I do not use it on a Mac, but the device uses a standard USB interface for connection to my laptop using Windows 10 and Windows 10 had a driver to support it. Roland says: ' The bus-powered MIDI interface is compatible with Macs and PCs, and now with the iPad as well via the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit!' By the way, it works great! High definition 24-bit/96kHz audio plus MIDI interface for iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC and Android devices Connects to everything, yet easily fits in your laptop bag, gig bag or pocket Neutrik™ combo input for guitar, microphone or other instruments with a professional quality.
One of the most important aspects of home recording is finding the right audio interface for your setup. Audio interfaces range in price from under $50 to over $1000. In this article we will discuss some of the best budget audio interfaces which provide value and quality for beginners and those already familiar with home studio recording.
As you will see, there is a vast range of options and features that come with some of the best audio interfaces under $100. Depending on your own needs and setup you will want to consider them all. We have chosen ten in total which are worth considering when you go to make your purchase also giving our own opinion on what represents the best audio interface under $100 currently in today’s market.
Top 10 Best Cheap Audio Interfaces for Beginners on a Budget
Here are the best budget (under $100) audio interfaces 2020:
1. PreSonus AudioBox USB 96
The AudioBox USB 96 is the flagship budget audio interface from PreSonus. It retails at just under the $100 price point and offers competitive value for money.
The AudioBox USB 96 comes with two inputs, two main outs and a stereo headphones output for monitoring. There is also full MIDI in/out on the rear of the unit. The two inputs are compatible with either XLR or ¼ inch TRS connectors. This means you can easily plug mics or guitars into the unit for fast and easy recording.
The USB 96 is compatible with PC and Mac and in most cases is easy to plug and play. There is also a 48V switch on the front panel for fans of phantom power. The sound from the USB 96 is impressive with the frequency ranging from 20 Hz – 20 kHz. You can also record in 44.1, 48, 88.2 or even 96k Hz.
Included in the package is a copy of Studio One Artist with the Studio Magic Plug-in Suite. Studio One is a handy piece of recording software built in the style of most modern DAW’s. You can record and build your multi-track mix and use some of the plugins to refine the sound too.
This a solid piece of kit for the money and works like a charm. The interface is user-friendly and built to last. The PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 takes the top spot in our list of the 10 best cheap audio interfaces under $100.
2. M-Audio M-Track 2X2
The M-Track 2X2 by M-Audio is another low budget audio interface for either Mac or PC. With Mac installation there is no driver installation necessary which means an extra-quick setup.
Out of the box the M-Track 2X2 is impressive looking with its shiny surface and large central control knob. There’s no doubt that it’s one of the best looking inexpensive audio interfaces out there.
This interface offers much of what the PreSonus USB 96 has to bring to the table yet lacks a few things like MIDI in/out. This is not such a major stumbling block nowadays as USB MIDI has become the go-to standard in most cases. It does outperform the PreSonus with its ability to capture at 192 kHz.
M-Audio have a good track record with audio hardware for computer users. Their products are usually well designed with a sleek look and maximum usability.
The M-Track 2X2 is a joy to work with and the bundled software will keep you creative for a long time. Included is a copy of ProTools First which is the entry-level equivalent of the infamous DAW.
Also there is a copy of Eleven Lite and a selection of decent VST instruments such as Midi Grand, Xpand!2 and Strike. The M-Audio M-Track 2X2 takes an impressive second place. The M-Track 2X2 is also featured in our list of the overall best audio interfaces.
3. Mackie Onyx Artist
Mackie is a well-known brand which is largely associated with high-end professional standard audio hardware such as mixing desks. Consoles such as these quite often retail for thousands of dollars. Happily the Onyx Artist resides in the other end of the price range.
This interface comes with two inputs and two outputs. The inputs consist of one ¼ inch TRS and one XLR input. There are control knobs for each input as well as a volume control for the stereo headphones output.
The Onyx Artist is a workhorse and offers 192 kHz resolution. Mackie also offer a more expensive version of this interface – the Onyx Producer which comes with both MIDI in/out and another XLR in place of the existing TRS. A very good sound card for the money and offers some of the best low latency out there.
4. Tascam US-1X2
The US-1X2 is an affordable audio interface from the American audio hardware company Tascam. The design of the US-1X2 is quite striking in that it is slightly angled upwards, which Tascam claim allows for easier use.
