8 Best Audio Interface on a Budget in 2021

Audio Interface

It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or a professional producer, having the best audio interface along with knowing what is on the market is always a great idea.

When you are constantly producing, your focus should be on creativity and not on the technicalities of an audio interface.

This article that I am putting together for you is mainly so that you don’t need to worry about the audio interface or worry about breaking your wallet doing that.

Best Audio Interface: The Benefits!

Skip to List of the Best Budget Audio Interface

When I first began to produce music, I always thought that all of the pieces of equipment somehow were directly connected to a PC or a laptop but I understand later on that this was not the case.

Apparently, when you are connecting your hardware, you basically need a middleware for everything to work perfectly.

Sound Quality: The quality of sound you will hear when using an audio interface vs directly plugging your microphone or an instrument is pretty huge.

An audio interface will help direct the signal from hardware to your PC so you get the best and raw input for your work.

Latency: An good interface should remove any hassle you have when it comes to latency. Latency is basically the time period of delay from when the sound enters your system to the time it emerges.

Controls: You get to control your signal before it reaches your system. You will be able to control the gain, input levels, and also output levels.

Multi-Inputs: You will surely run out of inputs when you are just directly connecting everything straight to your computer but having an audio interface will enable you to have more than just one place to plug your instruments or hardware.

Things to consider while choosing an Audio Interface.

Do consider these things before making a purchase:

Number of inputs / Output: If you are a signer/songwriter just looking to record songs then a basic audio interface to connect your microphone and an instrument to your computer is enough. But if you are a little bit more advanced then you might need to look into a more advanced interface with multiple input and outputs.

Device Compatibility: Not every audio interface is built for you and it is wise to look at the compatibility of your device to the interface you are going to buy.

You don’t want to buy something that doesn’t suit your existing computer right? I mean it happened to me recently and I am writing this mainly so others don’t make mistakes.

compatibility

Budget or Price: For great sound quality, you need need to really break your wallet. There are so many great options for you these days to spend less and get more.

Best Audio Interface on a Budget:

By no means is this in any particular order but each of them has its own pros and cons along with some price differences.

1. Focusrite – The Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen

Cheap Audio Interface - The Scarlett Range
The Scarlett 2i2 From Focusrite

The Focusrite’s Scarlet range series audio interfaces are one of the most popular budget-friendly interfaces and it’s popular as it sounds wonderful.

If you are a complete beginner and have absolutely no idea what to choose then you can blindly pick this and will be totally worth it.

Currently, the latest version of this series is the Scarlet Solo 3rd Generation which has every feature you need for a home recording studio performance.

The built-in pre-amp on this audio interface is perfect and good enough that can also be compared to some of the higher-in-price interfaces.

This is what I first bought for my home studio and still works great. This is simply the best budget audio interface on the market.

Watch the demo:

You get:

  • Device: Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen
  • Simultaneous I/O – 2 x 2
  • Connection: USB Type-2 (USB 2.0)
  • Inputs: 1 Instrument Input, 1 Line Input.
  • Outputs: 2 Balanced Analog TRS Output, 1 Headphone Output.
  • Compatibility: Windows & macOS

Software Included:

֠֠• Ableton Live
֠֠• Pro Tools – First With Focusrite Creative Pack
• Free 3-month Splice Sounds subscription (Only for New Splice accounts)
• Focusrite Red 2 & Red 3 Plug-In Suite
• A choice of 1 of 4 XLN Audio Addictive Keys virtual instruments
• Softube Time & Tone Bundle
• FREE Access to the Focusrite Plug-in Collective

Check Price On Amazon

2. Native Instruments – Komplete Audio 1

Native Instrument Audio Interface - Budget Friendly Audio Interface

Native Instruments are a very popular brand when it comes to their products and I am a proud customer of their VST plugins.

The Komplete Audio 1 is one of the budget-friendly Audio interfaces that does its job and doesn’t break your bank.

