1. MOTU Ultralite MK4 18x22 USB Audio Interface
24-bit/192kHz, USB 2.0, Mac/Windows, 2 X Pre-amps, 8 x Discrete Analog Outputs.
MOTU have redesigned the drivers and convertors in the Ultralite Mk4, and all things considered it’s a hard product to top under a grand. You get 2 x mic/instrument preamps with 117dB of dynamic range, 8 x discrete balanced TRS outputs, Plus 2 x separate TRS monitor outputs and headphones. With ADAT and SPDIF, the total channel count is 18X22 that fits into a half-rack-unit space. The Ultralite Mk4 has a clear, large LCD display for metering, DSP mixer and FX, and boasts latency as low as 1.83ms over USB 2.0.
2. Apogee Duet iOS for iPad & Mac (next gen Duet 2)
24-bit/192kHz, USB 2.0, Mac/iOS, 2 X Pre-amps, 2 x Discrete Analog Outputs.
Apogee revolutionised the small format audio interface market when they released the desktop design firewire Duet in 2008. Now an industry leader, the current model Duet is USB, and also compatible with iOS devices - along with Mac. No Windows compatibility, But If you are after a supreme sounding interface with basic I/O, and an intuitive and elegant design then the Duet 2 is for you. The quality of the Apogee pre-amps at this price-point is hard to match.
3. Audient iD22 High Performance Audio Interface and Monitoring System
24-bit/96kHz, USB 2.0, Mac/Windows, 2 X Pre-amps, 4 x Discrete Analog Outputs.
For around a couple of hundred dollars less than the Apogee Duet, & with Windows drivers too, the Audient iD22 is an outstanding desktop style interface. It has 2 x excellent sounding mic/line/instrument pre-amps, complete with hardware insert points on both channels! It also has 4 x discrete analog outputs plus a dedicated headphone out. The other key feature is the monitor controller and 3 assignable function keys on the top plate.
4. Presonus Studio 192 Mobile USB Audio Interface
24-bit/192kHz, USB 3.0, Mac/Windows, 2 X Pre-amps, 6 x Discrete Analog Outputs.
The PreSonus Studio 192 Mobile sounds amazing - boasting 2 x crystal clear microphone pre-amps, 2 x additional line inputs, monitor outs, 4 more TRS outputs, 32 X ADAT I/O (44.1/48kHz), SPDIF and MIDI. Of key importance is the inclusion of word-clock connectors, which is rare at this price-point. Also, the Studio 192 Mobile is USB 3.0, and has drivers for Mac and Windows! PreSonus boast ZERO latency when the device is used in conjunction with PreSonus Studio ONE. On top of all that, the Studio 192 Mobile has clear and useful LCD display and metering, and a master volume control too.
5. Roland UA-1610 Studio Capture USB Audio Interface
24-bit/192kHz, USB 2.0, Mac/Windows, 12 X Pre-amps, 8 x Discrete Analog Outputs.
If you want to pack as much I/O as possible into an audio interface for $1000, then the Roland UA-1610 could be an excellent solution. The UA16-10 has 12 high-end mic-preamps, XLR or TRS monitor outs, a further 6 x balanced line outs and 2 x headphone amps. All I/O can be digitally controlled via the unit itself, and the LED metering bars for your inputs, plus a detailed LCD display make the UA16-10 standout.