Best Audio Interfaces Under $500

Top 10 Best Audio Interfaces Under $500 (January 2022)

The Best Audio Interfaces Under $500 (January 2022)

The best audio interfaces under $500 offer fantastic opportunities to record high quality audio from several sources with minimal latency.

Audio interfaces under $500 range from large 'rack' styled devices through to pocket sized incredibly compact and durable audio interfaces. Some come with full colour LED/LCD displays for input and output levels, others offer portability by being powered by batteries.

Whether you're looking to record a keyboard, guitar or vocals, the best way to setup your recording station is to plug into your computer and make tracks via an audio interface. Low and zero latency models are considered to be the best audio interface options on the market.

Whatever type of audio interface you're looking for we've tried to find the audio interfaces with the best features. While still being considered a great audio interface under $500.

The Best Audio Interfaces Under $500 Buyers Guide (January 2022)

  • 1. Roland OctaCapture Audio Interface
  • 2. Tascam US-16x08
  • 3. Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 Audio Interface
  • 4. Behringer U-Phoria Audio Interface
  • 5. Apogee One
  • 6. iZotope Spire Studio
  • 7. Zoom UAC-2
  • 8. Audient iD4
  • 9. Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6
  • 10. Focusrite Scarlett 2i4
Roland OctaCapture USB 2.0 Audio Interface Image

Roland OctaCapture Audio Interface

  • ✔ The brand has a proven track record
  • ✔ The product has a near-perfect customer review rating
  • ✔ A large number of inputs/outputs
  • ✔ Impressive technical specifications

The most affordable audio interface that we’ve featured on the list

Roland OctaCapture USB 2.0 Audio Interface - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

The Octa-Capture by the Roland Corporation is the most affordable audio interface that we’ve featured on the list.

It’s compatible with both Mac and PC, and can be used with the majority of DAWs, making it versatile for your setup.

It features eight premium-quality preamps, which boast the same internal components as their V-Studio 700 and M-400 V-Mixer mixing desks.

It has 8 XLR/TRS combination inputs, which allow users to plug in a combination of 1/4″ jacks and XLRs, ideal for live band recording sessions and to record instruments such as drums, where you may need microphones and DI capability.

Regarding the technical details, it records at a maximum of 96kHz sample rate, has a frequency response from 20Hz to 40 kHz, and delivers extremely low roundtrip latency with the help of Roland’s proprietary vs streaming technology.

Overall, when taking into account that the audio interface has incredibly customer reviews and even comes with a 1-year manufacturers warranty, it definitely holds it’s own on this article being a product to beat.

Compatibility
  • Mac & PC
  • Supports all major DAWs

 

Features
  • Incredibly reputable company ‘Roland’
  • Durable aluminum chassis which is rack-mountable
  • Eight premium microphone preamps
  • Ultra-low latency driver
  • Includes software
    • Cakewalk Sonar X1 LE
  • Requires power adapter
  • Warranty: 1-year manufacturers warranty

 

Technical Specs
  • USB 2.0
  • MIDI input/output
  • 4 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the front)
  • 4 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the back)
  • 8 TRS outputs (on the back)
  • Supports all major DAWs
  • 24-bit/96 kHz resolution
  • 20 Hz – 40 kHz Frequency Response
  • 48v Phantom Power

 

Pros
  • The brand has a proven track record
  • The product has a near-perfect customer review rating
  • A large number of inputs/outputs
  • Impressive technical specifications

Tascam US-16x08 Image

Tascam US-16x08

  • ✔ Eight balanced line outputs are also available
  • ✔ Eight Ultra-HDDA microphone preamps
  • ✔ An additional eight line inputs are provided
  • ✔ Captures 16 mic and line inputs

The US-16x08 feature set represents the barest of bones for audio interfaces of this type.

Tascam US-16x08 - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

The Tascam US-16×08 is an 8 channel audio interface, aimed at being an affordable option for those wanting a rack-mountable audio interface with a decent amount of inputs/outputs.

