10 Best Audio Interfaces with Onboard DSP (All Budgets)

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  • Discover the differences between various interfaces with onboard DSP technology
  • Learn how onboard DSP processing can streamline your recording workflow
  • We break down 10 models to help you decide which is best for you
  • Also, check out our post on the best professional audio interfaces!

Some like to track dry, and some like processing on the way in.

While there is no “right way,” doing a little bit of processing on the way in can save you some time down the road.

Moreover, it can also help you get a better performance out of whoever is being recorded.

With this in mind, here are 10 of our favorite audio interfaces with onboard DSP!

What Are The Best Audio Interfaces With Onboard DSP?

Here are our picks:

  1. Antelope Orion Studio Synergy Core Pro (Our Pick)
  2. Antelope Zen Go
  3. Steinberg UR44C (Best Budget)
  4. Fireface UCX
  5. Universal Audio Apollo Solo (Best Premium)
  6. Tascam US-16×08
  7. MOTU UltraLite-MK5
  8. Tascam Series 208i
  9. Yamaha AG03
  10. Audient Sono

1. Antelope Orion Studio Synergy Core Pro (Our Pick)

Our Pick
Antelope Audio Orion Studio Synergy Core

Hot-rodded with Antelope Audio's future-proof Synergy Core FX processing platform, this updated Orion Studio is loaded with 2 FPGA and 6 DSP chips working in harmony to run Antelope's vast library of effects plug-ins.

Why We Love It:
  • Thunderbolt 3 & USB connectivity
  • 50 Antelope FX included
  • 12 discrete microphone preamps
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Key Features:

  • State-of-the-art DSP processing
  • Amazing conversion
  • Effects work in real-time


Antelope Audio is one of the premier names in digital recording.

Through their proprietary Synergy Core processing, you can access up to 128 effects instances that work in real-time to create the best recordings possible.

All DSP is powered by two FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chips and six ARM-based processors.

The primary benefit of this type of technology is that the CPU on your workstation is freed up to focus on other things while the hardware built into the interface handles the heavy lifting.

This means it can handle up to 128 instances of processing at one time, which is all done within the interface.

Analog insert points let you patch hardware outboard gear into your recording workflow. It even has two preamp outputs.

With its versatile analog and digital I/O, industry-leading conversion, and powerful DSP engine, the Studio Synergy Core Pro is one of the best audio interfaces with onboard DSP available today.

2. Antelope Audio Zen Go

Antelope Audio Zen Go

The Zen Go Synergy Core is a portable desktop interface that allows self-recording artists to create from virtually anywhere with the technology used by award-winning producers.

Why We Love It:
  • Ultra-low latency recording
  • High-resolution playback
  • Portable
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Key Features:

  • A great alternative to the Synergy Core
  • Antelope Audio’s best-in-class conversion
  • Highly expandable


If you want to integrate Antelope Audio’s groundbreaking DSP into your system but want something smaller than the Synergy Core, the Zen Go might be a perfect choice.

This bus-powered USB-C interface features two discrete preamps that provide a whopping 65dB gain.

They have a switchable mic, line, and Hi-Z modes.

The converters are best-in-class, and the 64-bit AFC clocking gives you incredible width and sound separation. But the real power under the hood is in its DSP processing.

Through its 37 Synergy Core, analog-modeled effects give you all the onboard signal processing you’ll need.

It has two preamps, four EQs, five compressors and limiters, reverb, and 22 amp and cabinet models.

If that’s not enough, there are over 50 expansions you can add.

Through Antelope’s control software, you can adjust all of the processing, signal routing, and monitoring you’ll need to get the most out of your sessions.

It’s expandable through S-PDIF, so even though it’s smaller, it has every potential to be the centerpiece of your recording rig.

3. Steinberg UR44C (Best Budget)

Best Budget
Steinberg UR44C

The Steinberg RU44C strikes the perfect balance between portability and connectivity. This 6-in/4-out USB interface delivers professional quality audio resolution with both analog and MIDI connections.

