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The best budget audio interfaces for $200, $100, and $50 in 2024

While audio production and engineering isn’t the most financially sound hobby or passion, there are many options out there that are perfectly affordable.

Today, we’ll be going over a handful of budget-friendly audio interfaces that I consider to be best of their class.

Quick recommendations

All things considered, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen is the best budget audio interface available in 2024. At just under $200, it delivers on everything people loved about the last iterations and more.

Now with lower latency and additional features, the Scarlett 2i2 is one of the most revered interfaces in its bracket.

For any musicians or novice producers on an extremely tight budget, the M-Audio M-Track Solo offers an incredibly reliable performance at a super affordable price (under $50!)

Contents

Use these jump links to navigate to the desired section of the review.

Why you should trust me

I’m a producer, audio engineer, and songwriter with over 10 years of experience in the music industry.

Brandon Schock, author and contributor at Higher Hz

I’ve worked with a diverse spectrum of gear over my decade spent in the field of audio production and engineering, both in the studio environments and on live productions.

Working with brands such as Neve, Focusrite, and Universal Audio has lent me nuanced insights into the practical application of audio equipment and what value it provides users ranging from novice to seasoned professional.

How I chose and tested

In order to curate this list, I embarked on a rather diligent process to see that I only recommended what I believed to be the most reliable and cost-effective choices available.

Primarily focusing on units priced between $100 and $200, I researched the market. I also made sure to include at least one option under $100.

Once a comprehensive pool had been devised, I began to test each interface for key features, such as: gain range, preamp quality, connectivity, and so on. Through this process, I was able to handpick the interfaces that I believe performed best.

To find out more about how we test and rate audio interfaces here at Higher Hz and why you can trust our reviews, check out the “Reviews” page.

Best under $200: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen

  • Simultaneous I/O: 2 x 2
  • A/D resolution: 24-bit/192 kHz
  • Analog inputs: 2 x XLR, 2 x 1/4″ TRS
  • Analog outputs: 2 x 1/4″ TRS
  • Headphones: 1 x 1/4″
  • Phantom power: Yes
  • MIDI I/O: No
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen audio interface
Image: Higher Hz

The Scarlett 2i2 line has proven to be one of the most universally acclaimed series in its price bracket. The fourth iteration of the unit is no different, as it offers an arguably unmatched value for its usability, reliability, and quality.

The Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen boasts Focusrite’s signature ISA preamp emulation, Air mode, which delivers subtle levels of saturation and presence to recordings.

The unit features 24-bit/192 kHz A/D resolution, a dynamic range of 110.6 dB, 2×2 simultaneous I/O, as well as other features such as Auto Gain and Clip Safe.

Read my full Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen review to find out more.

Buy Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen at: SweetwaterAmazon

Runner-up pick: Universal Audio Volt 2

  • Simultaneous I/O: 2 x 2
  • A/D resolution: 24-bit/192 kHz
  • Analog inputs: 2 x XLR/TRS combo
  • Analog outputs: 2 x 1/4″ TRS
  • Headphones: 1 x 1/4″
  • Phantom power: Yes
  • MIDI I/O: Yes
Universal Audio Volt 2 USB audio interface
Image: Higher Hz

My first impression of the Volt 2 when it originally came out was that it was a bit of a knock-off of the Scarlett 2i2. This was largely due to Universal Audio’s decision to include Vintage mode on the unit, which is a feature eerily similar to Focusrite’s Air mode – a preamp emulation that adds slight saturation and a gentle shelving boost on the high-end.

At the time, the market was already a bit oversaturated with comparable features, so maybe my personal bias was swayed in that regard.

Since then, the Volt 2 has demonstrated itself to be absolutely equal to the 2i2, maybe even slightly better with the addition of MIDI I/O.

Read my full Universal Audio Volt 2 review to find out more.

Buy Universal Audio Volt 2 at: SweetwaterAmazon

Best under $50: M-Audio M-Track Solo

  • Simultaneous I/O: 2 x 2
  • A/D resolution: 16-bit/48 kHz
  • Analog inputs: 1 x XLR/TRS combo, 1 x 1/4″ TRS
  • Analog outputs: 1 x dual RCA
  • Headphones: 1 x 1/8″
  • Phantom power: Yes
  • MIDI I/O: No
M-Audio M-Track Solo audio interface
Image: Higher Hz

For $50, there isn’t truly a better option than the M-Track Solo. Modest, but competent nonetheless. The unit features an XLR/TRS combo input, a line/instrument input, dual RCA output, phantom power, an 1/8-inch headphone jack, and M-Audio’s Crystal preamp.

