Audio Interface Reviews – The best ones available for your music studio, for various budgets and purposes.
Table of Contents
What is an Audio Interface?
An Audio Interface (professional sound-card) enables your Computer to record & playback audio. You will need it if you want to do serious audio work on your computer.
It provides you with all the inputs and output audio / midi connections you need for your work, provides low latency sound recording and playback, and gives a great sound recording and playback quality.
Check out the best Audio Interfaces here…
Advantages of using an Audio Interface
Some of the features on a professional soundcard include:
- Low latency sound recording and playback
- Usually follows the ASIO protocol (suited for sound engineering and music software)
- Comes as external rack-mountable units which can be connected using USB 2.0/Firewire
- Large number of input and output connectors
- Hardware support for multiple input and output sound channels
- Higher sampling rates compared to a consumer sound-card
- Multi-channel data recording and real-time audio mixer and processor
Choosing a Professional Audio Interface
You will need to select a soundcard depending on what sort of studio setup you want to have. You will have to make sure that the soundcard has inputs/outputs to connect to most of your gear. In general, the following are some of the instruments that you will need to connect to your soundcard.
- Control surface (if you don’t have a mixer)
- Audio speakers (AKA monitors)
If you are just getting started with music recording on your computer, the easiest option nowadays is to use a basic USB audio interface.
For better speed and response, and if your computer has a fire-wire port, you can consider a firewire interface.
You can get started with music production on your computer with these budget audio sound cards.
You may also need external Preamps to raise the level of your mic’s. Though most of the soundcards have built-in preamps, only the more expensive ones have really good preamps.
Besides the above mentioned gear, most of the other things like compressors, gates, Reverb and other special effects can be used as software in your Computer. So you do not need connections for these.
Some of the major and popular manufacturers/brands of professional soundcards include M-Audio, RME, Tascam, MOTU, PreSonus, Digidesign, Onyx, etc.
With an overview of what things to look for in an Audio Interface, I think you should be able to find an Audio Interface that suits your needs the best.
PCI Audio Interfaces
PCI Audio Interfaces connect to a slot on your computer’s hardware. So you will have to open up your CPU and connect these audio interfaces. You can get some good inexpensive ones. However, a better option is to opt for a USB audio interface; they are easier to connect and get going.
USB Audio Interfaces
USB Audio Interfaces are much easier to connect to your computer. Earlier versions of these interfaces were a bit slow to respond and had latency problems but the recent crop of USB audio interfaces are quite responsive.
FireWire Audio Interfaces
FireWire Audio Interfaces are among the most responsive audio interfaces with almost no latency problems. Considered to be among the fastest in terms of data transfer!
Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 Firewire
Excellent interface with great mic preamps
Checkout the Focusrite range of Firewire Audio interfaces.
Audio Interfaces on zZounds