When you are considering a new piece of hardware or software for your computer, you may have asked yourself “How do I choose the right audio interface?” When considering interface hardware, you have a variety of different options available. You can choose a USB interface if you are planning to connect your interface directly to your computer or if you will be connecting it to a host PC via a FireWire port. A USB port is considerably more expensive than FireWire, however.
Another option that you have is a MIDI interface. With a MIDI interface, you can use computer programs like Cubase or Pro Tools with your keyboard and mouse to control the actions on your interface computer. For an excellent feature set and price, the Behringer interface series is one of the best. It includes a bank of 24 sounds in six different formats (Pulse-width modulation, bitrates of eight through sixteen, and level mixing).
If your computer does not currently have a standard USB port or MIDI port, you may have to look elsewhere to get your interface sound card. Most modern computers will most likely have either a PCI or AGP slot. PCI is the slot used by many modern motherboards; it is a little faster and more affordable than AGP, but it does not carry any type of sound card. If your sound card is going to be a component of your computer system rather than an external peripheral, then you will definitely want to consider getting a PCI card.
You will find that your main options for an interface are determined by the type of computer system that you have as well as what sort of multimedia interface you need. If you are using a laptop computer, then you will have no problems finding a good audio interface to attach to your computer. Many manufacturers have created standard interfaces for use with computers that are designed for multimedia use. You can also purchase interface cards that will work with any multimedia authoring program and any music recording program.
If you are using a desktop computer, you will have a little more difficulty when choosing an interface. On the higher end of the spectrum you will have options such as Firewire, optical, USB, and so forth. Firewire is probably the easiest interface to work with, but it does require that you use a specific driver in order to use it with newer computers. If you do not know if your computer is using Firewire, you may want to call the manufacturer and inquire about making the necessary drivers. Most manufacturers can assist you with this task.
Some older computers that are not likely to be updated will not be compatible with modern audio interface cards. In this case, you will need to purchase a completely new computer in order to use the new interface. How do I choose the right audio interface? Your choice should be based on personal preference, sound quality, compatibility, and price. Once you have made these decisions, you are ready to begin!