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Are you interested in recording your drum kit? Or are you trying to capture a higher-quality sound?
As with most things, recording begins with acquiring the right equipment for the job.
In this guide, we cover the best drum recording interfaces. Use these to track killer-sounding drums, even from home.
Focusrite Clarett+ 12 Pre DP7Plu Drum Recording Bundle – Best Overall
The Focusrite Clarett+ 12 Pre DP7Plu Drum Recording Bundle is a bit of a rarity in that it’s a Sweetwater-exclusive drum recording bundle you can’t find anywhere else. And that goes for the other Focusrite bundles covered here as well.
The great thing about a bundle like this is naturally all the essential gear it comes with. In addition to the Focusrite Clarett+ OctoPre, you also get the Audix DP7 Plus eight-piece drum microphone kit.
Sweetwater has thrown in a Focusrite Clarett+ 4Pre audio interface along with an optical cable, which gives you the ability to connect the preamp to your interface, and your interface to your computer.
The only thing not included in this package is XLR cables, so if you don’t already have some on hand at your studio, you’ll probably want to pick up a few to ensure you’ve got all the connections you need.
While the Focusrite Clarett should not be considered an “all in one” unit, the bundle comes with almost everything you need to record clean drum sounds in high fidelity. And that makes it our best overall selection.
Focusrite Clarett+ 16 Pre DP7Plu Drum Recording Bundle – Premium Option
The Focusrite Clarett+ 16 Pre DP7Plu Drum Recording Bundle is going to give you the most flexibility out of any drum recording interface and / or bundle featured in this guide.
This package includes the Focusrite Clarett+ 8Pre audio interface along with the Focusrite Clarett+ OctoPre to give you the maximum number of recording inputs possible. It’s a deadly combination because those Clarett mic preamps deliver a pristine sound to your DAW.
Of course, you get the Audix DP7 Plus eight-piece drum mic package, as well as a Hosa OPM-303 premium optical cable to ensure you’re set up with the essentials. You’ll still need to get some XLR cables if you don’t have any, though, but that’s not a horrible trade-off.
If you need the maximum amount of power and flexibility possible, and money’s not an object, we recommend this, our top premium selection.
TASCAM US-16×08 – Best Budget Option
The TASCAM US-16×08 is a no-nonsense USB audio interface featuring eight microphone inputs, MIDI I/O, onboard DSP for basic effects and processing, and low latency routing.
Rarely does a budget-friendly option such as this feature DSP functionality, but the US-16×08 does – it includes DSP mixing, a four-band EQ, and compression.
Since the USB functionality is class-compliant, the TASCAM US-16×08 will work on Windows and Mac machines alike.
We think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better budget drum recording interface unless you want to sacrifice inputs or other features (it’s up to you). The TASCAM US-16×08 is our best budget selection.
Focusrite Casey Cooper Content Creator Drum Recording Pack
The Focusrite Casey Cooper Content Creator Drum Recording Pack is similar to the Foscurite drum recording bundles we’ve already looked at except for two things – 1) this is a Casey Cooper signature series kit, and 2) you get a lot more gear for the money!
And in case you don’t already know, Casey Cooper is a popular YouTube drummer. This kit is based entirely on his recording setup, which is very well-suited to your content creation needs.
In addition to a Focusrite Scarlette 18i20 USB audio interface, you also get a Shure PGADRUMKIT7 seven-piece drum mic kit, Zoom F1-SP field recorder with a shotgun mic, GoPro HERO11 Black waterproof action camera, GoPro mic adapter, PreSonus Eris E5 XT powered studio monitors, Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones, mic stands, XLR cables, and patch cables.
We love what Sweetwater has put together here, and we think the Casey Cooper drum recording bundle is an excellent option for any drummer looking to share their content to YouTube and beyond.
Focusrite Clarett+ 10 Pre DP7Plu Drum Recording Bundle
The Focusrite Clarett+ 10 Pre DP7Plu Drum Recording Bundle is the most affordable of Focusrite drum recording bundles featured in this guide.
The setup isn’t anything shocking – it’s almost the same as the others. The main difference is the Focusrite Clarett+ 2Pre, which is a more compact interface than the interfaces the other drum bundles feature. To be honest, it’s not that much of a sacrifice though.
Of course, you still get the OctoPre, Audix drum mic kit, and Hosa optical cable (XLR cables sold separately).
This kit is more than sufficient for recording professional-quality drums, which is also reflected in its price point.
Cranborne Audio 500R8 USB Audio Interface & 8-Slot 500 Series Rack
The Cranborne Audio 500R8 USB Audio Interface & 8-Slot 500 Series Rack is the perfect solution for anyone that doesn’t just need to record drums but also wants to process them using high-quality rackmount equipment.
