Best Audio Interface for Every Budget

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Whether you want to start a professional studio or just looking for a home studio setup, an audio interface is what transforms a PC/laptop into a home studio setup.

This is why an audio interface is usually the first purchase that is made by anyone who is looking to set up a home or professional studio.

Best Overall
Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First
PreSonus Studio 68c 6x6, 192 kHz, USB-C Audio Interface, 4 Mic Pres-4 Line Outs
Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2 Two-Channel Audio Interface
Best For The Money
BEHRINGER Audio Interface, 1x XLR/TRS 1x 1/4" 2X RCA USB, Black, 1-Channel (UM2)
PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2x2 USB Audio Interface, Blue, PC/Mac - 2 Mic Pres
Our Rating
9.9
9.6
9.3
9.5
9.3
Usability
5/5
5/5
4/5
4/5
4/5
Functionality
5/5
4/5
5/5
3/5
3/5
Scalability
5/5
5/5
3/5
5/5
4/5
Affordability
5/5
4/5
5/5
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5/5
Best Overall
Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First
Our Rating
9.9
Usability
5/5
Functionality
5/5
Scalability
5/5
Affordability
5/5
PreSonus Studio 68c 6x6, 192 kHz, USB-C Audio Interface, 4 Mic Pres-4 Line Outs
Our Rating
9.6
Usability
5/5
Functionality
4/5
Scalability
5/5
Affordability
4/5
Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2 Two-Channel Audio Interface
Our Rating
9.3
Usability
4/5
Functionality
5/5
Scalability
3/5
Affordability
5/5
Best For The Money
BEHRINGER Audio Interface, 1x XLR/TRS 1x 1/4" 2X RCA USB, Black, 1-Channel (UM2)
Our Rating
9.5
Usability
4/5
Functionality
3/5
Scalability
5/5
Affordability
5/5
PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2x2 USB Audio Interface, Blue, PC/Mac - 2 Mic Pres
Our Rating
9.3
Usability
4/5
Functionality
3/5
Scalability
4/5
Affordability
5/5

The good news is, audio interfaces come in various sizes and features depending on the recording and production needs.

This makes it easier for you to find one that suits your requirements, and more importantly, your budget. Here, we are going to take a quick look at the best audio interface for every budget.

Best overall: Focusrite Scarlett Solo USB Audio Interface

FOCUSRITE SCARLETT SOLO USB AUDIO INTERFACE

Specs:

  • A/D Resolution: 24-bit / 192 kHz
  • Mic Preamps: 1
  • Instrument Inputs: 1             
  • Analog Inputs: 2
  • Analog Outputs: 2
  • Headphone Outputs: 1
  • Digital I/O(yes/no): No
  • MIDI I/O(yes/no): No
  • Bus Powered(yes/no): Yes

Benefits

‘Rose-Flavored’ Premium Quality Design

If you’re looking for the best recording interface, then this one should be right up your alley. Focusrite is a brand that’s been synonymous with quality when it comes to designing audio interfaces used by home studios and professional studios alike.

The Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rdGen) USB Audio Interface is an updated version of the brand’s Scarlett range of audio interfaces.

From the looks of it, Focusrite is going to retain its ‘best audio interface’ title with this latest iteration of the audio interface.

Compact, but Powerful

One of the main features of the Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rdGen) USB Audio Interface is that the Solo is the smallest interface in the brand’s lineup, and is one of the direct 2nd Gen upgrades.

While the Scarlett Solo boasts of a compact design, it offers an impactful sound, which makes it a great choice for those who are just starting out with their audio studio.

Focusrite Air Feature Boosts Performance

One of the main standout features of the Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rdGen) USB Audio Interface has got to be the integration of the Focusrite Air Feature, which was also included in the much-loved Clarett USB range which was released previously.

This is a major upgrade since the Focusrite Air feature is able to emulate the infamous AIR Studios for the high mids, which also happens to be one of the main reasons why Focusrite has become a household name in audio interfaces.

Loopback Functionality for Capturing Multiple Stereo Feeds

Another major selling point of this audio interface is that it also features Loopback functionality. This enables the audio interface to capture almost any stereo feed from any software or hardware.

This feature is going to be especially appreciated by podcasters and those who prefer flexible sampling options with their audio interfaces.

Drawbacks

The Bundled Software

The bundled software suite could have been improved.

While this is certainly not going to be a deal-breaker for fans of the brand, the ProTools First and Ableton Live Lite seems to be lacking in this upgraded version of the Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rdGen) USB Audio Interface.

Long Set-up Time

Much of this drawback is linked with the previous one.