Why We Love It:
  • Latency-free DSP monitoring
  • Four Class A microphone preamps
  • Dual headphone monitoring capabilities
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Key Features:

  • SSP3 DSP chip provides next-gen processing
  • Very affordable interface with onboard DSP
  • Great converters
  • Cross-platform


Running on a Yamaha SSP3 DSP chip, this four-channel interface from Steinberg is an affordable way to add built-in processing to your rig.

The A/D converters are 32-bit/192kHz, with four combination analog inputs and six outputs.

Class A preamps provide terrific clarity, and MIDI connectivity expands your creative options. It runs on USB-C bus power or the 12v power supply, is cross-platform, and runs on Windows, Mac, and iOS devices.

If you need an onboard DSP audio interface but don’t have a lot to spend, the UR44C has you covered.

4. Fireface UCX

RME Fireface UCX

The super-versatile RME Fireface UCX hybrid interface gives you many of the hit features found in their Fireface UFX model but in a more portable format. It comes loaded with redeveloped Hammerfall converters and a ton of I/O options, including a pair of phenomenal mic pres, ADAT optical, S/PDIF, and more. 

Why We Love It:
  • Integrated DSP monitor controller
  • Hybrid interface
  • Latency-free processing, monitoring, and effects
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Key Features:

  • Slim but rack-mountable
  • Great I/O
  • Awesome DSP options


The UCX isn’t new, but when it comes to onboard DSP audio interfaces, it’s kept itself in the conversation.

Ergonomic is the name of the game here. It’s a well-built, half-rack design. But don’t let its size fool you. It’s a 20-in/20-out piece of kit that connects via USB.

There are a variety of connections that cover analog, digital, word clock, and MIDI. So no matter how you choose to connect, you’ll have a way to do it.

Both combination preamps offer digital control. Every channel can access a host of DSPs that includes EQ, filtering, reverb, compression, and more.

The TotalMix effects engine is a dual-DSP system. This means that while one handles the monitoring, the other provides effects processing free of any latency. 

CV signal can be sent out to synthesizers and additional hardware, and for hands-free control, you can use the separately sold ARC controller.

5. Universal Audio Apollo Solo (Best Premium)

Best Premium
Universal Audio Apollo Solo

Loaded with UA's next-generation AD/DA converters and two Unison mic preamps, the Apollo Solo Heritage Edition delivers top-shelf sound quality. What’s more, you get a premium suite of five award-winning plug-in titles, along with the Realtime Analog Classics bundle to lend an album-quality sheen to your projects.

Why We Love It:
  • Ultra-low latency
  • Unrivaled bandwidth
  • Sounds incredible
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Key Features:

  • SHARC processing offers second-to-none DSP technology
  • Unison preamps are incredibly versatile
  • Best-in-class conversion


If you aren’t aware of how powerful Universal Audio’s line of interfaces is, you’re seriously missing out.

To access their powerful suite of processors requires dedicated hardware, and with the Apollo Solo, the SHARC processor that runs it is built-in to the interface.

The bundled software is pretty much all you’ll need as far as plugins go. You can access legendary compressors like the 1176 and LA-2A, EQs like the Pultec, classic reverbs, and preamps.

There are even guitar amps, channel strips, delays, console, and tape machine emulations, the list just keeps going! 

It runs on a Thunderbolt 3 connection, so you’ll need to keep that in mind if you’re considering the Solo. It only has two inputs and outputs, which might not be enough for some.

The face has additional options like a high-pass filter, phantom power, pad, polarity reverse, and a link for recording both channels in stereo.

The conversion is seriously next-level, the DSP is fantastic, and the Unison preamps are top-notch.

Compatibility with UA’s Luna music production software means you don’t have to step out of the Universal Audio ecosystem if you don’t want to.

