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Best Budget Audio Interface Review & Buyer’s Guide [2023]

Best Budget Audio Interface Review & Buyer’s Guide [2023]


If you are looking for the best budget audio interface and do not know where to start, you are at the right place.

An audio interface is a device that allows you to record your XLR and TRS inputs and process the sounds in your software and get high-quality outputs. Anything that involves a quality high-vocal input and output, will need a sophisticated audio interface.

Buying an audio interface is very challenging, and needs a lot of knowledge of the process. This is especially difficult if you are a beginner. In this article, we will help you choose the right audio interface for you through our simple buyer’s guide. We will also tell you about the best budget audio interface devices in the market, and answer the most frequent questions we get asked.

Best Budget Audio Interface Comparison Chart


Best Budget Audio Interface Review

M-Audio M-Track Solo – USB Audio Interface for Recording, Streaming and Podcasting with XLR, Line and DI Inputs, Plus a Software Suite Included

 

M-Audio M-Track Solo – USB Audio Interface

The M-Audio M-Track Solo USB Audio Interface is an outstanding product. It is a perfect choice for musicians, podcasters, and recording engineers who need to record high-quality audio on their computers. The Audio Interface is extremely easy to set up and use, even for newbies.

The build quality of this audio interface is impressive. It feels sturdy and well-made. The sound quality is amazing. With a crystal-clear recording that picks up even the smallest details. The interface is straightforward to navigate, with intuitive controls and apparent indicators.

Moreover, the M-Track Solo is highly portable. Making it perfect for musicians who need to record on the go. The small size means that it can efficiently fit into a backpack or a gig bag. In addition, the USB connection means that you don’t require an external power source, making it easy to employ anywhere.

The M-Audio M-Track Solo has a broad range of input options. This includes XLR and 1/4-inch inputs, making it compatible with an assortment of microphones and instruments. The preamp is ideal, providing plenty of gain and a clean sound.

However, some users may discover the lack of phantom power disappointing. Also, the M-Audio M-Track Solo is not compatible with iOS devices, which may limit its versatility for some users.

The M-Audio M-Track Solo – USB Audio Interface is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a high-quality, easy-to-use audio interface. Its superior sound quality, instinctive interface, and portability make it a useful addition to any recording setup. Although it lacks some features, it remains a fantastic product.

Pros

  • Easy to set up and use, even for beginners.
  • Exceptional sound quality, with a crystal-clear recording that picks up even the tiniest details.
  • Highly portable and compact, making it easy to take on the go.
  • Wide range of input options, including XLR and 1/4-inch inputs, making it compatible with a variety of microphones and instruments.

Cons

  • Lacks phantom power, which may be disappointing for some users who require it.
  • Not compatible with iOS devices, limiting its versatility for some users.
  • May not have enough features or inputs for more advanced recording setups.

BEHRINGER audio interface (UMC22)

BEHRINGER Uphoria (UMC22)

Behringer UMC22 comes with the same special features of Behringer Uphoria collection. The MIDAS preamp lets it produce sound with amazing clarity and quality, and the+48 phantom power allows you to use a condenser microphone of your choice.

If you liked UM2 you will love UMC22 as it has almost the same features as UM2. It also comes with 2 inputs and 2 outputs. The inputs are the same XLR and TSR combo.

UMC22, however, has a sturdy and durable metal body. It improves the quality of the unit and makes it easier to carry around. It also improves the overall sound quality in the output as compared to the UM2. The reason might be that the plastic body in UM2 doesn’t let it block digital interference, as well as the metal body of UMC22, does.

According to us, the Behringer UMC22 is a high-quality audio interference. It is compatible with most devices and has a very easy setup procedure. This 2×2 USB sound card works amazingly well for its price. It delivers a sound of much higher quality with lesser noise and interference.

For beginners, this unit is a popular choice. It is no wonder that this little black wonder box is Amazon’s choice.

