7 Best Thunderbolt Audio Interfaces (All Budgets)

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  • Find out which interface is best for you 
  • Learn what makes a Thunderbolt audio interface a powerful tool
  • We compile the best Thunderbolt interfaces to upgrade your production setup 
  • Also, check out our post on Thunderbolt vs USB audio interfaces

As a music producer, having a reliable audio interface is essential to your setup.

Thunderbolt interfaces are known for their high speed and low latency, making them a popular choice among producers and audio professionals.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the best Thunderbolt interfaces currently on the market.

What Are The Best Thunderbolt Audio Interfaces? 

The MOTU 828es is a very popular choice. Its superb clarity, accessibility, and multitude of features make it an excellent choice.

If budget isn’t an issue, the Apogee Ensemble is a fantastic piece of professional hardware, perfect for any audio task. 

The Universal Audio Apollo Solo TB3 Heritage is an excellent choice for budget-conscientious producers and professionals. 

Here is our full list of the best Thunderbolt Audio Interfaces: 

  1. Universal Audio Apollo x6
  2. Apogee Ensemble (Best Premium)
  3. MOTU 828es (Our Pick)
  4. Antelope Audio Zen Tour Synergy Core
  5. Universal Audio Apollo Solo TB3 Heritage Edition (Best Value)
  6. Presonus Quantum 2626
  7. MOTU 8A

1. Universal Audio Apollo x6

Universal Audio Apollo x6

Place the Universal Audio Apollo x6 at the center of your studio, and it’s guaranteed to turbocharge your productivity. Track and mix with 50% more processing power than previous Apollos, thanks to UA’s powerful 6-core HEXA Core processor. Experience top-shelf sound quality, by way of the Apollo x6’s upgraded elite-class AD/DA conversion and Dual Crystal clocking.

Why We Love It:
  • Extremely low latency
  • Excellent signal-to-noise ratio
  • Excellent dynamic range width
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  • Front monitoring panel with various monitoring options, including Talkback mic, Alt speakers, and assignable Mono or Dim. 
  • Includes Realtime Analog Classics Plus, an excellent bundle that includes 16 UAD-powered plugins. 
  • 5.1 surround sound control 
  • 2x Unison-enabled mic preamps 


  • Extremely low latency 
  • Excellent signal-to-noise ratio
  • Excellent dynamic range width
  • A multitude of connectivity, input, and output options


  • Only has 2x mic preamps 
  • Not suitable for hobbyists and those shopping on a budget


The Universal Audio Apollo x6 is a professional audio interface that allows you to record, mix, and master audio with a high level of precision and clarity.

It features a 16×22 Thunderbolt 3 audio interface with elite-class A/D and D/A conversion, four Unison-enabled preamps, and UAD-2 QUAD Core DSP Acceleration.

The Apollo x6 is designed for recording and mixing music in the studio, but it can also be used for post-production work in video and film.

It features four Unison-enabled preamps, which allow you to use a wide range of virtual amplifiers, microphone preamps, and other processor emulations to shape your sound.

The preamps are designed to capture many sources, including vocals, instruments, and percussion, with high clarity and detail.

In addition to the preamps, the Apollo x6 features UAD-2 QUAD Core DSP Acceleration, which allows you to run high-quality UAD plug-ins in real time while recording and mixing.

These plug-ins include emulations of classic analog gear, such as compressors, equalizers, and reverbs, as well as modern processor algorithms.

The Apollo x6 also includes various connectivity options, including a 16×22 Thunderbolt 3 audio interface with elite-class A/D and D/A conversion, ADAT, and S/PDIF digital I/O, and both XLR and TRS analog inputs and outputs.

It also includes a headphone output for monitoring and a talkback microphone for communication with artists in the studio.

Overall, the Universal Audio Apollo x6 is a powerful and versatile audio interface suitable for a wide range of recording and mixing applications.

Its high-quality preamps, UAD-2 QUAD Core DSP Acceleration, and connectivity options make it a great choice for professional recording studios and post-production facilities.

This is an ideal piece of gear for dubbing mixing for video and film with its 5.1 surround availability and control. 

The only downside to this interface is that it only has 2 microphone preamps, which may be an issue if you’re looking for an all-in-one system.

If you want to record multiple instruments simultaneously, this will require an additional preamplifier paired with the interface. Adding additional cost to your setup may not be possible for those on a budget. 

