If you want to start making music, one of the first things you’ll want to plug in to turn your computer into a recording studio is an audio interface. But with so many on the market these days, how do you answer the question “what audio interface do I need?”
Why do I need an audio interface?
Before we get to our top picks, let’s quickly go over why an audio interface is so essential in the first place, after all, you can just plug your headphones into your computer, right?
An audio interface is designed from the ground up to be the guardian of all sound into, and out of, your computer. Because it has been designed with that job in mind, it does it superbly well, with better performance than your computer’s internal sound circuits can manage.
Perhaps more importantly than that though, is the fact that an audio interface determines what you can connect to your developing studio. Your audio interface gives you the ability to connect different numbers and types of microphones, guitars and basses, keyboards, DJ mixers, external effects units.
Making sure you pick the interface that offers the functions you need for the music you want to make and the way you want to make it is one of the first, and most important, decisions you have to make. Let’s take a look at some of our top audio interface suggestions.
Portable, rugged and well-specified, the Presonus Audiobox USB offers two combination microphone / instrument inputs so you’re ready to record vocals and guitars right away. The Audiobox 96 USB also features a MIDI input and output for connecting external synthesisers and equipment.
Who is it for? The beginner who wants a workhorse interface and who wants a range of features to keep their options open as they find their own working methods.
From the acclaimed British mixing console makers Audient, comes an audio interface that offers a ridiculously high level of quality at an incredible price. Since its introduction, the iD4 has become a huge favourite at Red Dog Music, offering the same microphone preamp circuitry as found in their high-end consoles, and a premium instrument input for guitars and basses. We also offer the iD4 as our interface of choice in a number of great value bundles.
Who is it for? Singer/songwriters who want to record a microphone and electro-acoustic or electric guitar together; producers who want a great quality interface and who don’t need to record multiple microphones simultaneously.
The range of Scarlett interfaces from Focusrite have been hugely popular since they were introduced, and the 18i8 model offers a set of features that are ideal for the producer who needs to record multiple sounds together. With four ‘combi” inputs on the front, you can record 4 mics, 4 plugged-in guitars, or a mix of both at the same time.
Additionally, the 18i8 gives you four ‘line inputs’ on the back, to plug in synths, keyboards, digital pianos or electronic drums, as well as further digital connectivity to expand your recording options later.
Who is it for? If you want to record up to four sources at once; great for duos, bands and drummers.
With two inputs and two pairs of outputs, the Universal Audio Apollo Twin Solo doesn’t sound much more special than the interfaces we’ve talked about so far. However, the Apollo Twin offers on-board processing power to model classic analogue gear from recording history. With a drag-and-drop of your mouse, you can turn the microphone preamp into an authentic emulation of a classic British 1970s console, or maybe you’d prefer a 60’s US sound? No problem. Or perhaps you want to turn the instrument input into a vintage guitar amp; just drag and drop.
While it’s considerably more expensive than the other interfaces listed here, the Apollo Twin’s DSP-powered plugin system let’s you put some of the best models of the finest vintage gear into your recordings and mixes.
Who is it for? Producers, vocalists and players who don’t want to compromise on quality and who want an interface that can be the heart of their studio for years to come.
For more friendly, expert advice on audio interfaces, call into your local Red Dog Music or get in touch today!
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