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PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 review

In this article, I’ll be reviewing the PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 audio interface. This is an entry-level interface, and modestly priced at only $100. Let’s see if it’s worth the expense.

About the author

I’m a producer and audio engineer with over 10 years of experience with a wide range of gear and recording techniques. Throughout my career, I have worked with a myriad of different audio interfaces, from Focusrite, Audient, Universal Audio, and more.

PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 audio interface review
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Final verdict on the AudioBox USB 96 4.0

For the price and performance, the AudioBox USB 96 surprisingly holds its own amongst its competitors. While folks in film and gaming may want something with higher resolution, young recording artists can’t really go wrong with one of these by their side.

What I like

  • Decent recording quality.
  • Durable chassis.
  • Affordable.

What I don’t like

  • The software bundle isn’t too great, but I’m splitting hairs.
Buy PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 at: SweetwaterAmazon


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

I/O and controls 4.0

On the front panel are two combo XLR/TRS inputs, both of which have their own designated gain control dials. They feature Class-A mic preamps and also offer 48 V phantom power, which is great if you’re wanting to use condenser mics for vocals or acoustic guitar.

PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 audio interface (front panel)
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Each gain dial for the inputs has a little LED light which will flash red if you’re clipping, so make sure to set your levels correctly before tracking.

There is a mixer knob for direct monitoring, allowing you to blend between the direct signal of the interface and the signal coming through your DAW. There is also a main master control as well as a volume dial for your headphones.

PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 audio interface (rear panel)
Image: Higher Hz

On the rear panel, you’ll find a USB-C port, MIDI I/O, two balanced TRS outputs, and oddly, a 1/4-inch output for your headphones. Usually, the headphone output is located on the front so I found this choice to be a bit strange, but it has no obvious downsides.

Recording quality 3.5

The unit has A/D resolution of 24-bit at 96 kHz playback. The 96 kHz is actually where the unit gets its name. This is standard resolution for professional recording.

However, at both ends of the frequency response (20 Hz – 20 kHz) there is a drop off of about 2 dB. This isn’t abnormal for budget-priced interfaces, but it’s worth noting.

Preamps 3.8

The preamps are okay here. They’re transparent enough for most purposes, although some of you may want to consider investing into a decent external preamp. They have a gain range of 105 dB, which is fairly common for interfaces in this range.

In use 4.0

The AudioBox USB 96 is incredibly small, much smaller than many other interfaces at around 1.75 inches tall, and 5.5 inches wide and deep. This means it can fit snugly into the crevice of a desk, and is ideal for artists with small bedroom setups.

I still find it odd that the headphone output is located on the rear panel, but working around this isn’t terrible.

Mobile recording 4.5

Because of its light weight and small size, this unit is great for mobile recording. Plus, it’s bus-powered and requires no external power.

Build quality 4.0

The unit is encased in a sturdy metal shell, and feels quite durable. There isn’t any wiggle in the inputs and outputs to note, and all the knobs feel solid.

Software bundle 4.2

The unit comes with PreSonus’s own Studio One Artist DAW, as well as the Studio Magic plugin suite. While the DAW isn’t the greatest out there, it’s decently user-friendly. Beginners shouldn’t have too much trouble plugging in and making music immediately after opening the box.

Compared to other audio interfaces

While the PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 is undoubtedly one of the best interfaces under $100, here are a few alternatives that are worth considering.

AudioBox USB 96 vs AudioBox iOne

For some reason, the iOne is more expensive and has less to offer. Go with the AudioBox USB 96.

Read the full PreSonus AudioBox iOne review

AudioBox USB 96 vs Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

While the Scarlett 2i2 is the superior interface, it is $80 more expensive. If you have the means, opt for the Focusrite.

Read the full Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 review

AudioBox USB 96 vs Focusrite Scarlett Solo

If you need MIDI I/O, the AudioBox USB 96 has you covered. If not, you can’t really go wrong with either.

Read the full Focusrite Scarlett Solo review

AudioBox USB 96 vs Behringer UMC202HD

While the Behringer doesn’t have MIDI I/O, it has better A/D resolution and Midas preamps. It’s also less expensive at $90. I’d personally recommend the Behringer over the AudioBox, but only if you don’t require MIDI I/O.

Read the full Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD review

Who is the AudioBox USB 96 best suited for?

The AudioBox USB 96 is best suited for beginners and bedroom pop artists. Perhaps the more seasoned veteran could make use of this for recording demos in the tour van.

Buy PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 at: SweetwaterAmazon