If you want to be able to record your demos to a high standard, but you’re on a budget, these are some of the best cheap audio interfaces that don’t suck
Looking for the best cheap audio interfaces that don't suck? Here's some of the best ever made for those on a modest budget.
Thanks to significant leaps in technology and the fact we only stock products we believe in here at PMT, when we say “cheap” these days, we simply mean “budget friendly”. Brands these days are finding more ways to make superb, professional quality audio interfaces at a lower cost, so people like us who love to record at home, get to reap the benefits! Most of us don't have the the space or budget to be able to put together a massive studio at home, and thanks to many brands making high quality audio interfaces that fit in the palm of your hand and don't cost the earth, we can all produce music or audio to a high quality without having to break the bank. So when we say "cheap" we simply mean "affordable"!
To help you find the right option, we’ve put together a range of cheap audio interfaces that will actually allow you to record extremely high-quality tracks without costing you a fortune.
Again, when we say cheap, this is only referring to the cost, not the quality! These cheap audio interfaces are made by some of the world’s best innovators in audio recording, so whether you’re recording guitars, vocals or an entire orchestra – you’re in good hands.
Here's the 9 best cheap audio interfaces that will allow you to make superb recordings, all for under £200 in price ascending order.
1. BandLab Link Analog Audio Interface -£44.99
The BandLab Link Analog Audio Interface is not only one of the best cheap audio interfaces on the market, it’s probably one of the most impressive due to its small size. This very portable audio interface fits in the palm of your hand and allows you to connect your microphone or line level instrument such as a keyboard or electric guitar into your iOS or Android device so you can record wherever and whenever you want.
Check out our review below:
At under £45 it’s easily one of the best cheap audio interfaces, but don’t let the small price tag fool you as it’s an impressive piece of kit that provides stellar quality audio capture. It's also ideal for recording tracks directly to your smartphone or tablet – which most of us do these days now anyway. There’s a headphone output, 1/8” TRRS speaker output as well as a built-in battery that’s rechargeable by USB, providing up to 8 hours of use. The large Gain knob ensures you have control over your input whilst the compatibility with almost all DAW apps like BandLab, GarageBand, Music Memos, FL Studios makes it easy to add to your setup. A great gift for musicians or addition to your set up if you want an easy way to record ideas.
2. Alesis Core 1 Inline Audio Interface - £49
The Alesis Core 1 Inline Audio Interface is also a fantastic (and cheap) audio interface for those on the move. This is another highly portable audio interface that features a single XLR / 1/4" Jack combi input for microphones and line level instruments. There’s a dedicated Gain knob too, so you have perfect control over your sound. One thing that makes this stand out is that it records in a whopping 24-bit / 48kHz audio quality – more than enough for CD quality demos and recordings. A rugged aluminium chassis keeps it safe when you’re throwing it in your backpack or laptop bag whilst a dedicated headphone input makes sure you can record wherever you want.
If you’re just starting out in the world of recording, this is a great option too as you get Steinberg Cubase LE recording software included with it. This means you can start recording in high quality sooner. Ideal for podcasters and home recording enthusiasts.
3. PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 Audio Interface - £72
We think the PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 Audio Interface is one of the best cheap audio interfaces that proves you don’t have to spend a fortune to set up a new home or portable studio. At just over £70 you get a fantastic option for recording two inputs at the same time. Each input is a combo mic/instrument input so you can record everything from podcast vocals to line level instruments like guitars and keyboards, but you also have built in MIDI I/O connections so you can connect your synth, vintage keyboard or MIDI controller and take full control of your workflow.
This is compatible with all your regular DAW’s but if you’re just starting out you’ll be pleased to know you get Studio One 3 Artist Software as well as Studio Magic Plug-Ins Suite included, so you can start recording straight away if it’s your first interface. There’s also zero latency monitoring and it records in up to 24-bit, 96 kHz audio – a great choice for those on a budget but need high quality functionality.
If you need a mic, headphone and cable the PreSonus Audiobox USB 96 Studio Recording Package is also available, providing everything you need to record in one handy package.
4. Native Instruments Komplete Audio 1 - £79
The Native Instruments Komplete Audio 1 wins for sleekest looking interface in this blog. This is ideal for those home studio owners who have limited space and want their interface to slot beautifully into their existing setup without look garish.
We think this is one of the best cheap audio interfaces not only due to the fact it’s under £80 but because it’s an impressive 2-in audio interface that allows you to record at 24-bit/192kHz audio anywhere. You have two independent inputs – an XLR for vocals and a jack for guitar/line level instruments. It’s simple yet effective. For those who have a more synth orientated setup, you’ll appreciate the fact you get a massive software suite including MASCHINE Essentials, Ableton Live Lite, MONARK, and top NI effects included.
Direct monitoring with zero latency, large volume knob for adjusting output, 48V phantom power for powering condenser mics and stereo RCA out for connecting to your speakers makes this a perfect option for studios of all sizes. Easily one of the best cheap audio interfaces for those who need to record and mix a variety of different sound sources.