It comes with 48V phantom capabilities along with a switchable line to instrument input. Like the Onyx Artist, this budget audio interface has one XLR input and one ¼ inch input.
This is not a bad outing from Tascam and the US-1X2 retails on average around ten dollars less than some of the other contenders, such as the PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 and the M-Audio M-Track 2X2. You don’t get the same software perks with the Tascam but they have included a mic pop filter and a good XLR mic cable to help you on your way.
5. Steinberg UR12
Steinberg are well known in the industry for their vast array of computer software, from DAW’s such as Cubase to wave editors such as WaveLab. With the UR12 Steinberg has created a portable and convenient audio interface for the home studio enthusiast on a shoestring.
This interface is quite bulky to look at on first impressions. It does have some nice features which are missing from other sound cards in the same bracket. With 24-bit recording the UR12 matches the highest in this price category.
The red LED lights on the face of the UR12 make it easy to find a healthy input level. Steinberg has shipped the UR12 with some very nice guitar amp simulators which will sweeten the deal. Also there’s a selection of nice little VST effects included in the bundle.
To avoid any issues with the UR12 when getting started, do make sure you have the latest official Steinberg drivers installed before you launch the UR12.
6. Peavey USB-P
Peavey are known for their extensive range of audio hardware equipment such as guitar amps and P.A. systems. With the Peavey USB-P they have created an inexpensive audio interface with quality and value in mind.
This is one no-frills piece of kit. To look at, the USB-P looks like a basic D.I. box. There are three connections in total on the interface; two XLR connectors and one USB connector. Soundwise the Peavey USB-P performs admirably, offering low noise and an easy stereo to mono switch.
The Peavey USB-P will appeal to anybody who wants a simple but reliable audio interface for their home studio or even live performance. The interface is ideal for live bands that need to send stereo or mono feeds to band members on stage. It’s well built and is plug-and-play for most systems.
7. Behringer U-Phoria UM2
The U-Phoria UM2 is one of many Behringer audio interface products. It’s keenly priced at around $50 and so appeals to every budding home studio beginner. The UM2 is capable of recording at up to 48 kHz and comes with a 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response.
Overall, the U-Phoria UM2 is a great audio interface. You can also check out this accessory bundle that includes the UM2 interface, headphones as well as XLR, TRS and RCA cables.
The inclusion of extras by Behringer is sure to appeal to many out there. While the addition of a pair of Samson SR360 is a nice touch, most audiophiles will have their own preferred set anyway. You can also check out our recent article discussing some of the best budget studio headphones under $50.
Again, the Behringer U-Phoria UM2 is a good budget audio interface and this package will take some beating for the money.
8. Behringer U-Phoria UMC22
If you want a step up from the UM2 and don’t need any of the extras that it bundles with, then you might be interested in the Behringer UMC22. This low latency audio interface offers high-quality recording at entry-level prices.
The unit itself is extremely well made and feels durable. On the back of the UMC22 there are additional stereo outputs which can be connected to home studio monitors. The preamps in the UMC22 are a step up from the UM2 too. They are made by Midas and come with a +48V phantom power switch.
The sound from the UMC22 is superior to the UM2 above. Ultimately if you value a better preamp, then go for this unit over the UM2. It’s rock solid, offers low latency and sounds great.
9. Lexicon Alpha
This is one of the cheapest audio interfaces out there with multiple inputs. The Lexicon Alpha is a lightweight unit with lots of connectivity.
There are two separate stereo outs on the back of the unit as well as an XLR mic input and also a TRS instrument input on the front. Also on the front panel are control knobs for input, output and monitoring levels.
While this unit boasts a lot of connectivity, many people have had compatibility issues connecting the Lexicon Alpha on different operating systems. It seems that drivers may be an issue still with the device on certain setups. If possible certainly try before you buy so as you know that you won’t be running into any unwanted complications down the line.
10. BandLab Link Analog
And finally we come to the last of our top 10 cheap audio interfaces to look out for. The BandLab Link Analog is a low budget unit with portability in mind.
This little USB device works with computers or smartphones. There is a built-in rechargeable battery which is highly convenient.
You can connect the Link Analog to your phone using the mini-jack output. This means you can use mobile recording apps to record practically anywhere. The Link Analog also connects to PC or Mac by way of USB.
