Top 9 Best Budget Audio Interface Reviews - Buying Guide

Are you looking for the best budget audio interface? Read our reviews to see the top 9 products on the market and find out which one pleases you most!

by Derrick Reeves | Updated: June 28, 2021

Both beginner and professional music producers require the best budget audio interface. This piece of music equipment supports converting the audio signal from the music instrument into a special format that computers and smartphones can read.

Please keep in mind that not all cheap audio interfaces are the same. At an affordable price, every product only focuses on some important features. That’s why different interfaces will serve a specific purpose.

To choose the correct budget interface that meets your needs, you have to check the following 4 factors:

  • Resolution
  • Sampling rate
  • Connectivity
  • Device compatibility

We will explain these factors later in the buying guide. Before heading to it, you may want to check out the top 9 audio interfaces in 2021!

In-Depth Reviews Of Top 9 Best Budget Audio Interfaces Under 100

Here are our top 9 best budget audio interface reviews. Check out all the products and find out which one pleases you the most!

1. Behringer Audio Interface UMC22

behringer audio interface (UMC22)

Specifications

  • Number of inputs: 2
  • Number of outputs: 2
  • Resolution: 16 bit
  • Sample resolution: 48 kHz
  • Device support: Mac OS X, Windows XP, and higher
  • Dimensions: 6.42 x 4.92 x 1.97 inches
  • Weight: 1.04 pounds

Editor’s Rating

  • Resolution: 8/10
  • Sampling rate: 8/10
  • Connectivity: 8/10
  • Device compatibility: 10/10

Best Overall: Compatibility With Multiple Devices

It does not matter which device you have. This Behringer Audio Interface UMC22 can support all! It is compatible with multiple operating systems and audio applications.

Key Features Of This Product

2 Inputs And 2 Outputs For Streaming

The UMC22 model features 2 USB inputs and 2 outputs that have an ultra-low latency.

You can connect it to your computer, which runs either Mac OS X or Windows above XP version with no issue. This affordable interface will guarantee a fast and seamless transferring of sound signals into your computer.

Support Multiple Audio Software

You will have no difficulty finding suitable software on your computer for this audio interface.

The UMC22 is compatible with multiple recording software that runs well both on Mac and Windows. Some trustable applications we can list are Avid Pro Tools, Steinberg Cubase, Ableton Live, etc.

Problems With This Product

Users should not expect a high resolution from this UMC22 model. The product only supports a standard bit depth which is about 16 bit. If you want your audio to be more accurately recorded, you will have to find other models with higher resolution ratings.

Besides, the sample rating only meets the standard of 48 kHz. You can use this UMC22 for regular recording purposes. For more advanced tasks, you may require a product with a higher sampling rate.

Advice From Experts And Users

Most users agree that the UMC22 is a good choice for beginners. It has basic features that support newbies in learning the basics quite well.

Unfortunately, the resolution and sample ratings may not be high enough to serve experts. So please consider carefully before buying this product!

2. PreSonus AudioBox USB Audio Interface

PreSonus AudioBox USB Audio Interface

Specifications

  • Number of inputs: 2
  • Number of outputs: 2
  • Resolution: 24 bit
  • Sample resolution: 96 kHz
  • Device support: Mac OS X, PC, iOS
  • Mic Preamplifier: +48 V phantom power
  • Dimensions: 1.75 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches
  • Weight: 2 pounds

Editor’s Rating

  • Resolution: 9/10
  • Sampling rate: 9/10
  • Connectivity: 9/10
  • Device compatibility: 9/10

Best Overall: True Sound Recording

When it comes to recording, the PreSonus AudioBox USB Audio Interface is tough to beat. This model will make sure that you record the sounds at the highest quality!

Key Features Of This Product

2 High-Headroom Instrument Inputs

This PreSonus AudioBox comes up with 2 high-headroom inputs. You can connect any of your musical instruments to the interface throughout them. The inputs will record true sounds of all the music tools, from guitar, bass, electric guitar to any line-level device.

Class-A Mic Preamps For Quality Records

Getting a great recording sound is now a piece of cake, thanks to the 2 high-quality Class-A mic preamps. These pieces of equipment will amplify the low signal of your sounds, making sure that every audio in your records will be clear and loud.