Despite only having 16-bit/48 kHz A/D resolution, the M-Track Solo is a perfectly adequate and functional interface for the price.

Also, the software bundle that comes along with the unit is arguably worth twice as much as the unit itself. Giving you access to two separate DAWs, a plethora of virtual instruments, as well as 20 free Avid plugins.

Read my full M-Audio M-Track Solo review to find out more.

Buy M-Audio M-Track Solo at: SweetwaterAmazon

Best at $180: Solid State Logic SSL 2

  • Simultaneous I/O: 2 x 2
  • A/D resolution: 24-bit/192 kHz
  • Analog inputs: 2 x XLR/TRS combo
  • Analog outputs: 2 x 1/4″ TRS
  • Headphones: 1 x 1/4″
  • Phantom power: Yes
  • MIDI I/O: No
Solid State Logic SSL 2 USB audio interface
Image: Solid State Logic

Priced at $180, the Solid State Logic SSL 2 is a perfect choice for those seeking a compact solution for on-the-go recording, beginners and professionals alike.

The SSL 2 includes 2×2 simultaneous I/O, two microphone preamps, phantom power support, as well as 24-bit/192 kHz A/D resolution. Its analog inputs consist of two combo jacks, while outputs include two 1/4-inch TRS jacks and one 1/4-inch headphone jack.

What makes this unit even more of a bargain is the software bundle that comes with it, allowing access to Ableton Live Lite, Hybrid Keys, Komplete Start, an SSL Native software bundle, Melodyne Essential and more.

Read my full Solid State Logic SSL 2 review to find out more.

Buy Solid State Logic SSL 2 at: SweetwaterAmazon

Best under $150: Focusrite Scarlett Solo 4th Gen

  • Simultaneous I/O: 2 x 2
  • A/D resolution: 24-bit/192 kHz
  • Analog inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4″ TRS
  • Analog outputs: 2 x 1/4″ TRS
  • Headphones: 1 x 1/4″
  • Phantom power: Yes
  • MIDI I/O: No
Focusrite Scarlett Solo 4th Gen audio interface
Image: Focusrite

The Scarlett Solo 4th Gen is one of the most reliable audio interfaces on the market. Its great recording quality, preamps, and attractive price point set the unit at the top of its class.

The unit has two inputs, one for XLR and the other for TRS, as well as two TRS outputs. Just as the Scarlett 2i2, the Solo features 48 V phantom power and Air mode, giving you plenty of agency over your recordings.

For $140, the Scarlett Solo 4th Gen offers a powerful foundation to the budding audio engineer.

Buy Focusrite Scarlett Solo 4th Gen at: SweetwaterAmazon

Honorable mentions

Here are a few options that didn’t quite make the list, but are more than worthy of your attention.

  • NI Komplete Audio 6 Mk2. This unit offers plenty of connectivity, boasting two XLR/TRS combo inputs, two TRS line level inputs, four TRS outputs, MIDI I/O, as well as S/PDIF I/O. It also delivers excellent A/D resolution at 24-bit depth and a maximum sample rate of 192 kHz.
  • Audient iD4 Mk2. It’s worth noting that the preamps on the iD4 feature the same technology present in Audient’s ASP8024-HE (a high-end console that runs anywhere from $40-100k). This, coupled with impressive dynamic and gain ranges, make the iD4 an incredibly powerful interface for its price.
  • Arturia MiniFuse 2. While it’s not the most impressive interface, it is a fine candidate for anyone getting their start. This is a no-frills unit that performs just as well as most of the others on this list, despite its lack of additional features.

Recent updates

  • Feb 29, 2024: Replaced the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen with the newer Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen as the “Best under $200” pick. Added the Solid State Logic SSL 2, Universal Audio Volt 2, and Scarlett Solo 4th Gen as alternative picks in the $100 to $150 range. Moved the Komplete Audio 6 Mk2, Audient iD4 Mk2, and Arturia MiniFuse 2 to the Honorable mentions.
  • Feb 28, 2024: Struck the Motu M2 and M-Audio AIR 192|6 from the list entirely. The M2 is outperformed and the AIR 192|6 is also a bit overpriced for what it offers.
  • Aug 1, 2023: Verified accuracy of picks. Added the Komplete Audio 6 Mk2 as the “Most longevity” pick.
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