We asked our members to nominate their favourite audio interfaces under $300 and here is what the Gearspace.com community told us!

Disclaimer: The provided I/O counts consider how many simultaneous input and output channels are offered. All the listed interfaces are USB 2.0 compatible.

Audient iD14

More widely acclaimed than any other interface in this price range, the iD14 follows the trail of the highly regarded iD22, but it trims down the features to deliver a more affordable box while maintaining all the quality one expects from Audient. The iD14 is a very concise 10x04 I/O interface presenting premium preamps, 24bit/96khz Burr-Brown converters for pristine quality and an optical port to add up to eight more input channels. The iD14 is packed into a rugged metal enclosure, with two combination microphone/instrument inputs and outputs (balanced TRS) placed on the rear, while a headphone output and a JFET instrument input are conveniently placed on the front. On top of that there are two aluminium knobs for setting the analog input gain, switches for +48V and a big rotary encoder that not only sets the main output or headphone volume but also controls software parameters on your computer - just enable the “iD ScrollControl Mode”, hover the mouse cursor over the desired target and use the dial to adjust. The encoder and iD button can also be mapped to other parameters on Audient’s software, such as DIM, CUT, Polarity Reverse, Mono Sum, Talkback or Cue Mix monitoring. Speaking of software, the ID14 offers console-style mixing for inputs and outputs, providing configurable monitor mixes with very low latency to monitor recordings with ease. Audient came up with a very clever feature set for the iD14, delivering great bang-for-your-buck right out of the box with high quality preamps and converters but also enabling future expansions with the digital ADAT/SPDIF input, so it’s no surprise that it quickly became a top choice in this product category.

Steinberg UR44

Steinberg expands the successful UR series (and your options) with the UR44, an interesting 6x4 I/O interface that can do well in the studio with great sound quality and also serve "on the road" with its sturdy metal chassis. The UR44 presents four Class-A Yamaha preamps on combi microphone/instrument connectors, two balanced mono inputs (TRS) for line-level signals, 9-pin MIDI I/O connectivity, four balanced mono outputs (TRS), stereo balanced monitor outputs (2 TRS) and two ¼” headphone outputs. The preamps, main stereo and headphones outputs all have independent volume knobs placed on the front along with the +48V buttons for easy and quick access. With up to 24-bit/192 kHz of resolution, the UR44 offers latency-free monitoring with onboard DSP to provide monitor mixes with EQ, high-pass filter, compressor, reverb and guitar amp simulation, which all are all editable through the DSP Mix FX software. The UR44 ships with Cubase Ai7, making it a well-rounded package at a very reasonable price tag.

Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 (2nd Gen)

The Scarlett range of interfaces has recently received the “second generation” treatment from Focusrite, with updated converters now delivering 24-bit/192kHz resolution, more headroom on the instrument inputs, power surge protection circuits, and they can now achieve even lower latencies that make tracking with inline effect plug-ins a very viable possibility. The Scarlett 6i6 provides two combi microphone/instrument (with +48V/gain pads) and two ¼” headphone outputs inputs in the front, while the back houses four balanced mono outputs (¼”-TRS), digital I/O on SPDIF (coaxial) and 9-pin MIDI I/O. The two combi inputs, headphone out and main stereo outputs all have dedicated gain/volume knobs in the front panel for very smooth operation. On top of that there is an interesting software package that includes 'Pro Tools First' DAW software with a custom bundle of effects, Ableton Live Lite, the Novation Bass Station VST/AU virtual synthesizer, plugins from Softube (VST/AU/AAX) and 1GB of Loopmasters sample content. It doesn’t stop there - with the lower latencies provided by the hardware update, this unit offers its users even more options with Focusrite's 'Plugin Collective' initiative, where owners of Scarlett interfaces have access to exclusive offers from some of the world's best plugin developers so they can expand their collection. If you don’t care for said inline effects but instead prefer true direct monitoring with zero latency, then don’t worry - the Scarlett has that covered with the software mixer, which has also been redesigned for more intuitive use. Overall this is a very enticing solution for recording and producing music that won’t dent your finances.

Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6

One of the most recognised and acknowledged software developers of our age is also present on the audio interface market with the Komplete Audio 6. This 6x6 I/O interface features two combi inputs for instruments and microphones, four balanced mono ¼” TRS inputs and outputs, coaxial SPDIF and 9-pin MIDI I/O. The front panel offers the XLR/TRS inputs with gain knob and line/instrument switches, main output volume knob with a “mono” button and a headphone output with its own volume control that can be assigned to get signals from outputs 1-2 or 3-4. Komplete 6 also brings a slick top panel with a big main volume knob and a handful of status LEDs to indicate activity on all inputs and outputs. Despite being a company with strong focus on production, Native Instrument hasn’t left recording out of the equation and direct monitoring (zero latency) is available on inputs 1 and 2. As expected from NI, this interface ships with a large software package that includes Traktor LE, Cubase LE and Native’s Komplete Elements plug-in/virtual instruments bundle, making it a very interesting option for producers "keeping it in the box" without bigger I/O needs.

Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD

The latest generation of UMC HD audio interfaces from Behringer promises to step up the quality while keeping costs low. The UMC404HD sits in the middle of the UMC HD range and provides 4x4 I/O, four MIDAS preamps, zero latency monitoring and up to 192kHz resolution. The front panel has four combi mic/instrument inputs (each with their own gain knobs & pad & line/instrument buttons), a main output volume control with stereo/mono options, playback/input monitor blend control and a ¼” headphone output with dedicated volume knob and A/B source selection. On the back there are two female XLR outs for the main stereo buss (which is also available on 2x¼” balanced TRS), four ¼” connectors for adding inserts to the front inputs, a pair of stereo playback outputs through four balanced ¼” TRS (or unbalanced RCA), 9-pin MIDI I/O and a +48V phantom power switch. It’s amazing how many features Behringer have managed to squeeze into a box at this price point and they’re putting a lot of effort in to raise their standards, so don’t overlook this new batch of UMC interfaces!

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