What is an audio interface and do you need
one for podcasting? Hey, I am Ryan from PodcastFast.com and recently
I was creating an article on the 10 Best Audio Interfaces For Podcasting. Now, audio interfaces
– before I went in to creating this article, was not something I knew a lot about. I did
not even know they existed so I have a lot of questions that came up that I thought would
be helpful to answer on audio interfaces. And so the first one is, what exactly is an
audio interface and do I need one as a podcaster? So an audio interface is a device that goes
between your analog microphone and your computer which is digital. For example, I am using
the Blue Yeti microphone which is a USB microphone which plugs directly into my computer. This
microphone does not need – and I could not even use, an audio interface with this microphone.
The goal of an audio interface is to act as an awesome sound card for your computer and
basically to convert your analog microphone sound into digital sound that you can deliver
to your computer. And the goal of the audio interface is to give you great quality sound.
What most computers have as their microphone input is one of those 3.5 mm headphone jacks.
So if you have a high-quality microphone, plug it into a 3.5 mm headphone jack is not
going to do the sound justice and as well, the sound cards on your computer are not going
to be that high-quality. So the goal of an audio interface is that you plug your microphone
into the audio interface, it then processes the sound really well and then delivers that
sound digitally to your computer, to your recording software whether that be Audacity
or Screenflow or GarageBand or whatever it may be. So if you have a good high-quality
microphone you are going to want an audio interface in order to make the best of that
microphone and to get the best sound possible. Now audio interfaces start from around $100
so you can get the Focusrite Scarlett Solo which is a great product for around $100.
And then they go up from there and depending on your needs and how many inputs you need,
etc. they get quite expensive. One of the highest recommended audio interfaces, really
good product, is the Apogee Duet 2 which is around about $600 or something like that.
And if you have a whole group of podcasters and you need a lot of different mic inputs
so you are not just using one or 2 microphones but maybe using maybe 4 or 5 or more, then
they get really expensive. We are talking $1,000, $2,000, $2,500 for these audio interfaces.
So that is what an audio interface is. It is basically an awesome sound card that converts
the analog sound coming from your microphone into digital sound that is delivered into
your computer. And it delivers in such a way that you are going to get great quality sound
for your podcast. Audio interfaces often provide 48 volt phantom
power which is needed to charge some condenser microphone so some other microphones as well.
So depending on the microphone that you have you may need to get an audio interface that
has that 48 volt phantom power because otherwise you will not be able to power your microphone.
So most of them have that and if you go to PodcastFast.com/25 then all of the audio interfaces
that I recommend have that 48 volt phantom power to charge those condenser microphones.
One of the microphones that Pat Flynn recommends is the Heil PR40 or something like that which
is an analog microphone and requires that 48 volt phantom power. So if you are going
for something like those high-end microphones you are going to need either a mixer or an
audio interface in order to get the sound from that microphone to your computer and
have it sounding great. And so a lot of people think, “Okay, I need a mixer in order to do
that” but really you do not necessarily need a mixer.
The difference between a mixer and an audio interface, I will go into more detail in a
future lesson but basically, a mixer is something where you edit the sound on the fly so you
might have a couple of different inputs coming in. Maybe you are doing an in-person interview
and you have two microphones so a mixer will be used to mix the sounds of those microphones,
to get them level, get them sounding great, and on the day so if you are doing a live
broadcast, the mixer is going to be very important. But that mixer will just send one line of
stereo input or audio into your computer. So those two audio tracks will be mashed together
when they deliver it to your computer and so you cannot separate them out and edit them
when it comes to post-production. Whereas in an audio interface, you can take those
same two microphones, put them into the audio interface which will process them, send them
to your computer and you will then have two different tracks which you can edit in post-production.
So a mixer is really only needed if you are going to be live broadcasting. So if you have
a podcast that you do live online then you want a mixer so you can edit the sound on
the fly. But if you are doing post-production recordings so you record and you will then
edit it and you will then publish it at a later date then an audio interface is going
to be a cheaper and a better solution for you.
I hope that answers your question, what is an audio interface? They are extremely confusing
to understand. It took me a really long time to write this article. If you are interested
in understanding more, go ahead to PodcastFast.com/25 and you can see my article on the Best Audio
Interfaces For Podcasting. And also I talked about some things to consider when buying
an audio interface and help you to make your decision.
I hope this has been helpful to you. Until next time, do not just podcast, podcast fast!