You may have encountered the words “audio interface” before while researching home recording gear. However, you might not have been familiar with the words or the item that they represent. If you want to delve into the home recording business, you would have to teach yourself and learn as much as you can about the devices that are involved in this endeavor. What exactly is an audio interface? This article will further explain what this item does.
It acts as a link between digital and analog signals for microphones and musical contraptions. It lets musicians and producers connect several varieties of sound sources to one computer. The audio interface can also merge these resources for recording music.
They are important in the world of music production today because they are capable of turning analog signals into digital signals so that a computer can regulate the recording session for the musician or producer.
There are several audio interface selections and formats that can be bought today and choosing the right one relies on what it would be utilized for. A professional system is sufficient enough to manage several streams simultaneously and that may comprise a number of musical instruments, mixing decks, and microphones.
A high-quality, advanced interface is also perfectly capable of decreasing the latency to the lowest rate possible. Latency is the delay between a sound being generated and when it comes out of the audio interface device in digital form. Low price devices will have high latency.
FireWire and USB
Because of the design and creation of more affordable audio interface cards, home recording has never been better, especially if it is paired up with reasonably-priced audio editing software.
Musicians who were not signed and provided with record deals can now make their own professional-sounding music without spending thousands of dollars on the equipment. However, in order to make music or record audio on a desktop computer or laptop, musicians have to get a sound card first.
FireWire and USB are two of the most widely-used audio interfaces. An external sound card once linked by a USB or FireWire makes things easier for your computer’s CPU. In theory, simple audio recordings can get by with a USB 2.0 that has a transfer speed rate of 480 Mbps. There are plenty of companies that provide quality, downsized sound cards utilizing USB.
However, research has shown that even an audio interface such as the FireWire 400 that has a transfer rate of a mere 400 Mbps, is exceptionally faster as compared to the USB. Higher models of FireWire – such as the FireWire 800 – are capable of transfer speeds of up to 800 Mbps which is indeed excellent for most musicians.
Many desktop computers do not have FireWire input though. Therefore, users would have to supplement their computers with an additional PCI or PCMCIA card. Lots of laptops, if they include a FireWire port, would only have a 4-pin FireWire port. FireWire models with 6 pins are considered by serious musicians and producers as top quality and they allow a FireWire unit to be switched off the PC.
If you are looking for an audio interface, there is a factor that you need to take into account and that is the number of inputs that you require. Many standard cards contain 2 inputs—an XLR plug for the microphone and a 1/4-inch plug for instruments. They are ideal units for solo musicians. They are even capable of recording a complete band if they allow multi-tracking.
However, if you want great music output for bands, it is recommended that you purchase a sound card that features a number of inputs so you can link multiple mics and position a mic to the drum kit.
In terms of compatibility with software, Pro Tools is the one endorsed by a number of serious musicians and producers but it only works with particular audio interfaces. Users would be obligated to invest in Pro Tools hardware in order to utilize the software.