Top 8 Best Audio Interfaces Under $500 (2019 Review) | Sustain Punch

Top 8 Best Audio Interfaces under $500

In this article, we’re going to be reviewing the top 10 best audio interfaces that exist in 2019.

We’ve done hours of research and evaluation to find only the highest quality audio interfaces, based on their features and customer review testimonials.

With all that being said, let’s talk about audio interfaces shall we!

 

How to choose the right audio interface for your needs?

There are many aspects of an audio interface which you can use in helping make your decision, and since you’re reading this, I’m assuming that price is probably one of the most important aspects.

However, since that is a given, let’s talk about some more key aspects.

The number of inputs/outputs – Before shopping for an audio interface, it’s important to think about your desired use of the piece of equipment, are you going to be using it to record just vocals and an acoustic guitar, or do you have the intention to record a full live setup? The answer to this question will give you a ballpark figure as to how many inputs and outputs that you need, and what kind of inputs (line or XLR) suit your recording needs.

Connectivity – The connectivity type of your audio interface is also an important aspect to think about, with newer connection types providing faster data transfer speeds, and ultimately less round-trip latency.

Bitrate & Sample Rates – Simply put, the higher the bitrate and audio resolution, the better audio quality an audio interface can deliver. Most of the audio interfaces that we’ve included below have bit-rates of 24-bits, and deliver a sample rate of 192 kHz, which means that it accounts for enharmonic frequencies. However, most engineers will argue that any sample rates above 96kHz do not provide any “intrinsic sound quality improvements across the 20Hz-20kHz region” [SoundonSound].

DAW/Device compatibility – DAW and Device compatibility is another aspect to consider, with certain interfaces not being compatible with specific DAWs (digital audio workstations). Not only this, but device compatibility is a factor which is especially important for those who are considering an audio interface which may be compatible with a Mac or iPhone, as only certain interfaces will be available for this. In the list of recommendations, we’ll clearly display DAW and Device compatibility, so you can rest assured.

Brand – For some shoppers, brand is everything. And whilst we agree that brand is important, as good/reputable brands have a proven record in supplying high-quality audio interfaces, try not to automatically discount new brands too. Make no mistake that all of the interfaces that we recommend below, have been done through hours of research and customer review evaluation.

Warranty – If you’re looking at spending around $500 on an audio interface, you want to have a warranty, and this can be the deciding factor if you find 2 interfaces that meet your other requirements. In our recommendation list below, we’ll clearly display the kind and length of warranty available.

Physical Size – Although we realize that most audio interfaces are of a similar size (within reason), you will most likely have an ideal place where you interface will be positioned, whether that’s in a rack or sat on your workstation. None-the-less, this is certainly another aspect that has to be considered before choosing the right audio interface.

 

Top 8 Best Audio Interfaces under $500

  • Behringer Audio Interface, 4-Channel (UMC404HD) – $Skip to section
  • Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools – $$ Skip to section
  • Mackie Big KNOB Studio Interface – $$ Skip to section
  • Tascam US-16×08 Rackmount USB Audio/MIDI Interface – $$ Skip to section
  • PreSonus Studio 68c 6×6, 192 kHz, USB-C Audio Interface – $$$ Skip to section
  • M-Audio M-Track 8x4M – $$$ Skip to section
  • PreSonus Audio Interface Studio 192 Mobile – $$$$ Skip to section
  • Steinberg UR-RT2 Interface with Rupert Neve Designs Transformers – $$$$ Skip to section

 

 


Behringer Audio Interface, 4-Channel (UMC404HD)

Midas Preamps, For those on a budget

Compatibility

Mac & PC

Features
  • Sleek black design with metal chassis
  • 4-channel audio interface
  • Extremely affordable
  • Designed and engineered in Germany
  • Both bus-powered and includes a power supply
  • Warranty: Not specified
Technical Specs
  • USB 2.0 bus-powered
  • Midi input/output
  • 4 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the front)
  • 4 TRS inputs (on the back)
  • L & R main outputs
  • Compatible with all major DAWs
  • 24-bit/192 kHz resolution
  • Includes 4 Midas designed mic preamps
  • 10 Hz – 43 kHz Frequency Response
  • 48v Phantom Power
Description

The Behringer UMC404HD is the most affordable audio interface featured on the list, and we can say that it provides a large amount of value for your dollar.

The unit has 4-channels, including 4 state of the art microphone preamps designed by Midas… A company renowned for the quality of their audio equipment.

