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Quick Tip: Choosing the Right Audio Interface for Recording, Mixing and Mastering

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Basically all audio interfaces can be used for recording, mixing and mastering. But other things must be considered when choosing an audio interface for these tasks.

An audio interface is a piece of hardware that acts as an intermediary between the analog world of your mics and instruments, and the digital world of your computer. Whether you are a professional or just a home recording guy, you should have a good audio interface. Having good quality audio interface is very important for recording, mixing and mastering.

There are many audio interfaces choices in the market. And if you're confused choosing the right audio interface, this article is very good and can help you to choose the right audio interface. Always make sure your audio interface has a high quality bit depth and high sample rate. The higher the bit depth and sample rate, the more satisfying the result you achieve.

In this article I will give tips on how to choose the right audio interface for recording, mixing or mastering.


For Recording

If your audio interface is mainly used for recording, you need many inputs. This depends on your needs for recording instruments.

If you record drums, you need a lot of inputs. You should have at least eight inputs - for kick, snare, hihat, tom 1, tom 2, tom 3/floor, overhead L and overhead R. If you need multiple inputs for some of the instruments, you should have even more inputs.

Next you need a preamp. A good preamp. How many preamps are needed? It depends on you. If you record a drum with eight inputs then you should have eight preamps too. Always make sure the preamp quality is good because this will impact on the quality of your recording.

Finally, you need a good quality ADC (analog to digital converter) with a high dynamic range. A high dynamic range for the DAC (digital to analog converter) isn't needed, because the audio interface is only used for recording.


For Mixing

Which audio interface is good for mixing? First, you need a good quality DAC (digital to analog converter). Look for a high dynamic range output.

Why this is necessary? You want the result of your mixing to sound the same as when you recorded it. And a good mixing quality will help with mastering the songs later.

The second thing that you need for mixing is the correct number of inputs and outputs. If you need hardware such as an equalizer and compressor for mixing, you need at least two inputs and outputs.

The audio interface for mixing doesn't need a high dynamic range of ADC (analog to digital converter).


For Mastering

Audio interfaces that are mainly used for mastering need a high dynamic range DAC (digital to analog converter). If you want to use external hardware for mastering, like limiters or linear phase, make sure it has enough inputs and outputs. The number is depends on your needs.

You will need a high dynamic range DAC (digital to analog converter). Audio interfaces for mixing and mastering are very similar, so you can use one audio interface to do both jobs.


Conclusion

How do you determine the correct number of decibels of dynamic range? The minimum ADC dynamic range you should be 96 dB, while the minimum DAC dynamic range should be 110 dB. And more than this is better!

Is there a "super" audio interface that can meet all these needs? So far there is no audio interface like that.

If you are choosing an audio interface for one of the three functions above, how can you maximize its usefulness for the other functions as well? Use an external ADC/DAC via digital I/O, plus outboard preamps according to your need. This of course requires a lot of money.

Finally, recording, mixing and mastering doesn't only depend on the audio interface. There are many other factors that can influence the outcome. This quick tip should help you choose the tool that will produce the best sound for you. I hope you have enjoyed it!

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