Pros

  • Great Sound Output
  • Easy Set-up
  • Sturdy Metal Body

Cons

  • Pricier than UM2,

BEHRINGER audio interface (UMC22)

Amazon.com amazon.com
$69.00

 

Steinberg UR12 USB Audio Interface

Steinberg UR12 Audio Interface

Steinberg UR12 is a 19” compact mobile audio interference unit. It is what makes this audio interface popular among songwriters and music-makers on the go.

It has D-Pre-Class A mic preamps which is one of the most popular features of Steinberg interfaces. D-Pre can handle inputs of a wide range of frequencies. It also doesn’t over-amplify the sound input. This feature ix extremely useful for musicians as it gives quality to the sound while still leaving a margin for further editing.

The unit has a Direct Monitor that lets you avoid monitoring and send all input feed directly to the output. The unit works well with DAW and comes with preinstalled Steinberg software, Cubase AI. It has 32 tracks of audio, and 48 MIDI tracks.

The audio interference is easy to set up and move around. It is compatible with most devices. You can use it for your Macbook, computer, laptop, and even I-pad.

Pros

  • Portable
  • Durable
  • Easy to set-up
  • D-Pre-Class A preamp
  • Compatible with I-pad

Cons

  • Pricier than Behringer
  • Headphones could use a preamp.

Steinberg UR12 USB Audio Interface

Amazon.com amazon.com
$83.99

Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First

Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (2nd Gen) with Pro Tools

Focusrite Scarlett Series has the most popular audio interference models for sound engineers. The Scarlett 2i4 holds the same promise of quality sound with ultra-low latency.

The 2i4 model is a great choice for your home recording studio. It has a sturdy body and durable external. The unit features 2 analog inputs and 4 outputs. It also has 1/4-inch balanced jacks, a feature our previously chosen audio interfaces lack. The 4 outputs are enough to connect to a DJ mixer or a full-panel speaker.

The MIDI inputs and outputs allow musicians to perform live with just this unit. Moreover, its 2 Scarlett Preamps are widely known for their natural sound quality.

The unit comes with Power Tools and an easy to use the software. It is very easy to set up and can be used with a condenser microphone. The interface has easy controls and a digital monitor button on its panel. The headphones amp provides a loud and clear sound output in the headphones.

It facilitates USB bus power and therefore you do not require an external power source.

Pros

  • Balanced jacks
  • Ultra-low latency
  • Natural Sounding Preamp
  • Simple set-up
  • USB bus power

Cons

  • Pricey

Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD

Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD

Are you in the market for a high-quality audio interface that won’t break the bank? The Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD might be the answer to your prayers.

Firstly, let’s talk about the build quality. The UMC204HD feels solid in your hands and is designed to withstand daily use. The metal chassis provides excellent durability, and the rubberized knobs and switches have a reassuringly tactile feel.

Moving on to the audio performance, the UMC204HD doesn’t disappoint. The preamps are impressively clean, and the 24-bit/192kHz A/D-D/A converters ensure that your recordings sound crisp and clear. Whether you’re recording vocals, acoustic guitar, or electronic music, the UMC204HD will deliver pristine audio quality.

One of the standout features of the UMC204HD is its low latency. Thanks to the onboard DSP, you can monitor your recordings with virtually no delay, making it an excellent choice for recording live instruments or vocals.

Another great feature of the UMC204HD is its versatility. With two combo XLR/TRS inputs, you can connect a wide variety of microphones or instruments, and the MIDI I/O allows you to connect your favorite keyboard or controller. The UMC204HD also includes a headphone output and stereo line outputs, making it easy to connect to your monitors or speakers.

Setting up the UMC204HD is a breeze, thanks to its plug-and-play design. The included USB cable provides both power and data transfer, so you won’t need any additional power supplies or drivers.

In conclusion, the Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a reliable and versatile audio interface. With its solid build quality, pristine audio performance, low latency, and easy setup, the UMC204HD is a top contender in its price range. Whether you’re a musician, podcaster, or content creator, the UMC204HD has everything you need to create professional-quality recordings.

Pros

  • Pristine audio quality with clean preamps and 24-bit/192kHz A/D-D/A converters.
  • Low latency thanks to onboard DSP, making it ideal for live recordings.
  • Versatile with two combo XLR/TRS inputs, MIDI I/O, headphone output, and stereo line outputs.
  • Solid build quality with metal chassis and rubberized knobs and switches.

