So I wrote about how I create my guitar sound (electric guitar) for my tutorials in a previous post and I’ve gotten questions because of that post:
“Which audio interface is the right one for simple home recording?”
Home recording starts somewhere and there are different ways to do it. Which one is right for you depends on your wishes and needs. You can buy digital multitrack recorders like the Zoom R16 which can also function as an audio interface for your DAW (ProTools, Cubase, Logic Pro X, etc) , there are portable 4 track recorders like the Tascam DR-44WL, or you could buy a dedicated audio interface like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 that you hook up to your computer or laptop. (by the way the – expensive – Apogee Duet can even be hooked onto your iOS device, which is pretty neat)
Now as I said before, what you need depends on your situation and wishes but if you’re just starting out I’m going to assume that you mainly want to record yourself and you will probably work in “layers” meaning you record the parts one after another. Unless you’re able to clone yourself 1 input would be enough but to be sure I’d take an interface with 2 inputs. There are many great interfaces out there that’ll do the trick and many of them have 2 inputs that you can use for your xlr cables as well as your jack cords. Even though you wouldn’t need it now, it is very handy to have a midi input on there as well but for many they will never use it.
Now these interfaces come in different price ranges:
The Behringer UM2 Audio Interface is about $50 and the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 USB Audio Interface is $199 while the RME Babyface USB 2.0 is $750. (prices may change/vary)
At first glance these interfaces seem similar (only the RME looks a bit different) as that they are for home recording musicians but the prices tell us a different story. So which one would you buy? Hmmm… That is not the right question is it? Which one would you NEED?
Over the past years I’ve bought for many thousands of dollars worth of studio gear (believe me, for studio gear that is not a lot) and I’ve not always asked myself that question which led me into buying gear that is actually too “pro” for my purposes.
For what will you be using that gear, honestly?
Messing around recording solos over a backing track
- Composing a song
- Recording a song to send to your friends & family
- Making a quick demo for your band
- Making a quick soundtrack for your youtube video
These are all good things, it is what I use it for but lets be honest.
You’re probably not going to be using it for:
- Recording an album that you will sell in stores or on iTunes
- Recording an official soundtrack for a movie
- Recording a demo for a top band/artist
Why? Because when it gets that serious usually you want to record that in a place where they have the knowledge how to best record. Where they have the best gear to record it. Where they have the proper soundproofed room to record it in.
That last thing is what I did wrong sometime ago. We were recording in a “studio” that was not properly soundproofed. Multiple takes went into the bin because of the fact you could here trucks outside driving by. Once you need it to be “pro” you’ll need to go to the proper place anyway.
So what does that mean? It probably means that most of you will be happy with the behringer if the interface meets your needs in terms of IO’s and such. But what you definitely do NOT need is something like 192kHz Sample Rate. 24bit is cool but for cd’s it always gets converted to 16 bit anyway. (not that it isn’t smart to record in 24 bit in the studio but for home recording purposes it is usually not needed)
Personally I have a RME Fireface 800 at home and it is overkill. This is the list of I/O’s:
10 x Analog I/O
1 x Stereo Headphone Out
2 x ADAT I/O or 1 x ADAT I/O plus 1 x SPDIF I/O optical
1 x SPDIF I/O coaxial
1 x Word Clock I/O
1 x MIDI I/O
4 x Mic/Line Inputs with Preamps
1 x Instrument input adjustable
2 x FireWire 800
1 x Firewire 400
What do I use out of all those I/Os?
2 mic inputs with preamps and 1 instrument input. I use the midi line as well by the way. On a rare occasion I help a friend record more and the the extra mic/line inputs and Analog I/O’s come in handy but ADAT, SPDIF, etc… NEVER!
Firewire connections are for my Mac Pro so I do need those. (Though definitely not 3)
Be hones about your needs. Sure the RME baby face is an amazing piece of engineering (Those Germans sure know how to build their stuff) but it has features are going way past the needs of us mortals in my opinion. If it is for you then cool but my guess is you wouldn’t be reading this blogpost as you probably know more about interfaces than me if you need 192kHz samplerates.
Some audio interfaces for the home?
But don’t stop looking there, do your own research before you buy!