What Is An Audio Interface Used For – Definition

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Welcome to the What Is An Audio Interface Used For – Definition post.

Today I’ll explain what an audio interface does, its main purposes and the reasons we can’t use our default windows or mac audio card for music production purposes.

Let’s start by giving a simple and non-technical definition of what an audio interface does.

Definition

Our audio interface is simply put our sound card.

It’s the interface that’s connected to our computers and transfer audio between your microphones and instruments. It’s the also the gear used to playback, mix and master music.

While I have talked about the audio interfaces in the The Best 7 Value For Money Gear I’ve decided to create this separate post to keep everything nice and tidy.

focusrite-scarlett-2i2

What Is An Audio Interface Used For

An audio interface or sound card has multiple functions.

Apart from recording and mixing, it does some pretty neat things that we should not really care if we never plan to create our own sound cards, but it’s nice to have a bit of an idea of what’s going on behind the scenes. I’ll keep it simple though without too much technical information.

There’s a chance that some terms may be unknown to you, but worry not cause I got this solved. 

If you’re scratching your head about a word below, please click the link I manually put on each term.

You’ll be redirected to a post that explains in simple words what each term means.
All links will open to new tabs, so you won’t lose what you’re reading now.

Let’s see the main functions of an audio interface:

  • Enables us recording by using either its inputs or MIDI data.
  • Converts the signal from digital to analog and vice-versa.
  • Enables you to push your CPU power as hard as you want by adjusting its buffer size.

Important factors to take into consideration, while choosing an audio interface:

  • Number of inputs and outputs.
  • Number of microphone pre-amps.
  • Stable drivers. No ones wants his DAW to crash during mixing.
  • USB connectivity.
  • Low Latency.

In short, the audio interface is simply put the device that gives us the usability to record and mix music, by allowing us to connect analog instruments or even digital ones using VST instruments. Digital instruments run through your DAW.

We cannot use our default windows or mac sound card because:

  • It’s got way too much latency and we won’t be able to record.
  • Even if it didn’t have latency, it lacks microphone and instrument inputs, so it’s still pretty useless.
  • Default drivers are not stable at all for music production purposes.

Home Studio Recording Audio Interface Of Choice

One of the best value-for-money home studio interfaces is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.

All reasons of why I love this interface, including the reasons why thousands of people get this sound card, can be found here.

Final Thoughts

I believe this post can be regarded as the connection post between the separate subjects of our audio interfaces. Most of the technical information is not needed to make music.

What you should really care about is to get an audio interface with at least 2 inputs so you can record your voice and your guitar at the same time, in case an acapella song is what you’re aiming for.

You can easily record a whole album even with 1 input as long as it receives an XLR input (microphone input) and an Instrument input. You don’t need to get an audio interface with 10 inputs, unless you’re recording analog drums.

Ηope this post helped you, until the newest post, have fun recording!

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