Cons

  • Some users have reported driver issues or compatibility problems with certain software.
  • The placement of the headphone jack and volume knob can be inconvenient depending on how the UMC204HD is positioned on a desk or rack.
  • The preamp gain knobs can be a bit stiff and require some force to adjust, which may be difficult for users with hand strength issues.

Best Budget Audio Interface Buyer’s Guide

PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2x2 USB Audio Interface

Thinking about making a podcast? Or doing a voice-over for a video?

Maybe you want to record a song while playing instruments. Or you are already a music star and need something for a live gig.

Whatever your recording and playing needs are, you will need a good audio interface for a quality result. But if you are a beginner, you need to understand why you need an audio interface.

What is an Audio interface?

In simple words, an audio interface is an external sound card for your computer, and you use it to get sounds in and out. You need an audio interface if you want to record a sound, process it further, and play it.

Choosing an Audio Interface

Choosing an audio interface that suits you perfectly, can be really tricky. It’s not like you search for the best units in the market and buy it. The best audio interface for a musician next door might not be best for you because of your different recording needs.

There is a lot of information on the internet, but if you are a beginner and are not well-acquainted with the terminology, and the process, it can be very overwhelming. But don’t give up just yet. We are here with the simplest possible guide to help you choose the best audio interface.

Your computer, laptop, or tablet comes with a standard audio interface. You can use it to record audio, and you may be able to improve the sound quality a little. But anything that needs a professional recording and premium result will require a better audio interface.

What to Look for When Buying One.

There are a few questions that you need to ask yourself before choosing an audio interface ideal for you. Here’s a list of some questions you will need.

  • What is your budget?
  • What do you want to record?
  • How do you want to record it?
  • What platform are you using to record?
  • How many things do you need to record at one time?
  • Where will you need to record?
  • Any additional tools you require?

What is your budget?

Let’s get this one out first. The prices of audio interfaces in the market range drastically. You can have one for less than $100 or may splurge and pay more than $2000. So the first thing is to decide your budget.

We have a few tips for you:

  • You can get the best quality results from a simple interface, so there is no need to buy an expensive one.
  • When buying a unit, think in the future. Think about how will you use the audio interface now and how do you intend to use it in the future. And then buy one that can serve you well in both situations.
  • If you do not have the budget to think of future investment, don’t stress, buy a simple audio interface, and you can always upgrade it for your future needs.

M-Audio AIR 192|4 - 2-In 2-Out USB Audio Interface with Recording Software from ProTools & Ableton Live, Plus Studio-Grade FX & Virtual Instruments

What do you want to record?

This will help you determine what kind of input and output you need from your audio interface.

Some audio interface comes with two inputs and others come with many. In addition to the input, you will also need a preamp to improve the quality of your input. Input is an inlet that lets you send sounds to your computer, and a preamp will amplify and improve the quality of the sound before it enters the computer.

For instance, if you are a guitarist, you may need only two inputs with preamps for your mic and guitar. But if you have a music band, you will need multiple inputs with and without preamps.

You may need one or more than one output. For instance, some people will prefer an interface that has a headphone output in addition to a speaker or an amplifier output. A DJ will especially need two outputs as he uses two different sound results coming out from each during his gig.

How do you want to record it?

This is determined by the platform you are using to send the signals. Either you are using a computer, a Macbook, a laptop, or a tablet. Or maybe you are recording on the go without any of these platforms.

Before choosing an audio interface, make sure you are choosing one that is compatible with your device. Our tip is to always read manuals, and look for the latest set-up information if you are having a problem, which is more common than you think.

You need a wire that will connect your device to your audio interface. For users of Mac, there will be specialized connectors at the Apple Store like these.

For a mobile recording without a platform, you can use a portable audio interface. and others, you have to find one that is compatible with your device.

There are three basic connection protocols that are used with an audio interface:

USB

  • Popularly used.
  • Gives high-quality results.

THUNDERBOLT

  • Faster connection.
  • More Expensive.

FIREWIRE

  • Less Common.


