9 Best Audio Interfaces Under $200 for Effortless Music Recording
Last updated: Apr 21, 2020
63Hours of Research
Gone are the days when you needed a contract to produce and market your music. Thanks to improved technology, recording music is not only effortless but also basically free. With a smartphone, you can easily record yourself singing with its recording feature. However, for professional recording quality, you need a more advanced tool like an audio interface. With the best audio interface under 200 dollars, you can get the clearest and most accurate recording without hurting your wallet.
There is a myriad of audio interfaces out there, and they are not all the same. Picking the best for your musical needs within your budget can be daunting. We came up with this guide to help you make the right choice. We considered over 30 products and ended up reviewing 9 in detail. Our best overall choice was the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface. Its ability to offer the highest possible performance and richest sound quality with its superior features could not be matched.
Top 9 Audio Interfaces Under $200 Review 2020
You can trust our products to be the best in the market as we spent an adequate amount of time and used the best sources researching. Some of the features on which we based our choices include; dimensions, weight, MIDI in/out, audio resolution and connectivity, among others. They determine the efficiency and performance level of the audio interfaces. There are a comparison table, in-depth product reviews, and detailed buying guide with all the ideal information you need to know before investing in an audio interface.
This audio interface is a popular option for most musicians for all the right reasons. Its simplicity, durable build and powerful performance set it apart. It also offers excellent value for its price.
The interface comes in an incredibly lightweight and compact body. It is built to last with a metal housing that gives it maximum protection thus an ideal choice for travelling with.
Using it is very straightforward thanks to the clear labels on the 2 XLR/TRS inputs. What’s more, all the inputs have corresponding gain knobs that are backlit with LED indicators to show you if your signal is too hot or clipping. This makes levelling super easy.
You are also provided with 2 outputs on the back of the interface to connect to your professional studio monitors and any USB connection.
You won’t need an external power with this interface because it is USB bus-powered. Its Mic preamps also sound really great like the ones in high-end expensive audio interfaces.
Another plus for this interface is that it comes with a bundles software which is an ideal feature for beginners. It also features Ableton Live Lie and Pro Tools first which are both top industry digital audio workstations.
Also featured are 2 DAWs which give you the chance to try both options to find what suits you best. If you find them unsuitable, you can use other DAWs as the interface is compatible with all the major ones.
In a nutshell, this feature-packed solid interface might just be what you are looking for to make the best sounding music on a tight budget.
Are you on the market for a premium quality audio interface with a lot of inputs and outputs? This interface offers you the ultimate sound recording quality while still allowing you to plug in the extra instruments you need to achieve a solid performance.
This BEHRINGER is a little compact interface that you can easily move round in your home studio or travel with. Also, it won’t weigh you down or break your back.
When it comes to the number of outputs and inputs, you can’t argue. The interface has 4 inputs and 4 outputs with which you can connect up to 4 Mics or other instruments at the same time.
Another exciting feature on this interface is the MIDAS-designed preamps which offer you the best-quality audio mixing and solid performance with the +48V phantom power.
Moreover, the interface is USB bus-powered so that you wouldn’t need an external power source.
Overall, this is a fantastic choice for anyone looking for extensive input options on a tight budget. It is one of the best 4 by 4 audio interfaces under 200 dollars in the market.
Multiple inputs and output options
Compact and lightweight build
MIDAS designed preamps
It only has 1 phantom switch for all the 4 channels
If you are looking for an interface to hit the road with this PreSonus model might be your answer. It is the best portable interface of the entire bunch reviewed on this list. Its pretty little build does not compromise on efficiency and quality performance.
No matter how rough the road gets, you will appreciate this interface’s sturdy steel chassis build. The heavy-duty material guarantees you outstanding durability regardless of where you choose to use it, and its beautiful blue design cannot go unnoticed.
You will enjoy its company on the whole trip with its simple interface that consists of 2 front panel instrument/mic inputs, a pair of balanced line-level and mix controls. The mix controls allow you to achieve zero-latency monitoring by blending your computer playback system and input signal.
As if that’s enough, this interface has a main output level control, an LED clip indicator for every channel and a headphone jack level control.
Moreover, with the studio magic plug-in suite, you can add a ton of special effects to songs that you have never imagined before.
Overall, this an excellent option for anyone looking for an interface they can throw in a backpack or guitar case but still be able to give an outstanding performance.
Mackie is an unpopular brand in the world of audio interfaces but highly underrated for its top-notch quality products. This interface does not fall short of the Mackie standards as it is durably built with superior features and first-rate performance.