The fact that the bundled software seems to have not been given the same level of attention in this upgrade means that you will need much more time to set yourself up before you can actually use the Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rdGen) USB Audio Interface in your home studio.

While this is also not a deal-breaker, the amount of time it takes (20 minutes minimum) to create multiple accounts on platforms for downloads and obtain digital licensing seems unnecessary considering you’re using a top-of-the-line audio interface.

Requires Monthly Subscriptions

Users of the Scarlett Solo (3rdGen) are going to need to buy a monthly subscription to use ProTools, Reaper, or other software suites, or you can go with Audacity, which is free. 

Extra Features

Multiple Options

The Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface comes with six different models along with a few bundled packages that are all released simultaneously, which ensures that you are able to get the audio interface that’s perfect for your needs.

Comes with ProTools

The Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rdGen) USB Audio Interface comes along with ProTools which gets you many audio tools to play around with, such as Softtube Time and Tone Bundle, Ableton Live Lite, Focusrite Red Plug-in Suite, First Focusrite Creative Pack, and the Focusrite Red Plug-in Suite, along with plenty of other features that makes mixing audio a breeze.

Buying Advice

If you are going to be buying the Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rdGen) USB Audio Interface, then you will need to shop around to find the best price.

The Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rdGen) does not come with an I/O interface, so that’s another factor to consider when choosing this particular audio interface for your home studio.

Runner up: PreSonus Studio 68c 6×6 Audio Interface

PRESONUS STUDIO 68C 6X6 AUDIO INTERFACE

Specs:

  • A/D Resolution: 192 kHz
  • Mic Preamps: 4 XMAX
  • Instrument Inputs: 6
  • Analog Inputs: 2
  • Analog Outputs: 2
  • Headphone Outputs: 1        
  • Digital I/O(yes/no): No
  • MIDI I/O(yes/no): Yes
  • Bus Powered(yes/no): Yes

Benefits

Versatility and Style

The PreSonus Studio 68c 6×6, USB-C Audio Interface offers its users with a high level of versatility and style. This audio interface has been specially designed for home studios, guitarists, live streaming, and podcasting.

It is also built to make it easier for electronic musicians and DJs to create or mix their music, all using a single audio interface.

The high level of versatility of the Studio 68c is mainly due to the many features that it offers the user, making it a great choice for both beginners and professionals.

4 XMAX Preamps in a Single USB-C Audio Interface

One of the main selling points of the PreSonus Studio 68c 6×6, USB-C Audio Interface is the fact that the device comes with up to 4 XMAX preamps in one compact USB-C audio interface.

This gives you more than enough options to create your music with ease right in the comfort of your home.

The XMAX preamps have been tailored to make it easier for upcoming musicians and producers to create their music.

6 Outputs for More Flexibility

Another advantage of getting the PreSonus Studio 68c 6×6, USB-C Audio Interface, is that it comes with up to six outputs that provide more flexibility when it comes to monitoring your sound recordings.

Additionally, it also results in better external effects processing capabilities to enhance sound quality.

Professional-Grade Digital Resolution

The PreSonus Studio 68c 6×6, USB-C Audio Interface gives you professional-grade digital resolution for all your recordings.

The premium-quality digital converters that have been integrated into this audio interface give it an impressive 115dB of dynamic range, which is perfect for creating those awesome tunes.

It also allows you to capture every minute nuance during recording for a more authentic sound.

Drawbacks

Does Not Come with DC Monitoring

The PreSonus Studio 68c 6×6, USB-C Audio Interface does not come with DC monitoring, which comes as a surprise as you would expect a high-end product to have DC support.

However, it offers the users with plenty of support and features which enables it to perform well despite not having DC monitoring.

Extra Features

A/B Monitoring Capabilities

The PreSonus Studio 68c 6×6, USB-C Audio Interface comes with A/B monitoring features, which enables you to fine-tune your music.

You can also switch between two independent mixes, which makes this audio interface a smart choice for DJs or those who have just set up a home recording studio.

Premium Software Packages

This audio interface comes along with the PreSonus’ Studio One Artist recording software and studio magic plug-in suite, which are some of the most sought-after software suites for home recording.

The extensive collection of plug-ins available with the PreSonus Studio 68c 6×6, USB-C Audio Interface allows you to have plenty of choices when recording audio.

Buying Advice

If you’re searching for the best audio interface for every budget, then the PreSonus Studio 68c 6×6, USB-C Audio Interface is a great option.

The ‘6-in-6-out’ audio interface features USB-C computer connectivity, but you can go with the higher options such as the Studio 1810c (18 inputs, 8 outputs), or the larger Studio 1824c audio interface (18 inputs and outputs).

