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Investing in an audio interface is a great place to start if you want to take your music production up a notch in 2023.
Our top pick is the The M-Audio AIR 192|4.
This audio interface is a great option for music producers due to its studio-grade features, including Crystal preamps, ultra-pristine A/D converters, versatile input/output options, and bundled software.
An audio interface allows you to connect microphones, instruments, and other sound sources directly into your computer or smartphone for recording higher-quality audio. After scouring the market and testing out dozens of budget audio interfaces ourselves, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best budget audio interfaces that provide great bang for your buck without sacrificing sound quality or features.
Whether making beats on the go with a mobile device or creating professional music from home, our top picks will help you start producing better music.
M-Audio M-Track Solo
[affiai asin=”B08Q1NJSBQ” template=”grid” title= “M-Audio M-Track Solo” rating=”8|5|7″ rating_type=”scircle|star|scircle” pros=”Easy to set up~Good quality knobs with great resistance~Low latency performance” cons=”Occasional stutter~No mute button”]
M-Audio AIR 192|4
[affiai asin=”B07YYWLGFM” template=”grid” title= “M-Audio Air 192|4″ rating=”10|5|7″ rating_type=”scircle|star|scircle” pros=”Great sound quality~Works with many programs without the driver~Versatile inputs & outputs” cons=”Issues when drivers are installed~Audio latency issues for some windows users”]
Best For: Recording, Streaming
The M-Audio AIR 192×4 USB C Audio Interface is ideal for professional recording and monitoring.
This budget audio interface has plenty of features that make it perfect for capturing studio-grade audio, such as Crystal preamps, ultra-pristine A/D converters, and a high-speed USB/USB-C circuitry.
This audio interface also boasts an XLR+1⁄4″ TRS combo input, one 1⁄4″ instrument input, stereo 1⁄4″ outputs, and headphone output with independent level control all in a rugged metal chassis.
Additionally, this device comes with plenty of bundled software including MPC Beats, Ableton Live Lite, Touch Loops Creative FX Collection Xpand!2 Mini Grand Revalver and Pro Tools First.
Windows users should also be aware of potential audio latency issues affecting performance. But once set up correctly this device provides excellent audio quality in both recording playback scenarios making it a great choice for those looking for studio-grade audio capture capabilities at home or in the office.
[affiai asin=”B07L9MWWDK” template=”grid” title= “PreSonus Studio” rating=”9|5|7″ rating_type=”scircle|star|scircle” pros=”High-qualtiy preamps~Low latency direct monitoring~Powerful headphone outpur” cons=”Lack of headroom~Trouble with external USB hubs~Limited input channels”]
PreSonus AudioBox GO
[affiai asin=”B09N557CYK” template=”grid” title= “PreSonus AudioBox GO” rating=”9|5|7″ rating_type=”scircle|star|scircle” pros=”Professional sound quality~Versatile inputs and outputs~Zero latency monitoring” cons=”Weak headpone amp levels~Compatibility issues with certain software”]
Best For: Travel
The PreSonus AudioBox GO is an ultra-affordable and ultra-compact audio interface offering professional sound quality for home and mobile recording.
Its USB-C connection makes it easy to connect to various devices, from Macs to Android phones. The AudioBox has two balanced TRS 1/4″main outputs for studio monitors or speakers, as well as one TS instrument input for guitar or bass and one XLR mic/line combo input for vocals, keyboards, drum machines, or other line-level instruments.
Separate headphone output with mix control provides zero-latency monitoring with independent volume control. It also includes the Studio One Prime DAW recording software plus the Studio Magic software bundle of music tutorials, sound samples, and virtual instruments.
This product is a great choice for those looking for a reliable audio interface at an affordable price point without sacrificing too much in terms of performance or features.
[affiai asin=”B096ZRJSX6″ template=”grid” title= “Blucoil Portable” rating=”8|5|7″ rating_type=”scircle|star|scircle” pros=”Plug-and-play~48V phantom power~Solid metal case design” cons=”White noise during recordings~Low output volume for instruments”]
Best For: Home Studio Recording
The Blucoil Portable USB Audio Interface provides CD-quality audio resolution with its high-quality mic preamps and 48V phantom power support (24bit/48kHz).
Whether you’re looking to record at home, stream, game, or podcast on Windows and Mac without needing an external power supply – this interface will serve you well.
Its versatile I/O allows users to plug in condenser mics through the XLR-1/4″ combo input & instruments or line-level audio sources via 1/4″ TRS input; plus enables zero-latency direct monitoring when using headphones by switching on its Direct Monitor button located at the back panel of the unit.
We did experience white noise being audible during recordings when the gain was set too high. At times we were also unable to directly connect instruments since the output volume tends to be too low even after turning it up fully. Using the proper adapter should solve this issue though.
Donner USB Audio Interface
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Best For: Beginning Music Producers
The Donner USB Audio Interface and Guitar Adapter Interface is a great choice for beginner and professional musicians alike.
This device offers impressive features to help you record high-quality audio anywhere at any time.
It has wide compatibility with IOS, Android, Windows, and Max systems and provides access to 48V phantom power for condenser mics. Additionally, it boasts direct monitoring capabilities so you can hear your recordings in real-time without latency issues.
The overall sound quality of the interface is excellent due to its 192kHz/24Bit high precision digital audio recording capability. It also has a gain knob and LED indicators that allow you to adjust the incoming input levels and prevent clipping from occurring respectively. Also, the accompanying adapters make connecting this device straight to your devices easy with no external power supply needed either.
