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:
- Interface type and number of inputs/outputs – including number of mic preamps
- What (computer/device) you want to connect
- Mixing capability
- 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
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
- Sky rocket your recording quality
- one box solution
- Monitor your music real time and make correction
- Additional device in the setup
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!