The 10 Best Audio Interfaces Under $200

In shopping for the best audio interface, buying the most expensive one you can afford is not necessarily going to be the best option for your application. It’s an art form, balancing which features you can live without and which ones you absolutely need to have.

There’s a dizzying number of competitively priced and similarly spec’d audio interfaces, especially for the sub $200 range. Just take, for example, the ongoing battle for supremacy between the rising star iD4 and the reigning champion and bestseller, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.

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Focusrite 2i2

Last update on 2020-10-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Focusrite 2i2 is a home studio bestseller since it was released. The dual preamp XLR to 1/4” combo has become staple in almost all modern audio interfaces.

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Audient iD4

Last update on 2020-10-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Going against the grain has paid off for Audient because the iD4 has become the default choice for a powerful niche in the audio interface market. It focuses on sound quality rather than versatility.

The 2i2 and iD4 Aren’t the Only Compelling Choices in the Sub-$200 Audio Interface Market

 

There are, of course, other audio interfaces from reputable brands that offer slightly different feature packs in the same price range. Now, all we have to do is to look the at best ones to find out which one’s going to work best for our own home studios.

It’s a crowded market but the fact of the matter is that there’s only one that’s absolutely perfect for you and your project or application.

In this article, we’re going to be recommending the best audio interface for under $200

1. Audient iD4

The first thing you’ll notice about the iD4 is that it’s incredibly well made. The aluminum chassis shouldn’t look out of place next to a sexy new Apple computer or a Windows-powered Ultrabook.

It also feels sturdy enough to handle a couple of falls from desktop heights. This should come in handy if you like to move around as you play your instrument or record your vocals.

Compared to others on this list, the Audient iD4 is also one of the smallest in terms of footprint so it shouldn’t be a problem even if you’re not given much desk space to work on.

With the combination of all these physical features, the Audient iD4 makes a great case for being the default audio interface to take with you when you travel.

Furthermore, it performs excellently. For instance, the AD-DA converters on all of Audient’s products are always top of its class. The company’s experience in the field shows in this regard. The AD-DA converters on all Audient devices are especially of high-quality and you can expect the same for this relatively inexpensive interface.

You might also be interested in our Audient iD4 vs iD14 review here.

Pros of the Audient iD4

Cons of the Audient iD4

Audient iD4 USB 2-in/2-out High Performance Audio Interface
  • USB 2.0 Audio Interface with 1 Class A Mic Preamp
  • 2 Headphone Outputs - Mac/PC/iOS
  • 1 JFET DI

Last update on 2020-10-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen

Focusrite built its reputation on the Scarlett USB interface series. The 2i2 is probably one of the most popular one out of all of them.

As you would expect for something that’s become somewhat of an industry standard, the 2i2’s performance is excellent. Focusrite produces the best mic preamps in the market so you really can’t go wrong with the 2i2 when recording vocals.

It’s not a resource hog in terms of CPU usage even if buffer settings were set to a minimum. It uses direct monitoring, so latency is next to non-existent if you want.

However, even if this setting is off, you’re barely going to notice the difference even if the sound still has to get processed through the computer and back to the monitors.

Sale
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools |...
  • Two of the best performing mic preamps the Scarlett range has ever seen, now with switchable air Mode to give your recordings a brighter and more open sound. Two high-headroom instrument inputs to plug in your guitar or bass. Two balanced line inputs, suitable for connecting line-level sources.
  • High-performance converters enable you to record and mix at up to 24-bit/ 192kHz.
  • Quick start tool to get up and running easier than ever.

Last update on 2020-10-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3. PreSonus AudioBox USB 96

The best audio interfaces, especially professional-grade ones, can cost north of $500. However, you might be surprised at how high above its class some interfaces can punch at a fifth of the price.

One such example is the PreSonus AudioBox USB 96. It’s one of our cheaper audio interfaces on the list and it performs much like it’s more expensive peers like the 2i2 and the iD4.

The preamps are surprisingly versatile for its price. It’s going to do a decent job recording vocals, guitars, or even drums.

Sale
PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2x2 USB Audio Interface, Blue, PC/Mac - 2 Mic...
  • Bus-powered USB 2.0 audio and MIDI interface
  • Compatible with almost all recording software for Mac and Windows
  • 24-bit resolution; 44.1, 48, 88.2, and 96 kHz sampling rates

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros of the PreSonus AudioBox USB 96

Cons of the PreSonus AudioBox USB 96

4. Focusrite Scarlett 2i4

The second entry of Focusrite in this list shows just how down to pat the company has this segment. The 2i2 used to cost a little under $200 but now, the Scarlett 2i4 replaces it at that price point. While some shops still sell it above our price limit in this list, some shops are already discounting to under $200.

The 2i4 is just a little bigger than its little brother, the 2i2. It’s got everything that it has to plus some more features that you may decide is worth the extra $40-$50.

There are, for example, full 5-pin MIDI I/O ports. Finally, you can plug in synthesizers and keyboards to a budget Focusrite audio interface.

Check out our scarlett 2i2 vs 2i4 comparison here.

Pros of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4

Cons of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4

Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 USB Audio Interface Bundle with XLR Cable and...
  • Two natural-sounding Scarlett mic preamps with plenty of even gain
  • Two newly-designed instrument inputs, designed for seriously hot hottest pick-ups
  • Super-low latency* for using your plug-ins in real time without the need for DSP

Last update on 2020-10-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5. Apogee Jam+

When it comes to portability, the Apogee Jam Plus probably takes the grand prize.

