Best Budget Audio Interfaces for Home Recording

Updated on April 26, 2024

Audio interfaces are essential tools for musicians and audio engineers who want to record and produce music. A good audio interface can make all the difference in the quality of your recordings, but they can also be quite expensive. Fortunately, there are budget-friendly options available that still offer high-quality sound and functionality.

When it comes to selecting the best budget audio interface, there are a few critical things to consider. First and foremost is the number of inputs and outputs you need. If you’re a solo artist who only needs to record one or two tracks at a time, a two-input interface will suffice. However, if you’re in a band or need to record multiple instruments simultaneously, you’ll need an interface with more inputs.

The quality of the preamps is another essential factor to consider. Preamps are responsible for boosting the signal from your microphone or instrument to a level that can be recorded by your computer. A good preamp can make your recordings sound more professional, while a poor one can introduce noise and distortion.

In this article, we spent hours researching and testing various budget audio interfaces to identify the ones that offer the best combination of affordability, quality, and functionality. Whether you’re a beginner looking to record your first song or a seasoned pro on a tight budget, we’ve got you covered.

Best Budget Audio Interfaces

We understand that not everyone has the budget for high-end audio interfaces, but that doesn’t mean you should settle for subpar sound quality. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best budget audio interfaces that won’t break the bank but will still provide you with the essential features you need for recording and producing music. Our team has researched and tested various models to bring you a comprehensive list of the top picks. So, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned musician on a budget, we’ve got you covered.

Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface

Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface

If you're looking for a budget-friendly audio interface, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface is a solid choice.

Pros:
  • The 3rd Generation Scarlett mic preamp offers a pristine sound out of the box and the iconic Air mode for legendary Focusrite ISA mic pres effect.
  • High-impedance, high-headroom instrument input guarantees distortion-free, professional-quality recordings every time.
  • Gain Halos provide visual feedback for quick and precise adjustments.
Cons:
  • The Solo is a 2-in, 2-out interface, so it may not be ideal for larger recording setups.
  • The bundled software may not be suitable for all users.
  • The USB Type-C to USB Type-A cable is a bit short.
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We’ve used the Scarlett Solo for a few recording sessions and have been impressed with its ease of use and sound quality. The mic preamp provides a clean and clear sound, and the Air mode adds a subtle brightness to vocals. The instrument input is also a standout feature, delivering a full-bodied sound without any unwanted distortion.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Solo is a simple 2-in, 2-out interface, so it may not be the best choice for larger recording setups. However, for solo artists or small recording projects, it’s a great option.

The bundled software is a nice addition, but it may not be suitable for all users. The Hitmaker Expansion includes a variety of plugins, but they may not be necessary for everyone. Additionally, the USB Type-C to USB Type-A cable that comes with the Solo is a bit short, so you may need to purchase a longer cable if your setup requires it.

Overall, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface is a great choice for those on a budget who want a high-quality audio interface.

AKLOT USB Audio Interface

USB Audio Interface, AKLOT Xrl Audio Interfaces, for the Guitarist, Vocalist, Podcaster or Producer, 24-bit/192 kHz High-Fidelity, Studio Quality Recording, 2 In 2 Out Audio Interfaces for PC/Win/Mac

If you're looking for a budget audio interface that can deliver professional-sounding recordings, the AKLOT USB Audio Interface is definitely worth considering.

Pros:
  • The high-headroom instrument inputs and Class A DYNA microphone preamplifier provide a brighter and more open sound for your vocal recordings.
  • With the ability to record and mix at up to 24-bit/192kHz, you can achieve studio-quality recordings with ease.
  • The low-noise monitor and two low-noise TRS balanced outputs provide clean audio playback, allowing you to hear all the details and nuances of your music.
Cons:
  • Some users have reported issues with the USB connection, which can cause audio to drop out if the device is moved.
  • The controls and indicators are located on the front of the device, which may not be ideal for some users.
  • The device may not work well with certain iPad models, so be sure to check compatibility before purchasing.
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We were impressed with the AKLOT USB Audio Interface’s ability to deliver high-quality recordings at an affordable price. The preamp and instrument inputs provided a clear and open sound, while the low-noise monitor allowed us to hear all the details of our recordings. However, the USB connection issue and front-facing controls may be a dealbreaker for some users. Overall, if you’re looking for a budget audio interface that can deliver professional-sounding recordings, the AKLOT USB Audio Interface is definitely worth considering.

Donner Livejack Lite 2 In 2 Out Audio Interface

Audio Interface Donner Livejack Lite 2 In 2 Out, USB Audio Interfaces, 24-bit/192 kHz Sound Card with Headphone Amplifier, TRS balanced Audio Interface for PC/Win/Mac

If you're looking for a budget audio interface that delivers great sound quality, the Donner Livejack Lite 2 In 2 Out Audio Interface is definitely worth considering.

Pros:
  • The TRS balanced output of mixer audio interface provides high-quality audio output without hum or interference.
  • With a built-in headphone amplifier, you can enjoy loud, detailed, low-noise monitoring.
  • The Direct Monitoring feature lets you hear what you are playing in “real-time”, without the effects of computer latency.
Cons:
  • The DAW software is not included.
  • Window users need to scan the QR code to download the asio driver for use.
  • The Livejack Lite Driver requires no external power, but the USB cable could be longer.
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We were impressed with the Donner Livejack Lite 2 In 2 Out Audio Interface. The high-headroom instrument inputs and 2 out USB-C audio interfaces with a high-headroom, Class A DYNA microphone preamplifier gave our vocal recordings a brighter and more open sound.