While this is certainly one of the cheapest audio interfaces out there, it does have a niche appeal. The Link Analog is aimed at the musician in transit. And not just musicians – the input is a combo input so it can take both ¼ inch TRS or XLR. This means plugging a standard mic in is no problem.
The whole unit is cleverly built, all the way down to the convenient rechargeable battery. This really cuts down on cables and makes for a really swift workflow. One for fans of minimal setup definitely.
Beginner’s Guide to Audio Interfaces
If you’re looking to buy an audio interface there are certain important factors which should be considered first. We have already looked at some of the best audio interfaces under $100 and highlighted their features. Some of these features will matter to you and some will not. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
Compatibility is paramount. There’s no point in buying an audio interface that will not work with your current computer. Nowadays the vast majority of computer hardware is compatible with both PC or Mac, and sometimes Linux too. Be sure to check this out. On the rare occasion brands will only cater to either PC or Mac so you don’t want to make this mistake.
Compatibility also applies to your existing hardware. Will the unit work with your current setup? Are you using ¼ inch, XLR or mini-jack connections? All these factors must be considered.
With most audiointerfaces over $50, manufacturers like to bundle in a selection of software tomake the product more saleable. This can be anything from a trial version of aDAW to a full authorized version. Be sure to read the small print to see whatexactly is on offer.
If you are not in theposition of needing a change of DAW, or alternatively, you just prefer yourcurrent one, then perhaps you may be interested in the free VST’s on offer. VSTinstruments or effects are often bundled in with audio interfaces these days.Most VST’s will work across platforms and OS’s.
Most modern audio interfaces are user-friendly enough to work with all the top-end DAW’s but in some cases, older interfaces can give issues, so check out the product reviews and feedback if you are in any doubt.
Inputs and Outputs
Most of the audio interfaces we have covered offer a basic two inputs and two outputs kind of operation. This is fine for the majority of home recording. Most home recording revolves around recording one source at a time. This may be either vocals, or guitar, or piano etc.
When it comes to more complex instruments, such as drums, you may need more inputs to capture it in full detail. It’s not unusual to place over 8 microphones on an average drum kit for recording in a studio. In most cases it’s actually more than that.
Naturally to record 8 different microphones at once you need an audio interface with just as many inputs. It goes without saying that the more inputs on a device the higher the price, so sadly you won’t find any in the sub $100 price category.
With the basic 2 in 2 out interface, make sure you purchase to suit your recording aims. Do you need XLR inputs or will one XLR and one ¼ inch TRS do instead?
Sample rate gets bandied about on many products as a huge selling point but the fact is, for most beginners, it will not be a major issue.
There is a similarity with visual media such a televisions. Each few years the manufacturers come up with more advanced resolutions such as 4K, 8K and 16K. Where will it end? This matters little to many viewers, much like sample rate.
If you’re working on a low budget and just getting into home recording, there are many other things to worry about other than sample rate. Sample rate is the icing on the cake of a professional mix. In most cases the average person cannot tell the difference between audio at 44.1 kHz and 96 kHz.
There are a few things which make home recording a little easier. Ultimately it depends on your own personal tastes.
Lots of low budget audio interfaces come with small red LED lights on the front panel. Sometimes these lights represent when the unit is powered on or not. In other cases they represent audio clipping. Clipping is when the input level is too high coming into the unit.
If you have plugged a keyboard into the interface, for example, and you find that the clipping light is triggering, then this is a sign to lower the input volume – or simply turn down the keyboard volume. Clipping will lead to a distorted signal and an unusable take. It can also damage the internal components of the device so make sure to avoid it.
Some units come with a monitoring button which allows you to listen directly to the input channel. This can be useful when trying to establish a good starting point at which to begin recording. Switching between monitoring and main out lets you hear the difference between the two feeds.
Will you be requiring phantom power? Phantom power is basically where the interface will send a small amount of power through the cable to power a microphone or something similar.
This is often required with more expensive super-sensitive microphones, or condenser microphones. The majority of microphones are not condenser and will not need phantom power.
In fact, some condenser microphones come with their own power supply, such as internal batteries, so not all condensers need phantom power. Phantom power is usually symbolized by “+48V” on most units.
MIDI is a convenient technology which converts triggered signals into data information. This basically means that you can play a MIDI instrument and send your performance to the computer.
This is not standard audio, rather it is data which contains the information of the performance, such as the notes played, the dynamics of the notes, the length of the notes and how they relate to a metronome pulse.
