Best audio interfaces to buy in 2021: 10 best mobile interfaces for iOS and Android

Working in the studio all day got you feeling cooped up? A change in environment could give you the creative boost you need.

Best mobile interfaces

Even if you’re taking your productions from the bedroom studio to the living room couch, a change in environment could give you the creative boost you need to hit your songwriting stride.

While most mobile music-making apps will often come with a built-in library of virtual instruments and samples to work with, you’ll need an audio interface if you plan on using microphones and hardware instruments. In this list, we’ll explore the best mobile interfaces out today that let you do this.

Just as you would if you were shopping for a desktop interface, you should ask yourself what you plan to get done with your mobile interface.

For example, if you want to keep your rig portable and use condenser microphones, you’ll need an interface that supplies phantom power. Maybe you plan on recording guitar and vocals at the same time; then you’ll need enough inputs that also allow simultaneous recording.

Many of these interfaces are designed to work with mobile devices foremost and are small and powered by USB or disposable batteries. Some were originally designed for computers and later updated to run with mobile. There’s a bit of a tradeoff with the latter; while you may typically get better preamps, their power draw can make them less flexible for portable rigs.

The best mobile interfaces to buy at a glance:

  • IK Multimedia iRig Pro Duo I/O
  • Steinberg UR-RT2
  • Focusrite iTrack Solo
  • Rode i-XLR
  • Audient iD4 Mk II
  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
  • Apogee Jam+
  • Zoom U-22
  • Tascam i-XZ
  • Saramonic SmartRig+

IK Multimedia iRig Pro Duo I/O

IK Multimedia iRig Pro Duo I/O

This portable little gizmo is one of the most popular options out there today for adding high-quality recording to iPhone, iPad and Android devices, plus it’s also compatible with Mac and Windows. With two combo XLR-¼-inch inputs and 48V phantom power, it can handle condenser mics, plus direct guitar and line-level sources such as synths.

The iRig Pro Duo I/O also doubles as a MIDI interface with two in or out jacks for 2.5mm breakout cables. It can be powered via USB or a pair of AA batteries and includes Lightning, USB-A and USB-C cables so you can get straight to work, no matter your recording device. Plus, it comes with a suite of IK software, including AmpliTube, SampleTank and T-RackS.

  • Price: ‎£169 / $200
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR-1/4″ combo (mic / line / Hi-Z)
  • Outputs: 2 x 1/4” TRS
  • MIDI I/O: 1 x 2.5mm In/Out (includes 2.5mm breakout cables)
  • Preamps: Class-A
  • Resolution: Up to 24-bit / 48kHz
  • Headphones: 1 x 1/8”
  • Phantom Power: Yes
  • Power: 2 x AA Batteries / USB-powered / 9V DC power supply (not included)
  • OS Supported: Mac, Windows, iOS and Android
  • Included software: AmpliTube, SampleTank, T-RackS and other bundled content

Steinberg UR-RT2

Steinberg UR-RT2

Designed to sit on your desk or be taken out on the road, Steinberg’s UR-RT2 offers recording resolutions up to 24-bit / 192kHz and support for Windows and Mac devices along with iPhone and iPad.

It features a pair of Yamaha’s D-PRE preamps and a secondary set of transformers from Rupert Neve Designs, which bumps up specific harmonics for a richer sound. The UR-RT2 also comes bundled with Cubasis LE, a sequencer app that lets you record, edit and mix songs with support for four audio and four MIDI tracks.

  • Price: £294 / $350
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR-1/4″ combo (mic/line/Hi-Z), 1 x XLR-1/4″ combo (mic/line), 2 x 1/4″ (line)
  • Outputs: 2 x 1/4” TRS
  • Preamps: Class-A
  • Resolution: Up to 24-bit / 192kHz
  • Headphones: 1 x 1/8”
  • Phantom Power: Yes
  • Power: 12V DC power supply (included)
  • OS Supported: Mac, Windows, iOS
  • Included software: Cubasis LE, DSPMixFX software, REV-X reverb, Channel Strip, Guitar Amp Classics FX

Focusrite iTrack Solo

Focusrite iTrack Solo

There’s plenty to like about the iTrack Solo, from its simple and compact design to its quality Focusrite preamp. It’s also affordably priced and comes packaged with a copy of Ableton Live Lite and the Scarlett plug-in suite for even more value.

Designed for tablets and supporting both Mac and PC, this sturdy interface can be conveniently packed away and brought out with you for music-making on the road. It supplies one XLR and one 1/4” input and the ability to record with both simultaneously.

  • Price: $150
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4″
  • Outputs: 1 x stereo RCA
  • Preamps: Focusrite
  • Resolution: Up to 24-bit / 96kHz
  • Headphones: 1 x 1/4″
  • Phantom Power: Yes
  • Power: USB 2.0
  • OS Supported: Mac and PC, iOS (iPad)
  • Included software: Ableton Live Lite, Scarlett plug-in suite

Rode i-XLR

Rode i-XLR

The Rode i-XLR presents a fuss-free way for you to connect a microphone to your iOS device, if that’s all you need from a mobile interface. While it does keep things simple with a dedicated record-stop button and Lightning-tipped three metre cord, there are some caveats to note. It only offers a single XLR input and its use is limited to dynamics or self-powered condensers, as there isn’t phantom power.

However, there are still many things to like about the i-XLR. It’s bus-powered so you won’t have to worry about other cables. It certainly won’t be for everyone, but if you’re a podcaster or creator who does a lot of segments outdoors, this might be just right for you.

