Best Audio Interfaces Under $500

Top 10 Best Audio Interfaces Under $500 (July 2020)

Updated - June 27, 2020
Audio Interfaces

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.

Audio Interface 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 USB Type-A, USB 2, & Micro USB through to the latest USB 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.

Audio Interface 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.

Audio Interface 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.

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

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.

Best Audio Interfaces Under $500 - Top 10
    1. Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 USB Audio Interface - Made by Focusrite, the industry leaders in music technology
    2. PreSonus Studio 1824 Audio Interface - The Presonus Studio 1824c 8-channel audio interface is a premium-priced, rack-mountable model.
    3. Apogee One - Make no mistake, this audio interface is fantastic.
    4. IK Multimedia AXE I/O - IK Multimedia has one of the most well-regarded software guitar amp systems attainable in AmpliTube.
    5. M-Audio AIR 2X2 - M-Audio AIR 2X2 is one of the most affordable 2-in/2-out audio interface we've listed.
    6. Apogee Duet USB Audio Interface - The Apple of the Audio Interface world
    7. Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 with Pro Tools - This interface will take your growing studio to the next level.
    8. Roland Rubix24 - The Roland Rubix24 is an audio interface which is really designed for recording and mixing purposes.
    9. Tascam US-16x08 - The US-16x08 feature set represents the barest of bones for audio interfaces of this type.
    10. M-Audio M-Track 8X4M Audio Interface - An 8-channel audio interface built into an elegant, sleek metal chassis with black and silver trim.
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Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 USB Audio Interface

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 USB Audio Interface

  • ✔ Highly reputable brand
  • ✔ Very impressive technical specs
  • ✔ Tried and tested, as it’s the 3rd Generation of the product
  • ✔ Ultra-low latency
Made by Focusrite, the industry leaders in music technology

The Scarlett 18i20 (3rd Gen) by Focusrite is their third iteration of this phenomenally successful series. And with each generation, Focusrite seems to iron out any flaws and add functionality.

It is an 18 input unit, with 8 XLR/TRS combination inputs, as well as a MIDI input & output, S/PDIF input & output, and the ADAT inputs/outputs.

The reason that this interface features two sets of ADAT inputs/outputs as it requires both sets to be used simultaneously when running the unit at 96kHz.

The unit itself is very physically pleasing, and can be rack-mounted. It also includes a range of software, which will delight any musicians who may be starting out.

As for the technical capabilities of the unit, as expected, it can provide a 192kHz sample rate, which is very impressive.

Overall, since it’s extremely new, there are few customer reviews in existence. However, when taking into account the previous versions and their customer reviews, it definitely suggests that this is an interface to look at.

 

Compatibility
  • Mac & PC
  • Supports all major DAWs

 

Features
  • Newly released audio interface
  • 18 inputs and 20 outputs
  • Eight high-quality mic preamps
  • Made by Focusrite, who are leaders in the music tech industry
  • 3rd Generation of the Scarlett 18i20
  • Durable metal chassis which is rack-mountable
  • Sleek aesthetic design
  • Includes software
    • Pro Tools, Ableton Live Lite, Softube time and tone bundle, Focusrite’s Red plug-in Suite, 3-month splice subscription and 1 free XLN Addictive Keys virtual instrument
  • Requires power adapter
  • Warranty: 2-Year Manufacturers Warranty

 

Technical Specs
  • USB C connectivity
  • MIDI input/output
  • 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the front)
  • 6 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the back)
  • 2 TRS/Headphone outputs (on the front)
  • 10 TRS/Line outputs (on the back)
  • S/PDIF input & output
  • 2 x ADAT input & output
  • 24-bit/192 kHz resolution
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz Frequency Response
  • 48v Phantom Power

 

Pros
  • Highly reputable brand
  • New technology, with it being a new release
  • Tried and tested, as it’s the 3rd Generation of the product
  • Ultra-low latency
  • 2-year manufacturers warranty
  • Very impressive technical specs

 

Cons
  • Phantom power can only be applied to bulk inputs (i.e 1-4, 4-8)
PreSonus Studio 1824 Audio Interface

PreSonus Studio 1824 Audio Interface

  • ✔ Best-selling audio interface series
  • ✔ Sleek black metal chassis
  • ✔ Rack mountable
  • ✔ Switchable “Air” function
The Presonus Studio 1824c 8-channel audio interface is a premium-priced, rack-mountable model.
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The Presonus Studio 1824c is a premium-priced, rack-mountable audio interface suitable for any professional musician/sound engineer’s studio setup.

