Choosing an audio interface can be a daunting prospect, especially when you’re on a budget. Like a bunch of big audio recording geeks, we know that picking out the sometimes intricate differences between several similar looking interfaces can be tricky. With that in mind, we’ve prepared a quick rundown of what we think are some really good picks for an audio interface at the $200 or less price point.

Our top pick is the M-Audio AIR 192|6, we loved just about everything about this interface. The number of available inputs and outputs (plus MIDI in/out), build quality feels really nice, the audio recording quality was like magic to our ears and the controls are nicely laid out. For the price, this is a fantastic piece of kit.

Top Audio Interfaces Under $200

ImageAudio InterfacesConnectivityInputsOutputsSoftware Incuded
M-Audio AIR 192|6 -...
Our Pick

$230.99 at Amazon
USB type C 2 x XLR-1/4″ combo (mic/line), 2 x 1/4″ (Hi-Z), 5-pin MIDI input ¼” stereo and headphone out, 5-pin MIDI outputPro Tools First, Ableton Live Lite, 20 Effect Plug-ins
Focusrite Scarlett...$225.04 at AmazonUSB type C1x XLR mic input. 1x 6.3mmm line input2x 6.3mm line outAbleton Live Lite, Pro Tools First Creative Pack, Red Plug-in Suite, Focusrite Collective access
BEHRINGER Audio...$176.00 at AmazonUSB 2.04 x XLR/TRS Combo, 4 x 1/4" (Inserts)6 x 1/4", 2 x XLR, 2 x Stereo, 1 x 1/4" (Headphones)None
PreSonus Studio 24c...$159.95 at AmazonUSB type C2 x XLR-1/4" combo (mic/line/Hi-Z), MIDI in2 x 1/4" (main out), MIDI outputStudio One Artist

Our Pick: M-Audio AIR 192|6

Computer Connectivity: USB type C
Inputs: 2 x XLR-1/4″ combo (mic/line), 2 x 1/4″ (Hi-Z), 5-pin MIDI input
Outputs: ¼” stereo and headphone out, 5-pin MIDI output
A/D: Resolution: 24-bit/192 kHz
Phantom Power: Yes, +48v
Power Supply: USB bus-powered

What’s good: Feels really well built, fantastic recording quality.

Not so good: Driver issues for some users.

The M-Audio AIR 192|6 is a USB type C interface. As you’ve probably gathered from the rest of this article, that’s a really good thing for everyone. USB-C is leading the charge in near-zero latency recording technologies and we love seeing so many manufacturers thoroughly embracing it.

The AIR 192|6 is packed with good things. You have super high-fidelity 24-bit/192 kHz audio recording, a double XLR TRS combo or instrument inputs, ¼” stereo and headphone out, 5-pin MIDI input/output, and +48v phantom power.

The design of the M-Audio AIR 192|6 is quite simply beautiful. The control layout is not only radically functional but also incredibly aesthetic. The professional-grade metal casing looks fantastic and provides a level of durability we hope will keep the interface running for many years to come.

The sound quality needs to be heard to be believed. How M-Audio can produce this level of clarity at this price point is totally beyond us. We’re not about to complain about it though. Preamps are wonderfully clean, there’s no doubt that this interface will take whatever you throw at it with ease.

Even if the interface wasn’t fantastic, the bundled software suite would more than make up the price of admission. You get: Pro Tools – First M-Audio Edition, Ableton Live Lite & Eleven Lite, Avid Effects Collection, AIR Music Tech Creative FX Collection, AIR Music Tech Xpand! 2, AIR Music Tech Mini Grand, AIR Music Tech Vacuum and AIR Music Tech BOOM.

Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Generation

Computer Connectivity: USB type C
Inputs: 1x XLR mic input. 1x 6.3mmm line input
Outputs: 2x 6.3mm line out
A/D: Resolution: 24-bit/192 kHz
Phantom Power: Yes, +48v
Power Supply: USB bus-powered

What’s good: Great quality recordings, super compact size.

Not so good: No headphone volume adjustment knob, no on/off switch.

The Focusrite Scarlett Solo (review) is in its 3rd generation now, and it really holds up to the expectation of quality we have when we try a Focusrite product.

