10 Best Audio Interfaces Under $200 in 2021

Dave Mostert
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If you’re an audio enthusiast, then you’ve thought about upgrading your audio interface … but probably a lot more than just once. And you’re certainly not alone. The subject of the best audio interface for your needs comes up a lot. A lot.

We’ve been researching audio interfaces for years, and we’ve taken the time to put together a list of audio interfaces that we feel represent the best of the best.

In this list we’ll only include interfaces with 24-bit audio, dual mic preamps, and 100+ inputs or outputs because let’s be honest, that’s what 99% of people are looking for when researching an audio interface.

NameCategoryProduct
Steinberg UR242 4-Channel USB InterfaceBest OverallSteinberg UR242 4-Channel USB Interface
PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2×2 USB Audio InterfaceBudget PickPreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2x2 USB Audio Interface
Focusrite Scarlett 2i4Upgrade PickFocusrite Scarlett 2i4

1. Steinberg UR242 4-Channel USB Interface

Our rating: 9 / 10

Steinberg UR242 4-Channel USB Interface

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Pros:

  • Very reasonable price
  • Easy to set up
  • Can use as a standalone interface or with Yamaha DM1000 Digital Mixer
  • Records up to 24-bit/192kHz

If you are looking for something that gives you the best bang for your buck, then you need to consider this product from Steinberg. This has earned a lot of praise from users who found the device to be easy to set up and use. It also features advanced MIDI switching, which is ideal if you are a computer musician.

Steinberg has included a simplified user interface to help you get through the recording process without a whole lot of confusion, making this one of the easiest interfaces to use out of the box. This makes it a perfect option for those who aren’t as tech savvy yet still want to get started on recording music.

This interface does allow for you to send and receive MIDI messages via USB, but you’ll need to use a different interface if you want to connect a MIDI keyboard or click track to your computer. This also allows for you to connect your Yamaha DM1000 Digital Mixer to the interface as well as your computer, allowing you to have one device that can replace multiple components.

2. Mackie Audio Interface

Our rating: 8 / 10

Mackie Audio Interface

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Pros:

  • Top-notch sound at a budget price
  • Extensive software bundle
  • Comes bundled with VENUE live platforms
  • Compact and sturdy

Cons:

  • Lacks low end
  • Initially can be hard to get your head around the software
  • Doesn’t come with XLR preamps
  • Mac users need to buy drivers separately

The Mackie Onyx Artist 1X2 is a USB audio interface that features two channels, making it an excellent choice for singer songwriters due to its versatility. It offers sixteen microphone preamps in a simple to use design that makes the signal chain a breeze for even the most amateur applications.

The package comes with the USB interface and VENUE live software platforms for Mac and PC, so you can get to recording in no time. The company’s Onyx microphone preamps have a reputation for outstanding performance and reliability, and the Audio 1X2 is no exception. The unit is sturdy and features a high quality recording environment that will help you to create studio quality recordings.

3. PreSonus Audio Interface

Our rating: 8 / 10

PreSonus Audio Interface

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This tiny 25-watt USB audio interface is surprisingly powerful so you won’t have problems with inputs and outputs. The input is capable of handling a line level output of 6.3mm (l/r) as well as 2 front panel combo jacks equipped with individual gain knobs. The output will also allow you to connect to passive 8Ω/150Ω (l/r) as well as stereo with 2 TRS connectors.

4. PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2×2 USB Audio Interface

Our rating: 8 / 10

PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2x2 USB Audio Interface

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Pros:

  • Low-latency, professional quality audio
  • Good price point
  • Sound quality is good overall, with some minor issues.
  • Internal clock is set at 24-bit/96k Hz.

Cons:

  • Breaks down easily, with the volume knob no longer working after 1 month of use.
  • Not for professional use.

2 Line-Ins, 48k/96k Sampling, 24-Bit/192kHz Multi-Channel USB Audio Interface (Pair) with High-Quality PreSonus Mic X-Pressor Technology, for Recording Room Music (Pair).

If you’re looking for the best USB audio interface for a home recording studio, this USB audio interface from PreSonus AudioBox gives you high quality, low latency audio for an affordable price.

