Best Cheap Audio Interfaces For Less Than $200 in 2018

cheap audio interfaces

In every music production process, the presence of an audio interface is a necessity. Audio interfaces take the music we play and turn it into a digital audio that can be heard by anyone with a digital device (a computer for example). So if you’re willing to setup a home recording studio, you’ll definitely need to have a powerful audio interface.

In this guide you’ll get to discover three of the best cheap audio interfaces that you can buy for less than 200 bucks. Yeah, you heard me right. And I’m not talking about those toys, but powerful audio interfaces that are no less than the ones other people buy for over $500.

Purchasing an audio interface is usually difficult especially for beginners who are just starting their way into music production. There are hundreds of audio interfaces out there in the market. They come with dozens of different features and multiple ports that can make anyone overwhelmed and confused.

The worst thing I’ve encountered with audio interfaces in my beginnings are the overly sophisticated terms that the salesman keep throwing at me like I’m supposed to understand them. It was a nightmare. Luckily for me, I called a friend of mine who is an experienced music producer to help me pick the ideal audio interface for me. So, don’t worry my friend. I’ll try in this detailed guide to help you, just like my friend did a few years ago, get through this with the perfect choice for your home studio.

The structure of this guide will be divided into two parts. The first part in which I’ll try explaining some essential terms and definitions that you need to know. Nothing complicated but a few hints to help you understand what this is all about. The second part will be a quick review of the best three audio interfaces that anyone can get for less than $200. Keep reading!

Things You Need To Know About Audio Interfaces

If you already understand the elements that are related to audio interfaces, you can skip this part and go directly to the second part in which I outline the best cheap audio interfaces in the market.

Otherwise, I highly recommend that you continue reading thoroughly the components of this first part. I know it can be a little bit difficult for some of you to grasp all these news terms. But, remember that your goal is to become a music producer and there’s no way you can do that if you didn’t get familiar with the following differences and terms.

Why The Audio Interface Is That Important

You may argue that your computer has already a sound card built in that can be used to transform my sound playing on my guitar to the computer. and that’s it. Why do I need to buy this audio interface anyway ?

This is a legitimate question. But, what you don’t probably know is that the sound card on your computer isn’t meant for recording music. It has a limited connectivity and bad quality when it comes to music production. A consumer-grade sound card doesn’t give you all the details of your recorded sound and it doesn’t give you enough possibilities when it comes to editing and mixing music. Besides, your computer doesn’t have the inputs and outputs connections necessary. For example, XLR input for the mic or outputs for headphones to monitor your recordings.

Long story short, you NEED to have an audio interface. There’s no way around it.

Interface/Computer Connectors

Audio interfaces come with different connection types that can be compatibles with some devices while other devices aren’t compatibles. So, this is a crucial point that you need to pay attention to. Here are the four types of connections that are the most common:


Almost all the computers (both MAC and PC) come with USB 2.0 or 3.0 ports. So, if you choose to buy an usb audion interface, you won’t find any trouble connecting it with your computer. It has a good data transfer rate that can handle all of your recordings.

usb port


It offers a good data transfer rate too. But with the development of USB connections, this type of connection are starting to disappear from the market. Firewire is usually seen only on Macs.


It became recently a very popular connection port that offers an excellent transfer rate. All the newest Macs have this type of port. it can be also used on PCs. Check out the list of computers that support Thnuderbolt ports.



It’s an internal card-based computer connection that is largely used on desktop computers. It’s always been the standard connection for professional producers for so many years now. It has an extremely fast data transfer.


Takeaway: All of these connection types are adequate to a home recording studio. So, don’t waste most of your time debating which one is the best because all of them are good and will do the work.

How Many Input/Output Do You Need

One of the important things that you need to consider while buying an audio interface is the number of inputs/outputs it contains. You should know how many input/output do you need before even looking for a good audio interface. The number depends on how many tracks you intend to monitor/record at the same time. In other words, it depends on what you’re willing to do. Take a look at this table below to understand what I’m talking about:

Number of Input/Output depending on your work nature
Work nature Number of Input/Output needed
Singer/Songwriter/Solo music producer 2 to 4
Small group of singers/musicians 4 to 8
A group of music producers more than 16

IMPORTANT: You should pay attention not only to the number of input channels but also to their type. there are mic inputs that allow you to connect your microphone directly.  And this without needing an outboard mic preamplifier which can be connected to a line input (which means additional cost of a mic preamplifier). A microphone preamplifier is a sound engineering device that make the sound of the mic powerful and of a adequate quality. 

So, it’s much better that an audio interface has a lot of mic inputs.

There are other inputs that you should pay attention to. For example, DI inputs if you’re intending to play guitar/bass and MIDI inputs if wanna use a keyboard/MIDI controller.