Best Audio Interface For Mac Logic Pro X
Typical old-style MIDI connections are 5-pin DIN. They were made up of both a MIDI in and MIDI out. This means that you need two cables to connect up your device.
Thankfully, with the advent of USB, these MIDI connections are no longer always necessary. You will sometimes still encounter 5-pin DIN MIDI connections (look at the back of most keyboard synthesizers) but most products nowadays have moved towards USB.
Naturally there will be limitations to most low-budget affordable audio interfaces. This may come in the form of the amount of inputs and outputs. If you need four inputs and four outputs, you will need to spend a little more unfortunately.
Latency can be a factor too. Latency is the delay in how audio is processed on your computer. You may recognize latency when you run a basic mic check while monitoring on your computer through headphones. If you hear a short delay between when you speak and when you hear, then this is the latency.
Latency can be combated by refining the way in which the data is processed on your computer. Often audio interfaces differ in their latency capabilities but you can usually aid the process by taking notice of your audio driver settings.
You can adjust buffer settings in the likes of ASIO to achieve an optimum setting for better latency. ASIO4ALL is a universal audio driver which works on most systems to reduce latency.
When buying an audio interface make sure to bear in mind how you plan on using it. If you are planning on recording one track at a time then you have many options.
Alternatively if you will be recording multiple tracks at once, such as guitar and vocals, then you will need a good audio interface which can handle the load easily.
Good preamps are important in the device too. Preamps add a warmth and quality to the audio signal which makes for a better starting point. They also reduce unwanted hiss and hum.
For maximum performance, make sure your computer is running efficiently. In a lot of cases you can increase interface performance by tweaking your computer’s settings.
You can make adjustments to the likes of Windows operating systems by adjusting them for better performance over fancier visuals. There are many tutorials on speeding up your system in this way.
Check out theproducts online and see how the spec fares with what you need and you’ll bemixing like the pros in no time.
Audio interfaces are some of the meat and potatoes of music production, and in 2020 there are many of the best audio interfaces available. Some interfaces are Thunderbolt/USB compatible and some are better suited for Mac or PC (Windows), but it is not always easy to figure that out.
In this list we will review 10 of the best audio interfaces that you can purchase in 2020 for your professional or home studio. We think you’ll find this one of the most helpful audio interface reviews online.
Here are the best audio interfaces 2020:
1. Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII
The ultimate best audio interface in 2020
The Apollo Twin MkII is a top-rated audio interface from one of the world’s most popular brands. It features high-end converters and delivers the sound of a classic analog device. With this interface under your belt, you will not need any fancy plugins, guitar pedals or even a microphone. The Apollo Twin MkII has everything on board.
The Apollo Twin MkII has been updated to provide a super wide dynamic range and expanded monitoring controls and has the best external sound card for music production. It is essentially a whole mixing console in a tiny little interface that fits on your desk.
The Apollo Twin MkII has two XLR and instrument combo inputs and four outputs. It is also got an optical in and uses Thunderbolt connections, making it the best Thunderbolt audio interface.
It is compatible with Mac and PC and has built in UAD processing. This means you can enjoy the rich, warm, analog sound of UAD’s plugins while both mixing and tracking.
Another feature of the Apollo Twin MkII is that it has special technology that works with the preamp, called Unison. Unison mic preamp technology allows you to recreate the sound of popular classic microphone preamps without the use of software. In fact, it sounds better than software modeling does.
Best Interface For Mac Recording
Getting deeper into Unison, it is essentially a bi-directional communication between the mic preamp in the Apollo Twin and a UAD mic plugin in your computer. The plugin adjusts the preamp’s circuit and other parameters like impedance and gain structure, so it is not just modeling, it is adjusting the preamp’s behavior.
It does not filter audio like a normal modeler would, instead it causes your microphone to interact with the preamp in the way that it would with a modeled preamp. The included UAD plugins are a great way to get analog style sounds that sound just as good as the real thing.
The Unison technology will model different effects plugins or channel strip plugins for your microphone inputs, which eliminates the need to buy physical hardware. The Apollo’s Twin also has a built in microphone for you to use in the studio if you have to talk to someone in the recording booth without having to grab a microphone.
