In today’s marketplace, there is no shortfall of audio interfaces that you can get readily available. Every week, it feels like there are new audio interfaces that are being designed and released into the market by the different manufacturers. In most budget studios, there is usually a high chance that all the audio needs rotate around a computer.
Regardless of whether you are using a powerful PC or a small MacBook, you are definitely going to want an audio recording device for your studio instruments and microphones. While shopping for an audio interface isn’t a hard task, knowing the right audio interface under $500 to purchase can be quite the task. That said, we have reviewed some of the best models that you can consider and may be well worth your time if you’re shopping for one of the best audio interfaces under $500.
1. Focusrite Clarett 2Pre Audio Interface
Focusrite has dominated the audio interface market for long with their Scarlett series and have continued to manufacture high-quality audio interfaces that are suitable for home studio use. The Clarett 2Pre bus-powered device features an almost zero latency and has a powerful preamp that is able to deliver a transparent and clear sound.
The Clarett 2Pre audio interface is ideal for a passionate vocalist or guitar player as it can be a real game changer thanks to its numerous features. Another amazing asset that this interface boasts of is that it is a robust and attractive device that is compatible with all DAWs and platforms. It comes with a standard USB and USB Type-C cables that both connect to a Mac or PC.
In order to provide users with a precise and ideal signal path, it operates on 24-bit/192 kHz A-D and D-A transmission conversion. It is a high headroom instrument input that works well to record hot pickups without any distortion. It comes with a discrete headphone output that has a dedicated gain control, stereo pair and balanced jack output.
2. Tascam UH-7000 USB Interface and Standalone Microphone Preamp
The Tascam UH-7000 USB interface is a 4-input and 4-output USB audio interface that comes with a boutique-style microphone preamp. It is built with for high-quality audio and low noise. This 4-input and 4-output audio interface can be used in a DAW production environment as well as AD/DA converter and as a standalone microphone preamp.
It has an inbuilt High Definition Instrumentation Architecture (HDIA) microphone preamps for high-quality audio and low noise. The distortion ration is said to be at about 0.0009% or less with the microphones performing at 117 dB and 128dBu EIN. The sound quality is high which is attributed to the careful attention paid when choosing the parts.
The UH-7000 audio interface has a powerful TCXO clock generator installed that has a precision of +/-1ppm. Its size adds to its ease of installation at a work desk or as a studio console. It has a high stability thanks to the chunky aluminum panels found on the front and sides of the interface’s body. A great add-on is the smooth tension aluminum input knobs that allow for precise level adjustments.
With a one-year free extended warranty, the Tascam UH-7000 audio interface and microphone preamp allows musicians, recording engineers and composers to create music in their private studios at a similar level as that achieved from professional studios.
3. Apogee ONE Audio Interface for iPad & Mac
The Apogee is the first ever studio quality audio interface and microphone designed for iPad and Mac. This device operates on a 24-bit/96kHz A/D and D/A transmission conversion. Users also get to enjoy a direct digital connection to iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. It has a complete input and output control that utilizes the Apogee’s Maestro iOS and Mac software and a low latency monitoring.
The inbuilt microphone is an omnidirectional condenser that comes with a mic stand adapter. The microphone produces an award-winning sound quality and is compatible with iOS or Mac devices that have Apple’s Final Cut, GarageBand, Logic and Core Audio-compliant applications. The microphone is also perfect for those who need to record while on the move.
It has an XLR input and breakout cable that gives ¼-inch as well as an external microphone input. The preamps offer a 62 dB of gain for microphones and a 45 dB of gain for any high-impedance instruments.
4. Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 USB Audio Interface
The Komplete Audio 6 from Native Instruments is a USB 2.0 digital audio interface that features a four analog input, four analog output, MIDI in/out for master keyboard and a digital stereo for lossless signal transmission input and output and a detailed software package that includes Traktor LE, Cubase LE, and Komplete Elements.
The Komplete Audio 6 interface gives a 24-bit/96 kHz operation and is compatible with PCs and Macs. Channels 1 and 2 found on this interface provide a balanced microphone, instruments and line inputs that have individual gain controls as well as a 48V phantom power for active DI boxes and condenser microphones. It is able to deliver transparent sound that is pristine thanks to the Cirrus Logic converters.
The chip technology used and driver build helps keep latency at a minimum. The Komplete 6 also has a mono switch and mono knob that provides direct monitoring for zero-latency when you are recording. For DJs who need to cue tracks, the headphone output that can be switched between outputs 1-2 or 3-4 comes in handy for them. In addition, DJs also get to enjoy the Traktor LE software that is designed to offer two playback decks that enable one to spin tracks from a hard drive.
When choosing an audio interface, it’s important to consider the features that are available and find one that suits your needs. For instance, it wouldn’t make sense to buy the Apogee ONE Audio Interface if you don’t have an iPad or Mac as it’ll be a waste of money unless you are willing to invest in Apple devices as well. Factor in the design, software, internal hardware as well as connectivity to your already existing devices.