By Bob •  Updated: 11/13/15 •  16 min read

Once upon a time there were only MBOX and Cubase, and it was a lot easier to choose from.  However, in 2015 and 2016 there are dozens of them.  But don’t fret, this is your guide to finding the best audio interface under 200 online.

best audio interface under 200

I have teamed up with my expert audio guru’s and we came up with this exciting guide full of comparison’s and reviews.  I even show you the one I use in my home studio.

Setting up your home recording studio is exciting and stressful.  And I’m sure you just can’t wait to start recording.  I’ve been there and I know exactly what you’re going through.  However, you’re next step is finding out which interface you want.


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In the simplest of terms, it is the way you connect your microphones, guitars, keyboards, etc., to your computer and converts it to digital signal that then allows you to record onto your computer.

If you want to record music your best bet is to purchase a good audio interface.

The very basic interface might be a single channel but most of the ones on the market today are 2 channel. What that means is, how many instruments you can connect and record at the same time. So with this in mind, you could get a 4 input audio interface all the way up to 24.


  1. High Quality mic Pre-amps:  The nice thing about using an interface is that most come with built-in quality pre-amps.  This is important for making the signal of a microphone sound way better than just running it directly.  The electricity helps give it a hotter signal and add warmth to the overall sound.
  2. Inputs: This is up to you on how many inputs you are going to need.  Are you just recording yourself?  Then 2 is probably enough.  But do you have plans to record your entire band?  Then maybe consider 4 or more to make isolating and tracking more effective.  Other things to look at are what types of inputs does it have,  XLR, 1/4″ guitar cable, midi.  Most have XLR and 1/4″ (combo-sockets), but look around if you need other options.
  3. Audio Outputs:  We are talking about hings like headphones and monitors. We like the option of having a separate device to monitor our music.  Such as using headphones for monitors and/or using your studio monitors too.  This is nice to have built into the interface.  This reduces the use of your processor and that can reduce lag time and were talking quality of the audio coming back at you. 
  4. DAW Software:  Depending on the AI you decide on, the DAW(Digital audio workstation) software that comes with may be different from one to the other.  I’ve used pro-tools and garage band plenty.  But I don’t think one is better than the other, because they all come with plugins and EQ, Compression, Gate and Reverb-essential tools for producing your music.
  5. Phantom Power:  Most condenser microphones require 48volt of power.  Now it is likely that most AI’s have preamps, but don’t get that confused with phantom power.  There will be a separate switch to engage the phantom power.

The good news is we’ve seen most AI’s come packed with all this great technology.  Even the cheap audio interface will have all of these requirements.  They might not be the best pre-amps or connections, but they will get the job done.


If you’re on a budget, this is the best audio interface under 200, the [easyazon_link identifier=”B00QHURUBE” locale=”US” tag=”musiclaptop-20″]Behringer UMC202HD U-Phoria[/easyazon_link] is a favorite of ours.  Behringer has really proven to us over the years that they put out a quality product.  We love their mixers and monitors.  And that’s why we gave this AI a trial run.  Here is what we liked about it.

  • Its a two channel combo-socket (Microphone and guitar cable)[easyazon_image align=”right” height=”160″ identifier=”B00QHURUBE” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”musiclaptop-20″ width=”160″]
  • Professional audio sound – 24-Bit/192 kHz resolution
  • 1/4″ left and Right audio outputs for Monitors
  • DAW Software compatible – Avid Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Steinberg Cubase, etc.
  • MAC AND PC Compatible
  • 2 MIDAS designed Mic Preamps
  • 48 V phantom power
  • Headphone output with control knob

This is a great little budget AI.  I love the front panel.  A shiny black with all the front facing controls.  Nothing fancy here, just simple way to connect and record music.

[easyazon_link identifier=”B00QHURUBE” locale=”US” tag=”musiclaptop-20″]>>Behringer UMC202HD U-Phoria<<[/easyazon_link]

But we can’t just review one, there are in fact a few dozen on our radar.  But, to be fair, we only want to review practical ones that you guys are interested in.  Like 2 and 4 input.


