10 Best Audio Interfaces Under $500 in 2024

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best audio interface under $500

Building a studio from scratch is an ambitious endeavor. It requires a lot of time and effort to put together, not to mention the amount of money needed to purchase equipment.

A lot of people get lost in the buying process, thinking that every single part of their studio needs to be perfect. But honestly, no recording studio is ever complete without a really good audio interface.

If there was one thing that was worth investing in, I think it’s the audio interface. After all, it is the very system that will help translate your sound into workable data. Without properly doing so, your recording project may not be as great as you hope for it to be.

Best Audio Interfaces Under 500

Although I don’t usually agree with the idea that prices mean better quality, it is often true that higher-priced items come with additional features that lower-priced items don’t have.

So if you’re a professional looking to give your studio an upgrade, purchasing an audio interface under $500 might just be the thing that could give your studio a boost.

Lucky for you, we’ve gathered some of the best audio interfaces under $500 in the market today. Have a look and see which options are compatible with your workflow.

Top 10 Best Audio Interfaces Under $500 in 2024

Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 USB Audio Interface

We Recommend
Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 USB Audio Interface
4.7


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Audio interfaces in the Focusrite Scarlett series are a crowd favorite. Plenty of home recording studio owners swear by the quality and yet pocket-friendly qualities of the Scarlett audio interfaces.

If you have some extra cash to invest, it makes sense to purchase the Scarlett 6i6. It has all of the beloved features of other Scarlett interfaces but it also carries plenty of more advanced components.

Apart from its strong build and high-quality audio, the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 is compatible with all major DAWs on both Mac and PC. This audio interface comes with the signature Focusrite Control software mixer – perfect for monitoring and routing setup configurations.

Pros
  • Sports a super smart and intuitive layout
  • Provides a traditional mixer workflow and immediate access to hardware functions
  • Provides audio level control with the knobs on the device
  • Not on the software settings
  • Produces a studio-quality audio reproduction that is clean and evenly flat
Cons
  • Accessories included are subpar

 

Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6

Also Great
Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6
4.5


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The Komplete Audio 6 is a carefully designed masterpiece by the brand Native Instruments. From the custom streamlined circuit design to the hand-picked components, everything about this audio interface represents high-quality audio.

Due to its impeccable capabilities to preserve signal quality, many would consider this to be the go-to audio interface.

The Komplete Audio 6 is, indeed, complete with everything a recording studio might need. It has six channels, four analog ins/outs, digital in/out, MIDI, and low-latency performance.

Plus, it also has two mic inputs with high-end preamps and Cirrus Logic converters for that pristine, transparent sound. I personally think that this is one of the best affordable upgrades a recording studio could have.

Pros
  • Beautiful mic preamps with pristine DA conversion
  • Great quality build
  • Durable with top-notch components
  • Comes with a user-friendly software
Cons
  • Offers no direct monitoring for inputs 3 and 4
  • Has weak headphone amp
  • Audio distortion instances have also been reported by some users

 

Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 USB Audio Interface

Runner-Up
Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (3rd Gen)
4.8


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If the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 earlier wasn’t enough, then the Scarlett 18i8 might be the device that could win you over. Just like the previous Focusrite audio interface, this one offers the same pro-level quality.

The 18i8 offers eight analog inputs, instead of four from the 6i6. And it also has four Scarlett mic preamps instead of two. So if you’re looking for a step above the 6i6, this is the audio interface you need to be looking out for.

In my opinion, the 18i8 is one of the best audio interfaces for multi-instrumentalists, It works great with a wide range of sources from drums, guitars, keyboards, and even vocals.

But my favorite part has to be its remote control capabilities. If you’ve read previous articles on this website, then you would know how much I appreciate remote controls on recording devices.

The 18i8 can be controlled from the user’s iPhone or iPad via the free Focusrite iOS Control app. Plus, it also comes with a number of free software such as Pro Tools and Ableton Live Lite.

Pros
  • Provides plenty of output and inputs for versatility
  • Super easy to configure and activate
  • You’ll be recording in no time
  • Produces clean and flat audio
  • Perfect for speaker frequency testing
Cons
  • The accessories included in the bundle are subpar

 

Audient iD14 High-Performance USB Audio Interface

Audient iD14 USB Audio Interface
4.4


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The Audient iD14 was first released last 2015, but it is still considered as one of the best audio interfaces in the market today. It is a compact desktop audio interface, but don’t let its small size fool you – it provides the same superior audio performance that a larger format console can.