The entry level into the 1U 8 mic pre interface category comes in from Tascam who are well known for developing solid recording gear at competitive prices. On to the 16×08. The Tascam site has all the specs and manuals, just look there if you want to get to know this beast. You can even test-drive the brand-new ASIO driver panel as it works without the unit attached. The US-16×08 feature set represents the barest of bones for audio interfaces of this type. As only one headphone output with a level pot is provided and no ADAT is included for I/O expansion. That said, you may not have to worry about the absence of ADAT here as the US 16×08, as the names suggests, provides 16 analog inputs and 8 outputs.

On the front of the interface 8 XLR mic pres that are claimed to deliver “clean and quiet operation” with up to 56dB of gain along with 2 jack inputs are present with 10 gain pots. On the rear you’ll find balanced line level inputs 11 through to 16 with outputs 1 through 8 along with MIDI I/O. If you find that you require more than 8 mic pres then the extra inputs on the rear could easily be utilized with some outboard channel strips which would make this a great interface for full band recording applications.

This device also provides two options of mounting. Use either the rack ears for mounting in standard 19” racks or screw in the included legs into the side of the chassis for desktop placement.

The US 16×8 may look like it could be from the last decade as the design is a bit bland but it has some modern power under the hood as it includes DSP, though basic it is very usable. Each of the inputs can have a 4 band EQ and compressor applied in tracking. This is adjustable via the Tascam mixer application which also offers near-latency-free monitor mixing and flexible routing.

The unit is compatible with the majority of digital audio workstations that exist, and can be used with Mac and PC. Additionally, it can also be used with iPad, iOS and other tablets, by using the class-compliant drivers that Tascam has available for download on their website.

However, it doesn’t include some of the features and ports that the formally discussed Behringer U-Phoria UMC1820 audio interface has, including ADAT and SPDIF connectivity, and not to mention the MIDAS designed preamps.

None-the-less, the US-16×08 does provide 96kHz/24-bit recording resolution, so it’s definitely a solid unit, and the customer review ratings affirm this.

Overall, the Tascam US-16×08 is a good quality interface and may be a good option for those who require iPad, iOS and other tablet connectivity. However, we don’t see many other selling points of this, when comparing it to other interfaces in the list, for example, the cheaper Behringer U-Phoria UMC1820.

Compatibility
  • Mac & PC
  • Supports all major DAWs
Features
  • Affordable 8-Channel audio interface
  • Tough metal chassis
  • Rack-mountable
  • Eight Ultra-HDDA microphone preamps
  • iPad & iOS device compatible
  • Low latency monitoring via the on-board DSP mixer
  • Warranty: 1-Year Manufacturers Warranty
Technical Specs
  • USB 2.0 connectivity
  • MIDI input/output
  • 8 XLR inputs (on the front)
  • 6 TRS inputs (on the back)
  • 8 TRS outputs (on the back)
  • 1 TRS headphones output
  • 2 ‘main’ TRS outputs (on the back)
  • Supports all major DAWs
  • 24-bit/96 kHz resolution
  • 48v Phantom Power
Pros
  • Well known brand
  • Product is well-reviewed and scores favorably in customer review ratings
  • iPad, iOS & Tablet compatible
  • Impressive technical specifications
Cons
  • No real USPs when comparing against other interfaces
  • Fairly old, was released in 2014

On the front of the interface 8 XLR mic pres that are claimed to deliver “clean and quiet operation” with up to 56dB of gain along with 2 jack inputs are present with 10 gain pots. On the rear you’ll find balanced line level inputs 11 through to 16 with outputs 1 through 8 along with MIDI I/O. If you find that you require more than 8 mic pres then the extra inputs on the rear could easily be utilized with some outboard channel strips which would make this a great interface for full band recording applications.

