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System Science

An audio interface is the most important part of any studio setup, but choosing the right one can be a complicated task. System Science breaks down the topics around finding the right interface.

Different types of connector

PART ONE

CONNECTION METHODS

The audio interface might be the most important piece of kit in your entire studio. But with so many on the market, how do you know which one is right for you?

Screenshot of drivers and DAW

PART TWO

DRIVERS AND LATENCY

The biggest issue is latency: the delay between a sound being captured and its being heard through headphones or monitors.

Various options of connectors

PART THREE

ANALOGUE CONNECTIONS

Audio interfaces come in a bewildering variety of configurations, offering many different types of audio connector. You don’t want to waste money on features you’ll never use; and you don’t want to land yourself with an interface that can’t do what you need it to.

Rear shot of units connected via ADAT

PART FOUR

DIGITAL CONSIDERATIONS

Audio interfaces don’t only have analogue connections. They also have digital inputs and outputs. With a few exceptions, digital inputs can’t be used to directly record musical instruments or microphones; their primary purpose is expansion.

Shot of old analogue gear

PART FIVE

SOUND QUALITY AND SPECS

Your audio interface is potentially the most important piece of hardware in your studio, so it’s vital to choose one that is right for you. That means choosing an interface that will connect to your computer and work well with it.

Front of a Red unit

PART SIX

PHYSICAL FEATURES

When you’re choosing an audio interface, core features such as sound quality, driver performance and expansion potential will be your biggest concerns. When you’ve figured out your needs in these areas, however, you might well find that there are quite a few products that seem to meet them — at least on paper.