This little unit packs one heck of a punch for its size, this is the most compact model in the Scarlett range. We have a high-speed USB-C connection to ensure ultra-low latency, zero-latency direct monitoring, high-resolution 24bit/192 kHz recording quality, a single XLR mic input, a single 6.3mm line input, and two line outs, not to mention the suite of software that Focusrite have bundled in for free – Pro Tools | First Focusrite Creative Pack, Ableton Live Lite, Softube Time and Tone Bundle, Focusrite’s Red Plug-in Suite, 3-month Splice subscription, and your choice of one free XLN Addictive Keys virtual instrument.

A feature that really makes the Scarlett Solo 3rd generation stand out from its peers is that Focusrite have decided to include their proprietary “Air” mode in this interface. Usually reserved for the higher end Clarett series “Air” mode enhances vocals and instruments, lending a unique vintage tone that is inspired by the original transformer-based ISA preamps of years gone by.

This is a durable piece of kit, designed to take the knocks and scrapes that a musicians kit bag will throw at it. The tiny size really helps with that too. We’d be happy to bring this along with us when we needed to grab studio-grade recordings on the road.

Behringer UMC404HD

Computer Connectivity: USB 2.0
Inputs: 4x combo mic/line XLR/6.3mm jack inputs
Outputs: 4x 6.3mm line out
A/D: Resolution: 24-bit/192 kHz
Phantom Power: Yes, +48v
Power Supply: AC power supply

What’s good: Tons of inputs, features well beyond the price point.

Not so good: Design is a bit ugly. awkwardly placed a phantom power button.

Behringer is a name synonymous with audio recording at this point. If you’ve ever done any work in the audio space then you’ve almost certainly used one of their products at one time or another. Famous for delivering quality products for a reasonable price, the Behringer UMC404HD lives up to its manufacturers’ reputation.

This interface offers more channels (four) and features than most of the others at the $200 and under price point. We were actually surprised that Behringer managed to include so many ports in this device without sacrificing recording quality.

You’ll get ultra-high quality 24bit/192 kHz recording quality for crystal clear audio, four combo mic/line XLR/6.3mm jack inputs, zero-latency direct monitoring, MIDI in and out, super low noise preamps, every knob and button you could want (Behringer aren’t exactly fans of the minimalist approach), all bundled up in a solidly constructed housing that feels like it should last a lifetime.

If you need a lot of inputs and you’re working on a budget then this is definitely an option worth exploring. The quality is there, even if the design aesthetic isn’t quite as polished as the other interfaces on this list.

Tascam US-2×2

Computer Connectivity: USB 2.0
Inputs: 2x XLR / jack combo inputs
Outputs: 2x 6.3mm line out
A/D: Resolution: 24-bit/96 kHz
Phantom Power: Yes, +48v
Power Supply: USB bus-powered, optional AC power supply (not included)

What’s good: Super rugged build quality, highly portable.

Not so good: No on/off switch, no hardware direct monitoring switch.

The Tascam US-2×2 is a rugged miniature powerhouse built with the intention of being kicked around by working musicians who demand durability. This unit feels incredibly solid in your hands and was obviously constructed with portability first and foremost in mind.

You get two XLR / jack combo inputs, awesome high fidelity 24-bit/96 kHz audio recording, MIDI in and out, and two 6.3mm line outs, all in an attractively designed little housing.

The preamps are great quality, the tone they produce is lovely and warm, but still as crystal clear and detailed as you’d expect with the audio processing experience a company like Tascam has.

This interface also features a convenient standalone mode, this is really useful if you want to do some work but don’t’ feel like dragging your computer around with you everywhere you go. Looking for a middle ground between standalone and bringing the laptop along for the ride? The US-2×2 offers iOS compatibility when paired with the Apple Camera Connection Kit (not included).

While the control layout does feel comprehensive we were a little disappointed to see that there was no dedicated hardware direct monitoring switch. If you want to take advantage of the direct monitoring feature you’ll have to do it through software instead.

PreSonus Studio 24c

Computer Connectivity: USB type C
Inputs: 2x XLR / jack Mic/Line/Inst combo inputs
Outputs: 2x balanced TRS main outputs
A/D Resolution: 24-bit/192 kHz
Phantom Power: Yes, +48v
Power Supply: USB bus-powered

What’s good: Crystal clear preamps, easy to setup.

Not so good: Gain can seem weak compared to other interfaces.

The PreSonus Studio 24c started off on the right foot when we discovered it was a bus-powered USB-C interface. One high-speed cable for power and connectivity is exactly what you want when purchasing a portable audio interface.

This attractive looking blue box certainly brings a lot of utility to the table. There are two XLR/ Jack combo Mic/Line/Inst inputs to give you the freedom to record whatever you want, two balanced TRS main outputs, MIDI in and out and optional +48v phantom power.

