Best USB Audio Interface Under 500 Dollars in 2021

A challenge will be to find the right USB audio adapter under $500. Perhaps the most significant spoken words in the wheel of any home-based recording studio is a good computer audio interface. Before we look at it, we need to look at just what an audio system is doing to decide what our recording needs are. For your electronic recording system, an audio adapter is an analog to digital (AD) and digital to analog (DA) converter. If you’re using a Desktop or Laptop, you’ll need an audio app to get and playback digital audio recordings of the finest quality. Microphone and line or device inputs begin the analog side of the equation.

The number of these inputs and their quality will vary with a budget. Type and number of analog outputs can also be a factor determining when selecting the best audio interface for your needs. The lower the number of inputs and outputs and their efficiency, the lower the price. When the number and quality rise, so does the price. A person who wants to record a whole band at once will require more sources of input. If you just want to record vocals and guitar, you can use a two-channel interface with inputs of very high quality. Another defining factor when picking an audio interface is the optical I / o latency.

Most people want to hear themselves while listening with a reverb or any other effects. A low latency audio interface and an on-board DSP can provide real time effects while recording. They can also be used when performing live! Let’s look at a range of USB audio interfaces to consider the cheapest USB audio interface under $500!

Full Detailed Review Of  USB Audio Interface Under 500 Dollars

Focusrite Clarett 2Pre

I’ll continue with the Focusrite Clarett 2Pre in my search for the best USB audio interface under 500 dollars. Designed with excellent quality, it is a two-channel audio interface. Focusrite is one of the best-known brands for recording and developing digital audio interfaces in mic preamps. The two Clarett 2Pre micro-pres are believed to be on par with their initial ISA mic preamp! These micropreamps offer low distortion, low noise and excellent clarity with an accessible, clear sound to ensure the output is replicated faithfully. The 24-bit/192 kHz output can be created at its best with extremely low latency and jitter for high quality recording.
The Clarett 2Pre also offers a headset and two line outputs as well as Midi I / O. By adding an eight channel ADAT preamp, eight extra inputs can be accessed too. This is a perfect audio interface for the discriminating singer songwriter looking to grow in the future. This USB audio interface suits the bill if you’re looking for excellent audio quality with space to expand.

Roland OctaCapture

With its top-notch all-in-one VS series remote workstations Roland dominated the digital home recording industry for many years. The Roland OctaCapture USB 2.0 Audio Interface combines the same top quality recording and mixing equipment into an audio interface of the best class. It is surely worth classifying as one of the best audio interfaces in the category under 500 dollars for what you get! The OctaCapture combines 8 XLR Hybrid preamps of excellent quality and 8 quarter inch line outputs into one highly compact interface. The unit will also autosensor the input signal at each input and set the level automatically!
It is a big time saver that helps eliminate tracking errors by removing the signal in the preamp when driving over or driving under. Every time the outcome is a maximum recording level! The internal DSP of the unit supports 40-bit processing without charging your computer! It is possible to use up to four independent mixes with compression and reverb at one time , giving each performer its own custom mix. Also, the Roland OctaCapture is expandable. For a total of 16 inputs and 16 outputs it is possible to connect two units together.
That is I / O big enough for any home studio! In addition to the impressive recording capabilities, because of its internal DSP, the device can be used in live performance scenarios. If you can appreciate the consistency contained in any out there Roland device, you can surely understand why the Roland OctaCapture is a must for every discerning home recording studio. This could very well be the perfect USB audio interface for bigger setups and even live performance under 500 dollars.

Tascam UH-7000

Tascam equipment has spent several years in my studio. I was a huge fan since my first DA88 Tascam. The Tascam UH-7000 is an excellent performer with incredibly quiet micro pres and pristine digital conversion of Burr Brown. It’s certainly one of the best USB audio interfaces under $400! Three years ago I bought mine, and absolutely loved it! With two channels of exceptionally high-quality simultaneous audio streaming and recording, this is a must-have for any versatile singer songwriter or voice over performer. The onboard DSP includes reverb and distortion, noise reduction, de-eser, exciter, EQ, limiter or low-cut filters with near latency-free audio! Playback is beautiful too.