2. Apogee Ensemble (Best Premium)

Best Premium
Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt Audio Interface

Apogee Ensemble is one of the first Thunderbolt 2 audio interfaces to offer superior sound quality, the lowest latency performance, and the most comprehensive studio functionality all in one box.

Why We Love It:
  • Complete all-in-one recording solution
  • Input, output, and connectivity options
  • Ideal for bands
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  • 8x mic preamps with up to 75 dB of gain 
  • Built-in talkback microphone and functionality
  • 4x combi mic/line/instrument inputs 
  • 4x XLR mic inputs 
  • 2x 1/4′ hi-z guitar/instrument inputs with Class-A JFET input 


  • Complete all-in-one recording solution 
  • A plethora of input, output, and connectivity options 


  • Not suitable for hobbyists and those shopping on a budget


The Apogee Ensemble is a professional audio interface designed for use in recording studios and home studios.

It features high-quality audio conversion and a range of inputs and outputs for connecting various audio sources and destinations.

The Ensemble has eight analog inputs and outputs and digital inputs and outputs for connecting to a digital audio workstation (DAW) or other digital audio equipment.

It also has a built-in headphone amplifier and a high-quality microphone preamp with 48V phantom power for condenser microphones.

The Ensemble includes Apogee’s Maestro software, which provides advanced control over the interface’s settings and routing options.

It also includes a variety of plug-ins and virtual instruments, making it a complete recording solution.

The Apogee Ensemble is an excellent all-in-one package perfect for a recording studio.

In comparison to the previous interface on our list, the Apogee Ensemble has 8 mic preamps which make it perfect for recording multiple instruments.

This makes it an ideal piece of hardware for audio engineers who frequently record with bands hence its name, the Ensemble. 

The Apogee Ensemble is an incredibly powerful interface allowing you to monitor live through your plugins and your DAW with unmatched latency.

The Apogee Ensemble offers premium sound quality without a reduction in performance. Even with a sample rate of 96k, the latency is as low as 1.1 ms. 

In addition, the Maestro software accompanying this product is fantastic in helping fine-tune your recording needs. Also, the plugins and virtual instruments included are an excellent addition. 

There is no doubt that this piece of hardware is one of the best money can buy for audio engineers and producers. If this is within your budget, it should certainly be at the top of your list. 

3. MOTU 828es (Our Pick)

Our Pick
MOTU 828es

With the 828es, MOTU's legendary audio interface has been retooled with an ESS Sabre32 DAC and dual full-color displays. This interface delivers pristine audio playback with an outstanding 123dB of dynamic range. Its recording performance is just as impressive, with round-trip latency as low as 1.6ms at 96kHz. 

Why We Love It:
  • Professional grade quality
  • Excellent latency performance
  • Good variety of input and output options
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  • 2x microphone preamps with dedicated sends and switchable pads with 65dB of gain
  • Wireless control via phone, tablet, or laptop
  • Front panel talkback mic and talk button
  • Duel monitoring LCD screens 


  • Professional grade quality at half the price of its competitors
  • Excellent latency performance 
  • Good variety of input and output options 


  • Only has 2x mic preamps 


The MOTU 828es is a professional audio interface designed for recording, mixing, and mastering music.

It features 60 channels with various connectivity options, including USB, Thunderbolt, ADAT, and S/PDIF.

The 828es has high-quality preamps and A/D and D/A converters, allowing it to deliver clean, accurate audio with a wide dynamic range. 

It also includes a comprehensive software control panel that provides extensive routing and mixing capabilities, as well as tools for recording and editing audio.

The 828es is compatible with a range of digital audio workstation (DAW) software and is suitable for studio and live settings.

Overall, the MOTU 828es is a versatile and powerful audio interface that offers a range of features and connectivity options for recording and mixing professional-quality audio.

This is a fantastic piece of hardware and is half its competitors’ price. That being said, the MOTU 828ES doesn’t skimp on quality, quite the latter.

With studio-grade mic preamps, you can record with excellent quality. A great addition to this product is the wireless control capability.

This is a fantastic feature for solo artists/producers as it streamlines the recording process, allowing you to maximize your productivity during recording sessions. 

Furthermore, the latency performance is fantastic and can even compete with the top spot on our list. At 96k, the MONU 828ES can have a latency as low as 1.6 ms via thunderbolt and 1.9 ms via USB.

Where you will see the gap increase between the MONU 828ES and Apogee Ensemble is when you begin to have more intense recording sessions.

That being said, the MONU 828ES is an excellent choice for audio engineers and producers and would be at home in any recording situation. 

