Top 7 Best Audio Interfaces Under $100 – Recording On A Budget

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Not so long ago, recording music at home was something that was out of the reach for most people. However, with the advancement of modern technologies, we’ve received means of doing so which doesn’t blow a home in an average bank account. Today we are going to talk about audio interfaces and show you some of the best models on the market, which will cost you less than $100. As you’re about to find out, recording guitars and vocals at home is not only possible but also very viable. Lets start things off with a rundown of our top picks.

Top 7 Best Audio Interfaces Under $100:

ImageStudio Headphones / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Behringer U-PHORIA UMC404HD Behringer U-PHORIA UMC404HD

Total of 3.90/5  

An awesome example of versatility in the budget segment of the market.

+ - M-Audio M-Track 2X2 C-Series M-Audio M-Track 2X2 C-Series

Total of 3.88/5  

A stylish and somewhat different audio interface that brings rock solid performance.

+ - Focusrite Scarlett Solo Focusrite Scarlett Solo

Total of 3.90/5  

A solid and functional option that delivers a very strong core performance.

+ - PreSonus AudioBox USB 2x2 PreSonus AudioBox USB 2x2

Total of 3.78/5  

One of the oldest designs that is still very much relevant today.

+ - Behringer U-PHORIA UMC204HD Behringer U-PHORIA UMC204HD

Total of 3.77/5  

A true workhorse that combines versatility with rock solid performance and consistency.

+ - Steinberg UR12 Steinberg UR12

Total of 3.70/5  

Incredibly affordable, yet very practical model that performs up to the standards.

+ - Line 6 Sonic Port Line 6 Sonic Port

Total of 3.63/5  

A rather niche, but ultimately awesome interface that caters to traveling musicians.

Behringer U-PHORIA UMC404HD

Behringer U-PHORIA UMC404HD

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Behringer has always been considered to be the patron saint of budget musicians and producers. One look at Behringer U-PHORIA UMC404HD will tell you everything you need to know about why that reputation has stuck to this day. This interface differs from its competition in two major ways. For starters, it is packed with four channels, where most other have one or two. Then we have the extensive output cluster in the back, whichincludes XLR outs, as well as TRS and RCA. Every channel can be used as a line or instrument channel, while phantom power is supplied to all four at once. This somewhat reduces the versatility of the hardware available, but U-PHORIA's still more flexible thanmost.

M-Audio M-Track 2X2 C-Series

M-Audio M-Track 2X2 C-Series

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M-Audio M-Track 2X2 C-Series belongs to the category of audio interfaces which do things differently. This is very apparent from the way it looks, as well as the hardware that it packs inside. The entire thing reeks of confidence and good build quality. When put to use, M-Track delivers a fairly refined performance with extremely low signal coloration and noise levels. This makes it a good choice for those who need clean vocals. On top of that, M-Audio delivers these with a wide array of awesome software, which includes a great DAW as well as a bunch of plug-ins. Overall, it’s the type of package which is ready to go out of the box. It doesn’t get better than that.

Focusrite Scarlett Solo

Focusrite Scarlett Solo

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The world of USB audio interfaces includes some of the more outlandish models, but also those which are the epitome of consistency. Focusrite Scarlett Solo belongs to the latter category for sure. It isa compact, simple interface that brings all the right features and a solid performance to boot. Inputs include an XLR port for your mic needs, as well as a 1/4" TRS for any instrument you might want to record. Built in preamps are decent and offer a clean sound.Controls are convenient and designed around offering optimal functionality. As a matter of fact, everything about this audio interface revolves around good performance. Scarlett Solo is one of the safest choices on the market right now.

PreSonus AudioBox USB 2x2

PreSonus AudioBox USB 2x2

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PreSonus offers an array of audio interface devices which have been proven multiple times by now. For example, PreSonus AudioBox 2x2 is among the oldest devices of this type, yet it is still near the top of the food chain. On the outside, there is nothing overly special about it. It comes in a chassis that is virtually bulletproof, but other than that, it’s more or less standard. Where it comes to shine is its performance. You are looking at a rather clear sound quality, especially if you focus on the microphone channel. In that sense, AudioBox 2x2 is truly among the best. Additionally, PreSonus ships these with a great DAW as well as a massive complement of other software.

Behringer U-PHORIA UMC204HD

Behringer U-PHORIA UMC204HD

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Behringer's U-PHORIA series of interfaces has pushed the bar higher when it comes to delivering good performance at budget prices. On top of that, the entire series is designedto offer more versatility than you can find elsewhere. U-PHORIA UMC204HD(INSERT LINK TO 'U-PHORIA UMC204HD Review' HERE) is a perfect example of this policy, with its two inputs and four outputs. Additionally, UMC204HD comes with MIDI support. When it comes to performance, you are looking at 24-Bit/192 kHz precision that doesn't disappoint. Behringer's MIDAS microphone preamps are a proven design, which is great since UMC204HD comes with two. Overall, this interface delivers the type of performance and consistency you would usually expect in more expensive devices. It is a proper workhorse worthy of any budget studio.

