Top 7 Best Audio Interfaces Under $200 (May 2020)
M-Audio AIR 2X2
- ✔ Hi-Speed USB-C connection
- ✔ Studio grade capture
- ✔ XLR+1/4" TRS combo input
- ✔ 5-pin MIDI in/out
With the AIR 192|6, you can create 24-bit/192kHz studio-quality recordings with an intuitive and easy-to-use audio interface. The AIR 192|6 enables you to record up to 2 channels at once with its 2 dedicated XLR+¼” balanced combo inputs, and 2 all-new ¼” instrument inputs that have a specially designed gain and impedance stage to provide the most accurate representation of a guitar or bass plugged directly into the interface.
It has an XLR and TRS (1/4″) input, resulting in it being a perfect fit for those looking to record both vocals & instruments. It’s worth noting that this audio interface provides 48v phantom power, so you can connect and power your condenser microphones as well.
The audio interface boasts some impressive audio recording metrics, being able to record in 24-bit/192kHz, which is quite uncommon in low costing audio interfaces. Additionally, it has a frequency response from 20Hz – 20kHz, so you can rest easy knowing that this audio interface will be able to handle your bass, sub-bass, mid-range and treble frequencies without a problem. The unit performs well in terms of latency , providing a pleasingly low output latency at around 6.4ms, which by the human ear, is not noticeable.
Overall, we think that M-Audio has created a fantastic, budget-range interface which is not only great value for money, but it delivers in its ability to provide high-quality audio recordings, with near to 0 latency (6.4ms ). So, if you’re in the market for a 2-in/2-out audio interface, for a low price, the Air 2×2 is a great low latency digital device worth considering.
However, there are no mentions of a customer warranty, as with other similarly priced products (Focusrite Scarlet 2i2) which come with a 2-year limited warranty.
PreSonus Studio 24c 2x2
- ✔ Easy-to-use Mixer knob for low-latency direct input monitoring
- ✔ High-powered headphone output
- ✔ USB-C compatible powered 2x2 audio interface
- ✔ Compatible With Windows 10 and Mac
From a physical standpoint, the interface is designed to look very sleek, with its black center chassis, surrounded by deep blue side compartments.
As for the functionality, it features 2 combination (XLR/TRS) inputs at the front of the unit, and five control knobs for general volume/mixer parameter changes.
As for the back of the interface, it has a MIDI input/output, which other cheaper interfaces do not have. Additionally, it has 2 main TRS outputs, alongside a phones TRS output. The unit is bus-powered and connects to both a Mac and PC via a USB-C cable.
Now, when it comes to latency, the company have said that the unit has a roundtrip latency of around 3ms, which is extremely low.
Overall, we think that readers who are looking for a 2-in/2-out interface, with the versatility to be able to plug in XLR or TRS into each port, as well as MIDI input and output capability and a phones output, will most certainly want to take a look at the PreSonus Studio 24c 2×2 interface. Not only does it provide a lot of functionality for an affordable price, but the latency levels are very low.
The Duet is a 2-channel FireWire audio interface that features the amazing sound quality that made Apogee Electronics famous. With control functions built directly into Apple’s Logic Pro, Soundtrack Pro and GarageBand software, Duet empowers you to create professional recordings effortlessly on your Mac.
With Duet, you can plug in guitars, keyboards, and microphones to record your music, or simply experience how much better your favorite tracks in iTunes sound. Duet is compact and powered by FireWire, so you can pack up your studio and go anywhere your music takes you.
Its dual, 1/4″ high impedance inputs allow you to combine and record your two favorite instruments, whether it be two guitars, one bass, one guitar, etc., simultaneously using your favorite Core Audio-compatible application. You can also capture vocals with two microphone inputs that have phantom power and 75dB of gain. Whether you’re noodling out new ideas, completing a personal tune, documenting a podcast, or recording a live performance, your new little buddy can handle it. The flexible breakout cables come with icons to make it easy to know what goes where, keeping everything in order, out of the way, and properly connected for maximum input and output, with minimal mess.
