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Audio Interfaces

* * *Audio Interfaces take all the various audio inputs and convert them intodigital audio data. Though that sounds straight-forward, this was easily the most confusing partfor me as I began the quest to design my own home studio. This piece of hardware will end up being the front end for nearly all theinputs that will be used in your home recording studio.Digital audio, electrical analog audio, and MIDI data will all come togetherin this great sonic melting pot.It acts as the central hub for all the various Audio Signals in your setup…taking them from your finger tips and vocal cords and into the digital realm.By handling all the audio input and output signals of your system it performsthe same function as the Sound Card in a typical computer. The main differences are that Audio Interfaces typically have mic preampsonboard, provide Phantom Power for condenser mics, and have easy-accessexternal inputs and outputs. So technically the terms Sound Card and Audio Interface could be usedinterchangeably.But for our discussion let’s define Sound Cards as hardware internally mountedto your computer, while a studio Audio Interface is an external hardware unitconnected via USB or FireWire.Though there are many options, there are 6 main features to consider whenchoosing Audio Interfaces: 1. Analog / Digital Converters 2. Number of Microphone Preamps 3. Number of Inputs/Outputs 4. Interface Type 5. MIDI Capability 6. Mixing CapabilityRead on for a more detailed explanation of each criteria on our list.You’ll find many hyperlinks throughout this description that aim to supplementthe discussion.If this is all well understood to you, then you can jump to the chase andcheckout my list for Top USB Audio Interfaces for Under $300.For everyone else I strongly recommend having a firm grasp of the main issuesthat are outlined below before shopping for specific units.This may be the single most important decision when creating your home studio,so it’s critical to have a firm grasp of how these work and what they are usedfor.

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5 Easy Ways To Play Electric Guitar Through PC/LaptopSome guitarists insist on buying an expensive amplifier with their electricguitar. They assume that this is a must for every type of guitarist out there.However, in some situations, this isn’t the case. In some cases, you evenwon’t need an amplifier at all and you can manage just fine by using yourPCLaptop as an amplifier for your guitar.This can be an ideal way for beginners to be able to play their electricguitar at home but might not have a budget for a good amp. It can also be thecase for guitarists who can’t crank up their amplifiers due to noiserestrictions from their neighbors. Finally, this is a great tool for beginnerswho either don’t have enough pedals to shape their sound or lack theexperience needed to alter their tone into a desired one.The following ways will provide you a way to play your electric guitar usingyour PC or laptop. By the way, it will not matter whereas your computer is aWindows machine or a Mac.However, all these methods will require some sort of additional hardware, someare cheaper than the others and the quality of it will be accordingly. I willassume that you already own an electric guitar and a guitar cable.For those who are particularly interested in the prices, the most costly wayon this list will be around $100, the others are way cheaper. Nevertheless, itwill not come close to an amp with effects built-in.Let’s take the Fender Champion 20 amp as an example. This amp is ideal forguitar players who play at home and in the same price range. The problem is,the Fender Champion 20 offers several effects in it, but you will not be ableto chain them or customize them.This can eventually be very limiting, especially if you want to try all thoseamazing effects and customizations. After trying any of these methods, theseamps might end up at a garage or the back of a closet, not being used. This iswhat happened to mine.

Choosing a Room for Your Home Recording Studio

An ideal room for a recording studio is one that is big. The bigger thebetter.This allows for more room for gear and musicians, but a bigger room alsoprovides you with better sound.Not only should you choose a big room, but you should also choose one that isquiet.Things like cars, chirping birds, and other outside noises will pose a problemwhen you record if your room is not one of the quieter ones in your home.

How to Make a Recording Studio in Your Room?

1. Take everything out of the room that you can. Clear up as much floor space as possible, and take down any paintings, posters, or anything else that is on the wall, and get rid of anything that vibrates. 2. Set up your acoustic panels and bass traps. 3. Arrange your desk/work area to your liking. 4. Arrange the rest of your room as you see fit.

Exception 2: A Studio Where You Need a Flat Sound for Recording Vocals

If you’re on a small budget, you probably won’t have the money to make a wholevocal recording booth.If you also plan to use reverb plugins, natural room reverb can causeproblems.In this case, you will need your room to sound drier (less natural reverb).Having an extra dead/flat/dry room will affect the sound accuracy that comesout of your monitors.With this trade-off, you’ll probably have to mix mainly with headphones.The drier you need your room to be, the more absorption panels you’ll need.

Audio Interfaces

The audio interface is the fuse that creates that connection that will bringyour studio to life. The interface is where the instrument and MIC isinputted. Nowadays interfaces are digital. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and theRoland OCTA-Capture UA-1010 have great reputations in the music industry. theycome with different inputs and outputs , preamps and monitor mixes. dependingon the artist that you are you will need a different interface so it will beworth checking out the ultimate guide to audio interfaces for more detail.

Why use a Audio Interface and Not a Soundcard?