Best Cheap Audio Interfaces For Less Than $200

The reason I wanted to create this guide about cheap audio interfaces is that I’m aware that many of beginners who are just starting out with music production don’t have $1000 budget. Even if they have the financial capacity of spending that much, they’re not sure of how things will turn out for them in music production. And that’s totally normal. It’s kind of foolish to spend a thousand dollars on something I just realized I wanna get into it a few days back.

So, I made this list for you guys. You’ll find below 3 amazing audio interfaces that I believe to be the best in the market at this moment.

PreSonus AudioBox USB 2×2 – For Less Than $100

cheap audio interface

This is like the classic recommendation that any music producer would give to a beginner with a tight budget. You probably have heard of Presonus AudioBox already in some other review before getting to this page. Actually, it makes sense. It’s a powerful audio interface with an excellent price-quality relation.

PreSonus AudioBox is perfect for starting beat makers who rely most of the time on their computer. Besides, I can say that this is the one to go with for podcasters. It comes with USB connections and it’s compatibles with most of Macs and PCs computers.

Presonus AudioBox Specs
Element Description
Compatibility Most of PCs and Macs
Connection type USB 2.0
Input/Output 2 in and 2 out
Sampling Rate 48 kHz
Bit Depth 24-bit resolution
Mic input Two inputs with high performance
Bit Depth 24-bit resolution
MIDI interface Compatibility Yes
Included DAW Studio One 3 Artist



The front and the back side of PreSonus AudiBox

cheap audio interface 1cheap audio interface 1

Watch A DEMO of PreSonus AudioBox

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 – For The Lovers of Elegant Design

cheap audio interface

All of the products of the english company Focusrite are nothing but high quality material. This Scarlett 2i2 audio interface is no exception. This beauty comes with a natural sound and an amazing performance that deserves more than its price.

Let’s not forget the amazing design that makes Focusrite Scarlett a beautiful portables audio interface. In top of that, it comes with an affordable price of $125. Isn’t that great ?

Take a look at the specs below:

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Specs
Element Description
Compatibility Most of PCs and Macs
Connection type USB 2.0
Input/Output 2 in and 2 out
Sampling Rate 96 kHz
Bit Depth 24-bit resolution
Mic input Two inputs with high performance
Bit Depth 24-bit resolution
MIDI interface Compatibility Yes
Included DAW Ableton Live Lite



The front and the back side of Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

cheap audio interface cheap audio interface

Watch A DEMO of Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Steinberg UR22 2-Channel USB 2.0 – Perfect For YouTube Singers

cheap audio interface

Now it’s time to talk about with another stunning below $200 audio interface. It’s the Steingberg UR22 which has received so many good reviews by its users. It’s a perfect choice for musicians who are looking for a small and portable audio interface to carry it around with them.

Many reviewers admitted that this device produces high class detailed sound for all live and natural performances. It’s totally recommended for singers who wanna produce some covers on YouTube.

Now, let’s take a look at the specs below:

Steingberg UR22 Specs
Element Description
Compatibility Most of PCs and Macs
Connection type USB 2.0
Input/Output 2 in and 2 out
Sampling Rate 192 kHz
Bit Depth 24-bit resolution
Mic input Two inputs
Bit Depth 24-bit resolution
MIDI interface Compatibility Yes
Included DAW Cubase AI 6



The front and the back side of Steingberg UR22

Steinberg 2 cheap audio interface

Watch A DEMO of Steingberg UR22

Which One Is The Best For Me?

As you may have noticed, the features of all of these three audio interfaces are pretty much the same. Except for some nuances that don’t really have any impact on the user experience. So, feel free to choose whatever you find yourself comfortable with.

However, I do believe that the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is the best choice if we took into consideration that it has over 700 reviews on Amazon and most of them are positive (rating of 4.5/5).

But, as I already said anything from the list below will do the work. Feel free to ask me anything that comes up to your mind in the comments section below. Good Luck!

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7 thoughts to “Best Cheap Audio Interfaces For Less Than $200 in 2018”

    1. The audiobox iTwo is a great device too. However, I don’t see any big differences between the two. Except if you wanna use your iOS device (ipad for example) while recording/mixing. The audiobox 2×2 works only with USB that though can work with some iOS devices. But, as I said before if you wanna use an iOS device, then iTwo is what you’re looking for. Good luck

      1. Thanks but the audiobox itwo also has a higher sampling rate of 96khz compared to 48khz on the audiobox in your review.

  1. I have maschine both kompletes 10 and 11 mini with studio producer with komplete control keyboard also presonus interface do I have a good start base

  2. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is a great deal for sure, but it doesn’t have MIDI in/out. Not everybody needs that, but if you do, the Scarlett 2i4 has it (and a few other features you may end up wanting).

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