Top 10 Entry-Level Audio Interface

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So, you want to get started with audio or music recording and you need a good audio interface for your set-up? Well, Best Reviews has put together the Top 10 Entry-Level Audio Interfaces that you can check out and consider before you buy one. If you’re just starting, you don’t want to waste your money on a higher-end audio interface with loaded features that you have no idea how to use yet. Instead, you should start with one of these entry-level audio interfaces and get familiar with how to record clean professional-sounding audio and then upgrade once you figured out the features that you want in an audio interface. This is not saying these audio interfaces are not good enough to produce good-quality and clean-sounding professional audio. In fact, all of these entry-level audio interfaces are capable of producing audio that is good enough for pro-quality music, video production and podcasting. You might want to choose an audio interface that comes already with a recording software such as Pro-Tools, Cubase, Reasons, Ableton or others. This way, you could get started right away without having to worry about what software to use and whether it’s compatible with your audio interface or what-not.

The reviews and suggestions below are based on personal experience with these products and also from the opinions of people who have purchased and used these products.

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Top 10 Entry-Level Audio Interface

Here are Best Reviews’ Top 10 Entry Level Audio Interface:

1. Behringer U-Phoria UM 2 Audiophile 2×2

Price:$49.00

My number 1 pick is the Behringer U-Phoria. For the price, this is the best entry-level Audio Interface in the market. Good enough to get you started with your music recording project. You can use it for both mic and instruments. I recorded guitar tracks with this interface and also some vocals. The quality of the audio is good enough. I didn’t experience latency, statics, or any interference when I was recording my tracks. It is equipped with 48v phantom power to help juice up the mic. It comes with Tracktion 4 audio production software you can download after you register your unit. Tracktion 4 is not the most popular recording software out there, but it should be able get you started recording right away.

Specifications:

The U-PHORIA UM2 2×2 USB Audio Interface from Behringer is a 2×2 USB audio interface that is capable of tracking your audio with a sampling rate up to 48 kHz. It features a single XENYX combination XLR/TRS microphone preamplifier with selectable 48V phantom power. Additionally, the UM2 has a front-panel 1/4″ instrument input with dedicated level control. Output is provided in the form of stereo RCA outputs and a front-panel 1/4″ headphone jack.

  • Up to 48 kHz Sampling Rate
  • XENYX Mic Preamp with 48V
  • Front-Panel Combo XLR/TRS Mic/Line Input
  • Front-Panel 1/4″ Instrument Input
  • Selectable Direct Monitoring
  • Stereo RCA Outputs
  • 1/4″ Headphone Output
  • DAW Software Download with Registration

2. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First

Price:$129.00

Coming in at number 2. I know it’s over $100 but the Focusrite Scarlett Solo is, quite simply, the ideal USB interface for recording the human voice or a single instrument.  The solo is easy to use, has an excellent latency-free headphone jack, and lets you get high-quality audio from professional-grade microphones, either condenser or dynamic, into your computer.  It is pretty much plug-and-play. You take it out of the box, connect it to your computer via the supplied USB-C cable and it directs you step-by-step from that point on. It comes with Pro Tools and Ableton Recording Softwares. Personally, I prefer to use Pro Tools as my recording software. So, this is a big plus that Scarlett Solo comes with Pro Tools First. You can later upgrade to a higher version of the Pro Tools once you get familiar with audio recording. For now, you just need a mic or an instrument and studio headphones and you can start recording your audio.

Specifications:

  • 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.
  • Includes Pro Tools | First Focusrite Creative Pack, Ableton Live Lite, Softube Time and Tone Bundle, Focusrite’s Red Plug-in Suite

3. M-Audio AIR 192|4 — 2-In/2-Out USB Audio Interface with Recording Software from ProTools & Ableton Live, Plus Studio-Grade FX & Virtual Instruments

Price:$109.00

Not the cheapest of entry-level audio interfaces but if you wanna get great performance and professional results, this interface is the one you should get. It is a game-changer. It’s all well made, super sturdy and it accomplishes its purpose with no issues. You’ll get satisfying results, without post-production!  The mic sounds amazing and is very high quality. It picks up all and any sounds. You would love that you can adjust on the fly with just the audio interface. If you want to hear the raw audio of the mic or blend it with the effects, literally just a twist of a knob, and you’ll be able to turn up and or down as needed. You do not need to go through the computer. The M-Audio Air comes with Pro Tools First and Ableton Software also. So, you’re all set. M-Audio is a very popular brand that’s definitely worth considering when buying your first audio interface.

