5 of the best entry-level audio interfaces to use in 2021

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5 of the best entry-level audio interfaces to use in 2021

Words by Sam McNiece

A breakdown of the top performing audio interfaces that won't break the bank.

For music makers and producers today, there is increasingly less need to hire a big recording studio to create the next big hit.

An audio interface is a vital component in this, responsible for connecting your computer to microphones, synthesisers and more importantly to your speakers. With a good quality interface, capturing and transmitting your creations will be cleaner and result in a higher level of production quality.

As technology continues to advance, there are increasingly more affordable and professional solutions for bedroom and small-scale artists around the world.

Today at Mixdown, we take a look at 5 of the best performing low cost interfaces on the market, aimed at helping you decide which one fits your setup.

The Five:

  • SSL 2+
  • PreSonus Studio 24c
  • Audient ID14 MkII
  • Steinberg UR44c
  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Read more features, columns and interviews here.

SSL 2+

Featuring classic SSL design cues, the 2+ is their entry to the affordable audio interface market. This device is USB powered and processes audio at a stunning 24bit/192khz.

2+ has two inputs and four outputs, aimed at being used with two sets of monitors to better reference your mix. There are two headphone outputs allowing both a producer and artist to have separate mixes, integral for engineers to provide a professional experience to clients. Other key features include MIDI in/out for connecting synths/drum machines and SSL-designed low noise microphone preamps.

The unique part of this audio interface is the legacy 4K button on the input channels. Modelled after SSL’s 4000 series consoles, this button adds subtle but rich harmonic distortion to the input signal and a high frequency boost around 16khz. It’s an easy way to instantly add that airy, professional quality to any input signal.

Read our full review here.

PreSonus Studio 24c

If you haven’t committed to a DAW yet or you’re looking for the best value audio interface on the market, look no further than the Presonus Studio 24c. This robust 2 in/2 out interface comes packaged with Studio One Artist, Presonus’ feature packed Digital Audio Workstation, and their Studio Magic plugin suite, which includes Ableton Live Lite. Neat.

Featuring combo jack inputs, MIDI in/out and level meters, the Studio 24c is a perfect fit for small scale studios and bedroom producers alike. Knobs for accessing all the main features such as level control, headphone mix and volume are on the front of the device, creating a streamlined workflow for its users.

The Studio 24c provides high quality 192kHz audio and utilises Presonus’ professional-grade mic preamps. This coupled with the fact that it’s one of the cheapest, studio quality interfaces out there makes this one a winner.

Read our review on the USB-C series here.

Audient ID14 MkII

On face value, the ID14 MkII looks as though it’s just another small offering in the way of desktop recording interfaces, though don’t be fooled by its sleek minimalistic design. Packed into its compact chassis is an impressive feature set which can serve as the centrepiece of any flexible home recording studio.

Packed to the brim with features, the ID MkII has 3 inputs, 4 outputs and is expandable to 10 inputs and 6 outputs via an ADAT/SPDIF connection. On its two microphone inputs, the ID MkII includes preamps that share their design with Audient’s flagship ASP8024 heritage edition large format console.

If that’s not enough, the rotary encoder on top of this interface works on more than just level changes. Using the ID button, it can be used to control parameters within your Digital Audio Workstation of choice.

For producers with plans of expansion in the future, this interface delivers.

See our in-depth analysis here.

Steinberg UR44c

The newest interface from industry stalwarts Steinberg does not disappoint. Ever the reliable dark horse, the UR44c has all the seamless connectivity and rock-solid components you’ve come to expect from the industry staple. It features a maximum sampling rate of 192kHz audio conversion with 32-bit resolution, resulting in top-notch analogue-to-digital conversion to produce awesome sounding recordings from the confines of your bedroom.

Expanding beyond the parameters of what most expect from an interface at this price-point, the UR44c consists of six inputs and four outputs, with the unit featuring four microphone preamps on the front and an additional two line inputs on the rear of the unit.

The standout from this particular interface is DSP processing. This feature allows for latency free plugin application using Steinberg’s range of effects.

For a rock solid interface with no holds barred, look no further.

Find out more on this interface here.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

One of the most popular choices for home studio setups is the Focusrite Scarlett series. With a focus on quality and ease of use, the Scarlett 2i2 is a top performer in the budget audio interface market.

As its name suggests, the sleek looking 2i2 features 2 inputs and 2 outputs as well as AIR mode, designed to reproduce the Air effect of Focusrite’s original ISA mic preamp.

The responsive Gain Halo displays customisable colours depending on input level to make sure you know if your recordings are clipping. Its slim design allows for portability and transportation with only one side featuring extruding knobs.

For first time interface users, this one is surely a winner.

See our take on it here.

We hope after this that you can make a more informed decision about what interface suits your personal production needs.

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