  • Price: $149
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR
  • Outputs: 1 x Lightning
  • Headphones: 1 x 1/8″
  • Power: Bus-powered (Lightning)
  • OS Supported: iOS 9 or later
  • Included software: Rode Reporter app

Audient iD4 Mk II

Audient iD4 Mk II

Audient refreshed its iD4 audio interfaces at the start of 2021 to offer a wider dynamic range and make further improvements to audio performance. This is a quality desktop interface designed for computers but with support for iOS devices.

The iD4 packs a studio-grade preamp, a combo jack and an instrument input. We found this combination to be well-suited to guitarists, as it lets you record acoustics with a mic and direct from an electroacoustic jack output.

In our review, we said: “Audient‘s iD range of audio interfaces has proved a popular choice in recent years, thanks in no small part to the company’s highly regarded home-grown mic preamp. This circuit, first seen in 1997’s ASP8024 large format console, has a reputation for delivering a clean, low-distortion sound, with just a touch of musically-sympathetic colouration to add a bit of life and lustre.”

  • Price: $199
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR-1/4″ combo (mic/line), 1 x 1/4″ (instrument)
  • Outputs: 2 x 1/4″ (L/R)
  • Headphones: 1 x 1/4″, 1 x 1/8″
  • Power: USB 3.0 Type-C
  • OS Supported: Windows, Mac, iOS
  • Included software: ARC software suite

Read our full review here.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen

Focusrite’s ever-popular Scarlett 2i2 was fleshed out with compatibility for iPad Pros last year, giving you access to a great sounding interface that plays well with a range of software from Garageband and Cubasis 2 to FL Studio Mobile.

This dual-input interface comes with a secondary preamp voicing to offer brighter tones and a sound closer to the brand’s more expensive ISA preamps. While the iPad Pro and Scarlett 2i2 pair-up is wonderful – considering it can be powered through USB-C – we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for long sessions.

The sheer power draw means you’ll get a few good hours out of the combo before your iPad runs out of juice, which may not be enough to hit your production flow state. Nevertheless, it’s still a solid mobile option, especially if you need to lay down a detailed sketch or do a quick take on the go.

  • Price: $159.99 / £139
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR-1/4″ combo (mic/line/instrument)
  • Outputs: 2 x TRS (1/4”)
  • Preamps: Scarlett
  • Headphones: 1 x 1/4”
  • Power: USB 2.0 Type-C
  • OS Supported: Windows, Mac, iOS (iPad Pro with USB Type-C only)

Read our full review here.

Apogee Jam+

Apogee Jam+

This single-input interface is designed for guitarists and lets you make great sounding recordings, even if all you have is just your guitar. Drive Mode creates an amp-like response for an authentic playing experience bolstered by effects and amplifier models supplied in the included Bias FX Jam bundle.

For such a small device, it also offers higher recording resolutions of up to 24-bit / 96kHz. Of course, you can also use it with your own instruments and microphones, so long as they can connect via a 1/4” instrument jack.

  • Price: $159
  • Inputs: 1 x 1/4”
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/8” (Headphones)
  • Preamps: PureDIGITAL
  • Resolution: Up to 24-bit / 96kHz
  • Phantom Power: No
  • Power: Micro-USB B
  • OS Supported: Mac, Windows, iOS
  • Included software: Bias FX Jam bundle

Zoom U-22

Zoom U-22

Zoom is perhaps best known for its portable recording devices, which might also explain why the U-22 looks like a one that got halved by buzzsaw. This is a reliable mobile interface that packs flexible options for the money.

The U-22 equips the same preamp found in the H6 Audio Recorder and supplies phantom power to juice up condenser microphones, a combo jack and Hi-Z option for recording guitars and other instruments directly. You also get the option to power it up via USB or a pair of AA batteries, meaning that turning it from a desktop to a mobile interface is as simple as unplugging the cables and flicking the battery-power switch.

The U-22 is compatible with iOS devices and computers. It comes bundled with Ableton Live Lite and Cubasis LE.

  • Price: $100
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR-1/4”, 1 x 1/8” (may record with either at a time)
  • Outputs: 2 x stereo RCA
  • Preamps: Same as Zoom H6
  • Resolution: up to 24-bit / 96kHz
  • Headphones: 1 x 1/8”
  • Phantom Power: Yes
  • Power: Micro USB, 2 x AA batteries (selectable)
  • OS Supported: Mac, Windows, iOS
  • Included software: Ableton Live Lite, Cubasis LE

Tascam i-XZ

Tascam i-XZ

Designed especially for iOS devices, the pocket-sized Tascam iXZ is a straightforward interface that lets you sketch ideas or record entire takes on the go. It offers a single combo input for microphones and instruments and features a built-in cable. When running instruments through the iXZ, you can do so battery-free. Otherwise, you’ll need a pair of AA cells to make use of the microphone input.

  • Price: $90
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR-1/4″ combo (mic/Hi-Z)
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/8″ TRRS plug
  • Preamps: Hi-Z
  • Resolution: up to 24-bit / 96kHz
  • Headphones: 1 x 1/8”
  • Phantom Power: Yes
  • Power: None (instrument), 2 x AA (microphones)
  • OS Supported: iOS

Saramonic SmartRig+

Saramonic SmartRig+

Our list covered its fair share of iOS-only devices, so here’s one for Android users as well. The Saramonic SmartRig+ is a straightforward interface that lets you quickly and easily upgrade the recording capabilities of your mobile device.

This is a two-channel interface with combo jacks and the ability to record with both simultaneously. Some ways you might use this are to mic up an acoustic guitar from two angles, record vocals with a keyboard on channel two, or have a friend join you on a take.

  • Price: $179
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR-1/4″ combo (mic/instrument), 2 x 1/8″
  • Headphones: 1 x 1/8″
  • Resolution: up to 24-bit / 96kHz
  • Phantom Power: Yes
  • Power: 1 x 9V battery
  • OS Supported: Android, iOS