What is the difference between a cheap and expensive audio interface? (Answered)

By Bob •  Updated: 05/25/21 •  9 min read

When looking for an audio interface, it can be challenging to decide what features and price point will work best for your needs.

In this article, we break down the difference between expensive and cheap audio interfaces so that you know which one is right for you!

The difference between a cheap and expensive audio interface

Audio interfaces are devices that convert analog signals from microphones and instruments to digital data for recording.


Audio interfaces can be categorized as expensive or cheap based on their price point, features, and audio quality (ex: sound clarity).

The main difference between a cheaper interface and an expensive one is the converter. 

Cheaper interfaces will use a “DAC” or digital to analog converter, which may not be as high quality as the converters used inexpensive audio interfaces.

Cheap audio interfaces also tend to have more issues with latency, meaning that there is an increased delay between when you create sound and hear it back through your speakers.

This can lead to feedback problems during recording sessions where you need immediate results from adjustments made on instruments.

On top of this, cheaper models often do not offer XLR inputs for microphones, MIDI I/O jacks (for keyboards), phantom power for condenser mics, input gain control levels, direct monitoring capabilities, and minimal overall features.

Suppose you are looking for an affordable interface without any of these shortcomings. In that case, the Behringer U-Phoria UM100 is an excellent option.

The other difference is the preamps

Cheaper interfaces usually have low-quality, noisy preamps, which produce unwanted noise and distortion during playback of your recordings.

In contrast, expensive models often pack in multiple high-quality mic inputs along with an impressive array of features to make recording a breeze.

The Behringer U-Phoria UM100 offers 24 bit/192 kHz resolution (perfect for those who are looking for professional audio), eight channels that can be used simultaneously, MIDI I/O jacks for keyboard use, as well as phantom power capabilities to ensure you never run out of juice when it comes time to record vocals or acoustic instruments.


Yes, it does. The quality of the audio interface can have a massive impact on your overall recording experience, and you may not even realize it!

The preamps and inputs on a cheap interface can be noisy and distorted.

This will not only affect the sound quality of your recordings, but it might also make overdubbing impossible, as you won’t have any room for additional tracks to be recorded!

But on the other hand, a cheaper audio interface can be perfect for a beginner who wants to learn the basics of music production at home.


Yes, it is! Focusrite is known for its quality products, and we have a lot of them in our studio.

Our current favorites from the brand are: – Scarlett Solo – Saffire Pro 40 because of its outstanding preamps and low latency.

We can’t recommend them enough for beginners and professionals who need a cheap lunchbox interface for their travels or when they are on studio layoff.

What is your favorite audio interface? Share with us in the comments below!

Is Behringer’s audio interface a good one?

The Behringer U-PHORIA UMX25 USB Audio Interface is a good choice for people looking to get into audio recording.

It comes with everything you need at an affordable price. It offers high-quality sound capture capability that can be used in any number of different configurations.

My favorite feature is the input gain control which allows me to boost my signal without any distortion, ensuring that I can record appropriately for whatever environment or situation.

One of the most impressive features is its ultra-low latency performance.

The Behringer U-PHORIA UMX25 USB Audio Interface has one of the lowest roundtrip latencies available on an audio interface this size and price range.

The quality sound combined with low latency makes it perfect for podcasting and live streaming applications.

If you are looking for high-quality over frills, then this may be your best option!


The first thing to ask yourself is, “How often am I going to be using the interface?”

Suppose you’re a professional musician or sound engineer who plans on putting dozens of hours per week into audio production. In that case, it’s worth investing in an expensive and high-quality interface.

However, suppose you are looking for something affordable that will work just fine for casual use (e.g., recording vocals at home). In that case, there isn’t as much need for spending money on a top-notch model.

If we take these two scenarios: one where someone needs more power than what their mixer can provide and another person who doesn’t require too many inputs from instruments they don’t have available; this would result in different technical requirements when it comes to the interface.

How many inputs do I need?

Most audio interfaces come with 2 inputs because most solo studio musicians are all they need.