Specifications:

With the AIR 192|4, you can create flawless 24-bit/192kHz studio-quality recordings with an intuitive and easy-to-use audio interface. The AIR 192|4 enables you to record up to 2 channels at once with its dedicated XLR+¼” balanced combo input, and an all-new ¼” instrument input that has a specially-designed gain and impedance stage to provide the most accurate representation of a guitar or bass plugged directly into the interface

The AIR 192|4 comes complete with a software package that has everything to get you started including Pro Tools | First M-Audio Edition, Ableton Live Lite, Eleven Lite, the Avid Effect Collection, AIR’s Creative FX Collection, 2GB of sample content from Touch Loops and Xpand!2, Mini Grand, Vacuum, BOOM from AIR Music Tech.

  • Capture Every Detail: Premium component selection and 24-bit/192kHz resolution for professional recording and monitoring to your Mac to PC
  • Low Latency: Hi-Speed USB / USB-C circuitry gives you the fastest connection, with a class-leading round trip latency of only 2.59ms; USB and USB-C connection cables included
  • Connectivity: XLR+¼inches TRS combo input, (1) ¼inches instrument input, stereo ¼inches outs and ¼inches headphone out with independent level control
  • Feature Packed: Rugged metal chassis, large central volume control, VU LED meters and USB/Direct knob for zero latency monitoring
  • Software Included: ProTools | First, Ableton Live Lite, Eleven Lite, Avid FX Collection & Touch Loops content, plus the Creative FX Collection, Xpand!2, Mini Grand, Vacuum & BOOM from AIR Music Tech
  • Pristine Studio Grade Capture: Transparent Crystal preamps and ultra-pristine A/D converters for unsurpassed audio recording quality

4. Mackie Audio Interface, Onyx Artist 1X2 USB Audio Interface (Onyx Artist 1-2)

Price:$129.99

The Mackie Onyx audio interface is basically “plug and play”. Setting it up was super easy. The whole unit screams quality. It’s built like a tank and the knobs feel strong too and it has low latency. Preamps are clean and do what they are supposed to do. Also, the sound quality is excellent. Good, low floor, a very quiet hiss that’s easy to remove with Audacity, and gives a nice rich sound with a dynamic mic. The unit is compact so it doesn’t get in the way or require much room. Phantom power is at the push of a button. The live monitoring through speakers or headphones works flawlessly. It comes with Tracktion audio production software.

Specifications:

Combining high-resolution 24-bit/192kHz converters with premium Mackie analog circuitry and Built-Like-A-Tank hardware design, The bus-powered Onyx Series USB Audio interfaces give you the power to capture your best performance and experience media with pristine fidelity at home or on the go. Perfect for singer-songwriters and content creators, the Onyx artist 1×2 features an Onyx mic pre Plus a ¼” Input with Hi-Z switch for quick and easy recording. Both Onyx models offer zero-latency direct monitoring plus a headphone output, L/R line-output and +48V phantom power.

  • 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
  • Traction music production software included
  • Os Requirements – Mac: OS X 10. 8

5. PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2×2 USB Audio Interface

Price:$99.95

For those who want to sound professional without breaking the bank and going through a thousand settings, this is the kit you need; simple and straight forward and easy to set up. Played with Bass, Guitar, Electric Saz, And Aerophone all recorded, monitored, and played back perfectly. Good buy and easy to use.

The PreSonus Studio One software that comes with it is really quite good, and the only thing that keeps it from being a really full-featured DAW is the lack of mastering functionality (which you can upgrade the product for if you need it). Construction of the unit is good, sturdy, metal case, controls are smooth operating (with detents), and I like the combo-style (XLR and 1/4″) panel jacks for the inputs.

Specifications:

  • 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
  • 2 combo mic/instrument inputs with high-performance, low-noise, high-headroom mic preamplifiers
  • Includes Studio One Artist DAW software
  • Includes the Studio Magic Plug-In Suite
  • Frequency Response is 20 Hz to 20 kHz

6. ART USB Dual Pre 2-Channel Audio Interface Preamplifier

Price:$99.99

This little device can blow you away. It is so small and light and is able to be powered directly from an iPad, not requiring a power source or battery, although they can both be used if desired. It is able to take both line inputs such as guitars or keyboards, or XLR for microphones. It also has a 48V phantom power circuit for condenser style mics that require it. Guitars sound sweet through this on GarageBand and Auria, although an Ampkit app was used to get the great sounds for recording. It will allow the recording of 2 tracks at the same time from different sources.

The Art USB Dual Audio Interface will work on almost any platform. It can use a battery for phantom power and the unit itself is small. It has good preamps for the price but it does not come with any software.

Specifications:

  • USB connectivity to desktop and laptop computers
  • Low noise, fully balanced XLR and 1/4″ TRS Combi inputs
  • Up to 48dB of clean gain
  • Built-in low noise phantom power supply
  • Latency-free monitoring mix and level controls

7. Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2 Two-Channel Audio Interface

Price:$139.00

Beautifully presented and built. Not only does this interface look good, but it also works perfectly. Very easy to set up and the software package that comes with it (Available when you register), will provide you with a burst of enthusiasm as well.

This is the example of a simple setup: Midi Keyboard, Speakers, Headphones, and Mic. Highly recommend to anyone else looking for an interface that gets you started right away.

