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Best Budget Audio Interface 2022: 14 Around The £200 Mark!!

Which audio interface is best? What budget audio interface is the highest quality?

Nowadays, the best budget audio interface is incredibly difficult to find. Why?

Well, let’s just say that manufacturers of audio interfaces seriously stepped up their game.So much so that a quiet set of preamps and zero latency monitoring aren’t all that hard (or expensive) to come by. Today it’s not uncommon to to find both these in audio interfaces under £200!! What’s more, the market for a budget audio interface has grown significantly.

Compare your options for budget audio interfaces to those you’d have 5 years ago, and you’ll be staggered by the amount of new interfaces (& brands), which have entered the segment. Although don’t let that fool you – the current market isn’t just awash with good audio interfaces. If it was, there’d be no need to read this blog; there’s still plenty of audio interfaces to avoid. In fact, there’s more now than ever before!

Let’s just say that the sheer amount of new tech that goes into AIs in 2022, plus the fact that those under £200 are victims of mass-production, means that there’s more than a few hiccups that shall we say… slip through the net. So to avoid you splashing the cash on anything but the best budget audio interface, we’ve compiled a list of 13 interfaces + rated their preamps, features and overall build. You can thank us later.

After something specific about the best audio interface? Or just curious as to how an audio interface affects sound quality? Use the menu below to get all the answers you need in one click…

The best budget audio interfaces @ a glance…

14 of the best budget audio interfaces (around £200)

With there being that many budget audio interfaces out there, there’s pretty much one for everybody. Be you a smalltime producer or a pro after a more portable option, you can’t get over the fact that budget gear is becoming all the more appealing. Especially since the likes of Rode & Arturia joined the game.

Thankfully though, making your decision should be easy, as we’ve done pretty much all the legworkl for you. Simply keep scrolling for out rundown on the best budget audio interfaces + answers to many of your FAQs…

1: Arturia Minifuse 2

2: Motu M2

3: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen)

4: Audient iD14 MK2

5: Solid State Logic 2+

6: Steinberg UR22C MK2

7: Presonus Studio 24C

8: I Rig Pro Duo I/O

9: Mackie Onyx Producer

10: Roland RUBIX22

11: M-Audio Air 192

Best portable audio interface (around £200)

12: Focusrite Scarlett Solo

Cheapest good audio interface in the region of £200

13: Behringer U-phoria UMC202HD

Best audio interface if your budget is slightly bigger…

14: Arturia AudioFuse Rev 2

Which is the best budget audio interface? Our editor’s choice…

When it comes to the best budget audio interface, we did struggle to come to verdict. But with that being said, we’ve managed it. Ask us & the best budget audio interface for sale today is the…

Arturia Minifuse 2 = Best Budget Audio Interface
Latest Price!

Reason being that this newcomer has a LOT of extra features over its competition. And yet, it manages not to be gimmicky; the Minifuse 2 doesn’t lack when it comes to sound quality either. In fact, on that subject alone, it’s stand-out!

Team the super low levels of input noise (-129dB) with the sky high dynamic range (110dB) & you really do hear the difference between this & the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. The clarity is there! Levels of which we didn’t expect from a budget interface of this size. What’s more, the Minifuse gives you more control over you sound too.

Unlike the majority of its rivals, it also boasts a direct monitor mixer knob + gives you access to a fantastic software package, including: Ableton live Lite, Analogue Lab Intro & a whole host of high quality FX plugins. Far better than the bundle you get with the Motu M2!! An interface that (on paper) the Minifuse comes pretty darn close to.

Take into account its metal build, humongous 5 year warranty & the fact it the Minifuse gives you a Midi In/ Out port too, & it’s pretty hard to pick fault. The Minfuse is not just a good on paper. It’s a great all-rounder & if you ask us, the recipe for the best budget audio interface.

Enjoy this review of the best audio interface around £200 and eager for more? Don’t miss out on all our latest Music Kit Reviews, as well as the lowdown on all things Music Production. Recently, we also published a guide on the Best Condenser Microphone Under £500 + another on the Best Vocal Microphone For Recording. Useful if you’re kitting out your studio!

Or, if you’ve still got as burning question about audio interfaces, keep reading to discover even more about why audio interfaces are such valuable pieces of kit…

The lowdown on the best budget audio interfaces + sound recording & more

Yes.

The quality of an audio interface can make a substantial difference to your overall sound. Reason being that the audio interface is actually what turns the signals picked up by your condenser microphone into audio – i.e. sound that your computer can read. Think of it as the go-between or a transformer of sorts.

