Know that sinking feeling you get when you realize you are going to have to spend hundreds on a new audio interface?  Chances are if you’re reading this, you’ve been there.  Your current interface fits your needs well, only to find the manufacturer decided its time for you to shell out again.  They won’t update the drivers for your machine to match your fancy new operating system, because they’ve shifted their focus to new products.   That concept has unfortunately made its way into the iOS mobile recording game as well.

iOS audio interfaces have taken a good place in the market the past 5 years or so.  As our smart phones and tablets become more powerful, mobile music software follows suit.  Personally, I’ve made quite a few pieces of music on my phone and tablet I’m proud of. From my first smartphone (iPhone 3gs) to now (iPhone 7 plus), I’ve made countless jams and tried all sorts of different recording devices.  The concept of being able to make professional recordings on your every day device that fits in your pocket is so amazing.   Especially to this kid who started on a cassette 4 track back in the 90s.

As an iPhone user I’ve seen the 30 pin connection disappear to become a lightning connection.  Now, mortifyingly, I’ve also seen the headphone jack go the way of the dinosaur.  Companies making interfaces have tried to match Apple’s ever changing specs.  Some interfaces worked great, some left much to be desired.  I still remember my excitement a few years back when I saw the Tascam iM2, the idea of attaching field recorder mics to my phone was so cool!  But, with the disappearance of the 30 pin connection and the headphone jack, some of these found their way into a drawer.  The 30 pin to lightning adapter is a great tool, but can be bulky with a case, depending on your model.  These days, I’ve found myself looking for the perfect iOS interface; a combination of portability, good input options, a decent condenser built onto the body, and a headphone connection.  In my searches, I’ve realized how hard it is to find some info on certain units, especially their compatibility.  I guess the technology changes so fast that it’s hard to keep up.

How about some of the old 30 pin interfaces?  As the technology changed, some of these units have plummeted in price.  But trying to look up current compatibility seems incredibly difficult.  So, I decided to look back at some of my old interfaces, borrowed a few from friends, and tested 7 total to see how well they work. To cover me plugging in each and running a guitar through them would be a huge waste of your time though.  I decided to just give you a quick update of my finding on each in this video.  Since the iPhone/iPad hardware and software change so much, you could spend 100 dollars on an interface only to find its rendered obsolete the very next year, which I have personally done.  So why not check on some of these old 30 pins interfaces, to see if they can still cut it?

Products I tested are-

Tascam iM2

Tascam iUR2

Tascam iXJ2

Apogee Quartet

Zoom Q8

Zoom R8

Griffin StudioConnect

Hope you find this useful! My favorite of the bunch (specifically on bang for your buck) was the Griffin StudioConnect 30 pin interface. They sell on eBay sometimes for as low as 12 bucks, and with a 30 pin to lighting adapter you have midi, line in and stereo inputs for dirt cheap.

If you’re into fun 80s sounds and use Ableton, our CS1X pack is available here.