What can we say about audio interfaces? Life without them just wouldn’t be the same. Today we wanted to focus on a popular price-range we often are asked about — audio interfaces under $300. In our opinion this is more than enough cash at hand to grab a model that’s pretty up there in regards to sound quality and capability. We recommend keeping in mind how many ins and outs you want, what type of software the interface you’re looking at is bundled with, as well as other controls you may be in the mood for (such as level screens on the unit, on-board monitoring, and other types of controls some offer).
The Best Audio Interfaces for Under $300 Dollars
This 10-in / 4-out USB 2.0 interface has two of Audient’s well-known Class-A console mic preamps that offer great and proven sound. The 2-in / 4-out high-grade Burr-Brown converters add some more flare to the way your sound is processed. It gets a bit technical when it comes to how preamps and converters actually make a difference, so if you’re interested in those details do some research, otherwise this one is proven time and time again.
What really blew our minds at first with this one is just how they’re able to squeeze in that many ins and outs. The product’s 8-channel ADAT input allows for expansion to ten channels on top of it. The Audient iD14 also has a virtual scroll wheel, which makes controlling the DAW and other plug-ins convenient and easy. Its console-style monitor features mono, polarity, cut, talk back, and cue mix controls. All these provisions allow users to produce great, transparent music and liven up any recording performances. With several five-star ratings or really any form of measurement from online reviews, it is plain to see why the compact Audient iD14 rates as one of the best audio interfaces under $300 options out there right now.
For the best audio interface under $300, we should consider the MOTU M4 4×4 audio interface as an option for a few reasons. With its 4-in / 4-out feature connected via a USB-C port, some quality sound is produced using the different properties the product contains. These include ESS Sabre32 Ultra DAC technology for clear audio and optimized drivers for some super low-latency outputs. Two mic preamps come with individualized adjustment options for gain and phantom power.
With the M4’s loopback capabilities, live streaming on the internet if that’s what you fancy is glitch-free and offers high-quality output. A color LCD screen makes operating the audio interface convenient and allows the user a high degree of control over the mix. Software included in the purchase consists MOTU Performer Lite, Ableton Live 10 Lite, and a bunch of bundled loops/sounds. Compatible with Windows and Mac OS for desktop functioning, the MOTU M4 is light and small enough to transport from one gig to another with ease.
Solid State Logic SSL2
The Solid State Logic SSL2 USB audio interface is widely regarded as the best audio interface under $300 by a slew of users who have awarded this countless positive reviews already and it’s only been out for less than a year. This one by SSL only has 2-in / 2-out capabilities but is extremely powerful. It also comes with bundled software compatible with Windows and Mac OS and is aimed at desktop users. This includes the SSL Production Pack, Bomb Factory plug-ins, Pro Tools First, Ableton Live Lite, Komplete Start as well as Hybrid Keys.
Users also have access SSL Native software with Drumstrip and Vocalstrip 2 coming with the purchase. On top of that, there is a 1.5 GB set of models from Loopcloud for the user to explore. Two microphone, line, and instrumental preamps produce high-quality sound, making SSL2 the ideal audio interface for a studio, regardless of size and function. Our favorite features however is the Legacy 4K button, which offers the preamps two vital characteristics of the company’s 4,000 signal chain, offering a high-frequency equalization boost and adding harmonic distortion for a unique sound. Great for recording guitars.
PreSonus Studio 26c
DJs and other musicians have rated this as their firm favorite, as it provides outstanding sound quality while being sturdy enough to withstand the rigors of having to be portable. This is 2-in/4-out USB-C acoustic interface that is available with 2 XMAX-L preamps. These provide the PreSonus signature sound and some proven clarity — these guys know how to make their interfaces.
The digital resolution available with this product is professional and allows the music mixer access to a converter that operates at a resolution of up to 192 kHz. This audio interface comes with easy-to-use A/B monitoring that is flexible and offers smooth transitions. With a set of five-pin MIDI ports, the PreSonus Studio 26c offering provides the user the means to connect with other devices to enhance their final offering’s quality. The software bundle that comes with the product boasts Studio Magic Plug-in Suite, which is home to many popular plug-ins valued at hundreds of dollars.
Focusrite Scarlett 4i4
We almost went one audio interface guide without mentioning a Scarlett, but failed here. The Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 offers us too much power to cave in. Operating using a USB 2.0 port, the product has two critically acclaimed Focusrite mic or instrument preamps pre-loaded, and combining them is as easy as using the front panel. They feature Focusrite’s popular Air mode, which allows the user access to the Air effect that so many musicians want to add to their productions because of the enhanced sound quality and clarity they provide.
Included are high-performance converters with 24-bit / 192 kHz AD/DA which offer the customer some mixing options to listen high-quality music. Among the software encompassed is Pro Tools First Focusrite Creative Pack, Ableton Live Lite, the Focusrite Red 2 and Red 3 Plug-in Suite, and access to Focusrite’s Plug-in Collective. Focusrite has negotiated with Splice to offer new users a free three-month subscription to Splice Sounds, allowing them to access millions of loops, presets, and one-shots. Our final pick as the best audio interface under $300.