An audio interface will be better if you use a computer to playback, record, or create music to enhance the audio quality. Of course, these gadgets can be helpful in various ways because they permit the connection of additional musical instruments. Finding the best audio interface for under 500 simultaneously accomplishes two goals. You can develop your musical skills without spending a fortune.
The Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 is at the top of our chart out of the following eight fantastic options. Despite its straightforward design, it fits four input and four additional output ports. To name a few advantages, it even comes with a MIDI in/out port and a three-year warranty. However, this does not diminish the fact that the other seven listed products are also excellent choices. They may suit your requirements.
When purchasing a $500 or less audio interface, consider the following features:
Features vary from product to product, as you can see from the products in the above list. Instead of letting you choose products haphazardly, we’ve offered a guide below. As a result, you’ll be able to identify the necessary features for your use cases and those that aren’t.
Desktop vs. rack-mounted model
The most popular audio interfaces for Mac and Windows under $500 take up some room next to your computer and are available in desktop versions. The Behringer UMC404HD is a superb illustration of one such gadget. Rack-mounted models, on the other hand, are frequently outside of this price range. Additionally, they often require a larger stand because of their size.
Of course, many users also care about the number of deliverables. Solo users, however, will only be able to use a few ports simultaneously. As a result, a range of about four input and output ports should be adequate for their needs. Those who collaborate in groups will require extra ports to use. Therefore, you must assess your needs and choose your equipment accordingly.
Here, in addition to the other available ports that will increase your device’s capabilities, you have connections like MIDI in/out. The type of USB port may also be necessary for this situation. However, as they also impact musical output, items like the M-Audio M-Track 8X4M with a high-speed USB connection are suggested.
Audio bitrate and resolution
The best audio resolution is what you want as well because it will make your music sound much better.
Device and DAW compatibility
Of course, you’ll need to attach your purchase device to your computer. Sadly, several of these gadgets are out-of-date and won’t function with Windows 10 or newer versions of macOS. You also have additional outstanding products in this category that work with Windows, macOS, and even iOS devices, like the Steinberg UR-RT2.
Dimensions and weight
Remember that this is a desktop tool; thus, it should be as light and compact as feasible. While the weight is given to you in the characteristics mentioned above, you can frequently determine the size by looking at the dimensions. However, the Audient iD4, which weighs even less than 2 lbs, may suffice if you only need a compact and lightweight gadget.
Last update on 2023-02-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Focusrite Scarlett 4i4
The gadget has a straightforward UI with clearly labeled controllers and ports, as seen in the image above. The opposite is true of the invention’s reverse as well. As a result, connecting to computers and other musical instruments should be simple for most users. There are a total of four input ports included with the gadget. There are two of them for connecting musical instruments. Numerous other devices, including drum machines and synthesizers, can be attached to the remaining two input ports.
There are four analog ports available for output. But there is also an additional headphone jack and an output port. It would help if you kept in mind that this device also has a MIDI in/out connector. Naturally, this will increase both the audio interfaces and the computer to which it is connected’s capabilities.
Along with a few other advantages, the mic preamps should enable you to record excellent vocals. Additionally, the available software allows you to manage your music from various devices. You can see why so many people select this as their top choice when considering all these advantages in addition to a three-year warranty.
Presonus Studio 192 Mobile
Our following product comes from a different manufacturer and is very similar to the editor’s pick. It has a 24-bit/192 kHz audio resolution; therefore, it should compare favorably to its forerunner. The input ports are configured similarly to the device above it in the sequence. Two line ports and two mic/instrument ports are included. Given that it supports four line outputs in addition to one headphone jack, you also discover that the production is the same.
The MIDI in/out connection is one element that is missing from this configuration. As a result, this is different from the device for you if you want to be able to attach a MIDI controller. Despite this, it has a sleek profile and is even lighter than its forerunner in weight. The maker does compensate for the absence of MIDI connectivity with a few extra functions. One is the 118 dB dynamic range, which enables you to record various noises accurately.
The Behringer UMC404HD is an additional product to think about buying seriously. The company can still maintain the weight of the device under 3 lbs despite its intricate design and numerous parts. This increases the tool’s portability and is quite an incredible feat.
However, most users will choose performance and valuable components before considering the weight. However, even before you do that, you should look to see the quantity and kinds of readily available ports. There are eight essential ports, with input and output ports equally distributed. You also get a headphone jack and one USB port.
The fact that this tool has zero latency can be added to the list of advantages and the ones mentioned above. As a result, you can hear sounds without lag, allowing you to adjust the signal for the best outcomes. Additionally, despite the tool’s lightweight, it has a metal body that should be able to withstand impacts without harming any internal parts. Furthermore, it is impressive that this tool also has mic preamplifiers. By doing this, you can boost the subpar signals coming from your microphones to acceptable levels.
M-Audio M-Track 8X4M
Consider buying the M-Audio M-Track 8X4M if you want the capacity and ability to simultaneously record input from several channels. This product is a treasure on the market and is well worth the amount you pay because it can connect various devices. But you can purchase it for even less than $300.
You also receive auxiliary output ports that can be assigned. Of course, there are still a few additional output ports with specific purposes. The communication between this device and your PC should be seamless with a high-speed USB connection. You also receive a variety of software programs to use with the device.
Since you want the best sound from your microphones, the manufacturer decided to include preamps. The device can also output audio with a resolution of 24-bit/192kHz. You get a sturdy metal chassis with an almost weightless body. As a result, packing it into your luggage and carrying it all day long should be simple.
Mackie Studio 3×2
Professional musicians wishing to get the most out of their PC can also use the Mackie Studio 3&2. This device deserves praise for having professional-level audio resolution. Combined with the two Onyx mic preamps, this feature will greatly enhance your audio capabilities.
Additionally, you receive ports for 2-Track A, line level, and DAW mix inputs to ensure that varied sounds can enter your PC from various sources. You can choose from multiple output modes, including Studio, phones, and amp DAW.
Again, if this is the device you want, you won’t need to bother about buying extra software. You receive a copy of Tracktion from the manufacturer, so you can install it, connect the device, and start making music as soon as you get your order.
You might also enjoy the fact that there are two distinct headphone jacks provided. Even individual-level control is possible with these. You also receive a built-in microphone in the device’s body. By doing this, you’ll be able to talk to the musicians as they’re recording.
The Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 gadget, with its straightforward design and excellent price, is one of our top three options from the list above. This is evident in both the price and the features offered. Compared to other products on the list, the warranty is also exceptional.
The dynamic range, converter included, and numerous in and out ports make the Presonus Studio 192 Mobile expensive but worthwhile. Some individuals could believe they can’t afford it and instead choose another course of action. The Behringer UMC404HD is another excellent instrument. You will be happy to have the tool because it is compatible with various software options if nothing else. If any of these three possibilities appeal to you, buy them. If you still need to, you can choose from five additional listed and reviewed items.