What is a 4×4 audio interface? (Explained for beginners)

A 4×4 audio interface is an electronic device that can be used to record and playback sound.

It allows you to connect microphones, guitars, keyboards, drums, etc., for use in your recordings.

A 4×4 audio interface will give you more control over the quality of your sound and provide a higher level of flexibility when it comes to recording with multiple instruments or vocals.

What does the “4×4” audio interface mean?

It refers to inputs and outs on that audio interface. Some might say 2×4, and that would have two inputs and four outputs, etc.

The number of inputs (Inputs) defines the maximum possible input sources that can be connected simultaneously to the Audio Interface.

In other words, this is how many microphones or instruments you can connect at any time without having any issues with latency or performance problems.

The Input numbers are usually physical jacks on the back of your device where you plug in cables to connect external instruments like mics and guitars into them.

The number of output channels (Outputs) refers to what type of speaker system will work best for your needs – stereo sound or surround sound and what Output connectors are available on the Audio Interfaces: XLR or unbalanced RCA.

The number of channels (Channels) refers to how many different types of microphone signals can be routed through the Audio Interface at any one time, for example, mono or stereo.

What type of preamplifiers is available on the device?

These determine whether you need a “clean” sound with no distortion like in a recording studio desk or want more natural sounds from your electric guitar connected to it.

How many inputs do I need on an audio interface?

A four-input audio interface can handle two microphones plus one guitar or other instruments.

It might be the right size for a solo singer/songwriter performing in their home studio, but not large enough for an entire band recording session with multiple instruments and singers.

If you use a mixer, you could record more instruments simultaneously.

Still, then you would have to play around with EQ and levels on each track separately.

Recording drums might be trickier with a four-input audio interface since the kick drum and snare, plus one high hat, could take up three of those inputs.

So it really depends on what your needs are.

It is essential to find the right size for your needs, whether you have a large or small studio.

The more inputs an interface has, the better it will be suited for multiple instruments and microphones at one time.

That means less busywork in post-production when trying to balance EQ levels and make sure all of your tracks sound great!

What kind of inputs does an audio interface have?

All interfaces have a set of inputs.

Some are front-facing for plugging in microphones and guitars. Some may be at the back if they’re meant to join up with other devices like synthesizers or effects pedals.

Still, each will always come with input to allow you to connect your instrument to record it.

You can find out more about what kind of inputs any interface has by checking its product description on our site – just click ‘More Info’ below!

I need to track my instruments while playing them live without having anything coming from the PA system into my microphone (this means no feedback loops!).

With this setup, I can use two mics: one that captures the sound coming off the instrument and captures the sound coming directly from the PA system.

The next thing I need is a way to get my guitar’s signal into an interface with its own inputs, so it can be recorded like a vocal or bass line would usually be done.

There are two ways of doing this: using either an effects pedal that lets me plug indirect (called DI for short) or running analog cables between audio outputs on my amp and mixer input channels.

The choice here will depend both on what kind of equipment you have access to and your personal preference!

This setup allows me to capture whatever I want live – vocals, guitars, drums – without having any other instruments come through the microphone except my own.

The next thing I need is a way to get my guitar’s signal into an interface with its own inputs, so it can be recorded like a vocal or bass line would typically be done.

There are two ways of doing this: using either an effects pedal which lets me plug indirect (called DI for short), or running analog cables between audio outputs on my amp and mixer input channels.

The choice here will depend both on what kind of equipment you have access to and your personal preference!

This setup allows me to capture whatever I want live – vocals, guitars, drums – without having any other instruments come through the microphone except my own.

This will always be a situation where I’m using an amp with no effects, and it’s usually done for vocals or drums to get the most direct sound possible.

I can also use this setup when recording some electric guitar tracks without mic up an amp. The DI signal is sent to a guitar amplifier with the power off, which means there’s no noise.

What I’ve found to be most helpful about this setup is that it doesn’t require any additional cables or equipment. Everything you need should already be in your recording rig.

Can you use a mixer with an audio interface?

If you want to have more microphones for, let’s say, drums, then yes, using a mixer with the audio interface will work.

If you want to have more channels for everything, then using a mixer with an audio interface won’t work.

There are many instances where you would need more than four inputs and outputs on your console or DAW – recording vocals in stereo plus drums, synths, and guitars all at once; overdubbing guitars live while still monitoring from another guitar track; other examples of this abound in both professional studios as well as home setups.

You may be able to temporarily reduce the number of inputs required by cleverly routing signals.

Still, there is likely going to come to a point when that workaround becomes unsustainable, which brings us back to needing that extra input(s) on your sound card/interface if not on your hardware mixer.

Many people will never need that many inputs and outputs, but it’s a good idea to plan ahead for the future in terms of your current needs as well as those you may have down the line.

It can be difficult at times to predict when new hardware or software might come along, which requires more I/O than what is currently available on your sound card, interface, or mixer, so buying now before prices go up could save you time and money in the long run if this does happen.

Does having more inputs on your audio interface slow down your computer?

It can, and this is called latency.

Latency is when it takes for your audio interface to receive a sound in its input, process and convert that data into digital information, then send the signal back out of its output.

The average latency you should expect from an audio interface with two inputs or outputs on each side (meaning four total) is around .75ms.

This number can be higher if other processes are running at the same time as well.

For example, recording digitally without any special processing added to your file before exporting/saving will increase this latency even more because there’s more work going on behind the scenes while you’re trying to use your computer for everything else simultaneously.

It doesn’t take long until milliseconds become noticeable, so we recommend considering your needs and your budget before jumping into an audio interface.

If you’re a podcaster or streamer, you might want to consider the ability for these features as part of your purchase because they will be necessary to broadcast live from their device on YouTube Live, Twitch, Facebook Livestreaming, and more.

The average price range for one with two inputs per side ranges between $100-$300 depending on quality differences such as input/output count (whether it’s just mono or stereo).

If there are particular capabilities like USB ports that can receive power to charge mobile devices while also recording digital files at the same time off-site away from home base without being plugged directly into anything else but its own charging cable(s), and the number of inputs per side.

Conclusion 

Audio interfaces can seem confusing at first glance.

But just because they have a lot of numbers doesn’t mean you need to worry about them too much. This article will show you how audio interfaces work and what all those digits on the back are for so that your life is more straightforward.

When it comes down to it, an interface with 4X4 means four inputs and four outputs, which simply refers to the number on the ins and outs instead of any other meaning behind “x4” or anything like that.

If you want more information on how these pieces of equipment work, check out our blog post here!