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5 Best USB Audio Interfaces for Beginners in 2021

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You never know when your creative juices are gonna flood your mind like a storm, so might as well get yourself a portable music maker.

Well, not really a “maker”, but something that helps you create your own tracks everywhere you go. C

ompact USB audio interfaces are quite the studio-in-a-box for music producers who are always on the go.

Having your own USB audio interface is beneficial since some models tend to be more advanced with its features.

There are a lot of audio interfaces of the said type which can be found in stores and getting the best USB audio interface for you could be crucial given the numerous choices.

 

The best audio interfaces for beginners 2021

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen) USB Audio
4.7
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First up, we have the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen. If we’re talking about the best USB audio interface, you’ll always hear this one for sure. Featuring two very natural-sounding Scarlett mic preamps, two instrument inputs, 1/4 –inch balanced jack outputs, and one headphone output with gain control, you’ll easily be recording like a pro. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen is just what you need to create your best tracks ever.

With its sample rates up to 192kHz / 24 bit and excellent frequency response, this handy audio interface can be used anywhere and will always sound great as it belong as it has two very trusty preamps from Scarlett. Designed to be compact and versatile, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen has 2-in, 2-out system. Compatible with Windows 7 and above, and Mac OS X 10.10 and higher, you won’t have a problem using it on any computer.

Always have an easy time as the Focusrite 2i2 2nd Gen can be incorporated with your favorite music-making software. You’ll have plenty options to choose from as it comes with Softube Time and Tone Bundle, Focusrite’s Red Plug-in Suite and Plug-in Collective, and Loopmasters samples worth 2GB. Also in the package is a CM25 large diaphragm condenser microphone, HP60 closed-back headphones, 3-meter / 10 ft. XLR mic cable, and USB cable.

Pros
  • Compact
  • Durable design
  • Straightforward and easy to use
Cons
  • Doesn’t have digital inputs or outputs

 

Behringer UMC204HD

BEHRINGER (UMC204HD)
4.5
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With Behringer’s history, you can really say that the owner puts his heart into building his equipment. That’s why with the U-Phoria UMC204HD USB 2.0 Audio Interface, you will really feel euphoric with its features and overall quality. Boasting its excellent and brilliant MIDAS-designed mic preamps, as well as the connectivity you need for your devices, the UMC204HD brings an all in studio-grade 24-bit/192kHz resolution.

Going back to its high quality mic preamps. One of the highlights of this audio interface is the technology and advancement that’s put into its two mic preamps, which includes giving you a crystal clear sound with a lot of headroom and owning a +48 phantom power. The UMC204HD also has zero-latency input monitoring giving an accurate return signal without delays. Featuring 2 inputs and 4 outputs plus 1 MIDI I/O with ultra-low latency to your computer, you don’t have to worry about connectivity. Supporting versions of Mac and Windows, run the UMC204HD with your trusted recording software.

You won’t run out of option as it comes with Tracktion DAW and 150 downloadable instrument/effect plug-ins.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Solid construction
  • Intuitive controls and versatile
Cons
  • Some encounter software issues and bugs

 

BEHRINGER UMC404HD

BEHRINGER UMC 404HD
4.4
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Following its relative, the Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD Audio Interface is also considered one of the best USB audio interfaces on this list. The UMC404HD features Audiophile 24-Bit/192 kHz resolution and 4×4 USB audio/MIDI interface for your professional recording needs. Create your next masterpiece with this fast audio interface which surely won’t let you down.

As an upgrade to the previous model, the UMC404HD boasts not just two, but four state-of-the-art, MIDAS designed Mic Preamplifiers with +48 V phantom power for condenser microphones which go through studio-grade 24-Bit/192 kHz converters for the best possible sound quality. Perfectly compatible with versions of Mac or Windows, the UMC404HD is flexible and can be used with your favorite DAW software.

For easy and direct monitoring, the UMC404HD has an input/playback mix control and stereo/mono switch. If you want to hone your DJ-ing skills, it features powerful phones output with Level control and Monitor A/B source select for DJ-style cueing.

Pros
  • Great MIDAS design preamps with XLR/TRS combo jack
  • Dual monitor output with A/B and mono switches
  • Very small footprint
Cons
  • Single phantom power switch for all channels

 

PreSonus Studio 192

PreSonus Studio 192 26x32 USB Audio Interface
4.5
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Another top choice for the best USB audio interface is the PreSonus Studio 192 Mobile USB 3.0 audio interface. Create your music inside your studio, on the go, or absolutely anywhere with its compact design that covers lots of features. It comes with a flawless analog signal audio up to 24-bit and 192 kHz operation, Burr Brown Converters, Fat Channel DSP effects, remote-controllable XMAX preamps, monitor mixing, speaker switching, a high quality headphone amp, and extraordinary control room integration with Studio One, Studio One Remote, and UC Surface.

