Which Audio Interface Has the Lowest Latency?

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Which Audio Interface Has the Lowest Latency?

Which Audio Interface Has the Lowest Latency?

When it comes to audio interfaces, latency is a crucial factor to consider. Latency refers to the delay between an audio signal entering the interface and the output sound reaching your ears. Low latency is important for musicians and producers who require real-time monitoring and recording capabilities. In this article, we will explore some audio interfaces known for their low latency performance.

Key Takeaways:

  • Latency is the delay between an audio signal entering the interface and the output sound reaching your ears.
  • Low latency is important for real-time monitoring and recording capabilities.
  • Audio interfaces with Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 connectivity tend to provide lower latency.

Audio Interfaces with Low Latency

1. Universal Audio Apollo X series: The Apollo X series interfaces, equipped with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, are known for their superior audio quality and remarkably low latency. These interfaces offer real-time UAD processing, allowing users to use audio plugins with near-zero latency.

With Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, the Universal Audio Apollo X series ensures seamless communication between the interface and your computer, resulting in minimal latency.

2. Focusrite Clarett series: The Focusrite Clarett interfaces feature Thunderbolt connectivity and provide extremely low latency. These interfaces offer high audio quality and low noise, making them suitable for professional recording environments.

Focusrite Clarett interfaces combine Thunderbolt connectivity with high-quality components to deliver exceptional performance and minimal latency.

Comparison of Latency Performance

Audio Interface Latency (Input/Output)
Universal Audio Apollo X series 1.67ms / 1.67ms
Focusrite Clarett series 1.38ms / 1.38ms

USB 3.0 Audio Interfaces

3. PreSonus Quantum series: The PreSonus Quantum series interfaces feature a high-speed USB 3.0 connection, providing low latency performance.

The USB 3.0 connection of PreSonus Quantum interfaces ensures fast and reliable data transfer, resulting in minimal latency.

4. RME Audio Babyface Pro FS: This compact audio interface utilizes USB 3.0 connectivity and offers impressive low-latency performance suitable for both professionals and hobbyists.

The RME Audio Babyface Pro FS leverages the benefits of USB 3.0, providing high-quality audio with minimal delay for enhanced recording and monitoring.

Comparison of USB 3.0 Audio Interfaces

Audio Interface Latency (Input/Output)
PreSonus Quantum series 1.67ms / 1.67ms
RME Audio Babyface Pro FS 1.46ms / 1.46ms


When choosing an audio interface with low latency, the Universal Audio Apollo X series and the Focusrite Clarett series stand out for their exceptional performance and Thunderbolt connectivity. Additionally, USB 3.0 interfaces like the PreSonus Quantum series and RME Audio Babyface Pro FS offer reliable and low-latency performance for those who prefer USB connectivity. Consider your specific needs and budget to find the best-suited audio interface for your recording and production requirements.

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Common Misconceptions

Misconception 1: Only Expensive Audio Interfaces Have Low Latency

One common misconception people have is that only expensive audio interfaces are capable of delivering low latency. However, the price of an audio interface does not determine its latency performance. There are many affordable audio interfaces available on the market that offer low latency. It’s more important to look for audio interfaces with good drivers and efficient technology.

  • Price is not indicative of latency performance.
  • Look for audio interfaces with good drivers.
  • Efficient technology is more important than price.

Misconception 2: USB Audio Interfaces Always Have Higher Latency

Another misconception is that USB audio interfaces always have higher latency compared to other types, such as Thunderbolt or PCIe interfaces. While it’s true that USB interfaces can have higher latency if they are poorly designed or don’t have optimized drivers, there are many USB audio interfaces that offer low latency performance. USB technology has significantly improved over the years, and there are now many high-quality USB audio interfaces available.

  • USB audio interfaces can offer low latency.
  • Poorly designed USB interfaces may have higher latency.
  • USB technology has improved significantly.

Misconception 3: The Audio Interface Alone Determines Latency

Many people believe that the audio interface itself is solely responsible for determining the latency during audio recording and playback. While the audio interface does play a crucial role, other factors can also contribute to latency, such as the computer’s processing power, the drivers being used, and the digital audio workstation (DAW) software. All these components work together to influence the overall latency performance.

  • Other factors influence latency along with the audio interface.
  • The computer’s processing power affects latency.
  • The choice of DAW software plays a role in latency performance.

Misconception 4: Lower Latency Always Results in Better Performance

While it’s true that low latency is desirable, it does not always guarantee better performance. Sometimes, obsessing over achieving the lowest latency possible can lead to trade-offs in other areas, such as reduced stability or increased CPU usage. It’s important to find a balance that suits your specific needs and workflow. Consider factors like the complexity of your projects and the resources available on your computer.

  • Low latency doesn’t guarantee better performance in all cases.
  • Obsessing over low latency can have trade-offs.
  • Consider your specific needs and workflow.

Misconception 5: Latency is the Only Important Factor in Choosing an Audio Interface

Lastly, some people believe that latency is the only important factor to consider when choosing an audio interface. While latency is undoubtedly crucial, other factors like audio quality, number and type of inputs/outputs, compatibility with your equipment and software, build quality, and ease of use are equally important. It’s essential to consider a range of factors to ensure that the audio interface you choose meets all your requirements.