Problems With This Product

In the beginning, you may find it difficult to set up the software that comes along with the product. However, after a period of time, as you get used to this software, you surely will be amazed by how great it functions!

Sometimes, this unit may make your sound clipping and distorted. The problem is probably because of the connection. You should take out the cable and plug it back in. The issue will then be fixed!

Advice From Experts And Users

This PreSonus AudioBox USB Audio Interface is surely a top contender for sound recording. It is worth noting that you should check the connection between it and your instrument. If the cable does not fit, you will end up with distorted sound.

3. Pyle 2-Channel PAD10MXU DJ Sound Controller Interface

Pyle 2-Channel PAD10MXU DJ Sound Controller Interface

Specifications

  • Number of inputs: 2
  • Number of outputs: 1
  • Resolution: 24 bit
  • Sample resolution: 48 kHz
  • Device support: Mac, PC
  • Mic Preamplifier: +48 V phantom power
  • Dimensions: 4.7 x 1.3 x 3.8 inches
  • Weight: 1.3 pounds

Editor’s Rating

  • Resolution: 9/10
  • Sampling rate: 8/10
  • Connectivity: 10/10
  • Device compatibility: 9/10

Best Overall: Adjustment

The next product we want to introduce to you is the Pyle 2-Channel PAD10MXU. This model features an adjustment system, which will support volume control at best.

Key Features Of This Product

Independent Controls

This mixer features 4 independent knobs, which you can rotate to modify the sound signals. You are free to increase or decrease the monitor, CH 1 Gain, and volume of signal input line 2/3.

If you want to control the overall status of the mixer, the master control knob will support you.

Clip LED Light

Never worry about bad sound quality due to the wrong adjustment. This audio interface is equipped with LEDs, which indicate the power and the clipping levels of the audio.

Every time the main output is too high, the LED will brighten up to notice you. You will then be able to adjust the signal correctly on time.

Problems With This Product

The sample rate of 48 kHz is just the standard, which will support basic purposes. Due to this maximal sampling rating, the interface will give a small amount of latency, which may not please professional musicians.

What we don’t like is, the product only features 1 main output. This means you will not be able to connect this audio interface with many hardware at the same time.

Advice From Experts And Users

Because of the 1 main output, the PAD10MXU only allows you to either play output audio from your PC or record the single sound input with no ability to monitor extra audio. If you want to simultaneously do both of these tasks, our experts advise you to buy another different product.

4. Steinberg UR12 USB Audio Interface

Steinberg UR12 USB Audio Interface

Specifications

  • Number of inputs: 2
  • Number of outputs: 2
  • Resolution: 24 bit
  • Sample resolution: 192 kHz
  • Device support: Windows, Linux, OS X, and iPad
  • Mic Preamplifier: +48 V phantom power
  • Dimensions: 9.21 x 8.07 x 4.13 inches
  • Weight: 2.87 pounds

Editor’s Rating

  • Resolution: 9/10
  • Sampling rate: 10/10
  • Connectivity: 8/10
  • Device compatibility: 10/10

Best Overall: Strong Converters For Great Audio Fidelity

The Steinberg UR12 USB Audio Interface is our recommendation for all professional music mixers. With a high sampling and a great bit rate, this model will help you record your audio at the highest quality.

Key Features Of This Product

High Resolution Of 24 Bit And Sampling Rate Of 192 kHz

We appreciate the high resolution of 24 bit and the incredible sampling rate of 192 kHz.

These ratings mean the interface can work with high sound signals for high audio fidelity. Just playback the records on your computer, and you definitely will feel pleased with the true audio!

 1 Class-A D-Pre Mic Preamp

Even when the input is a low signal, the interface will increase the volume for it! With the help of a class-A D-pre Mic Preamp, your recordings will have incredible details, depths, and dynamics!

Problems With This Product

Setting up the included software for this audio interface is slightly cumbersome. You need to wait many hours to completely download 5GB of this software. Not only that, there are several registering jobs you need to do before you can use it.

We’re also not a fan of the output for the headphone. Sometimes the connection is unstable, leading to a sharp electric noise.

