One of the great needs when sharing our ideas in the digital world is that we be heard clearly, and that the nuance of our voice be an authentic and genuine expression for the viewer behind the screen. To get this sensation, you’ll need to have complete equipment for sound recording; a good microphone and a good audio interface.
The importance of the sound in your contents
We can be recognized only by the character of the speech, like a radio host who talks to his audience every day and they recognize him as just by saying «good afternoon, dear friends», it is achieved thanks to a good voice recording.
When listening to a video, if the sound is not clear, and it is not attractive enough for our ears, beyond the idea that may be expressed, it will be more likely to put it aside and change the channel.
We can listen to a Podcaster without needing to see an image, but we cannot watch a video where the sound has interference, is cut off, is heard far away or has no nuances. It distracts and makes you lose interest.
The success in an audiovisual project is not only marked by a brilliant and original idea, but rather, it must be accompanied by an attractive presentation. All the factors that surround your production chain, from the environment where you plan to record (silent and soundproof), through the microphone, the cable that carries the signal to the audio interface and then the computer and the return of the headphones or monitors play a determining role in the result.
It is worth clarifying that none of these factors is exclusive. All first-time creators will start working with what is available and the budget they have. As he can afford it, he will improve the team and working conditions to achieve an increasingly professional result.
What is an audio interface?
When we want to record a voice for a video or do a live show, we are going to need the signal that passes through our microphone to be processed by our computer in order to work on it. An interface or audio card will allow us to connect our microphone to the computer, through a USB input, to convert sound into information.
NOTE: USB microphones have the built-in sound interface. If you have one like this, you won’t need to buy an external audio card.
An audio interface or sound card is the tool that will allow us to connect our microphone or instrument and take its sound to the computer. In other words, it is the hardware that allows us to transport the sound we want to record to our music editing and/or production software.
The interface captures the analogical signal (from the voice or an instrument) and translates it into a digital signal, so that our computer is able to receive, read and process it.
Why do you need an audio interface?
If we are thinking of having our home studio, this is a key part that will professionalize our sound.
Through it, and its single or multiple channels, we can connect microphones, instruments, a MIDI controller, record by tracks and do it individually or simultaneously with the image or other audio inputs, as in the case of an interview or collaboration with guests interacting at the same time.
What characteristics of a sound card are important when choosing?
When deciding which sound interface we are going to acquire, it is important to think about what type of content we want to generate to optimize spending and make the investment efficient, for example, if we seek to create content where only one person participates, then it will not do more than one input is missing to connect a microphone.
On the other hand, if the idea is to generate content together, we can opt for one that has more than one entry.
Important features when choosing
- They have Phantom Power (+48v). This tool is what allows us to use certain types of microphones such as the condenser type that capture our voice in a more reliable way than a dynamic type.
- The quality of the previews that the interface carries. These are the ones that take care of the most important part, that the signal is clean, without distortion and that the dynamic range is wider.
- USB output. Although there are other types of output such as Firewire or Thunderbolt, USB is universal, which allows us to quickly connect to any computer and start working.
- Number of input connections and MIDI function: In many cases the qualities and functions of the audio interface may be the same, but the price varies depending on the number of inputs it has. In the case of having a MIDI input, it will make it easier for us to create sounds through a MIDI controller.
- Software included. Some sound cards come with editing software, a good saving in the event that we do not have any previously.
The best low cost sound interface
The price range of sound cards is between £25 and £300. The functions may be the same, what varies between them is the quality of their components, the number of entries they have, and the reputation of the brand.
Below, we have selected the 3 best-selling and recommended audio interfaces, so that the choice is quick and easy for you.
This device, with a huge fame in the market, has enough resources to bring our sound to a high quality. It has very good preamps (pre-amplifiers) and also has an aesthetic that fits anywhere. Its size allows you to travel with us anywhere. It has a microphone input and another to connect a guitar, bass or keyboard. What allows us to record simultaneously. It also comes with two music production software; Ableton Live and Pro Tools, which allows us quick access to mixing our recordings.
Focusrite Scarlett Solo includes:
- High performance converters. Record and mix up to 24bit/192khz. High recording quality. The number of bits determines the dynamic range (16 bits or 24 bits, for example). Recording in 24 bits gives us more depth in our sound. Today it is the most common value to record.
- Line input for microphone with XLR input.
- High-impedance, high-range 1/4″ jack instrument input allows guitar or bass to be recorded without clipping or unwanted distortion. It ensures a higher quality of sound, since it captures the signal with greater amplitude.
- Phantom Power (+48v). It allows us to connect condenser-type microphones, which are very useful for recording voices or other acoustic instruments.
- Switchable Air function. This new feature adds more space to voices or any sound you input through a microphone.
- USB connectivity. It allows us a fast connection with the PC.
- 6.3 mm jack stereo headphone output. It allows monitoring in real time the sound that we are recording, be it a voice or an instrument, without the need to use speakers.
- 2 symmetrical 6.3 mm jack line outputs. Possibility to connect speakers to listen to the sound without headphones.
- Software included: Ableton Live / Pro Tools. Sound editors of good level and easy to use for music production.
- For PC/Mac. Compatible for both Windows and Mac.
Although there will always be the saying «cheap is expensive» in this case there is no such risk because its quality is checked and contrasted.
It has a microphone or instrument input on the same output (this will not allow us to make a simultaneous recording) and depending on the operating system, drivers will need to be installed to use this sound card.
Behringer U-PHORIA UM2 characteristics are
- 16 bit/48 kHz USB audio interface. Lower dynamic range than the Focusrite Scarlett, yet it is fully compatible with a project where we need to record vocals or instruments.
- XLR input for microphone. Much safer than USB.
- Input for instrument Jack 6.3 mm.
- Phantom power supply (+48v). It allows us to record with a condenser microphone, perfect for recording voices.
- USB connection to connect to any PC.
- 6.3mm jack headphone output, RCA outputs. Universal headphone input and RCA outputs for monitoring sound through speakers.
- Compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 10 and Mac OS
This interface continues in an accessible price line and adds one more quality; one more input, both microphone and instrument. This will allow us to make recordings simultaneously. It also has a USB connection and Phantom power. It also includes music production software.
One disadvantage is that it requires the installation of drivers to use it, which should not be an impediment to wanting to acquire it.
M-Audio M-Track Duo characteristics are
- Resolution 16-Bit/48kHz. Lower dynamic range than the Focusrite Scarlett, yet it is fully compatible with a project where we need to record voices or instruments.
- 2 XLR microphone inputs with 48V Phantom power, for microphones that require electrical power to work, such as condenser microphones.
- 2 combo mic/line/instrument inputs 6.3mm jack. Input for connecting instruments combined with the two XLR inputs.
- 2 x 6.3mm jack line outputs. Possibility of connecting monitors to listen to the sound, without headphones, in real time.
- USB connection to easily connect to PC.
- 6.3mm jack stereo headphone output. It allows to monitor the recording in real time, without the need to use monitors.
- Pro Tools Music Production Software | First M-Audio Edition, MPC Beats, Xpand!2, Eleven Lite guitar plug-in, and 20 AVID effects. Programs and gallery of effects of excellent level and easy to use for music production.