The stylish and robust build of this interface is one of the impressive things about it besides its attractive price tag. It has an aluminium case that is smooth and nice to the touch without any sharp edges yet very sturdy.
When it comes to features, the interface has technically everything you would need for high-quality music recording. First off, it features boutique-quality Onyx Mic preamps and 48v phantom power that works exceptionally with condenser mics.
Additionally, there is 1/4-inch TRS output with Hi-Z switch that you can use to connect other instruments like guitar, bass and others.
Moreover, it is USB bus-powered, so you wouldn’t need any installations, and it offers direct monitoring.
The Tracktion Music Production software bundle featured on the interface is highly irresistible, and it makes it one of the best USB audio interfaces under 200 dollars.
Furthermore, it has smooth, balanced and crystal clear preamps which are extremely quiet in the usable range.
All considered, this great recording package combined with your talents will make prime time music records that will make you want to do more and better.
Are you just getting started in music recording? This PreSonus audio interface will give you the best ushering into the world of making your own music. It is an ideal choice for beginners, small studios or mobile recording scenarios because of its sturdy, compact build and high-quality recording.
You can easily shove the interface in your rucksack or guitar case and use it with a laptop for a variety of tasks wherever you like.
Like with other PreSonus audio interfaces, you will get a wide range of highly usable workhorse plug-ins on this interface, and you will find that they are a step above those that come with other DAWs.
When it comes to hardware, very few brands offer a bundle like PreSonus, and this model is nothing short. First off, it is USB powered and can record up to 24-bit. It also features mic/instrument dual inputs, 48v phantom power that works well with condenser Mics, headphones, a pair of line outs and MIDI connectors.
As for software, you get the Studio Magic plug-in suite that allows you to channel your creativity in recording music by adding effects.
The bottom line is, it’s almost hard to find such an affordable audio interface with a high-quality build, an incredible amount of power, and multiple superior features.
This is an ideal pick for anyone looking for something they use to create simple tracks on the go. This is because unlike many audio interfaces, you can connect TASCAN to your iPhone or iPad. It is popularly known to perform well on iOS and is one of the best audio interfaces for mac under 200 dollars.
The interface has a solid professional-looking body built to last in an ergonomic design. Looks aside, the interface packs a punch when it comes to performance with several first-rate features.
It features 2 mic/line preamps which pack a thump with up to 57 dB sound capacity. The OP amps are also designed to offer you the richest sound quality. Additionally, there is 48v phantom power for condenser microphones for both inputs.
Moreover, it features MIDI in-and-out ports through which you can connect to controllers, synths, drum machines and other instruments.
Another plus for this interface is that it has separate volume controls for headphone use and line output. So, whenever you have them both connected, you can set a maximum level for each.
The interface also features direct monitoring which allows you to monitor the input signal with zero latency.
All in all, this interface is a brilliant choice for anyone looking for an interface they can use with a MIDI keyboard or controller on a Mac or any iOS device.
This is your best bet if you are on the look for the biggest thump for your bucks. This Behringer model offers exceptional value for its price with its perfect feature set and top-notch performance.
It is highly portable with its petite body housed in a durable protective case. Thus it can withstand the life of the road. It is also super-easy to use and doesn’t require any setup thanks to its USB connection.
The interface features high-resolution 48kHz converters that guarantee you high-end audio quality. It also allows you to record without any distraction as it has low latency.
What’s more, the UCA202 has 2 analogue mono inputs and outputs plus an extra S/PDIF optical output for direct analogue to digital conversion.
All considered this is a gem of a product that is hard to ignore. Anybody would love something that doesn’t hurt their wallets but still does the job well.
This is one of the best 2 channel USB interfaces you can lay your hands on out there. It is very affordable but has a superior feature set with high-end specs like quality pre-amps, MIDI I/O and mix balance monitoring only found in the pricey options.
The UR22 feels pretty solid and well-built with a metallic outer casing that enhances its durability. It is also pretty simple and easy to use with high compatibility with many output devices.
It is also iOs compatible, and you can use it to record audio directly to an iPad or iPhone.
With its 6.3mm output connectors, you would never need adapters or converters to connect to your studio monitors, mixers and other devices in your home studio. Additionally, it features high-quality pre-amps that guarantee you clean and distortion-free audio.
The high 192kHz sample rates also contribute to the interface’s capability of recording high-quality sound.
Furthermore, monitoring your recording would never pose a challenge thanks to the interface’s mix balance knob that allows you to adjust the headphone output balance in favor of the recording signal or input signal.