Advice From Experts And Users

According to many users, the UR12 is more suitable for professionals. Beginners may find this audio interface complicated to get along with. You should only buy this product if you have mastered all the basic techniques and want a nice upgrade.

5. Shure MVi Digital Audio Interface

Shure MVi Digital Audio Interface

Specifications

  • Number of inputs: 2
  • Number of outputs: 2
  • Resolution: 24 bit
  • Sample resolution: 48 kHz
  • Device support: iOS, Android, Mac, and PC devices
  • Mic Preamplifier: 12V - 48 V phantom power
  • Dimensions: 4.7 x 3.6 x 2.8 inches
  • Weight: 1 pound

Editor’s Rating

  • Resolution: 9/10
  • Sampling rate: 8/10
  • Connectivity: 10/10
  • Device compatibility: 8/10

Best Overall: Smart Control

We have been highly impressed by the smart control of this Shure MVi Digital Audio Interface. This model definitely will give a lot of convenience in use for all music mixers.

Key Features Of This Product

Intuitive Touch Panel 

There is no analog or knob anymore! The Shure MVI features a digital touch control panel that is highly intuitive. Just by touching the panel, you can control the gain, mute, and volume with ease.

5 DSP Preset Modes For Convenience Of Usage

You can also choose the type of sound you want to record for better audio quality. This digital interface features 5 DSP preset modes, which are speech, singing, flat, acoustic instrument, and loud.

The smart system will set a limitation for every mode so that you never have to worry about whether the input signal is too high or too low.

Problems With This Product

Although the advertisement states that the Shure MVi supports multiple operating systems, it is not completely compatible with all devices.

For example, your Android devices must feature USB Audio Class 2.0 and Micro-B OTG to work well with this interface. Or, if your Apple devices run below iOS 7, this interface model will not support them!

On the other hand, this product does not seem to prevent the background noise well. When recording, you may notice that your audio is relatively noisy and distorted.

Advice From Experts And Users

Not all smart devices can get along well with this audio interface. You need to make sure that your device runs on Windows 7 (or higher), Macintosh: OS X Lion 10.7 (or higher), or iOS 7 (or above).

If you use Android phones, make sure that they support USB Audio Class 2.0 and Micro-B OTG.

6. Behringer Audio Interface U-Phoria UM2

Behringer Audio Interface U-Phoria UM2

Specifications

  • Number of inputs: 2
  • Number of outputs: 2
  • Resolution: 24 bit
  • Sample resolution: 48 kHz
  • Device support: Mac OS X, Windows XP (or higher)
  • Mic Preamplifier: 48 V phantom power
  • Dimensions: 5.04 inches x 4.65 inches x 1.97 inches
  • Weight: 0.57 pounds

Editor’s Rating

  • Resolution: 9/10
  • Sampling rate: 8/10
  • Connectivity: 9/10
  • Device compatibility: 10/10

Best Overall: Precise Recording

There will be no latency and distorted sound! The Behringer U-Phoria UM2 will assist you in recording the most accurate sounds.

Key Features Of This Product

Ultra-Low Latency Of 2x2 Inputs And Outputs

This interface features 2 input ports and 2 output ports with an ultra-low latency. While the inputs record exactly every sound signal from your instrument, the outputs will convert the signal to true sound data.

In other words, the quality of the music on your computer will be exactly the same as when you play it while recording.

Strong Connection With USB Cable

Besides the audio interface, the manufacturers also give a power USB cable. It will deliver the high energy from the phantom power switch to boost the mic input preamp up. Therefore, your recorded audio will consistently stay clear and loud.

Problems With This Product

If you use this interface with the Jamulus online jamming application, you have to install the Behringer 2.8.40 driver. Unfortunately, this driver is not available to download from the Beringer website anymore.

But don’t worry too much because you can easily search for it on the Internet. For other apps, the Behringer U-Phoria Um2 runs smoothly without requiring that driver.

It is true that this product supports Windows 10. However, you may have to struggle a little bit finding the way to connect the audio interface to your operating system. The installation instructions are quite poor and hard to understand.