And that’s because the signals that comes out of condenser microphones (i.e vocal mics) are actually quite small. The majority deliver relatively low voltage recordings, that need to be stretched out and amplified before they’re fed into your computer. And it’s this that gives you a fuller vocal and enhances the range of your sound. Just one of the jobs of your audio interface.

Another one being to actually supply your mic with what’s known as phantom power. This is the 48V that any condenser mic needs in order to function. Without it, your mic will not pick up anything in the way of recordings, making it practically useless. Hence why investing in the best audio interface possible is just common sense.

Fail to do so and not only could you be taking an unwanted vocal hit when making recordings, but you could also be hemming yourself into using a lower-quality mic.

Yes, audio interfaces are certainly worth it, as without them you cannot record professional quality sound. Something that especially nowadays is a ‘must’ if you want to gain any sort of loyal fanbase.

Exactly why we say that you shouldn’t judge an audio interface purely on its price. If you want to know if an audio interface is worth it, you should instead judge it on its overall value. So basically assess your needs and see which audio interface provides the most value for you in your situation. To do so you ‘d have to take into account factors like the quality of the preamps, the amount/ type of outputs as well as portability and how durable it is.

In which case you’ll often find that the cheapest audio interface isn’t always as valuable as its price leads you to believe.

As for the best audio interface for beginners, you can’t go wrong with the Scarlett Solo. That’s providing of course you don’t need more than one channel.

Focusrite are one of the best in the business when it comes to easy to use user-friendly interfaces. The setup, especially on their smaller devices (those targeted at beginners), is super simple. Plug in your device and you’ll be instructed on how to install the drivers (if you’re on Windows), while for those on Mac the device will be plug-in-and-play!

So as you can imagine, with a Focusrite it’s quite a challenge to even get stuck. And then even if you do, their support is second to none, so solving an issue shouldn’t be a problem – we can vouch for that!

Focusrite offer some of the best audio interfaces that money can buy, hence why their Clarett range is often used by professional producers and studios.

The company itself was founded in 1985 and began life making microphone preamps and equalisers. Exactly why Focusrite today, is one of the most popular brands of audio interfaces. Even to this day, the obsession with preamps and sound quality hasn’t left the company. Most products from Focusrite are still singled-out for the quality of their preamps, as well as their overall build quality, which has made them very much the industry standard.

Although (as above), there can often be better options depending on what type of audio interface you’re looking for. So don’t be a brand snob – do your research & shop around!

How you go about choosing an audio interface really all depends on your situation. Only then can you go about selecting the best audio interface for you. So to help you out, here’s a few questions to help you narrow down your options…

  • How do you record? – Are you a vocalist? If so, preamps must be high up on your agenda, as it’s these that’ll have an impact on your overall sound. The last thing you want is to spend £100 on an interface only to find that the preamps in its rival are significantly quieter.
  • Do you need a lot of channels? – In an band? Then you have to consider this! Buy an interface with too few channels and you may be find yourself hindered in terms of recording, or worse, have to folk out for a second interface later down the line.
  • What’s your budget? – While we’d never say you should judge an interface by price, if you have a low budget then it’s important that you get the balance right. For instance, if you’re in a band and need a lot of inputs, don’t just buy an interface based purely on that. Also consider the quality of the preamps that you’ll get in an interface of that size on a budget. Are they good? If not you may be better off buying two smaller interfaces.

While professionals don’t really have a set audio interface which is their ‘go to’, you do tend to find a lot of professionals trend towards the Universal Audio and top of the line Focusrite interfaces.

The reason most likely being the quality of the preamps, which in both breeds of interface, is top notch. Universal Audio especially is known for their seamless audio quality and because of which, are able to charge quite a hefty price tag. But then again, that doesn’t seem to have scared off many audiophiles. Even Drake is said to use an interface by Universal Audio, so if you ask us, there’s certainly value in what they produce.

Although with that being said, we wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of professional musicians and producers migrate from these brands over to Arturia. Granted, Arturia interfaces are nowhere near as a expensive, however we feel that their latest wave of interfaces has really set the bar high and is from a professional point of view, a tempting prospect.

Want to find out more about interfaces used in professional studios? Be sure to check out our full article on Best Audio Interface For Music Production.

Yes, it really does matter what interface you use, especially if sound quality is your main concern.

Use and interface with poor quality preamps and it’s likely you’ll be left with a slight static hissing noise towards the background of your recordings. Not to mention a flatter sound, which isn’t good! Ask us and the preamps are the most important part of the entire interface and what you should judge your purchase by.

