Top 2 Best Audio Interfaces Under $100 (May 2020)
Behringer U-Control UCA222
- ✔ Ultra-flexible audio interface
- ✔ Stereo Headphone output with dedicated Level control
- ✔ High-resolution 48 kHz converters for high-end audio quality
- ✔ Compatible with Windows 10 and mac, no setup or drivers required
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The Behringer 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 UCA222 supports ASIO 2.0, which is a nice bonus too as this is not always common with audio interfaces in this price range. The interface works smoothly even without the installation of drivers.
This interface is on our list for a reason. Not only is it extremely good value, it’s also very portable which makes it a convenient choice for rehearsal recordings, on-the-fly recording and casual listening too.
Some other types of interfaces can be hundreds of dollars, but the USB ones are much more affordable. A great USB interface will be high in quality but you won’t have to break the bank to buy one.
One of the reasons people love the USB option is because they can easily be swapped between systems. A great interface will also be small and light so that it can be carried in your bag without weighing you down.
Between trips to and from the studio, interfaces can get knocked around a bit. It is important for them to be able to withstand some knocks and bumps without being damaged. The exterior should be made of a strong material.
Designed to work with your PC or Mac computer, the Behringer U-Control UCA222 is bus powered so it requires no external power supply or batteries. It doesn’t require any drivers. All you have to do is plug it in a free USB port and start recording.
The U-Control UCA222 allows you to connect pretty much any piece of audio gear to your computer. This allows for versatility in your recording.
Featuring two analog inputs, you can connect any line-level device, such as a tape deck or mixer. The two analog mono outputs allow you to connect studio monitors or active speakers. There is an additional S/PDIF optical output for direct analog to digital conversion. The headphone output has a dedicated level control which allows you to listen to the input and output.
Included in the purchase is a ton of free software so that you can get the most out of your recording. You will also get more than 50 effects plug-ins, and over 100 virtual instruments to allow you to turn your computer into a complete recording studio.
The high resolution 48 kHz converters provide excellent sound quality.
The rugged construction makes it durable enough to handle the conditions of life on the road. It is small and compact, making it easy to take along with you anywhere you want to record.
To top things off, the UCA222 is a fraction of the price of other popular interfaces.
PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2x2
- ✔ Compatible with almost all recording software for Mac
- ✔ Bus-powered USB 2.0 audio and MIDI interface
- ✔ Frequency Response is 20 Hz to 20 kHz
- ✔ 2 combo mic/instrument inputs
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PreSonus has long offered decently-priced yet reasonably high-quality audio interfaces. This year we’ve seen a number of them. The PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 comes as one part of the PreSonus AudioBox 96 Studio. The other parts being a pair of headphones, a microphone, and not forgetting, an XLR cable.
USB audio and MIDI interface with 2 combo mic/instrument ins with Class A mic preamps.
24-bit resolution, 44.1, 48, 88.1, & 96 kHz sampling rate.
M7 large-diaphragm condenser mic.
HD7 headphones with High neodymium resolution drivers.
PreSonus Studio One Artist with unlimited audio tracks, MIDI tracks, virtual instruments, buses, and FX plus 10+ GB of third-party software and loops.
The first thing we noticed when we took the PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 out of the box was its size. It’s a little smaller than we expected, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It features the blue and silver aesthetic you would expect from a PreSonus interface, and in general it looks quite nice.
Under the hood, the PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 is relatively powerful, and while you won’t get all that many inputs and outputs, that doesn’t mean that the ones that are there don’t sound good — in fact, they do. While some purists may beg to differ, one of the things that we’ve always loved about PreSonus’ preamps is that they’re quite transparent — which makes them versatile. You could really use the preamps here to record anything — vocals, guitars, drums, you name it. The limiting factor here doesn’t come from how the preamps sound, but rather how many of them there are.
With more and more people needing small interface set-ups for song writing, YouTube videos or recording podcasts and commentaries. An increasing number of companies are putting out bundles that offer everything in one box. This one has headphones, a mic, interface and software bundle.
Firstly you get a sturdy interface with two combo mic/line ins, two outs plus headphone and MIDI connections. You could plug a guitar and mic in and sing away, or use it with a simple mic combo. As with all PreSonus hardware you’re best off registering it. You’ll then get a list of available software including any drivers you might need.
Next are the HD7 headphones. They’re a little lightweight which is not necessarily a bad thing. They’re not especially rugged either but they stood up reasonably well next to our reference phones. They have lots of detail, a little harsh, but with an extended bass response that doesn’t colour as much as we thought it might. Not bad. The mic is not quite a match for them, but while there are better, it’s still good for this price point.
Perhaps most impressive on the music production side and often included in PreSonus’ bundles is Studio One Artist. Now this is an impressive DAW. You get 26 plug-in ‘ready to go’ effects and instruments, unlimited audio tracks, it works with Mac and is easy to use despite a fairly cluttered GUI.
There’s even a 10GB bundle of extras by third parties including samples, loops and other goodies. It might be overkill for just recording a podcast but what the heck, make it a super musical podcast, or a very dramatic and cinematic one! All the effects and sounds you need are right here to soundtrack whatever you want.