This unit comes with all the tools you need – analog summing mixer, monitor controller, and zero-latency artist mixer – to set up your custom analog / digital hybrid studio setup.
The 500R8 even comes with high-performance AD-DA conversion, a reference-quality master clock, reference-grade headphone amplifiers, and more.
The rest is up to you – you can pick and choose your favorite 500 Series preamp (ideal for drum recording), EQ, compressor, and saturation modules to load into your setup for recording and mixdown.
For those looking for a highly configurable modular recording setup that could act as a mobile rig, there is nothing quite like the Cranborne Audio 500R8.
And for the price, this is quite an impressive setup, featuring eight microphone preamps, 16 channels of ADAT optical digital I/O, a built-in talkback mic, 32-bit floating point DSP digital mixer with EQ, dynamics, and effects, and other great features.
If you like, you can control the MOTU 8PRE-ES wirelessly as a mixer, using your smartphone, tablet, or laptop computer. The control software is web-based, so you can use any device to control wirelessly regardless of the operating system.
Thanks to the onboard preamps, the MOTU 8PRE-ES makes for an excellent drum recording rig, and of course, it will handle just about everything else you throw at it.
The interface can take a bit of getting used to, but you will find it a very versatile unit once you’ve mastered the basics.
PreSonus Quantum 2632
The PreSonus Quantum 2632 is a Thunderbolt audio interface for professional recording. With near unprecedented speed, eight software recallable XMAX preamps, and extensive digital I/O capabilities, the Quantum 2632 is a powerful, no-nonsense recording box.
This unit also features 24-bit / 192 kHz converters, clocking, a built-in talkback mic, wireless control via the UC Surface app, Studio One Artist DAW, and more.
There may be some workflow things to figure out if you buy the PreSonus Quantum 2632, but most buyers end up very happy with their purchase. There probably isn’t anything like it in this exact price range.
MOTU 896mk3 Hybrid
The MOTU 896mk3 Hybrid is a FireWire / USB audio interface with eight XLR / TRS “combo” analog inputs with preamps, digital I/O options, and true hi-Z guitar inputs.
If it sounds like the MOTU 863mk3 Hybrid interface might be versatile, you’re spot on. But its feature set doesn’t end there.
The 896mk3 Hybrid interface also comes with onboard effects, including an emulation of the classic LA-2A, reverb, and a British flavored EQ, as well as comprehensive front panel metering, and DSP-driven phase lock engine and internal clock source. The onboard CueMix can also be controlled using an iPad.
Overall, MOTU 896mk3 Hybrid is an excellent pro level audio interface.
PreSonus Quantum 2626
What stands out about it is its Thunderbolt 3 technology, eight XMAX mic preamps, 24-bit / 192 kHz converters, reliable clocking, and 120 dB of dynamic range. With plenty of I/O options, Quantum is quite expandable too, which is always good to know.
Of course, as with the Quantum 2632 interface seen earlier, the Quantum 2626 interface comes bundled with the Studio One Artist DAW.
This is a very solid option for the price, and some even say PreSonus have outdone themselves with this unit.
What To Look For In A Drum Recording Interface
So, you’re shopping for a drum recording interface. As you might have guessed, there are an array of factors to balance when hunting for a suitable solution.
Some are more obvious than others, like input and output options, but there’s more to selecting an audio interface than meets the eye.
If you’re still a little unsure about which to buy, or if you’re a little torn between a couple of options, we get it. So, let us help.
In this section, we’ll be looking at several key criteria you should consider when looking at which drum recording interface to buy. They are as follows:
- Sound quality
- Inputs / outputs
Let’s dive into each.
It’s true that you can accomplish a lot at the mixing phase with editing, processing, and mixing techniques, but there’s just nothing quite like capturing a quality sound out of the gate. And every piece of gear you use makes a difference – from the audio interface to the cables you use.
But it’s only natural to begin your journey at audio interfaces, given that they are essential for software recording.
For better or for worse, this is one of those instances where “pay more to get more” rings true. The most expensive audio interfaces can run you $10,000+. This is something you already knew if you’re a pro level engineer or producer, but newbies and intermediates deserve to know too.
But just because you can’t spring for a $10,000 unit now doesn’t mean you can’t get a great quality sound. And for drums, an efficient workflow and the right input and output options matter a great deal. But we’ll cover some of these factors in more detail later.
The good news is there is gear matched to every drummer and producer’s needs, from beginner to intermediate to pro level. The prices reflect this fact too, so there’s not a lot of guesswork involved. Chances are you can find a solution that won’t send you to the poorhouse.
