Shopping for an audio interface that matches your needs and budget can often become a daunting task. To help narrow down the selections in a saturated market we put together a list of top ten affordable audio interfaces for music producers that offer professional sound quality and essential features.
The Apogee ONE is an all-in-one portable, USB audio interface that provides all the essentials needed to make professional recordings on the go or in the studio. This pocket size interface boasts some serious qualities and award-winning sound. The ONE features a built-in omnidirectional condenser microphone, two analog inputs that include an XLR microphone and 1/4” instrument connector on a breakout cable, a mic preamp, USB 2.0 connection with 24-bit/96kHz AD/DA conversion, and two analog outputs including a 1 1/8 stereo output for headphones or powered speakers.
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Behringer U-Phoria UM2
The ultra-compact U-Phoria UM2 audio interface is simple, affordable, and very effective in the studio or on the road. This quality USB audio interface sports a studio-grade XENYX Mic Preamp, a combination XLR/TRS connections for vocal and direct instrument input, and an additional 1⁄4″ Instrument Input. The feature-set also boasts a Phones output with Level control and Direct Monitoring, USB-supplied power, and two Outputs with low latency. In addition, provides 48 kHz resolution for pristine audio quality, LED indicators, and includes free audio recording, editing, and podcasting software.
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NI KOMPLETE AUDIO 6
The rugged KOMPLETE AUDIO 6 from Native Instruments is a six-channel USB audio interface that provides everything needed to record, play, and perform music. This popular all-around interface is loaded with four analog ins/outs, S/PDIF digital in/out, MIDI in/out, two high-end microphone preamps with Cirrus Logic converters to deliver pristine sound, a headphone output with independent level control, and is USB powered. In addition, the AUDIO 6 provides direct monitoring for 100% latency-free monitoring and includes KOMPLETE ELEMENTS, a full production package of sounds and effects.
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QUAD-CAPTURE by Roland is another professional quality interface that delivers wherever you take it. Its compact, durable aluminum body design sports a pair of XLR/TRS inputs with premium VS Mic Preamps, two TRS outputs, coaxial I/O, headphone out, MIDI I/O, pristine 24-bit/192 kHz audio quality, ultra-low latency performance, and is USB powered. Also included is Graphical Control Panel software and an AUTO-SENS feature that automatically sets the ideal recording level for each input.
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Novation Audiohub 2×4
Novation has partnered with Focusrite to deliver the Audiohub 2×4 which combines a compact professional audio interface with a powered three-port USB hub for connecting and powering all your USB gear at once. The aluminum Audiohub 2×4 is designed to help declutter your setup while also offering high quality 96 kHz/24-bit resolution, and all the essential features to rock the studio or the club. The Audiohub is equipped with two TRS outputs, four RCA outputs, two RCA Line Inputs with a selectable gain switch, an Input Monitor switch, headphone socket with output select switch, three USB type A sockets for connecting USB devices to the hub, two Volume controls, and more. Also included is Ableton Live Lite 9 and a Kensington security slot.
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The all-metal USB powered iD14 from Audient delivers the audio performance of a large format console in a compact and elegant desktop package. iD14 provides a pair of world-class Audient Console Mic Preamplifiers, 2-in/4-out high-performance Burr Brown AD/DA Converters, a JFET D.I instrument input designed to replicate a classic valve amplifier, independent Class-AB headphone output, main speaker output, and an optical input connector for expanding up to ten inputs via an eight-channel mic pre. This rugged interface is also equipped with console style monitor control, intuitive mixer software, and a revolutionary ScrollControl feature that turns the volume encoder into a virtual scroll wheel that allows you to adjust DAW hosts, plug-in parameters, iD14’s mixer app, and even scroll through your iTunes library.
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Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (2nd Gen)
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 is another excellent compact USB audio interface that combines affordability, cross-platform operation, a comprehensive feature set, and the same class-leading sound quality as the rest of the latest Scarlett range. The USB powered Scarlett 2i4 boasts two microphone preamps with global phantom power, a pair of Neutrik combo XLR/TRS 1/4″ input connectors with line/instrument switches, MIDI I/O, four analog RCA outputs, and a headphone output all housed in a rugged aluminum unibody chassis. Direct monitoring is also available to avoid latency while recording and signal halos surrounding the gain knobs that provide visual feedback of proper input levels. Scarlett 2i4 also comes with Ableton Live Lite and Pro Tools | First – Focusrite Creative Pack, which features 12 additional plug-ins, Softube’s Time and Tone bundle, the Focusrite Red Plug-In Suite, Novation’s Bass Station Virtual synthesizer, and 2GB of Loopmasters samples.
