8 Best Portable Audio Interfaces (For All Budgets)

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  • Audio interfaces are lighter and beter than ever
  • We review 8 of the best portable audio interfaces on the market
  • Including brands like Universal Audio, Apogee, RME, and more

Audio interfaces have been evolving rapidly over the years, and now audio interfaces are more portable, lighter, and higher-quality than ever.

These days, we have the luxury of recording studio-quality music from the comfort of our bedroom or even being able to produce a full track while traveling.

We’ll look at the best portable USB audio interfaces on this list, ranging from starter audio interfaces to professional-level audio interfaces!

What Are The Best Portable Audio Interfaces?

Audio interfaces nowadays are mostly very compact, and USB-powered. And on this list, we have chosen the most well-reviewed, trustworthy, and compact audio interfaces that are offered at various price points.

Our top overall pick for this list is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen, the best portable audio interface for traveling and using on the go.

As for the most lightweight and easiest to carry, Apogee Jam Plus is the lightest portable audio interface.

The RODE AI-1 is our value pick, giving you the best bang-for-your-buck. Here is the full list of all the audio interfaces that we are going to cover on this list.

  1. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen (Our Pick)
  2. Apogee Jam Plus (Most Lightweight)
  3. RODE AI-1 (Best Value)
  4. Audient iD4 MKII
  5. Revelator io44
  6. Apogee Duet 3
  7. Universal Audio Apollo Solo Heritage Edition
  8. RME Babyface Pro

1. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

OUR PICK
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio (3rd Gen)
$279.99

The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio recording bundle gives you a great front end that includes everything you need to record.

Why We Love It:
  • Super-low latency
  • Intuitive halo feature
  • Simple, compact, and eye-catching design 
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The Scarlett 2i2 is a great starting point for musicians looking for a trustworthy, portable audio interface. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is our all-around pick for the best portable audio interface.

It’s a compact and light interface – with just two inputs and from phantom power to monitoring, gain control, and preamps, it’ll have everything you need all under $200.

Features

  • Two inputs for microphone, bass, guitar, or synths
  • Two upgraded 3rd-generation Scarlett mic preamps
  • USB bus-powered with high-quality 24-bit/192kHz converters
  • Direct Monitor for monitoring with low-latency

Review

The Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen features two inputs that can house microphones, guitar, bass, and keyboards, and each input comes with a separate Gain knob, and two other knobs for Instrument Mode, and Air Mode.

This interface is USB-powered so all you need to do is plug the Scarlett 2i2 into your computer USB port, and even the setup and installation process is extremely straightforward. 

The upgraded interface has sample rates of up to 192kHz, and this recording quality is close to studio-quality, except it’s super portable and affordable.

The design is also eye-catching and easy for beginners to use. One standout feature is the halo indicators on the gain knobs: basically, the light around the gain knob will turn red when the signal is clipping and remains green when it’s not.

One of the big reasons why musicians purchase high-end audio interfaces is the exclusive access to expensive plugins, which is the case with Universal Audio’s Apollo series.

Well, this won’t give you UA’s plugins, but you still get an impressive array of plugins and software including – Focusrite Red Plug-In Suite, Splice, Addictive Drums 2, AUTO-TUNE ACCESS, and more. 

2. Apogee Jam+

MOST LIGHTWEIGHT
Apogee JAM PLUS

The Apogee Jam+ is the easy way to inject your guitar, bass, or keyboard into your computer — with studio quality! 

Why We Love It:
  • Extremely light and small 
  • MAC, PC, and iOS compatibility
  • Excellent in-house virtual amps and effects
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Up next, we are going to look at the smallest and lightest audio interface on this list.

Apogee Jam+ is focused on creating the smallest and most portable interface possible, and it is very similar to iRig by IK Multimedia. This interface makes the most lightweight interface on our list.

Apogee might be well-known for its high-end and excellent Apogee Duet interface, but they have created the ultimate portable audio interface for traveling musicians. 

By plugging straight into your favorite computer with no additional power, you can record good quality audio on the fly with the Apogee Jam+.

Features

  • Apogee’s renowned converter technology provides 24-bit/96kHz recording
  • Line input to record guitar, bass, or keyboard
  • Overdrive mode for virtual amps and effects
  • Output Blend feature for zero-latency monitoring and recording

Review

With a metallic and rugged look, Apogee Jam+ has a rather simple but inviting design. Jam+ is as simple as it gets – just one input, one knob, and one button.

This is perfect for guitarists and bass players who are always traveling and need to record while on the move. It’s extremely lightweight and you can store the Jam+ in small bags and guitar cases.

All you need to do is plug the Apogee Jam+ into your Macbook, PC, iPad, or even iPhone to start using the device.

Although it’s tiny, Apogee converter technology allows you to convert up to 24-bit/96kHz of audio, which is a similar quality to full-sized USB-powered audio interfaces. 

