An audio interface is a unit that enables you to record analog and digital audio signals and carry them into your computer. Its similar to a sound card but in an external box that gets connected to your computer via usb. You get interfaces with one input all the way up the sixteen inputs for live recordings.
Today’s interfaces has evolved to incorporate many features including:
- digital conversion
- mic preamps
- DI boxes
- headphone amps
- monitor management
Example of desktop form factor interface
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface. Compact yet versatile 2-in, 2-out USB audio interface. It gives singer songwriters two natural-sounding Scarlett mic preamps and the same class-leading sound quality and digital conversion as the rest of the latest Scarlett range.
How do you choose your audio interface?
- DAW Compatibility – you have to confirm that the interface you are looking at will be compatible with your DAW ( Digital Audio Workstation )
- How many channels do you need going in and out of the interface ( In / Out Configuration ). If you’re a singer songwriter you will only need a pair of inputs, and depending on your microphone you may need phantom power. If you are using it in a studio setup recording a full band you will definitely need as many as 16 inputs.
- There are several computer connectivity options. The current standard connection types are: thunderbolt, usb, pci and firewire. Connection types vary in speed, the slower they are the less channels you will be able to record. Usb2 and 3 and Firewire has a speed of 480mbps and should be fast enough to record 64 tracks under the perfect conditions. Where a Usb1.1 would only be able to do 2 tracks. So make sure that the connectivity is correct for your needs.
- You have to decide what you need in input channel types. You get Microphone input, a line input, and a optical input which is a type of “digital” input that requires the addition of an outboard mic preamp, and digital converter to be used as a mic channel.
Example of rackmount form factor interface
The PreSonus Studio 192 Mobile USB 3.0 audio interface delivers exceptional sonic fidelity, flexible connectivity, and professional monitoring and mixing controls in a compact desktop design. Whether you’re a producer, an audio engineer, an independent band, a sound designer, or all of the above, your Studio 192 Mobile was built for you to create.
- Rack Mounts
- monitors or headphones