Incorporated with Studio One 3 Artist, you won’t run out of options in creating music with Studio 192 because you’ll find full preamp control and monitor-mix functions integrated into your recording environment. Studio One’s exclusive hybrid Fat Channel plug-in runs on the Studio 192 Mobile’s onboard DSP for zero-latency recording and seamlessly switches to your computer’s processor for playback. Studio 192 Mobile can add up to 16 additional remote control preamps with the DigiMax DP88 available separately.

Pros
  • Multiple channel handling is very good
  • Convenient front panel controls
  • Comes with a lot of useful software packs
Cons
  • Latency could be lower

 

Zoom UAC-2

Zoom UAC-2 USB 3.0 Audio Interface
4.2
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Designed to last a long time and makes a great companion everywhere you go, the Zoom UAC-2 is packed with all the good features, that’s why it makes a great choice as your next best USB audio interface. The UAC-2 adds two channels of low latency 24-bit/192 kHz high-resolution audio to any USB 3.0 or 2.0-equipped Windows or Mac. Complete with sturdy casing, the UAC-2 can withstand the test of time.

If versatility is your greatest concern, trust that the UAC-2 would give you that as you can use it not only for recording, but also in webcasting, podcasting, gaming, and live streaming. Aside from these purposes, the UAC-2 can also be used in live performances since it’s portable, bus-powered, has advanced converters, and can support USB 3.0 SuperSpeed.

Complete with two combo mic- / line-level input connectors with Hi-Z switches for connection of instruments like electric guitar and bass, plus MIDI I/O and two balanced output jacks for connection to amplifiers or self-powered speakers plus headphone jack with dedicated level control, the UAC-2 really has everything you need.

Pros
  • Compact
  • Definitely Sturdy
  • Easy To Use
  • Good Audio
Cons
  • A bit heavy
  • Relatively pricier

Factors to Consider When Buying a Beginner USB Audio Interface 

If you’re looking for your first USB audio interface, there sure are some factors you should be looking at first. You don’t want to be making decisions without weighing your options thoroughly, right?

To start off, you’ll first have to know what an audio interface is. To do that, refer to the video below.

Number of Input/Output Connections

When considering the number of input/output connections, think about the rest of your setup and how many instruments and devices you’re gonna need at the same time. It might even depend on your budget since the more I/O connections the audio interface have, the more expensive your best USB audio interface will be.

Choosing something that features both XLR and standard audio input is probably the most cost-effective option if you’re fond of recording both instruments and vocals done on different durations.

DAW Compatibility

This won’t be much of a problem. Despite the fact that some cases would take hours of mapping and setting up, most DAWs are compatible with most audio interfaces.

The best route you can go would be to use both an interface and DAW from the same company. This way, you’re sure that both your USB audio interface and DAW would work alongside each other. That does limit you in a way, but you can always try combining other DAWs you may find more useful for the device you already have.

Read: Best Daw Softwares in 2021

Budget

Probably one of the most important factor would be its price, as it could sometimes be a deal-breaker. And it’s an unsaid fact once a product has great quality, higher sound quality, faster data transfer, and more connections, the price won’t always be budget-friendly.

Once you spot something that really made a mark on you, especially its price which would really be a splurge, the best thing to do is to save up some money first. Wait it out, who knows, maybe it would be on sale a few weeks later.

The smartest choice, and probably one way to land the best USB audio interface in your hands, would be choose one that is long-lasting and would do its job really well.

What is the best audio interface for beginners?

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen) USB Audio
4.7
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We may earn commission from purchases made from our links, at no additional cost to you.

To keep things easy and simple, you’ll need the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 to have an optimum music production on the go, and it’s our recommended best audio interface for beginners.

Featuring two very natural-sounding Scarlett mic preamps, two instrument inputs, 1/4 –inch balanced jack outputs, and one headphone output with gain control, you’ll easily be recording like a pro.

The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is just what you need to create your best tracks ever. It also features sample rates up to 192 kHz/ 24 bit and 2-in, 2-out system.

Guitar Junky
Hi there, I’m Charles, chief editor here at The Guitar Junky. I'm a professional guitarist, and have over 10 years experience in playing guitar, piano, and other music instruments. When not working, I love playing with my two lovely kids, Caryss and Philip. Read more about our team of music experts here.

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