Audio Interface

Key to setting up a home recording studio environment to a reasonable standard is a sound card or an audio interface. A sound card or audio card is an internal computer expansion card that facilitates input and output of audio signals to and from a computer. An audio interface on the other hand is an external device that provides the same function.


Desktop Audio Interface

There are a lot of audio interfaces on the market, below is a selection of low to mid range options that could suite a home studio budget. There are a number of considerations to be aware of when looking around. Generally more expensive studio standard audio interfaces are rack mount as opposed to the desktop ones featured here. The external audio interfaces previewed here could be ideal in a basic home studio set-up (click image to link to website). Prices can range greatly dependent on performance criteria such as number of and types of connectors and higher I/O count. Among the large array of features the main considerations should be on three key areas.

1. DAW compatibility

2. Interface connectors

3. Number of Inputs/outputs (I/O)


Rack Mount Audio Interface

Focusrite Scarlet

As the price grows so does the performances click images to link to the product website. It is not necessary to spend a large amount of money for a basic home-studio set-up unless you have ideas for expansion in the future.



Interface Connectors

There are four cable options commonly used for connecting an audio interface to a computer. USB is the slowest option, but it is still fast enough to work sufficiently for a basic home studio set-up. If you are just starting out USB will do the job fine, whichever connection cable option you opt for make sure the computer has the corresponding port to connect with.

USB – Slowest data transfer rate but sufficient for cheaper home studio interfaces.
Firewire – A faster transfer rate than USB often used for more expensive home studio interfaces.
Thunderbolt – Way faster than either USB or Firewire this has recently become popular with newer semi-pro interfaces.
PCIE – Offers additional processing power and extremely fast data-transfer, the standard connection for professional interfaces.

i-Track Dock

Looking at the other end of the audio interface market for a more mobile end of the spectrum you can see tablet docking stations like this one from Focusrite.


i-Track Pocket

And even the iTrack pocket for phones….