An audio interface is a piece of equipment which connects between your sound card and your recording software. There are many different types of interfaces available today, each designed to suit specific needs. Some interfaces provide additional features such as MIDI input/output, headphone monitoring, line-in, microphone preamps, etc.
The main reason why you'd want to invest in an audio interface is because it gives you access to professional quality mic presamp circuitry. Mic presamps are essential components of high end mixing consoles and studios. Without these devices, you wouldn't be able to achieve the level of clarity and detail required to produce professional sounding recordings. Most modern interfaces include multiple mic presamps, giving you the ability to select exactly which mic you wish to monitor. With this flexibility comes greater control over your mix. For example, you could set up two mics to act as stereo pairs, enabling you to create a wider dynamic range and richer tonal palette.
While there are no hard and fast rules regarding whether or not you need an audio interface, there are certainly benefits to owning one. First of all, you're going to get a lot more bang for your buck. Buying a good quality interface will give you a huge improvement in terms of both sound quality and functionality compared to using a cheap generic unit. Second, an audio interface will enable you to take advantage of advanced features such as phantom power, EQ controls, multi-channel processing, and digital effects processors. Third, an audio interface will let you record directly to disk, saving you hours of tedious file conversion later on. Finally, an audio interface will open up a whole new realm of possibilities for creative expression. You can now experiment with completely new sounds and techniques, creating unique mixes unlike anything else!
Of course, there are always downsides associated with purchasing any type of electronic gear. One downside to investing in an audio interface is that it does increase the overall price tag of your project. However, once you factor in the increased value of your investment, you'll quickly see that the return on your money far outweighs the initial costs. Another potential drawback is that you may find it difficult to locate a suitable interface for your particular application. While there are plenty of affordable options available, finding a decent quality interface that offers everything you need can be tricky. Fortunately, there are lots of online resources where you can research products based on your requirements.
One product which is very popular amongst musicians is the Focusrite 2i2 Audio Interface.
This review looks at why you should invest in a high end audio interface and whether the Focusrite 2i2 is worth investing in.
With two microphone preamplifiers, the Focusrite Scarlet Studio offers superior sound quality compared to most USB interfaces. Additionally, each input has independent gain control knobs, enabling users to adjust the level of the incoming signal independently.
Each of the four balanced XLR inputs accepts signals from microphones, instrument cables, line outputs, and external devices. All inputs include individual volume controls, while the left and right channels share a single panning knob.
The eight unbalanced 1/4" TRS inputs accept signals from microphones, instrument cables, line outputs, and external devices. Each input has independent gain control knobs, enabling users to adjust the level of the incoming signal independently.
The Focusrite Scarlet Studio comes equipped with a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack, which enables users to monitor their performances using headphones.
The Focusrite Scarlet Studio features three meters; Level, Peak Hold, and VU. The Level meter displays the current level of the input signal, while the Peak Hold meter shows the maximum peak value recorded by the input.
The Focusrite Scarlet Studio features a large LCD display, providing instant access to important settings and functions. Users can quickly change the input source, set levels, turn the monitors on or off, mute selected tracks, and activate the internal metering function.
Setting up the Focusrite Scarlet Studio couldn't be easier. Simply plug the included cable into the back panel of the unit, connect the supplied AC adapter, and press the "On" button. Once connected, the Focusrite Scarlet Studio automatically detects the correct driver software and installs itself.
The Focusrite Scarlet Studio is designed specifically for recording musicians and vocalists. Each input has its own dedicated gain control, while each microphone channel includes individual trim controls. There’s also a headphone output jack for monitoring during tracking sessions.
This input offers a high quality signal path with low noise floor. It delivers a pristine sound thanks to the inclusion of a transformer based line driver stage. The balanced connection ensures no phase shift between channels which results in greater headroom and improved dynamic range. In addition, there’s a switchable ground lift circuit that isolates the instrument from unwanted electrical interference. As a result, the input maintains excellent transient response and frequency response throughout the entire audible spectrum.
The second unbalanced input offers a lower impedance level compared to the balanced version. This makes it ideal for guitar amps and effects units. However, due to the lack of shielding, the signal path isn’t quite as stable as the balanced option. Nevertheless, it still boasts superior performance and reliability.
Each Mic Preamp channel comes equipped with three different mic pres. The mic pres provide a wide variety of tonal options including vintage tube emulation, classic valve saturation, modern digital modeling, and tape simulation. Additionally, the mic pres allow users to fine tune the amount of compression applied to vocals and instruments.
With the Headphone Out jack, you can connect external speakers to monitor your mix. Alternatively, you can plug headphones into the jack to listen back to your recordings.
There are two sets of XLRs available. One set consists of a single pair of XLR connectors that accept both balanced and unbalanced signals. The second set contains twin pairs of XLR connectors that only accept balanced signals. Both sets of connectors are gold plated for maximum durability.
The unit ships with either AC adapter or battery pack included. For those who require continuous operation, the unit supports optional AC power supply via USB port. To conserve battery life, the unit automatically switches to standby mode once connected to AC power source.