It has 4 XLR/TRS combination inputs on the front of the interface, suitable for plugging in microphones (with 48v phantom power capability) and other instruments. Additionally, it has 4 TRS Line inputs on the rear of the unit.

Besides this, it has MIDI input/output on the back, and 2 XLR L & R main outputs.

The unit can be powered from the USB 2.0 connection (as it’s bus-powered), but also comes with a power supply.

Overall, not a bad interface if you’re on a budget and you’re looking for a 4-channel audio interface.

>>>Check out the Latest Amazon Customer Reviews of the Behringer UMC404HD<<<

 

 

 

 


Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools

Newly designed preamps, for those wanting fantastic value for money


Compatibility

Mac & PC

Features
  • Third Generation Scarlett Series
  • 4-in/4-out interface
  • Highly reputable brand
  • Compatible with all major DAWs
  • 2 brand new designed microphone preamps for this gen
  • Switchable air mode for increased clarity
  • Loopback feature – Useful for streaming & podcasting
  • Comes with a whole range of recording software
    • Avid Pro Tools, Ableton Live Lite, Splice Sound Subscription for 3 months, XLN Audio Addictive Keys, Focusrite Control, Focusrite Plug-in Collective, Focusrite Red Plug-in Suite & Softube Time and Tone Bundle
  • Warranty: 2-year manufacturers warranty
Technical Specs
  • USB 2.0 bus-powered
  • Midi input/output
  • 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the front)
  • 2 TRS line inputs (on the back)
  • 4 TRS line outputs (on the back0
  • Compatible with all major DAWs
  • 24-bit/192 kHz resolution
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz Frequency Response
  • 48v Phantom Power
Description

The Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd generation) is the newest version in the Scarlett series. T

Now it may look similar to the previous generation, but Focusrite have used their own newly designed preamps, and as you can hear from the video demonstration featured below, this interface really provides a clear sound, and is suitable for musicians, producers and podcasters/streamers.

Not only is it an extremely affordable audio interface, but it comes with a wide variety of recording software (mentioned above), so for those who potentially don’t have their own DAWs already installed, this is definitely a nice bonus.

Another nice aspect of the Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) is that it comes with Focusrite’s standard 2-year manufacturer’s warranty.

>>>Check out the Latest Amazon Customer Reviews of the Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen)<<<

 

 

 

 

 


Mackie Big KNOB Studio Interface


Compatibility

Mac & PC

Features
  • 2-in, 2-out audio interface & monitor-controller
  • Well-known interface brand
  • Compatible with all major DAWs
  • Sleek black design
  • Choose between 4 sources and 3 monitor pairs
  • Independent trim on all sources and monitor outs
  • Minimal latency
  • Warranty: N/A
Technical Specs
  • USB connectivity
  • 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the back)
  • 2 x TRS Sources (L&R)
  • 4 x TRS (L&R) Monitor Outputs
  • 2 x TRS (L&R) 2-Track Outputs
  • 24-bit/192 kHz resolution
Description

The Mackie Big Knob is a recording interface and monitor controlling solution for home and professional recording studios.

It provides high-quality recordings with its 192 kHz resolution 24-bit sample rate, and features dual Onyx microphone preamps

Overall, the unit it a little different to other audio interfaces on the ist, featuring dual headphone outs, a dedicated amp-driven studio output and more.

It only has 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs, but however, for some studio owners, this may be more suited to your workflow.

>>>Check out the Latest Amazon Customer Reviews of the Mackie Big Knob<<<

 


Tascam US-16×08 Rackmount USB Audio/MIDI Interface

The rack-mountable choice

Compatibility

Mac & PC

Features
  • 16-in, 8-out audio interface
  • Rackmountable metal chassis
  • Extremely affordable (considering ROI)
  • Compatible with all major DAWs
  • 8 Ultra-HDDA microphone preamps
  • Can connect with iPads & other iOS devices
  • DSP mixer with 4-band EQ and compression on each input channel
  • Warranty: 1-year manufacturers warranty
Technical Specs
  • USB 2.0 connectivity
  • Includes AC power supply
  • 8 XLR microphone inputs
  • 2 x TRS inputs (on the front)
  • 6 x TRS inputs (on the back)
  • 8 x TRS outputs
  • MIDI input and output
  • 48v phantom power
  • 24-bit/96 kHz resolution
Description

The Tascam US-16×08 provides a significant level of value for your money.

