Finding the Best Audio Interface Under 500 for Audio Recording

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If you are involved in studio/music production, you understand the need to amplify your sound by incorporating an intermediary device between your hardware (a guitar, for instance) and your computer (for fine-tuning the production). However, what is the best audio interface under $500? 

The best audio interfaces under 500 dollars include:

These allow you to record or monitor your sound production without overspending.

Finding the Best Audio Interface Under 500 for Audio Recording

Having to sort through the myriads of brands and designs on a budget makes choosing an audio interface challenging. Also, if you’re starting a home studio, you probably don’t need an expensive audio interface. So, this article will enlighten you about the best audio interface for under 500 dollars. 

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Top Four Audio Interface Under 500

The relevance of audio interfaces creates room for several brands and types in the market, from high-end pieces for professional production to those of lower sound quality. Also, there has been a massive evolution of audio interfaces to match the advancement of several hardware and devices for sound production.

Therefore this section will show you the four best audio interfaces that do not cost more than 500 dollars. Here they are!

Interface Focusrite Scarlett 4i4

Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface for Recording, Songwriting, & Streaming — High-Fidelity, Studio Quality Recording, with Transparent Playback
  • Pro performance with great pre-amps – Achieve a brighter recording thanks to the high performing mic pre-amps of the Scarlett 3rd Gen. A switchable Air mode will add extra clarity to your acoustic instruments when recording with your 4i4 3rd Gen.
  • All the inputs you’ll need – 4 balanced line inputs are available for connecting synths or other line level audio so you can utilise your full setup with 4i4 3rd Gen. 4 balanced outputs can be used for monitoring and effects sends to make life easier.
  • Super low latency and class-leading drivers – You will have no problems capturing audio in the moment that is well-polished and true to the original source with Scarlett 3rd Gen.
  • Crystal clear playback in studio quality – Achieve pro sounding recordings with Scarlett 3rd Gen’s high-performance converters enabling you to record and mix at up to 24-bit/192kHz. Your recordings will retain all of their sonic qualities.
  • Easy Start – It’s easier than ever to get up and running with your Scarlett 3rd Gen with our online tool, Easy Start. Whether you’re looking to record or playback audio, we will help you get started.

The Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 model has a simple, self-explanatory user interface making it perfect for starters. All controls and ports are labeled to keep you from worrying about what goes into what. So users can seamlessly connect their devices and hardware, such as electric guitars and computers. 

It has four input ports—two for connecting musical instruments and two for other appliances like drum machines. As a complementary feature, Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 has four analog ports with an extra headphone jack that works like an output port. The mic preamps enable great sound recording with additional software for controlling your production and recording across devices.

Moreover, it comes with a three-year warranty added to its features to compensate for its weight resulting from its compact design. Here is a table summarizing its features, pros and cons. 

FeaturesProsCons
Four inputs and outputs.Its double quadruple input and output ports make it easy to use. Its compact nature makes it heavy and difficult to carry around.
MIDI I/O supported.It has a 24-bit/192 kHz audio resolution.Some users complain of the device crashing their computer audio.
It measures 4.7×7.3×1.9 in dimension and weighs 15.8 oz.It has a three-year warranty.
Two third-generation Scarlett mic preamps. 
24-bit/192 kHz audio resolution. 

Steinberg UR-RT2

Steinberg UR-RT2 Interface with Rupert Neve Designs Transformers
  • 24-bit/192 kHz USB 2.0 audio interface with 4 x 2 analog I/O and MIDI I/O
  • 2 Class-A D-PRE mic preamps featuring switchable Rupert Neve Designs transformers and supporting +48 V phantom power and one Hi-Z
  • Latency-free DSP-powered monitoring with REV-X reverb, Channel Strip, and Guitar Amp Classics (VST 3 plug-in version also included)
  • Cross-platform compatibility for Windows, macOS and iOS (with Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit, Lightning to USB Camera Adapter or Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter)
  • Cubase AI and Cubasis LE music software included

The Steinberg UR-RT2 comes at a slightly higher price, of 350 dollars, but not over our 500 mark. It comes with a class-A DRE mic preamp for raising and amplifying sound from microphones. It also regulates sound quality from other sources, keeping them at a standard decibel. 

It is perfect for pairing with Windows personal computers, Mac OS and iOS devices. As a result, the Steinberg UR-RT2 is an excellent audio interface for on-the-go recordings. Here is a table summarizing its features, pros and cons.

FeaturesProsCons
Four inputs.It is compatible with multiple devices.It is pretty expensive, lying on the higher spectrum of 500.
Two outputs.It is lightweight.It has fewer output ports.
MIDI I/O supported.It has preamps to boost sound amplification levels.Installing the required software can be a piece of work.
24-bit/192 kHz audio resolution.It is MIDI compatible. 
Measures 12.8×10.6×4.1 in dimension.
Weighs 3.75 lbs.
2 Class-A DRE mic preamps.

