10 Best Audio Interfaces Under $200 in 2020
Welcome to our analysis of the top 10 audio interfaces below $200. Technological evolution and reduced production costs were the main developments in modern times that ultimately led to the visions of your home recording studio becoming an actual reality without breaking the bank.
There are USB plug-in and play conveniences that offer a solution to put your instrument through a DAW, but if you have any ambitions you will need to invest in a decent AI to better cover your home recording needs.
We checked some of the popular products below the 200 bar and produced a buying guide with all the details broken down into bite-size bits to help you make a decision prepared with all the data you need before you purchase the best audio interface for your new setup.
View The Best 2020 Audio Interface Under $200
1. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
The entire Scarlett series has made a big impact on the home recording studio market, especially second gens The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is a USB connection AI with 2 combo inputs, 2 XLR Microphone preamps with phantom power and 2 instrument inputs. It has 2 line outs and monitoring of the headphone.
It has an unrivaled low latency that allows you to manage your workflow from your headsets within your DAW without delay. This offers the same level of professional signal conversion as its higher end versions used in the professional recording industry.
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 comes an exclusive version of Pro Tools and Ableton live some samples and additional application modules to boot with its driver and a whole host of goodies.
+ 2x 2 outputs of the pair.
+ All big DAWs are compatible.
+ Includes the software.
Why We Liked It - The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is the number one best-selling home studio in a box set-up for a reasonable price, it's easy to set up and use from get go, and it's always a welcome bonus for plugins and add-ons.
2. Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6
Native instruments Full Audio 6 device This is also a hell of a USB-powered AI from NI and has both low latency, making it a breeze to use virtual instruments. It has MIDI connectivity for a master controller or keys, and for your setup you may want synth adds. It has Analog stereo input & output (S / PDIF RCA) and 4 analog inputs (XLR and TRS combos) This USB audio interface is equipped with high-quality components, high-end preamps cirrus logic converters and provides a good upgrade from some of the low-budget AIs.
It comes with a copy of Cubase LE 6, Traktor LE 2 and Complete Elements and offers directly out of the box pro recording capacity.
+ Good quality of construction.
+ Connections from the performance make it ideal for DJing.
+ Activated MIDI.
Why We Liked It - This high-quality USB audio interface tends to fluctuate and sits just above the 200-mark we're focusing on average, but it offers a wide range of outputs that make it worth breaking the rules for a mention.
3. PreSonus AudioBox
This is the entry level matriarch that began the AudioBox series. For the small animal, it's an apt description. In this price range, it sports 2 front-facing combo outputs typical of other interfaces.
For condenser mics, it is USB and has MIDI capabilities and phantom power.
Sampling frequencies for this USB audio interface are 24-bit;44.1,48,88.2 and 96kHz.It features 5 dedicated dials 2 for line gain control modules, one for monitor level, one for DJ mixer, and one for hand.
It is compatible with most DAWs (Mac and PC) and includes one workstation software from Studio and 6+GB of additional third-party resources to top it all off.
+ In / Out MIDI.
+ Appropriate for most DAWS.
+ One DAW comes with Lab.
Why We Liked It - This cheap USB audio interface is both the oldest in its line and the smallest, it meets the standards and offers a fair amount for an AI option on a budget.
4. Steinberg UR242
Steinberg produces some of the best audio quality products in the world. The UR242 is a beautiful entry-level audio interface that sits just below our 200 limit and provides some of the same features as its line's larger fish. It is a device with built-in DSP effects for USB 2 bus control. It has four analog ins and two outs. They feature the remarkable pre-ampsof Yamaha's Class-A, D-Pre Mic for clarity in your mix as well as their REV-X reverb algorithm. The Yamaha REV-X reverb has simulations for Hall, Room, and Plate.
Other features include phantom power, MIDI in / out. It is compatible with all DAW mac PC applications and has connectivity that is consistent with iPad. It comes with a Steinberg Cubase LE copy and interfaces seamlessly.
