BY DOUG FENSKE
The audio interface is an integral part of any studio. An interface has the same responsibility in a studio of any size, from a spare bedroom to a sprawling, multi-million dollar facility. To describe the interface in terms that are easy to digest, its job is to:
- Accept an incoming musical performance (MIDI or audio).
- Send the performance into a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) via the computer.
- Send the processed performance to a pair of speakers or headphones.
Let’s follow the path of two different performances and examine how they interact with the interface.
If we want to record a vocal, the musical performance would be the voice. The voice is captured by a microphone that is connected to an audio input on the interface (most likely an XLR input). The vocal then passes through the interface’s mic preamp (more on that later) and is sent into the computer’s DAW via a data cable. When we create an audio track in the DAW, set the track’s input to receive the vocal from the audio input and press the record-arm button, we see and hear the voice reaching the track and outputting to the speakers or headphones.