One downside of this budget audio interface is it doesn’t have XLR jacks which could limit more experienced musicians when looking for higher-end equipment or interfacing with mobile devices like iPhones or tablets on iOS 14 or XDJ boards.
Overall the Donner USB audio interface delivers exceptional value.
[affiai asin=”B08D8R6VFC” template=”grid” title= “PreSonusAduioBox” rating=”8|5|7″ rating_type=”scircle|star|scircle” pros=”Plug-and-play setup~Good build quality~48V phantom power and various connection options” cons=”Knobs feel too close together~Feedback issues”]
Best For: Recording
The PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 25th Anniversary Edition is a value-packed 2-channel audio interface that provides personal and portable recording.
It has two high-quality Class-A mic preamps and two instrument inputs to record guitars, basses or any other line-level devices.
This budget audio interface has plug & play setup, solid build quality, and direct monitoring capability. A software package also contains programs such as Studio One Artist 6.
There were some issues with feedback from the 1/4” jack when headphones were plugged in. The knobs also feel a little cramped and there isn’t one big volume knob.
Overall, this audio interface is an excellent choice for those looking for an affordable solution for their home studio setup or portable recording needs especially considering its versatile feature set including +48V phantom power and various connection options.
UA Volt 1
[affiai asin=”B09J1V6R6N” template=”grid” title= “UA Volt1″ rating=”9|5|7″ rating_type=”scircle|star|scircle” pros=”Vintage Mic Preamp mode~High-resolution audio conversion~Studio-grade headphone amps” cons=”Noise at higher levels~Hard to balance direct monitoring and computer playback”]
Best For: Music Production
After reviewing the UA Volt 1 USB Audio Interface, it is clear that this device offers users a great range of features for recording.
The Vintage Mic Preamp mode offers rich, full sound while the 24-bit/192 kHz audio conversion ensures high-quality recordings. It also comes with essential audio software such as lite versions of Ableton, Melodyne, UJAM’s Virtual Drummer, Marshall, Ampeg.
The UA Volt 1 also has some downsides though.
Its monitor output from the power input can be noisy at higher levels. Also, adjusting the input gain can be difficult due to two LED lights without any way to balance direct monitoring and playback from your computer.
Overall though we think that UA Volt 1 USB Audio Interface would make a great addition to any home studio because it offers powerful features like vintage mic preamps, studio-grade headphone amps as well as industry-leading software all in one convenient package – making it perfect for aspiring producers who want to take their audio production up a few notches!
Audient iD4 MKII
[affiai asin=”B08SBSN88X” template=”grid” title= “Audient iD4 MKII” rating=”9|5|7″ rating_type=”scircle|star|scircle” pros=”High-qualtiy sound~Solid metal construction~3 Year warranty” cons=”Occasional sound distortion~Knobs are cheap”]
Best For: Recording
The Audient iD4 MKII USB-C Audio Interface is a great choice for anyone looking for an affordable audio interface with some high-end features.
This 2-in/2-out USB-C device has a solid metal construction housing and contains one microphone preamp, two headphone outputs, and one JFET DI. It also comes with a generous three year warranty, making it a reliable purchase at its reasonable price point.
This budget audio interface has a low noise level and impressive gain range, which other budget options struggle with.
The main volume knob is digital rather than physical so saving headphone settings and other sound formats can be tricky.
On the downside, there have been reports that the volume knob broke after only one month of use and problems registering on their website or incompatibility with certain Macs or M1 MacBook Pro models. Also, some distortion was noticeable at times when using the audio interface.
This budget audio interface is a great buy due to its solid metal construction housing, preamp performance, and audio recording transparency.
[affiai asin=”B07YZMFKLN” template=”grid” title= “M-Audio AIR|HUB” rating=”7|5|7″ rating_type=”scircle|star|scircle” pros=”Compact & portable design~large central control knob~3 USB ports” cons=”Quite headphone output~Connection issues”]
Best For: Music Production
The M-Audio AIR|HUB is a USB audio interface that provides a convenient monitoring hub for Mac and PC users.
It provides excellent sound quality with 24-bit/96kHz resolution, allowing you to hear every subtle nuance of your mix.
The AIR|HUB features three USB ports that allow you to connect any number of USB devices such as MIDI controllers, external hard drives, and thumb drives. It also includes stereo ¼” outs and an independent level control headphone out to ensure your volume levels are perfect no matter where you are mixing or performing.
The compact design allows easy portability while providing a rugged metal chassis and a large central control knob for simple volume adjustment.
Additionally, it comes with MPC Beats and Xpand!2 software from AIR Music Tech which adds even more ease of use when recording or performing live sets.
When testing we found that the headphone output can be quiet and there were some noise issues.
Despite these drawbacks, there is no denying that this device will provide great value making it ideal for those looking for an all-in-one solution without breaking the bank.
What To Look For
- Price – Look for audio interfaces that are within your budget but still provide quality sound.
- Connectivity – Consider the type of connectivity you need, such as USB, Thunderbolt or Firewire.
- Number of Inputs/Outputs – Ensure the interface has enough inputs and outputs for your needs.
- Computer Compatibility – Check that the audio interface is compatible with your computer’s operating system and hardware (e.g., Mac or PC).
- Quality Preamps & Converters – Ensure that the preamps and converters offer good sound quality to get great results from recordings and mixes.
- Latency Performance – Be aware of latency performance when selecting an audio interface, as this can affect your recording experience significantly if it’s too high
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