But, it all mainly depends on your needs and requirements. You should also shop around to make sure you get the best price.

alternative: Native Instruments Komplete Audio Interface

NATIVE INSTRUMENTS KOMPLETE AUDIO INTERFACE

Specs:

  • A/D Resolution: 192 kHz
  • Mic Preamps: 2 Combi-XLR/jack inputs
  • Instrument Inputs: 1
  • Analog Inputs: 2
  • Analog Outputs: 2
  • Headphone Outputs: 2
  • Digital I/O(yes/no): Yes
  • MIDI I/O(yes/no): Yes
  • Bus Powered(yes/no): Yes

Benefits

5-Segment LED Signal Indicators

The Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2 Two-Channel Audio Interface features a sturdy design, and 5-segment LED signal indicators that are featured on the top of the unit.

The features lend it a premium look and feel while offering an exceptional level of functionality as well.

Solid Software Support

With this audio inverter, you get the chance to work with some of the best software you could wish for in an audio interface.

Some of the software options that this audio interface offers are, the Native Instruments Monark Synth, the Ableton Live Lite, Kinetic Treats Kontakt Library, Native Instruments Solid Bus Compressor, Native Instruments Phasis Phaser FX, Native Instruments Replika Delay FX, Mikro Prism – Reaktor Add-in, Native Instruments Maschine Essentials, and not to forget the Komplete Start – which is a combination of both Synths and FX from the Komplete collection.

Superb Connectivity

This audio interface makes capturing high-quality audio a breeze. You also get all the flexibility you need to create a variety of sounds.

All you have to do is plug in a pair of mics along with the two combi-XLR/jack inputs, and you’re good to go.

Drawbacks

Downloading Software Takes Time

The one thing you soon realize with the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2 Two-Channel Audio Interface is that the software bundle is a bit of a pain to first locate and then download, which is time-consuming.

Weak Headphone Output

The headphone output appears to be weak in this audio interface, which could be a problem for some users.

Extra Features

High Level of Versatility

One of the main selling points of the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2 Two-Channel Audio Interface is that it provides the user with multiple options when it comes to plug-in and playback.

You can also easily plug-in a pair of mics together thanks to the combi-XLR/jack inputs, which also makes recording a breeze.

VU Meter for Better Accuracy

The Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2 Two-Channel Audio Interface allows users to get complete accuracy while recording thanks to the VU Meter, which makes it easy to accurately adjust levels while recording so that you get the perfect sound every time.

Buying Advice

The Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2 Two-Channel Audio Interface offers the complete package for recording artists, home studios, performers, producers, and podcasters.

Anything you plug into the input, including synths, instruments, etc., you will have to launch the software and turn on software monitoring, which is affected by latency.

So, you might want to consider that before purchasing this audio interface. This is a great option for those who are searching for the best audio interface for PC.

Best For The Money: BEHRINGER Audio Interface

BEHRINGER AUDIO INTERFACE

Specs:

  • A/D Resolution: 192 kHz
  • Mic Preamps: 4
  • Instrument Inputs: 4
  • Analog Inputs: 2
  • Analog Outputs: 2
  • Headphone Outputs: –         
  • Digital I/O(yes/no): –
  • MIDI I/O(yes/no): Yes
  • Bus Powered(yes/no): Yes

Benefits

Solid Construction

The BEHRINGER U-Phoria UM2 Audio Interface features a solid build quality with a metal construction that can withstand impact.

The solid steel frame is complemented with sturdy plastic effects pedals for easy travel. The overall solid construction and well-thought-out design of this audio interface mean that you will be using it for many years to come.

State-of-the-art Preamps

One of the main selling points of the BEHRINGER U-Phoria UM2 Audio Interface is that it comes with a state-of-the-art preamp.

The 48 V-powered XENYX Mic preamp that’s featured on this audio interface can be easily compared to the ones one many high-end, stand-alone boutique preamps. This ensures a quality device right off the bat.

Incredible Versatility

The BEHRINGER U-Phoria UM2 Audio Interface allows you to mix up to 4 different inputs and the output of the USB playback though the XLR in a single stereo mix. This simplifies the whole process.

Drawbacks

Driver Issues

Some users of the BEHRINGER U-Phoria UM2 Audio Interface have reported driver issues and other bugs in the software that might require you to update the software. While this might be an issue, it is certainly not a deal-breaker.

iPad Compatibility Issues

Apart from the software bugs, users have also reported that this audio interface isn’t iPad friendly.

That said, it doesn’t mean you can’t use the U-Phoria UM2 along with your iPad. For that, all you’ll need is a lightning-to-USB adapter along with a powered USB hub to use this audio interface with an iPad.