6. Tascam US-16×08


The TASCAM US-16x08 USB audio interface is an excellent bread-and-butter option for anyone looking for enough flexibility to handle a variety of recording setups.

Why We Love It:
  • Attractive price
  • Ergonomic stand-alone design
  • Versatile
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Key Features:

  • Great number of high-quality of preamps
  • Can be used as an interface or standalone preamp
  • Desktop or rackmount utility


The US-16×08 is the big brother to the 208i. It has eight Ultra-HDDA preamps that offer 57dB of gain across 16 mic and balanced line inputs.

While it doesn’t have a DSP that is as extensive as some of the other options, it does have a DSP mixer.

This provides low-latency monitor mixes that allow you to add compression, four bands of EQ, and reverb.

The US-16×08 also kicks goals in terms of versatility, as it can be used as an interface or a standalone mic preamp.

Through the USB compliance standard, it operates on Windows, Mac, and iOS systems. It’s well-built, ergonomic, and can be used as a desktop unit, or you can mount it in a rack.

7. MOTU UltraLite-MK5

MOTU UltraLite-MK5

The latest in MOTU's popular, award-winning UltraLite interface series, the UltraLite-mk5 is an 18-input, 22-output audio interface with DSP mixing, effects processing and best-in-class analog audio quality for on-the-go mobile audio recording. 

Why We Love It:
  • 40 simultaneous channels
  • Loopback functionality
  • MIDI I/O for easy integration of hardware synths and modules
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Key Features:

  • 40 simultaneous channels
  • Amazing A/D conversion
  • Insane output routing


MOTU has been at the top of the audio interface game for quite a while. They have so many models to choose from it’s hard to narrow your selection down to just one.

The UltraLite-MK5 is a perfect mix of features, utility, and affordability.

40 simultaneous channels? Are you kidding me?! With 18 ins and 22 outs, this desktop unit is much more powerful than you’d think by judging its size.

MOTU’s converter technology has always been top-notch, and the ESS SABRE PRO digital-analog conversion will get your productions exactly where you want them.

There might only be two preamps, but they are crystalline, to say the least. Its output section is its strongest feature as far as I/O goes, and it integrates with other hardware seamlessly.

Don’t be fooled, it’s not just great for music production. Whether you’re streaming live, creating social media content, or podcasting, this thing is the real deal.

It’s compatible with Windows, Mac, and iOS. It even comes with the Performer Lite DAW, over 100 virtual instruments, and 6GB of samples and loops.

The DSP engine is small but mighty. You get a 4-band parametric EQ, dynamics, and reverb. The DSP engine also powers the 22-in and 6-out monitor mix.

With separate mixes for each analog output pair, your monitoring options are at your fingertips.

With MOTU’s CueMix 5 software, you get deep, visual control over playback. EQ can be edited graphically, it’s easy to use, and once you’re up and running with it, you can save valuable session time.

8. Tascam Series 208i

TASCAM Series 208i

The TASCAM Series 208i USB audio interface packs an impressive amount of connectivity into a compact and rugged desktop format. And with its built-in effects and processing, you'll be able to treat your audio with reverb, compression, and EQ on the way into your DAW software.

Why We Love It:
  • Small, affordable, but powerful
  • Includes DAW software
  • Rugged, sleek metal design
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Key Features:

  • Ultra-HDDA preamps provide pristine quality
  • Small, affordable, but powerful
  • Great expandability


The 208i boasts four channels with Ultra-HDDA preamps. This stands for High Definition Discrete Architecture, and they’re pretty good preamps for an interface that retails for under $500 USD.

Each channel is a combination input that can be mic, line, or instrument level, and each channel has 48v phantom power!

In terms of I/O, it has some great options. There are eight balanced line-outs on the rear of the unit, as well as MIDI and word clock connectivity.

It records 24-bit and up to a 192kHz sample rate. There is a digital input/output mixer that lets you route signal flow controlled by the free software.

If four channels aren’t enough, you can expand it with two ADAT optical inputs.

