Your instrument and talent aren't everything - and neither is your microphone or studio monitor. The studio or audio interface, rather, is the factor connecting everything together when you record with a computer and defining the sound quality.
What is an Audio Interface?
To put it simply, an audio interface has a two-fold purpose in your recording setup. One, it vastly improves a computer's sonic capabilities, surpassing whatever you'd ordinarily get from the soundcard. Secondly, it provides more inputs and outputs, serving as the connection point for all devices composing your setup. You'll connect your instrument, microphone and monitor through the audio interface, rather than directly to the computer. The audio interface, meanwhile, connects to your computer via USB, FireWire, PCI or PCMCIA and delivers a more accurate sound experience when you're listening to the playback via studio monitors or headphones.
Two general types of audio interfaces are available:
- Desktop interfaces: Hinted by the name, these audio interfaces are ideal for more small-scale uses, including bedroom and home studios, DJing, and recording podcasts. Many include buttons and knobs on the exterior to make up for your computer's limited capabilities.
- Rackmount interfaces: These are for larger and professional studios and, in turn, provide more horsepower, accommodate multiple audio tracks, and offer a greater number of inputs. These interfaces further integrate with your setup's DAW software and tend to offer greater sound quality.
Basic Audio Interface Features
Based on type, your audio interface may have a combination of the following:
- XLR input, ideal if you want to connect a microphone to your computer for recording. Interfaces will have a three-pin XLR or a hybrid input combining an XLR with a ¼-inch TRS input.
- Phantom power, another microphone-specific feature. Once the microphone is plugged in, the interface supplies it with power.
- Line-level inputs and outputs, which deliver a stronger signal without having to apply extra amplification. These include ¼-inch TRS and TS inputs.
- MIDI inputs and outputs, which are ideal if you plan to plug in a keyboard or digital piano to record.
- Direct monitoring, which helps reduce latency and improves the live experience in the recording studio.
Find Audio Interfaces at Alamo Music Center
If you're looking to record from home or upgrade your professional studio, we have you prepared with a wide array of audio interface solutions. Browse today, and take advantage of our multiple financing and layaway options, including 12- to 48-month no-interest financing at times.