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 an audio interface for monitor speakers is 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!
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?
An audio interface is an external device that connects to your computer and serves as the front end of your computer recording system. It is essentially an external sound card that is used to improve the quality of audio recordings, especially for musicians and sound engineers. The audio interface receives analog signals from microphones or other instruments and converts them into digital signals that can be recorded on a computer.
Most audio interfaces connect to your computer via USB cables, but some may use Thunderbolt, Firewire, or even ethernet. They typically feature inputs for microphones, instruments, and line-level sources, as well as outputs for headphones and studio monitors.
Audio interfaces come in a wide range of prices, from well under $100 to several thousand dollars, and even the most affordable interfaces can provide great sound quality. With an audio interface, you can significantly improve the quality of your recordings, whether you are a professional musician, a podcaster, or a YouTuber.
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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.
What are the benefits of using an audio interface for monitor speakers?
An audio interface is beneficial for audio recording for a variety of reasons. Here are some of them:
1. Higher-quality audio
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.
2. 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.
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.
3. 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.
4. 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 SSL 2+ audio interface has a big volume knob that I like because it is the most obvious physical control on the device. Having a physical volume control on my desk has made the investment worthwhile.
5. 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.
6. 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 this is not directly related to your speakers, it’s still something to think about.
7. 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 audio interface
Audio interfaces 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.
1. 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.
2. 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 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.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Do you still have questions about whether you need an audio interface for monitor speakers? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions.
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 music 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?
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.
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.
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.
This article covered whether you need an audio interface for your speakers. Here are some 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.
- 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.