However, the U-Phoria audio interface is still considered to be one of the best audio interfaces for Mac.

Extra Features

Zero Latency Levels

Another highlight of the BEHRINGER U-Phoria UM2 Audio Interface is its almost zero latency. Simply put, latency is the time delay between what is played or sung and what you hear coming out of the monitors.

The latency level in this audio interface is close to zero, which is amazing and also gets you better results when recording.

Buying Advice

The BEHRINGER U-Phoria UM2 Audio Interface offers a quality interface at a premium price, which makes it a bargain.

This audio interface provides you with all the tools you need to make history with your music creations, and the best part is, the audio interface is available at a bargain price, making it the ideal choice for a beginner or professional home recording studio.

Runner up: PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 Audio Interface

PRESONUS AUDIOBOX USB 96 AUDIO INTERFACE

Specs:

  • A/D Resolution: 96 kHz
  • Mic Preamps: 2
  • Instrument Inputs: 2
  • Analog Inputs: 2
  • Analog Outputs: 2
  • Headphone Outputs: 2        
  • Digital I/O(yes/no): Yes
  • MIDI I/O(yes/no): Yes
  • Bus Powered(yes/no): Yes

Benefits

Portable and Sturdy Design

Another good audio interface is the PreSonus AudioBox USB 96. The first thing you notice right out the box with the PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 Audio Interface is its sturdy design and build quality.

Everything, from its solid frame to the sturdy knobs, simply ooze quality, making this audio interface a must-have for beginners who are on a budget.

The device is also just the perfect size that makes it easy to fit any home studio setting without getting in the way. This is one of the best USB audio interfaces available in the market today.

96kHz Resolution for Better Clarity

The PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 Audio Interface has “96” in its name, which is there for a reason.

The “96” in its name refers to the enhanced capabilities of this particular audio interface, which allows users to record professional-quality sound thanks to the 96kHz digital resolution, which one would expect from a high-end audio interface.

Improved Features

The PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 Audio Interface offers users with a super flexible recording environment thanks to its many features from, MIDI sequencing and audio recording capabilities, to powerful onboard processing and access to virtual instruments.

This audio interface provides tons of features that take the guesswork out of recording your favorite music.

Drawbacks

Requires Driver and Software Downloads

Before you can plug in the box to your PC or laptop, you will have to install the required driver and software, which can take some time to setup.

White Noise from Headphones

According to audio interface reviews, some users of the PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 Audio Interface have reported hearing white noise and popping in the headphones.

Extra Features

Studio Magic Plug-In Suite

The PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 Audio Interface also offers its users with the PreSonus Studio One Artist DAW software, which basically gives you access to over 6GB worth of bonus content, which you can use while recording.

Buying Advice

For those who are going for the PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 Audio Interface, its best to shop around and look for a reputable retailer to make your purchase from to avoid any issues with the device.

Audio Interface FAQ

What is an Audio Interface Used For?

An audio interface is used by home recording studios and professional studios alike to improve the sonic capabilities of a PC and DAW.

An audio interface also gives you the ability to connect microphones along with instruments or other equipment to the computer while recording.

Do I Need an Audio Interface?

If you want to connect your PC or laptop to the studio monitor speakers, then you are going to need an audio interface.

Apart from that, an audio interface is a must-have if you want to improve the sound quality of your recordings.

Can I Use a Mixer Instead of an Audio Interface?

Best Audio Interface for Every Budget 1

While a mixer can also work as an alternative to an audio interface, it is best to invest in the latter if you want to record many tracks at once, such as while recording a band playing many instruments.

Does it Matter What Audio Interface I Use? 

It goes without saying that the quality of the audio interface you use is going to make all the difference while recording.

However, the popularity of the device has resulted in many manufacturers producing their versions of the audio interface, which means you can easily find one that works great within your budget.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for the best audio interface for Windows 10 or other platforms, then the aforementioned options should be a good place to start.

These are our top picks of audio interfaces that can be used by beginners who have just set up their home studio to professionals, DJs, and podcasters.

While there are plenty of options available out there, these audio interfaces should give you all of the tools you need for your home recording.


Best Audio Interface for Every Budget 2

Lucas Turner

Lucas Turner didn’t have a childhood filled with music—he traded in his toolbox at a pawn shop one day (because he just realized he wasn’t good at construction) for a guitar, and spent the day learning. From there, he practiced other instruments and built his own in-home recording studio from the ground up, learning everything about audio production along the way. Today, he’s showing you everything he’s learned, and divulging his ever-expanding archive of knowledge on recording hardware, software, and the right home studio conditions.