[easyazon_link identifier=”B005OZE9SA” locale=”US” tag=”musiclaptop-20″]Focusrite Scarlett 2i2[/easyazon_link]

[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”99″ identifier=”B005OZE9SA” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”musiclaptop-20″ width=”160″] The Focusrite’s Scarlett 2i2 is a brilliant little AI box.  For over 25 years the company has designed some of the best and most popular preamp used in the industry.  That makes this interface stand out right off the bat.  As we’ve talk about how important it is to have of good preamp, having  built-in ones is a bonus.  But that’s just the beginning, this is a 2 input/2 output interface.  A great choice for starting your home studio.  Do you podcast, this jobs the job perfectly with the two interfaces and mixer.  Just plug-in the USB and start recording.  Bands, DJ’s, this is a great overall AI.

Excellent Audio Quality for around $150.  The interface is great for the singer song writer or if you just do vocals and guitar it’s perfect.  But, keep in mind this is multi-track recording, it is endless if you desire.  So, the option of a two input is endless other than the 2 at time recording.

[easyazon_link identifier=”B005G6CZRE” locale=”US” tag=”musiclaptop-20″]Presonus AudioBox 22VSL 24-Bit/96 kHz[/easyazon_link]

[easyazon_image align=”right” height=”54″ identifier=”B005G6CZRE” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”musiclaptop-20″ width=”160″]One of the best interfaces for under $300.  This one has the high-end sound quality like a more expensive one.  This is a two-input box, perfect for a small home recording studio.  Comes with great and quite preamps, great for vocals and acoustic guitars.

All the inputs are on the front, 2 combo-socket inputs (XLR 1/4 instrument cable).  The gain knobs for instrument inputs as well as the headphone and monitors are right in front with visual clip warning.  That does come in handy if your levels are too hot.  Engage the 48 volt phantom power button in the front.  In the rear are all the outputs, 1/4″ stereo headphone output as well as a left and right 1/4″ monitor output.  It seems the one complaint is the USB is the only way to turn it off when you’re done.  So, instead of an on/off switch, you’ll just have to unplug the device.

[easyazon_link identifier=”B016KCM44G” locale=”US” tag=”musiclaptop-20″]Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6[/easyazon_link]

[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”91″ identifier=”B016KCM44G” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”musiclaptop-20″ width=”160″]You may have heard of Native Instruments for guitar and instruments before.  They make a great guitar pedal with incredible sounds.  But this is for recording guitar and other instruments to you computer.  For playing live, recording your album or DJ’ing, this one’s for you.  Here is a 6-input audio interface.  Check out these features:

  • 4 – Inputs (analog): 2 – balanced mic/line/instrument (XLR) & 2 balanced line (1/4″)
  • 4 balanced analog outputs (1/4″)
  • Digital stereo input & output (S/PDIF RCA)
  • MIDI in/out for master keyboard/MIDI controller
  • Headphone output with source switch and level control knob
  • Includes Cubase LE 6, Traktor LE 2 and Komplete Elements – with over 1000 instruments and effects, Reaktor 5 Player, Guitar Rig 5 Player and Kontact 5 Player
  • Works well for DJs looking for a DJ interface
  • USB powered

As you can see this is a great AI.  If you’re a guitar player looking for those great sound effects, this also comes with that.  But it’s not just for guitar players, you can see it is made for just about any musician.  If you need more a than 4 input interface, think about this one. If you need to record a full band, this could do it.  Not all at once of course, but you could lay some drum tracks down and then go back and lay each track down after that.  That’s probably how I would do it.

[easyazon_link identifier=”B00NWE79BY” locale=”US” tag=”musiclaptop-20″]M-Audio M-Track MKII[/easyazon_link]

[easyazon_image align=”right” height=”120″ identifier=”B00NWE79BY” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”musiclaptop-20″ width=”160″] Here is the M-track made by M-Audio.  Designed to turn your computer into a recording studio with the simple plug and play.  It comes with inputs that can switch from microphone to the instrument.  It does come with phantom power for you condenser mic.  However it does not come with preamps.  Depending on the type of recording you’re going to do, you’ll need a decent preamp.