The iD14 comes with two Class A mic preamps that were designed and produced by Audient. It also has the class-leading Burr-Brown converter technology, a JFET direct input, as well as a console-style monitor control.

But what I love most about it iD14 is its Scroll Control mode. This feature gives you quick and easy access and control over parameters within your DAW. If you need something versatile and expandable, I think you need to be looking at the Audient iD14.

Pros
  • Professional
  • Level quality at a very affordable price
  • Made with high-quality hardware and comes with a clean preamp
  • Comes with the super convenient
  • Scroll Control mode for better monitoring and access
Cons
  • Issues have been reported with Microsoft users
  • Works smoother and better on the Mac

 

PreSonus Studio 1810 Audio Interface

PreSonus Studio 1810 Audio Interface
4.3


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PreSonus audio interfaces are often regarded as the toughest competition of Focusrite. Some users prefer Focusrite, but for those who aren’t impressed, you can expect most of them to be loyal PreSonus users.

That said, Studio 1810 is one of the top-rated favorites of PreSonus fans. It has all the right specifications that make a reliable, great quality audio interface.

But in my opinion, this PreSonus audio interface best matches DJs and electronic musicians. The PreSonus Studio 1810 has some of the best sounding preamps and top-quality digital converters.

With 18 flexible inputs, 8 outputs, cue mix monitoring, and an onboard DSP monitor mixer, this audio interface is the ultimate dream of any digital musician.

Pros
  • Made with high-quality components
  • Durable and provides consistent quality
  • Provides features and specs that work best with DJs and digital musicians
  • Comes with a free premium software
Cons
  • There’s a bit of a learning curve when using the software for the first time
  • Better latency can be found on other options on this list

 

iConnectAUDIO4+ Advanced Audio Interface

iConnectAUDIO4+
4.2


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The iConnectAUDIO4+ prides itself be the world’s first audio and MIDI interface to support iOS, PC, and Mac. It is universal and integrates smoothly with all the major devices.

You can plug everything into this one audio interface – computers, iOs devices, USB, MIDI, mics, instruments. You name it, you can connect it easily with this audio interface.

The fact that it is accommodating to both modern and vintage gear is one of the reasons why I love this little device. It gives users more room for creativity without having to worry too much about compatibility.

Users can also sync everything into the device without having to use extra cables, significantly improving the user’s workflow.

Pros
  • Made with high-quality components
  • Durable and provides consistent quality
  • Provides features and specs that work best with DJs and digital musicians
  • Comes with a free premium software
Cons
  • There’s a bit of a learning curve when using the software for the first time
  • Better latency can be found on other options on this list

 

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40
4.2


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Focusrite has made it to our list again, but this time it is an audio interface out of the Scarlett series. The Saffire Pro 40 may be lesser known than its Scarlett cousins, but it still has a lot of great things to offer.

The Saffire Pro 40 comes with eight award-winning Focusrite preamps, providing users with the best sound quality in its class.

It has a total I/O count of 20 inputs and 20 outputs. Plus, it comes with a variety of I/O options included. I also love how the front panel features a five-step LED metering for each analog input, offering users a more accurate reading.

Pros
  • Features top-quality 24-bit / 96 kHz Firewire and is Thunderbolt compatible
  • Providing guaranteed audio quality and reliable synchronization
  • Includes a handful of software such as the Softube Time and Tone Bundle
  • Focusrite’s Red Plug-in Suite
Cons
  • Requires Firewire 800 and a Thunderbolt adapter and cable to work with the Thunderbo
  • lt Protocol
  • An additional purchase

 

MOTU Audio Express

MOTU Audio Express
3.6


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The brand MOTU certainly deserves more attention and praise as it produces great quality audio interfaces at a pretty affordable price. The MOTU Audio Express may be an overlooked audio interface, but that does not mean that it is lesser in quality than the other options on the list.

It may look like your ordinary interface, but with its long list of features and specs, it’s no surprise if this device makes its way to your list of favorites as well.

The MOTU Audio Express is a 6×6 Firewire USB audio interface and standalone mixer with 2 mic/hi-Z combo jacks. In my opinion, it works best for the traveling digital musician, but it also works great for a live DJ performance.