PreSonus made waves in the audio recording while when they debuted their proprietary XMAX preamp technology. The Studio 24c takes advantage of the new generation XMAX-L solid-state preamps to create the signature flat sound that PreSonus is so famous for. In practice, we really enjoyed working with the 24c, the uncolored sound makes a really nice base to build upon in your chosen DAW.

Speaking of DAWs, PreSonus is generous enough to include the Artist edition of their Studio One DAW with the purchase of every Studio 24c interface. Getting an expensive piece of software like this bundled is really useful when you’re trying to get your recording setup going on a budget.

Audient iD4

Computer Connectivity: USB 2.0
Inputs: 1x XLR / jack mic/Line combo input
Outputs: 2x 6.3mm jack
A/D: Resolution: 24-bit/96 kHz
Phantom Power: Yes, +48v
Power Supply: USB bus-powered

What’s good: Hyper portable – this thing is tiny, beautiful ergonomics, usb-c.

Not so good: No headphone volume adjustment knob, installing drivers can be finicky.

We absolutely love the design aesthetic that Audient has gone for here. The minimalist but highly functional layout works just as nicely as its appearance suggests. We feel like it’s bound to turn heads when it’s set up on your desk.

This interface is reasonably well equipped for its size and conservative design. You’ve got a single XLR / Jack Mic/Line combination input, two 6.3mm jack outputs, high resolution 24-bit/96 kHz recording, +48v phantom power and rather curiously two headphone jacks.

The gain on this device is absolutely brilliant, taking the volume from the quietest little whisper to a roaring crescendo without any hissing or struggling. It’s so quiet that we forgot we were even using an interface at times. We think this would be a great interface for someone wanting to do voiceover or other vocal work, due to the extreme quality and lack of noise from the preamps.

You do only get one input with the Audient iD4, but depending on the type of work you’re doing that might not be an issue. This probably isn’t the interface for someone who wants to record multiple instruments at the same time. The only time the spartan aesthetic really let us down was the lack of a dedicated headphone volume adjustment knob.

Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2

Computer Connectivity: USB 2.0
Inputs: 2x XLR / TRS combo socket Mic/Line inputs
Outputs: 1x 6.3mm line out
A/D: Resolution: 24-bit/192 kHz
Phantom Power: Yes, +48v
Power Supply: USB bus-powered

What’s good: Huge ergonomic volume knob, safety-buffer performance is amazing.

Not so good: Plastic construction doesn’t feel as durable as we’d like.

The Native Instruments Komplete Audio 2 is a sleek, stylish 2-channel audio interface with one of the nicest volume knobs we’ve had the pleasure of using.

Features wise we’re spoiled for choice, you’ve got two combo socket XLR/TRS Mic/Line inputs, a single 6.3mm line out, +48v phantom power, beautifully clear 24bit/192 kHz audio recording, and USB bus-power for ultimate portability.

Something we really enjoyed about this interface was just how good the buffer is, it’s very unlikely to choke, even when you’re using it with a low end or older system. Very impressive.

Let’s talk about that volume knob though. This is honestly the crowning glory of the Komplete Audio 2, every interface should have one of these. It’s smooth like butter, yet still feels tactile and sturdy.

We were a little worried about the plastic construction. While we didn’t see anything to suggest that the Komplete Audio 2 was poorly made, we do like to ensure that our devices have a good long life. We recon that you may have to be a little more careful with it than the metal housed interfaces, but if you’re not smashing it around it should last as well as any of the others.

FAQ

Is $200 enough to get a good interface?

Obviously you need to realize that in the world of audio recording a $200 purchase is a fairly small investment, so don’t expect the best of the best. Does that mean that these interfaces aren’t any good? Far from it. I’d say that all of the audio interfaces on this list are a good choice when you consider the cost-effective budget we’re working with. If you need something with more options check our under $500 reviews.

Why should I get an interface that records 24bit?

Having the best recording quality you can get will help the quality of your work shine and showcase your talents. You should definitely be able to get an interface capable of at least 24-bit/96 kHz recording in this price range, which we think is more than adequate for most of the work you’ll be throwing in the direction of these machines and you should be able to produce some great sounding recordings.

How many ports am I going to need?

The number of ports/channels that you want from an interface is totally down to what you want to record. You might want a few more in/out ports to record from multiple sources at the same time and that’s also doable on this budget. Our top pick actually has just the one input, but that was what best suited our use case and we know that your own needs may vary.