I did like that this is compatible with protools 11.  However the DAW software (M-Track software suite)  that come with is pretty decent.  The plug-ins like reverb and EQ, gates and compression are all in the software.

[easyazon_link identifier=”B003VZG550″ locale=”US” tag=”musiclaptop-20″]Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2[/easyazon_link]

[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”103″ identifier=”B003VZG550″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”musiclaptop-20″ width=”160″] The shape of this little guy reminds me of an old mackie mixing board I used to own.  I like that, I do miss that tangible feeling.  One thing I liked about the Mackie 1604 mixer I had, was the preamps.  This one comes with 2 inputs and the Onyx preamps.  They are actually really good.  If you want a great recording you need great preamps.

It is the perfect for your home recording studio.  The 2-input combo-socket with headphone and monitor outputs (Mono and Stereo).  Those can all be controlled right there in the front.  Engage the phantom power button right in the front.  It does have its own software but you don’t have to use it.  It is compatible with most big DAW software like Logic, Sonar, Cubase, Ableton, Final cut pro, etc.  Works on both PC and Mac.

About a year ago we wrote and article for the best audio interface for 2017. It’s still a solid write-up that a lot of people really enjoyed.

best audio interface for 2016.We also go through some pros and cons during this review. What you will see are ones we use in our studios, while on the road and even using them to record live.

Being able to have this portable studio, makes recording and producing so much easier and convenient. Have you ever thought about taking your acoustic up on a hill-side and recording some songs? You can now, so which one is going to be the best for that?

Keep reading and you will get a chance to see some that many pros use and some that get high marks but for some reason just don’t big market campaigns.

There are about a dozen that I have personally really liked.

But a few have stood out this year particularly. So to help sum up this year, here is the best audio interface for 2017.

For the sake of you time, here is a quick list that I will go through as you scroll down.

  1. [easyazon_link identifier=”B01E6T56CM” locale=”US” tag=”musiclaptop-20″]Focusrite Scarlett Solo[/easyazon_link]
  2. [easyazon_link identifier=”B00B7DN59W” locale=”US” tag=”musiclaptop-20″]Tascam US-366[/easyazon_link]
  3. [easyazon_link identifier=”B000KW2YEI” locale=”US” tag=”musiclaptop-20″]Behringer UCA202[/easyazon_link]
  4. [easyazon_link identifier=”B004A1QAAE” locale=”US” tag=”musiclaptop-20″]M-Audio Fast Track USB 2 Computer Audio Interface[/easyazon_link]
  5. [easyazon_link identifier=”B00EK1OTZC” locale=”US” tag=”musiclaptop-20″]Behringer U-Phoria UM2[/easyazon_link]
  6. [easyazon_link identifier=”B00154KSA2″ locale=”US” tag=”musiclaptop-20″]PreSonus AudioBOX[/easyazon_link]
  7. [easyazon_link identifier=”B000HVXMNE” locale=”US” tag=”musiclaptop-20″]Lexicon Alpha 2-Channel Desktop Recording Studio[/easyazon_link]
  8. [easyazon_link identifier=”B01E6T547Y” locale=”US” tag=”musiclaptop-20″]Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 USB Audio Interface[/easyazon_link]

2017 has been a great year, with so many advances to home recording production. The cost to produce an album is so much more affordable using one of these studio’s in a box.

What makes these ones the best of 2016? Well, we look at the ones that get the most attention on our site, and ones that are catching the most buzz on the internet. We took a look at for their data, how many people have bought and we looked at reviewer comments.

Will there be any audio interface sales for Black Friday? Usually there is, but we have no way of knowing right now.

Best audio interface under 200

Focusrite Scarlett Solo

This is #1 by far. With a super affordable price, you can’t go wrong with what is offered in the box.

This is a one channel USB, I really liked that because if you are solo musician, this is likely for you. You can upgrade to more inputs and channels.

This Scarlett solo comes with pro tools, ableton and creative pack software. Just plug-in and play on a Mac and PC. Great preamps and converters, make this one of the fastest on the market.

Tascam US-366

One of the leading name brands in the recording industry is Tascam. They really don’t skip out on any features with this unit.

