Our pick for the best drum recording interface is the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (3rd Gen). Providing the ultimate balance between cost, quality, and features, the beautifully presented 18i20 will provide a versatile platform for acoustic and electronic drum recording alike.
For those on a budget, or diving into the world of drum recording for the first time, the Behringer U-PHORIA UMC1820 packs a punch for the price.
2 headphone outputs with separate volume controls.
24-bit / 96kHz converters.
Individual pad for each input.
USB A connectivity.
The UMC1820 has 8 mic/line inputs with preamps that were designed by Midas, an award-winning company, known for designing and producing world-class professional audio equipment.
This 1U rack-mountable interface features 2 powerful headphone outputs, split phantom power switches between channels 1-4 and 5-8, a dedicated pad for each input, and an option to add 8 additional inputs via the ADAT port situated on the back of the unit.
All 8 inputs are fitted with XLR/TRS combo sockets to facilitate a range of input sources. That’s a lot of stuff for such a budget-friendly piece of hardware!
The combo sockets and additional ADAT inputs make this unit a desirable choice. Despite the lack of sufficient hardware input metering, this interface is a great option for users on a budget or getting into drum recording for the first time.
8 mic/line inputs with ‘brilliantly transparent’ preamps.
16 additional ADAT I/O.
2 headphone outputs with separate routing and volume controls.
24-bit/192kHz high-end converters.
Individual pad and phantom power on each input.
Monitor mixes with EQ, dynamics, and reverb plugins.
Thunderbolt and USB A connectivity.
Wireless software control.
As well as 8 mic/line inputs with exceptionally high-quality preamps, this remarkable 19” rack-mountable unit comes complete with 16 additional ADAT inputs and outputs at 48kHz (8 S/MUX II at 96kHz). 2 dedicated headphone outputs with flexible routing via the wireless control software, and 24-bit / 192kHz high-end converters with ESS Sabre32 Ultra DAC™ technology.
To top it off, the 8pre-es also features a dual-screen for detailed input and output metering.
For control software, the 8pre-es is phenomenal. With dynamic, EQ, and reverb plugins on each input, it provides a comprehensive platform for creating high-quality monitor mixes.
For added portability, the software can also be used via a wireless internet connection and is 100% compatible with Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android – perfect if you’re the drummer and engineer!
The 1824c has 1 ADAT port for incorporating 8 additional inputs. The interface offers 24-bit/192kHz conversion for optimum definition, however, the single ADAT port only permits 48kHz over 8 ADAT inputs. This should be taken into consideration if you’re looking to expand to the full 16-input capacity at higher sample rates!
If this is a dealbreaker, the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 might be a suitable option for a similar price.
USB-C connectivity makes the 1824c seamlessly compatible with newer laptops and portable devices. However, if you own a slightly older computer, the included USB-C to USB-A cable will get you connected right away.
The global phantom power switch is a real downfall if using a selection of condenser and ribbon microphones. But with clean, high-gain preamps, recording sample rates of up to 192Khz and the included software, it certainly offers a great deal for the price.
Looking for the best drumsticks for electronic drums? Check out our pick of the best 5 here!
How many preamps do I need to record drums?
A preamp is a variable electronic device capable of amplifying low-level signals from microphones and instrument pickups to line input sources.
The number of preamps needed to record drums depends on how many input sources you would like to use. The example below requires 6 inputs, therefore 6 mic preamps are necessary:
Kick – Mic 1
Snare – Mic 2
Tom 1 – Mic 3
Tom 2 – Mic 4
OH L – Mic 5
OH R – Mic 6
All of the interfaces reviewed in this article feature 8 preamps built-in. The example above would still leave 2 preamps spare for a larger drum kit, additional room mics, or a stereo feed from a drum module, etc.
How many inputs do I need to record drums?
Although 6 to 8 inputs have become an industry standard for clear, multi-channel drum recording, the final decision all depends on your budget, the type of sound you’re looking for, and the size of your drum kit.
In short, no. If recording direct to your computer, an audio interface with good quality preamps, a headphone output, and low latency is all you need for a basic, yet capable set-up.
Is there a difference between a drum kit and a drum set?
If you’re new to recording drums you might be wondering if there is a difference between a drum kit and a drum set. They actually both refer to the same thing (you may hear some drummers claim a ‘set’ was more common many years ago whilst a ‘kit’ is more common now).
Rest assured, whatever you refer to it as will be correct!