I can hear details I couldn’t hear with my previous Presonus 44VSL or my Alesis Multimix 8 USB 2.0 audio interface. The Tascam UH-7000 can also be used as a stand-alone preamp, delivering almost noise-free, fully transparent audio! I checked noise levels individually while using the UH-7000 with my previous systems and there’s just no relation. In my view the UH-7000 gets two to three times the price for the technical output of the user interfaces. It’s the must have USB interface for a singer songwriter to make the great demo!

Presonus Studio 1824

I have used Presonus equipment for several years and I’m really sold on the brand. As a user of Studio One Professional (the highly acclaimed DAW software from Presonus), I have great respect for their attention to detail and the quality of the products. The Presonus Studio 1824 USB Audio Interface has a lot of the same functions as its famous mixing boards! Excellent XMAX Class A phantom-powered micropreamps provide pristine audio. At 24-bit/192 KHz, 18 channel inputs and 18 channel outputs with 8 x 8 simultaneous in/outputs provide sufficient band recording! (Note: 8 additional inputs and outputs are given by an ADAT mic preamp of 8 channels) Two 1/4′′ headphone outputs are given.

This comes in handy when recording someone else … for the performer, for the engineer, one mix. The addition of headphone amps (up to 4 stereo mixes using 8 line outputs) may also provide additional mixes. The internal DSP provides monitoring free of latency near the area. My favorite thing about the Studio 1824 is that wireless remote software can be used with Presonus’ UC Surface over a phone or tablet. That allows the performer to customize their own mix of headphones! The Presonus Studio 1824 is an outstanding USB 2.0 audio device for recording situations large or low. It’s one of the best Audio Interfaces under $400!

Tascam US-16X08

With 16 channel inputs and 8 channel outputs, the Tascam US-16X08 USB digital audio interface offers more than enough I / O for full band recording in the range of under $300! Of the 16 input channels, 8 are Ultra-HDDA mic preamps with XLR connectors and 2 line / instrument inputs situated at the front of the panel. The other 6 inputs are inputs of 1/4′′ TRS balanced line stage, ideal for keyboards, electrical drums, microphone preamps, or some other line source. The internal DSP mixer provides the ultimate in low-latency digital mixing for each audio, with 4 band EQ and compression.

The DSP mixer can provide performers with up to 4 custom stereo mixes to record a whole band, if necessary. The audio interface US-16X08 is flexible too. It can also be used as a stand-alone preamp and can provide Midi I / O throughout your studio. I consider the US-16×08 to be the best USB audio interface for recording a full band under $300.

Steinberg UR44

Steinberg is one of the oldest Optical Audio recording titles. Their recording softwares, Cubase and Nuendo, have been used throughout the world in professional recording studios. Their wireless USB audio interfaces represent the same high-quality as there software . The UR44, at just under $300, is a DSP-based USB audio interface with enough digital I / O for two to four musicians in live performance situations. The UR44 has four Class-A Yamaha D-Pre XLR mic preamps that provide detailed, transparent sound. Two of the XLR combo inputs in the UR44 can also handle an input of an HI-Z instrument, reducing the need for separate boxes.

The UR44 has two additional 1/4′′ TRS balanced inputs on the back of the unit for added connectivity to keyboards, drum machines, etc … The internal DSP, dspMixFX, not only provides latency-free monitoring but also adds ample dynamics control and Yamaha REV-X reverb! Aside from these internal DSP goodies, the DSP also offers advanced Yamaha guitar amp modeling with four types of amps: Clean, Crunch, Drive and Lead! The UR44 provides the most discerning guitarist with flawless 24-bit/192 kHz audio, and works smoothly with Cubase. The UR44 can also fit effectively with any other DAW and include CC mode (class-compliant mode) for use with any iPhone or iPad IOS device that is supported!