But let’s say you want to record a band. You will need more inputs.

Suppose you are recording an electric guitar, bass, and drums simultaneously. In that case, an eight-input interface should suffice (you could also use two audio interfaces at once to make more inputs available).

The number of inputs required depends on what kind of music you’re recording and how many instruments or audio sources you have available to plug up to your sound card.

Apollo vs. Focusrite

The Apollo is a more expensive audio interface because it has an impressive range of features, including balanced and unbalanced inputs, MIDI I/O, 48-volt phantom power for condenser microphones, and dual Thunderbolt ports. The

Focusrite doesn’t have these additional features, but its analog conversion quality is still comparable to the more expensive model. Features like bus-powered operation mean that you don’t need any external power sources with this device.

Both devices are versatile options for recording studios at different levels in terms of cost and functionality, so make sure you know your needs before making a purchase decision!

Behringer vs Presonus

The first difference between the two interfaces is that a Behringer audio interface has more channels.

The PreSonus Audio Interface only comes with two inputs, whereas Behringer’s come in at four.

However, this does not necessarily mean you should go for the cheaper option, as both of these are great options for beginners and professionals alike.

Some may find that having less input to work through can be beneficial, indicating going down the PreSonus route rather than up it?

Both are great options for beginners and professionals alike.

If you need something more advanced than that, then Behringer is your company to go with.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 vs. m-audio air 192

The Focusrite Scarlett is a studio-quality audio interface for recording and monitoring.

The M-audio air 192, on the other hand, has more of an audiophile focus. So it’s better if you’re doing live recordings or producing music that isn’t going to be heavily edited in post-production.

With a high-quality preamp onboard with +48v phantom power capability, two natural-sounding Scarlett mic/instrument inputs, and two newly-designed instrument inputs with tons of headroom (on Focusrite interfaces only), this interface will deliver your mixes perfectly every time!

The M-audio air 192 has a more fine gain knob and requires you to use it in conjunction with the software’s input panel.

The preamps in the air 192 are not as clean and natural sounding, but with more headroom than any other interface on this list.

The Focusrite Scarlett is a studio-quality audio interface for recording and monitoring.

It offers two high-impedance instrument inputs that can handle almost anything you might need to plug into them – from your guitar or bass rig all the way up to a synthesizer.

The M-audio air 192 has only one set of input channels – which means it’s less versatile if you want to record several instruments at once without having to resort to using a mixer in between (although there may be times when this extra flexibility could come in handy).

With an onboard microphone preamplifier featuring +48v phantom power, the air 192 is also a better choice for vocalists who want to use their own microphone.

The Focusrite Scarlett is an audio interface that offers studio-quality recording and monitoring with two high impedance instruments inputs, one set of input channels, which means it’s less versatile.

If you want to record several instruments at once without having to resort to using a mixer in between (although there may be times when this extra flexibility could come in handy), on board microphone preamplifier.

Featuring 48v phantom power makes it a good choice for vocalists and more headroom than any other interface on this list.

If money were no object, I would recommend getting the M-audio platinum octo since its eight ins and outs and sixteen channels of I/O are perfect for larger projects.

It also has a MIDI interface which is not something that you see very often on an audio interface. Still, it’s helpful if you want to use your keyboard or drum machine with the recorder without having to hook up two separate devices.

It offers more in terms of features than any other option here, so, therefore, it comes at a high price point as well – definitely worth checking out, though!

The difference between cheap and expensive interfaces really boils down to convenience vs. quality. If you’re looking for versatility, then getting one with lots of inputs such as the Focusrite Scarlett makes sense since its 48v phantom power mic preamplifier means it can be used by vocalists, too as well as guitars.


Audio interfaces are devices that convert analog signals from microphones and instruments to digital data for recording.

They have a wide range of prices, features, and audio quality levels. Some are more expensive than others based on their price point or sound clarity.

Suppose you’re looking for the best possible audio interface in your budget. In that case, we recommend checking out this article here for our picks!