Audio interfaces are the link between the analogue and the digital world. They allow you to connect professional monitor speakers to your production setup so you can hear what you’re producing with great detail. They are also the interlink between microphones, outboard equipment and your computer. So if you are into recording instruments or vocals, or using analogue outboard compressors, EQs and such.
Here is a breakdown of all the things they allow you to do.
- They allow you to connect your studio monitors to your computer.
- They have better DACs (digital-analogue converters) than your computer’s sound card, which results in higher quality sound and makes a big difference where little details matter!
- They contain microphone pre-amps which means you can connect microphones to them and record sound into your computer.
- Some have multiple microphone pre amps which means you can connect and record multiple microphones at once (if you recorded a full band or drum kit, you would need this).
What to look for when searching for the right audio interface:
The first thing to take into consideration is the amount of microphones you will be recorded at one time. Most people don’t record a complete band or a complete set of drums at the same time. In this case, you’re best off going with an audio interface featuring one or two high quality pre-amps. This means you will be limited to recording the input of one or two microphones at the same time, however that is usually enough for most people, especially if you’re an electronic music producer planning to only record an instrument or vocals here and there. If at some point you’re planning to record bands or complete drum kits etc, then you will need an interface with more inputs and microphone pre-amps. Please note however, the cheaper multi pre-amp audio interface sacrifice some quality in order to provide so many pre-amps. Also, don’t be fooled into buying audio interfaces with many inputs but few pre-amps, because a pre-amp is required to record with a microphone signal, so if an audio interface is advertised as an 8 input interface, but only has 2 microphone pre-amps, you’ll only be able to record 2 microphone signals simultaneously, unless you buy more preamps separately.
We have done extensive research and personally tried out most of the equipment to list the top choices for you at the best prices we could find. This is the best gear currently available. With higher prices comes better quality, but you won’t go wrong with any of these choices for their price point.
Two Pre-Amp Audio Interfaces
These are the very best Audio interfaces with 2 pre-amps at their respective price points. The number of pre-amps equate to the number of microphone signals you can record simultaneously. For most home producers, 2 pre-amps is enough as you can always overdub additional instruments (record one instrument at a time).
RME Babyface Pro – £671
4 & 8 Pre-Amp Audio Interfaces
These are the very best audio interfaces with 4 to 8 pre-amps. The number of pre-amps equate to the number of microphone signals you can record simultaneously. If you think you’ll be recording more than two microphones simultaneously during one session, then you’re probably going to need one of these.
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A Soundflow Music Academy publication,
Written by Nikos Argalias
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