Audio Interface – Build your first home recording Studio.
Before you go ahead and buy a pro or semi pro audio interface for your home recording studio , make sure you have at least a minimal experience in audio recording.
You can achieve that with any laptop or desktop computer, as they all have an incorporated sound card. If you don’t have a microphone, you could use your web-cam microphone and free audio editors like Wavosaur or Audacity.
You cannot of course expect miraculous results.
These sound cards are usually perfectly capable of reproducing “treated” sounds like commercially produced music, but when it comes to the “raw” sounds you are recording at home, it’s a whole different story, starting with the quality of the PREAMPS (Pre-amplificators).
A decent S/N (signal to noise) ratio is essential for a decent multitrack recording.
But the general idea is that you can get started immediately getting familiar with the process of audio recording.
First dilemma: choosing an audio interface.
1) PCI/PCIe, USB or Firewire (IEEE 1394)??
This is the absolute 1st point to consider.
If you build your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) around a desktop computer, then all 3 choices are possible.
The best option for a desktop computer is a PCI/PCIe audio interface.
The main reason is that PCI/PCIe has a better integration in the system, adding solid performance to stability and minimum latency. But the quality of the preamps is critical as they sit in the computer’s box. Poor preamps could catch digital noises.
The ideal sound card has a PCI/e interface, connected to an external breakout Box.
If your computer is a Laptop, then the only choices are USB or Firewire.
Firewire (IEEE1394) would be a better choice but that not all laptops include a Firewire device and some audio interface manufacturers advice to have a 1394 (firewire) host controller with a TI (Texas Instruments) chipset for better functionality.
For Laptops without a firewire device, it is possible to get an Express Card to firewire.
The 2 next points to consider when choosing the audio interface you want to buy are:
- The features you need.
- Your budget.
The features (mainly the number of Inputs & Outputs) will be determined by the kind of music you want to produce.
Case 1: If you plan to produce electronic music with soft synth or an external synth, then any 2 inputs/outputs audio interface will do.
Just make sure that the inputs can be switched to Microphone with 48v phantom power for condenser microphones, because you don’t want to rule out the possibility to record a voice (singers, voice effects) or acoustic instruments.
Failing to do so, might lead you, if and when the time comes, to buy an additional microphone pre-amplifier increasing the expense.