It comes with a range of inputs/outputs, including 8 XLR/TRS inputs and 8 TRS outputs (not including the 2 main TRS outputs), as well as MIDI, S/PDIF and ADAT connectivity.

PreSonus is known for producing high-quality audio equipment, and the 1824c doesn’t disappoint, with its high sound resolution (192kHz/24-bit) and XMAX preamps.

Additionally, the unit is compatible with most popular DAWs and even provides iPad/Android compatibility.

Overall, this unit is priced at quite a premium price, and we think that this is a fantastic choice for those wanting plenty of inputs/outputs… However, we personally prefer the next discussed Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (3rd Gen) which is the same price.

Compatibility
  • Mac, PC, iPad & Android
  • Supports all major DAWs
Features
  • Highly reputable manufacturer
  • Sleek metal chassis
  • Rackmountable
  • Low latency unit with high-quality XMAX mic preamps
  • LED monitoring on front of the interface
  • Compatible with iPad* & Andoid*
  • Software included:
    • PreSonus Studio One Artist
  • Warranty: 2 Year Manufacturers Warranty
Technical Specs
  • USB Type C or USB-A connectivity (2 versions)
  • MIDI input/output
  • 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the front)
  • 6 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the back)
  • 2 TRS headphones outputs (on the front)
  • 8 TRS outputs (on the back)
  • 2 TRS main outputs (on the back)
  • S/PDIF input/output
  • 8 channels of ADAT Optical I/O (4 channels at 96 kHz)
  • Supports all major DAWs
  • 24-bit/192 kHz resolution
  • 48v Phantom Power
Pros
  • Reputable brand
  • Plenty of Inputs/Outputs
  • 2-year manufacturers warranty
  • Impressive technical specifications
  • Rack-mountable
  • Compatible with iPad & Android
Apogee One

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.
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There’s not too much to say here, besides from the fact that Apogee create really high sound quality audio interfaces. However, from the research done, where Apogee lack, is in their customer service. Which isn’t necessarily something you want. Considering you may have questions regarding the interface if things were not to work! On a more positive note, Apogee has a great website, with plenty of information, and video tutorials on how to set up the device and even recording tips & tricks.

Make no mistake, this audio interface is fantastic, it was one of the best, highest sound quality audio interfaces I’ve ever used.

Apogee One for Mac is essentially the same interface as the previous generation’s Apogee One. This newest version has a silver design (which, admittedly, looks pretty sleek) and eschews the iOS connection cables to save the purchaser $100. The converters are the same, the features are the same, and physically it sports the same dimensions.

If you’re not aware of the Apogee One concept, allow me to enlighten you. It’s an incredibly compact audio interface that sports an XLR input. it also sports a 1/4” input tuned for instrument level sources. The XLR input can push out phantom power as needed, and you can utilize both inputs at once. These 2 inputs are accessible via breakout cable, cutting down on the clutter when you’re not using them as you can stow the cable elsewhere.

The Apogee One for iPad, iPhone and Mac is the best portable DAC and headphone amp I’ve tested. By portable, I mean one that plugs into an iOS device and needs no external power to play. It’s the best because it has the most and cleanest output, it’s the best made (all metal), and it has the best ergonomics: a big volume knob right where you need it.

The One comes at a bit of a premium compared to other 2-channel audio interfaces, and it’s pretty clear why. The products finish is stellar, and the dynamic range for the microphone input is far beyond your standard 2-channel interface’s level of excellence. The XLR input on the One is incredibly clean. It has plenty of headroom, and sounds a lot better than it should.

The Apogee One is quite possibly the best interface for the price you pay. Since most interfaces at that price range are almost all the same. The Apogee One stands out for its professional finish and the fact that is has an outstanding microphone.

Forget about everything you know about internal mics. This microphone has amazing frequency response and clarity even for vocals. The Apogee website has demonstrations of all the different applications of the ONE with the internal mic. The end product will surprise you.

Not only does it sound fantastic; it’s super easy to use. Plug it in, and the big knob controls volume in 1 decibel clicks over a wide range. I have no idea why consumer gear makes it so hard to control levels; this piece of gear does it right with a big knob. This metal beauty is well padded and isn’t going to slide around your desk. It’s the perfect combination of sturdiness and lightweight. It’s a solid bar of precision, and the volume control is a dream to spin.

Should you change your mind after owning the One and wish that you purchased iOS/Mac edition, don’t worry—Apogee will sell you an iOS interface kit for $99. The interface itself is not limited or hobbled in any way, it’s exactly the same as the One for iOS/Mac, just minus the cables. It’s nice to know the option is there should you want to exercise it down the road.