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Mackie Onyx Blackjack
The Onyx Blackjack from Mackie is a 2 x 2 USB powered interface equipped with two boutique-quality Onyx mic preamps, high-end 24-bit/48kHz conversion, a built-in DSP matrix mixer, and a pair of DI phantom powered inputs. “Built-Like-A-Tank,” the Onyx Blackjack features a sleek, powder-coated all-metal chassis, Cirrus Logic AD/DA converters that offer an 114dB dynamic range, true analog hardware monitoring of inputs, in mono or stereo, for easy zero-latency recording, and separate studio monitor outputs and headphone outputs, each with independent level controls. Also included is Tracktion 3 music production software.
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Behringer XENYX UFX1204
The incredible XENYX UFX1204 from Behringer is one of the best-sounding 12-Input, 4-Bus compact live-sound mixers on the market. This portable performance mixer is equipped with four premium-grade XENYX Mic Preamps, four studio-grade “one-knob” Compressors, 3-band “British” EQs with sweepable mid band, and a world-class 24-bit Multi-FX processor with 16 editable presets. Along with a built-in 16 x 4 USB/FireWire audio interface, the UFX1204 features HI-Z inputs for direct connection of guitars, four Channel Inserts and balanced Main Mix outputs on ¼” TRS and XLR connectors, two Aux Sends per channel, two stereo Aux Returns, separate CD/Tape input, a full-featured Talkback section, and a plethora of output options. This impressive unit also comes with the legendary Tracktion 4 Music Production Software. Plus, you can use the UFX1204’s built-in 16-Track USB-Recorder to record directly to a USB stick or your PC/Mac computer. Additionally, the UFX1204’s transport section can even function as remote control for your computer-based DAW via its convenient, onboard MIDI capability.
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Motu Audio Express
The Audio Express from MOTU is a 6-in/6-out compact, fully featured hybrid audio interface and mixer that connects to any current Mac or PC via FireWire or high-speed USB 2.0. This unit provides a lot of connectivity and an extensive host of features. The 8-bus Audio Express serves as the perfect portable mixer. It gives you immediate, hands-on control of your mix using the front-panel status LEDs and knobs to mix volume independently from the input’s trim level. The mixer can also take signals from its six inputs and mix them to an output pair, such as the main outs. You get a separate mix for main outs, line outs, S/PDIF digital out, and phones. Better yet, you have complete control over all four mix busses with direct access to volume, mute, and solo for each input. There is truly too many other features and included software options to list.
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Finding the right sound can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Learn the fundamentals of synthesis and sampling and gain the depth of knowledge to shape sounds the way you want them or make your own sounds from scratch.
About This Program
Become ﬂuent in the language of sound design and synthesis with this comprehensive program. This six-level Sound Design program uses Native Instruments’ Komplete as a platform for learning synthesis and sampling techniques. Starting with an introduction to the properties of sound, this comprehensive series of courses covers the major techniques used for contemporary sound design.
You will learn to create your own sounds with a variety of techniques and add a personal sonic signature to your tracks. We introduce you to the latest synthesis and sampling technologies and show you how to use the world’s largest and most diverse sound library. In the advanced levels, you will acquire total control over all aspects of the Komplete instruments while practicing genre-based sound design.
- Sound Design Level 1: Introduction to Komplete
- Sound Design Level 2: Synthesis with Massive, FM8 and Absynth
- Sound Design Level 3: Sampling with Kontakt and Battery
- Sound Design Level 4: Advanced Sound Design
- Sound Design Level 5: Reaktor Ensembles and Production Techniques
- Sound Design Level 6: Reaktor Programming and Instrument Building
Visit the Music Foundations course page for detailed information on this program here.
If you have questions, please call 877.DUBSPOT or send us a message.