  • Latency is not the only important factor to consider.
  • Audio quality, inputs/outputs, compatibility, and build quality matter too.
  • Consider a range of factors to meet your requirements.
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The Comparison of Latency Levels in Various Audio Interfaces

Latency is a significant factor to consider when choosing an audio interface. It refers to the delay between inputting a sound signal into the interface and hearing the processed output. Lower latency levels contribute to a more seamless and natural recording or playback experience. In this article, we explore the latency levels of 10 popular audio interfaces that are commonly used in professional music production settings.

Interface 1: Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface

With Thunderbolt 3 technology, this interface boasts an incredibly low latency level of only 1.5 milliseconds, providing real-time monitoring capabilities.

Interface 2: USB 3.1 Audio Interface

This USB 3.1 interface offers a low latency level of 2 milliseconds, ensuring smooth recording sessions and accurate monitoring of input signals.

Interface 3: Firewire 800 Audio Interface

Designed for high-speed data transfer, this interface achieves a latency level of 2.5 milliseconds, delivering excellent real-time audio processing.

Interface 4: PCIe Audio Interface

With a direct connection to the computer’s motherboard, this interface achieves an extraordinarily low latency level of only 1 millisecond, ideal for professional studio setups.

Interface 5: USB 2.0 Audio Interface

Although not as fast as newer interfaces, this USB 2.0 interface still provides a reasonable latency level of 5 milliseconds, suitable for home recording enthusiasts.

Interface 6: Ethernet Audio Interface

Utilizing Ethernet connectivity, this interface achieves a latency level of 3 milliseconds, making it a reliable option for live performances and studio sessions.

Interface 7: MIDI over Bluetooth Audio Interface

This wireless MIDI interface operates at a latency level of 4 milliseconds, offering convenience and flexibility for musicians on the go.

Interface 8: Optical Audio Interface

Using fiber optic cables, this interface achieves an impressively low latency level of 1.2 milliseconds, enabling precise audio monitoring and recording.

Interface 9: USB-C Audio Interface

This modern USB-C interface provides a latency level of 1.8 milliseconds, catering to the needs of mobile producers and performers.

Interface 10: WiFi Audio Interface

By utilizing WiFi technology, this interface delivers a reliable latency level of 2.8 milliseconds, streamlining wireless audio transmission in a studio or live setting.

In conclusion, selecting the audio interface with the lowest latency is essential for achieving professional-level recordings and ensuring a smooth and real-time monitoring experience. Thunderbolt 3, PCIe, and optical interfaces offer the lowest latency levels, while USB 2.0 and WiFi interfaces provide reasonable performance for home setups or wireless applications. Consider your specific needs and prioritize low latency when choosing an audio interface to enhance your music production endeavors.

Which Audio Interface Has the Lowest Latency? – Frequently Asked Questions

Which Audio Interface Has the Lowest Latency?


What is audio interface latency?

Audio interface latency refers to the time delay between when an audio signal enters an audio interface and when it is outputted. Lower latency values indicate shorter delay times.

Why is low latency important for audio interfaces?

Low latency is important for audio interfaces as it allows for real-time monitoring and recording without noticeable delays. This is crucial for musicians, podcasters, and other audio professionals who need to hear themselves or other sound sources in real-time.

How is audio interface latency measured?

Audio interface latency is typically measured in milliseconds (ms). The lower the latency value, the shorter the delay. Most audio interfaces provide control panels or software that allow users to adjust and monitor latency settings.

Which factors affect audio interface latency?

Several factors can affect audio interface latency, including the hardware architecture, driver performance, buffer size, and computer processing power. Optimizing these factors can help reduce latency and improve performance.

Are there audio interfaces with zero latency?

While it is technically not possible to achieve zero latency due to the inherent processing time in digital audio systems, some audio interfaces offer direct monitoring functionality that allows you to monitor the input signals in real-time without any perceptible delay.

Which audio interfaces are known for low latency performance?

Several audio interface manufacturers and models are known for their low latency performance, such as Focusrite Scarlett series, Universal Audio Apollo series, PreSonus Quantum series, and RME Audio interfaces. However, it is essential to consider your specific needs and system compatibility before choosing an audio interface.

How can I minimize audio interface latency?

Minimizing audio interface latency can be achieved by using audio interfaces with low-latency drivers, optimizing computer performance, reducing buffer sizes, and utilizing direct monitoring when available. Additionally, ensuring that you are using quality cables and maintaining proper software settings can also improve latency performance.

Are Thunderbolt audio interfaces known for low latency?

Thunderbolt audio interfaces are generally known for their excellent performance and low latency capabilities. Thunderbolt connectivity provides high-speed data transfer and low latency transport, making it a preferred choice for professional audio production.

Can audio interface latency affect overall audio quality?

In most cases, audio interface latency does not directly affect the overall audio quality. However, extremely high latency can cause synchronization issues, audible delays, or difficulties during real-time recording or monitoring. It is important to strike a balance between low latency and system stability for optimal audio performance.

What other factors should I consider when choosing an audio interface?

In addition to latency performance, factors such as audio input/output options, sample rate and bit depth support, connectivity options (USB, Thunderbolt, FireWire, etc.), additional features (DSP processing, MIDI I/O, etc.), build quality, and budget should also be considered when selecting an audio interface.