5. Roland GO:Mixer Audio Mixer for Smartphones - £80.85
If you’re a content creator who prefers to use smartphones or iPads then the Roland GO:Mixer Audio Mixer for Smartphones is a fantastic choice. This nifty piece of kit eliminates the hassle of recording audio to video and ensures you don’t have to rely on your phone or tablet’s noisy mono mic or struggle with recording external audio tracks that you have to sync later on. Simply plug in your audio source, whether it’s a microphone, line level instrument like a keyboard or electric guitar, hit record on your video and you’re off!
Best of all, there’s no external drivers to install, it’s simply plug and play straight out of the box. This is ideal for vloggers and those who shoot web videos without the time to edit everything together. In addition, the 3.5mm mini jack inputs for a media player line in allows you to rehearse along with any backing tracks or record multiple instruments alongside each other.
Palm sized, powered from the smartphone connection and with all connection cables for iOS and Android devices included – this is a great addition to any portable studio set up whilst the budget friendly price tag makes it a great gift for musicians too!
6. Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface - £99.99
Whilst we’re talking the best cheap audio interfaces, we have to include the Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface as well as the 2i2 further down. This is not only a contender for the best audio interface in terms of price, but one of the best ever made – a big statement of course, but totally justified considering what it’s capable of. You have 1 x mic input backed up by an award-winning Scarlett mic preamp with all the gain you need as well as 1 x line level input designed to handle hot pickups. This is a cut above the rest in terms of conversion and sample rates as you get audio recording up to 192kHz / 24 bit with super low latency, even when using plugins.
You can record your guitar and vocal at the same time on independent channels and mix them separately and even monitor your effects and plugins in real time – this is a totally immersive recording experience in a small, hard wearing box.
There’s also a headphones output with gain input, stereo line outputs on RCA phono so you can connect it to home speakers and it’s powered via USB so you don’t need any extra cables.
One of the key features comes in the form of the switchable Air setting. This makes the mic preamp reproduce the Air effect of the original Focusrite ISA mic preamp and makes your vocals sound brighter and more open.
You also get a full suite of recording software and plug ins included such as Ableton Live Lite and Pro Tools First Focusrite Creative Pack and access to the Focusrite Plug-In Collective.
7. Orange OMEC Teleport Audio Interface - £89.95
The Orange OMEC Teleport Audio Interface is a pedal sized audio interface designed for guitarists who want to record and trigger any effects they might have on a laptop, tablet or smartphone directly from their pedal board. If this sounds useful, you’ve hit the jackpot as you simply plug your mobile device/PC into the pedal via USB cable, connect your instrument and then hook up your amp or studio desk (or both at the same time) and you’re all set.
At under £90 it’s definitely a contender for the best cheap audio interface, and the fact you get a full-featured copy of Amplitube CS to record with is a bonus. If that wasn’t enough, you also get virtual OR120, Tiny Terror, Rockerverb 50, AD30, and matching Orange Cabs included, so you can enjoy the sultry tones of some of Orange’s best valve amplifiers with the pedal. This is ideal for triggering recordings via a pedal!
We could go on and on about it, but we’d rather let Dagan explain:
8. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 MKII USB Audio Interface (2nd Gen) - £115
We had to include the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 MKII USB Audio Interface (2nd Gen) as it’s actually the best-selling USB audio interface in the world, and considering it’s only £115 an easy addition to any set up. This is yet another cheap audio interface that allows you to record superb quality audio on a budget, in fact you can record studio quality audio with this thing!
You have two Scarlett Mic/Instrument pre-amplifiers recording at 24bit/192kHz quality as well as 2 x combo inputs with independent gain control so you can record 2 sources at the same time. Both inputs are designed to take hot pickups and you’ll notice the award-winning Scarlett preamps doing their thing when you record vocals – beautiful!
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 MKII also comes with a full suite of software including an exclusive version of Pro Tools | First Focusrite Creative Pack, as well as Ableton Live Lite and access to the Focusrite Plug In collective. If you’re keen on recording more than one sound source at the same time and you want to be able to record studio quality anywhere, anytime, this is a fantastic option and one of the best cheap audio interfaces that certainly doesn’t suck.
9. Roland GO:Mixer Pro - £149
Finally, we have the Roland GO:Mixer Pro. The difference between this and the previous version, is that you have nine audio inputs at your disposal rather than four – quite the difference. If you live stream audio and video on social media or YouTube, and you want to include musical instruments this is perfect as it means you don’t have to rely on your smartphone or tablet’s microphone. Again, it’s a simple plug and play audio interface that you can use to record all manner of line level instruments including guitars and keyboards as well as microphones.
The cool thing about the Roland GO:Mixer Pro and the reason why we think this is one of the best cheap audio interfaces is the fact you can produce unique split-screen music videos with Roland’s 4XCAMERA app for iOS and Android – perfect for live streaming and direct recording. The intuitive Loop Back function also controls whether the smartphone’s backing track is recorded back into the smartphone along with your voice, which is a great feature to have if you want to isolate your vocals.
It’s powered by 4 x AAA batteries and comes with all the connection cables you need, so you’re pretty much good to go straight out of the box. At under £150, its also a great gift for the musician in your life!
*Prices correct as of 14/11/18