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Audio Interfaces

Shop my hand-picked audio interfaces for your home studio. These interfaces are renowned in the music industry for featuring some of the best specifications at budget-friendly prices. No matter which you choose, combined with a good microphone, these interfaces will make you sound like a rock star!

What is an audio interface?


The audio interface is essential to the recording studio by providing a communication link between the computer and the outside world. No matter how big or small the scale of your production, an audio interface will serve its purpose well. For artists and engineers in multiple industries, the audio interface is a vital piece of hardware. It provides microphone preamplifiers, direct instrument inputs, digital converters, metering, headphone distribution, and even digital signal processing (DSP) - all bundled into one unit. In more complex setups, high-channel-count audio interfaces take on the responsibilities of traditional recording consoles.



What types of audio interfaces are there?


USB Audio Interfaces:


The most commonly found USB audio interface is USB 2.0, which provides moderate speed and compatibility with both Mac and Windows PCs. Many of these interfaces come with "latency-free" monitoring options that let you monitor live input to more advanced digital mixers that might even have DSP effects/processing onboard. If you're looking for something faster, though, go for a USB 3.0 - it's over 10 times quicker than its predecessor while supporting higher track countsLatencies aren't an issue either way.


Thunderbolt and PCI Audio Interfaces:


Audio interfaces that connect by Thunderbolt offer twice the connectivity speed of USB 3.0 and over 12 times the speed of FireWire 800. While Thunderbolt ports are now universally found on modern Macs, they were previously uncommon on Windows PCs. Additionally, many popular Thunderbolt audio interfaces at the time didn’t support the Windows OS. PCIe audio interfaces boast specifications equal to those of Thunderbolt audio interfaces but require a free PCIe slot for installation into your computer. These types of systems - such as Avid Pro Tools | HDX and Apogee Symphony - which typically intended for high-volume professional audio production applications that need reliable results.


FireWire Audio Interfaces:


FireWire audio interfaces come in two varieties: FireWire 400, which is the same speed as USB 2.0, and FireWire 800, which is almost twice as fast. For years, Firewire was the standard for high-speed audio interfaces and was found mostly on Mac computers. Nowadays though, most computer models connect to Firewire audio interfaces via adapters that transfer data via Thunderbolt instead. Even so, firewire still provides ample performance for project studio needs; not to mention that FW interface channels are very affordable while also providing a high channel count.


Ethernet Audio Interfaces:


These nearly latency-free interfaces, known by names such as networked audio or Dante, are perfect for Audio over Ethernet setups that require expandability. Multi-room systems will especially benefit from having an Ethernet solution at their core.


MIDI Interfaces:


These devices send and receive MIDI signals between your computer, keyboards, control surfaces, dedicated audio interfaces, and more for greater flexibility in recording setups. They connect to any computer or MIDI-equipped hardware via standard 5-pin MIDI jacks.


What should I consider when choosing an audio interface?


Connection Type and Latency


Depending on the computer connection type, latency can have a big impact while recording if using plug-in effects or working with many tracks. In general, a faster connection will provide better audio interface performance.



Analog and Digital Connections


Analog connections on audio interfaces can be either XLR, 1/4-inch, or RCA connectors, or the smaller DB-25 connectors. Onboard microphone preamplifiers are also available on some models to reduce the need for external recording hardware. For example, the Focusrite Clarett series includes enough onboard preamps to track an entire band. If you're looking to include an audio interface in your set-up, make sure you have enough channels available for both recording and monitoring. Additionally, digital I/O such as 8-channel ADAT lightpipe makes expanding your audio interface easy without the need for outboard preamps. Some interfaces even come with MIDI I/O so you can connect keyboards or controllers directly.


Form Factor


Audio interfaces differ in size and design, but most of them are either made for desktop or rackmount use. Desktop audio interfaces usually have fewer connections, but they put all the hardware controls you need right in front of you. Some desktop audio interfaces get power from the computer's bus, which makes them perfect for mobile use. Rackmount audio interfaces often come permanently installed in 19-inch equipment racks, providing more I/O even though it might mean sacrificing some hands-on control


Onboard DSP


Some audio interfaces come with digital signal processing and mixers that use DSP, which provides effects, dynamics, equalization, and monitor mixing. With this feature,, you can add reverb or delay to vocals for monitoring without increasing latency in your system. Depending on the system, onboard DSP can be fixed or expandable. For example, Universal Audio's Apollo line includes DSP that powers their own exclusive plug-ins but doesn't use up additional CPU from your computer



Why shop audio interfaces at

All of the products listed on this site have been sourced from different manufacturers and physically tested for quality over long periods of time by real audio engineers. Only products with top reviews and customer satisfaction have been chosen. Affordability has also been taken into account when sourcing these items. There is lots of audio equipment online and it can be hard to know what is actually worth your money, so we've spent hours, days, and months researching and testing these items so you can spend more time recording.

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