IK Multimedia AXE I/O

IK Multimedia AXE I/O

  • ✔ 3 different preamp circuits to choose from
  • ✔ Amp output for easy re-amping
  • ✔ Seamless amplitude integration
  • ✔ A professional 2 in/5 out audio interface and controller
IK Multimedia has one of the most well-regarded software guitar amp systems attainable in AmpliTube.
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IK Multimedia has one of the most well-regarded software guitar amp systems attainable in AmpliTube. They have decided to combine that software technology with a new premium audio interface packed full of features perfect for any guitarist. It’s called the AXE I/O — well, of course, it is!

  • 2 in / 5 out 24-bit, 192 kHz audio interface with 2 mic preamps, 2 instrument inputs
  • ACTIVE / PASSIVE pick-up selector matches your guitar’s pickups for ideal gain levels
  • Z-Tone adjustable impedance control coaxes a wider range of tones from your instrument
  • PURE and JFET instrument input channels keeps your sound totally clean or adds subtle saturation
  • Low noise AMP OUT for easy re-amping without the need for additional direct boxes or splitters
  • Register to receive a massive software bundle with AmpliTube 4 Deluxe, Ableton Live 10 Lite and 10 T-RackS mixing plug-ins

AXE I/O is a 2 input, 5 output audio interface in a ruggedized rack style box. On the input, there’s a “Z-Tone” impedance adapting circuit that matches up to your pickups. It is however, switchable between passive and active. The fully discrete input circuit has a choice of Pure or Class A JFET. These take you from transparent to tube-like at the throw of a switch. The unexpected 5th output is an “Amp Out” designed to go straight to a guitar amplifier. You can process your recordings through external gear rather than committing them to your project.

All the guitar amp and cabinet modeling are done in the included AmpliTube 4 Deluxe. With over 140 ultra-accurate models of guitar and bass amps, cabs, pedals, mics and more. You can dial in what you require via the front preset knob. On the back are two pedal inputs for expressive control that can be mapped directly to the software. They’ve even integrated a guitar tuner directly on the front panel.

And, like the Sono, it will do all the monitoring as well as the audio recordings. The AXE I/O also has a handy MIDI In and Out port for connecting keyboards or floorboard controllers.

M-Audio AIR 2X2

M-Audio AIR 2X2

  • ✔ Hi-Speed USB-C connection
  • ✔ Studio grade capture
  • ✔ XLR+1/4" TRS combo input
  • ✔ 5-pin MIDI in/out
M-Audio AIR 2X2 is one of the most affordable 2-in/2-out audio interface we've listed.

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.

Apogee Duet USB Audio Interface

Apogee Duet USB Audio Interface

  • ✔ Very reputable brand
  • ✔ The most portable audio interface on the list
  • ✔ Beautifully engineered, with fantastic aesthetics
  • ✔ High-quality preamps and sound quality
The Apple of the Audio Interface world
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The Apogee Duet 2 is the world’s best-sounding and most convenient computer DAC for desktop audio. It’s also a professional monitor controller and headphone amplifier. The best part is it all sits on your desk with one big, beautiful knob for easy fingertip control. Building on the success of the original Duet, while taking into consideration customer feedback, Apogee has set a new standard in A/D conversion for home and project studio with the Duet 2. Simply put, after several years of working at home with an original Mbox, opening my first session with the Duet 2 was akin to listening to the song with brand-new ears.

The Apogee Duet is the Apple MacBook Pro of the Audio Interface industry. It’s sleek design is highly attractive, very durable and extremely portable. Perfect for the professional musician who wants high-quality recordings in the studio and on the road.

The Apogee Duet is the perfect audio interface for anyone looking for more inputs/outputs than the Apogee One. Whilst it doesn’t feature the same in-built microphone that the Apogee One has. It has legendary status microphone pre-amps and internal circuitry, for that high-quality sound.

There are cheaper audio interfaces than those provided by Apogee across their range but the first thing to note is that if you’re Mac-based, you’ll struggle to find a company whose approach is so tailored to Apple’s product-range, with rock-solid integration guaranteed. While we always think break-out cables don’t provide the most professional-looking solution. We’re aware that this is simply personal taste. The implementation of a combined cable here makes perfect sense, allowing the Duet 2 unit to fit snugly in a laptop bag.

The audio quality of Duet 2 is extremely good too, blowing most of the competition away not just among the array of cheaper interfaces available but also out-performing some of those retailing for higher prices.

