Do audio interfaces deliver the best possible sound quality
Types Of Audio Interfaces
When it comes to connecting microphones to computers, there are basically 3types of audio interfaces: 1. Internal microphone audio interface: these interfaces are found in USB and digital mics. They allow the final output of the microphone to be digital. 2. Standalone audio interface: A standalone audio interface could be a simple inline analog-to-digital converter/adapter or it could be an interface with multiple inputs and outputs that connects an entire studio’s worth of microphones to a computer. This is what most people who work with audio tend to think of when they hear “audio interface.” 3. Internal computer sound card/audio interface: the final audio interface to talk about is the internal sound card of the computer. Oftentimes cheap consumer-grade mics will connect directly to the computer’s internal sound card.Note that these audio interfaces are defined by their location in the signalchain rather than by their function. They all act to convert the analog signalfrom the microphone into a digital signal that can be used within thecomputer.Back to the Table of Contents.* * *
Internal Interfaces And USB/Digital Microphones
The Popular Blue Yeti USB MicrophoneBlue Microphones is featured in My New Microphone’s Top Best Microphone BrandsYou Should Know And Use.The above-pictured Blue Yeti (link to check the price on Amazon) is one of themost popular USB microphones.USB microphones (and other “digital mics”) are designed with built-in audiointerfaces.The microphone capsule takes in sound and creates an audio signal just likeany analog microphone. This analog signal, still within the body of themicrophone, is passed through the built-in interface and is converted todigital audio. This digital audio is then outputted through the USB output ofthe microphone.For more information on microphone audio signals, check out my article WhatAre Microphone Audio Signals, Electrically Speaking?To connect a USB mic, simply plug one end of a USB cable into the microphoneand the other end into the computer.These “plug-and-play” microphones are easy to connect to computers and haverisen in popularity alongside laptops and the Internet.Many USB mics also have built-in headphone amplifiers that offer zero-latencymonitoring of the mic signal while it’s being used with computer software.The downside of most USB microphones is that the interface only makes aconnection between a single microphone and a single computer.For more information on analog and digital microphones, including USB mics,please read the following My New Microphone articles: • Are Microphones Analog Or Digital Devices? (Mic Output Designs) • How Do USB Microphones Work And How To Use Them • Top Best USB Microphones (Streaming, PC Audio, Etc.)Back to the Table of Contents.* * *
Audio Interface Cable
An example of an “interface cable” audio interface is the Behringer Mic 2 USBInterface Cable (link to check the price on Amazon).Behringer MIC2USB Interface CableBehringer is featured in the following My New Microphone articles: • Top Best DAW Control Surface Brands In The World • Top Best Eurorack Module Synth Brands In The World • Top Best MIDI Controller Brands In The World • Top Best Mixing Board/Console Brands For Home Studios • Top Best Synthesizer Brands In The WorldSimply connect the XLR of the interface cable to the microphone output. Then connect the USB of the interface cable to the computer.
Audio Interface Inline Adapter
An example of a “signal converter” audio interface is the Shure X2U XLR-to-USBSignal Adapter (link to check the price on Amazon).Shure X2U Signal AdapterShure is featured in the following My New Microphone articles: • Top Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use • Top Best Headphone Brands In The World • Top Best Earphone/Earbud Brands In The WorldConnect the microphone to the input of the interface via a balanced XLR cable.Then connect the interface to the computer via a USB cable.
How To Connect A USB Microphone To A Computer
In the case of USB microphones, the audio interface is built into themicrophone itself.My Blue Yeti Connected To My iMacHow to connect a USB microphone to a computer: 1. Physically connect the microphone to the computer via USB. 2. Ensure the proper drivers are downloaded/installed (a one-time event). 3. Select the interface (USB microphone) to be the audio input of the computer and/or software. 4. Adjust the microphone gain to a reasonable level.A Blue Yeti USB Mic Connected Directly To A ComputerA USB mic acts as both a microphone and an audio interface. Many USBmicrophones even come with a zero-latency headphone output, effectivelyfunctioning as a true input/output interface device!The main benefit of USB microphones is they are easy to use. The setup couldbe as simple as one USB mic, one USB cable, and one computer. Simply connectthe microphone, download the drivers, and it works!Of course, there are downsides to USB microphones, too.The interface of a USB mic will only allow one microphone-to-computerconnection at a time. USB microphones also, generally speaking, have worsespecs (quality) than professional XLR microphones (though this isn’t alwaysthe case).For an in-depth read about microphone specifications (of analog and digitalmics), please consider reading my article Full List Of MicrophoneSpecifications (How To Read A Spec Sheet).USB microphones are terrific for monologue recording or any other recording ofa single source. They are also a significant upgrade over built-in or “mini-plug” computer microphones!To learn about my recommended USB microphones, check out the following My NewMicrophone articles: • How Do USB Microphones Work And How To Use Them • Top 9 Best USB Microphones • Best USB Podcasting MicrophonesBack to the Table of Contents.* * *
Audio Interface Outputs
We’ve discussed inputting microphones into audio interfaces. We’ve alsodiscussed the analog/digital conversion and the connection between the audiointerface and the computer. Now we’ll talk about the analog outputs of audiointerfaces.