The 208i may not offer as many built-in DSP effects as some of the other options on this list, but it has all the primary bases covered.

You’ll get 4-band EQ, compression, and reverb. It also comes bundled with the Steinberg DAW, Tascam’s Control software, their version of Amplitube, T-Racks, and Izotope Neutron Elements.

The 208i is small but mighty. It’s well-built and comes with a lot of valuable features for a smaller unit.

9. Yamaha AG03

Yamaha AG03

The AG03 is a multi-purpose, high-resolution mixer and USB audio interface designed to elevate the creative audio experience for webcasters/podcasters, gamers, mobile musicians, music producers, and more.

Why We Love It:
  • Studio effects with software control
  • Easy internet streaming with the loopback function
  • Class compliant for iOS compatibility
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Key Features:

  • 24-bit/192kHz resolution
  • Great for music production and media content creation
  • Mixer and interface provide versatility


This audio interface with onboard DSP is small but packs a little punch. Its three channels seem to be tailor-made for the singer-songwriter or for sketching ideas out quickly.

Its three channels connect through USB and allow you to record different types of inputs. At 24-bit/192kHz resolution, you’ll have no issues making your recordings sound professional.

The onboard DSP includes EQ, compression, filters, and reverb.

It works with Windows or Mac systems – including the iPad. And with iOS connectivity, it’s easy to use collaboration platforms like Zoom, Teams, Skype, and more.

Just as good for podcasting and content creation as dedicated audio recording, Yamaha created an affordable interface/mixer with a lot of utility.

10. Audient Sono

Audient Sono

Audient’s Sono is tailor-made for the recording guitarist, marrying a 12AX7-fueled preamp with a top-shelf power amp and cabinet simulation from Two Notes, along with a 3-band EQ and powerful re-amping capabilities. Sono isn’t just for guitarists; however — it’s also a feature-packed USB audio interface.

Why We Love It:
  • Store 3 presets onboard
  • Expand to up to 10 total inputs
  • Built-in Two Notes DSP guitar recording interface
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Key Features:

  • Two Notes amp/cabinet emulations
  • Interface made for guitarists
  • A healthy amount of microphone models and impulse responses


Audient’s products have caught on with producers and musicians of all levels over the past few years. Sono is an audio interface tailor-made for guitarists, but don’t call it an “amp modeler.” 

Powered by Two Notes signal processing, you get cabinet emulations with adjustable mics.

These include ribbon, condenser, and dynamic models. There are also room responses and effects to choose from.

It has two preamps, with one even integrating the popular 12AX7 preamp tube.

You can save three of your favorite preset combinations directly to the hardware, and you can send your signal fully processed as well as a separate dry DI signal to your DAW.

The LED meter is also comedically labeled with stages ranging from “Signal” to “Bad!” once you hit clipping!

Why Purchase an Onboard DSP Audio Interface?

Adding Digital Signal Processing through an audio interface has many benefits.

Since the processing is pre-DAW, this means that latency is not a concern because the interface is handling the processing load.

It also means that your computer’s CPU isn’t doing any of the processing. This frees it up for other tasks. It also helps you consolidate your overall gear count.

Gone are the days of needing additional hardware if you want to affect things going into the recorder!


What Is Onboard DSP?

Onboard DSP is a term used when audio interfaces can add processing from the hardware itself without relying on the connected computer and DAW to do it.

Is DSP The Same As DAC?

Not at all. DSP stands for digital signal processing. This is what plugins do. They are manipulating audio in the digital realm the way hardware does in the analog realm.

Learn the difference between Audio Interface and DAC here!

Is A DSP Audio Interface Worth It?

In the age of digital recording? Absolutely!

While analog hardware has its place, with the right level of software, you can achieve the same professional results that used to cost tens of thousands of dollars and take up the space of entire rooms.

Before you go, check out our guide to the 8 Best Portable Audio Interfaces (For All Budgets)!