The Apogee Duet is a stylish, AD/DA audio converter that provides 2 analog inputs with mic preamps and selectable 48 volt phantom power for connecting microphones, instruments or line-level equipment. 4 analog outputs including 2 balanced 1/4” outs for speakers or outboard gear, 1/4” stereo headphone output. A USB 2 connection to connect to a Mac; a MIDI port; and a digital connection for iOS devices.

Apogee units are pricier than similar interfaces from companies like Edirol, Steenberg, ProSonus. However the Apogee claim to fame is outstanding audio quality and great build quality. I found the Duet easy to set up and configure. The controls and the built-in screen simplify adjustments and the Duet looks great on the desktop. The only downside is that the Duet costs about twice as much as competitive units.

A big benefit of the Duet is that it works on both Mac and iOS devices. Giving you the ability to capture high-quality audio on your phone.

In order to record a microphone or analog musical instrument, we need to convert the analog signal into something the computer can read. Conversely, in order to hear audio stored on our computer or iOS device on something other than the built-in speakers, we also desire to convert the ones and zeros of the computer into something our speakers can play.

Overall, the Apogee Duet is a fantastic audio interface for those musicians who are fine with having only 2 inputs/4 outputs. Ideally, we imagine it’s suited to musicians who are on the move and want to record high-quality audio, as well as those who might not want the larger interfaces and want the premium Apogee preamps at a more affordable price (in comparison to other Apogee products).

Compatibility
  • Mac & PC & iOS devices (including iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, with the lightning and 30-pin cable)
  • Supports all major DAWs
Features
  • Apogee is the ‘Apple of the Audio Interface world’
  • Incredibly beautiful, minimalistic design
  • Impeccable sound quality with 2 fantastic mic preamps
  • Ability to connect to iOS devices
  • Premium-spec build quality
  • Very portable
  • Designed and built in California, USA
  • Warranty: 1-Year Manufacturers Warranty
Technical Specs
  • USB 2.0 connectivity
  • 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs
  • 2 Line outputs
  • 1 Line stereo headphone output
  • MIDI connectivity (USB-A Type)
  • 24-bit/192 kHz resolution
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz Frequency Response
  • Requires power adapter
  • 48v Phantom Power
Pros
  • Very reputable brand
  • Very portable
  • Been utilized for many commercial projects
  • Beautifully engineered, with fantastic aesthetics
  • High-quality preamps and sound quality
  • 1-year manufacturers warranty
Cons
  • Only 2 inputs/4 outputs
  • Need to purchase the 30-pin lightning cable separately, for connection to iOS devices
  • Has been on the market since around 2013, so the technology isn’t exactly new
Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 with Pro Tools

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 with Pro Tools

  • ✔ Class-leading conversion and sample rates
  • ✔ Focusrite iOS Control app
  • ✔ Two headphones output
  • ✔ Eight natural-sounding Scarlett mic preamps
This interface will take your growing studio to the next level.
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Another rack-mount choice in the mid-level category is the 18i20, which is the older brother of the Solo. Loaded with tons of features and I/O possibilities, this rack-mount is a solid choice for any mid-level studio setup. Not to mention, this interface will take your growing studio to the next level with its amazing sound quality and expansion options. The price seems to be very right with this rack-mount, it offers nearly all the same features and possibilities of competing rack-mounts but at half the cost.

Focusrite’s Scarlett audio interfaces are now a well established range, and using the same mic preamp design as the FireWire Saffire range, it’s a given that the front end is going to be at least as good as any at this price.

The 18i20 has 18 inputs and 20 outputs, and is effectively a Saffire Pro 40 with USB 2.0 rather than FireWire. Though there are a few notable differences. Such as word clock only being on the 18i20 and no optical S/PDIF option for the 18i20. Although it may not appear to be a big step up from the Scarlett 18i6, they’re worlds apart in terms of physical connectivity.

At 3kg, the 18i20 is a hefty unit. Although the Scarlett series’ red livery has been carried through to the case. The black front panel is a far more serious and professional-looking affair. It all feels very solid. While we prefer the rubberised black mic preamp knobs to the shiny silver monitor and headphone knobs. It’s obviously not a deal breaker.

Like many current audio interfaces, the 18i20 tackles the ‘studio hub’ role successfully, bringing together input, output, software monitoring and hardware monitoring. Having two separately configurable headphone feeds, for example, is very useful. As are the physical Mute and Dim buttons and additional software monitoring options (including mono).

