If you’re an experienced podcaster, music-maker, or do high-quality content creation of any kind, audio interfaces are more than likely a de facto component in your audio chain.
But for the uninitiated, what are they exactly, why do you need one, and most importantly, (whatever your experience level) -- where can you find a deal on the best audio interfaces 2021 has to offer?
Get the answers to these burning questions and more below.
What’s an Audio Interface?
Put simply, an audio interface is a tool that routes audio in and out of your computer or mobile device. However, there’s a lot more to it than that.
It does this by using analog to digital converters on the inputs and digital to analog converters on the outputs.
Sound is picked up by your mic as analog, the converters in your audio interface turn it to digital in a way your computer understands, then it reverses the process when playing back to you.
“Sounds fancy, but why can’t I just use the internal microphone on my 27-inch, 3.8GHz iMac?”
Good question and there are two reasons why you can’t.
First, the audio capabilities of your computer just aren’t built for the level of quality that most content creators crave. They’re made to function, function well, but no more -- regardless of price point.
Second, the internal audio capabilities are limited. For recording music, broadcasting, podcasting, etc. you need more control and versatility.
Bottom line -- an audio interface will always produce better sound quality than your computer’s built-in microphone and headphone jack (yes, even if you already have the latest version of your favorite DJ’s DAW of choice installed).
Although you can enroll to learn how to create pro sounds in Adobe Premiere!
What to Look for in Audio Interfaces
Today, most audio interfaces offer a certain level of quality that you can expect, especially here at Moment.
One thing you want to ensure is that your audio interface supports 24-bit conversion and at least 44.1kHz sample rate or higher for accuracy.
Another important consideration when shopping for audio interfaces for PC or Mac is its connection format to your computer, with USB 3.0 and thunderbolt being the most common -- Just make sure you buy one that fits your rig.
Also, double-check the input and output connections on your audio interface + the number of channels.
The input connections allow you to get signals into the interface. You may need line-level inputs for audio gear, instrument inputs, and digital inputs for expanding the interface with more gear.
For the output connections, you’ll need line-level outputs for routing external audio processors like monitor outputs for studio speakers, headphone outputs for headphones and earbuds, and, of course, digital outputs for routing MIDI equipment.
The Best Audio Interfaces Money Can Buy
Here at Moment, we meticulously curate all our gear individually, from podcast microphones to our computer monitors and award-winning camera slings.
So currently, all of our top of the line, yet economically-priced audio interfaces are by Zoom. That being said, we don’t carry some common electronics brands like Focusrite or Presonus.
Now, here are the best audio interfaces studio home based or on-the-go audiophiles should get -- all meeting and exceeding the criteria mentioned above.
USB 3.0 Audio Interface
Bus-powered Zoom USB 3 audio interfaces like this take your sound to unimaginable heights no matter the audio demand. With the high-speed, high-resolution, low-latency, and ultra-portable UAC-2 SuperSpeed converter, the interface supports recording and playback up to 192 kHz, well-exceeding industry standards.
Our flagship audio interface can capture tremendous scale and brightness with a wide dynamic range of 120dB + 4x upsampling during A/D and D/A conversion for reduced noise and enhanced fidelity.
Webcasting, podcasting, gaming, live-streaming, and more are made easy with this best-selling interface. The benefits & capabilities are too many to list but just know you’d be hard-pressed to find a better system for the price.
H6 Handy Recorder
Looking for iPhone audio interfaces? The Zoom H6 Handy Recorder is a “handy recorder” that can be used as an audio interface with your mobile device.
With its preamps, interchangeable capsules, and four-line inputs, you can use this award-winning recorder for podcasting anywhere and everywhere, while still getting pro-level sound.
Accessory Pack for H6
Moment offers a sweet little accessory pack for your H6 Handy Recorder that includes an RCH-6 wired Remote Controller to control progress and volume without shaking, an AD-17 USB-type AC adapter, and a hairy windscreen so that the elements don't interfere with audio quality.
Another solid option is the PodTrak P4 Recorder. Compact, affordable, and loaded with every feature you need to create professional-quality audio while podcasting on the go or remotely.
This device features four mic inputs with XLR connections, four headphone outputs, a 2-input & 2-output USB serving as an audio interface.
Here, we’ve covered all the essentials to flawless sound production, but now, let’s recap some of what we learned so that you can start recording & scrubbing through your audio tracks ASAP.
What are audio interfaces?
Audio interfaces are devices that convert analog signals into digital signals. Their basic function is to move audio in and out of your computer with much higher quality than your device’s built-in speakers and mics while simultaneously giving you much more control over your audio.
What are audio interfaces used for?
Audio interfaces are used to connect external hardware like microphones or digital instruments to your computer (most commonly via USB and lighting connectors) and record sounds directly into your streaming software.
What is the best audio interface?
The best audio interface supports at least a 24-bit conversion and a 44.1kHz sample rate. The best audio interface also supports USB, has plenty of input/output connections, is compatible with the latest DAWs, and is, of course, adventure-proof.
The Zoom USB 3.0 Audio Interface carried by Moment is perfect for any creative project, regardless of audio demands.
What are the best audio interfaces under $200?
The best audio interfaces under $200 are from Moment's selection, like the Zoom PodTrak P4 -- compact, affordable, and features what you need for high-quality audio.
Should I buy an audio interface?
Creatives who want to produce top-level projects and desire only the best sound quality should buy an audio interface. They’re specially designed to enhance your production’s audio quality to the highest levels, regardless if you’re a podcaster, musician, live-stream gamer, etc.
Moment’s selection of audio interfaces and recorders are designed for reaching your highest peaks as a creator.
Sometimes, our projects are only as good as the equipment we use to compose them, and if yours involves recording sound and you want to create at the highest levels, you want your hands on one of Moment’s audio interfaces to get the job done.
We understand creatives need the best tools for the task at hand, and that’s exactly what we offer, guaranteed. If you’ve got any more questions about selecting an audio interface or another one of our thoughtfully curated products, reach out to a Moment Gear Guide, and they’ll happily tune you in.