Duet’s bus-powered FireWire interface frees you from the traditional four-wall studio setting. So grab your laptop, find a spot where inspiration takes you, whether it’s in the solace of a park or in the echoey confines of a subway tunnel, turn it on, and start doing your thing.
If you don’t have Logic Pro, Soundtrack Pro, Garageband, don’t panic. Apogee’s includes it’s own Maestro software, so you’ll still be able to work with any Core Audio-compatible application. Maestro allows you to turn the Duet’s multifunction control knob into a one-click manager. Maestro will help you manage all of Duet’s capabilities and settings, including I/O level, source selection, muting, mic/instrument gain mode, assign MIDI function controls to the controller knob, assign meter display, and more. Speaking of meter display, Duet comes with LED I/O meters to help you monitor your levels for maximum effectiveness.
Duet is not only great for it’s input and interface functions, but it delivers amazing sound quality as well. Whether you’re listening to your iTunes collection or latest composition through powered speakers connected to the 1/4″ outputs or via the headphone jack, you’ll not be disappointed by the crystal clear, playback performance.
Mackie Onyx Producer 2.2 Audio Interface
- ✔ High-resolution 2 in x 2 Out 24-bit/192kHz recording
- ✔ Bus-powered for easy mobile recording with no power adapter needed
- ✔ Built-Like-A-Tank design to survive day-to-day abuse
- ✔ Compatible with Windows and Mac
With high-quality Onyx mic press, balanced analogue connectivity and operation up to 24-bit/192kHz, the bus-powered Onyx Producer is more than capable of getting clean signals in and out of your DAW. There are two identical mic/line inputs with combination XLR/jack connectors. Each has a manual green backlit switch to select a Hi Z instrument, and there’s a global backlit switch for 48V phantom power.
Input signals can be monitored with zero latency using the Input/DAW Mix knob, and rounding off the front panel are a large Monitor level knob and headphone output with level knob. Round the back you’ll find a pair of 1⁄4-inch jacks for the monitor output, and also a pair of MIDI connectors (In and Out), which is very handy. Throw in the robust metal case and you’ve got a compact, workhorse device that should last for years. You get a DAW – Tracktion T7 – in the box as well.
The multitude of compact 2-in/2-out USB interfaces can be bewildering, not least because, for such a simple concept, there are a lot of variants and price points.
Mackie’s latest units, the Artist 1.2 and Producer 2.2 (which we have on review), are at the simpler and more affordable end. Even so, with high quality Onyx mic pres, balanced analogue connectivity and operation up to 24bit 192kHz, they’re perfectly capable of getting clean signals in and out of your DAW. Throw in the robust metal case and you’ve got a compact workhorse device that should last for years.
The Onyx Producer 2.2 features two identical mic/line inputs with combination XLR/jack connectors. Each has a manual green backlit switch to select a Hi Z instrument, and there’s a global backlit switch for 48V phantom power. The unit itself is USB bus powered, and there’s no option to use an external PSU, which keeps things simple. Input signals can be monitored with zero latency using the Input/DAW Mix knob and rounding off the front panel are a large Monitor level knob and headphone output with level knob. Round the back you’ll find a pair of 1⁄4” jacks for the monitor output, and also a pair of MIDI connectors (In and Out), so the Producer 2.2 also doubles as a MIDI interface, which is handy.
The Onyx Producer 2.2 uses the built-in OSX Core Audio drivers and there’s a downloadable USB driver for Windows 7 or later. Once up and running you’ve got a bunch of green and green/red LED indicators (signal level, MIDI input activity and USB connection), so you can see at a glance what’s going on.