How many things do you need to record at one time?

This will determine how many inputs and preamps you will need simultaneously.

If you are recording a guitar and recording it, or just a stereo, a 2-channel input will be enough for you.

But if you want to record something in addition to a stereo or more than two devices at a time, you will need something with more channels.

Some audio interfaces will have mic inputs with preamps and some may have inputs without preamps called line inputs. You will need more inputs with preamps if you are doing a professional recording in a studio or are playing at a live gig.

However, if you are working from a home studio, or making simple voice-over or song recording at home, you can layer vocals over instruments later or vice versa. In that case, two inputs with preamps will work very well for you.

Any additional tools you require?

Some audio interfaces come with built-in tools, both basic and pro, and software programs. You can choose one that fits you perfectly. However, any added tools or software will increase the budget for your audio interface.

Some audio interfaces come with in-suite power tools and software programs like the Scarlett range of Focusrite.


FAQs:

Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First What is the Need for an Audio Interface?

For simple recording or playing, your computer’s standard sound card can be sufficient. You might be able to manipulate the sound to some extent as well. But if you need anything that requires a higher-quality output, you will need an audio interface.

Do I need an Audio Interface for a Podcast?

Yes, you will need an audio interface for a podcast. The kind of audio interface you are using will depend on the type of your mic. Most commonly, an analog XLR microphone is used for podcasts. For an XLR mic, you can use a USB audio interface.

Do I need an Audio Interface with a USB MIC?

No, you cannot connect a USB mic to an audio interface because it doesn’t accept USB inputs.

What is the Difference between a Mixer and an Audio Interface?

On some level mixers and interface do work alike, but a mixer is different than an audio interface. Compared to an audio interface, a mixer is just used for live performances, and unlike an audio interface, it doesn’t allow a USB, Firewire, Thunderbolt connection with other devices.

Do Audio Interfaces affect Sound Quality?

Yes, it affects sound quality in the sense that it improves and enhances it and removes noise and interference and as a result, produces a high-quality sound.



How do I Choose an Audio Interface?

For this, you should first determine what you require from your audio interface. It will depend on what you want to record and how you want to record it. For further details, please see our buyer’s guide.

How Expensive is an Audio Interface?

Not all audio interfaces are expensive. some great functioning audio interfaces like Behringer UM2 start as low as $39.

What is a Preamp?

Some inputs on an audio interface come with a preamp. A preamp allows enhances and improves sound input before sending the feed to the device. The quality of preamp is very important as it then affects the quality of the output.

How do I know how many Inputs I will Need?

That depends on what you are recording. If you need an audio interface for a home recording studio, two inputs will be enough for you. As you can always overlay voice and instruments if you need more. But for more professional uses or live performances, you will need an audio interface with more inputs.

What is the Best Audio Interface?

Unfortunately, there is not one answer to that. Depending on your unique needs, the audio interface best for you might not be best for someone else with different requirements. But you can consult our buyer’s guide for more information.

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Final Thoughts:

Buying the best budget audio interface can be very challenging. No matter where you search for it, there isn’t one answer to this question. The internet is full of information about it. But for someone who is unfamiliar with the terminology, the information can be very intimidating. We have therefore tried our best to simplify the information for you.

Remember that before setting out to search for the best audio interface, you should first assess why you need it. Once you have understood what you want to record, and how you want to record, then you can go ahead and choose the best audio interface for your studio. When buying an interface, you can start with an affordable basic unit and then upgrade as your needs and goals start to change.

An audio interface is a central unit in a recording studio. Our comprehensive guide will help you understand how to choose the right audio interface for your required recording and playing. We have also hand-picked some of our favorite audio interfaces in the market. We hope this will article will answer all your questions and, will help you buy the best budget audio interface.

About the Author

Michael-B
Michael-B

Michael-B is a Music Producer, Musician, and Formally Trained (and was Certified by the Recording Institute of Detroit in 1986) Recording Engineer. As of to date, He's built 3 home recording studios go back to 1987, where he wrote, played all the instruments, and recorded his music. Michael B is also a Writer, Chief Editor and SEO of TrackinSolo.com