Buying an audio interface- Tips and Complete Beginner Guide

5.) Does it work well with your PC, Mac, OS and recording software or DAW? –modern high quality audio interface works with either PC or Mac. Another thing to check is its compatibility with your OS version. In their specs, they will clearly state what the supported machines (PC or Mac) are and the supported OS (Mac OSx, Linux or Windows). Modern DAW and audio interface works together in ASIO mode for very low latency recording. So avoid buying an audio interface with drivers that works only in WDM. Do some research to make sure that your DAW software is supported by the audio interface. When in doubt, you can always write to the audio interface technical support team.

6.) Budget – you should be able to buy a very high quality audio interface below $500 (excluding shipping cost).

7.) Brand reputation, reviews and ratings – some audio interface brands are known for their special high quality characteristics whether it’s the driver stability, quality of the converters, pre-amp quality, etc. Some audio interface manufacturers are also known for receiving a lot of complaints. Read the reviews posted in different forums to get an idea regarding what users can say about it. You can also watch YouTube videos for music created using that audio interface to get an idea how it sound like.

8.) Bonuses– some audio interface rarely provide an additional bonus aside from the CD containing the hardware drivers. But some audio interface provides a lot of bonuses that includes high quality plug-ins, etc. This can be very useful tools for your project.

9.)Availability of Internal/Software Mixer for Input-output Routing– this is very important if you are working with a lot of inputs and outputs. Software mixer provided by the audio interface can help you check for clipped inputs, route the signal from your DAW to specific outputs, adjust levels, panning, select specific sample rate and bit depth and many more. Not all audio interfaces contain a software mixer so you need to check.

10.) Easy ability to monitor the mix in mono – it is important to check if the mix is still sounds good in mono and not only in stereo (especially for phasing issues). If the audio interface supports this feature for outputting the mono mix through your nearfield monitors; it would be an added advantage.

11.) Read and understand the manual before deciding to purchase – this is the last but very important step when buying audio interface. It is because sometimes features listed on Amazon, EBay, etc. are not enough to describe its actual usage. The full capability of the audio interface will be revealed through the user manual. Make sure you read the manual in advance and check if all those features you need are well documented and there are clear/specific instructions on how to do it.

Below are my favorite and recommended audio interface that suits well with the above requirements:

Focusrite Saffire Pro40
– with 8 high quality preamp inputs and a Firewire interface that supports 24-bit/96KHz recording. Compatible with Mac and PC.

Focusrite Saffire Pro40

Focusrite Saffire USB 6– with two high quality preamp inputs, ideal for any singer-songwriter demo and a USB interface. Works with PC and Mac.

Focusrite saffire USB 6

Content last updated on August 8, 2012