Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB Audio Interface
If you are in the market for an affordable and portable audio interface, Mackie's new Onyx Blackjack (MSRP: $149.99) should be on your shortlist. The Blackjack is a 2x2 USB audio interface in a compact and rugged package. Performance-wise, the real winners here are the pre-amps, which have lots of clean gain and an impressive amount of usable dynamic range for an interface at this price. The self noise is really low as well, and with the gain cranked up, static remains in check, keeping the bad kind of noise out or your recordings. It's missing a few connectivity options, like MIDI and S/DPIF, and you are stuck with 48 kHz as the highest sample rate, but it's rare to have it all for under $150. As a nice touch, the unit is tilted forward for a handy desktop orientation that for most home or mobile applications will be an ergonomic and physical workflow advantage.