How to Choose an Audio Interface for Your Home Studio

How to Choose an Audio Interface for Your Home Studio

A great-sounding, flexible audio interface is the centrepiece of any home studio. As opposed to several luxury music production items, audio interfaces are essential tools that offer power and sonic excellence, irrespective of whether you are recording yourself or a large band. However, it is easy to get overwhelmed by all the options and terminology. That’s why we decided to create a comprehensive guide for you to help you understand what an audio interface can do and how to choose the right audio interface.

Why exactly do you need an audio interface?

Just as tools like your Microphones, Headphones, Studio Monitors, Preamps, Mixersare mandatory items of your home studio setup, an audio interface is equally important. It controls the audio going in and out of your computer, allowing you to capture or record vocals,  instruments, or any other source of the sound. With an audio interface, you can record and hear exactly what you’re recording in almost real-time while enhancing the sound quality for both recording and playback.

Why not use the built-in sound card in the computer?

Although your computer has a built-in sound card, it leaves a lot to be desired as it has limited utility and lacks the appropriate connections when it comes to doing some serious recording and mixing. If you choose to utilize the built-in sound card, there is a higher probability that you will experience problems around noise, jitters and latency.

Here’s what the right audio interface can do for you

  • It facilitates the process of outputting the audio, either to external studio monitors or studio headphones
  • It takes off the burden of processing the signal away from the computer, allowing you to record without latency 
  • As a powerful studio tool, it enables you to control the routing of your audio
  • It helps you to monitor your recording and sound editing
  • You can playback your recordings without the jitter, noise, and latency

Key considerations while choosing audio interfaces for your home studio

Since there is a huge range of audio interfaces available, we decided to narrow the wide selection down and help pick the interface that caters to your recording needs, music, and budget.

Ask yourself these questions to sort through your requirements, and filter the choices knowing what meets the criteria.

  • What type of computer connectivity do you need? Most interfaces are now designed to work seamlessly with computers and iOS devices like smartphones, apps and software that these devices run. You will find USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, speedy Thunderbolt ports, an internal card-based computer connection platform called PCI Express.

  • What inputs and outputs (I/O) do you need? There are simple two-channel desktop interfaces, as well as larger interface systems that can handle up to hundreds of channels simultaneously.

  • What are my sound quality expectations? With the highest quality components that include digital converters and mic preamps, rest assured that the sonic excellence of your recording will be stellar. Nevertheless, there are worthy models available at lower prices. Once you have specified your budget, the experts at Team Ooberbad will ensure you get something that produces smooth and professional sounding results without pinching your pocket. The key factors that influence the sound quality are Bit Depth (that’s responsible for the level of fidelity), Sample Rates (that capture information that contributes to a more satisfying sound) and the Quality and accuracy of the Converters (they convert the incoming analog audio signals into digital data, and the digital data from the computer back into analog audio output signals).

  • What are the additional ports on the selected audio interface? Most modern audio interfaces are versatile audio solutions. Check if the additional ports include MIDI I/O that can help eliminate the stress of connecting and configuring additional peripherals. Digital inputs and outputs help in expanding the interface’s available channels. You can use them to add an external preamp with onboard conversion for sessions that demand extra I/O. Preamp outputs allow you to completely re-record the tone of a part without playing it again.

  • Which interface offering best caters to your needs - software or onboard DSP? Several plugin powerhouses like Universal Audio are offering a high utility suite of proprietary software to help users in building their plugin library. While DSP chips (Digital Signal Processing) facilitate better functioning of the audio interfaces.
  • Our top 5 audio interface recommendations

    Now that you have a handle on what an audio interface does and what are the key considerations to keep in mind, here’s our round-up of top entry to mid level audio interface recommendations, to help you choose better.

    1. Behringer U-PHORIA UM2 2x2 USB Audio Interface with XENYX Mic Preamplifier
    2. M-Audio M-Track Duo USB Audio Interface with 2 Combo Inputs with Crystal Preamps, and Phantom Power
    3. M-Audio AIR 192|4 2-In/2-Out 24/192 USB Audio Interface
    4. Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD Audiophile 2x4 USB Audio Interface with Midas Mic Preamplifiers
    5. Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD Audiophile 4x4 USB Audio Interface with Midas Mic Preamplifiers

    Hopefully this quick guide will help you pick the right audio interface for your home studio. For any expert guidance, we are just a click away. So, whatever you need to consider when buying your first audio interface or your next one, we are here to help.

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