Choosing Audio Interfaces for PCs

Audio interfaces for PCs provide the connection you need to create audio or music productions on a computer. A variety of equipment and configurations are available, from a simple device to larger rigs capable of recording multiple performers across several tracks, live or in a studio.

Devices range in quality from consumer-grade home studio production to fully professional multi-track audio solutions and studio recording rigs. There are also mobile recording solutions for artists, producers, engineers, and sound professionals in the field.


Finding Appropriate Computer Audio Interfaces

When choosing an audio interface for a Mac or PC, explore the many connectivity choices. Consider the equipment your rig will need, and what?s compatible with your configuration. You?ll find a variety of connectivity options for recording with computer audio interfaces and systems including:

  • USB
  • FireWire
  • Aux/Analog-to-digital: Includes computer sound card options
  • Mobile device: Bluetooth, Mini/micro USB, Thunderbolt, docks
  • ADAT: Alesis Digital Audio Tape for use with 8-tracks on Super VHS tapes

Analog and Digital Audio Conversion

Many home and professional recording studios use equipment to convert analog to digital audio. Analog is the audio that comes from electrical signals and digital audio is processed and sampled using computers or digital audio equipment. Once audio is in digital format you can arrange and use it in mixes, scores, and other projects. Analog signals come from sources such as:

  • 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch audio/TRS/instrument cables
  • XLR and microphone cables
  • RCA cables

Digital audio connections include:

  • USB/FireWire
  • ADAT/Optical
  • Coaxial

Many A/D, D/A, and A/D/A converters (analog/digital audio converters) function well with any quality audio interface for PC. For instance, an A/D converter with RCA inputs and output to an audio interface would be useful to integrate with an analog audio mixer, allowing you to record musicians in a live mix.


MIDI Capabilities and Interfaces for Computers

MIDI isn?t the same as audio, although you can convert its output to digital audio. MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. Many digital instruments, controllers, and other gear include MIDI inputs or outputs. Keyboard, drum machines, and sample pad devices are common instruments whose outputs can be translated with data, including:

  • Note
  • Key
  • Velocity
  • Sustain
  • Modulation
  • Volume
  • Pan
  • Pitch

MIDI computer interfaces can control many types of software and hardware, including soft samplers, soft synths, digital instruments, consoles, arrangers, workstations, other digital instruments, plug-ins/effects, software instruments, and even video mixing.


Check out B&H Photo and Video?s selection of audio interfaces for PC and format converters to find everything you need for your audio setup.