This 16 input device has 8 XLR inputs and 8 TRS inputs, supported by 8 Ultra-HDDA microphone preamps.

It is compatible with all major DAWs and can even connect to your iPad and other iOS devices via it’s USB Class Compliant 2.0 drivers.

As you can hear from the demonstration video of the US-16×08 unit in action, it provides a really clean sound with no fuzz or static.

However, in comparison to other interfaces, it only records at 96 kHz resolution, which is still fine!

Therefore, if you’re looking for a large number of inputs/outputs for your dollar, the Tascam US-16×08 may be for you.

>>>Check out the Latest Amazon Customer Reviews of the Tascam US-16×08<<<

 

 

 

 

 

 


PreSonus Studio 68c 6×6, 192 kHz, USB-C Audio Interface


Compatibility

Mac & PC

Features
  • 6-in, 6-out audio interface
  • Reputable brand
  • All-metal chassis and metal knobs
  • A/B function for toggling between mixes (for headphone output)
  • XMAX microphone preamps
  • 6 ladder-style LED level meters (4 input and 2 for main output)
  • Comes with recording software
    • Studio One Artist, Studio Magic Plug-in Suite
  • Warranty: 1-year manufacturers warranty
Technical Specs
  • USB C connectivity (USB A connectivity version is available)
  • Midi input/output via a SPDIF port
  • 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the front)
  • 2 XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the back)
  • Headphone output (on the back)
  • 4 TRS line outputs (on the back)
  • Compatible with all major DAWs
  • 24-bit/192 kHz resolution
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz Frequency Response
  • 48v Phantom Power
Description

The Presonus 68c is a 6-in/6-out audio interface, suitable for producers, musicians and engineers in their home-studio and even in commercial studio setups.

It features Presonus’ XMAX preamps, and comes with their own recording software, Studio One Artist.

The interface has some very useful features, in particular, it’s A/B function allows the user to toggle between headphone mixes, which is ideal for DJs and Producers, enabling them to listen into the performers monitor mix, to make changes.

As expected, the Presonus 68c provides great technical specs, providing 24-bit/192 kHz audio resolution.

Overall, it’s a good choice for those who are looking for a 6-in/6-out interface, which comes with a 1-years manufacturers warranty.

>>>Check out the Latest Amazon Customer Reviews of the PreSonus Studio 68c<<<

 

 

 

 

 

 


M-Audio M-Track 8x4M

Ultra-Low latency and fantastic value for money,  we especially like this unit


Compatibility

Mac & PC

Features
  • 8-in/4-out audio interface
  • Highly reputable company
  • Sleek aesthetic design and metal chassis
  • Lowest roundtrip latency of 2.59ms
  • Visual LED dB gain levels
  • Includes a full suite of software:
    • Pro Tools First, Eleven lite, Ableton Live Lite, Air Music Tech Creative FX Collection, Xpand!2, Mini Grand, Stike and 2GB of Touch loops content
  • Warranty: 1-year manufacturers warranty
Technical Specs
  • USB / USB C connectivity
  • Includes AC power supply
  • 4 x XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the back)
  • 2 x TRS inputs (on the front)
  • 2 x TRS inputs (on the back)
  • 2 x TRS headphone outputs (on the front)
  • 4 x TRS outputs (on the back)
  • MIDI input and output
  • 48v phantom power
  • 24-bit/192 kHz resolution
Description

The M-Audio M-Track 8x4M audio interface is truly a masterpiece!

Not only does it look the part, with its sleek black interface and metal chassis, but it provides high-quality audio recordings with its 24-bit/192 kHz resolution.

With a roundtrip latency of 2.59ms, it means that you’ll never have latency issues with this device.

Additionally, it has 8-inputs, with 4 XLR/TRS combination inputs and 4 TRS inputs, so you have plenty of recording options.

With that being said, it includes 4 main outputs, 2 headphone outputs (suitable for say a producer and the musician to listen to the mixes) and a MIDI input/output…

Overall, it includes everything you’ll need, including a range of software, all for a very affordable price.

This is one of our favorites on the list.

