The Best USB Interface Under $600
Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 $549.99
I think most electronic musicians will need the channels the 18i20 offers, so you might as well bite the bullet instead of working your way up through smaller interfaces. The 18i20 is the top of the Scarlett line. Mine in the header image is a 2nd generation though currently Focusrite is making 3rd generation 18i20’s (images below) along with their smaller Scarlett interfaces. This is a rack mount device, although many like myself do not mount it in a rack.
The real skinny is this is an 8 channel input interface. You can input 8 mono or 4 stereo or whatever mix of devices to equal those 8 channels. 2 of those channels have microphone/line preamplifiers and phantom power. To get 16 channels you can connect via optical ADAT two 18i20s together for full redundancy or more commonly an 18i20 and a Scarlett OctoPre also via optical ADAT. If you really want to squeeze out the 17th and 18th channels you can add 2 more expansion channels, but if you truly need 18 channels, you might want to consider a different interface with even more channels for future expansion. Realistically, this is a 16 input channel interface.
The Facebook user group below offers excellent community support for configuration, etc. Highly recommended if you need help or advice.
It should be noted Focusrite PLC owns Focusrite, Sequential, Novation, Adam and other music companies. Focusrite is a very good company, and owns the $600 and below price range. While there are many other options in this range, all things considered, I wouldn’t. If you need to save money, Focusrite sells refurbished 18i20 2nd and 3rd generation with varying availability. Keep your eyes open, you may score a deal.
Product support, downloads
Facebook user groups
Focusrite Scarlett unofficial
Studio related pages
Updated periodically – Ableton Live
Updated periodically – Focusrite Scarlett 18i20
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Gear related pages
Updated periodically – Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave or Waldorf Quantum/Iridium?
Updated periodically – Sequential Prophet X or Waldorf Quantum?
Updated periodically – Sequential Pro 3 or Pro 2?
Updated periodically – Wavetable Synth Comparisons
Updated periodically – Wavetable Editing Tools
Updated periodically – SampleRobot Pro