It all comes down to accuracy. An audio interface is extremely accurate interms of outputting audio.As a music producer, it’s imperative to know exactly what you’re hearing inits truest form in order to create a good sounding mix that sounds greatthrough headphones, on car stereos, etc.Soundcards may work for casual gaming audio or watching movies, where youmight not need a very accurate sound quality. In the case of making music,soundcards just aren’t powerful enough to output an accurate audiorepresentation, and you might end up tweaking your mix too much to compensatefor what you’re hearing.Some soundcards have boosted bass, for example, which could cause you to mixthe bass of a song way too low to make up for all the bass that you’re hearingthrough your soundcard, and then when you listen to the song on a differentcomputer or in the car, you can tell that the bass is actually mixed too low.An audio interface also provides much lower latency (or virtually no latencyat all). Latency is essentially a delay between your computer playing theaudio and it coming out of your speakers or headphones.Latency can be a problem with soundcards because a computer’s soundcard mightnot have the processing power that your audio needs in order to be played. Anaudio interface has much more power, and therefore lower latency. More poweralso means there’s little to no chance of anything crashing during theproduction process.Audio interfaces are also better because they bypass plenty of electricalcomponents in your computer that could cause a buzzing sound while recording.An audio interface is basically an external soundcard with a lot more power,and it being external means that your audio doesn’t have to use the computer’sinternal power supply, which prevents feedback and buzzing sounds which aredue to interferences caused by the electromagnetic field.

Recording software and apps

Without audio software programs, computers don’t do a whole lot to help yourecord and mix music. The software that musicians and engineers use for theirmusic production is commonly referred to as a digital audio workstation (DAW)program, and there are a lot of different DAW options to choose from. Rangingfrom more basic programs such as Ableton Live 10 Intro to Pro Tools—the choiceof most professional studios—there is a DAW program that will match yourmusic, budget and skills. For a complete selection of program options, browsethe Musician’s Friend selection of DAW software.Most digital audio interfaces (explained in the next section) often includesome basic software that should be suitable for most beginners to create near-studio-quality recordings. Those looking for something a little morepowerful—with tools to help compose, edit, mix, and arrange music—mightconsider a software package such as Image Line’s FL Studio, an end-to-endmusic production program that’s both highly-regarded and affordable enough forbeginners.Check out our 6 Top DAWs Rundown for more great DAW choices.

Audio Interfaces for Recording

If you’re using a computer as the center of your recording studio, you need away to plug in the microphones and other gear you will be recording with. Thisis where the digital audio interface comes in. Beyond simply offering thetypes of connections you’ll need, the digital audio interface processes thesound you’re recording and converts it to digital data so your software canwork with it. The good news is that most interfaces with USB connectivity arecompatible with all the major DAW software titles that work with Mac andWindows computers‹but double-check to be certain.When looking at audio interfaces, it’s important to find one that has all theconnection types you’ll need. You’ll also need to make sure it’s compatiblewith the type of computer or device you’ll use to record with. So be sure tocheck the product descriptions for these details.Built to handle the needs of anyone who records vocals and instrumenttogether, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface delivers asweet-sounding preamp and instrument input at a great price. The latestedition improves on the excellent sound of the original with a more even gainstructure that makes balancing your mixes easier. The instrument input hasbeen upgraded to handle the hottest pickups. Reduced latency means you’llperform more confidently and be able to run your favorite plug-ins in realtime.Read our Audio Interface Buying Guide to learn more about all the optionsavailable to match your recording needs and budget.

Headphones for recording

When you listen back to your recordings, you want the sound to be as accurateas possible so you know what you want to change in your mixes. A good pair ofstudio headphones is often the most cost-effective option for beginners.Closed-back headphones are essential when you’re recording vocal orinstrumental parts over existing music tracks. Their sealed design preventspre-recorded sound from leaking into the microphone as you monitor the backingtrack(s) while overdubbing new parts of the music.Studio headphones vary greatly in price. When you’re just starting out,there’s no need to break the bank. Plenty of good, accurate models areavailable within an affordable price range. The Audio-Technica ATH-M40x andSennheiser HD 280 PRO Studio Headphones are both highly rated products thatdeliver good accuracy at a beginner-friendly price.Browse the Musician’s Friend collection of studio headphones for more greatoptions.

An Audio Interface

In addition to a computer, you will need a good audio interface. A single-input USB audio interface for beginners will cost around $100. This will allowyou to record one instrument or microphone at a time. As a solo musicproducer, this is perfectly fine to get started. Brands that come widelyrecommended include Presonus and Focusrite.For what it’s worth, I have been using a pre-owned M-Audio interface purchasedon eBay, which hasn’t had any problems since I got it in 2010. If you are notafraid of pre-owned gear, check out Reverb for good deals. Just be sure(especially on eBay) to check out the seller’s return policy, shipping feesand reputation before purchasing.

Audio Interface (If you buy an analog microphone)

Tascam US-2×2 USB Audio Interface – via Amazon.comAn audio interface connects microphones to computers.If you buy a USB microphone, you don’t need an audio interface, since you canplug into your computer directly.But an analog microphone has XLR connectors, which can’t be plugged indirectly. Instead, you plug them into an audio interface, which can then sendthe audio data to your computer.Audio interfaces can cost anything from $100 to the $1,000 range. Forpodcasters, the low-end interfaces will be more than sufficient in most cases.Here are a few popular recommendations. 1. Tascam US-2×2 USB Audio Interface: This is a budget audio interface with 2 XLR input slots. It’s compatible with both Mac OSX and Windows. It’s also designed to be simple to use, which is why it’s great for most podcasters. 2. Mackie Onyx Producer 2-2 2×2 USB Audio Interface With MIDI: This is another budget audio interface in the same price range, also with 2 XLR input slots. There’s no huge difference from the Tascam audio interface, it’s just another solid alternative.There are audio interfaces that produce higher sound quality and accept moreinputs, but they’re more aimed at musicians than podcasters. Unless you have aunique podcasting setup, either of the above 2 audio interfaces is simpleoptions that will do a great job.

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