But it’s worth thinking about the projects you’re working on (as well as the ones you’re going to be working on), your requirements for these projects, and the sound quality you expect or will be satisfied with.
Your abilities as a producer or engineer might also factor into this equation. If you’re confident you can make the drums sound great no matter what, or if you’ve got other stellar outboard gear, the quality of the audio interface might not matter as much to you.
And the reality is you can enhance the sound of your drums with samples too. It’s time-consuming work, but I’ve seen it done, and sometimes it’s more of a necessity than you might be inclined to think.
It’s still nice to be able to capture killer sound without having to doctor up your drums to the nth degree later (some processing is always par for the course, though).
Either way, our recommendation is to learn what you can about the units you’re thinking about buying. Check out video demos and reviews. Written customer reviews may prove helpful too. Make note of anything you can find out about the sound quality of the interface.
This is not the only thing to be thinking about when shopping for an audio interface, mind you, and it may not even be your top consideration, because there are other key factors. So, let’s move on to…
As you’ve surely seen, recording interfaces can come with some worthwhile extras, whether it’s additional hardware equipment or other built-in functions and tools.
Here are a few categories worth thinking about as you look to identify the right interface for your needs:
- Recording or content creator bundles. These bundles are designed to give you a running start in your drum recording endeavors. The bundles either give you everything you need or many of the essentials you’ll require to get your recording environment set up and ready for capturing drums recordings. If you already have some studio gear (but not a workable audio interface), then drum recording kits may not be the right move for you. You would be better served with a standalone audio interface. But if you have very little to no gear and need to cover the essentials, then a package deal is worth considering. There is a difference between the Focusrite Clarett and Foscusrite Casey Cooper bundles, though, so make sure you know what comes with which. Otherwise, you will end up with insufficient gear, or too much gear.
- Interface with rack. The Cranborne Audio 500RB was specifically designed as an expandable USB audio interface. One of its most attractive features is you can add whatever combination of 500 Series modules (preamp, EQ, compression, limiting, saturation, etc.) you want to the rack, thereby setting up your custom hybrid digital-analog recording kit. This is not a cheap direction to go in, partly because of the cost of the interface, and partly because modules cost you extra, and it’s hard not to drool over the options available. But for those who want to cover all their bases and create a competent compact hybrid mobile recording setup (I am in no way suggesting it will be lightweight), this is a good way to go.
- Effects. Some recording interfaces come with basic processing options and effects like EQ, reverb, and compression. Of course, you can add effects in post, but sometimes audio interfaces come with very nice effects, and it can be convenient to dial in some processing while capturing your tracks. It’s up to you, really. Whether an audio interface comes with effects probably isn’t going to make it or break it for you, but it’s worth checking to see whether the interface you’re thinking about buying comes with processing features. Ultimately, ever producer needs effects, whether hardware or software.
- Talkback mic. Again, whether an audio interface comes with a talkback mic probably isn’t going to make or break the purchase. That said, it is a nice feature to have if your control and tracking rooms are separate and you need to be able to communicate with the musicians in the live room.
Workflow is all about what works for you. Some audio interfaces are very intuitive and probably won’t require a lot of effort on your part to figure out. But there are audio interfaces with more complex workflows, usually because they come with more features.
As with most things, once you get used to the workflow of your chosen audio interface, it’s not a big deal. It’s more a matter of whether you’re willing to spend a little more time to learn the interface.
A complex workflow probably isn’t a deal-breaker unless it’s especially intrusive, especially if you can still get a killer sound.
Your options are to learn everything you can about a unit before purchasing it, renting it at your local instrument store, or committing to learning the interface, no matter the obstacles you encounter.
If you’re in the market for a drum recording interface, naturally you will be thinking about the number and quality of inputs (as well as whether they come with preamps) a recording interface offers. This is part of what you’re paying for.
Sure, there are always workarounds and expanders, but all things being equal, it’s nice to have everything conveniently in one place and to know how many mics you can set up to capture your drum kit.
The decision, I suppose, isn’t that difficult though. It’s a multiple-choice question – will you get a unit that has 16, 12, 10, or eight inputs (or something with even fewer)?
Although, in a sense, it’s not a multiple-choice question at all, because most recording interfaces only seem to come with eight XLR inputs / mic preamps or fewer.
Either way, in case you’re worried, you can get an excellent quality drum sound with just eight or even four inputs. I have even heard producers do amazing things with just one mic.
Realistically, you want to mic the kick, snare, hats, and overheads, and everything else is optional.
But depending on what you’re used to, or how you like to set up your rig, you may want to work with more inputs – and that’s understandable.
So, in choosing a drum recording interface, don’t forget to think about how many inputs you’ll need (as well as how many XLR cables you’ll require).
