Audio Interfaces for your MacBook, iMac, and Mac pro
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Audio Interfaces for your Mac

Get the right Audio Interface for your Macbook, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini, iMac and Mac Pro

macbookpro
 
 
 

 

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.

large product image

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 our forums.

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.

back of a MOTU 828mk3

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)

 

 

PreSonus FireStudio Mobile FireWire Audio Interface

 

Tascam US1641 USB 2.0 Audio/MIDI Interface

Apogee Duet

Apogee Duet FireWire Interface

Also, look at the Mackie Onyx 820i 8-Channel Premium Analog Mixer with FireWire Interface


Mid Cost ($500-$1000)

Motu ultralite Mk3

Motu 8 pre

Motu 828 mk3, Traveler

Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) 896mk3 Firewire Audio Interface
 


Higher Cost ($1000.00 plus)

 

Tascam FW 1884

fw1884

 

RME Fireface 400

 

Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) 2408mk3 Digital Audio Interface


Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) 24IO 24-Channel Audio Interface
 

Apogee Ensemble

large product image

Mackie Onyx 1640i 16-Channel Premium Analog Mixer with FireWire Interface

Metric Halo

Metric Halo Mobile I/O ULN-2 Expanded +DSP FireWire

 


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Back to Soundcards and Audio Interfaces

 

SoundCards and
Audio Interfaces

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
MOTU UltraLite
Emu1820M
Delta 1010
Audio Interfaces Prices

 

 

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