This device also provides two options of mounting. Use either the rack ears for mounting in standard 19” racks or screw in the included legs into the side of the chassis for desktop placement.

The US 16×8 may look like it could be from the last decade as the design is a bit bland but it has some modern power under the hood as it includes DSP, though basic it is very usable. Each of the inputs can have a 4 band EQ and compressor applied in tracking. This is adjustable via the Tascam mixer application which also offers near-latency-free monitor mixing and flexible routing.


Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 Audio Interface Image

Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 Audio Interface

  • ✔ Highly reputable brand
  • ✔ One of the best selling audio interfaces
  • ✔ iPad, iPhone & iPod compatible
  • ✔ Extremely impressive technical specs (192 kHz/24-bit)

The next iteration of this best-selling, award-winning Scarlett series.

Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 Audio Interface - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

The Scarlett 18i8 is the third generation in the iteration of this best-selling, award-winning Scarlett series.

Focusrite has been creating affordable interfaces, which exude premium audio quality since they started the Scarlett series, and the 3rd generation is definitely an interface that packs a punch!

It’s one of the more affordable 8-channel audio interfaces that we’ve featured on the list, yet it provides superior sound quality compared to other interfaces, as it offers 192 kHz/24-bit sound resolution. Not to mention, the unit has recently been released, and they’ve redesigned the preamps for it.

This is a great audio interface from industry favorite Native Instruments. It comes with an extremely clean and symmetrical design making it aesthetically pleasing with any studio setup. This interface features a wide range of connectivity for its price. It features plenty of outputs and inputs, so you should be able to connect it to almost any home studio setup with ease. This will allow you to plug in your studio monitors and your subwoofer with no problem. An excellent interface from one of the best companies in the industry. This interface is a must have for beginner producers looking to step up their production quality.

Construction of the Audio 6 is reassuringly solid. Weighing in at around 1.9 lb (850 grams), the internals feel suitably protected in a rugged but attractive black and silver metal chassis. Once unboxed and we’d finished admiring the overall aesthetic our attention was quickly drawn to the rather huge analog volume control that’s centered on the glossy top panel. In practice, the utility of this oversized dial can’t be overstated and we loved just how convenient it became to make volume adjustments with barely a second thought. The remaining regular sized knobs are made of rubber and turn smoothly, and the various buttons give a satisfying click when pushed. Rubber feet on the bottom of the unit provide stability while protecting the chassis and your desk. Overall we were impressed with the build of this interface.

The unit also includes MIDI input/output, optical input and a SPDIF input/output.

On the brushed aluminum front panel you’ll find two analog XLR/TRS combo inputs for microphones and instruments, each with a complementary gain control and a standard line/instrument switch. XLR retaining locks add a small professional touch. Moving along we find separate controls for monitor and headphone volume. Headphone input, a headphone source switch, a mono switch, and a direct monitoring switch for zero latency monitoring.

Located on the rear are a further two 1/4″ TRS inputs and four balanced 1/4″ outputs, MIDI in/out sockets (for those with legacy synths and drum machines) and digital stereo input and output (SPDIF / RCA). Finally for the rear, we find a USB socket, and a 48V phantom power switch enabling you to connect condenser microphones.

Preliminary browsing through user reviews of the Komplete Audio 6 seemed to suggest some occasional problems with the drivers provided for the interface. We forged ahead with installs on a Windows 10 desktop and a 2015 Apple Macbook Pro, having downloaded the most recent drivers from Native’ website. Installation on Windows 10 of driver version 4.2.0 was quick and painless, resulting in a straightforward settings panel being installed. On our Macbook we’re running OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) which does not appear to be officially supported by the most recent Mac OS X driver, a Native Instruments representative confirmed however that internal testing has revealed no significant problems and indeed installation on our Macbook was as expected with no issues to speak of so far. Stability of the drivers was not in question with us suffering no dropouts, popping or hissing on either operating system.