Two front-mounted mic/line/instrument inputs are joined by six rear-mounted mic/line inputs (all on combo connectors). All eight mic preamps feature individual front panel gain knobs, along with 48V phantom power switched on/off in two banks of four. Inputs 1 and 2 get manual switchover for high impedance instrument input and a 10dB pad switch.

There are ten analogue outputs on balanced TRS jacks, the first two of which are labelled ‘Monitor’. The front panel also has two dedicated headphone outputs with individual level controls. The other ten inputs and outputs are digital, with stereo S/PDIF via RCA and eight further channels on ADAT lightpipe. The latter can also handle S/PDIF or four channels of SMUX at 96kHz.

Lastly, there’s MIDI In/Out, word clock out and a mains input socket. The 18i20 can also run as a signal mixer in standalone mode. Display-wise, the front panel hosts eight 5-part LED input meters as well as USB Active and clock Locked indicators.

The combo inputs automatically switch between mic and line sources based on plug type, and the 60dB of gain handles low-level signals well. The input LEDs do the job, although there’s no option to switch them to output monitoring. One minor issue: in some circumstances, the monitor mute and level can be a bit slow to respond. Focusrite say it’s a software problem that’ll be fixed soon in an update.

Phantom power can only be turned throughout inputs 1-4 and 5-8 at a time. No on an as needed. so if only input 3 needs phantom power you must push the phantom power 1-4 button engaging it for all 4 inputs. Don’t worry as this will NOT damage or affect the other inputs using dynamic mics and will only hurt older ribbon mics.

Comes with more than enough software to start and point you to more if you’re new and feel the need to build up a plugin collection. It has everything you need and nothing you don’t. Cannot be beat for the price. Metal construction, beautiful red brushed aluminum on the top, it’s a shame to rack mount it. Knobs and buttons are heavy and confident as well as the solid click when inserting cables. It has some weight to it too. I’m blown away by the ability and features of this amp! No regrets and now I see why this audio interface for mac is so popular!

Roland Rubix24

Roland Rubix24

  • ✔ 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.
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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.

Tascam US-16x08

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.
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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.

M-Audio M-Track 8X4M Audio Interface

M-Audio M-Track 8X4M Audio Interface

  • ✔ Very well known audio interface manufacturer
  • ✔ Compact audio interface
  • ✔ Sleek black interface with metal chassis
  • ✔ Portable
An 8-channel audio interface built into an elegant, sleek metal chassis with black and silver trim.
Be Advised - Possibly Low Stock
Buy From Amazon.com

The M-Audio M-Track 8x4M is an 8-channel audio interface, built into an elegant, sleek metal chassis, with black and silver trim. It looks the part, but how does it sound?

Well, it boasts low-noise crystal preamps and high-quality A/D converters, which give it that premium-quality sound.

M-Audio have been sure to only use the best internal circuitry, with the unit having a roundtrip latency of around 2.59ms, which is extremely low.

The unit records at 24-bit/192kHz, and come with a large software suite, which includes a lite edition of Pro Tools, Ableton Live Lite and much more (all shown above in the features section).

As far as the unit’s connectivity is concerned, it has all of the basics which include XLR, TRS, and MIDI input/output (all shown in detail within the technical specs section).

Overall, the M-Audio M-Track 8x4M is definitely a great unit for those who want premium-quality sound. However, we don’t see how it tops the formerly spoken about Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (3rd Gen).  None-the-less, the decision is of course, entirely up to you!

Compatibility
  • Mac & PC
  • Supports all major DAWs
Features
  • Very well known audio interface manufacturer
  • Compact audio interface
  • Sleek black interface with metal chassis
  • Portable
  • Low-noise crystal preamps
  • Near to zero latency (2.59ms roundtrip)
  • Software included:
    • Pro Tools, Ableton Live Lite, Eleven Lite, AIR’s Creative FX Collection and an AIR Instrument plugin suite.
  • Warranty: 1 Year Manufacturers Warranty
Technical Specs
  • USB Type C connectivity
  • MIDI input/output
  • 4 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the back)
  • 2 TRS inputs (on the front)
  • 2 TRS inputs (on the back)
  • 2 TRS headphones outputs (on the front)
  • 4 TRS outputs (on the back)
  • Supports all major DAWs
  • 24-bit/192 kHz resolution
  • 48v Phantom Power
Pros
  • Well known brand
  • Low latency times (2.59ms)
  • Impressive technical specifications
  • Portable
Cons
  • No ADAT/SPDIF Connectivity
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