This one really offers a tool capturing the expressiveness of a player, the signals are very smooth and the complexities and nuances are picked up. The preamps of the D-Pre mic do not excessively amplify it can handle high levels.
+ 4 ins analog.
+ Compatible with the iPad.
+ Constructed like a shell.
Why We Liked It - The on-board DSP effects and other impressive features make it a slice for budget audio interfaces below $200 above the rest. Usually, you can pay for something with identical preamps and abilities twice, they've packed a lot into this little man.
5. Focusrite Scarlett 2i4
This recording software is the next version up from the 2i2, providing the same basic UI as the first one. It has class-leading conversion and works at the same level as the Steinberg and a bit better to place it in a better perspective than the PreSonus AudioBox. It provides Focusrite's trusted low latency that we have come to respect. It allows separate recording of 2 analog inputs or at the same time these are XLR / TRS combo as with the primary model and feature their patented preamps and 48v phantom power.
And how much do you get back from the update and what do you get for it? Prices are always subject to change, but this one typically ranges from $15 to $25 more than the recording interface at the entry level and provides additional MIDI in and out. The other major difference is that it has 4 out instead of just 2 making it perfect for out there disk jockeys. It also comes with great bundled Pro Tools software, their Red2 and 3 series as well as other exclusive tools such as the VST Novation Bass Station and AU Plug-in synthesizer.
+ 2 out of 4.
+ I / O MIDIs.
+ Plenty of included apps.
Why We Liked It - Analog inputs handle anything that could be thrown at it by the grizzliest guitarists, software plug-ins are invaluable extra.
6. Mackie Onyx Artist
Mackie Onyx Artist cheap audio interface It's fair to say it's more of a bare-bones essential version of this USB powered audio interface. This Mackie Onyx Artist interface comes in at the $100 mark It has one onyx preamp boutique standard, three XLR pin inputs with phantom power to cover the requirements of condenser mic and one jack. The Mackie Onyx Artist features zero-latency analog monitoring for strict real-time features and 2 dedicated outputs for home studio monitors.
Compatible with all major DAW software applications, this USB audio interface includes Tracking Music production software and an essential plug-in collection.
Many users report a small amount of white noise while this is probably due to cables using the low latency monitoring, so be sure to get a good set.
This Mackie Onyx Artist USB audio interface is marketed as being designed as a tank, but it does not appear that the face is as robust as similar models on the market. This is Mackies ' cheapest model, so the department of materials may have cut production costs.
+ Bare AI bones are easy to use.
+ There's a contract.
+ Contains the code.
Why We Liked It - This USB audio interface provides a good level of audio quality, it's half the price of options offering extra input / output choices, but if you only need the 2 you don't really need the extras if you're worried about finding an AI this Mackie Onyx Artist makes for an acceptable choice.
7. Focusrite Scarlett 18ii8
Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 Again, this AI comes just outside our $200 limit, but after reviewing the two that sit comfortably within the price range, we just had to let you know how much bang you can get for a few more bucks. The Scarlett 18i8 delivers the same excellent sound, but the I / O options are much more versatile.
Again, it is a second gene model that has been upgraded to 192kHz to match industry levels, and a complete overhaul has also been made of pre-amp design. The user-friendly configuration is true to its original designs, it has 4 combined XLR / TRS inputs for microphones, 4 line level outputs each with a dedicated gain control knob. The screen dial controls the level of the rear output instrument output.
There are also additional 4 line level outputs S / PDIF I / O and an optical input capable of carrying eight additional digital input channels (4 if they operate at higher sample rates). Pro Tools, First Focusrite Creative Pack and Ableton Live Lite, Softube Time and Tone Kit, Focusrites Red Plug-in Suite, 2 GB Loopmasters samples
+ 8 inputs.
+2 outputs for tracking headphones.
+ I / O of MIDI.