Specifications:

  • 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
  • Plug in a pair of mics together using the two combi-xlr/jack inputs
  • Connect to studio monitors, or plug in on stage with dual Jack outputs

8. Tascam US-1×2 USB Audio/MIDI Interface with Microphone Preamps and iOS Compatibility

Price:$159.00

This is a great little unit for the price. The size is perfect for sitting on desk/workstation. The sound quality from the A/D-D/A converter is amazing. Latency (when configured correctly) is VERY low. Not zero, but low enough it doesn’t hinder playing over the monitor. Garage Band integration on a mac is easy. Just plug it in, load Garage Band, and choose it for the input/output and your set. Took longer to open the packaging than to get it set up.

If you’re planning to use iPad Cubasis – this is a big bang! It all works with Cubasis 3 seamlessly and completely covers need of a 16 inputs band even on iPad Air gen 2. Highly recommend – it’s stable as a rock and does all you need for live mixing & performance. Literary just plug and play. One thing though that on-board effects are off. Good luck.

Specifications:

TASCAM’s US-1×2 brings great quality desktop recording to a price never before possible. It features a high-quality Ultra-HDDA microphone preamp as well as a 1/4” line input – switchable to instrument level for guitar or bass.

In addition, both stereo line inputs and outputs are found on the rear panel for fast an easy connection of all of your exisitng audio gear. The unique design of the bio-cell side panels angles the US-1×2 up from the desktop for easier usability and – to make sure that you are up and running in minutes – both Steinberg Cubase LE and Cubasis LE are also included.

  • Connect with iPads and other iOS devices
  • +48V phantom power on microphone input
  • Switchable 1/4″ high-impedance input
  • Microphone preamp gain range of 57 dB
  • Direct monitoring function for zero-latency monitoring
  • Tough all-metal casing for durability
  • Confirmed operation with major DAW software (SONAR, ProTools, Cubase, Live, Studio One, Garage Band)

9. Shure MVi Digital Audio Interface

Price:$129.00

This little interface is great and suits a home recording needs perfectly. The front panel is completely digital with no physical buttons. It’s heavier than it looks and feels solidly constructed.

This is literally the only interface that truly works for iPad and iPhone recording. The others say they will interface, but Apple products are so overly exclusive that they don’t pair with other products for more than a few minutes. This one keeps connected and Apple products won’t boot you out. Great for hip hop producers who also want to use midi controllers and other XLR based connections or the standard instrument cable.

Specifications:

  • Digital audio interface connects a professional XLR microphone or 1/4″ instrument output to a computer or mobile device
  • Features include 5 DSP preset modes for EQ, compression, limiter settings, gain control, mute, and volume, and phantom power
  • 5 DSP preset modes (speech, singing, flat, acoustic instrument, loud) for EQ, compression, and limiter settings
  • Touch panel provides control for gain, mute, and headphone volume
  • Manual audio settings can be adjusted via iOS devices with Lightning Connector, using the ShurePlus MOTIV app
  • JFET Class A buffered instrument preamplifier input for exceptional tone and clarity
  • Combined XLR microphone and 6.3 mm instrument input
  • When connected to a laptop/PC it also provides the phantom power required to operate condenser microphones
  • For maximum flexibility, the unit connects to any PC, Mac or iOS device with Lightning Connector, as well as most Android devices (contact our expert team for full compatibility details), giving you absolute control while on the move
  • ShurePlus MOTIV mobile recording app offers recording, monitoring, and control with all Shure MOTIV Digital Microphones and recording solutions; includes metering, equalization, compression, wind noise reduction, improved UI, and a new editor

10. Steinberg UR24C 2×4 USB 3.0 Audio Interface

Price:$249.99

Although the most expensive on this list, the UR66C with its USB 3.0 connected through to USB 3.1 and “Super Speed” driver selected, this interface needed no buffer adjustments at all. Sound quality is awesome as it is with all Steinberg products. Solid Build, Great Feel to the Knobs.

Nice, rather simple piece for kit. It does what it needs to do without a lot of glitz or glamour. The W10 drivers seem stable. It comes with a tiny USB A to C cable so plan on getting a longer one unless you’ll be in a stationary situation. The included software is a nice perk with the effects and simulators being my favorite part – Steinberg knows a few things about effects!!! The dumbed-down included set still works and sounds great.

Specifications:

  • 2 x 4 USB 3. 0 Audio Interface with 2 x D-PRE, 32-bit/192 kHz support, MIDI I/O and iPad connectivity
  • Latency-free DSP-powered monitoring with REV-X reverb, Channel Strip, and Guitar Amp Classics (VST 3 and AU plug-in versions also included)
  • Compatible with all major audio editing, mastering, and music production software
  • Switchable monitor modes (DAW/DJ) change the function of the headphones output
  • Rugged full-metal housing for ultimate durability


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