TechTalk

What is an Audio Interface – Why do you need one!

Audio Interface_main

If you are a music enthusiast (like us…yay! we rock), you must have encountered with a suggestion or mention of audio interfaces to be bought along with your microphones and speakers for better results. Here we are trying to capture the technical details and the best audio interface to choose from whether you are looking for an audio interface for your PC, an USB interface or a cheap audio interface for home use!

You must have a lot of input and output ports of your Mac or PC related to sound, means for microphone and speakers and this is where it all trickles down to. In very simple term audio interface is required to get the sound in and out of the computer.

So, whether you are a YouTuber, podcaster, mixing artist, vocalist, instrumentalist etc…. you badly need one

  • For example, if you want to record your voice/an instrument and you want it to be done with extremely Good Quality, you need to put an intermediary device between your microphone and computer which helps process the audio signal captured by the recording device
  • YES! You can use the inbuilt microphone of your computer and mobile phone but if you compare the recording performed with and without an audio interface you will yourself feel that difference was worth investing into a good audio interface, the results will be of PRO quality. The inbuilt soundcard is also an audio interface but they are not meant to produce or cater to hi-res audio and thus severely limited when it comes to high-quality recording, the production and DJing

Don’t buy one unless you read below, about what to look for while finalizing on one:

  1. Interface type and number of inputs/outputs – including number of mic preamps
  2. What (computer/device) you want to connect
  3. Mixing capability
  4. Sound quality & budget

 

  • Interface types and Inputs/Outputs: Essentially you need to have the XLR inputs – how many totally depends on your requirement, let’s assume you are a budding vocalist who uses his/her guitar and wants to record both simultaneously, look for the one with two XLR inputs, or one XLR and one ¼” (6.35 mm) jack plug
    • The ¼” jack outputs required to connect monitoring speakers
    • USB interface to type-B to connect your computer with DJ/mixing software installed
    • Phono RCA sockets
    • 5-pin DIN sockets for connection of external MIDI equipment, like keyboards or sound modules
  • The above-mentioned connection types will be more than enough for an average user to have in an audio interface and will suffice the need to connect almost all the devices to the interface

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However, further we to this we must talk about few technical criteria like:
  • Sampling rate: In simple terms, it is defined as the how many samples of sound per second are created to the digital signal. It is represented in Hertz, the human ear can comprehend 20Hz-20,000Hz of frequency range generally. Therefore, the standard sampling rate is 44.1 kHz. For a good signal reconstruction, the sampling frequency should be more than 2 times of the maximum frequency of the signal being sampled. That is why you will see the interfaces in the market telling that they record at 48kHz and higher
  • Bit depth or Resolution: You must have seen 16 bit or 24 bit mentioned on such devices and even on the audio files. This represents the resolution; CD quality is 16 bit and 24 bit is a further notch above which is common with almost all the best audio interface available in the market

TIP: Look for sampling rate of 48 kHz (or more) and a bit depth of 24-bits for your audio interface and you will be grinning from east to west coast

 

  • Latency: With the inbuilt sound card in your computer, you could sense latency between the recorded sound and the playback, your audio interface should be able to fix this problem. Most of the interfaces enable you to listen to your recording real time without any delay and it’s a goof feature for monitoring purposes
  • Pre-amps: It is used to boost the low-level microphone output signal and it’s a must have in the audio interface if you want to record vocals especially, for each mic you connect to the interface, the port must have a preamp
  • Phantom Power – 48V: there are generally two types of microphones available in the market, condenser and dynamic. If you choose condenser (we will cover in another article – How to select a suitable microphone for your application) then you must buy Phantom power as condenser mic needs power to drive the circuitry and polarize the plates else, you would not hear a solid amplified sound. On the other hand, for dynamic microphones doesn’t require one
  • Balanced/Unbalanced: The line out with most of the audio interface these days are electronically balanced, and you can use either ¼” TRS (balanced connection) or TS (unbalanced connection) as required. You should always use the correct cable, mostly it will be balanced connection

Pros:

  • Sky rocket your recording quality
  • one box solution
  • Monitor your music real time and make correction

Cons:

  • Additional device in the setup
  • Price

Conclusion: I hope you this article must have helped you to make an informed decision to put your hard-earned money to buy the best audio interface to make your music sound better and feel delighted.