+ 4 line levels
+ Dedicated gain control knob
Why We Liked It - The increase in I / O options makes it better for larger platforms and more demanding use only marginally more expensive than the more basic models.
8. PreSonus Studio 26
PreSonus Studio 26 Audio Interface The PreSonus Studio 26 provides some more impressive features than the iTwo 2x2 AudioBox. Namely the two additional balanced line outs and the cue mix A / B button makes it ideal for DJs. Converters match the other leading brands in this price area.
The PreSonus Studio 26 has 2 combined inputs; XLR / jack, the jacks can be moved from higher to standard impedance through a line / instrument switch modeled after the Focusrite feature. It can support condenser mic use as usual with 46v phantom control. It has MIDI in and out on the back as well.
The PreSonus Studio 26 offers a low latency headphone jack to add an impressive range of decibel amplification to your tracks in real time. It is built solidly and comes with a copy of Studio One Artist, but is compatible with all digital workstations for Mac and PC.
+ 4 from, 4 from.
+ Low headphone latency jack + direct on-board monitoring.
+ I / O of MIDI.
Why We Liked It - We really appreciate the additional thought that has gone into the usability about the suitability of the model for modern DJs.
9. M-Audio M-Track 2X2
M-Audio M-Track 2X2 budget interface The M-Audio M-Track 2X2 renders another user-friendly studio with a $100 dollar mark in a box option. It has two inputs and two line outs, and one input is a combination of XLR / TRS. It has 48v phantom power capabilities operating at an audio rate of 24-bit/192kHz.
The solid construction of the M-Audio M-Track 2X2 has a sleek and stylish design that looks more like a traditional shape of a mixing desk. The dedicated dials are placed top and have zero real-time control of the latency headphone. In order to provide a low noise solution, it includes all new professional-grade crystal preamps.
In addition, the M-Audio M-Track 2X2 comes with its own Pro Tools edition, some additional plug-ins; Elevenlite, Xpand! 2, and approximately 2 gigs of touch loop sample material.
+ 2 in 2 out of the critical bone.
+ Late latency zero.
+ Additional bundle of apps.
Why We Liked It - Signals seem to be clean, it's the same regional price as the PreSonus we tested, but we think it handles the quality subtleties better, it also seems to be smoother.
10. Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD
BEHRINGER U-PHORIA UMC404HD Cheap audio interface This impressive Behringer USB 4 track audio interface also comes in for less than $100. Each of the combo inputs of XLR / TRS has its own set of control knobs.
This cheap USB audio interface features world-class MIDAS preamps that have been integrated in some of the world's most prestigious equipment over the past 3 decades, offering noiseless signals with an outstanding reputation for their purity.
It has MIDI in / out, a range of outputs (1⁄4 "TRS, RCA & XLR) and Monitor A / B source selection for all your DJ-ing needs are controlled by musical instrument level.
The budget USB audio interface comes with Tracking software, a common DAW software application with a large library.
+ preamps from MIDAS.
+ Outputs mixed.
+ Less than $100.
Why We Liked It - We're surprised at how many features Behringer has been able to pack into one low-budget AI, it really has functionality expected from a $250-$350 version.
What is an audio interface buyer's guide?
An audio interface is a very useful device for the development of computer-based audio. If you are looking for a more professional level of audio quality from your computer, they are absolutely essential to have, particularly if you need more than one input at a time. You may get away with an audio podcast from a high-end USB microphone device, but you'll want the ability to route multiple inputs from one port for music production in particular. Read on for the full guide of the buyer!
What is an audio interface doing?
Not only do they provide the necessary connections for inputting your musical instruments and recording vocals, they also act as the sound card for computers when increasing their sonic capacity. These also provide a better digital clock and a stock sound card has superior circuitry.
In these days, an AI helps you to connect to your device via different ports, but some connect via FireWire or even PCMCIA / Express card slots. Generally speaking, it depends on how many inputs the computer can handle if, for example, you are going to use 2 microphones, a USB 1 can do the trick. The greater the AI's demands, the higher the recording interface's bandwidth.