Audio quality from the Audio 6 is clear and punchy and on par with competition in its price range. We found the gain controls to provide more than enough volume for quiet microphones. However noted that the headphone output is not quite as blaringly loud as some other interfaces. Volume should be sufficient for general use but the maximum level did fall just a little short of our expectations. In contrast, we were thoroughly impressedwhile recording at the interfaces limit of 24-bit/96 kHz. The level of latency experienced was minimal.

Additionally, it includes a wide range of free software, including Pro Tools, Ableton live, etc, so this unit is great for those who potentially don’t already have a DAW or plugins.

The inclusion of four ins and outs plus MIDI in and out combined with the impressive design. It’s rugged construction and solid performance make this a top contender in this price range. Highly recommended. Overall, as you might be able to tell, we particularly like the Scarlett 18i8, and there’s a reason why this is the 3rd generation and it’s one of the best selling audio interfaces of all time.

Compatibility
  • Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, iPod
  • Supports all major DAWs
Features
  • Best-selling audio interface
  • Extremely reputable brand
  • New Technology – Recently released
  • Sleek design & well-built metal chassis
  • Highly portable
  • Newly designed, high-quality microphone preamps
  • iPad, iPhone, iPod device compatible
  • Software included:
    • Avid pro tools, Focusrite creative pack, Ableton live lite, Splice sounds (3-month subscription), XLN audio addictive keys, Softube time and tone bundle. Not forgetting the Focusrite red plugin suite, plugin collective and control.
  • Warranty: 2 Year Manufacturers Warranty
Technical Specs
  • USB Type C connectivity
  • MIDI input/output
  • 4 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the front)
  • 4 TRS inputs (on the back)
  • 4 TRS outputs (on the back)
  • 2 TRS headphones outputs (on the front)
  • Optical input
  • SPDIF input/output
  • Supports all major DAWs
  • 24-bit/192 kHz resolution
  • 48v Phantom Power
Pros
  • Highly reputable brand
  • One of the best selling audio interfaces
  • Brand new generation (new technology)
  • iPad, iPhone & iPod compatible
  • Extremely impressive technical specs (192 kHz/24-bit)
  • Includes lots of software

Behringer U-Phoria Audio Interface Image

Behringer U-Phoria Audio Interface

  • ✔ Extremely affordable audio interface with 8-channels
  • ✔ Plenty of input/output types
  • ✔ Durable, impact-resistant metal chassis
  • ✔ Rack-mountable

The U-Phoria UMC1820 Audiophile by Behringer is the most affordable 8-channel audio interface.

Behringer U-Phoria Audio Interface - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now
Description

The U-Phoria UMC1820 Audiophile by Behringer is the most affordable 8-channel audio interface that we’ve featured on this list.

It’s compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems and works with all major DAWs, including Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Cubase, etc.

The unit is designed and built-in Germany and features 8 MIDAS designed microphone preamps, which is definitely a firm selling point.

All of the channels provide an optional 48v phantom power, great if you’re using condenser microphones.

As for the audio interface’s inputs/outputs, it has a diverse range of ports, including both combination XLR/TRS, TRS, ADAT, MIDI & SPDIF (all of which are specified above in the technical specs section.

The interface provides 96kHz/24-bit recording resolution, and it delivers zero-latency direct monitoring on all analog inputs whilst recording.

Overall, when taking into account the UMC1820’s price, I/O’s, features and 3-year manufacturers warranty, it’s easy to see why it’s an attractive prospect and ultimately a great buy for someone looking for a very affordable 8-channel audio interface.

