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Do You Need an Audio Interface for Monitor Speakers? (The Truth)

In today’s world, where people are increasingly working from home, having a good audio interface for monitor speakers is a must. With today’s technology, it’s easy to connect your computer to your monitor speakers and get great sound without having to spend a fortune. But do you really need an audio interface for monitor speakers?

In this article, we’ll explain why audio interfaces for monitor speakers are such an important part of any home studio. So if you’re looking to improve your audio quality or are just curious about what an audio interface can do, this post is for you!

Image of a white colored audio interface connected to speakers. Source: pixabay
Image of a white colored audio interface connected to speakers. Source: Pixabay

Do you need an audio interface for monitor speakers? You can use your monitors without an audio interface, but adding one can improve their sound quality and open up a world of additional possibilities in your studio.

What is an audio interface?

Connecting an external DAC (digital to analog converter) to your laptop, PC, or even iPad (through an adapter) is what an audio interface does.

Mics, guitars, keyboards, and more may be recorded with crystal-clear sound. This is because it takes an analog signal and makes it digital so your gadget can understand it. These days, the most common ways to hook up an audio interface are through USB, Thunderbolt, or Firewire.

What does an audio interface do?

An audio interface’s primary purpose is to bridge the gap between the analog devices outside your computer and the digital ones inside it. To do this, it must translate between analog and digital signals.

So, an interface is a device that lets you connect things like a microphone, instrument, or digital input (DI) to a computer. The process is known as A/D conversion, which stands for “analog to digital.”

It also takes audio from your DAW or PC and outputs it to your studio monitors, headphones, or other outboard equipment. The term “digital to analog” (or “D/A”) conversion describes this process, as you may have guessed by now.

Most interfaces also have phantom power for condenser microphones and preamps to boost the sound of a microphone.

Is an audio interface necessary for studio monitors/speakers?

How important is having a quality audio interface for your studio monitors? Here are four scenarios where an audio interface connecting powered speakers to a computer may be useful. First, if you want better sound quality, real-time monitoring, usability, and connection from your studio monitors, you should use an audio interface.

Balanced audio connection

The biggest advantage of an audio interface, in terms of sound quality, is that it provides a balanced connection to your powered speakers or monitors. If your speakers are connected to your computer with a 1/8″ to dual 1/4″ TS cable, for example, the connection might not be balanced. This could cause electrical interference, which causes annoying buzzing and fluttering sounds.

Real-time monitoring

Even a short delay in the recording process can be very annoying. Thus, real-time monitoring is crucial. Because the computer must process the signal before sending it to your speakers, connecting your speakers directly to your computer may cause audio lags. One example of an audio interface with real-time monitoring is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.

Big volume knob

It’s hard to beat the convenience of simple volume control. Volume control is on the back of the speakers, but you can also use the settings on your computer or a keyboard shortcut. However, volume control at the desk in front of us is far more practical.

The Solid State Logic SSL2+ audio interface has a big volume knob that we like because it is the most obvious physical control on the device. Having a physical volume control on our desk has made the investment worthwhile.

Inputs for microphones and instruments

The purchase of studio monitors suggests a desire to record and/or improve audio quality, both of which require adding a microphone to your computer. With an audio interface, you can add more microphones and instruments in the future if you want to. Even though the last argument doesn’t directly relate to your speakers, it’s still something to think about.

What are the benefits of using an audio interface for monitor speakers?

An audio interface is required for audio recording for a variety of reasons. Use an external audio interface to get things rolling if your device doesn’t have a sound card.

Your audio will be played at higher quality.

An audio interface is a standalone sound card. One comes preinstalled on every computer, although they’re significantly different.

The onboard audio controllers on your motherboard are perfect. The products are made to be used in different ways (like playing games, listening to music, plugging in headphones, etc.). However, certain sacrifices are inevitable to provide such adaptability at a low cost. For example, the quality of your audio will suffer when played back on a simple sound card.

But audio interfaces are made for audiophiles, who might want converters (DACs) with better quality. With the help of a digital-to-analog converter (DAC), the digital signal may be translated into an analog signal that your speakers can read.

Therefore, if you want to improve the sound quality of your studio monitors, use an audio interface instead of the built-in sound card on your computer or laptop.

You’ll get less noise in your audio chain.

Audio interfaces may be used for a variety of purposes. It has a lot of tools that can help you get better at listening to or making music. One of the best things about an audio interface is its balanced outputs for each pair of monitor speakers.

In other words, you’ll be able to combat noise, which is a major problem for amateur producers. In addition, a balanced output will cancel out most of the hum and buzz that could get into your circuit from other electrics in your studio. The only drawback is that you’ll need to purchase two balanced cables instead of one, but this is fine.

You can connect more than one pair of speakers.

It’s a tremendous benefit if you can hook up many speakers in both the recording studio and the listening area.

To get a fresh perspective on your work and clear your head, try listening to your current mix on a different pair of speakers. It’s also helpful to hear how the mix sounds on different devices. Last but not least, it helps to periodically stand back and reevaluate your situation before making major choices.

If you don’t care about studio equipment, however, you may still improve your listening experience by adding a second pair of speakers to your setup. There won’t be a multiple-output option on some of the cheaper interfaces. The headphone jack is there in case you ever don’t need the speakers.

You’ll have no latency using an audio interface.

A measure of how long it takes for sound to reach your ears from the time it was played. It is essential to have an as little delay as possible when recording.