Upon purchasing an Apollo Twin MkII, you get the Realtime Analog plugin bundle from UAD, which includes channel strips, guitar amp emulators, some compressors and EQs, and delay and reverb plugins. It is a fantastic bundle of plugins and gives you everything you need to get started making music.
|Image credit: Universal AudioCheck Sweetwater|
If you want a top of the line, extremely high-quality audio interface and have the money to spend on it, get an Apollo Twin. It is easily the best-sounding audio interface money can buy and is one of the highest-rated on many websites. You will never regret it, and since you are getting a lot of extra features like the Unison technology and plugin bundle, it adds to the value even more.
Most professional studios use Apollo audio interfaces, so I mainly suggest the Apollo Twin MkII for advanced producers, but if you are a beginner and you do not ever want to have to upgrade, an Apollo will be good for you.
2. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
The best budget audio interface
Focusrite is a really great company that has a lot of best-selling options when it comes to audio interfaces, from more expensive ones to more affordable ones. The Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen audio interface is the best 2-channel audio interface for recording, podcasting, and many other activities.
The Scarlett 2i2 is a 2-channel USB-C audio interface (2 inputs and 2 outputs) with two upgraded Scarlett preamps, extremely low latency, and instrument inputs that can handle everything from guitars to drums and everything in between.
Now included in the Scarlett 2i2 is an ‘Air’ button, an effect that was modeled on Focusrite’s legendary ISA console transformer. When engaged, the Air button gives your voice or instruments a bit more air, a sonic quality that adds more brightness and openness.
Another great feature that has been added to the Scarlett 2i2 is a wired analog protection circuit for the inputs and outputs, which protects the interface power surges that could damage it. The Scarlett 2i2 is extremely low latency which makes monitoring instruments and vocals with lots of effects in real time a seamless task with the Direct Monitor circuit switch.
As for the preamps themselves, they can be described as sounding vibrant. They are very low noise, low distortion, and transparent, which gives you plenty of headroom to accommodate your microphones no matter the source. The Scarlett 2i2 also allows for phantom power for your microphones that need it to operate.
The channel volume controls are ringed with lights that change color based on your channel volume level. Green is a good level, orange means it is close to clipping, and red means it is clipping. This makes it easy to keep your levels monitored without having to constantly watch your computer screen.
|Image credit: FocusriteCheck Sweetwater|
If you are a beginner starting out with production or a musician who needs some great sounding gear with a low price tag, the Scarlett 2i2 by Focusrite is the best budget option. The Scarlett 2i2 interfaces are popular among beginners and intermediate users because of their easy set up, simple design, and high quality, which makes it an ideal entry level interface.
I have used a Scarlett 2i4 for years and it is never disappointed me. Scarlett interfaces are also the best for Ableton Live (and often include it as a download with their interfaces), which makes them all the better. I strongly recommend any Focusrite Scarlett products.
- The best budget (under $100) audio interfaces for beginners
3. Arturia AudioFuse 8Pre
A premium 8-channel option
The AudioFuse 8Pre is a compact audio interface with 8 channels. It has premium components and a ton of awesome features. The AudioFuse 8Pre comes with 8 Discrete Pro preamps that provides a great, clean sound for use in modern studios. This audio interface is great for recording everything from metal to classical string ensembles.
The USB-C connection makes for a solid, fast connection to your computer. The Arturia AudioFuse 8Pre also allows you to stack two 8Pre interfaces for 16 inputs since the eight channels are ADAT compatible and there is an ADAT output on the interface. ADAT stands for Alexis Digital Audio Tape, and it is a magnetic tape format used for recording eight tracks.
If you buy an AudioFuse 8Pre, it includes Arturia’s Creative Suite software pack, which offers 3 vintage preamp plugins for beefy drums and sparkling guitars. You also get a Lite version of Arturia’s Analog Lab software which offers a collection of popular synth sounds. Additionally, you get Arturia’s Mini Filter plugin, which features step sequencing and ladder type filtering.
The audio interface does not add any noise, coloration, or anything that would negatively impact your audio. It provides clean, clear audio that sounds great through studio monitors or headphones. It is fully USB 2.0 compatible and also has the ability to connect to other pieces of gear in your studio. There is also a talkback microphone and clear metering lights.
|Image credit: ArturiaCheck Sweetwater|
The AudioFuse 8Pre from Arturia is the best 8-channel audio interface available right now. If you want a rack style audio interface that can sit close to your other gear without picking up electromagnetic frequencies, the 8Pre is the one for you.