You can post your comments or query below and we will try our best to respond to you with the appropriate solution.

Keep creating good music for a better world!

Few of the best audio interfaces to choose from:

1.Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools

2.PreSonus Audiobox iTwo Studio USB/iPad hardware/software recording kit

3.Steinberg UR22MKII 2-Channel USB Interface

15 Comments on “What is an Audio Interface – Why do you need one!

  1. This was a very visual and informative page. I do not know that much about electronics and technology. Always wanting to learn more about how to make your products sound and look better. I love the diagram. And the suggestions that you mentioned. I would have like too see the price range of the products. Overall great information.

    1. Thanks for your comment, technology plays an important role in our life and will continue to do so!! these are the devices to enhance the user experience and take your listening to another level. For the price, you can click the products mentioned at the end of the post!!
      Cheers!!

  2. This is a very useful website especially for someone like me who knows nothing about audio technology or the what accessory does what!
    I’m quite a visual learner and for me your website is very visual and particularly the diagram above showing what instruments to plug in where! I’ve always been put off taking things further with regards to hooking up laptops and speakers etc to various appliances as I got confused, but I’d be confident in setting up equipment using the content of your pages now!

    1. Thanks Darren, our aim is to provide the end consumer with the enough knowledge so that he/she can make an informed decision about before spending the hard earned money!

    1. Thanks louis, appreciate your feedback, our endeavor is to provide the readers with the most useful stuff which could help them make an informed decision!

  3. Thanks Daren for your post. I used some audio Interface before. In fact, I also tried the Audiobox Studio but I believe I use the previous version. I love the product. It makes my recording sounds a lot better. The vocal is clean and I can mix my voice however I like. My only problem with recording at home is the mixing quality. What software would you recommend for mixing your tracks?

  4. Thanks for clearing some of these thing up!
    I’ve been on the fence about getting an interface. I don’t need one every day but every now and then it’s a really useful feature. I’m a video guy and last year we needed to record some low budget music for a low budget commercial and needed to use an interface. At least now I know what to look for and not go in blindly 🙂
    Cheers!

    1. Thanks that you liked the post, we strive to provide our readers with the most informative post that we can prepare! which can help them clear the dilemma and of course the basics!

  5. This post is super straight-forward and informative- especially for a girl who is not “tech saavy”! We have high quality speakers at home, and pre-amps… because why compromise? High quality sound = a high quality life.

    1. Absolutely! if you are passionate about something, you should put your effort and money adequately, so as to get best results otherwise you will keep complaining! Music brings nirvana, it flows beyond caste and culture, Keep listening!

  6. Great article. I did not know that this piece existed, I do a lot of songs at home with Garage Band, Logic Pro, I just have a cable that I connect from my guitar to my Mac and I record the voice with a simple microphone. The quality is not so bad, but certainly with this it can be much better.
    Thank you so much

    1. Yes David, if you record and want the best results, this is for you! to start with Focusrite is just one box solution and give very good results!

  7. Really like the Idea of this article! Does it also help to boost the quality of Youtube videos? Because I am not really into music I would like something affordable that accompanies Youtube videos I want to make.

    1. Yes, Thomas, this is very much applicable to recording high-quality youtube videos! you just need to connect the audio interface to your Mic with the XLR cable (mostly all dynamic mic come with a free XLR cable) and your audio interface to your computer. You can use the free software “audacity” or the one that comes along with your mic. A Pop filter is also recommended (it comes very cheap) That’s it, and you will see a significant difference in your recording, your voice will be more plush and clear! See the stuff I have mentioned below:
      1. Full package: http://amzn.to/2p3hnkD
      2. Mic only: http://amzn.to/2p3s5rj
      3. Audio interface only: http://amzn.to/2nduJhA
      4. Pop Filter: http://amzn.to/2oDSG20

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