6 inputs and 4 outputs, which is a lot of bang for your buck. There is a multi-track mode and a new PODCAST mode feature. Excellent for podcast and live radio shows.

On board effects like, compressor, reverb and EQ.

Optional foot pedal for multi-track recording, this is particularly helpful for when you’re recording in a separate room. Like recording vocals in the same room as your computer, you will pick up all sorts of fun noises you don’t want in your recording.

Behringer UCA202

If you’re looking for a good cheap audio interface, look no further. Behringer as a brand makes some really fantastic affordable musical equipment.

This being an audio interface for well under $50. Here we have a 2 input and 2 output unit that you connect your instruments to and it connects via USB into your computer.

I think if you’re a DJ, rapper and use other samplers and midi keyboards to create music, this is great affordable USB audio interface.

It doesn’t come with software like the others, so you will need that. The downside to this is there in only RCA inputs and outputs. No 1/4 or XLR.

M-Audio Fast Track USB 2 Computer Audio Interface

I’ve always been a big fan of M-Audio. My very first interface was an M-Audio. This newer model has the same but upgraded features. That’s probably why it’s the best-selling recording interface in its category.

1/4 or XLR input. You can literally plug your guitar straight into this box and record. The preamps are nice and gives a good warm boost to the signal.

Includes software to start recording music instantly. Works well with Garageband and Protools to name a few. RCA outputs to connect to separate powered studio monitors.

Behringer U-Phoria UM2

Another great and affordable model is this Behringer U-phoria UM2. A good factor for this is because, it’s a great product and 2 the price is super affordable.

How does Behringer do it, they have some of the best preamps and converters for the price. This unit offers the same as the big dogs for a 1/3 of the price.

XLR/1/4 inputs, phantom power, control headphones and monitor mixes on the front of the interface. Red clip indicator and other nice features. If you’re just starting home recording, I would start here.

PreSonus AudioBOX

Bus-powered USB audio and MIDI interface. 2 combo mic/instrument inputs with high-performance, low-noise, high-headroom mic pre amplifiers.

You have a lot of control on the front of the box, the knobs can control instrument inputs, monitor outs and mixer and mains. The Zero-latency analog monitoring is really nice for recording. Playing back to a mix when you hit the guitar strings and it takes a second to playback can really ruin a take!

compatible with most recording software and it plugs in and works well with PC or MAC. Great for the musician or podcaster recording from home through your computer.

Lexicon Alpha 2-Channel Desktop Recording Studio

Record up to two tracks at a time using the XLR or 1/4 inputs. Two TRS and RCA line outputs for monitoring.

Stereo line inputs for keyboards, drum machines or analog output of a CD/MP3 player. The front panel offers lots of control with separate knobs to monitor inputs and outputs.

Software suite includes Cubase LE4 and Lexicon Pantheon VST reverb plug-in. A whole studio in a box for under $100. One of the best sellers this year on amazon.

4.1kHz to 48kHz sample rates, 16-bit or 24-bit resolution. No need for a power supply… so you can record anywhere you can take your laptop.

Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 USB Audio Interface

This is probably our favorite of the 2016 best sellers. It’s a legit full studio that can be put in your equipment bag and taken anywhere. What we mean is, it can record up to 8-tracks at once. That’s a lot, considering these are mainly 2 inputs at a time.

4 XLR inputs in the front and 4 1/4 inputs in the back. You can also input midi lines as well. With a total of 18 inputs you can connect just about anything. And that’s what makes this the most versatile on the market. If you are doing lots of recording sometimes you never know what you might get, so having those options is really nice


Most of these are built to start recording. They come with inputs and pre-amps and even software. You really can’t go wrong with an investment in any of these.

Whether you’re a solo musician or are in a group. Multi-track recording works well and the quality is just as good as a studio.

You won’t be disappointed with any of the 2017 choices.

The market is always changing and upgrading, and as it does we update our list best audio interface articles.  This is the most up to date list on the internet, and as you can see there are really good ones in there.  Is there a particular recording interface you use?  Let us know so we can test it and put it on our website.