At just 0.25lbs, you can easily forget you put it in your bag in the first place. And when you realize that you brought it, you’ll be glad you did because the sound quality is right up there with the best of them in this particular price range of under $200.

Pros of the Apogee Jam+

Cons of the Apogee Jam+

Apogee Jam Plus - Portable USB Audio Interface for Guitars, Bass,...
  • Connect electric Guitar or bass to iOS devices, Mac and PC
  • Powered by iOS device or Mac (no batteries or external power required)
  • Apogee Pure digital circuit design eliminates signal noise

Last update on 2020-10-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

6. Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2

What it’s got going for it is all in the name. It’s a complete audio interface with all the basics.

The Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2 boasts a minimalist aesthetic which is echoed in its performance as well. It’s even got a 5-part input metering system which is arguably an essential for some music producers.

But, with a market that offers the likes of Audient’s iD4 and the Focusrite 2i2, is being complete enough to make a dent in the market?

Pros of the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2

Cons of the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2

Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2 Two-Channel Audio Interface
  • Easily record audio into your computer
  • Choose from two flavors – same pristine audio quality, different ways to plug in and play back
  • The full package for creating – All the software you need to record and build tracks, plus synths, effects, and more

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

7. Mackie Onyx Producer 2-2

Speaking of minimalistic designs, the Onyx Producer 2-2 is another stunning audio interface. It’s predominantly matte black with subtle hints of grey in the output volume knob and labels at the back and some labels on the front.

The preamps on the Onyx Producer 2-2 are one on par with the best in the market. They record a dynamic range and fidelity that’s equal to and maybe even better than the rising star iD4 and the industry-standard Scarlett 2i2.

Pros of the Mackie Onyx Producer 2-2

Cons of the Mackie Onyx Producer 2-2

Mackie Audio Interface, Onyx Artist 1X2 USB Audio Interface (Onyx...
  • Boutique-quality onyx mic preamp with class-leading fidelity and dynamic range 48V phantom power for use with Studio condenser mics ¼” TRS input with Hi-Z switch for connecting guitar, bass, and more
  • High-resolution 2 in x 2 Out 24-bit/192kHz recording zero-latency direct monitoring of Analog inputs dedicated outputs for connecting studio monitors powerful headphone output
  • Bus-powered for easy mobile recording with no power adapter needed USB 2. 0 connectivity for fast transfer speed and low latency Built-Like-A-Tank design to survive day-to-day abuse

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

8. Steinberg UR22C USB

The combination of the excellent Yamaha D-Pre preamps and the feature pack of the UR22C lets it compete with the other audio interfaces in the under $200 category.

It’s a full featured interface that gives the Scarlett 2i2 and 2i4 a run for their money at a reasonable price.

It also comes with software that’s optimized for iOS devices which makes it a good mobile music production device. To add to this feature, they also included an additional 5V DC port so you’ll be able to power this up and not sucking up power from your host device.

You can record even without any available power outlets because of this feature.

At this price point, these features are a steal.

Pros of the Steinberg UR22C USB

Cons of the Steinberg UR22C USB

Steinberg UR22C 2x2 USB 3.0 Audio Interface with Cubase AI and Cubasis...
  • Industry leading converters providing up to 32-bit/192 kHz audio resolution
  • Super speed USB 3. 1 Gen 1 with USB-C for fast and reliable Connectivity to Mac, PC, and iOS devices
  • Class-a D-PRE mic preamps to capture all the subtleties and expressiveness of any audio source

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

9. M-Audio M-Track 2×2

There’s a lot to like on the hardware side of the M-Track 2×2. The huge output knob that’s prominently featured on the device, for example, is inviting to use.

It’s not only large, but it’s also obviously well-made as well. There’s no wobble to it like some of the others on this list. This just gives you a sense that M-Audio really took the time to properly engineer the M-Track 2×2.

Pros of the M-Audio M-Track 2×2

Cons of the M-Audio M-Track 2×2

M Audio M Track 2X2 | 2 In / 2 Out 24/192 USB Audio Interface
  • 24 bit/192kHz resolution for professional recording and monitoring with all new Crystal Preamps that deliver pristine, transparent sound
  • +48v Phantom Power accommodates all microphone types
  • Hi Speed USB connection with USB/Direct balance knob for zero latency monitoring; Includes both standard USB and USB C connection cables

Last update on 2020-10-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

10. Behringer UMC204HD

There’s a lot to like when a product is almost 70% cheaper than its competitor, yet has enough firepower to legitimately challenge it. This is exactly what the Behringer UMC204HD does.

This inexpensive audio interface has all of the bells and whistles and more of its $200 counterparts, but offers them at a lot cheaper (check current price).

Pros of the Behringer UMC204HD

Cons of the Behringer UMC204HD

BEHRINGER (UMC204HD)
  • 2x4 USB 2.0 Audio/MIDI Interface for recording microphones and instruments
  • Audiophile 24-Bit/192 kHz resolution for professional audio quality
  • Compatible with popular recording software including Avid Pro Tools*, Ableton Live*, Steinberg Cubase*, etc.

Last update on 2020-10-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Final Verdict

Since it’s such a competitive market for a sub-$200 audio interface, choosing the best one is going to be an exercise in deliberateness. You’ll have to consider what you need, and how much of it you need.

But, if what you need is a simple and durable interface that you can either use at home or on stage, you can’t go wrong with the Focusrite 2i2. It’s an industry-standard for a reason.

Some audio interfaces with all their complications can be difficult to work with. The 2i2, on the other hand, it just works.