Imagine playing a chord and having your digital audio workstation (DAW) record it a second or two later. The timing would be completely wrong, making a recording very difficult.

This delay happens when drivers have to pay more attention to what musicians want. Rather, they are designed with the average computer user in mind and prioritize multitasking.

Drivers for each make and model of the audio interface can be used to choose buffer sizes of up to 32 samples, which is the point at which delay is no longer noticeable. Since latency does not affect the signal’s quality, it is optimal to use this function if you have no plans to record audio or MIDI.

You can power your passive speakers.

While most modern studio speakers include an internal amplifier (active), many producers’ go-to picks don’t. If you have passive speakers, you can’t just plug them into a computer’s audio jack; you’ll need to find another means to power them. In addition, there will be almost no audible feedback.

You may invest in an amplifier or, even better, a USB audio interface. In addition to its usefulness as an amplifier, it offers many other advantages. For example, because of the standard inclusion of a headphone out on most interfaces, even high-impedance headphones may be plugged in without causing any distortion.

How to connect studio monitors with an interface?

Don’t stress if you bought an audio interface and need to learn how to hook up the speakers. All the data you want is presented here for your perusal. Audio interfaces also called “sound cards,” are a common piece of recording gear that can be either built-in or plugged in from the outside. An audio interface’s superior sound quality is a major plus for professionals who need every advantage.

For instance, an audio interface might have one or more input channels for microphones and instruments. The XLR or RCA jacks measuring 6.35 millimeters will allow you to connect your studio monitors easily. Compared to other methods, this one is easy to implement and yields superior results.

Using a DJ mixer/controller and laptop/computer speakers

Amplification of a DJ controller through speakers is a viable option for those who own one. However, even though the program’s audio settings are easy to change, studio monitors may give better results. In contrast, these speakers’ dynamic range of sound needs to be improved for serious DJing.

Simply connecting the DJ controllers’ Master Output to the monitors via XLR or RCA will allow you to use them as an audio interface for your new speakers. Depending on the DJ controller you choose, the Booth Out ports may also accept jack wires.

Image of a music studio with an audio interface and other audio equipment. Source: los muertos crew, pexels
Image of a music studio with an audio interface and other audio equipment. Source: Los Muertos Crew, Pexels

Using an RCA or jack

Maybe you’re a budding musician who wants to use a computer to track demos of new songs. Some electric guitar and some powerful singing into a microphone might set this off. A sound interface could be the best option there.

Plug your active studio monitors into an RCA or jack connection. For the most part, the jack is more stable, produces higher-quality sound, and reduces background noise and interference.

There will be no latency or distracting sounds in your music, so that you may be pleasantly pleased by the quality. Your choice of quality, in any case, is entirely your own.

If you want even more tips and insights, watch this video called “Do I Need An Audio Interface For Studio Monitors / Speakers?” from the Kettner Creative YouTube channel.

A video called “Do I Need An Audio Interface For Studio Monitors / Speakers?” from the Kettner Creative YouTube channel.
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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about audio interfaces.

Is an audio interface required?

Even though you don’t have to have an audio interface to record, having one will let you get better sound. For example, you may record a musician playing an instrument, a person speaking, or any other sound.

Can you produce without an audio interface?

The only way to record any electric instrument without an audio interface is to amp it and then mic its amp using a USB mic. A USB mic is a great alternative to an XLR mic that works with an audio interface but can work well only for recording vocals or acoustic instruments.

Can you use monitors without an interface?

Can you use monitors without an interface?
Even though it is technically possible to use studio monitors without an audio interface, any professional audio application should use one. This will give the best sound quality and make editing the recorded audio easier.

What is the difference between a sound card and an audio interface?

The primary purpose of a sound card is to play and convert audio. Audio interfaces are made to help with tasks like tracking, mixing, and production. Most audio interfaces come with phantom power, perfect for running condenser microphones. These mics are phantom powered only.

Conclusion

As you can see, audio interfaces are a must-have in a home studio. They allow you to record and playback professional-quality soundtracks without any quality issues. Moreover, they also come with equalizer settings and other advanced features that make it easy for anyone to get the best out of them.

However, just as you can’t become an expert cyclist by reading a book, you can’t become a great music producer by reading articles alone. It’s time to take action! Go and put what you have learned into practice.

This article covered what an audio interface is, what it can do, and whether you need an audio interface for your speakers. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • Connecting an external DAC (digital to analog converter) to your laptop, PC, or even iPad (through an adapter) is what an audio interface does.
  • An audio interface’s primary purpose is to bridge the gap between the analog devices outside of your computer and the digital ones inside it.
  • If you want better sound quality, real-time monitoring, usability, and connection from your studio monitors, you should use an audio interface.
  • The best audio interfaces come from reputable manufacturers that spend years perfecting their devices before releasing them.
  • This high-quality tisino TRS stereo to dual y-splitter cable will save you from having to replace a broken or insufficiently long connection. It stretches out to a full 10 feet (3.05 meters).
  • An audio interface also includes a soundcard to transform the digital signals it receives from a computer or other device (often through USB) into an audio signal.
  • Assuming you have the right cables, connecting your speaker to the audio interface’s output is as simple as plugging a wire into the rear of the device.

So, do you use an audio interface for your studio monitors? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, share it with a friend, and check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on music production. Thanks for reading, and never stop making music.

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Audio Apartment Author
Written By Andrew Ash
Hey there! My name is Andrew, and I've been making music since I was a kid. I now run this blog all about home studios and music production. If you want to improve your home studio setup, this is the place for you!

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