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Are you still recording audio through your computer’s built-in soundcard? Or maybe you’re looking to upgrade from that entry-level guitar recording interface that isn’t doing your vocals any favors? 

Whether you’ve never used an audio interface before or need a serious upgrade, this article is for you! 

Here we run down some of the best audio interfaces for home and project studios, all of which deliver outstanding bang-for-the-buck. 

Most of these are pretty affordable and well within reach of typical bedroom producers or home studio owners. Even so, they offer excellent performance, features, and capabilities that make them ideally suited for more demanding applications as well. 

If you’ve read our guide to essential music production studio add-ons, you will recall that we didn’t include audio interfaces in the roundup. 

Not because we don’t consider them essential, mind you. On the contrary, we feel that audio interfaces are crucial pieces of equipment in a modern home production environment. As such, we think that audio interfaces are deserving of their own article, and here it is! 

So without further ado, let’s dive right in! 

1. PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 

Connectivity: MIDI, USB

Recommended for: Solo artists and mobile recording

The PreSonus Audiobox USB 96 has been around for a few years, but it is still a worthy option. Ideally suited for solo recording artists, it is also a useful addition to a home production studio with its instrument inputs and MIDI I/O.

The preamps are as good as you could hope for at this price and can accommodate XLR and ¼” plugs. The all-metal construction and compact form make it an excellent choice for any home recording setup. 

2. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Price: Check here

Connectivity: USB

Recommended for: Solo artists and mobile recording

The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is another inexpensive offering that punches well above its weight. A two-channel audio interface, it has great-sounding preamps that deliver clean, clear, and punchy recordings. 

Unlike many other interfaces in this price range, the Scarlett 2i2 has a pair of stereo outputs. This lets you plug in two sets of speakers for added monitoring options.

3. Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD

Connectivity: MIDI, USB

Recommended for: Full bands and project studios

The Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD is a step up from basic interfaces with four inputs. Each of these has four great-sounding preamps that accommodate line and instrument-level signals via combination XLR/¼” inputs.

The UMC404HD also has inserts so you can patch in outboard gear such as EQs and compressors. This is an excellent budget interface that will be useful as your needs grow.

4. Steinberg UR44

Price: Check here

Connectivity: MIDI, USB

Recommended for: Full bands and project studios

The Steinberg UR44 is priced slightly higher than our previous entries, but you do get a lot more for the money. It boasts four high-quality preamps that you can access via the front combo inputs, plus two line inputs on the rear. This gives you plenty of options to plug in various audio sources, and you can even use your own preamps if you wish. 

The UR44 also gives you plenty of output options, with a main pair for monitoring, four additional outs for external processing, and even two headphone outputs. 

5. Focusrite Clarett 2Pre USB

Connectivity: USB

Recommended for: Solo artists and mobile recording

The Clarett 2PRE is a simple-looking interface with only two inputs, but it could be all you need for high-quality studio recordings. 

Like most audio interfaces geared toward the home studio market, the Clarett 2PRE has a pair of combo XLR/1/4” inputs. Where it differs is in the preamps, which are among the best in a dedicated audio interface. 

If you need high-quality recordings but don’t want to break the bank, the Clarett 2PRE is an excellent choice.  

6. Focusrite Scarlett 18i20

Price: Check here

Connectivity: Optical, USB

Recommended for: Full bands and project studios

The Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 is a serious-looking audio interface that you may want to consider once you start to take on bigger projects. It has a wide range of features and excellent functionality out of the box, but it is also expandable for more complex applications. 

With no less than eight XLR/¼” inputs, the 18i20 is a great choice for tracking drums or full bands. It even has optical and S/PDIF connections, making it adaptable for professional use. 

7. Roland Octa-Capture

Connectivity: MIDI, USB

Recommended for: Full bands and mobile recording

The Roland Octa-Capture looks similar to many budget audio interfaces, but make no mistake: it has pro-level features that make it measure up to units costing hundreds of dollars more.

As the name suggests, the Octa-Capture has eight XLR/¼” inputs, so it is capable of recording a full band, or a fully mic’d drum set. Recording is pretty much a “set-and-forget” deal, with the built-in “auto-sense” feature setting the correct input levels for you.

Other features such as the compressor, high pass filter, and phase inverter on each input channel make the Octa-Capture a near-complete recording solution. Add the great-sounding preamps, and you really don’t need anything else apart from your mics to capture stellar recordings

8. Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII SOLO

Connectivity: Optical, Thunderbolt

Recommended for: Solo artists

The UA Apollo Twin MKII SOLO looks more like a control knob unit than an audio interface, with its minimalist exterior and single large knob. But a closer look reveals a surprisingly well-appointed unit that delivers crystal clear audio and stunning performance worthy of any studio. 

Like the best audio interfaces, it has pro-quality preamps that you could easily rely on for pristine audio recordings. And if you need more inputs, it’s a cinch to patch them in via the optical cable on the rear. 

Perhaps the main selling point of these units is that they run the full range of UA plugins. This gives you access to some of the best signal processing software in the audio industry. 

9. Focusrite Clarett 4Pre

Connectivity: Optical, USB

Recommended for: Full bands and project studios

The Focusrite Clarett 4Pre is the bigger version of the Clarett 2Pre, adding even more pro features and more inputs. It has the same great-sounding Clarett preamps as its smaller sibling, with even more available via the rear optical input. 

Like the 2Pre, the 4Pre has the excellent “Air” feature that gives you more preamp options for quality recordings. There are also additional line inputs on the rear, along with S/PDIF and MIDI I/O.

10. Apogee Duet

Connectivity: USB

Recommended for: Solo artists and mobile recording

Looking for a portable high-end audio interface that you can just as easily use in the studio? The Apogee Duet is the one for you. Even with its tiny form factor and minimalist interface, the Duet packs a wealth of features that make it ideal for DIY musicians.

The Apogee Duet interfaces neatly with Macs and iPads and even charges your iPad while in use. The two onboard Apogee preamps and converters are among the best in the business, so you are sure of getting quality recordings every time. The Duet even has an OLED screen for real-time information on levels and other details. 


As you can see, there are many high-quality audio interfaces available nowadays, and we’ve barely scratched the surface. There are many more options to consider at various points in the price scale, although we are confident that we’ve covered the best of the best. Regardless of which one you choose among these options, you pretty much can’t go wrong. 

When choosing an audio interface, always consider what is appropriate for your studio. If you have a home or project setup and record mostly solo artists or use virtual instruments, you could make do with a basic interface with only a pair of inputs. If you routinely record full bands or ensembles, a larger interface with plenty of inputs might be more suitable. 

In any case, a good interface is a joy to use and will let you do what you need to do without any hassles. Choose wisely and make your decision based on the tasks you commonly perform, and you can take full advantage of all the benefits that a modern audio interface provides. 

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