 828mk3. Click the pic to enlarge
You can find audio interfaces for your Mac from $150 to $2,000 on this page.
What is the difference? As above, quality of components for the preamps,
converters and the number of hardware i/o. There is the research and
development cost of making solid drivers, beta testing them among various
applications, keeping the drivers updated through software and Operating system
revisions. Finally there is the build quality of the box, brand name
recognition, status in the professional community and how well the company
follows Apple through its changes.
Low Cost (under $500)
Also, look at the
Onyx 820i 8-Channel Premium Analog Mixer with FireWire Interface
Mid Cost ($500-$1000)
Higher Cost ($1000.00 plus)
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Back to Soundcards and Audio
Audio Interfaces- Page 1
Audio Interfaces--Page 2
Firewire Audio Interface Chart-Page 3
PCI Audio Interface Chart-Page 4
USB 2.0 Audio Interface Chart--Page 5
Audio Interfaces- Page 6
Audio Interfaces: The Best of the Low Cost
Audio Interfaces for your Mac
MOTU 896Mk3 Review
MOTU 828mk2 Review
Audio Interfaces Prices