Komplete Audio 1 Interface is very light when you hold it and very easy to carry around when you are traveling. The compact model comes with a cool display on top and is easy to set up.

The sound quality of this is perfect for what you pay for and even though this doesn’t sound like the high-end audio interface if you are starting out on music-making or recording then this is perfect and good enough.

The best part is that it comes with a whole bundle of Kontakt instruments. The tools you get along with this are MONARK, 3 STUDIO-GRADE FX, Ableton Live Lite, MASCHINE Essentials, KOMPLETE START, and also other things like a free subscription to music services. Click here for more.

You get:

  • Device: Komplete Audio 1
  • Simultaneous I/O – 2 x 2
  • Connection: USB Type-2 (USB 2.0)
  • Inputs: 1 Instrument Input, 1 Line Input.
  • Outputs: 2 Balanced Analog TRS Output, 1 Headphone Output.
  • Compatibility: Windows & macOS

Check Price On Amazon

3. PreSonus – Audiobox iOne

Presonus iOne USB Audio Interface

The PreSonus’s Audiobox is one of a kind and mainly because it was also made to be used for a highly efficient mobile recording as well as producing music.

PreSonus is famous for their DAW called Studio One which is one of my favorite and when I first came across this, I was pretty excited as their DAW was amazing.

A weight of only 1.5 pounds (0.63 kg) is pretty light and compact on your hand. The size and weight of this allow you to carry it around easily.

Comes with 24-bit, 96 kHz converters, this sound has no problem in being of the highest quality, loud, and clear.

It’s pretty straightforward and doesn’t contain extremely new features or anything but for this price, it does the job pretty well.

You get:

  • Inputs: 1 Microphone (XLR), 1 x ¼” Line Input, balanced.
  • Outputs: ¼” TRS active stereo Headphones, 1 x ¼” TRS female, balanced.

Software Included:

  • Ableton Live Lite
  • Arturia Analog Lab Lite
  • Brainworx bx_opto
  • Brainworx bx_rockrack
  • Cherry Audio Voltage Nucleus
  • iZotope Neutron Elements
  • Klanghelm SDRR2tube
  • KV331 Audio Synthmaster Player
  • Lexicon MPX-i Reverb
  • Mäag Audio EQ2
  • Melodics
  • Native Instruments REPLIKA
  • Output Movement
  • SPL Attacker Plus
  • UJAM Virtual Drummer 2 PHAT
  • UVI Model D
  • Capture Duo

Check Price On Amazon

4. Mackie Onyx 1/2

Mackie Onyx 1/2

Mackie Onyx 1/2 is a pretty affordable audio interface that has the capacity to take what you throw at it. The interface looks great right off the bat and has an overall wonderful build quality.

As far as the design is concerned, it’s unique in its own way and even though it looks like a regular audio interface and nothing fancy, I personally love the build.

Onyx is compatible with Mac OS and Windows and supports almost all the DAWs out there which is pretty cool.

For its price, the audio interface seems to be perfect if you are just starting out as it’s amazing for people who travel or take it around a lot. The plug-and-play model of this makes it even better.

You get:

  • USB 2.0 connectivity
  • Zero-latency
  • +48v Phantom Power
  • 1/4” TRS input
  • Very powerful headphone output
  • 1.1 lbs / 0.5 KG

Software Included:

  • Pro Tools First – DAW
  • Musician Collection – (Mackie Exclusive – 23 Plug-ins)
  • Waveform OEM – DAW
  • DAW Essential Collection – (16 FX Plug-ins)

Check the latest price on Amazon

5. Universal Audio – Apollo Twin MKII

Apollo Twin MkII Review

UA – Apollo Twin MKII is an extremely powerful audio interface and provides amazing analog emulations.

The performance of this interface is wonderful as it has a great processing power that comes with zero latency. Supports both Mac OS and Windows OS.

It comes with the next-gen 24-bit/192 kHz audio conversion and UAD-2 DUO Core Processing that is perfect for recording guitars pre-amp, vintage plug-ins and so much more.