4. Antelope Audio Zen Tour Synergy Core

Antelope Audio Zen Tour Synergy Core

A desktop audio interface in a league all its own, the Antelope Audio Zen Tour Synergy Core packs Antelope’s cutting-edge Synergy Core FX processing platform into the compact, road-ready form factor of the Zen Tour. Small yet mighty, the Zen Tour Synergy Core offers comprehensive analog and digital I/O, with both USB and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity.

Why We Love It:
  • Helps reduce CPU due to processing power
  • Compact interface
  • Outputs extreme clarity
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  • 4 x Hi-Z instrument inputs
  • 4 x Transistor microphone preamps with support for mic-modeling
  • Digitally expandable over ADAT & S/PDIF for additional 10 digital ins and 10 outs 
  • 37 Real-time effects bundle 
  • Powerful DSP and FPGA processors 
  • Touchscreen control 


  • Helps reduce strain on computers’ CPU and Memory due to its processing power
  • Very compact without a reduction in capability and performance


  • Limited amount of inputs and analog outputs 


The Antelope Audio Zen Tour Synergy Core is a portable digital audio interface that is designed for use in both the studio and on the go.

It features a high-quality audio interface with various inputs and outputs, including 4 microphone inputs, 8 line inputs, and 2 A/B monitor outputs.

It also includes a built-in DSP for real-time processing of audio signals, such as EQ, compression, and reverb.

The Zen Tour Synergy Core is equipped with Antelope Audio’s Synergy Core technology, which provides a powerful and flexible platform for running virtual instruments and effects.

It includes a range of software instruments and effects, such as vintage synthesizers, guitar and bass amps, and drums.

Overall, the Antelope Audio Zen Tour Synergy Core is a versatile and high-quality digital audio interface well-suited for various recording and production applications.

The monitor outputs have a signal-to-noise ratio of 130dB, making for an excellent monitoring experience.

This is ideal for producers and mixing engineers as it outputs extreme clarity, helping you to create the optimum mix for both music and audio post-production. 

This may not be the best option for more intricate recording for drums and group recording. However, you have the option to expand this with additional hardware.

So if you like the features of this product and are willing to spend some extra cash on expanding your recording capability, this may be the right choice for you. 

5. Universal Audio Apollo Solo Heritage Edition (Best Value)

Best Value
Universal Audio Apollo Solo Heritage Edition

Apollo Solo Heritage Edition has all the benefits of the popular Apollo Solo, including class-leading UA audio conversion, two Unison mic preamps and SOLO Core real-time UAD plug-in processing. And it goes a step further, with a software suite of five award-winning UAD plug-in titles, featuring Collections from Teletronix, Pultec and UA.

Why We Love It:
  • Affordable
  • Compact and easy to use
  • Pristine-sounding preamp
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  • Phase reverse switch 
  • LED meter 
  • 1x Hi-Z instrument input 
  • 2x Microphone/line inputs 


  • Considerably cheaper than other Thunderbolt audio interfaces 
  • Compact and easy to use 


  • Limited amount of inputs and analog outputs 


The interface includes a single Unison preamp, which allows you to use a variety of virtual preamps and guitar amp models from Universal Audio’s software.

It also has built-in Realtime UAD Processing, which allows you to use UAD plug-ins in real time without taxing your computer’s processor.

The Apollo Solo TB3 Heritage Edition is compact and portable, making it a great option for recording on the go or in a home studio setup.

It also includes a headphone output and a line output, allowing you to monitor your recordings and mix your tracks. The interface is compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems. 

It comes with a variety of software tools and plug-ins to help you get started with recording and producing music.

Overall, the Universal Audio Apollo Solo TB3 Heritage Edition is a high-quality audio interface suitable for professional and hobbyist musicians.

This is the perfect interface for those looking to reap the benefits of a Thunderbolt interface without breaking the bank.

The Apollo Solo is a powerful compact interface ideal for hobbyists and professionals working from a home studio.

That being said, it is very limited in terms of its recording capability compared to the other products on our list. But in terms of bang for your buck, the Apollo Solo is an excellent interface. 

6. PreSonus Quantum 2626

PreSonus Quantum 2626

Powered by high-speed Thunderbolt 3 technology and eight pristine XMAX mic preamps, the PreSonus Quantum 2626 is a blazing fast audio interface with an incredible sound. State-of-the-art 24-bit/192kHz converters and rock-solid clocking provide an impressive 120dB of dynamic range and jitter-free performance. 

