petej + audio   333

Choosing An Audio Interface |
This is the most important question of all, since it determines how many simultaneous inputs, and of which types, you'll need. The simplest inputs are 'line-level', and are suitable for connecting other electronic equipment such as mixing desks, CD/DVD players, synthesizers and preamplifiers.

Microphones output a much lower-level signal, and therefore require an additional preamp to bring their signal up to line level, before it gets converted to digital form to enter your computer; capacitor mics require a preamp that can supply 'phantom power', and these days, nearly all do so. If you want to record with one or more mics and are starting from scratch, the most cost-effective option is to choose an interface with suitable mic preamps built-in. Those who already have an analogue mixing desk with input channels offering mic preamps and direct outs can patch these into the line-level inputs of an audio interface, while those with larger budgets can investigate more sophisticated stand-alone preamps that offer particularly clean or desirably 'coloured' audio.

If you don't want to be faffing about buying extra preamps, look for audio interfaces that feature 'versatile' inputs that cater for microphone, instrument and line-level sources, such as Focusrite's Saffire, shown here.

The third main type of audio interface input is for an 'instrument', most often the electric or bass guitar, but also the piezo pickups used on acoustic guitars and other acoustic instruments. The output from such pickups often falls between mic and line levels, and will overload mic inputs unless you're able to turn their gain down by a considerable amount. Compared with mics, magnetic pickups also require a higher input impedance to avoid high-frequency loss; guitars with passive pickups like to 'see' at least 100kΩ to avoid high-frequency loss, and preferably 1MΩ. However, if you're a guitarist, don't agonise over an otherwise perfect audio interface if it simply lacks an instrument input: you can buy a DI (Direct Injection) box that will let you plug a guitar into a mic input, or use one of the various 'Pod'-type preamps with line-level output for more control over your tone and effects (we'll be talking more about such options in the 'Useful Extras' section).
audioInterface  audio  levels 
6 weeks ago by petej
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