Additionally, while we’re on the subject, some audio interfaces feature advanced output features for added flexibility and expandability. Depending on how you plan to use the audio interface, it’s not a bad idea to research exactly what outputs an interface comes with as well.
When it comes to hardware studio gear, budget is always an important consideration. As noted earlier, you can spend a pretty penny on a drum recording interface and other modules – preamps, EQs, compressors, etc.
If you’ve got a steady stable of clients and a sizable budget to spend, you’re probably well-prepared for this purchase. But if you’re just getting started, you might be taken aback at the amount of money you can spend in this domain.
Either way, in choosing a drum recording interface, we suggest consulting your budget. We don’t recommend overextending yourself or going into debt, so please shop wisely.
You want to be able to enjoy your gear, don’t you? It’s much better than crying over the credit card bills you can’t pay at the kitchen table.
And don’t forget – if there’s an interface you must have but can’t afford right now, you can always save up for it. That’s how most producers approach it – they gradually upgrade their equipment piecemeal until they have everything they want and need.
Best Drum Recording Interface Brands
There is a dozen if not a couple dozen brands that make audio interfaces. So, which are the best of the best? Here we explore the best drum recording interface brands.
Focusrite is probably the most well-known brand among musicians looking to record from home or in their project studios. That has a lot to do with their quality, budget-friendly Scarlett series of products.
That said, as a brand that specializes primarily in recording audio interfaces, Focusrite also serves the producer and engineer market with premium gear – primarily their Pro level equipment, specifically the Red series.
Their product range has been streamlined significantly, though, so finding what you’re looking for with Focusrite should not prove too complicated.
Audient specializes in audio interfaces, mic pres, consoles, and monitor controllers.
Their audio interfaces feature a sleek, modern meets vintage look that has resonated with artists, producers, and engineers.
Their interfaces typically come with mic preamps and class-leading converters to help you achieve quality sound without all the guesswork.
Clearly, Audient also has an ear to the ground because they also have a recording interface specifically for guitarists called Sono, complete with mic pres, valve instrument input, Two Notes cab simulation, and a re-amp output.
If you’ve been keeping an eye on recording gear trends of the last couple of decades, then it’s unlikely that you haven’t already heard of PreSonus.
PreSonus manufactures and develops software (including, of course, Studio One), mixers, monitors, interfaces, controllers, microphones, microphone preamps, headphones, headphone amps, loudspeakers, monitoring controllers, and more.
If you wanted to make PreSonus your one stop shop for recording equipment, you could.
As for audio interfaces, they have tools suited to practically every need, with Thunderbolt and USB options onboard. Check out their Quantum, AudioBox, ioStation, Revelator, and Studio Series audio interfaces.
MOTU (or Mark of the Unicorn) was established in 1980 and is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
MOTU’s product range includes audio interfaces, MIDI interfaces, audio software, virtual instruments, AVB networking, video interfaces, accessories, and other upgrades.
While I never like to put too much personal bias into the mix, I was primarily using a MOTU audio interface at one point, and I must say I became rather fond of it (although I don’t think I ever learned how to use all its features).
If you’re looking for compact home recording audio interfaces the likes of which Focusrite offers, MOTU has got that. If you’re looking for more advanced professional level recording equipment, MOTU has got that too. Their products are well worth exploring, whether you’re a drummer or producer.
Cranborne Audio offers accessories, C.A.S.T. audio cabling solutions, equalizers, headphone amplifiers, mic preamps and DIs, ADAT expanders, and USB audio interfaces.
Cranborne Audio’s primary contribution to the audio interface market is their 500R interface and eight-slot 500 series rack, also seen above. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love this concept, and it is a relatively unique offering too.
Of course, you do pay more for something that’s as unique and powerful as the 500R.
I don’t know whether Cranborne Audio has plans of coming out with additional audio interfaces, but I would certainly be curious to see what they come up with next.
TASCAM is a brand that’s been around for a good long while, and their product range reflects this fact.
TASCAM offers audio interfaces, mixers, converters, microphones, handheld and field recorders, clock generators, control surfaces, headphones, podcasting gear, accessories, and much more.
What seems to hold true about TASCAM is that they make good bang for buck equipment, and so far as audio interfaces go, they have options that are comparable to Focusrite and MOTU.
If price is a consideration for you, but you still have a standard for quality, then shopping with TASCAM will probably be the right move for you.
Top Drum Recording Interface Brands, Final Thoughts
Recording drums is often considered one of the hardest things to do in the studio. Venturing out into the unknown without the right equipment is therefore discouraged unless you’re just trying things out on an experimental basis.
There are audio interfaces tailored to an array of recording scenarios featured above. So, take your time, and do your research, because we’re sure there’s an interface that’s right for you.