If you have found yourself wondering if you need to purchase an audio interface, then chances are you have been contemplating becoming a music producer of some sort. In order to find out if you need to incorporate an audio interface in your studio, you will need to understand what an audio interface is. An audio interface is an internal or external component added to a computer or some other smart device that enables that device to playback the sounds you have recorded. Basically, if you wish to be able to record instrumental or vocal music, simple speech or any other noise and use your computer then yes you will need an audio interface. However, do not rush out immediately and purchase one without first educating yourself a bit more.
An audio interface is basically a fancy sound card. Sound cards already come standard in most laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones. They provide a decent sound quality for playback, so in most cases, these built-in sound cards are more than sufficient for your basic recording needs. If your goal is to go beyond basic recording and dive into the world of remixes and tweaking of your recordings in some way or another, then you will most likely want to make sure you are able to record with the best sound quality possible. For this, you will want to look into different audio interface prices and what each unit offers so you can find one that fits your budget and needs.
When going to google and searching audio interface, you will end up with several pages of these devices and various accessories. They all range in prices from a mere $15-20 all the way up to several thousands of dollars. Obviously, the better quality ones you would need for more advanced recording situations such as full instrumental and vocal ensembles will be more expensive. Let us take a look at the highest end interface listed. By simply adjusting our search criteria to list interfaces from most expensive to least expensive, we find the highest priced one is worth about $5,175. The Antelope Audio Orion Studio Rev. 2017 sits at the top of Antelope Audio’s newer interfaces. It features FPGA powered vintage FX making it perfect for an aspiring professional guitarist. It uses a Thunderbolt input/output which is so much faster than normal USB or Firewire connections and helps to deliver a high-quality digital sound.
Now that we have taken a peek into a more expensive option, let’s look at something a little more budget friendly but also has a very positive customer rating. When we search for interfaces prioritizing best reviews then do a little price and bundle comparison, we actually find several units that are cost efficient as well as are highly reviewed. For a mere $149, you can purchase a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio, second generation interface that comes with a pro bundle bonus. On a five star system, this interface ranks a solid 4.7. The next good option up would cost you about a hundred bucks more. That model is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio version. It comes readily equipped with a mic, stand clip and headphones. You will be able to hookup the condenser mic, which comes with the unit, along with a guitar or even another mic and teleport to your own private recording studio. This model also rates 4.7 stars for quality and price. Finally, if we up our spending just $50 more we can land a Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 USB model. This model is compatible with most guitars and recording equipment. It has four all newly designed inputs that support MIDI, XLR, 1/4 inch TRS as well as coaxial digital audio connectors. This translates into you having the ability to hook up a variety of audio equipment. You are also going to get two headphone jacks and be able to control their volume independently as well as four balanced outputs so you can utilize different routing options. The 6i6 seems to be some serious bang for your buck!
Now that we’ve done a little shopping and comparison work, let us look at some more technical aspects of an audio interface. Earlier we discussed different models and some terminology appeared that may have you scratching your head such as USB, Thunderbolt and Firewire. Don’t let these terms scare you. These are simply terms that refer to how an interface connects to your smart device. The Thunderbolt and Firewire connections are much faster and ultimately would provide a much more crisp sound. The downsides to these connectors are that your interface must support them, and they are also a bit more on the pricey side. Most of your casual recording artists stick with a good old USB connector. These are cost efficient so they are easily replaced if something goes wrong and therefore are more widely used.
In summary, if you are just looking to play around with recording, a standard sound card comes equipped on most smart devices and will suffice wonderfully while not costing you anything extra. An audio interface should be purchased if you want to expand your recording beyond everyday activity and want to have the best sound quality possible. With a simple internet search, you will be able to find numerous types of interfaces as well as all the additional equipment you will need if you chose to go that route for your recordings. If you are serious about becoming a serious recording artist, an audio interface should be on your next purchase list.