4. M-Audio M-Track 2X2
A cheap yet powerful audio interface
The M-Audio M-Track 2X2 is an easy to use, user intuitive audio interface that is designed similarly to the Apollo Twin. It features a large central volume knob, very low noise preamps, and audio/digital converters that convert audio to extremely high quality in your DAW.
With the M-Track 2X2, you are able to record 2 channels at once with an XLR input and an instrument input. There are also 2 outputs. To connect the audio interface to your computer (Mac or PC), you have the option of using a USB 2.0 connection or a USB-C connection.
USB-C is much faster, so I do recommend that, but if you have an older computer that is not compatible with USB-C, USB 2.0 will get the job done. With both connections you will get zero latency playback and recording as well as monitoring of your inputs to make recording fast, precise, and easy.
Another included feature of the M-Audio M-Track 2×2 is a software bundle that has everything you need to get started making music. The software bundle features the M-Audio edition of Pro Tools First, the Creative FX Collection by Pro Tools which is a plugin suite of 20 effects, a Mini Grand piano plugin, the Strike drum arranger and sequencer, and the Xpand!2 virtual instrument.
The M-Track is part of M-Audio’s C-Series interface series which include the extremely high-quality professional ‘Crystal’ Preamps. Any audio running through these preamps is crystal clear and transparent. Combine that with the Phantom Power button on the interface and you have got some insanely good sounding recordings.
|Image credit: M-AudioCheck Amazon|
The M-Track 2×2 by M-Audio is a really good recording solution. Since it only has two inputs and two outputs, I would mainly suggest it for beginners. If you do not plan to record a lot of tracks at one time, it would be suitable for use in an intermediate to advanced studio too. The M-Track 2×2 is reasonably priced and is a good mid to high end quality interface.
5. TASCAM US-2×2
The best audio interface for a home studio
TASCAM is a pretty old company that has excelled in the audio gear market for many years. Along with regular USB audio interfaces, they have many nice FireWire audio interfaces as well as plenty of other top-end gear that will help you make music.
The TASCAM US-2×2 is an affordable USB audio interface that makes recording easy. The US-2X2 has two high gain microphone preamps that let you record into your DAW on Mac, PC, and even iOS devices. The interface is set up similarly to the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, where each channel is an XLR and instrument combo jack.
There is a gain knob for each channel, signal volume indicator lights, and an impedance switch for when you want to record guitars and other instruments directly. The TASCAM US-2X2 is sure to have zero latency monitoring through the included headphone output with volume level.
The HDDA (High Definition Discrete Architecture) preamp design provides crystal clear audio that has extremely low self noise, making it great for capturing details in your performances. The TASCAM US-2X2 is small enough to take with you wherever you go, but powerful enough to record a singer songwriter or a small ensemble.
Phantom power allows you to use condenser mics for even bigger performances or for use in a small recording studio. It is very sturdy and has a metal housing, so it can withstand hours of travel or rough use. The US-2×2 also comes with Cubase LE software to help get you started with making music as soon as possible.
|Image credit: TASCAMCheck Amazon|
The US-2×2 from TASCAM is a nice audio interface for Windows, Mac, or Linux. It is the best value for the money as it does not surpass $200, and it sounds great and lasts a really long time due to how durable it is. I would suggest it for beginners and intermediate producers for a home studio or for those who like to record while on the road.
6. Behringer U-Control UCA222
The smartphone-sized audio interface
The Behringer U-Control UCA222 is a budget audio interface which is great for both recording and listening to music. Although this interface appears to be fairly cheap and simple, do not be fooled. This budget interface is known for exceptionally low noise level when recording. In fact, the sound quality even goes on to match more expensive models.
The output is strong and fidelity is high too, even at high volume. The U-Control UCA222 is a compact and easy to use interface that is extremely portable. It is about the size of a smartphone, so you can take it just about anywhere with you.
Unlike the rest of the audio interfaces on this list, the U-Control UCA222 uses RCA inputs and outputs. Because of this, there is a lower level of recording quality, and it may be a bit harder to find the right cords or adapters to use it, but for the most part you should have an enjoyable time using this compact recording interface.
There is no XLR input on this interface module, so you can only connect instrument cables and RCA cables. However, this opens up the door for you to be able to connect the interface to either your computer or a soundboard console mixer.