>>>Check out the Latest Amazon Customer Reviews of the M-Audio M-Track 8x4M<<<

 

 

 

 

 


PreSonus Audio Interface Studio 192 Mobile


Compatibility

Mac & PC & iOS

Features
  • 22-in/26-out audio interface
  • A well-known, reputable company
  • Rackmountable metal chassis
  • 2 XMAX mic preamps
  • Visual LED dB gain levels
  • Includes a full suite of software:
    • PreSonus Studio One Artist, Studio Magic Plug-in bundle
  • Warranty: 1-year manufacturers warranty
Technical Specs
  • USB 3 connectivity
  • Includes AC power supply
  • 2 x XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the front)
  • 2 x TRS inputs (on the back)
  • 1 x TRS headphone outputs (on the front)
  • 4 x TRS outputs (on the back)
  • 18 channels of Digital Input/Output
  • Word clock Input/Output
  • S/PDIF Input/Output
  • 48v phantom power
  • 24-bit/192 kHz resolution
Description

The Presonus Studio 192 mobile is a rack-mountable audio interface, designed for musicians, producers and sound engineers who require a high-quality, adaptable audio interface.

It features USB 3.0 connectivity, so latency isn’t an issue, and it has an array of inputs and outputs which are available, including XLR/TRS combination ports, TRS ports, Digital inputs/outputs, S/PDIF inputs/outputs and even more.

Not to mention, as expected, it runs at 24-bit/192 kHz resolution and has 2 recallable XMAS preamps.

A great feature of the Studio 192 Mobile interface is that it integrates with Presonus’s Studio One DAW, which allows for integration with the Apple iPad through the Studio One Remote app. This is especially useful during live performance and studio recording sessions, as it allows the user to adjust microphone preamp and mixes remotely, away from the interface, aka on-stage or in the studio live room.

Overall, if the sheer amount of inputs and outputs takes your fancy, then checking out the Presonus Studio 192 Mobile rack-mountable audio interface may be worth your time.

>>>Check out the Latest Amazon Customer Reviews of the PreSonus Studio 192 Mobile<<<

 


Steinberg UR-RT2 Interface with Rupert Neve Designs Transformers

For the big spenders, with Rupert Neve Designs transformers


Compatibility

Mac & PC & iOS

Features
  • 4-in/2-out audio interface
  • A very reputable company
  • Simple aesthetic design & metal chassis
  • 2 Class-A D-PRE mic preamps featuring Rupert Neve Designs transformers
  • Compatible with iOS devices
  • Includes a full suite of software:
    • Cubase AI and Cubasis LE software included
  • Warranty: Isn’t displayed on their website
Technical Specs
  • USB 2 connectivity
  • Includes 12v power supply
  • 2 x XLR/TRS combination inputs (on the front)
  • 2 x TRS inputs (on the back)
  • 1 x TRS headphone outputs (on the front)
  • L&R TRS outputs (on the back)
  • MIDI input/output
  • 48v phantom power
  • 24-bit/192 kHz resolution
Description

The Steinberg UR-RT2 is a 4-in, 2-out audio interface, designed with audio quality at the forefront of the project and is the most expensive unit that we’ve featured on the list.

It includes 2 Class-A D-PRE microphone preamps which feature transformers from Rupert Neve Designs.

An interesting aspect about this audio interface, is that it’s compatible with Mac, PC, and even an iOS device, with the use of a Lightning to USB camera cable (not included).

It comes with Cubase AI and Cubasis LE music software.

Therefore, if you’re looking for ultra-high quality audio, this may be the interface for you.

However, we personally think that the Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd generation) is better value for money.

>>>Check out the Latest Amazon Customer Reviews of the Steinberg UR-RT2<<<

 

 


In Conclusion, what’s our recommendation?

As we mentioned at the top of the article, we realize that price is an important aspect of your decision, but there are so many other factors (as we outlined) that come into the end decision-making process.

With that being said, we’ve tried our best to summarize which audio interface is best for different types of readers.

Behringer Audio Interface, 4-Channel (UMC404HD) – $Skip to section – Midas Preamps, For those on a budget

Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools – $$ Skip to sectionNewly designed preamps, for those wanting fantastic value for money

Tascam US-16×08 Rackmount USB Audio/MIDI Interface – $$ Skip to sectionThe rack-mountable choice

M-Audio M-Track 8x4M – $$$ Skip to section – Ultra-Low latency and fantastic value for money, we especially like this unit

Steinberg UR-RT2 Interface with Rupert Neve Designs Transformers – $$$$ Skip to sectionFor the big spenders, with Rupert Neve Designs transformers

Well, we hope that you’ve found this buyers guide useful and interesting! If you have any further questions or comments, please feel free to leave one in the comments section below, or find our email on our contact us page, where you can send us a message.

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