Audio Interfaces

An audio interface is a device that records and plays back audio to and from your computer or mobile device.

Shure SM58 dynamic vocalist microphone
Figure 1 - Typical audio interface; Scarlett 2i2

Audio interfaces convert analog audio signals (such as those from a microphone) into digital audio signals that can be recorded on a computer or mobile device. Most route audio back out from the computer or mobile device to plugged-in headphones and/or an external speaker setup.

Audio interfaces typically connect to a computer or mobile device via USB.

Do I need an audio interface?

If you want to record more than a single input (microphones or instruments) into a computer or mobile device, then an audio interface is the best option. 

Key Features

Common key features of an audio interface:

  1. Provide one or more balanced XLR microphone inputs
  2. Provide one or more 1/4" (6.35mm) inch jack instrument inputs
  3. Possess volume control for speakers and external headphone monitoring
  4. Provide a phantom power source for powering condenser microphones
  5. Can record at a high bit and sampling rates


Cost varies from $30 to $1000+, depending on your requirements. It's worth noting that the lower-end affordable audio interfaces can produce some excellent quality audio recordings.

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