Choosing An Audio Interface As An Output Device
Like its input device, the computer’s audio output device must be selected.For a deeper understanding of the relationship between computers, microphones,input devices, and output devices, check out my article Are Microphones InputOr Output Devices?
Using An External Microphone With A Digital Audio Workstation
If you’re connecting a microphone to a computer to record audio, chances areyou’ll be working with a digital audio workstation.Digital audio workstations (DAWs) are software programs designed to record andmix audio.DAWs have the ability to select audio input devices independently from thecomputer’s main audio input device. This makes for flexible routing butsometimes leads to user confusion.For example, the operating system could be sourcing its audio input from theconnected audio interface while the DAW is sourcing from the computer’sinternal microphone.Selecting the audio input device in a DAW is similar to choosing the audioinput device of the computer. Once the proper drivers are installed, we canchoose a microphone or audio interface as our audio input.Let’s look at some common DAWs and their specific paths to audio inputrouting: * -> Setup * -> Playback Engine
Types of Computer Microphones
Headsets Microphone: Computer headsets comprise of headphones using which auser can listen to audio output coming from the computer along with amicrophone that the user can utilize to speak and generate audio input.Usual analog headsets comprising of two 3.5 mm plugs and they are similar tothe plug that are used by regular headphones.For the reason that the plugs are detached, the user can make use of themicrophone without the headphones.Customers can also procure the USB headsets that can be attached by the use ofthe computer’s USB port and pass on the audio data in a digital form.Stand Alone Microphone: A Standalone microphone that is attached on afoundation that is placed on the desk of the user. These microphones usuallyhave an elongated and slender form.These kinds of computer microphone generally generate additional white noiseas compared to the headset microphones and their lightweight designs can leadthem to lose their balance in case somebody or something bumps into the deskor device.Some types of stand-alone microphones may possibly consist of an apparatusthat help in posting the microphone on the computer, as a result it would nothave to sit on the desktop and some of them also have modifiable height.By and large, stand-alone microphones are connected to your computer with the3.5 mm plug.Webcam Microphones: A lot of corporations that create Web cameras forcomputers also design the camera models that consist of microphone aptitude.Customers can buy these kinds of web camera cum microphone as a replacementfor buying both the products individually.These webcam microphones help the user save space and they are particularlybeneficial when user want to do video chats and internet calls.Lots of these devices are attached to the upper part or sideways of thedesktop monitor with a clip with the purpose of facing the camera in such away that the Webcam’s face is towards the user, catching audio and video.These devices are in digital format that depends on the USB port to join withthe user’s computer.Integrated Microphones: Some types of desktops and laptops, together with allkind of Macs, have inbuilt microphones that do not need any added purchase ofcomponents or setting up.Users can refer to their computer guide in order to find out whether theirsystem contains an incorporated microphone or not.Computers systems that do comprise of an integrated microphone might have oneor more than one small-sized holes placed close to the top or bottom part ofthe monitor and, perhaps, a microphone image might also appear to point outthe existence of the device.Computer operators who wish for the superior quality of audio input canpurchase a separate microphone so as to use with their computers.
How do you plug non-USB microphones into a computer?
The best way to connect a professional 3-pin XLR microphone to a computer isto use an audio interface. An audio interface is an external piece of hardwarethat connects to a computer via USB, FireWire, PCI or Expresscard. Many audiointerfaces feature dedicated XLR microphone inputs, headphone outputs andother jacks and controls that come in handy for recording voice-overs. You canlearn everything you need to know about computer-audio interfaces in this B&HBuyer’s Guide.
Do audio interfaces deliver the best possible sound quality?
Plugging a microphone directly into a computer audio interface will get you aclean, flat sound, but if your goal is to create broadcast-quality voice-overs, we recommend plugging your mic into “outboard gear” before you connectit to a computer audio interface. Outboard gear is external hardware thatenhances the overall sound of a microphone. USB microphones cannot be usedwith outboard gear.
What is an audio interface?
An audio interface is essential for most people to record a synthesizer (orother instruments) to a computer as it contains an external sound card.This is one of the most important things about the interface. Even most modernlaptops and PCs don’t have sound cards, off the shelf, that can cope with asynth plugged straight into it.This will result in latency (lag time from when you play a note to when itactually records), sound interference and generally a lot of frustration.You could go and fit a new sound card to your computer or PC. But that wouldlikely cost you just as much as an audio interface.The interface will usually be fitted with at least a couple of inputs. So youcan record multiple instruments at the same time if you have the need. Youusually have the option of plugging in a ¼” ‘guitar’ cable or a microphone XLRcable (not as applicable to synths).So you simply plug a cable from the output of the synthesizer to theinterface. This interface is then connected to the laptop or computer by a USBand there you have it, you’re ready to get recording.