You may have wondered how to connect an audio interface to a computer. An audio interface (or sound card ) is a kind of gateway whose main role is to allow your computer to receive and transmit audio signals.
Most computers are already equipped with an internal audio interface (often integrated into the motherboard) but of poor quality and limited in type and number of inputs/outputs.
Read also: the best audio interface for logic Pro X
To connect an audio interface to a PC there are 4 options available to you:
USB: This is usually the cheapest option for a home studio, but it offers the lowest transfer speed.
FireWire: Used on higher-end audio interfaces, this type of cable provides access to a really faster transfer rate (today this type of cable tends to disappear).
Thunderbolt: Recently popular on the semi-pro interfaces, this type of cable provides access to higher transfer speed to USB or FireWire.
PCI-E: this type of connection allows access to a greater processor power and transfer speed still unbeatable today.
Watch this video for more on how to connect an audio interface to a computer
While the USB is the slowest option of the 4, it remains in most cases largely sufficient for a small home-studio installation. If for you the budget is the priority, I recommend USB.
Whatever type of connection you choose in the end, make sure that your computer has the appropriate socket to connect your new interface!
The internal sound cards are inserted into the PCI, PCI Express, PCMCIA or Express card ports while the sound cards External devices are connected to your computer via a USB cable, Firewire, Thunderbolt or Ethernet.
A. Internal sound cards
Often more powerful than external, internal sound cards are more complicated to install so reserved for informed users.
They are composed of one (or several) cards to be installed on the computer and sometimes connected to an external box of connection and control.
Unlike tower-type computers, laptops are not equipped with PCI or PCI Express but with PCMCIA or Express Card. It will be necessary to check the availability of the ports because even if your computer is equipped with it you may have already used it for another device.
If you have a choice, know that internal cards usually have better stability and lower latency they, therefore, allow the management of a large number of high-quality audio signals simultaneously. They are mainly used by professional recording studios.
B. External sound cards External
audio interfaces appeal to the general public, home studios and studio semi-pro because they have many advantages: simplicity of installation and connection (can be plugged in or unplugged), nomad …
In addition, the speeds offered by the Firewire (400 or 800), the USB (2 or 3 because the 1 is a little light) are amply sufficient for many applications. As for the Thunderbolt, the flow is much more than enough.