The Behringer U-Control UCA222 also supports ASIO 2.0, so if you have an older computer, you can still record easily without relying on a PCIe audio interface and sound card. The UCA222 does not require any driver installations in order to work, and it also includes a software bundle of Audacity, Podifier, Juice, Podnova, and Golden Ear.
|Image credit: BehringerCheck Sweetwater|
The UCA222 by Behringer is on our list for a reason. Not only is it extremely good value, it is also very portable which makes it a convenient choice for rehearsal recordings, on the go recording and casual listening too.
I suggest it for beginners who like to travel and record, as well as those who have a soundboard or mixing console and need a good cheap audio interface.
7. Steinberg UR22C
An all-around workhorse interface
Steinberg is a well-known brand that caters to professional musicians around the world. The Steinberg UR22C proves itself to be a great value audio interface and an all-around workhorse. This audio interface is an ideal piece of gear if you are planning on doing some home recording on a budget of $200 or less.
It features a dedicated TRS headphone output, combined microphone and TRS instrument inputs, monitor inputs and MIDI inputs. You also get a copy of Cubase which is one of the most popular DAWs on the market.
The UR22C has a couple different connection options, you can choose between USB 3.0 or USB-C, so you can record on a PC or Mac as well as any iOS device. The UR22C was designed to be compatible with any setup, and with its transparent dual mic and line inputs and phantom power, it will fit right in with your rig.
A feature that we see here in the UR22C that no other interfaces on this list have is MIDI inputs and outputs. With this DAW, you can transfer MIDI information to and from your computer or different instruments depending on how you have got things routed. The interface also has main outputs for use with studio monitors.
The UR22C is another interface that supports ASIO 2.0 as well as Core Audio and WDM, so you get universal compatibility standards. You can also either power the interface through USB 3.0 or a 5-volt DC.
Upon purchasing the interface, you get a free download of Cubase AI to use with your computer. For an iPad, you can download Cubasis LE. Projects started on Cubasis LE can be opened up and finished on your computer with ease.
|Image credit: SteinbergCheck Sweetwater|
The UR22C by Steinberg is a solid interface for both audiophiles and recording enthusiasts. The interface is compatible with both PC and Mac. The UR22C makes it easy to record guitar, vocals, percussion and other instruments from the comfort of your home studio.
This is a relatively inexpensive USB audio interface from a world-renowned brand and would be a solid purchase for any home studio setup.
8. Apogee Element 46
World class sound in 12 inputs and 14 outputs
The Apogee Element 46 is an audio interface great for collaborating and recording in a studio, at home, or out and about. It has 4 analog inputs with world-renowned mic preamps, 2 headphone outputs and studio monitor outputs.
The Element 46 is a great step up from a beginner audio interface. In total, the Element 46 actually has 12 inputs and 14 outputs (4 inputs being analog inputs and 6 outputs being analog outputs) and selectable phantom power for use with condenser microphones. Instrument cables or other line in devices like synthesizers will also be compatible with the Element 46.
The gain of the inputs can go up to 75 dB which will be more than enough for you to use in a small professional or home studio. Some of the outputs are XLR style, so if that is something you are in need of, you get it with this awesome audio interface.
To connect to a computer, the Element 46 uses a Thunderbolt connection for lightning-fast audio transfer and recording into your DAW of choice with ultra-low latency. There are also optical inputs and outputs that support ADAT, SMUX, and S/PDIF if you are into using those.
A super cool feature of the Element 46 is that it comes with Apogee Control Software for Mac. Apogee Control Software is a virtual rendering of the audio interface and enables you to control all the hardware parameters like input gain, output level, and low latency monitoring all from your computer.
The interface is also compatible with the Apogee Control mobile app which is a remote control for the hardware (only available on iOS devices). There is also a desktop hardware remote control if you do not want to use the Mac software.
The Element 46 Thunderbolt capability supports multiple units. This means that you can connect two Element interfaces directly to Thunderbolt ports on your computer and use them both at the same time.
|Image credit: ApogeeCheck Sweetwater|
The Element 46 by Apogee is a great option if you need to record a lot of channels at the same time. It would fit nicely in a small home studio or bedroom. It is suitable for beginners or intermediate producers, but could also be used in some smaller scale advanced productions quite nicely. If you also like the ability to remotely control the interface, check the Element 46 out.
9. Roland Rubix24
An interface with a built-in compressor
The Roland Rubix24 is an audio interface which is really designed for recording and mixing purposes. The Rubix24 offers a solid balance between high-quality sound, a durable build, sleek design, compact size, affordable price, and all the features that musicians and producers in today’s industry need to make great sounding music.