To make the UR44 much more versatile it provides Midi I/O for most keyboard, drum machine or midi control devices to be attached and operated. If you are an acoustic party of two to four people, this could be the best USB audio interface for your needs under 300 dollars.

Audient iD4

Audients are well known for their large-scale mixing consoles with the finest microphone preamps in industry. Its mixing boards can be used worldwide in recording studios. Only a few years ago they began producing small-scale digital USB audio interfaces and they made a big impact on the industry. Users allude to the quietness and clarity of their preamps, as well as their fantastic digital capabilities for analog conversion. The Audient iD4 is their line-up ‘s baby and I think it’s a perfect alternative for any singer songwriter looking to launch their own home studio (or even upgrade!).

The iD4 has one of the world class mic preamps of Audient, combined with an input of a JFET instrument for simultaneous voice and instrument recording. Even the iD4 is fitted with two headphone outputs which are both useful and unheard of in this price range for an interface! The iD4 also offers “Scroll Power” technology that enables hands-on power of your DAW by allowing the control knob on the iD4 to control the input level of the item on your DAW on which your mouse hovers! This is a unique feature allowing easier control of those controls that are hard to fine-tune with a mouse.

The recording unit is limited to 96kHz but I usually record in 48kHz anyway with all honesty. In reality I never recorded in 192kHz and recorded for one project only in 96kHz. I don’t think the added resolution is really that discernible and it takes much more disk space to accomplish a wide-ranging project. Low latency monitoring is provided with monitor mixing capabilities, but not including effects on board. I wouldn’t let those short comings stop me for the added recording quality. I think the Audient iD4 is one of the best USB Digital Audio interfaces under $200!

Steinberg UR242

The Steinberg UR242 has the same amazing UR44 DSP functionality, with fewer inputs and outputs from channels. For any solo artist or even a small duo, this mix makes it great! The USB audio interface UR242 is fitted with two micropreamps Class-A Yamaha D-Pre XLR. For excellent 24-bit/192 kHz recording the result is clean, clear , detailed audio. One of the Neutrik combi XLR inputs on the UR242 can also fit a 1/4′′ TS input for guitars or basses. This eliminates the need for a direct box, which enables setup much easier. On the rear of the machine, two additional 1/4′′ TRS balanced inputs are given for line level input signals such as keyboards, impact sensors, etc …
Yamaha’s dspMixFX reflects the front end of the internal DSP. This not only gives you latency-free monitoring capabilities but also provides effects and processing dynamics for each input! Ihe dspMixFX also provides Yamaha’s own amp simulation capability with four variations of amplifiers: Crunch, Lead, Drive and Clean! The UR242 fits flawlessly for every DAW, and offers class-compliant (CC) mode for most iPad or iPhone applications! On top of that, the UR242 will integrate seamlessly into Cubase as an added benefit for Cubase users.
Also, the UR242 provides Midi I / O to add flexibility and control to most midi-capable devices. If you’re a solo musician, or even a small duo, this might be the best USB audio interface for your needs under $200.

Final Thoughts

There ‘s certainly plenty of good options to choose from when it comes to USB audio interfaces below $500. It all comes down to your budget and needs. Until going out to find the right budget USB Audio Interface it’s up to you to properly determine your needs and know your budget. If you are searching for an app of 16 ready to go to record channels for a full set, then your choices are limited by expansion by adding additional ADAT channels.

The singer songwriter has multiple things to choose from. You’ll need to assess the budget and expectations in this situation. Required the best quality possible in 24-bit/192 kHz recording to get the absolute best? Or do you plan to use the audio setup during live shows too? A zero-latency tracking DSP with FX will be better suited for this purpose. If you can decide your needs and budget, you ‘re not going to go wrong with any of the choices listed in this post for best USB audio interface under 500 dollars!