The future of music

10 Best Budget Audio Interfaces

December 29, 2023
best budget audio interfaces

If you want to make music at home, buying a good audio interface is essential.

An audio interface allows you to get sound in and out of your computer, so it’s a must-have for every home studio. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on it – there are many great audio interfaces that fit any wallet.

To help you find the best one for you, we compiled a list of the best budget audio interfaces you can buy right now. 

Let’s dive in!

1. Presonus Studio 24c – Best overall 

Presonus Studio 24c Audio Interface

When it comes to the best affordable audio interfaces, the Presonus Studio 24c is a top choice for producers and singers who want to dive into different music and sound projects.

The Presonus Studio 24c is known for its versatility, and it’s great for recording anything from speech to music

It provides everything you need for tracking, recording, and streaming, and it’s compatible with PC, Mac, and iOS.

It features MIDI connectivity to the back of the unit and the Universal Control software which makes it more flexible when routing audio between different applications. 

The Presonus Studio 24 generally offers great value for money, and it makes a great addition to any recording studio.

Whether you’re a newcomer or an experienced producer, the Presonus Studio 24c won’t let you down. 

2. Focusrite Scarlett Solo Gen3 – Best preamps 

Focusrite Scarlett Solo Gen3 Audio Interface

The Focusrite Scarlett Solo is another great budget-friendly option.

Foscurite is one of the most popular names in the world of audio interfaces. 

And its amazing Scarlett Solo Gen3 features 1 mic input (XLR), 1 instrument input (1/4″ TRS), and 2 line outputs (1/4″ TRS).

The Focusrite Scarlett Solo provides all the basics that will allow you to plug in your piano, guitar and microphone and start recording at home.

It comes with Ableton Live Lite, Pro Tools First Creative Pack, Red Plug-in Suite, and Focusrite Plug-in Collective access.

The interface is also quite simple, so it’s ideal for beginners, but thanks to its quality preamps and versatility, it’s a good choice for seasoned producers as well. 

Plus, it looks great – elegant but eye-catching, so it can fit any home studio. 

3. Audient iD4 MkII – Best for portability

Audient iD4 MkII Audio Interface

The Audient iD4 MkII is hands down one of the best budget audio interfaces and a great option for anyone starting out with music production. 

The Audient iD4 MkII offers great value for money, boasting fast USB transfer speeds and USB-C connectivity. 

It features a mic preamp (complete with phantom power for using condenser mics), an instrument level DI for plugging in guitar or bass, and a smart scroll wheel that allows you to tweak settings in your software. 

The Audient iD4 MkII is also very convenient and efficient – it’s powered via USB-C and, with Apple’s camera connection kit, and it’s compatible with an iPhone/iPad.

It’s also rather small and compact, so it’s easily portable. 

All in all, if you’re looking for an inexpensive audio interface for your home studio, the Audient iD4 MkII is an excellent choice. 

4. Behringer U-Phoria UMC22 – Best under $100 

Behringer U-Phoria UMC22 Audio Interface

If you’re looking for a cheap audio interface that will serve you well, Behringer’s audio interfaces are always a good choice.

Their products also come at a low price, so they’re ideal for anyone on a budget.

Their U-Phoria UMC22 audio interface offers everything you need for home music production.

The max resolution here is 16-bit though, but that’s enough for most people.

Also, the U-Phoria range doesn’t have its own designated driver, which can be a disadvantage.

Nevertheless, considering the price (it costs less than $100), the Behringer U-Phoria UMC22 is definitely worthy of consideration.

5. Steinberg UR12 – Best for durability 

Steinberg UR12 Audio Interface

Steinberg is another popular brand you can trust. 

Their UR12 is a great budget audio interface for beginners as well as seasoned producers.

It’s sturdy and durable, and with its compact, rugged design, you can rest assured it will serve you well for a long time.

Moreover, the UR12 is one of the older models on this list, but it offers great value for money, and its long-standing reputation certainly makes it one of the best audio interfaces out there. 

It’s easy to use, and it offers outstanding sound quality. 

It comes with cut down versions of Steinberg’s Cubase DAW for desktop and iOS.

All things considered, when it comes to the top budget audio interface, the Steinberg UR12 is hard to overlook.

6. IK Multimedia iRig HD 2 – Best for guitarists 

IK Multimedia iRig HD 2 Audio Interface

If you’re a guitar player looking for an affordable audio interface, the IK Multimedia iRig HD 2 should be on your shortlist.

This mobile audio interface is ideal for recording guitarists, but it works for other instruments as well.

Since it’s easily portable, it’s great for the road.

However, the lack of monitor outputs might be a drawback for some people.

Nevertheless, the IK Multimedia iRig HD 2 won’t disappoint you, especially if you’re looking for an audio interface designed for mobile use.

7. Native Instruments Komplete Audio 1 – Best for versatility 

Native Instruments Komplete Audio 1

The Native Instruments Komplete Audio 1 is a fantastic audio interface that you can buy for less than $100. 

It’s bundled with quality software, and it’s ideal for recording mono sounds like vocals and guitar at the same time.

It offers two inputs: an XLR for plugging in mics and a DI for guitar, bass, or other instruments.

And it provides premium audio quality at 24-bit/192kHz.

Its other notable features include Direct Monitoring (zero-latency, high-power output), a big volume knob for easily adjusting output level, and VU Meter for accurately adjusting levels.

Except for musicians and producers, it’s a good audio interface for vloggers, podcasters, and other content creators.

