It almost goes without saying that if you want to achieve the best possible computer recording and playback quality, you're going to have to spend a significant amount of money on your audio interface.
However, it's equally true to say that you can also get pretty good results without shelling out anywhere near as much: a reasonable quality interface can now be yours for well under £200/$250.
You'll find evidence of this on the following list. For this kind of money you can expect at least a couple of inputs and outputs (perhaps even more) and 24-bit quality. MIDI I/O is another feature to look for if you're planning on hooking up a controller or external synth.
Before you buy an interface, make sure that it has the input and output types that you require. All of our recommendations operate over USB and are Mac/PC compatible - some will work with your iOS device, too.
Here, then, is a selection of the best budget audio interfaces on the market in 2014.