Steinberg UR12

Steinberg UR12

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Steinberg has their fingers in just about every aspect of audio industry. Some more than others. However, they are not really a brand associated with budget solutions or cheap gear. Even so, Steinberg UR12 is one of the most affordable audio interfaces you can get, that still gets the job done. UR12 features all the standard features, plus some not so standard ones. With a microphone and instrument channel available, you can record both guitars and vocals. Ontop of that, they have added two options for powering the device. You can either use the standard USB cable, or you can run a 5V DC via mini USB from your mobile devices. Overall, Steinberg UR12 is a very decent choice.

Line 6 Sonic Port

Line 6 Sonic Port

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Line 6 build some of the most affordable yet reliable guitar accessories on the market. These include anything from amplifiers to audio interfaces. Speaking of which, Line 6 Sonic Port is by far one of the most interesting interfaces you can find right now. It is sleek, compact and optimized to offer great performance on the go. Line 6 has designed this model exclusively for Apple users, meaning that it is fully compatible with GarageBand and other Mac OS DAWs. Aside from allowing you to record music, Sonic Port also allows you to use said applications as a source of effects during a performance. If you are a guitar player who likes to travel light, this device is for you.

What To Expect From A $100 Audio Interface?

One of the biggest and most prolific misconceptions about audio interfaces is that you have to spend a lot of money on one. That is simply not true. This line of reasoning applies well to most other markets and industries, but not here. With devices likes of which we are talking about today, there is a very well defined base performance. All of the models listed above meet, while some even exceed that level of performance. Sure, a $300 audio interface brings more versatility and better features, but chances are that its core performance is more or less the same.

Base line models are designed to deliver good sound on a budget. That is it. Just by looking over the models we have listed above, you will notice that almost all of them offer both a microphone preamp and an instrument channel. Some offer not two, but four inputs. Affordable audio gear is no longer something you should be nervous about. On the contrary, these devices can be the workhorse you were looking for all along.

Matter Of Connectivity – USB, Firewire, Thunderbolt

When it comes to connectivity, budget is going to be a limiting factor. Most of the affordable interfaces out there will be using the standard USB 2.0 package. Firewire and Thunderbolt are more or less reserved for the $500 price range and up. If you think about it, USB 2.0 is the most efficient choice for this class of audio interfaces. The bandwidth this standard allows for is capable of pushing the 24-Bit/192 kHzrate with ease. When your needs start calling for much more than that, it is time to look at some faster ports.

What About Vocals And Sound Clarity?

Those who are getting into this type of gear so they could record vocals, are often wondering about the quality of built in microphone preamps. The answers to the question from the subtitle is a bit complex. For the most part, every half way decent interface comes with a solid mic preamp. With that said, you have to figure out just what level of quality you need. If you are looking for super clear, completely transparent sound, you might have to spend a bit more or even get a dedicated preamp. At the end of the day, most of the models on the market will do a solid job at rendering your vocals quite nicely.

What Exactly Can You Do With A Budget Audio Interface?

The most important thing that a budget interface can do for you, is give you that latency free recording. Considering that most budget models these days, even the cheaper ones, offer high bit rate resolution, you can use them for a number of applications. Whether it isdirect monitoring, or HD recording, it is completely up to you. With that said, budget interfaces can be more than just a studio queen. There are models out there which are specifically designed for portability and use on the go. Some are designed for both. Someeven come with MIDI ports so that you can use your keyboard controllers as well. All of this is available in the budget segment of the market.

How To Choose A Budget Interface?

One of the most important factors you need to cover, is to figure out your main use for this device. We say this because even the budget segment of the market is very diverse. For example, some interfaces only offer one microphone line and one instrument line. Some offer two. Others pack as much as four. Then we have the complement of outputs to consider. These are just some of the variable you need to account for. In order to make the best possible choice, you should know what you intend to use your interface for. Afterthat is covered, find out what your optimal budget is and you have already narrowed down your choices quite a bit.

Additionally, look at the bit rate rating. 24-Bit/192 kHzis the new norm, but there are still models out there which fall short of that. Here’s the thing, some of them might be every bit as expensive as a 24-Bit/192 kHzmodel. Be weary of that. Ultimately, you can’treally get it wrong as long as you stick with proven brands and models. The moment you step into the unknown, your chances of being disappointed skyrocket. We say that knowing how much some of these lesser known brands can be attractive.

Conclusion

Audio interfaces have become the core piece of hardware in every modern home recording studio. Most of us can’t even imagine creating music without one. The models we have shown you today are by far some of the best you can get in the budget segment. We wanted to get you a diverse list, with models offering different features. However, ourmain goal was to meet a certain level of performance with our picks. No matter which one you choose from the list above, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be disappointed. Just find the one that meets your specific needs.


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