The AudioBox USB is a USB bus-powered audio interface with 2 mic preamps, 2 line-ins, and 2 outputs, for stereo recording. It comes with 24-bit/96k Hz and 24-bit/192k Hz recording capability with two high-quality PreSonus-designed mic pres.

5. BEHRINGER Audio Interface

Our rating: 8 / 10

BEHRINGER Audio Interface

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Pros:

  • High-quality audio
  • Easy to install and use
  • You can comfortably use it for hours on end without feeling fatigued
  • You can simply plug and play with your instruments and equipment

Cons:

  • Not ideal for live use
  • May require an external mic preamp due to poor preamps

This product comes with a lot of features, plus it’s affordable and easy to work with. The entry-level BEHRINGER UMC404HD has a simple plug-and-play setup along with the option to customize it as you see fit. It also features built-in MIDI I/O and an HRS-format mixing desk.

So you can connect all your external gear effortlessly. This interface comes with 48V phantom power, high-quality mic pres, Inputs and outputs, inserts, and EQs.

If you want to record your voice with this product, you’ll be able to do so as easily as you do with your instruments. All you have to do is choose the line input. Then, you can choose a microphone and, after activating the phantom power, you’re good to go. You can adjust the EQs and effects with ease, and the included sound software will help you to save your final mixes and files.

6. Focusrite Scarlett 18i8

Our rating: 7 / 10

Focusrite Scarlett 18i8

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Pros:

  • Easy to use and set up
  • Affordable for the quality

Cons:

  • No ADAT expansion
  • Preset mic channel strips only record on a single channel and only allow you to mix left and right

A recording interface is an essential piece for any person serious about recording their own music. This will make sure that you can get a clean and clear recording of your vocals, guitar, voice, and any other instrument that you choose to record. Having a device like this is essential in today’s music industry so you’re able to have a good home recording to take with you to the studio.

The Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 comes with two large Thunderbolt inputs for ultimate versatility. It comes with multiple options for simultaneous recording, and it allows you to record groups of instruments and blend them together into a single file. This is a great way for you to be able to save data space on your computer or hard drive when you’re recording multiple instruments, but only need the final product to play back one at a time.

This device also comes with Headphone Control, which is a great option for singers and musicians. You can adjust the levels independently of the input monitors and you can even remove the monitors completely so that you do not have to worry about feedback from the computer speakers.

7. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Our rating: 7 / 10

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

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Pros:

  • The Focusrite 2i2 interface is compatible with both Windows and Mac.
  • This interface is bus-powered and can be connected to a Mac or PC via USB.
  • This interface has two microphone inputs and two line-level inputs.
  • There is a headphone jack for monitoring the audio.
  • This interface comes with a Focusrite Audio Studio software.
  • The company also provides a two-year warranty for premature failure.
  • Some of the DAWs are Ableton, Logic Pro X, Pro Tools, Cubase, Pyramix, Studio One, Reaper and FL Studio.
  • The measurements on Amazon show the interface in dimensions of 2.3– high, 5.9– wide, 6.5– deep.

Cons:

  • The audio interface doesn’t come with a power supply.
  • You need to buy a powered USB hub to connect this interface with a laptop.
  • The PC and Mac software from Focusrite is quite heavy and can occupy much space.

8. Focusrite Scarlett 2i4

Our rating: 6 / 10

Focusrite Scarlett 2i4

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Pros:

  • Mac and PC compatible
  • 24-bit/192kHz recording and playback
  • 4 x 2 Recording Channel
  • Expandable with external microphones
  • Great customer support

This interface combines the sturdy metal chassis and featured rich Focusrite audio hardware. A complete recording solution for Mac and PC, it has very low latency for recording. It also features two Scarlett mic preamps, two tracks of simultaneous recording which is great for small setups.

The Scarlett 2i4 provides the best quality of audio for your music recording and production needs. It offers hi-end audio quality and recording all in one and you'll never need to look for any other audio interface.

The performance has been described as “fantastic” by reviewers, and this audio interface is the ideal companion for your studio monitor speakers. One of its best qualities is its expansion capabilities, and it allows you to expand with an additional microphone and direct box.