Presonus studio 192 mobile

Presonus Studio 192 26×32 USB 3.0 Audio Interface & Studio Command Center
  • 24-bit, 192 kHz USB 3. 0 audio interface and studio command center in one rack space
  • Simultaneous I/O up to 26 inputs x 32 outputs (8×14 at 192 kHz)
  • 2 mic/instrument inputs and 6 balanced mic/line level inputs with XMAX remote controllable mic preamps
  • Zero-latency monitoring with Fat Channels processing, preamp control, Talkback routing, and speaker switching from included Studio One Artist or UC Surface
  • Pristine analog signal path with top-quality 118 dB digital conversion

The Presonus Studio 192 mobile is similar to the Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 model but from a different manufacturer. It has the same input and output ports, with a headphone jack just like the Focusrite Scarlett 4i4. 

However, it comes with a 24-bit/192 kHz audio resolution. The Presonus weighs less and comes with a three-year warranty. Here is a table summarizing its features, pros and cons.

FeaturesProsCons
24-bit/192 kHz audio resolution.It has multiple inputs and outputs.It does not have MIDI support.
Four inputs and outputs.It has a fast USB connection of 3.0 with software for easy control.It is a little expensive on the higher end of 500.
MIDI I/O not supported. It has a high dynamic range.
Measures 7×12.5×1.8.Offers one year warranty. 
Weighs 5 lbs.
One-year warranty.

Audient iD4

Audient iD4 USB 2-in/2-out High Performance Audio Interface
  • High Performance Converters
  • ID ScrollControl Mode
  • Zero Latency Monitoring with Monitor Mix & Pan
  • High performance AD/DA converter, mic/line input via XLR/jack combo jack, headphone amplifier with independent DAC

The Audient iD4 goes for $200 or less and limits input to only JFET instruments. It has a class A Mic preamp and offers lesser output sound quality than the earlier interface. However, it serves beginners well and is a low-budget audio interface, compact and easy to use. Here is a table summarizing its features, pros and cons.

FeaturesProsCons
Input supports only JFET instruments.It is lightweight.It has fewer and limited input and output ports.
The main speaker and headphones are the outputs.It is cost-effective.It does not have MIDI support.
MIDI I/O is not supported.It is easy to use.
Measures 5.1×4.7×16.1 in dimension.
No audio resolution is available.
Weighs 1.63 lbs.
It has one Class A Mic Preamp.

What is Komplete Audio?

Komplete Audio is the best solution for sound engineers and producers looking to interface with a computer-based studio setup. It offers excellent compatibility, performance and stability whether producing music, broadcasting or recording sound. The best interface available from their range is their flagship product, the Komplete Audio 6, which features 24 bit audio quality and features six inputs and outputs for maximum flexibility for users.

In addition, the hardware offers a number of amazing effects options as well as best in class performance due to its high sample rate capability. All this make it an extremely attractive option for anyone looking to get cutting edge results from their production process.

Finding the Best Audio Interface Under 500 for Audio Recording

What To Expect From an Audio Interface Priced Under 500

Most products offer better features and more benefits when they are priced higher. The same goes for lower-priced products with limited features and fewer benefits, which is the rationale behind the price difference of commodities. 

Therefore, you must know a few things you can expect from an audio interface under 500. That way, you can make an informed decision on whether to adjust your budget or not. 

Here is a table showing some standard features of most audio interfaces under 500 to help you prepare mentally and be sure you get the best gear you can afford.

Under 500 Audio Interface Features To ConsiderMeaning and Implication
Input and output ports.Solo users with fewer devices will prefer audio interfaces with fewer input and output ports, unlike group users.
Interface connectivity.Multiple connectivities like MIDI and USB influence musical output, especially those with high-speed connectivity.
Weight/dimensions.Lightweight devices are easier to carry about and often smaller. Sometimes their dimensions match their weight, and heavier ones work well for desktop purposes.
Audio resolution. Higher audio resolutions like 24-bit/19kHz produce better sound output and, therefore, better music.
Device warranty.The warranty is akin to insurance from the manufacturer if your device breaks down or malfunctions prematurely. Some manufacturers offer as long as three years warranty while others provide an average of one year.
Device compatibility. Device compatibility lets you know what computers and other hardware are compatible with your audio interface, such as windows, Mac OS, iOS, etc.

Other Great Audio Interfaces

Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD Audio Interface

Are you a budding musician looking to take your audio quality to the next level? Look no further than the Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD audio interface. This device packs a punch with four channels of audio input, perfect for recording vocals, guitar, bass, and more. Plus, the UMC404HD boasts crystal-clear 24-bit/192 kHz converters, giving you stunning audio quality. Not to mention, its compact and durable design makes it perfect for on-the-go recording. So whether you’re creating music in your home studio or on the road, the Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD has got your back.

