We have tested a broad array of audio interfaces to offer you what we believe to be the top budget audio settings in 2022. Every one of our top choices falls within the $200 price range, making them great for newbies. However, it’s not only a matter of cost–these environments offer value as well, satisfying more seasoned users as well.
Our picks are based on practicality and value-for-money. What we mean is that we have collected a list of audio interfaces that have something real to offer for any user. If you’re looking for the best cheap audio interface, then continue reading.
So here our best picks of audio interface to check out in 2022
The most trending choice – Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen
Listing the Scarlett 2i2 3rd Generation as our top cost-friendly and best audio interface for home studio may seem apparent. However, Focusrite has been at the top of their game when it comes to offering budget interfaces for quite some time. The Scarlett 2i2 model combines ideally budget-friendliness, structure quality and useful features.
It’s a small 2X2 screen with 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs, each coming with 48 V phantom power. The model also works well in all aspects, with a more than satisfactory dynamic scope of 110.dB.
One of the features that makes the Scarlett 2i2 distinct is the Air mode option that yields the legendary ISA preamble of Focusrite. The manufacturer has also considered thoroughly client feedback and the model is now compatible with iPad Pro. For many people, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen is the best audio interface for mac.
The advanced low-cost audio interface – M-Audio M-Track Solo
Besides being the best budget recording interface below $50, the new M-Audio M-Track Solo is also one of the top in our list. If you are a starter looking for a budget audio screen, this one is great. The M-Track range by M-Audio has been available for quite some time, and this newest release is an ideal entry-level choice.
It features one XLR/TRS combination input with a stellar Crystal preamp and one instrument import. Despite being one of the cheapest interfaces in the market, the state-of-the-art conversion lets you record dynamic and creative performances.
The M-Track Solo comes with a simple, starter-friendly interface, and it’s greatly well-developed. It also features a software pack that contains virtual instruments, two DAWs, and 20+ plug-ins.
The strongest metering thus far – Motu M2
The Motu M2 is what we consider a dark horse in our top picks list and may surprise many of you. But, it definitely deserves a mention as it is highly versatile, well-developed, and user-friendly. However, the biggest strength of M2 is its stellar level meters, which are the top among any interface featured on our list.
The front panel includes a full-spectrum LCD screen, and that’s why the meters look and perform so great. The unit comes with 2 XLR/TRS ports, making it ideal for home recordings and singer-composers. It also comes with ESS Sabre32 Ultra DAC system, showing off a dynamic scope of 120dB.
An extra notable feature is that it comes with a loopback mode that enables easy streaming. Thus, whether you are a music artist, a gamer or a web podcaster, the M2 is a lovely option. The Motu M2 is also for many the best audio interface for guitar.
A reliable all-rounder – M-Audio AIR 192|4
We have really admired the M-Audio AIR launches from the moment they were up. The AIR 192/model is a suitable entry-level interface for beginners who take music seriously. From looks to performance, this low-cost recording interface won’t let you down.
The integrated quality is one of the greatest strengths of the 192|4: it looks and feels like a high-end unit. It also comes with an XLR/TRS port on the back side and a high-Z instrument port on the front. M-Audio AIR 192|4 has improved LED level signs, offered by similar products as well.
See also Best Reverb Pedals.
It is an extremely-low sound Crystal preamp that works pretty well. In general, this is one of the best products under $150 you can get.
A refined design – Tascam US-1x2HR
Tascam came up with a true entry-level contender with the release of US-1x2HR. From the integrated quality to the robust sound, we can’t find any major fault with this one. If you are on the hunt for a great beginner product that supports iOS, the US-1x2HR program is a perfect choice.
This budget yet solid USB interface records 24-bit/192 kHz of audio easily. It offers a dynamic scope of approx. 112dB, which is above average in its level. A notable feature of the interface is the Ultra-HDDA mic preamp that yields 57 dB of clean gains. One of the top features of the product is that it produces an incredible low noise level of -128 dB or below.
The structure of US-1x2HR looks great and has a slightly curved base, making the front panel easier to reach.
Built like a tank audio interface – Steinberg UR12
Similar to most Steinberg interfaces, the UR12 is developed like a tank, and that’s a good reason we are fond of this so much. The construction quality makes it perfect for any user who wants high-quality capturing at home or on the go. Some of its rivals may work better in certain aspects, but few are more flexible than this.
The UR12 is a 2X2 interface with a key XLR input with phantom energy and one instrument port. The XLR input also boasts a stellar Class-A D-RE preamp that does a good job with a gain scope between +10-+54 db.
The UR12 is compatible with iOS, making it one of the most handy audio interfaces for mobile captures. There are better software packs in the same cost range, but if you like Cubase already, the UR12 is a solid choice.
Impressively good, and cheap audio interface – Behringer U-PHORIA UMC202HD
The UMC202HD doesn’t make it to the top of our picks, but it works surprisingly well. It offers quality that surpasses our expectations, making it one of the top audio interfaces below $100. The value you get for your buck alone meant we could not exclude it from our list. For beginners, artists, it’s for sure might be the best soundcard for music production.
But, despite its low price, the UMC202HD comes with 2 XLR/TRS combination ports with 48 Volt phantom power. Thanks to an A/D 24-bit conversion and a sample rate that reaches 192kHz, the product has a rock-hard base.
See also Budget Audio Compressors.
All components should yield a dynamic range in excess of 100 dB–a big plus for the low price. Another key selling point is that it comes with two real Midas preamplifiers. This model is for sure best audio interface for streaming with low budget.
Lovely audio interface for iPad users – PreSonus AudioBox iOne
PreSonus interfaces are often controversial–users either love or hate them. We are somewhere in-between, as it doesn’t make the top 5 of our list, but we can’t disregard it either. The AudioBox by ioNe comes with the classic Presonus blue shade with a robust metal chassis. However, if you want to get something bigger, the iTwo version of this is also available.
The AudioBox iOne is a 2X2 interface that comes with one XLR input as well as one TRS input. It’s one of the most direct interfaces on our list, with a clear front panel. It comes with two USB ports on the back pad–one for iOS and one for Windows PC.
The software pack features the Capture DUO iPad application, making it one of the top recording interfaces on the go. There is some pretty fierce competition in the affordable interface range but the iONe is definitely worth considering.
Best sound card for recording – final Verdict
For more great suggestions, check out our picks for the top USB audio interfaces under $200 as well as a list of interfaces that cost under $100.
It’s a great time to be a new music artist, and cheap USB interface no longer translates to low quality and performance. High-quality recording is more reachable than ever, and it doesn’t have to cost a small fortune.
Every single audio product in our list offers pro-quality recording sessions for up to $200. Some do work better than others, some come with a higher quality software pack, but all have something nice to offer. Generally speaking, it’s amazing that virtually everyone, on any budget, can begin recording great music.
See also Behringer Model D Soul.