9. M Audio M Track 2X2

Our rating: 5 / 10

M Audio M Track 2X2

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Pros:

  • Compatible with all major editing software
  • Simultaneous 2-in / 2-out recording
  • 48V phantom power
  • Solid aluminum construction
  • XLR inputs
  • Analog 6.35mm headphone jack
  • 48V external power adapter
  • Package includes Pro Tools SE

Cons:

  • Analog inputs and outputs not included
  • Glitches in Pro Tools

The M Track 2X2 is a powerful yet compact digital audio recording interface that allows home recordists and professional studio engineers to quickly and easily record high-quality stereo audio to any Mac or PC based digital audio workstation. M-Audio has turned the M-Track 2X2 into a powerful yet inexpensive audio interface by including a superior preamp with +48v phantom power and a high-quality digital converter. You also get a stereo pair of inputs and outputs, making this a two-inputs and two-outputs recording interface. It also has an analog headphone output and monitoring capabilities at 24-bit/96 kHz

10. Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 6-Channel USB Audio Interface

Our rating: 4 / 10

Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 6-Channel USB Audio Interface

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Pros:

  • The Komplete Audio 6 is compatible with all major DAWs
  • Its innovative Loopback feature makes it easy for you to record and monitor multiple channels at once
  • Its sound quality is superb
  • Its intuitive controls ensure smooth operations
  • It’s available for a great price
  • The extended warranty offer is a bonus for those who want longer peace of mind

The Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 is 6-channel audio interface that is compatible with all major recording software. It comes with an impressive software package that includes all the necessary tools you need to get started with audio production such as Traktor LE, Komplete Elements, Battery 3, and SONiVOX Eighty-Eight Ensemble.

It's great for anyone looking to make the move away from the stock interface that their computer came with. The basic functionality of the Komplete 6 is pretty much the same as other interfaces in its price range, but when you start adding and tweaking the advanced settings, you open up an endless universe of possibilities.

This Native Instruments audio interface offers a ton of bang for the buck, particularly when you consider that it comes bundled with quality software to get you recording.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best cheap audio interface?

To help you decide which audio interface to buy, we ask three questions. Firstly, do you simply want to record directly onto your laptop? If so, then you’ll want a USB audio interface.

Secondly, if you want to record using several instruments or microphones, the best option is an XLR audio interface.

Thirdly, if you want to record with professional level instruments and microphones, you’ll would best choose a pro XLR audio interface.

To help you make your choice, we selected the three best audio interfaces by asking the following three questions.

What is the best sounding audio interface?

Audio interfaces for your computer, your digital mixer, and signal processing are a major component of your studio capabilities. And while there are plenty of great audio interfaces in the market, some deliver greater audio quality than others. We've done the dirty work of comparing a countless number of the best audio interfaces on the market.

In this section, we'll cover some of the top choices that deliver superior sound. Just remember, it's not necessarily the most expensive board that makes the best sounding board. You still need to consider the company's track record, the various available connectors, and other features.

How much does an audio interface cost?

Does an audio interface affect sound quality?

No audio interface on the market today can guarantee you great audio quality when recording, but some will yield better results than others.

If you’re looking to record on a PC, you’ll have to install an internal audio interface, such as an M-Audio interface. If you’re recording on a Mac, you can get away with an external audio interface or go with a USB interface.

Whether you are on a PC or a Mac, there aren’t any features that only work on a particular operating system. Both OS’s require plug and play functionality, so you should be able to plug your audio interface into your computer and begin recording without any issues.

One thing all audio interfaces on the market have in common is the 20-bit/48kHz sampling rate. This is a sample rate safe for most beginners and intermediate users.

Conclusion

Are you looking for an audio interface that has high sound quality, great features and is affordable? This article should help you find one that is just right for you.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Steinberg UR242 4-Channel USB InterfaceBest OverallSteinberg UR242 4-Channel USB Interface
PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2×2 USB Audio InterfaceBudget PickPreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2x2 USB Audio Interface
Focusrite Scarlett 2i4Upgrade PickFocusrite Scarlett 2i4