If you need help selecting an audio interface then please read our audio interface buying guide.
- Audio Interfaces For Beginners
- Audio Interfaces For DJ’s
- Audio Interfaces For Music Producers
- Audio Interfaces For Recording a Band
- Audio Interfaces For Recording Studios
A solo singer or guitarist might only need one or two simultaneous inputs, a stereo output for speakers and a headphone out for monitoring. A bundled software DAW would be a bonus and a lite version would do nicely for simple audio recordings.
A DJ may also only need a few inputs, but may use them to connect a pair of turntables instead of mics. An interface with phono inputs would be handy and indeed there are some models designed specifically for DJs.
Someone making dance music might be working in the box a lot, but could have some hardware synths that they want to leave connected – just in that moment when inspiration strikes. An interface with six or eight inputs, or possibly a few more if you wanted to have a mic plumbed in as well, would do the job here.
Someone recording a band would need more physical inputs, either to connect sounds directly or to feed in from a mixer. A drum kit alone can eat up at least six channels, so you would need ten, twelve or more inputs to record everyone at once. The ability to run more than one pair of monitors becomes important here so look for control room and main stereo outs, and also the possibility of creating separate headphone mixes.
A small commercial studio would almost certainly have a mixing desk and this would be permanently plumbed in to the interface, with channels in and out permanently connected. Lots of I/O is the order of the day in this scenario, plus digital I/O for mixing down to DAT.