So if you’re a DJ and you’re looking for a simple audio interface, then the MOTU Audio Express is worth the shot.

Pros
  • Provides a good amount of headroom when recording
  • Simple and durable
  • Made with good quality components
Cons
  • Lacks driver support on CueFX
  • Has problems with Windows OS

 

Resident Audio T4 Thunderbolt Audio Interface

Resident Audio T4 Thunderbolt Audio Interface
3.3


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The Resident Audio T4 Thunderbolt prides itself for being the world’s first bus-powered four-channel audio interface. This allows users to enjoy its many features without the need for batteries or a power cord.

The T4 Thunderbolt is all about providing high-quality sound through its analog preamps that accept mic, line, and even instrument-level input. It has four channels of audio I/O and MIDI I/O, four combo XLR / 1/4-inch inputs with input gain controls, and for balanced 1/4-inch outputs.

And to get the best sound possible, the T4 Thunderbolt also supports high-resolution 24-bit/96kHz audio.

The T4 Thunderbolt offers near-zero latency for instantaneous recording and playback. Plus, with the dedicated headphone output and secondary headphone output, the super stable phantom power and MIDI clock, working with this audio interface is so smooth and easy.

I’d say it’s a great fit for beginners who are looking for their first-ever audio interface.

Pros
  • Ultra-portable and bus-powered
  • No need for cords or batteries
  • Compatible with both Windows and Mac and comes with all the required software drivers
  • Comes with a convenient Thunderbolt cabl
Cons
  • Does not work well with newer versions of Mac products
  • Inconsistent sound quality

 

Apogee One USB Audio Interface

Apogee One - Audio Interface
3.9


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If you’re looking for a simple audio interface what you can take with you anywhere and everywhere, then the Apogee One should be the audio interface to travel with. It has everything you need to create professional recordings on the go, simply connect a microphone, a guitar, or via the built-in omnidirectional mic and you’re good to do.

What I love most about the Apogee ONE is the fact that you can record with the built-in mic or an external one and a guitar simultaneously. It’s a practical device that allows you to do many things at once while you are on the road.

Thanks to Apogee’s brilliant AD/DA conversion and mic preamp technology, this audio interface produces the best quality sound possible – no matter if you’re recording music, podcasts, or voice-overs.

It supports connectivity to your headphones for precision mixing or hi-fi listening. And with its intuitive controller knob and seamless compatibility with both Mac and Windows, the Apogee ONE is one of the most versatile audio interfaces on this list.

Pros
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Perfect for recording on the go
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Great as a first audio interface
  • Impressive digital to analog conversion
Cons
  • A bit pricey for a portable audio interface
  • Faulty USB connection

 

How To Purchase The Right Audio Interface Under $500

Similar to most audio equipment and recording gear, we always recommend readers to get to know the type of work and projects they want to achieve first.

No amount of research will ever suffice unless you have a set of features on your wishlist. Having an idea about what you want to do with your sound makes it a lot easier for you to choose an audio interface.

Today, there are plenty of great quality audio interfaces. But some of them don’t come in cheap and so it is crucial that you put your money on equipment that will last you many years.

Even if your budget only first under $500, you can still get your hands on a great audio interface as long as you make a decision based on your own standards and research.

However, if there is one thing that you need to pay close attention to when choosing the right audio interface under $500, it would have to be the software included with the audio interface.

Many people overlook the software, thinking that the audio interface is the one and only focus during the selection process.

However, you must also remember that you will be working with the software as long as you the audio interface is in use as well. If it is too complicated, not only will your workflow be disrupted, but you may not be willing to work with the software again.

 

What is the best audio interface under $500?

We Recommend
Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 USB Audio Interface
4.7


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After a lot of thought, we think that the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 is the best audio interface under $500 – not just because we are big fans of Focusrite products, but because the device has proven to us time and time again that it deserves its place on the top of the list.

Not only does it have top-notch components and additional features any recording studio would love, but purchasing a Focusrite device also gives users access to tons of free software.

As we’ve mentioned before, software is also an important factor when it comes to choosing the right audio interface. And you know what they say – the more the merrier. And with the many accompanying freebies the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 offers, we couldn’t say no.

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