Why We Love It:
  • Fantastic Universal software control
  • Split phantom power
  • Great value for money
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  • 8x microphone preamps at 60dB gain 
  • 8 x 6.35 mm TRS line outputs, galvanically coupled
  • Expandable up to 26 inputs and outputs via two ADAT connections 


  • Universal software control is great
  • Has split phantom power allowing you to record with both condenser and ribbon microphones 
  • Great value for money with very low latency 


  • Can be a bit awkward to setup 
  • A bit cumbersome in terms of its routing 
  • No screens to provide monitoring information 


The PreSonus Quantum 2626 is a high-quality audio interface designed for recording and producing music in a home studio setting.

It features 26 inputs and 26 outputs, making it suitable for recording a full band or multi-instrumental setup.

The interface has a 24-bit/192kHz audio resolution, ensuring high-quality recordings with a wide dynamic range.

It also has a built-in DSP mixer, which allows for low-latency monitoring and effects during recording.

The Quantum 2626 has various connectivity options, including USB-C, ADAT, and S/PDIF, allowing it to be used with a wide range of devices. 

This is a great option for those looking for a rack-mounted audio interface on a budget. At a fraction of the cost to its competitors, this makes for a great addition to a studio setup.

However, as you might expect, there are some shortcomings in the interface when compared to its competitors.   

They have split the outputs and inputs front to back, so this may cause a bit of a messy setup, especially when accompanied by other mounted pieces of hardware in a rack.   

There are 8-mic preamps which are great for recording multiple instruments. However, they don’t stack up as well against some of the previous products on our list.

The Presonus Quantum 2626 offers excellent latency and audio quality, so this is an excellent choice for those looking for a rack-mounted audio interface on a budget. 

7. MOTU 8A


If you're looking for an audio interface with high-end sound, ultra-low latency, and generous I/O, you're in luck. The MOTU 8A exhibits excellent sound with an impressive 123dB of dynamic range, by virtue of ESS Sabre32 DAC technology. Round-trip latency as low as 1.6ms at 96kHz via Thunderbolt and 1.9ms via USB make recording a trouble-free endeavor. 

Why We Love It:
  • Compact and utilitarian
  • Impressive 123dB of dynamic range
  • Range of onboard effects
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  • Optical ADAT interface 
  • 34-channel hybrid audio interface
  • Wireless smart control via laptop, phone, or tablet 
  • Integrated digital mixer 


  • Compact and utilitarian
  • Impressive 123dB of dynamic range  
  • Range of onboard effects 


  • No XLR inputs or amplifiers 


The MOTU 8A is a professional audio interface that allows you to connect a variety of audio devices to your computer.

It has 8 analog inputs and outputs, as well as various digital connectivity options, including ADAT, S/PDIF, and USB. 

The 8A also has a built-in DSP mixer that allows you to mix and process your audio signals in real time, as well as a range of software features, including low-latency monitoring, effects processing, and more.

With its high-quality audio performance and flexible connectivity options, the MOTU 8A is a popular choice for recording studios, live sound engineers, and other professionals working in the audio industry.

The MOTU 8A is a compact, well-designed, and powerful audio interface. One of the key highlights is its wirelessly controlled interface via the MOTU web application.

If you are a band recording a performance and want to tweak the mix or your instrument on the fly, you can do so. 

Being able to connect multiple devices at one time creates a collaborative mixing experience. In accompaniment, the interface has extremely low latency, performing the same as the MOTU 828ES.

The MOTU 8A can also be used as a standalone mixer, making it great for live music and performances. One downside to the interface is the lack of amplifiers and XLR inputs.

Therefore to get the most out of this piece of gear, you will need to pair it with other pieces of hardware in your studio. 


Are Thunderbolt Interfaces Better Than USB?

For the most part, yes! Thunderbolt audio interfaces offer faster data transfer speeds and lower latency than USB interfaces.

This can be particularly important if you are recording or performing with multiple tracks or working with high-resolution audio.

Thunderbolt interfaces can also support more input and output channels than USB interfaces, which can be useful if you need a lot of connectivity options.

Does Focusrite Have Thunderbolt?

Yes, Focusrite has a series of Thunderbolt interfaces called the Red Line series.

These are mostly used in professional instances and tend to come with a far heavier price tag than their USB counterparts. 

Does Apple Support Thunderbolt 4?

Yes. Although it is only supported on the new M1 and M2 Mac products. To identify the connectivity availability of your Mac, click here.

Before you go, check out our guide to the 7 Best Audio Interfaces With ADAT (All Budgets)!