Universal Audio Apollo x8p Thunderbolt 3 16×22 Professional Desktop Recording System

If you’re serious about your music production game, you need gear that can keep up. Enter the Universal Audio Apollo x8p Thunderbolt 3 16×22 Professional Desktop Recording System. This powerhouse of a machine is designed specifically for professional-level recording, delivering pristine sound quality and ultra-low latency. Plus, with eight Unison™-enabled mic preamps and HEXA Core processing, you can execute even the most complex production tasks with ease. But don’t let all that power intimidate you – the sleek interface and intuitive controls make it easy to navigate. Whether you’re tracking in a studio or mixing on the road, the Apollo x8p is a game-changer.

Tascam US-16X08 16 Input 8 Output USB 2.0 audio interface for Mac and Windows PC’s

If you’re a musician or podcaster, you need an audio interface that can handle all the inputs and outputs you require. That’s where the Tascam US-16X08 comes in. This USB 2.0 audio interface packs an impressive 16 inputs and 8 outputs, making it perfect for recording full bands or multiple voices. Plus, it’s compatible with both Mac and Windows PC’s, so no matter what kind of computer you have, you can use the US-16X08. With high-quality preamps and powerful DSP processing, this Tascam interface ensures your recordings sound their best. So if you’re looking for a reliable and versatile audio interface, the US-16X08 could be the perfect choice for you.

Avid Mbox Pro (3rd Generation) 10×10 FireWire & USB Hybrid Digital Recording System

The Avid Mbox Pro 3rd Generation 10×10 FireWire & USB Hybrid Digital Recording System is the ultimate tool for any musician, producer or audio engineer. The sleek design fits perfectly on any desk or music studio and the high quality components ensure that your recordings will sound amazing. The ability to use both FireWire and USB connections add to the versatility of this incredible piece of equipment. Whether you’re recording vocals, instruments or a full band, the Avid Mbox Pro has you covered. So, if you’re looking for a recording system that will take your music to the next level, look no further than the Avid Mbox Pro.

Roland Rubix44 Ultra Portable 4 In / 4 Out 24bit / 96kHz Usb Bus Powered Audiorecording

Looking to record some sick beats on-the-go? Look no further than the Roland Rubix44 Ultra Portable! This bad boy has 4 in / 4 out with 24bit / 96kHz, making it perfect for recording music, spoken word, or anything else you can imagine. What really sets the Rubix44 apart, though, is that it’s USB bus powered – so no need to lug around an extra power supply. Just plug it in to your computer or laptop and you’re good to go. Whether you’re a seasoned audio pro or just starting out, the Rubix44 is the perfect tool for your audio recording needs. So what are you waiting for? Get your hands on one today and start creating!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Need an Audio Interface for Recording?

It depends on the specific needs of your recording setup. If you are looking to record digital audio with a microphone or instrument, then an audio interface is necessary in order to capture and convert the sound into a digital format. Audio interfaces provide essential functions such as preamps, headphone outputs, and direct monitoring which allow for better control over the incoming signal. Additionally, many audio interfaces offer additional features such as MIDI inputs and outputs, processing effects like EQs and compressors, and software integration capabilities. So if you are planning on doing any kind of professional-level recording or music production work then it is highly recommended that you get an audio interface.

Is Sound Quality Affected by the Audio Interface?

Yes, sound quality is affected by the audio interface as it helps improve its production quality by strengthening the signal. However, it does not alter the sound quality as you only get what you input.

What Audio Interface Do Professional Studios Prefer?

Most professional studios prefer high-end audio interfaces because they have funds to spare. For instance, the Focusrite scarlett models (Focusrite and Focusrite Pro) are renowned among professional studios for their superior audio interface regardless of your production scale.

What Is the Lifespan of Most Audio Interfaces?

The average lifespan of most audio interfaces is between five to ten years, with the high-end ones lasting longer than ten years and the really cheap ones lasting less than five years. 

What Audio Interface is Best for Vocals?

The best audio interface for vocals depends on the specific needs of your recording project. Generally, it is recommended to look for an audio interface with a high-quality preamp and at least two inputs so that both a vocal mic and instrument can be recorded simultaneously. Additionally, look for interfaces with low noise floor, AD/DA conversion technology, and built-in effects such as EQs or compressors which allow you to shape your sound before it hits the digital recording software. High-end options include models from companies like RME, Universal Audio and Apogee Electronics.

Final Thoughts

There are no hard and fast rules for what types of audio interfaces you should use. Instead, your choices will depend on your production level, musical instruments, audio interface specs and production goal. There is an audio interface that suits every sound need, and this article has highlighted the best four under 500 to get you started.  

Sources

https://musictech.com/guides/best-audio-interfaces-under-500/
https://midination.com/gear/best-audio-interface-under-500/
https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-best-audio-interface-for-home-studio-recording-on-a-budget
https://www.perfectcircuit.com/signal/best-audio-interfaces-under-500
https://producerhive.com/ask-the-hive/what-is-an-audio-interface-used-for/
https://primesound.org/best-audio-interface-under-500

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[…] There are some great USB mics, of course, but if you want the best, you’re going to need an audio interface. And that’s precisely what we have for you here! Read on for our Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 […]