Advice From Experts And Users

Many users don’t receive the USB cable along with the product. This issue is due to the manufacturer’s packaging error. In this case, you can contact the Behringer company, and they will send the item to you.

7. M-Audio M-Track Duo USB Audio Interface

M-Audio M-Track Duo USB Audio Interface

Specifications

  • Number of inputs: 2
  • Number of outputs: 2
  • Resolution: 32 bit
  • Sample resolution: 48 kHz
  • Device support: Mac OS, PC, iOS
  • Mic Preamplifier: 48 V phantom power
  • Dimensions: 4.34 x 7.5 x 2.13 inches
  • Weight: 2.29 pounds

Editor’s Rating

  • Resolution: 10/10
  • Sampling rate: 8/10
  • Connectivity: 10/10
  • Device compatibility: 9/10

Best Overall: High Versatility

If you require a versatile audio interface that can work for multiple tasks, you can consider seeing this M-Audio M-Track Duo USB Audio Interface as your best partner!

Key Features Of This Product

XLR /Line/ Instrument Input For Recording Many Types Of Sounds

Like many other modern interfaces on the market, this M-Audio M-Track Duo features 2 input ports.

But the cool thing is, these ports support not only XLR input but also USB, Line, and many types of other instrument input! You can record anything you like, from electric guitars, acoustic guitars, vocals to stereo line input signals!

Stereo Headphones Output For Fuss Free Monitoring

The M-Audio M-Track Duo is also designed with 2 low-latency outputs: 1 headphone output and 1 stereo output(1/4 inches). This design allows you to monitor your recording with the highest flexibility. All are for the best audio results.

Problems With This Product

On the downside, this model seems to not filter the background sound well. After recording, you may notice that your audio contains a lot of hissing noise.

If you are in this bad situation, try changing the microphones, condenser mics, or connection cables. The problem may be solved.

The package has already included the USB cable. However, this cable is slightly short and does not seem to last long. You should buy a better item and replace it with the original one.

Advice From Experts And Users

Many beginners are pleased with this product. Unfortunately, the experts don’t seem to like it, as the kHz sample rates only meet the standard. If you want a professional-grade audio interface, it is advisable to buy a product that supports a higher sampling.

8. Behringer U-Control UCA222 

Behringer U-Control UCA222

Specifications

  • Number of inputs: 2
  • Number of outputs: 2
  • Resolution: 16 bit
  • Sample resolution: 48 kHz
  • Device support: Mac, PC
  • Mic Preamplifier: 48 V phantom power
  • Dimensions: 7.2 x 5.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Weight: 0.65 pounds

Editor’s Rating

  • Resolution: 8/10
  • Sampling rate: 8/10
  • Connectivity: 10/10
  • Device compatibility: 9/10

Best Overall: Easy Installation And Setting

Many USB interfaces require you to do a lot of installation and setting jobs. But this Behringer UCA222 does not! It is ready to run right after you connect it to your device.

Key Features Of This Product

Free Software To Download From The Brand Website

Behringer allows you to download tons of popular software for this UCA222 from its website for free. Some popular recording software we can list is Audacity Audio Editor, Comprehensive Podcasting Software, more than 150 virtual effect plug-ins, and instrument sounds.

Of course, all these software are compatible with Mac OS and Windows. There is no need for searching the Internet to find suitable software anymore.

No Driver Required - Plug ‘N Play

The greatest thing we have found about this audio interface is that you can use it right after connecting it to your device.

The Behringer does not require you to register, set up, or use any driver to run the UCA222. All you need to do is plug the cable in the computer’s USB port and then start your recording job.

Problems With This Product

The UCA222 only allows the musician to record the audio at a constant sampling rate of 48 kHz. As mentioned, this rating is only suitable for beginners.

Besides, the bit depth rating of this product only meets the standard. This is great for newbies to get started, not for experts to do advanced tasks.

Advice From Experts And Users

If you are learning the basics of mixing music, the UCA222 definitely will be a great deal. In contrast, as a professional, you may require a product with higher technological advancements.