The unit is pretty compact and the layout self-explanatory. We particularly like the rubberized gain knobs as they’re easy to grab even though the knobs are quite small. The headphone output is also nice and loud. The unit has rubber pads on the bottom and this combined with its weight makes it nice and stable when you’re plugging up leads or adjusting settings. If you’re new to recording there’s also a bundled copy of Tracktion T7 with the DAW essentials plugin pack so you won’t need an additional DAW to get started.
So, any annoyances? First up, the Input/DAW Mix control influences both the headphones and Monitor output. Not a biggie, but the balances we need for headphones and monitors are often quite different, so if you’re recording someone else and want your own blend in the monitors, that’s not an option. Furthermore, staying on the subject of the Mix control there was also a bit of bleed through from the DAW output even when the knob was turned totally to Input. Again, not unusual in this sort of device, but worth mentioning.
Nevertheless, we think Mackie have done a pretty good job here, delivering a no-nonsense, robust interface, capable of excellent fidelity that you can still slip into your satchel. Bravo.
- ✔ Compatible with mac and windows
- ✔ MIDI input/output & iPad connectivity
- ✔ USB2.0
- ✖ Some complaints regarding the latest mac software compatibility
Steinberg is a well-known brand that caters to professional musicians around the world. The UR242 takes the tops spot on our list as it proves itself to be a great value audio interface and an all-round workhorse.
This audio interface is an ideal piece of kit if you are planning on doing some home recording on a budget of $300 or less. It features a dedicated TRS headphone output, combined microphone/TRS instrument inputs, monitor inputs and MIDI inputs. You also get a copy of Cubase which is one of the most popular DAW’s on the market today.
Steinberg UR242 is an external sound card for both audiophiles and recording enthusiasts. This interface is compatible with both PC and Mac. The UR242 makes it easy to record guitar, vocals, percussion and other instruments from the comfort of your home studio.
This is a relatively inexpensive USB audio interface from a world-famous brand and would be a solid purchase for any home studio.
The UR242 offers musicians and producers far more than just a portable I/O device, or even an audio interface; the UR242 is a mobile production solution. That’s because it combines fantastic-sounding I/O and durability with advanced DSP-based FX that can be used with your DAW software, and that at a price point that is still easily affordable.
- ✔ MIDI In/Out ports
- ✔ Extensively shielded, low-noise design
- ✔ 2 low-noise mic preamps with XLR combo jacks
- ✔ Compatible with mac, pc and iPad
The Roland Rubix24 is an audio interface which is really designed for recording and mixing purposes. It has 2 inputs and 4 outputs. This is more than enough for most home studio recording setups.
Other features include direct monitoring and phantom power, which can be used to power condenser microphones. There are also handy indicators which allow you to monitor your input levels and avoid peaking.
In early 2017, Roland debuted the Rubix line. The Rubix 22, 24, and 44 may not be very exciting to look at, but they are smart choices for up-to-date, mid-range audio interfaces. The Rubix 24, in particular, hits the sweet spot while offering just the right amount of functionality. This is a typical 2-in, 4-out USB interface that’s also class compliant with Apple gear and features MIDI In/Out ports. It handles 24-bit, 192kHz audio and has on-board compressor and limiter effects.
The selectable headphone channel assignments lets you create a separate monitor mix, while the loopback recording feature lets you capture the interface’s main stereo audio output without extra cables or routing. This way, you can easily record live streaming audio from your computer. The Rubix 24 comes with Ableton Live Lite, which is enough of the famous DAW to get you started, but not enough to really appreciate its capabilities.
Behringer U-PHORIA UM2
- ✔ 2x2 USB audio interface
- ✔ Audiophile 48 kHz resolution for professional audio quality
- ✔ Compatible with popular recording software
- ✔ State-of-the-art, +48 V-powered XENYX Mic Preamp
Don’t let its small size and extremely low price deter you from the fact that this audio interface is a realistic option. For beginners who are working with a limited budget. Even professionals who move around a lot and want an inexpensive device to add to their arsenal.