It’s also worth baring in mind that different interfaces come with different amounts of connections. Therefore if you’ll be feeding a lot of audio into your interface, all from different sources, then a budget audio interface like the Scarlett 2i2 or Solo is likely not going to be large enough. Bigger interfaces have more ports because they have more processing power, so for those of you in a band, a high quality interface with a good amount of outputs should be a priority.

In a sense, yes – you can use a mixer as an audio interface.

However, that’s only if of course the mixer has a USB output. In the case it doesn’t then you’ll need to buy a separate audio interface. Also bear in mind that a USB mixer which has stereo output doesn’t do the same thing as an interface which is multichannel. The difference being that you’ll be able to record across multiple track simultaneously using a variety of audio sources.

Drake is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t cheap-out on an audio interface.

Drizzy is said to use an interface called the RME Babyface, arguably the best audio interface for sale today. For those of you who want to know more, it’s a 24-Channel, USB bus-powered AI that’s got a near pristine sound quality, comes with great wordclock accuracy and performs with ultra-low latency. In other words, it performs!

There’s no two ways about it, ‘cheaping-out’ on your audio interface could well affect the sound quality of your recordings. That’s because the quality of an audio interface does a lot to influence your sound.

Due to condenser microphones recording a low-voltage sound, the audio interface works as a preamplifier, boosting the sound to the right levels so that when it’s fed into your computer it sounds crisp and clear. The interface can do this because it has in-built preamps (usually 2), that work to expand the frequencies and give your voice more range and depth.

It’s the quality of these preamps, which can determine how well the sound is amplified. So as you’d expect, those preamps you find in a budget audio interface don’t usually perform as well as those at a higher pricepoint.

While at first you may be puzzled by how much the prices of audio interfaces vary, when you really dissect what they offer, it’s actually pretty easy to get your head around why the best audio interfaces cost so much. Curious? Here’s just a couple of reasons that could justify a high price…

  • Material quality – Fact is that audio interfaces just like every piece of tech, use certain materials in their construction. Some will be clad in plastic and not be all that durable, while other may demand a higher price because their outer casing is metal. Much the same goes for the quality of the switchgear and the internal components. All of which really comes back to the saying “you get what you pay for”.
  • R&D costs – Depending on what type of audio interface your looking ton buy, a large part of its asking price will be down to how much has been spent on its design. For instance if a company was to launch a new model or do a substantial redesign, the cost of the end product would be quite high. Designing a new body, internals and switchgear is not cheap! Whereas if the new version is merely a face-lifted version of the pre-existing interface, then there’s a strong chance that it’ll be priced far lower.
  • Becoming obsolete – A reason some of the best audio interfaces demand such a high price is because (unlike cheaper alternatives), they’re designed to stand the test of time. So by that we mean that if you buy an expensive audio interface today, within 10 years you may only be 1, possibly 2 models behind the most current. In contrast to a budget audio interface, which may have evolved 5 times throughout the same period.
  • Input/ output features – Take a look at the best audio interface you can find, and sure enough you’ll see a difference in inputs/ outputs compared to something more budget. Reason being that a feature-rich interface is significantly more valuable to you (the consumer). A more flexible interface opens up so many more doors for you as a consumer, yet of course, the knock on effect of which, is the cost of integrating these features.
  • Sound quality – Invest in an upmarket interface and it’s also likely you’ll see a slight advantage when it comes to sound quality. Typically the best audio interfaces (if judged by price), offer higher sampling rates, as well as more depth to their sound. This being because the price of an audio interface can often reflect the quality of the preamps – the part of the interface that amplifies the frequency of your vocals.

In many cases, yes.

Upgrading your audio interface is a great way to increase your sound quality and clarity of your overall vocal. However, the way you upgrade is likely to have the largest affect. So upgrading your audio interface could be as simple as replacing your existing interface with the latest model – i.e upgrading from the Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen) to the newer 3rd Gen model.

Or you could go one step further and trade your budget audio interface for something slightly more lux. Either way though, because of how fast and efficient tech is becoming, upgrading your audio interface is an easy way to get a cheeky boost in sound quality and improve the overall clarity of your recordings. Let’s just say that the pros use pricy audio interfaces for a reason.

When deciding on what is the best audio interface for you, we’d suggest not purely making your decision based on brand. But with that being said, opting for a Presonus interface (from what we can tell) wouldn’t be a bad choice.

In comparison to other audio interfaces under £200, Presonus do come in at the cheaper end of the spectrum and yet despite the price, you don’t suffer much in the way of performance. Granted, some interfaces on this list may be more functional than those made by Presonus, but you can’t deny that for the price, a Presonus device comes well equipped.

In fact, if you were to rank the interfaces above based on a ‘price to function’ ratio, the Presonus would likely come out on top.