What is an audio interface and how do I choose one?
Audio interfaces convert analog sound from microphones and electric instruments into digital audio. If you want to use your computer to record and produce music, an audio interface will help you capture sound cleanly and accurately. While a computer’s sound card can create basic recordings, an audio interface will capture an entirely different level of sound. This sound can then be mixed to optimal levels on a tablet, desktop or laptop with audio editing software. Many, although not all, audio interfaces already include this software.
When deciding the best audio interface for you, the number of inputs is key. If you are working with a full band, you will want four or more inputs for vocals and other instruments such as electric guitars, electric keyboards and electronic drum sets. On the other hand, if you are recording only vocals and one or two instruments, you can get an audio interface with two inputs.
Using an audio interface in a recording studio.
When recording, an audio interface will convert the analog signal from microphones and instruments to a digital signal. You can then record additional parts as necessary and edit the entire recording. When using your audio interface for recording, you'll be able to play rough and final mixes over studio monitors if you want. If you are recording vocals, you may want to consider a condenser mic, as they are more sensitive than other types of microphones.
An audio interface for a PC will connect to your computer through the USB port. An audio interface for a Mac will use the Thunderbolt port, so if you are going to edit music on your MacBook, you will need a USB-C cable, as this cable will fit into the MacBook’s Thunderbolt port. Best Buy has an array of audio interfaces, musical instrument cables and other sound equipment to help you build your home studio.