Behringer UM2 offers a silver and black casing. What shouldn’t surprise anyone, is that at this price you won’t get a top-notch metal chassis. This budget audio interface is entirely made of plastic – there are no metal parts on the outside of the device. Chassis seems surprisingly well built with nothing left feeling lose.
The plastic knobs are positioned at the top, which is not a popular place in most audio interfaces, even those from Behringer, which are located at the front of the devices. Probably Behringer wanted to keep the size of the device as compact as possible. This location seems to be a very intuitive place for the knobs, which are easily reached for adjustments.
The Behringer UM2 offers two inputs on the front. One of them is an XLR / TRS ¼ inch (6.35 mm) combo, and the second connector is ¼ inch (6.35 mm).
The XLR connector is used to connect a professional microphone. The TRS connector is used for electronic devices and instruments, such as keyboards, bass guitars or electronic drums. Each input has two associated LEDs on the front panel, which are located to the right of them. The green one indicates that a signal has been detected and the red one shows when the signal is clipping. There are two other LEDs. The orange one tells you whether the device is on. The red one, called +48 V indicates whether the Phantom Power is on. Phantom Power is used to power the dynamic or condenser microphone.
On the right side of the front panel, there is a headphone jack for monitoring. The normal signal goes from the plugged in microphone. To the interface through USB, to the software and back. This creates latency. To avoid this, you can use the direct monitor button. It gives you a signal directly from a microphone, so if you are recording with software there is almost zero delay.
The UM2 interface is a low latency device, which is surprising. It’s very important for someone who records a lot of vocals and guitars. At this price point, you can’t beat Behringer in regards to it’s recording ability and features. The higher 24-bit device is required if you desire to hear the samples in your DAW with much more depth. It’s worth noting here that there are noticeable differences in comparison to 16-bit lesser interfaces.
There is something that I feel is going to be a major disadvantage, that other devices don’t have. Namely the UM2 is limited to 16-bit / 44 kHz. Which is ok for streamers and podcasters, but a serious musician should look for 24-bit devices (Scarlett Solo vs Behringer UM2). Normally the headphone outs on low-cost devices are cheaply made and underpowered. However in this case the UM2 headphone amp is quite loud. It would be great if there was a separate knob where you could control the volume of the headphones. If you really have to have this, you have to pay at least twice as much for UMC202HD.
UM2 is a top class audio interface for an amateur musician, podcaster, or streamer. It’s cheap, light and has a decent build. The biggest disadvantage is that it offers only 16-bit/48 kHz playback which is not enough for professional musicians.
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
- ✔ Two high-headroom instrument inputs to plug in your guitar or bass
- ✔ Record and mix at up to 24-bit/ 192kHz
- ✔ Two balanced line inputs, suitable for connecting line-level sources
- ✔ Air mode to give your recordings a brighter and more open sound
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is, what Focusrite consider, “The world’s best-selling audio interface”, at least that’s what they state on their website.
Now, we believe them! Why exactly, well because Focusrite has been an industry-leading audio interface manufacturer for years on end, and their Scarlett range has been particularly successful. You only have to take a look at the number of positive Amazon reviews [which we’ve linked to further below] to see how popular the 2i2 interface is.
As for the product specs, it’s a 2-in/2-out interface, which features 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs, making it perfect for those who want the versatility of using the interface to connect either two microphones, two instruments or one of each.
Additionally, it too has some impressive specs, supporting a sample rate of up to 192 kHz / 24-bit.
The interface is also fairly compact, making it ideal for those who may want to take this on the road for recording.
Now, as far as latency goes, we’ve read that it’s around 6ms, from users who have tried it.
Overall, Focusrite is an extremely reputable audio interface provider, known for creating quality interfaces. With that being said, we think that this interface is ideal for the musician/singer who wants a 2-in/2-out interface, with the versatility to be able to plug in both XLR or TRS via each input port. If this is you, why not take a look at the product reviews for yourself, directly below.