Keep in mind that this is on the higher side when it comes to price but It’s on the list if you decided to spend a little more money on the audio interface if that’s important to you.

You get:

  • 2 premium Unison mic/line preamps
  • 2 line outputs
  • Hi-Z instrument input
  • Headphone output
  • 8 channels of digital input
  • UAD Powered Plug-Ins (via VST, RTAS, & AAX 64)

Software Included:

You get a variety of premium quality plugins with this audio interface and some of the notables ones are below.

  • Teletronix® LA-2A
  • Pultec® EQP-1A
  • UA’s landmark 610-B Tube Preamp
  • UA 610‐B
  • Marshall Plexi Classic Amplifier
  • UA 1176SE Legacy
  • RealVerb‐Pro
  • Precision Delay Modulation L
  • Ampeg® SVT-VR Classic Bass Amp

Visit the official site | Check price on Amazon

6. Audient iD Series

Audient iD Series
Audient iD4 from the Audient iD Series

The Audient iD Series has one of the most affordable yet perfect audio interfaces. These USB-powered interfaces have the ability to reduce distortion and noise to produce a great professional sound quality.

The Audient iD4 and all the other interfaces in the series have a nice design to it which according to me looks pretty futuristic and sleek.

In terms of performance, the Audient ID4 is easy to use with its plug-and-play feature. The ultra-low latency and fast processing power it has the capacity to take all your recording.

You get:

  • 1 – XLR/jack Input
  • 1 x DI Input
  • Stereo jack output
  • Headphone output

Software Included:

  • Cubase LE
  • Cubase LE for iOS
  • Retrologue from Stiensberg
  • M-Tron Pro LE
  • 3 Free Courses from Produce Like a Pro

Visit the official site | Check price on Amazon

7. Steinberg UR12

Steinberg UR12
Steinberg UR12

Steinberg UR12 makes to this list not just cause of the price also the flexibility and features it brings to the table.

The UR12 audio interface has everything you need to start making music if you are a beginner and especially if you are looking to stream your music online.

They have the UR12’s loopback function which lets you stream your music online to your audience if that is your goal.

You see, the best part about buying these audio interfaces is that you get your own DAW along with it for free, which can be a great thing.

In terms of performance, the design and the build of this interface are pretty light and easy to use. Even if you are recording vocals or guitar the sound is pretty neat.

You get:

  • Robust build
  • USB 2.0 (High speed)
  • 24bit/ 192 Khz audio resoution
  • Zero Latency
  • Supports all major DAW

Software included:

  • Cubasis LE included
  • Cubase AI

Visit the official site | Check price on Amazon

8. Behringer U-Phoria UMC22

Behringer U-Phoria UMC22

Right of the bat, what you will notice is the build quality of the audio interface, for the price it’s very well packed and built.

Behringer U-Phoria UMC22 is a 2 x 2 USB Audio Interface, that would allow you to record two tracks at once, which is cool.

There is also a direct monitor button, so you can listen to what you are recording. There is also two speaker outputs which are very handy.

The performance is fairly decent, you won’t have any problems in microphone gains that some audio interfaces give you trouble.

You get:

  • 48 kHz Precision
  • Compatible with all the popular DAWs
  • “Built-like-a-tank”, impact-resistant metal chassis
  • Streams 2 inputs / 2 outputs
  • Low Latency
  • Midas designed Mic Preamplifier with +48 V phantom power

Software Included:

  • Tracktion 4
  • 150 instruments and effects plugins

Visit the official site | Check price on Amazon

Also Check: Ableton Live VS Fl Studio | Side-By-Side Comparison

Best Cheap Audio Interface: Our Pick!

Out of all the mentioned above, our favorite pick has to be the Focusrite – The Scarlett Range as it seems to sound the best and also the price is really budget-friendly.

Check this product out!

nv-author-image

Karr Nade

My Name is Karr, I've been producing music for the past 6 years. I'm not a pro but I am still learning every day. I love to share what I find and that is the purpose for this blog.