The downside of this small size is that you can’t connect microphones into this interface, so this interface is only really for guitar, bass, and keyboard players.

For guitar and bass players, the Apogee Overdrive mode allows access to incredible virtual amps and effects, available at your fingertips. And there is also in-house software included – Positive Grid BIAS FX Jam software for producers needing a DAW.

3. RODE Ai-1

BEST VALUE
Rode NT1 AI-1

From music and filmmaking to podcasting and streaming — wherever you find yourself needing clean, dependable audio in a compact bus-powered system — the Ai-1 delivers. 

Why We Love It:
  • Very compact
  • Lightweight
  • Simple 1-channel USB-C audio interface
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The next interface on our list is the RODE Ai-1, and this interface is as straightforward as it gets. The RODE Ai-1 is the best value interface on our list.

RODE is a trustworthy name in the music industry well-known for their microphones, and they have released their first-ever audio interface that has proven to be amongst the best, especially for the price.

Features

  • XLR input with phantom power
  • Mic input, and a line/instrument input
  • Connection to monitor speakers and headphone

Review:

The first-ever audio interface by RODE is definitely among the best portable recording interfaces, and it comes in an eye-catching all-black design.

From the first glance, the design is straightforward and you’ll be able to figure out how to use it in a matter of minutes. 

The RODE Ai-1 has one input, and this single input can house both microphones and instruments, and the input also comes with phantom power for condenser microphones.

Next to the input, there is a knob for gain control and another knob for monitoring. On the backside, there is a USB-C connecting port, and monitor outputs to connect monitor speakers.

On top of that, the tiny interface also has a headphone amp that is great for mixing on the road. So for traveling music producers and recording artists, this interface is a one-stop-shop.

While we’re on the topic of tiny audio interfaces, you could also check out the Rode AI Micro.

4. Audient iD4 MKII

Audient iD4

iD4 delivers the audio performance of a large format console in a portable desktop package enabling you to record your vocals and guitar simultaneously.

Why We Love It:
  • Upgraded, new, sleek design
  • Very quiet and clean audio quality
  • Excellent mic preamps
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Audient iD4 MKII is an interface that we have to include on this list, as it’s a great bridge between affordable and expensive audio interfaces.

When this interface first came out, it was revolutionary and it changed the expectation of what a cheap audio interface could do. Although not as small as previous interfaces, Audient iD4 is one of the best portable interfaces you can buy.

Features

  • Access to ARC software suite with DAW, virtual instruments, plug-ins
  • High-performance converters up to 120dB of dynamic range
  • Fast USB Transmission through USB 3.0
  • Studio-quality monitor outputs

Review

It is hard to believe Audient iD4 MKII is so affordable because it looks like it belongs in a luxurious studio. With one Hi-Z input and one XLR input, Audient iD4 MKII resembles high-end interfaces like the UAD Apollo series.

Audient’s iD4 MKII is powered by USB 3.0, which transmits signals way faster and the high-performance converters will give you amazing recording quality.

The new and improved dynamic range in the ADC and DAC sections allows you to monitor flawlessly through headphones or a set of monitor speakers.

On top of that, the included ARC software suite allows you to use the industry’s leading DAW like Cubase and gives you access to virtual instruments from Waldorf and Gforce.

5. PreSonus Revelator io44

Presonus Revelator io44 USB-C Audio Interface

Thanks to its XMAX-L preamp and premium circuitry, the Presonus Revelator io44 is a compact USB-C audio interface that offers superb sound.

Why We Love It:
  • Unique
  • Portable design
  • Good for music producing and live streaming
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A brand new device in the PreSonus family, the PreSonus Revelator io44 makes the job easier not just for musicians but also for live streaming through platforms like Facebook Gaming, Twitch, or any other gaming platform.

Revelator io44 has premium circuity, as well as a top-quality preamp that makes this one of the best USB audio interfaces around. 

Features

  • Streamlined controls for smooth operations
  • Stereo line input for connecting mixer or DJ deck
  • 2 stereo loopback channels for streaming audio
  • Onboard DSP for fast processing

Review

PreSonus Revelator io44 has a unique design and unique features that make this interface stand out amongst the rest.

It is a USB-powered audio interface that is designed for recording music, live streaming for gamers, and live performance. It’s a very refreshing piece of technology that can be used for so many different things.

Revelator io44 has one input for both microphone and instrument, inputs for headset and line-in, and main out for monitor outputs.

It also comes with two stereo loopback channels, which can be used to stream audio from multiple sources at once, and you can also use the onboard steaming mixer for real-time control.

When you purchase Revelator io44, you get access to software like Studio One Artist, Abelton Live Lite, as well as an extensive collection of studio-quality plug-ins. One downside might be that this doesn’t have separate controls for input gain and monitor volume.

6. Apogee Duet 3

Apogee Duet 3 - 2 Channel USB Audio Interface
$649.00

Tailor-made for music production, voice recording, streaming, gaming, and more, the Duet 3 is great for studios and on-the-go content creators alike.

