6 Best USB Audio Interfaces for XLR Microphones Under $100

Are you a singer or a professional musician? Do you record podcasts for an audience? Well, if your day job involves the use of a professional microphone, you need a USB audio interface to record audio onto your computer. And if you don’t want to spend too much on one, don’t worry. We’ve curated a list of some of the best USB audio interfaces for under $100.

best USB audio interfaces

So, if you use an XLR microphone and want to use professional tools to record and edit audio, you must pick up one of the USB audio interfaces for Mac or PC from the list that follows. You can choose from a handful of options depending on your use case and the number of mics you wish to plug into the interface.

Before we get to the audio-to-USB interfaces though, here are some other articles that may interest you –

Let’s take a look at some audio interfaces with XLR input.

1. Behringer U-Phoria UM2

Number of XLR inputs: 1

The U-Phoria UM2 from Behringer is a small and compact audio interface that has the ability to power one microphone. You can also connect an instrument to it along with an output device like a pair fo headphones.

If you’re looking for an affordable yet reliable single-channel USB audio interface, the Behringer U-Phoria UM2 USB audio interface fits the bill perfectly. It’s cheap, the reviews are excellent with over 20,000 user ratings, and it can output 48W of Phantom power to your microphones.

You get three knobs at the top to control the mic gain, instrument gain, and output volume. The brand provides the USB cable in the box required to interface the device with your PC or Mac. Several users who have purchased the UM2 have said that it performs as well as any other audio interface that costs 3-4 times more. Now that’s high praise!

2. M-Audio M-Track Duo

Number of XLR inputs: 2

As the name suggests, the M-Track Duo is a dual-input USB audio interface. So, if you’re going to be using two mics, this is the way to go. The M-Audio USB interface also comes with professional audio software suite to help you work with your recordings.

The software is surely beneficial if you plan on editing your audio tracks before you upload them or add them to your song. You can connect up to two XLR microphones to the M-Audio interface which is ideal if you’re trying to record a podcast with a guest using condenser mics.

As for the output, there are two options provided — you can either connect a pair of headphones or use the 1/4-inch stereo output ports provided on the rear. M-track also claims to have included proprietary preamps for crystal clear sound from the mics. If anything, user reviews cite that the M-Track Duo’s volume knob changes the intensity of the audio track abruptly.

3. Zoom U-22 Handy Audio Interface

Number of XLR inputs: 1

You should opt for the Zoom U-22 audio interface if you travel a lot to record your music or audio. Depite the fact that you can only connect one mic, the biggest advantage of the Zoom U-22 is that you can use alkaline batteries to power it when you don’t have access to your computer.

The ability to provide power to your mic without a USB port can be extremely useful. You may not always have access to your laptop when traveling. And in such a case, if you still want to record audio, you don’t have to find a charging point. All you need is a couple of AA batteries that can power your mic for 4-5 hours.

Of course, when you want to connect your mic to your Mac or PC, you have the option to do so as well while providing 48W of phantom power. Reviews say that the battery power makes the Zoom U-22 extremely convenient to use with devices like the iPad that don’t have the ability to output power.

4. Mackie Onyx Producer 2×2 USB Audio Interface With MIDI

Number of XLR inputs: 2

Looking for an audio interface with MIDI support on a budget? The Mackie Onyx is pretty much your only option under the three-figure mark. You also get the advantage of connecting two mics at once.

MIDI support makes the Mackie Onyx extremely versatile. You can connect powerful devices like synths and other professional audio equipment. What’s more, the unit supports high-res 24-bit recording as well. As for the input, there are two XLR slots that you can use to interface two microphones with your PC simultaneously.

The brand also provides a music editing software called Traction with the product. This is a nice touch since beginners won’t have to spend on additional programs to get started. While most reviews praise the build and audio quality, some users say that you may face connectivity issues at times so you may have to unplug the device and then plug it back in for it to work properly.

That brings us to the point that if you do end up getting the Mackie Onyx, ensure everything is plugged in properly before you hit record. The last thing you want to end up with is no audio when you play back a sound clip.

5. Synido USB Audio Mixer With Mic

Number of XLR inputs: 2

If you’re looking to buy an audio interface, chances are that you already own a mic. However, if you don’t — Synido wants your attention with a USB audio interface that comes with a mic at an affordable price.

There are several cheap mics that you can buy and pair with an audio interface from this list. However, this combo from Synido can turn out to be much more economical than you think thanks to the fact that the included USB audio mixer has two inputs. So, not only can you connect the included mic but you can also interface a secondary one that you may buy in the future.

Along with the mic, the kit also includes a pair of earbuds that you can use to monitor the audio and an OTG cable that you can use to connect the interface to your PC and even a smartphone. The best part is that this is one of the few USB-C audio interfaces so you don’t need a USB-A adapter — something you may require with other audio interfaces on this list.

6. Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen

Number of XLR inputs: 1

If you search for a USB audio interface for under $100 on Amazon, one listing that you’ll see right at the top is the Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen. The same can be attributed to the unit’s popularity and with around 50,000 reviews, it’s seemingly one of the best audio interfaces for beginners.

Let’s first start off with the reviews. Several professionals who have used more expensive products claim that the Scarlett Solo 3’s preamp is top-notch and makes the interface worth every penny. That’s primarily why the Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3 audio interface is more expensive compared to the competition. And, that’s despite the fact that you only get a single XLR input with the interface.

Not only is the mic input powerful but you also get excellent fidelity when you’ve connected a musical instrument. To that end, the audio files don’t exhibit any clipping or distortion, which will surely be appreciated by most professionals. Along with crystal clear audio output, the brand also gives you three years of warranty that makes the Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB audio interface an excellent pick.

If you want the aforementioned features and refinements in your audio interface and have a flexible budget, we highly suggest splurging on the Solo 3. You can also consider the Audient EVO 4 which is another quality product that’s slightly more expensive but also provides professional-grade performance.

FAQs for USB Audio Interfaces

1. Can I use an audio mixer as an audio interface?

If your audio mixer has a USB port, you can use it to interface your mics with your computer. You also need to ensure that the audio mixer has the ability to provide Phantom power.

2. Is an audio interface necessary for a USB mic?

USB mics have the ability to accept power by themselves and have a built-in DAC. This means that you don’t need any external interface or power supply to use them.

3. Can I use a USB audio interface with my iPhone?

Yes, you can use audio interfaces with your iPhone using the digital camera kit. This is essentially like an OTG cable for your iPhone that connects via the lightning port.

Record Crystal Clear Audio

Using a good USB audio interface is of utmost importance since it can determine the quality of audio you end up recording for your songs, videos, or podcasts. You also need to consider additional features like instrument input and output audio. Do let us know which audio interface you’d go for in the comments below.

Last updated on 01 May, 2023

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