9. Behringer U-Phono UFO202

Behringer U-Phono UFO202

Specifications

  • Number of inputs: 2
  • Number of outputs: 2
  • Resolution: 16 bit
  • Sample resolution: 48 kHz
  • Device support: Mac, PC
  • Mic Preamplifier: No support
  • Dimensions: 3.46 x 2.36 x 0.87 inches
  • Weight: 3.52 pounds

Editor’s Rating

  • Resolution: 8/10
  • Sampling rate: 8/10
  • Connectivity: 9/10
  • Device compatibility: 9/10

Best Overall: Direct Monitoring

There is no need to wait until you complete the recording to test your audio. This Behringer U-Phono UFO202 allows you to monitor your song while recording it.

Key Features Of This Product

Stereo Analog Inputs For Connecting Line-Level Devices

First, you have to connect this UFO202 audio interface to your instrument. When playing the music, you will transfer the sound signal into this interface. At this time, the signal will be converted into sound data and come out of the output port so that you can monitor it.

A nice plus is, the stereo input of this product supports all types of devices, such as turntables, line-level devices, mixers, tape decks, music instruments, etc.

Stereo Analog Outputs For High Monitoring

As you complete connecting the instrument to the input, the rest of the job is to connect the output to an active speaker or a studio monitor. The sound data will then be transferred to these devices. As a result, you can keep track of every part of your song and make the adjustment on time.

Problems With This Product

We have to give a minus point to the manuals of the product. They don’t clearly explain how you can use this UFO202. But rest assured because there are a lot of easy-to-understand instructions you can search and learn from the Internet.

Another drawback is that it does not support phantom power. This means that you can not connect this audio interface to condenser microphones for recording vocals.

Advice From Experts And Users

The manuals included in the package are quite confusing to follow. You may want to search on the Internet for step-by-step instructions.

What We Look Into When Choosing An Audio Interface

As promised, we will explain the top 4 essential factors in this section. When buying, you should carefully check these features to get the right product that serves your needs.

Resolution

The resolution of an audio interface is also known as the “bit depth”. It describes how much sound data (the number of bits) is recorded for every single sample. This factor decides how the curve and waveform of your recorded sound will be created.

If the resolution is low, there will be more grids in your wave, leading to grainy sound reproduction. In contrast, the higher the resolution is, the more accurate the curve, and your sound will be.

At the moment, 16 bits are the standard for a low-price audio interface. Some more expensive models may feature a higher resolution rating, 24 bits, for example.

Sampling Rate

Besides resolution, the sampling rate also plays an important role in the quality of a digital recording. It describes how many audio samples are carried for every single second. The measurement for sample rate is in Hz (or kHz).

It is always good to get an audio interface that has a high sample rating. With a high rating, your sound will be recorded with lower latency. A good budget interface will have the sample rate running in the range of 44.1 kHz to 192 kHz.

Connectivity

The next factor to consider is connectivity. Different audio interfaces feature a number of technical ports, which you can use to connect them to your digital devices.

There are 4 common connection types that an audio interface supports, which are USB, Thunderbolt, FireWire, and PCIe. Each type has its own size of bandwidth.

The FireWire and Thunderbolt are faster than the other 2 types. However, the USB is the standard port that most interfaces contain due to the fact that most digital devices nowadays support USB connections.

Device Compatibility

It is crucial to get an interface that is compatible with your device.

Check whether the interface runs well with Windows or Mac operating systems. Most affordable models work well with both, but there are still several cheap interfaces that only support either of them.

Don’t forget to check the compatibility of the product with the DAW – Digital Audio Workstation music software on your device.

Most interface models have been designed to support the common DAWs, such as SONAR, Pro Tools, Ableton, Studio One, Cubase, Ableton Live Lite, etc.

Conclusion 

That’s our top picks of the 9 products in 2021. Have you found the best budget audio interface to buy?

Each product has its unique advantages and disadvantages to serve different purposes. You should check the interface carefully to make the right buying decision.

The best choice, in our opinion, is the PreSonus AudioBox USB Audio Interface. The bit depth of 24 bit and the sample rate of 96 kHz is high enough to please experts but still manageable for beginners. This audio interface is also compatible with multiple operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS, and IOS.

Anyway, you are free to make your own decision. Just determine your purposes and choose the right product that can serve them!

We hope that you will find the most suitable audio interface! Many thanks for reading!

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