Why We Love It:
  • Offers zero-latency sound shaping
  • Simple, yet futuristic touch design
  • Easy to use
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Apogee is a high-end quality audio interface that is sold at a mid-range price, and for musicians using Apple computers, Apogee Duet 3 is one of the best options for studio-quality USB audio interfaces.

With studio-quality AD/DA, excellent analog circuitry, and hardware DSP, Apogee Duet 3 will provide professional musical artists and producers with everything they need.

Features

  • Top-quality Apogee AD/DA conversion and digital clocking
  • 2 world-class mic preamps and Advanced Stepped Gain Architecture
  • Onboard hardware DSP
  • Beautiful analog circuitry and efficient design

Review

Apogee Duet 3 is presented in an eye-catching contoured body topped with scratch-resistant gorilla glass and is the most futuristic-looking audio interface on this list.

Apogee Duet 3 offers connection through separate breakout cables and has 2 instruments inputs, 2 mic inputs, and 2 balanced outputs.

The amazing Apogee preamps allow you to get a solid tone out of drums, vocals, guitar, strings, and brassit can do it all.

The advanced analog circuitry functions within a 0-65dB gain range, and this provides amazing bandwidth with the lowest possible distortion.

The newly added onboard DSP lets you shape your sound right at the input stage before going to the DAW, which will take the recording quality to a new dimension.

(We tested the Apogee Duet 3 head-to-head with the UA Apollo Twin X DUO in Apogee Duet 3 VS Universal Audio Apollo Twin X DUO (Compared!))

7. Universal Audio Apollo Solo Heritage Edition

Universal Audio Apollo Solo USB Heritage Edition Audio Interface

Universal Audio’s Apollo Solo Heritage Edition brings a USB Apollo to Windows users at the lowest price ever. This USB-C audio interface is the real deal.

Why We Love It:
  • Portable
  • Access to industry-standard plugins
  • Easy-to-use design and system
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UAD’s Apollo Solo has become an industry-standard interface for professional musicians, and it’s a great starting point for a high-end audio interface.

Apollo Solo is a studio-grade, portable, and easy-to-use interface that offers access to the world’s unparalleled UAD plugins.

Features

  • USB3 or Thunderbolt 3 audio interface with 2 analog inputs and 2 analog outputs
  • Studio-grade AD/DA
  • State-of-the-art UAD Powered Plug-ins
  • Powerful preamp and Unison technology

Review

UAD’s Apollo Solo provides the best possible recording quality that an audio interface can provide. This interface can be found in both USB3 and Thunderbolt 3 versions.

It’s extremely sleek and luxurious, and although it’s much more expensive than the other interfaces, Apollo Solo provides an unparalleled recording experience.

The Thunderbolt connection gives you super-low latency and large bandwidth for higher sample rates and bigger project sizes.

The Apollo Solo has two inputs for microphones and a separate Hi-Z input for guitars and basses. The preamps on this interface are super high quality and combined with the world-leading UAD plugins, your music can go up another level.

The Apollo Solo Heritage Edition will provide 5 award-winning UAD plug-ins and Realtime Analog Classics plug-in bundle, which are probably the best replication of the legendary analog hardware.

8. RME Babyface Pro

OUR PICK
RME Babyface Pro FS
$949.00

The RME Babyface Pro FS is a powerful, yet eminently portable, bus-powered USB audio interface. It features a rugged, low-profile housing with a clean look and easy-to-use interface.

Why We Love It:
  • Super portable
  • Latency-free processing
  • Low-profile but easy-to-use
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Last on our list, we feature another high-end audio interface that has become many professional musicians’ go-to portable interface.

RME Babyface Pro is a bus-powered USB audio interface that will provide studio-grade recording quality and has some serious firepower for such a small interface.

Features

  • USB 2.0 audio interfaces with 12 inputs and 12 outputs
  • 2 digitally controlled microphone preamps
  • Great analog, digital, and MIDI connectivity for easy studio integration
  • SteayClock/femtosecond technology for stable clocking
  • TotalMix FX for 288-channel mixer with 46-bit internal resolution

Review

This sleek and relatively small audio interface gives you 12 inputs and 12 outputs – including 2 instrument inputs, 2 mic inputs, and MIDI input.

The design is almost misleading because it is extremely simple, but the RME Babyface will blow you away with its sheer power. It’s very impressive for such a small interface.

RME’s SteadyClock FS circuit and powerful preamps will provide the best possible recording quality and up to 24-bit/192kHz A/D Resolution.

This interface will definitely have a bit of a learning curve when first starting out, so this interface is recommended for professional musicians looking for a portable interface.

RME Babyface gives you access to a premium plug-in bundle with Scuffham S-Gear, Brainworx bx_opto, and Brainworx bx_masterdesk and more.