They transform analog signals into digital audio data and send it to your machine, as well as receiving digital information from our computer simultaneously and transmitting and returning the signal to analog.
On your recording interface, the inputs you require are subject to what you plan to get out of it. You'll need 1 XLR and 1 TS or Jack if you're planning to play electric guitar / acoustic guitar / bass guitar and sing. Most modern models combine the two as one contact with XLR for three pins and for your jack a TRS in the middle (combo input). If you want to record vocals and electric guitar or acoustic guitars separately in individual takes 1 input would be enough, however if you want to perform or record the two together you will probably need at least 2 inputs.
In addition, you will need MIDI connectivity ports if you plan to use MIDI instruments. MIDI capabilities are amazing as they run on a set of computer-based commands that allow you to monitor the MIDI devices that your DAW may or may not have remotely. When you hook up a MIDI synth and play it on your computer, the signal is basically data so that afterwards you can completely change it from the machine side.
You'll also want to consider your outputs that typically have a set of stereo line outs on board as well as a monitor out, if you're looking for a DJ you might be looking for one with a double stereo line out so you can use one set for your house and one for your private use. As you can see, the configuration of your input / output is a key factor to be aware of before you purchase.
Eventually, if your microphone needs phantom power to operate, you're going to want the audio interface to have phantom power on board to control it.
What's the perfect interface for cheap audio?
We would say from today's reviews that the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4, the Steinberg UR242 and the Behringer U-phoria each have merits making them the best cheap AI.
Are audio interfaces in the budget good?
To be honest, they cover most people's primary needs, you can connect directly to a computer via USB and use a DAW. The sound provided is of a competent level and we are seeing an increase in popular music coming out of home-studio set-ups. The price bracket on which we based this article offers great entry-level audio interfaces that are suitable for those who find their feet, hobby recording, and use level aspiration. The more you fork out the better the sound quality and reliability is the general thumb rule, but for under $200 bucks you can get some incredible low-cost audio interfaces that are by many standards a marvel of engineering.
Typically, more costly audio interfaces contain superior clocks and better devices for sync. The clock is a set of electronic pulses While writing these reviews we try to stay very unbiased and on the insightful edge but I'm going to go ahead and say I regularly use 2 of the above-reviewed studio in a box kit, each one is good for my needs and the marginal differences, I only have the 2 because one came with some fantastic additions for my DAW (which incidentally came with the AI I bought in). At the end of the day they keep up with the standard, you will always get what you pay for, but audio quality is subject to constant improvement, so that the standard is always changing and evolving, but ultimately they are a sound and relatively small investment.
Over the past decade, we've seen audio interfaces gaining momentum in the professional industry, the compact, streamlined USB interfaces that have been designed are truly amazing features. The market is overcrowded, meaning that businesses need to step up to stay ahead of the game–fortunately for us!
There's not too much to consider if you're set to get a low-budget AI, know your I / O requirements, and you should be good to go without a reason that they're not dubbed plug and play conveniences.
If the budget audio interfaces we've tested in this buying guide don't meet your needs, you'll need to save a bit more cash because they reflect exactly what to expect from an audio interface in this price range. Generally speaking, we record one track at a time so you don't need too many inputs and outputs to get around a big band, but for example, you might want a series of mics for live drum recording. The recording interface you choose will ultimately depend on your intended use.
You should look for an audio interface with DSP capabilities like the Steinberg UR242 discussed above if you want to use dedicated plugins without putting the load on your computer.
Have you heard that?
The Focusrite Scarlett series traces its lineage back to the Focusrite Forté, a mix console designed with a spared, cost-free approach that almost ruined the company in its first four years of development. Perhaps one of the finest ever built, but the financial difficulties meant that only a handful have ever been produced and there are only 2 in today's known life.
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