The Rubix24 has 2 inputs and 4 outputs and sounds clear and detailed with extremely low self noise and lots of headroom for recording. 2 inputs and 4 outputs is more than enough for most home studio recording setups, and with the compact size of it, the Rubix24 will fit nicely in your home studio or bedroom studio.
The Rubix24 is a USB audio interface, so it is compatible with Mac and Windows, and even iOS devices. For being as affordable as it is, it does not sacrifice sound quality at all. The interface is made with metal, and has plenty of shielding and extensive ground lifts to protect from electromagnetic field interferences and other feedback.
Combination jacks mean that you do not have to waste time and money buying adapters or the right cables as you probably already have the right ones in your bedroom or home studio. 4 outputs make it very easy for you to send click tracks to a drummer, route audio to other external gear, or output to studio monitors.
An amazing feature of the Rubix24 is a built-in compressor and limiter to control the dynamics of vocals and instruments to prevent clipping and distortion of the audio signal. Other features include direct monitoring and phantom power, which can be used to power condenser microphones.
The unit has extremely low latency for both Mac and PC, so you can rest assured knowing that there will not be any hiccups in the audio when recording or performing. There are also highly visible level indicators which allow you to monitor your input levels and avoid peaking even in very dark environments like on stage.
The Rubix24 comes with Ableton Live Lite to provide with a head start to music recording, performing, and production.
|Image credit: RolandCheck Sweetwater|
The Rubix24 from Roland is a great solution for online streamers and the likes of podcast recordings. It is functional and easy to use. In addition to recording at home, on the go, or in a small studio, this interface is also great just for listening to music and watching movies.
It is no surprise that the Rubix24 is getting great reviews online. Customers love the ease of use and great sound that comes with Roland’s sleek design. You are guaranteed to love it too.
10. Mackie Onyx Producer 2-2
An optimal choice for singer-songwriters
Ideal for singer-songwriters and content creators, the Mackie Onyx Producer 2-2 is an audio interface that will not let you down in terms of quality or price. With analog circuitry and high resolution converters, the Onyx Producer 2-2 delivers top notch sound.
Boutique Onyx mic preamps are sure to provide you with high quality and plenty of dynamic range and headroom for recording and performing. 2 XLR and instrument combination inputs (and outputs) are available for you to record through without having to use special cables or adapters that may reduce the audio quality or cause feedback.
A Hi-Z switch is available for each channel for direct inputting your guitar and bass for recording, as well as other devices that use direct input, like synthesizers. Direct monitoring has zero latency and a headphone output is provided for you to be able to clearly hear all the details in whatever you are recording in real time as well as during playback.
MIDI ports on the Onyx Producer 2-2 allows you to hook up synths that use MIDI, MIDI controllers, and other pieces of hardware to record with MIDI or transfer MIDI files between devices. The Mackie Onyx Producer 2-2 is ultra portable and will deliver studio-quality sound no matter where you are. Audio is captured with maximum accuracy and tiny details like tone and articulations are not compromised.
The preamps add some warmth to vocals, guitars, and whatever else you run through them. There is no need for digital routing or latency makeup due to the signal path being true analog directly from the preamps to the monitoring chain no matter what buffer settings you are using.
Mackie Onyx Producer 2-2 comes with Tracktion T7 software, allowing you to record, edit, and mix anywhere in the world thanks to unlimited audio and MIDI tracks and many professional features. You also get Mackie’s DAW Essentials Collection, which is a plugin bundle with professional EQs, compressors, reverb, delay, limiters, filters, and more.
|Image credit: MackieCheck Sweetwater|
The Onyx Producer 2-2 by Mackie is a suitable audio interface for people who want on the go options and easy to use MIDI and recording compatibility. It would fit great in a small home recording studio or bedroom studio, and it is a great sounding option for those of you who like a warm, rich analog sound from your preamps rather than something more clear and transparent.
There are so many different professional audio interfaces, from USB-C audio interfaces to PCIe audio interfaces, and more. If you have found this article on the 10 best audio interfaces helpful, make sure to check back for even more new articles and guides to make the most out of your studio.
Jordan is a music producer, content creator, writer, and session musician. He has been producing music and engineering live performances for over 7 years. He is an experienced guitarist and enjoys listening to and playing many different genres of music.