Top 7 Best Audio Interfaces Under $200 – Getting A That Extra Versatility

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Having an audio interface in your home studio is a must. There is simply no other way to record music without spending a large amount of money on equipment. With that said, having a good interface is even more important. Today we’re going to show you just whatkind of performance you can get for around $200. We’ll do this by listing our top picks for this price range, while later one we’re going to go deeper into what you can expect forthis kind of money. Some of these are easily among the best audio interfaces on the market.

Top 7 Best Interfaces Under $200

ImageStudio Headphones / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Steinberg UR242 Steinberg UR242

Total of 4.08/5  

One of the most solid choices on the market at the moment.

+ - M-AudioM-Track C-Series 2x2M M-AudioM-Track C-Series 2x2M

Total of 4.08/5  

A very well rounded interface that offers both style and impressive performance.

+ - FocusriteScarlett 2i4 FocusriteScarlett 2i4

Total of 4.10/5  

A very reliable interface that is all about pure performance and consistency.

+ - Tascam US-2x2 Tascam US-2x2

Total of 4.02/5  

A proper workhorse that’s built like a tank and equally as capable.

+ - PreSonus AudioBox iTwo 2x2 PreSonus AudioBox iTwo 2x2

Total of 4.00/5  

One of the older designs which has been updated and slightly modified.

+ - iConnectivity iConnectAUDIO2+ iConnectivity iConnectAUDIO2+

Total of 3.98/5  

An interesting interface that combines some pretty unique features with good performance.

+ - Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Total of 4.05/5  

One of the most reliable and trusted audio interfaces you can get.

Steinberg UR242

Steinberg UR242

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Steinberg is a brand that is best known for their software solutions. Namely, their DAWs. However, since home recording has become so accessible, they have made the plunge into hardware side of the business. Steinberg UR242 represents an awesome audio interface solution that brings a rock solid performance and overall consistency. Being the software giant that they are, Steinberg has sweetened this deal by including a whole array of their proprietary softwareas well. This includes the Cubase DAW and a bunch of other stuff. Simple, reliable and consistent, UR242 is the perfect choice for those who need a workhorse. This interface has no problems running under adverse conditions for a prolonged period of time. It is just that good.

M-AudioM-Track C-Series 2x2M

M-AudioM-Track C-Series 2x2M

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M-Audio M-Track C-Series 2x2M is a breath of fresh air in a market that is full of interfaces which all look so similar. Following that same path was too easy for M-Audio. Instead, they came up with a very stylish chassis that is loaded with some of the best hardware you willfind in this price range. We are talking incredible microphone preamps, as well as efficient but silent analog to digital converters. M-Track C-Series 2x2M packs four inputs, two of which are dedicated line inputs and the other two being the TRS/XLR combos. That way you are getting optimal connectivity no matter what your needs are. Overall, this is easily one of best choices in this price range.

FocusriteScarlett 2i4

FocusriteScarlett 2i4

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Focusrite's Scarlett series of audio interfaces is impressive to say the least. It includes models meant for proper, professional recording studios, as well as those meant for home use. FocusriteScarlett 2i4 belongs to the latter category and brings a number of interesting solutions to the table. On top of that, you are getting that prove Focusrite performance which has built them quite a reputation over the years. With two inputs, four outputs and full MIDI support, there aren't many instruments you won't be able to use with this interface. It is also worth mentioning that FocusriteScarlett 2i4 comes packed with a great software suite that includes a great DAW, a bunch of other plug ins, effects and more.

Tascam US-2x2

Tascam US-2x2

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Tascam is a brand that is very well known for their audio interfaces. On one hand, it may not be as popular as some other companies out there, but then again it all depends which market you look at. What we like about Tascam is their no-nonsense approach to designing these devices. One look at Tascam US-2x2 reveals how far they’re willing to go. The aesthetics alone pointout to something that means business, which is only reinforced once you take a look inside. Tascam has done a great job at creating a very functional, but ultimately logical interface that’s easy to use and highly consistent. It compares extremely well with more popular models, and it’s priced almost too well.

