The audio interface you choose to take advantage of is going to make or break your home studio set up.
Responsible for handling all the heavy lifting of your musical production efforts, your audio interface is going to provide you with tools like pre-amplification, AD/DA converters, headphone amplifiers, and so much more.
Every single note, every single sample, and every single sound that goes into your production center and then comes out of your speakers or your sound system is going to have to move through your audio interface. This isn’t something you can afford to drop the ball on.
When it comes to something as important as this – buying your very first audio interface or upgrading to brand-new technology – you need to make sure that you really knock it out of the park.
Below we dig a little bit deeper into everything you’ll want to focus on when it comes to getting your hands on the very best audio interface for your needs (and your budget).
Important things to consider when choosing a new interface
Obviously, you are going to have a number of different things to consider when you go on the hunt for a modern audio interface. These kinds of tools are loaded with features, bells, and whistles – so much so that it’s enough to make your head spin if you aren’t prepared going into this process.
The important thing to do is really isolate the key features that are most relevant to your musical production workflow. You want to zero in on features that will help you and ignore (or at least discount) features you aren’t likely to use all that often.
The Connection Types Available
The audio interface you choose to take advantage of is going to have some kind of wired connection standard available, a standard used to transmit sound and signals both to and from your DAW.
Previously, old-school audio interface set ups had to try and squeeze just as much bandwidth as possible out of every connection that they provided – especially those kinds of setups that used legacy connections like FireWire 400/800, for example.
Today, however – thanks to new connections like USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt – bandwidth bottlenecks are never going to be a problem. You’ll have an almost ridiculous amount of bandwidth available, complete with ridiculously low latency.
All the same, look for audio interfaces that include the following connection types (at the very least):
• USB 1.0
• USB 2.0
• USB 3.0
Audio Input and Output Capabilities
It’s obviously important that you have as many audio I/O channels available as humanly possible on your audio interface, as this is going to have the biggest impact on your capabilities – or may be the biggest limitation you have to try and overcome if you don’t have enough of these channels.
At the very least, two inputs and two outputs will probably be enough to suffice in most situations. But if you have the budget available you’ll really want to try and go with as many additional input and output connections as you can, really trying to keep things symmetrical.
Obviously, balance your input and output needs as necessary and as dictated by your workflow. But you’d have a hard time finding even just a handful of musicians or producers that wouldn’t ask for more inputs and more outputs them they need, “just in case”.
Extra Connectivity Options
Today’s modern audio interfaces are designed with all kinds of versatility in mind, and for good reason.
Modern musical production equipment is changing and evolving a lot faster than it ever did before. We live in the middle of the most exciting technological revolution in human history, and brand spanking new options that used to be cutting-edge almost rendered obsolete just a few short years later – especially if they haven’t been designed with “future proofing” in mind.
To avoid having to buy audio interfaces over and over again with every new major technological leap forward consider investing in technology that includes as much additional connectivity as possible.
We are talking about connectivity options that include, but may not be limited to:
• MI DI I/O
• Digital I/O
• Instrument Level DI capabilities
• Reamplification Outputs
… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Software Can Make or Break Your Audio Interface
Another key consideration that often goes overlooked is the importance in finding an audio interface that either includes their usable software right out of the box or has the ability to utilize open source/proprietary software from other manufacturers to improve its functionality.
A lot of the most popular audio interface options on the planet today include world-class elsewhere, but there are quite a few open source options that are really special, too. Again, you’ll need to think about your overall workflow, your comfort level retraining on new software, or the importance in finding a system that “just works” rather than one that you have to fight to choose the right software and the right audio interface for your needs.
At the end of the day, you certainly aren’t going to have to hunt for options to pick and choose from when it comes to modern audio interface equipment worth buying these days.
Today’s market is absolutely flooded with these incredible solutions, pieces of equipment that are leaps and bounds ahead of where this technology was even just 5 or 10 short years ago.
On top of that, today’s new game changing hardware and software combinations are a lot more flexible and a lot more future proof than the options that came before them – making now the perfect time to dive right into the market and snap up relatively affordable but still incredibly capable options that wouldn’t have been available before.
Just make sure that you focus on all the key details we shared above when you’re shopping for a top-tier audio interface. Armed with the inside information we provided in this quick guide you’ll have no trouble whatsoever finding the right solution for your needs!