Compatibility
  • Mac & PC
  • Supports all major DAWs
Features
  • Extremely affordable audio interface with 8-channels
  • Plenty of input/output types
  • Durable, impact-resistant metal chassis
  • Rack-mountable
  • Eight state of the art MIDAS designed preamps
  • Designed & engineered in Germany
  • Warranty: 3-year manufacturers warranty
Technical Specs
  • USB 2.0 connectivity
  • MIDI input/output
  • 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the front)
  • 6 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the back)
  • 8 TRS outputs (on the back)
  • 2 ‘main’ TRS outputs (on the back)
  • ADAT input/output
  • SPDIF input/output
  • Supports all major DAWs
  • 24-bit/96 kHz resolution
  • 48v Phantom Power
Pros
  • The brand is well-known and reputable
  • Product is well-reviewed and scores favorably in customer review ratings
  • Includes a diverse range of inputs/outputs
  • Impressive technical specifications
  • Comes with a 3-year manufacturers warranty
Cons
  • There’s a single phantom power switch for all 8 channels

Apogee One Image

Apogee One

  • ✔ Built-in microphone
  • ✔ Usb 2.0 connection for Mac
  • ✔ Die Cast aluminum chassis
  • ✔ Direct monitoring

Make no mistake, this audio interface is fantastic.

Apogee One - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

Apogee has been making the world's finest audio interfaces for nearly 20 years. From the original Duet to the new One, the Apogee family has expanded to include a product for every budget and application. The Apogee One is a USB 2.0 Hi-Speed audio interface with the same sound quality you're used to, at a price that won't break the bank. Studio-quality microphone preamplifiers, ultra-low noise preamps, crisp AD/DA conversion and a total lack of coloration make One ideal for recording vocals, acoustic instruments, electric guitar, drums, and more. The Apogee One is ideal for musicians, songwriters and producers who want to record in their home, project studio or professional studio.

Being a simple, elegant interface, the Apogee One can be used with a variety of Mac and Windows computers. It has a single microphone/instrument input, a single headphone output, and a generous mixing knob that allows you to adjust the amount of your instruments and vocals in the final mix. It's everything you need to record professional-quality tracks at home or on the go.

The Apogee One features two high-quality, Class A XMAX microphone preamplifiers. These have been considered the industry standard for sound quality in recording for over 30 years, and they're found in some of the best studios in the world. This device offers a simple way to record professional-quality music on a computer.


iZotope Spire Studio Image

iZotope Spire Studio

  • ✔ Very unique design
  • ✔ Record, edit, mix and share tracks from your phone
  • ✔ Professional microphone with award winning sound processing technology
  • ✔ Compatible with Android, iOS and iPad

The iZotope Spire Studio is an audio interface designed with the traveling musician in mind.

iZotope Spire Studio - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

The Spire Studio is a top-of-the-line, premium desktop interface designed for creating amazing sounding recordings with the utmost fidelity. You can record, edit, and share your music with low-latency performance, thanks to the latest USB technology in iZotope's compact interface. The iZotope Spire Studio is a mobile recording setup that combines the functionality of a portable audio interface with the processing power of a full-featured DAW. Spire Studio's transformer-based audio path offers you a broad range of analog and digital recording and monitoring options.

This is a smaller interface that fits in a backpack, but it offers the same sound quality as many larger, more expensive interfaces. It also offers the ability to create up to eight channels of audio. The Spire Studio is a great entry-level interface that provides you with all the necessary tools for recording great-sounding tracks. It has two XLR or balanced TRS inputs for your microphones, as well as two XLR/TRS combo inputs that support both mic and line level signals. You can also add your own headphones for monitoring with dedicated input controls.

The iZotope Spire Studio is the most complete audio recording solution available for audio enthusiasts, podcasters, musicians, and composers. It is a USB-powered audio interface with two condenser microphones that create natural-sounding, studio-quality recordings. It is an uncomplicated powerhouse designed to get the best quality from your microphones, instruments, and other gear.

The Spire Studio from iZotope is a new breed of audio interface, designed for musicians who want high-quality audio, intuitive operation, portability and a stunning, eye-catching design. It can be used with a wide variety of recording and DAW (digital audio workstation) platforms, including Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Studio One, Reason and Ableton Live. The Spire Studio is compatible with most Mac and PC software. A fantastic looking device with all the performance needed for most home and portable recording studios.


