Best Audio Interface Under 500

If you are involved in studio/music production, you understand the need to amplify your sound by incorporating an intermediary device between your hardware (a guitar, for instance) and your computer (for fine-tuning the production). However, what is the best audio interface under $500? 

The best audio interfaces under 500 dollars include:

These allow you to record or monitor your sound production without overspending.

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Having to sort through the myriads of brands and designs on a budget makes choosing an audio interface challenging. Also, if you’re starting a home studio, you probably don’t need an expensive audio interface. So, this article will enlighten you about the best audio interface for under 500 dollars. 

Four Best Audio Interfaces Under 500

The relevance of audio interfaces creates room for several brands and types in the market, from high-end pieces for professional production to those of lower quality. Also, there has been a massive evolution of audio interfaces to match the advancement of several hardware and devices for sound production.

Therefore this section will show you the four best audio interfaces that do not cost more than 500 dollars. Here they are!

  1. Focusrite Scarlett 4i4

The Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 model has a simple, self-explanatory user interface making it perfect for starters. All controls and ports are labeled to keep you from worrying about what goes into what. So users can seamlessly connect their devices and hardware, such as electric guitars and computers. 

It has four input ports—two for connecting musical instruments and two for other appliances like drum machines. As a complementary feature, Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 has four analog ports with an extra headphone jack that works like an output port. The mic preamps enable great sound recording with additional software for controlling your production and recording across devices.

Moreover, it comes with a three-year warranty added to its features to compensate for its weight resulting from its compact design. Here is a table summarizing its features, pros and cons. 

Four inputs and outputs.Its double quadruple input and output ports make it easy to use. Its compact nature makes it heavy and difficult to carry around.
MIDI I/O supported.It has a 24-bit/192 kHz audio resolution.Some users complain of the device crashing their computer audio.
It measures 4.7×7.3×1.9 in dimension and weighs 15.8 oz.It has a three-year warranty.
Two third-generation Scarlett mic preamps. 
24-bit/192 kHz audio resolution. 
  1. Steinberg UR-RT2

The Steinberg UR-RT2 comes at a slightly higher price, of 350 dollars, but not over our 500 mark. It comes with a class-A DRE mic preamp for raising and amplifying sound from microphones. It also regulates sound quality from other sources, keeping them at a standard decibel. 

It is perfect for pairing with Windows personal computers, Mac OS and iOS devices. As a result, the Steinberg UR-RT2 is an excellent audio interface for on-the-go recordings. Here is a table summarizing its features, pros and cons.

Four inputs.It is compatible with multiple devices.It is pretty expensive, lying on the higher spectrum of 500.
Two outputs.It is lightweight.It has fewer output ports.
MIDI I/O supported.It has preamps to boost sound amplification levels.Installing the required software can be a piece of work.
24-bit/192 kHz audio resolution.It is MIDI compatible. 
Measures 12.8×10.6×4.1 in dimension.
Weighs 3.75 lbs.
2 Class-A DRE mic preamps.
  1. Presonus studio 192 mobile

The Presonus Studio 192 mobile is similar to the Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 model but from a different manufacturer. It has the same input and output ports, with a headphone jack just like the Focusrite Scarlett 4i4. 

However, it comes with a 24-bit/192 kHz audio resolution. It weighs less and comes with a three-year warranty. Here is a table summarizing its features, pros and cons.

24-bit/192 kHz audio resolution.It has multiple inputs and outputs.It does not have MIDI support.
Four inputs and outputs.It has a fast USB connection of 3.0 with software for easy control.It is a little expensive on the higher end of 500.
MIDI I/O not supported. It has a high dynamic range.
Measures 7×12.5×1.8.Offers one year warranty. 
Weighs 5 lbs.
One-year warranty.
  1. Audient iD4

The Audient iD4 goes for $200 or less and limits input to only JFET instruments. It has a class A Mic preamp and offers lesser output quality than the earlier interface. However, it serves beginners well and is a low-budget audio interface, compact and easy to use. Here is a table summarizing its features, pros and cons.

Input supports only JFET instruments.It is lightweight.It has fewer and limited input and output ports.
The main speaker and headphones are the outputs.It is cost-effective.It does not have MIDI support.
MIDI I/O is not supported.It is easy to use.
Measures 5.1×4.7×16.1 in dimension.
No audio resolution is available.
Weighs 1.63 lbs.
It has one Class A Mic Preamp.

What To Expect From an Audio Interface Priced Under 500

Most products offer better features and more benefits when they are priced higher. The same goes for lower-priced products with limited features and fewer benefits, which is the rationale behind the price difference of commodities. 

Therefore, you must know a few things you can expect from an audio interface under 500. That way, you can make an informed decision on whether to adjust your budget or not. 

Here is a table showing some standard features of most audio interfaces under 500 to help you prepare mentally and be sure you get the best gear you can afford.

Under 500 Audio Interface Features To ConsiderMeaning and Implication
Input and output ports.Solo users with fewer devices will prefer audio interfaces with fewer input and output ports, unlike group users.
Interface connectivity.Multiple connectivities like MIDI and USB influence musical output, especially those with high-speed connectivity.
Weight/dimensions.Lightweight devices are easier to carry about and often smaller. Sometimes their dimensions match their weight, and heavier ones work well for desktop purposes.
Audio resolution. Higher audio resolutions like 24-bit/19kHz produce better sound output and, therefore, better music.
Device warranty.The warranty is akin to insurance from the manufacturer if your device breaks down or malfunctions prematurely. Some manufacturers offer as long as three years warranty while others provide an average of one year.
Device compatibility. Device compatibility lets you know what computers and other hardware are compatible with your audio interface, such as windows, Mac OS, iOS, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Sound Quality Affected by the Audio Interface?

Yes, sound quality is affected by the audio interface as it helps improve its production quality by strengthening the signal. However, it does not alter the sound quality as you only get what you input.

What Audio Interface Do Professional Studios Prefer?

Most professional studios prefer high-end audio interfaces because they have funds to spare. For instance, the Focusrite models (Focusrite and Focusrite Pro) are renowned among professional studios for their superior audio interface regardless of your production scale.

What Is the Lifespan of Most Audio Interfaces?

The average lifespan of most audio interfaces is between five to ten years, with the high-end ones lasting longer than ten years and the really cheap ones lasting less than five years. 

Final Thoughts

There are no hard and fast rules for what types of audio interfaces you should use. Instead, your choices will depend on your production level, musical instruments, audio interface specs and production goal. There is an audio interface that suits every sound need, and this article has highlighted the best four under 500 to get you started.  


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