The studio-grade converters for 24-bit/192 kHz recording, mix, and playback made our recordings sound professional. We loved the TRS balanced output of mixer audio interface, which provided high-quality audio output without hum or interference.

The Direct Monitoring feature was a big plus, as it let us hear what we were playing in “real-time”, without the effects of computer latency. The built-in headphone amplifier was also a nice touch, as it allowed us to enjoy loud, detailed, low-noise monitoring.

The only downsides we found were that the DAW software is not included and that Window users need to scan the QR code to download the asio driver for use. The Livejack Lite Driver requires no external power, but the USB cable could be longer.

Overall, we would highly recommend the Donner Livejack Lite 2 In 2 Out Audio Interface to anyone looking for a budget audio interface that delivers great sound quality.

Behringer U-Phoria UMC22 USB Audio Interface

Behringer U-Phoria UMC22 USB Audio Interface

If you're looking for an affordable audio interface, the Behringer U-Phoria UMC22 is a great option. It offers a single MIDAS preamp and phantom power, making it ideal for recording vocals and instruments.

Pros:
  • The price is unbeatable for the quality you get.
  • The XLR/1/4in combo jack and 1/4in jack make it easy to connect a mic or guitar.
  • The interface is easy to use and offers real-time monitoring.
Cons:
  • The sound quality isn't top-of-the-line.
  • The interface may not be compatible with all operating systems.
  • The build quality isn't as durable as some other interfaces.
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The Behringer U-Phoria UMC22 is a great choice for beginners or those on a tight budget. It’s easy to use and offers all the basic features you need for recording. However, if you’re looking for higher-quality sound or more advanced features, you may want to consider a higher-end interface.

In terms of sound quality, the UMC22 is decent for the price. It won’t give you the same level of clarity and detail as a more expensive interface, but it gets the job done. The MIDAS preamp is a nice touch and provides a clean, transparent sound.

One thing to keep in mind is that the UMC22 may not be compatible with all operating systems. Some users have reported issues with certain versions of Windows or Mac, so be sure to check the specs before purchasing.

Overall, the Behringer U-Phoria UMC22 is a solid choice for anyone looking for an affordable audio interface. It’s easy to use, offers decent sound quality, and won’t break the bank.

Universal Audio Volt 4 USB Audio Interface

Universal Audio Volt 4 USB Audio Interface

If you're in the market for a budget-friendly audio interface that delivers professional-quality sound, the Universal Audio Volt 4 USB Audio Interface is definitely worth considering.

Pros:
  • The built-in Vintage Mic Preamp mode allows you to record your voice or guitar with album-ready sound.
  • The interface is built to withstand years of home and mobile recording, making it a great investment.
  • The 30-day free trial to UAD Spark gives you access to the best vintage gear and instruments ever made.
Cons:
  • The number of channels may be limiting for some users.
  • The interface is only compatible with personal computers.
  • The Vintage Mic Preamp mode may not be suitable for all recording scenarios.
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We’ve been using the Universal Audio Volt 4 USB Audio Interface for a few months now, and we’re impressed with the sound quality it delivers. The Vintage Mic Preamp mode is a standout feature, providing a warm, full-bodied sound that’s perfect for vocals and acoustic instruments. We’ve also found the interface to be incredibly durable, which is important when you’re recording on the go.

One thing to keep in mind is that the interface only has four channels, which may not be enough for some users. Additionally, while the interface is compatible with both Mac and PC, it’s not compatible with mobile devices. Finally, while the Vintage Mic Preamp mode is great for certain recording scenarios, it may not be the best choice for all situations.

Overall, we think the Universal Audio Volt 4 USB Audio Interface is a great choice for anyone looking for a budget-friendly audio interface that delivers professional-quality sound. Just be sure to consider your recording needs before making a purchase.

Buying Guide

When it comes to choosing the best budget audio interface, there are a few key features to consider. We’ve compiled a list of important factors to help you make an informed decision.

Inputs and Outputs

The number and type of inputs and outputs are crucial to consider when choosing an audio interface. Think about what you’ll be recording and how many sources you’ll need to connect. Look for an interface with enough inputs and outputs to accommodate your needs. Some common types of inputs and outputs include XLR, TRS, and MIDI.

Connectivity

Consider how you’ll be connecting your audio interface to your computer or other devices. USB is a common option, but some interfaces may also have Thunderbolt, FireWire, or other connection types. Make sure the interface you choose is compatible with your devices and has the necessary drivers and software.

Sample Rate and Bit Depth

Sample rate and bit depth are important factors when it comes to audio quality. Look for an interface with a higher sample rate and bit depth for better sound quality. However, keep in mind that higher sample rates and bit depths require more processing power and storage space.

Preamps

Preamps are an important part of an audio interface, as they amplify the signal from your microphone or instrument. Look for an interface with high-quality preamps for better sound quality. Some interfaces may also have built-in effects or EQ for further customization.

Price

Of course, price is an important factor to consider when choosing a budget audio interface. Look for an interface that fits within your budget while still meeting your needs. Keep in mind that higher-priced interfaces may offer more features and better sound quality, but there are still plenty of great options available at lower price points.

By considering these key factors, you can choose the best budget audio interface for your needs.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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