Zoom UAC-2 Image

Zoom UAC-2

  • ✔ Recording and playback up to 24-bit/192 kHz
  • ✔ 2 combo balanced XLR/TRS input connectors
  • ✔ Midi interface
  • ✔ Compatible with USB 3.0 Windows or Mac devices

The Zoom UAC-2 is a state-of-the-art audio interface complete with USB 3.0.

Zoom UAC-2 - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

Zoom's UAC-2 (Universal Audio Converter) is an easy-to-use USB audio interface that connects to your computer and instantly transforms it into a full-fledged recording studio. Built on a rock solid foundation of quality, flexibility and ease-of-use, the UAC-2 offers exceptional audio performance for both analog and digital audio. The Zoom UAC-2 is a digital recording interface designed for home-studio use. This two-input, two-output interface features two combo mic/instrument inputs with both XLR and 1/4" connectors. It also provides two TRS main outs, a headphone jack, and MIDI in/out jacks to connect to synths and other gear.

The Zoom UAC-2 is a 2-input, 2-output high-resolution audio interface that features built-in MIDI I/O. It connects to your Mac or PC via USB 2.0, providing two sets of high-impedance inputs, eight balanced outputs over XLR jacks, and a single MIDI In and Out. The UAC-2 is compatible with all major DAWs and provides ultra-high-quality 24-bit, 96 kHz audio that's ideal for recording, sound design, and other audio applications.

The Zoom UAC-2 lets you connect your instruments, microphones, and audio sources to your iPad or Mac computer and record studio-quality sound. It features two combo inputs with XLR/TRS combo jacks, one microphone preamp, and two Hi-Z instrument inputs. The UAC-2 record direct to iPad, iPhone, and Mac computers and is compatible with popular recording software such as GarageBand, Logic Pro, Pro Tools, and more.

If you are serious about making the highest quality recordings, the Zoom UAC-2 is the best tool for the job. This interface features superb quality preamps and is on offer at a great price. The interface is great for recording vocal and instrument tracks alike.


Audient iD4 Image

Audient iD4

  • ✔ Zero-latency monitoring with monitor mix and pan
  • ✔ iD4’s Monitor Pan - create a balanced headphone mix
  • ✔ Monitor Mix feature lets you monitor a blend of both inputs and playbacks
  • ✔ Clean, punchy and musical character

The iD4 is a serious upgrade for any personal project studio or mobile setup.

Audient iD4 - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

The Audient iD4 is a compact and powerful 2-in/ 4-out USB audio interface that is perfect for producers and musicians looking to create high quality recordings with their Mac or PC. With a combination of world-class analogue pre-amp circuitry and superb conversion. It provides a professional and reliable audio interface. The interface is designed to provide professional audio studios with the connectivity they need in a single unit. The iD4 is a brand new product to the Audient range, it is a simple 2 channel interface that uses an extremely reliable and proven audio engine.

At the heart of the iD4 is an advanced FPGA processor called the Hammer, which is capable of processing audio at sample rates of up to 192kHz. The Hammer allows this interface to operate at very low levels of latency, and is also used to process the device's digital outputs and its built-in headphone amplifier. Weighing in at less than 2kg the iD4 features a single mic preamp and 4 analogue channels of I/O on standard TRS jacks. By using a USB connection to your computer, the iD4 can have up to 7 analogue channels of I/O. It also has MIDI I/O and a hardware monitoring path to your DAW. The iD4 records from an unlimited number of digital sources via ADAT optical or SPDIF. The optical and SPDIF inputs can be routed to any of the analogue channels for monitoring.

The iD4 is the most affordable interface in Audient's range, and yet the company has squeezed some incredibly impressive technology into its compact body. It is a 2-channel high-end audio interface featuring Audient's award-winning preamps and AD/DA conversion. Suitable for home recording and project studios, the iD4 features portability.


Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 Image

Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6

  • ✔ High-quality pre-amps
  • ✔ Low-latency performance
  • ✔ Mono input switch for recording vocals or guitars
  • ✔ Direct monitoring for live

This is a great audio interface from industry favorite Native Instruments.

Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

Audio interfaces have been getting smaller and smaller in the last few years, with the introduction of the mini-jack. However, a low quality sound is still being produced through these mini-jack devices. The Native Instruments KA6 is a high quality interface that has been designed and manufactured to be used with a professional studio.

Native Instruments KA6 is designed to deliver a studio quality audio experience to your computer. It is designed by Native Instruments, a company that has been providing musicians with the best in music production equipment for years.

The Komplete Audio 6 is Native Instruments' most affordable interface ever. The new interface features the same high-quality preamps as the older models. As well as a host of upgrades that make it a bit easier to use.

The Native Instruments KA6 is the perfect solution for your home studio. It is easy to use, sounds great, and works with virtually any piece of recording software, such as Pro Tools. The audio interface is equipped with two microphone inputs with analog compression, phantom power, and high-quality 24-bit converters. It is also features stereo inputs for your instruments, a pair of balanced line outputs, and a single headphone output.

When it comes to recording, the quality of your recording equipment is important, especially if you want to record high quality audio. Native Instruments KA6 is used by professionals to record their tracks. It has a wide range of uses in any home recording studio. It is a perfect way to set up a home recording studio for those on a budget.


Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 Image

Focusrite Scarlett 2i4

  • ✔ Includes Pro Tools
  • ✔ Compatible with Mac OS X 10.10 and higher
  • ✔ Two natural-sounding Scarlett mic preamps
  • ✔ Class-leading conversion and sample rates

Claimed to be The best selling USB audio interface in the world.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

Focusrite continued their market dominance with the 2nd generation Scarlett series of audio interfaces, which included the immensely popular Scarlett 2i4. The company even say it is, “The best selling USB audio interface in the world”.

From the desktop 2i4 and Solo units to the rackmountable 18i20, with eight built-in mic preamps and ADAT digital expandability, there are Scarlett interfaces to suit most studios. In fact, they claim that since its launch in 2011, the 2i4 has become the best-selling USB audio interface in the world. Five years is a long time in music technology, however, and the company have now ‘refreshed’ their range of USB interfaces to reflect new developments and changing priorities.

With its Saffire range of interfaces remaining popular but now a well-established brand, it’s perhaps no surprise that a new, even more compact range has been released, by the name of Scarlett. Featuring bold styling, tank-like construction and, of course, the fabled preamps, the question is, does it offer enough to pique the interest and requirements of a new audio interface generation?

The Focusrite Scarlett is a range of audio interfaces that cover pretty much every scenario. But in the budget end the 2i4 gives a decent step up from the Native Instruments Audio 2. The 2i4, as with the Audio 2, has two pre-amped microphone inputs that can also support guitars or line level. There’s a direct monitoring switch and a nice big volume knob.eadphones and on the back, you get jack outputs and RCA phonos for different output options. You have pad switches on the inputs for some instant gain reduction. A balancing knob for monitoring and a headphone output where you can choose which outputs you are listening to. The LED monitoring is shown as a ring around the gain knobs which is quite nice, although less precise than the 5 segments on the Audio 2. The MIDI In/Out ports are very useful if you have external MIDI gear.

Welcome as all these hardware tweaks are, it’s Focusrite’s software engineers who have delivered the headline improvements in these second-generation Scarletts. However, the fruits of their work vary depending on which model you have. The smaller, bus-powered models, including the 2i4, have no control panel software of their own. On Mac OS, the Scarletts use Apple’s class-compliant driver, as do many other rival interfaces; but, interestingly, the company offer an optional utility which can reduce its operating audio delay.

