- When shopping for an audio interface, essential features to take into consideration
- Desktop model versus rack-mounted version
- Bitrate and audio resolution
- interoperability between DAWs and devices
- Dimensions and weight
- Comparison Table:
- Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
- Motu M2
- M-Audio AIR 192|6
- Audient iD4
- Universal Audio Volt 2
Here at Higher Hz, we’ve tested various audio interfaces; in this post, you’ll find our recommendations for the best audio interface under 200 in 2023. Some of our picks are also included on the list of the best audio interfaces for the money that we have. The critical difference is that we are now concentrating on the range between $150 and $200 and excluding the more affordable end of the budget market. You will receive better I/O configuration flexibility and outstanding value for your money if you choose something from this list.
When shopping for an audio interface, essential features to take into consideration
If you want to get the most value for your money, here are some of the characteristics of an audio interface that you should look for before making a purchase:
Desktop model versus rack-mounted version
This is close to my heart. You have the option of getting either one, and the one you choose should be determined by the amount of room you have in your home studio and your goals. If you want to utilize the interface in your home recording studio, select one rack-mounted model. On the other hand, if you want to compose music while traveling, you should purchase a desktop model that can be placed on various surfaces.
At some point, your music will advance to a more complex level, and your requirements for an audio interface will increase. Therefore, it is preferable to go with an audio interface such as the BEHRINGER UMC404HD Audio Interface, which was discussed above, because it offers a more significant number of inputs and outputs and is more adaptable.
Connectivity When shopping for an audio interface, you want to ensure that it is equipped with peripheral ports that are compatible with the ones already on your computer. A PCle slot, a firewire port, a USB port, and a thunderbolt port are some of the essential ports you need to consider.
Bitrate and audio resolution
The accuracy of the sound capture provided by the interface is dependent on these. Choose an audio interface capable of capturing the recorded sound’s volume, dynamic range, phase, and frequency. These are the four qualities of sound. Your exact sound will be captured with greater transparency using an interface with 24-Bit, and 192kHz sampling rates, such as the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface discussed before.
interoperability between DAWs and devices
Ensure the audio interface you chose is compatible with all your devices, including your PC, iPad, and iPhone. Some interfaces can only be used with Windows or Mac computers, while others are compatible with both operating systems. It is recommended that you choose an interface compatible with all of the primary digital audio workstations (DAWs) for flexibility. This will allow you to test out each DAWs and choose which works best for you.
Dimensions and weight
This factor determines the portability of the interface. Some interfaces, such as the PreSonus AudioBox USB Audio Interface mentioned earlier, are compact enough to be carried in a backpack or stored in a guitar case. Again, this is a matter of one’s taste and inclination. You can select an interface that is a size and weight suitable for your requirements as well as the available space.
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Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
The Scarlett 2i2 3rd Generation is undoubtedly one of the most impressive entry-level interfaces that can be found on the market today. The 2i2 offers an unrivaled combination of value to cost, use, and dependability, making it virtually impossible to find an alternative. The interface includes two XLR/TRS combo inputs and two balanced TRS outputs in addition to its other capabilities.
The Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen, like all of Focusrite’s more recent products, has a mode called Air mode that simulates the sound of Focusrite’s ISA preamps. This is standard for Focusrite. This function may be helpful when recording guitars or voices because it adds a touch of high-end crispness and a touch of saturation to the signal.
The A/D resolution of the device is a maximum of 24 bits, and it has a maximum sampling rate of 192 kHz. You will have enough headroom for your recordings thanks to its dynamic range of 110.6 dB (A-weighted), which the device possesses.
The Motu M2 may not have as many features as other audio interfaces, such as the Volt 2 or Scarlett 2i2, but its performance is superior to that of both of those products in several ways.
The Motu is an audio interface that, like the other stated components, has two inputs and outputs, a depth of 24 bits, and a maximum sampling rate of 192 kHz. Despite this, the device’s dynamic range is an astounding 120 dB. (A-weighted). Additionally, the unit is equipped with the same converter technology as in Motu’s higher-end versions, which is nothing short of a blessing in disguise.
The one drawback to this unit is that it does not have TRS outputs but rather unbalanced RCA outputs; nevertheless, considering how fantastic the interface is for recording, the drawback is more than made up for by the quality of the interface.
M-Audio AIR 192|6
The M-Audio AIR 192|6 is a fantastic audio interface that features rock-solid preamps, recording power of the highest quality, and an architecture that is very pleasant to users. The component features MIDI input and output in addition to two XLR/TRS combo inputs, two TRS inputs, two balanced TRS outputs, and two TRS inputs. This might make this device the most adaptable of all the interfaces included in this list. In addition, the mic inputs come equipped with M-high-quality Audio Crystal preamps, characterized by a high degree of transparency and a low noise level. In general, what else could you want at this point?
Even though the Audient iD4 Mk2 only has one combination input and one output, the preamps more than makeup for the fact that it has such limited connectivity options. The dynamic range of the iD4 Mk2’s preamps is an impressive 120 decibels, while the mic input has a gain range of 58 decibels (although this number is smaller for the instrument-in). They are entirely silent, providing a high level of neutrality and openness.
Because they are the same preamplifiers found on Audient’s ASP8024-HE, which are high-end units that can range in price anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000 (depending on which model you’re looking at), the preamps perform exceptionally well. This is one of the reasons why they are so popular. This recording quality level can be had for around $200, which is insanely excellent.
Universal Audio Volt 2
Despite all the publicity surrounding the Volt 2, the device has successfully demonstrated that it is helpful in a recording studio. The Volt 2 is an analog-to-digital converter with a maximum sample rate of 192 kHz and an A/D conversion depth of 24 bits. It also has two inputs and two outputs.
The device features reliable preamps with UA’s Vintage mode already activated. This preset, modeled after Universal Audio’s legendary 610 tube preamp, infuses your recordings with a layer of saturation and warmth. Although the unit’s performance is virtually identical to that of the Focusrite 2i2 3rd Generation, we were forced to deduct points because of its lack of originality. The unit is essentially a “carbon copy” of that product. A MIDI I/O and two combo inputs are included, making this option the superior choice; however, it does come at a slightly higher price of $189.
Although there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of other audio interfaces that we could have mentioned, it would have been brutal and masochistic to include all of them on a single list. We sincerely hope that you will be able to make an informed choice due to the solid foundation of information we have provided.
You could also check out our suggestions for the top audio interfaces currently available on the market. This would be another option. Ultimately, it does not matter what we tell you, what your friends tell you, or even what your family says to you; what is essential is that you are satisfied with the conclusion. Take some time to deliberate, and decide which of the available units will serve your needs effectively.