What Exactly Does an Audio Interface do? (Explained for beginners)

By Bob •  Updated: 05/06/21 •  6 min read

An audio interface is a device that connects your computer to a microphone, headphones, or speakers.

It allows you to record music and other sounds with higher quality than what the sound card in your computer can provide.

This blog post will go over how an audio interface works and why they are crucial for recording music!

What is an audio interface?

An audio interface is a device that converts audio signals from the outside world into digital data.


This data can be used to feed an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) or processing circuitry, such as effects units and mixers.

Audio interfaces also come equipped with converters for converting external analog sources into digital formats.

The term “audio interface” most commonly refers to USB devices that are small enough to take anywhere.

Do I need an audio interface to record on my laptop or computer?

No, but you need an audio interface to do professional-quality recording.

Audio interfaces are equipment that ties all parts together and provides a central hub for your studio setup.

Without this device, it becomes difficult to monitor recordings in real-time or process multiple channels simultaneously.

If you want to use your laptop as a digital recorder without using any other peripherals, then you will likely require an external USB sound card with microphone preamps onboard. 

Audio interfaces also distinguish themselves by having a variety of inputs and outputs.

This means you can plug in additional monitors or equipment like synthesizers, MIDI controllers, microphones, electric guitars—even drum machines to your audio interface’s many input channels.

This versatility is what makes an audio interface so crucial for any recording setup.

What is the difference between an audio interface and a mixer?

An audio interface is a device that provides a physical connection between your computer and sound card.

It converts digital signals into an analog form which can be sent to speakers or headphones. Mixers are devices used for live sound mixing, recording music, DJing, etc.

Audio Interface: An audio interface converts the digital-to-analog conversion process for both input (computer) and output (speakers/headphones).

Mixer: A mixer is a piece of equipment with controls on it that allow you to adjust how much volume each track has in relation to the others when playing back through loudspeakers or headphones.

Do I need a mixer to record music if I have an audio interface?

No, recording music is a separate step from mixing. Mixing is a process that happens after recording music.

However, you can use your audio interface to record and mix at the same time.

No, an audio interface does not necessarily have any controls on it as a mixer does.

If you want to adjust how loud one track sounds compared to another when mixing, then buying an audio interface with a built-in mixer might be helpful for this purpose.

But most of that is done using the recording software.

If you are recording music and plan on mixing later, then yes.

Mixing involves adjusting the volume of different tracks to make them sound better together.

Most audio interfaces don’t have any controls that allow you to adjust how much volume each way has in relation to the others when playing back through loudspeakers or headphones – something a mixer does offer.

However, if you want to mix and record with your interface, some do come with built-in mixers for this purpose.

But most people use a separate mixer instead because it’s easier than using faders (controls) on an audio interface while also trying to play or sing at the same time!

If all you’re doing is recording without intent for mixing, then an audio interface may be all you need.

Does an audio interface affect sound quality?

The interface doesn’t affect the sound quality.

The audio that a microphone picks up will be recorded as it is, and any software you use to edit your music will do its job without regard for what type of device is making the recording.

That said, there are some reasons why musicians might prefer one over another:

– A USB interface can connect directly with a laptop or computer without needing an external power source – this means more mobility and less flexibility in terms of where they set up their equipment while recording (or playing).

– An analog interface typically offers better performance than digital ones due to signal degradation caused by conversion between different formats; this carries through when transferring files from the recorder to editing programs on computers.

Which audio interface is best?

The best audio interface for you depends on what type of recording interface, microphone, or speaker system you have.

– If you need a direct input for your guitar, keyboard, or other instrument and want to plug it directly into your computer, then the best audio interface for this would be an Audio Interface with Line Inputs.

– If you need more than one Mic or Instrument in an easy solution without extra cables running around the room, then go for a Multi-Channel Audio Interface which can provide up to 16 line inputs at once!

After deciding which type of audio interface suits your needs, it’s time to find out how many channels does it support? The number of supported channels will depend on if there is only one output channel required (e.g., live vocal) or if there is a need for an extensive number of inputs (e.g., recording large ensembles)

– If you only require one output channel, then your best audio interface will be able to support this with no problem, and it should also come at a relatively low cost.

– However, if you require multiple input channels, then the more channels provided by the audio interface, the higher its price tag!

How easy is it to set up and use an audio interface?

An audio interface is much easier to set up than a non-digital one.

They are also compatible with any recording software, and the whole process of getting an audio signal into your computer takes minutes rather than hours or days.

There you have it!

That’s what an Audio Interface does.

I hope that this post has been helpful for those looking to find out more about how they work and why they’re so instrumental in making music recordings sound better.

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We’ll be back soon with some new content related to our favorite topic – Music Production 🙂