All in all, this interface is exactly what you’d expect from Focsurite – a great-sounding, well-designed interface that packs plenty of flexibility into its slender frame. A lack of digital I/O may prove a stumbling block for some but for such a modest price, this interface deserves to sell by the truckload.

The Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 2nd Gen continues the legacy of its predecessor with its high ratings and many recommendations. Commendations point to its sound quality as its best feature, while others point to its reliability as another strong point. Be it for condenser or dynamic mics, the 2i4 got a lot of kudos from satisfied users, which include singers, instrumentalists, podcasters, voice over actors and more. Its elegant appeal also got a lot of thumbs up, with many specifically referring to its distinct red color and halo lights.

The solid build, clear sound, and low latency make the 2nd gen 2i4 a good option for an inexpensive entry-level audio interface. Great for recording guitars and vocals, especially for beginners. The main downside with the 2i4 is the limited amount of inputs and outputs. Other similarly-priced brands like the Steinberg UR22MII and PreSonus AudioBox iTwo add MIDI in and outs and iPad support, but most MIDI equipment support USB anyway so it’s not a big advantage unless you have a specific desire for it.

It comes in a rugged red box with all the controls on the front rather than having some on the top like the Audio 2. You get a neat bundle of software including some exclusive plugins, Ableton Live Lite, and Pro Tools First. Being a consistent top selling audio interface for many years, the Scarlett 2i4 2nd Gen is easy to recommend. Especially for those who want good sound quality mixed with eye candies.


More Information Regarding Audio Interfaces Under $500 (2022)

What is an Audio Interface

In essence an audio interface allows you to take audio signals and pump them in and out of your computer. The decision on which one is right for you simply comes down to a combination of your budget and how you like to work. Simplistic models exist that simply convert analog audio signals to digital audio signals on the way to your computer. This is because your computer will have software such as pro tools that is able to understand digital audio signals. Allowing you to layer, manipulate and refine the sound and then pump out to a speaker or amplifier. The audio interface will convert your digital audio signals back to analog signals on the way out of your computer. This way the speaker is able to play the sound for you to hear. These types of audio interfaces are known as AD/DA (Analog to Digital/Digital to Analog) converters.

Connection Types

Audio interfaces under $500 come with all sorts of connection types allowing you to connect to your computer via USB, thunderbolt & firewire to name a few. USB is the most popular and widely used mainly because it comes in many different forms ranging from Type-A, 2.0, & Micro USB through to the latest Type-C connections. Thunderbolt connections are the fastest. You'll find these are used on some of the more modern and high end audio interfaces available on the market.

Price Range

The price of top quality audio interfaces has fallen dramatically in recent years. This is great news if you're looking to get hold of a device that will give you a fantastic sound without costing the earth. This is because many brands have taken their previous generation audio interface models and repackaged them. Usually with some modern nuances to create a budget model of their current range. Don't be put off by this, these audio interfaces under $500 are still great value. They might not have all the latest bells and whistles but they get the job done. Which means you don't need to pay substantial amounts of money for them.

Depending on what you want to achieve, you'll priorities different features when finding the best audio interfaces under $500 for your situation. If space is an issue you'll look for a small to medium sized interface that provides you a great experience and end result while not taking up a large portion of your limited space. If you're in need of a portable audio interface then you'll probably rule out any rack mountable models. Instead you'll be looking for small battery powered options.

Inputs & Outputs

Audio interfaces under $500 come with a range of inputs and outputs. Some will have line inputs, mic preamps, headphone outputs, mic inputs & many other inputs and outputs. Make sure the model you consider has what you need. If you're kitting out a home studio then you'll be looking for the best audio interface which features (such as phantom power) the inputs and outputs you need at an affordable price range.

Some of the best audio interfaces under $500 come with software as part of the package. Pro tools is a popular editing software that we've seen offered as part of audio interface packages in the past. Purchasing an audio interface that comes with a reputable editing software is a great way to justify paying more for your audio interface because you're saving money elsewhere.

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