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Best Audio Interfaces under $200

For the vast majority of us who have a passion for home recording, budget is often an issue.  Our main aim is to get studio quality recordings at a fraction of the price.  There are many things that make a good recording, such as the song, the singer, the environment and the microphones.  However, the audio interface is a key component and choosing the right one is important.  That means you need the best audio interfaces for the best value.

Fortunately for me and you the demand to create music from the bedroom has meant that manufacturers are are making great quality audio interfaces for very reasonable prices.

This article will help you find the best audio interface for under $200.

The best audio interfaces

#1 Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

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Key Features

  • Four analog inputs: two natural-sounding Scarlett mic preamps with plenty of even gain; two newly-designed instrument inputs, designed to handle seriously hot guitar pick-ups
  • Class-leading conversion and sample rates up to 192kHz / 24 bit
  • Super-low latency for using your plug-ins in real time without the need for DSP (measured at 2.74ms, working at 96kHz with a 32 samples buffer)
  • 1/4-inch balanced jack outputs to connect professional studio monitors; one headphones output with gain control

Focusrite have built a strong reputation as one of the best manufacturers of ‘cheaper’ audio interfaces.  With their award winning preamps, strong build and simple design they offer great value for money.

The Scarlett 2i2 is one of the best audio interfaces under $200 that money can buy.  It has 24-bit resolution and a sample rate of up to 96 kHz.  It has basic features, such as two inputs, 48V phantom power and headphone volume control.  This is fine and everything you might need for basic home recording, such as vocals and stereo guitar.  The fact that it looks and feels so well made, and it sounds good, will give you confidence that your money has been well spent.

It is one of the best audio interfaces, if not the audio interface in this price range.

winner – the best audio interface under $200

best audio interfaces

A guide to the second generation Focusrite Scarlett range

best audio interfaces

#2 Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6

Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 - best audio interfaces

Key Features

  • Low-latency performance for using virtual instruments and effects
  • High-quality pre-amps with individual gain controls
  • Direct monitoring for live, latency-free recording
  • Mono input switch for recording vocals, guitar or other mono sources
  • 48V phantom power for using condenser mics and active DI boxes

The NI Komplete Audio 6 is at the top end of the $200 price range.  However, it is still offers good value for money as $200 for any audio interface is fairly inexpensive given what could be spent.

The NI Komplete Audio 6 feels well made and looks good.  It has four analogue inputs and outputs, which is impressive for a unit under $200, meaning you could potentially record a basic drum set up.  The Audio 6 has 24-bit resolution and a sample rate of up to 96 kHz and impressively low latency, meaning you should be able to run in depth and complex recording sessions without getting frustrated by any lag.

The NI Komplete Audio 6 is a bit more than the Focusrite, but does have more input, giving you more options for your recording sessions.  It is a great choice.

#3 Focusrite Scarlett 2i4

Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 - best audio interfaces

Key Features

  • Four analog inputs: two natural-sounding Scarlett mic preamps with plenty of even gain; two newly-designed instrument inputs, designed to handle seriously hot guitar pick-ups
  • Class-leading conversion and sample rates up to 192kHz / 24 bit
  • Super-low latency for using your plug-ins in real time without the need for DSP (measured at 2.74ms, working at 96kHz with a 32 samples buffer)
  • Two 1/4-inch balanced jack outputs to connect professional studio monitors; one headphones output with gain control; MIDI I/O

If you are looking for something than the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 then the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 is what you want.

Essentially the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 comes with four RCA stereo outputs, MIDI in/out, and a gain reducing pad switch for each input, some the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 doesn’t have.  The gain reducing switch will help avoid clipping when recording louder instruments.

The Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 shares all the brilliance and build quality of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, but just a bit more functionality for those wanting that little bit more!  It is definitely one of the best audio interfaces for the money.

best audio interfaces

#4 Steinberg UR22

Steinberg UR22 - best audio interfaces

Key Features

  • 2 x 2 USB 2.0 audio interface
  • 24-Bit/192 kHz & Two Class-A D-PRE mic preamps
  • Compatible with all major audio editing, mastering, and music production software
  • MIDI input/output & iPad connectivity
  • Cubase AI and Cubasis LE included

Best known for creating Cubase, Steinberg haven’t been as renowned for their manufacturing of audio interfaces.  However, the UR22 performs well against its counterparts.

The UR22 feels well made and strong and has the standard two inputs and two outputs.  It supports 24 bit resolution and has an impressive sample rate of up 192 kHz.  Furthermore, the UR22 also includes all the regular features such as MIDI Ports, 48V phantom power and direct monitoring control.

In conclusion, whilst not as popular the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 it is still a good option, performs well against its competition and given its price, it is certainly one of the best audio interfaces on the market.

best audio interfaces

An introduction to the UR22

best audio interfaces

#5 Lexicon IONIX U22

Lexion Ionix - best audio interfaces

Key Features

  • 2-input/2-output USB 2.0 Desktop Recording Studio
  • 44.1kHz to 96kHz sample rates, 24-bit resolution
  • dbx 60V high-voltage, ultra-low noise microphone preamps
  • Streamlined monitor format puts all recording controls at your fingertips
  • Pantheon II VST/AU reverb plug-in with 6 legendary Lexicon reverbs

The Lexicon IONIX U22 is a bit of a wild card, but one worth mentioning.  Lexicon are a solid audio manufacturer and well known for making some fantastic reverb units.  The IONIX U22 is the most basic of the IONIX series, mainly due to the fact it has the fewest input and outputs.  However, it is a well made and very effective audio interface.

It has a 24 bit resolution and up to 96 kHz sample rates.  The IONIX U22 has some very nice, ultra low noise mic preamps too.  But best of all with this package you get Pantheon II VST/AU reverb plug-in with 6 legendary Lexicon reverbs.  Having used these myself I can testify they are fantastic and give you some great reverb alternatives to the standard reverbs from Pro Tools or Logic.

In conclusion, the IONIX 22 is a really good option if you want some extra benefits when it comes to the mix.

best audio interfaces

#6 Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface

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Key Features

  • Two boutique-quality Onyx mic preamps with class-leading fidelity and dynamic range
  • High-headroom design with ultra-low noise and distortion
  • Includes Tracktion 3™ Music Production Software
  • High-end Cirrus Logic® AD/DA converters with 114dB dynamic range (A-weighted)
  • True analog hardware monitoring of inputs, in mono or stereo, for easy zero-latency recording

The Mackie’s Onyx Blackjack is probably the cheapest in the category, but is still a quality unit.  Mackie are well known for the solid build quality so this interface is well worth a look if you are on a tighter budget.  The Onyx can often be purchased for under $100.

In addition, the Onyx sounds clear and clean and has the basic essentials such as 48V phantom power and separate headphone control.

As a result, it is a good choice if you are looking for a well made, but cheaper audio interface for basic recording and listening.

best audio interfaces

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