8. Mackie Onyx Artist 1.2 – Well-built audio interface 

Mackie Onyx Artist 1.2 Audio Interface

The Mackie Onyx Artist 1.2 is another good audio interface under $100.

It’s low-priced, but it has a well-built interface with both mic and instrument inputs.

It’s a good option for recording musicians as well as content creators.

It comes bundled with a stripped back version of Tracktion Waveform, which is good, but it’s not as great as some other options.

Either way, the Mackie Onyx Artist 1.2 is a solid budget-friendly audio interface that will help you record and create in an effective (and affordable) way.

9. BandLab Link Digital – Good budget option

BandLab Link Digital Audio Interface

BandLab is primarily known for its cloud platform where musicians and fans can create music, collaborate, and engage with each other.

However, the company recently decided to dive into the design of audio interfaces as well. 

The BandLab Link Digital is their first hardware unit, and it’s actually quite impressive. 

It’s compatible with PC, Mac, iOS, and Android, and it comes with USB and USB-C cables.

There’s no bundled software though.

The BandLab Link Digital is a good budget option nevertheless, especially if you’re looking for something compact and simple.

10. MOTU M2 / M4 – Best mid-range audio interface 

MOTU M2 / M4 Audio Interface

Our final suggestion refers to a nice, beginner-friendly audio interface: the MOTU M2 / M4. 

This is one of the more expensive audio interfaces on this list, but it’s still reasonably priced. 

The M4 is a popular choice for home recording studios because it’s affordable and well-built, offering great audio quality. 

Its main features include 2 combo inputs, 2 line outputs, stereo headphone output, MIDI In/Out, phantom power, power switch, and USB-C functionality.

It comes with MOTU Performer Lite, Ableton Live 10 Lite, and bundled Loops/Sounds.

All in all, if you’re looking for a cheap yet reliable audio interface that will help you in your music production journey, you should definitely consider the M Series.

How to Choose the Best Budget Audio Interface For You

Essentially, the audio interface links together all the tools you use to input and output sound.

Audio interfaces are required to connect an instrument to your computer, and they allow musicians to record any audio into their computer or smart device.

That said, if you want to set up a home recording studio, you should start looking for a good audio interface.

Hopefully, our list of the best budget audio interfaces helped you narrow your search.

But how are you supposed to make a decision, and what should you look for in an audio interface?

Audio Interface

First and foremost, you should think about your goals and priorities and find an audio interface that meets your needs.

When choosing an audio interface, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s my budget for an audio interface? 
  • Is there a connection type that I need? 
  • Do I need a minimum number of inputs or outputs?
  • Do I need a portable audio interface?
  • What will I use it for, and will I want to upgrade it soon?

All of these factors will help you establish what type of interface you really need.

Different Types of Inputs and Outputs 

One of the most important factors is the type of inputs and outputs you need for your studio. 

Most audio interfaces feature both XLR and 1/4-inch inputs, and they are combined into connectors that allow you to plug mics, guitars, and synths into the same input.

Also, if you want to incorporate a MIDI controller or keyboard into your workflow, make sure your audio interface also features MIDI in/out connectivity. 

Some interfaces also offer a phantom power option, which is necessary if you plan to use condenser microphones.

Phantom power is a way of sending the DC electrical current required through a balanced XLR cable – this way, there’s no need for bulky power supplies.

Connection Types 

There are different ways you can connect your studio interface, including:

  • USB
  • Thunderbolt
  • FireWire
  • PCIe

Most audio interfaces can connect to your computer by USB or Thunderbolt.

In most cases, you can just plug your interface in and start using it, while some interfaces come with extra software.

And since most of them are bus-powered, you won’t have to plug a mains power supply into them. 

What is low latency recording? 

Most good audio interfaces offer low latency recording.

And this means that these interfaces allow you to stay in time with your project when you’re adding more tracks. 

So, a low latency audio interface has a built-in ADC (analog to digital converter) that converts an analog signal to a digital signal so your computer can store the sonic data.

Best Audio Interface Brands 

When choosing the best budget audio interface for your studio, it would be good to opt for a trusted brand.

Generally, some of the most popular audio interface brands in the world right now include Audient, SSL, Focusrite, Native Instruments, PreSonus, Steinberg, and Universal Audio.

All of these brands offer well-built audio interfaces for all levels and applications.

Luckily, many of these brands (such as Focusrite and PreSonus) offer affordable audio interfaces that fit any budget. 

Do I Need a Specific Audio Interface For My DAW?

Generally, you don’t need a specific audio interface for your DAW.

Every DAW has its own characteristics, and you should take your time to browse and choose the right DAW.

A DAW is one of the essential pieces of music production equipment, as they’re used for recording, mixing, and mastering music.

Some of the best DAWs you can check out include Ableton Live, Pro Tools, FL Studio, GarageBand, Steinberg, and PreSonus.

With a good DAW and the right audio interface, you’ll be able to record and produce in an efficient and professional way.

In this day and age, it’s possible to set up an affordable home recording studio that will allow you to make music that meets industry standards.

Plus, you don’t even have to spend a lot of money to do that. 

So, take advantage of the tools you have at your disposal and start turning your vision into music!

Best Budget Audio Interfaces – Final Thoughts 

With the right audio interface, turning ideas into reality is an easy and exciting process.

All the best budget audio interfaces we reviewed today would make a nice addition to your home studio.

Not to mention a good audio interface is a rather essential addition…

Either way, we hope you’ve found what you were looking for – and we hope this guide saved you some time so you can start making music as soon as possible. 

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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