This interface is worth considering as it offers incomparable superiority in functionality and efficiency. It is hard to come across such qualities with such an attractive price tag.
Here is another super affordable audio interface that offers a high quality recording that is crystal clear with zero latency. It is hard to find such a durable, efficient and high performing interface with less than 100 bucks.
It comes in a sleek, compact and lightweight body that you will love having in your home studio or carrying around. Apart from its aesthetic uniqueness, the M-Audio interface is known for an easy capturing of high-quality signals time after time.
It is one of the best 2 channel audio interfaces under 200 dollars as it allows you to record 2 channels simultaneously in studio-grade 24-bit/192kHz resolution. All this is thanks to the 2 dedicated XLR and ¼-inch balanced combo inputs.
With this interface, you will always get the best of your mic or instruments as its Crystal preamps offer a transparent low noise solution that captures your voice accurately.
It also features a high-speed USB connection and easy-to-use direct balance knobs that allow you to enjoy zero-latency monitoring.
The interface is compatible with both Mac and Windows PCs, and both its hardware and software are easy to use.
If you are on the market for a highly affordable interface that offers professional audio performance, this is your best bet.
Easy to use
Very stylish design
Can record 2 channels simultaneously
High-speed USB connection
Requires drivers installation to be used with Windows software
Buying the best audio interface requires you to take a lot of aspects into consideration. There are so many of them in the market that picking one especially below the 200 bucks bracket can be a tad challenging. This section contains all the information you need to know about audio interfaces, including what to expect from one and the features to consider before buying it.
What to expect from audio interfaces under $200
There are some benefits and common characteristics that most audio interfaces below 200 dollars have in common and differentiates them from others with a different price tag. They include:
Interfaces within this price range offer a better selection of inputs and outputs. Most of them have a standard 2 inputs and 2 o 4 output options. Some even offer MIDI connection options which allow you to connect to MIDI keyboards.
The preamps found within the 200 dollar price bracket are much more comparable to those found in high-end and more expensive interfaces. They offer a higher level of sound quality and transparency.
Improved software support
On the 200 dollar mark, there is a decent selection of DAWs. Some models come with 2 DAWs. There is also more supporting content featuring several plug-ins, effects and other great things to help you improve your music.
Features to consider when buying an audio interface
Here are some of the features you must look out for before choosing an audio interface if you want to make the best buy:
Desktop vs rack-mounted model
This is pretty personal. You can get either depending on the space available in your home-studio or your intended use. If you intend to use the interface in your home studio, you can go for the rack-mounted models, and if you intend to make music on the go, then you buy the desktop model that you can easily place on any surface.
Don’t just focus on the number of inputs and outputs also consider their flexibility or versatility.
Your music will become more sophisticated at some point, and your audio interface needs will increase. Therefore it is better to go for an audio interface that has more inputs and outputs that are highly flexible like the BEHRINGER UMC404HD Audio Interface reviewed above.
Ensure you choose an audio interface that has peripheral ports that are compatible with those on your computer. Some of the essential ports to consider include; a USB port, a thunderbolt port, a firewire port and a PCle slot.
Bitrate and audio resolution
These determine the interface’s ability to capture sound accurately. Go for an audio interface that can capture all the 4 characteristics of sound which are: amplitude, dynamic range, phase and frequency. An interface with 24-Bit/192kHz like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface above, will capture your exact sound with more transparency.
DAW and device compatibility
Be sure to choose an audio interface that is compatible with your computer, iPad or iPhone. Some interfaces are only compatible with Mac or windows, and some can do with both. It is also better to go for an interface that is compatible with all the major DAWs for flexibility, so you can try all of them to choose what suits you best.
Dimensions and weight
This determines the portability of the interface. Some interfaces like the PreSonus AudioBox USB Audio Interface above are small enough to fit in a guitar case or backpack. Once again, this is a matter of personal preference. You can choose an interface with size and weight that suits your needs and space.
Warranty is important as you can encounter problems during your use, especially if you intend to use the interface regularly. With a warranty, you can reach out for help from the manufacturer and even get repairs free of charge.
Be sure to choose an audio interface that comes with several accessories like USB cables, MIDI and Mic cables to avoid out-of-the-pocket expenses.
No. Audio interfaces are meant to accept balanced outputs and inputs while headphone amplifiers are meant for unbalanced connections.
With all the information in this guide, you should be able to take home the most suitable, efficient and reliable audio interface within your budget. All the products we reviewed offer something a little bit different that sets it apart. Each one of them is highly capable of helping you create prime time music in your home studio or on the road.