PreSonus AudioBox iTwo 2x2

PreSonus AudioBox iTwo 2x2

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PreSonus line of audio gear is fairly diverse. Their USB interfaces are probably among their more popular products. The one we are looking at here, the PreSonus AudioBox iTwo 2x2 has been around for a while now. During that time, it has established a very solid reputation for being a reliable, durable and consistent solution for home recording. You get two inputs, both using a combo XLR/TRS port, and two outputs. There is also a MIDI pair in the back, which allows you to plug in keyboard controllers and other gear. Overall, AudioBox iTwo 2x2 is a very decent choice, all things considered. Especially when you count in the price tag, which is more than reasonable at the moment.

iConnectivity iConnectAUDIO2+

iConnectivity iConnectAUDIO2+

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iConnectAUDIO2+ by iConnectivity is one of those audio interfaces which is ultimatelydifferent. From a conservative point of view, it’s nothing more than a pretty piece of gear,but when you take a closer look it tends to reveal its secrets. iConnectAUDIO2+ features mostly standard stuff. This means two inputs, each capable of taking an instrument line and a microphone line. However, when you look at the outputs, there’s nothing standard there to be seen. Not only do you have four main outs, but there are two USB ports as well, in addition to a dedicated iPad port. This means that you can connect iConnectAUDIO2+ to two computers, or an iPad and a computer. That can be important to some.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

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Focusrite Scarlett series has achieved the status of the go to audio interface by now. They have earned this reputation by having a rock solid track record, especially with the second generation of devices. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is the sweet spot for home use. This interface brings you two inputs, both of which can be used as a microphone line or instrument line. This time around, you can hook up the hottest active pickups and not worry about the signal being too strong. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is the definition of high quality, low latency audio recording in the budget segment. It is a perfectly priced piece of gear that brings reliability and consistency to the table. That warrants some respect.

What To Expect From A $200 Audio Interface?

When you are doing research about different interfaces, it is really hard to see the difference between models that cost $100 and those that cost around $200. That is completely understandable considering that some of the upgrades are quite subtle. What matters is that there is a difference, which can easily mean a lot if you are serious about recording music.

This price range is the sweet spot where you will find most bang for the buck when it comes to versatility. Because of that, we are going to individually check out every benefitthese interfaces bring compared to their more affordable counterparts.

Better Connectivity

One of the first improvements you will see in this segment of the market is connectivity. For the most part, cheaper interfaces will have the most basic complement of inputs and outputs. That usually translates to one or two inputs paired with a single output. When you step into $200 price range, that tends to change. You will see more dedicated inputs for microphone and instrument lines, with a wide mix of outputs. Some brands offer quadTRS outputs divided into stereo mode, some offer a complement of RCA outputs as well, while some offer both. Then we have the MIDI pair which allows you to connect various keyboard controllers and other gear. Depending on how you elaborate your recording rig is, having this variety of outputs can make a real difference.

Better Preamps

Recording vocals is more or less dependent on how good the microphone preamps in your interface are. The units found in the $200 segment of the market are much more comparable to $500 audio interfaces than they are to $100 ones. You are looking at a much higher level of sound quality as well as transparency. Transparency can be explained as the ability of a preamp to have zero influence on the sound of a microphone. Whether or not there are completely transparent preamps is a topic for another day, but we can definitely say that preamps in the models from our list are much more transparent than those found in the budget segment of the market.

Improved Software Support

One of the more underestimated parts of shopping for an audio interface is all the software that comes with the device. Needless to say, software and software integration iscrucial if you want everything to run smoothly. Now, even the most affordable interfaces out there come with some kind of DAW. These are usually the most basic versions, but they get the job done. Once you get into the $200 price range, that choice of software tends to become much more complex.

For starters, you get a very decent selection of DAWs. Some models come with not one, but several different DAWs as well. Then we have the supporting software that features a whole array of plug-ins, effects and other material. In practice, this type of software support means two things. First, you won’t have to deal with integration and compatibilityissues. Secondly, the abundance of plug ins and other stuff means that you can get straight to work.

Additional Choices

Another benefit of looking into lower mid range interfaces is the fact that you get much more choices. There are brands out there which offer a variety of models optimized for different applications. Some are designed to be the core of a casual home studio rig, whileothers can do much more. Having those options on the table is definitely great, but it also gives you a taste of what you can expect in the higher end segment of the market.

Optimized Performance

Last but not least, we have the actual performance. Older generations of audio interfaces were struggling to reach the high definition standards we are used to today. Even some ofthe interfaces you can get now are limited to 96kHz. Most of the units we have listed above will get you that 24-bit, 192kHz sampling rate. This is basically ‘better than CD’ quality of audio. For a home recording studio, you can’t really look forward to much better than that, unless of course you decide to sing a large amount of money into your gear. All of this goes to show just how far modern technology has gone regarding affordable audio gear.

Conclusion

Choosing the right audio interface is a crucial step in building a home recording studio. The ones we have shown you today represent what we consider to be the best choices in the $200 price range. If you look into each one, you will find out that these interfaces offer quite a bit of bang for the money. We wanted to include a variety of models, which appeal to different tastes and requirements. Chances are that one of our picks will be exactly what you were looking for. All in all, you can’t really go wrong with any of these.


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