The world of media is making it easier to get yourself out there when it comes to music. It’s easy to just post a video of you playing drums on YouTube and hope for the best.
However, sound quality is a huge determining factor in that process. Drums are loud. If you want a quality drum recording, you’re going to need to get a recording interface and some microphones.
An interface will allow you to make qualities recordings. You could use it to make videos or record an album. The interface will be the heart of your home studio set up. So, I have made a list of the best audio interfaces for drums.
6 Best Audio Interfaces for Recording Drums
Focusrite’s Scarlett series of interfaces are aimed at providing an affordable and easy to use interface. They have the high quality of a professional studio interface and are able to be plugged in and used straight away. This makes them a good option for someone who is new to recording interfaces.
The 18i20 is the biggest player in the Scarlett series. It has 18 inputs, 20 outputs, 8 mic preamps and two monitor outputs. Everything you need when recording drums.
It has a lightning fast USB-C port which makes latency almost non-existent. The low latency will let you hear your mixed drums in real time as you play them.
On the front of the interface, you’ll see an LED display which shows the levels of all the inputs. This is a cool feature that allows you to see if your levels are too high or low. The input knobs also have rings that light up around them when they detect input. The ring will flash red if its peaking.
The Focusrite Control software that comes with the interface isn’t the best. It looks kind of outdated and has a few technical issues that can be frustrating to deal with.
The TASCAM US-16x08 recording interface is a highly affordable recording option. It’s pretty basic, but if you just want to record drums, it has everything you need.
You can plug 8 mics into it and have a good drum sound due to the clean preamps and solid drivers. The hardware is user-friendly, having everything neatly laid out on the front and back. However, the knobs tend to feel a bit rigid. This is a minor gripe though, since it won’t affect the sound whatsoever.
The hardware is super solid, but the software that comes with it isn’t the greatest. It’s a bit of a mission to navigate at first, and there are quite a few drivers to install. You’ll get used to the software in time though. So, it’s definitely not a deal-breaker.
This interface is one of the most affordable ones on the market, making it a great option for your first drum kit recording interface.
The Universal Audio Apollo x8p is a seriously high quality recording interface. It’s designed for studios and recording high quality sounds, packing almost everything that an enthusiastic drummer might want.
The impeccable sound quality is a result of its top-of-the-range converters, versatile preamps and clean monitor outputs.
It has a few drivers to install that go along with the Apollo Console software. The Console software is a great tool that helps with reducing latency. However, you can’t use plugins with the Console software that aren’t from Universal Audio. The Apollo x8p does come with many high quality plugins though.
This interface is seriously expensive. So, if you’re looking to make a huge investment that will last you years, it’s a good option.
Behringer doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to their products. They usually feel quite cheap and don’t last long. However, the U-Phoria UMC1820 is a completely different story.
It’s an 8-input recording interface that is well-built and affordable. It has a unique setup where 6 of the inputs are at the back of the interface and 2 are at the front. Each input has its own pad controls, giving lots of flexibility when recording.
The interface has 2 headphone outputs, which is something not commonly seen on interfaces in the same price range. This will make it easy two people to monitor your drums while you play them.
There can be a few latency issues with this interface, but nothing that is too drastic. Overall, it’s a great interface that has everything you need for recording drums.
The Presonus Studio 1824c is a great interface for someone who is just getting into recording. It records up to 18 simultaneous inputs and has 8 mic inputs with high quality preamps, making it a perfect fit for drum recording.
It’s pretty much a plug and play device. You don’t need to install any drivers or monitoring software. Just plug it into your computer and it’s ready to go.
It comes with the PreSonus Studio One Artist DAW, which is a basic digital audio workstation that will get you started when it comes to recording.
The USB cables that are provided with the interface are a bit short. So, you may have to get some longer ones if you plan on having the interface far away from your computer.
You can’t choose which input to apply phantom power to, which is a bit of an irritation.
The Arturia AudioFuse Studio is a bit different than the other interfaces on this list. It’s marketed as a desktop interface, meaning it’s smaller and has less functionality in places.
The main thing being that it only has 4 mic inputs with preamps, meaning you’ll only be able to connect 4 drum microphones. It has some cool features to make up for this though.
The AudioFuse acts as a mixer and recorder all in one. Each mic input has its own mixing controls. So, you can mix your drums right from the interface. It has onboard reverb, which is a really cool feature!
The AudioFuse is quite small. However, it’s solidly built and is a bit heavy. So, it will last you a long time.
Each input has an option of phantom power, meaning you can use phantom power for overhead drum mics and then turn it off for snare and kick mics. This is seriously useful, since some interfaces don’t have that option.
The AudioFuse has a Bluetooth option. I wouldn’t recommend using that for drums, but it can be useful in other situations. So, it’s a nice option to have.
Things to Know When Recording Drums
A recording interface is like a brain, whereas microphones are like limbs. The recording process requires both. You’re going to need mics to pick up the sound from the drums. That sound then travels through the recording interface into a computer.
Sound quality of a drum recording will greatly depend on the quality of the mics and how they are placed around the drums.
You’re going to need software to capture the recording that comes in. You’d typically use a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) for this. Most recording interfaces come with some free software.
However, it would be good idea to invest in a high quality DAW such as ProTools or Logic Pro. These production applications will provide you with many options and give a lot of control over the sound you’re dealing with.
You can have the best quality audio interface with the best microphones, and still have a bad sound. The quality of your drum recording greatly depends on your technique on the drums. Dynamics and feel play a huge role in the recording process.
If you have that part down, then a high quality audio interface will make the recording even better.
Number of Inputs
Different interfaces have varied amounts of channel inputs for microphones and cables. When it comes to drum recording, you’re going to want to have an interface with at least 8 mic inputs. This gives you enough to mic up a full drum kit.
Even if you only plan on using a small mic setup, it’s still a good option to have 8 inputs, since you might want more mics in the future. I bought an interface with 4 inputs a few years ago thinking I didn’t need more. I then had to buy a whole new interface with more inputs.
The purchase of a recording interface unlocked a whole new world for me. It was the beginning of my home studio setup, which I use for recording my drums and posting videos online.
If you want a home studio setup, I highly suggest getting one of the interfaces from the above list.