Choosing the right audio interface can be daunting, especially when prices can vary from under a hundred to several thousand pounds! That’s why we’ve gathered the best budget audio interfaces, from industry veterans to the freshest new releases, to help you find the right one for you!
If you’ve just started setting up your home studio, there is one thing that cannot be without an audio interface. Your audio interface is the golden bridge between the instruments you play and the digital audio processing that happens in your computer, or better in your DAW.
So, we’ve collated the most famous audio interfaces on a budget suitable for both beginners and more advanced music producers, who want great sound quality at a competitive price. From Audient to Universal Audio, you’ll find the best one for your recording needs.
What’s an audio interface?
An audio interface is a device that converts an audio signal coming from your microphone or instrument into a signal that your computer and music software can recognize and process. It usually connects via USB, but interfaces can also use firewire, ethernet or Thunderbolt connectivity.
The price of an audio interface can range from under £100 to several thousand, according to features and components quality. However, some affordable options can still guarantee great quality at a small price and footprint.
Some of the characteristics you should keep in mind when making your purchase are:
- Types of Inputs/Outputs: XLR (for your mic) and line (for your guitar or synth) inputs are essential. Budget interfaces usually have one of each, but consider investing a bit more on an interface with a few extra inputs if you’re planning to expand your setup. One I/O that might be useful is the MIDI port, which allows you to send and receive MIDI data to/from your instrument and sync it to the song’s BPM, ideal for flawless recordings!
- Connectivity: the standard types of connectivity are USB 2.0 or 3.0, Thunderbolt and Firewire. These all work at a speed equal to 480 Mps, allowing you to record up to 64 channels simultaneously.
The best budget audio interfaces under £250 (2021)
Best for: Guitarists
The Audient Sono was designed in collaboration with Two Notes Audio Engineering, to integrate their Torpedo software which simulates mic’d up guitars and bass amp cabinets and the process of capturing them. You get 2 Audient Console Mic Preamps for a small price, featuring a built-in 12AX7 valve for that analogue vibe and a 3 band EQ to shape your tone.
You’ll also get access to Audient’s ACR creative hub with loads of softwares and plugins to perfect your music production!
Best for: Audio and MIDI Recordings
Arturia’s latest MiniFuse interfaces are a super affordable alternative for music producers who use both audio and MIDI. It features two combo XLR/jack inputs to connect instruments and microphones and 2 5-pin DIN MIDI inputs to send, receive, sync and record your MIDI instruments.
Best for: Price
It’s unlikely you’ll find an audio interface under £100 with this sound quality. The Focusrite Scarlett Solo is only £99! It features one preamp to connect your mic and a line input for your instrument. Moreover, different modes such as AIR and INST give the right flavour to your recordings. It can be easily connected via USB and the necessary drivers can be installed via the quick start tool. The Scarlett Solo allows you to record with low latency and comes with tons of great plugins to refine your tracks, including XLN Audio Addictive Keys & the Focusrite Red Suite.
Best for: Sound Quality
Universal Audio is known for its first-class Apollo line, with top-quality preamps and DSPs to allow you to use UAD plugins with zero latency. Recently, Universal Audio has launched the brand new line Volt, which offers the studio-quality they’re famous for, at a price accessible to any music maker. The Volt 2 features 2 combo inputs for mics and instruments as well as a 1-in/1-out MIDI input to send and receive MIDI data to/from your synths and MIDI instruments.
The real deal is the latency-free recording via direct monitoring and the vintage mode on the mic preamp that simulates Universal Audio’s iconic 610 tube preamp.
If you need some more inspiration here are the best affordable and portable audio interfaces under £250.