Heads up if you’re an avid, ambitious user or producer working from a home studio. In this blog, we offer you a number of suggestions that can help you expand your current audio interface. If you’re thinking about upgrading, don’t sell it just yet!

How to Expand An Audio Interface: Extra Inputs and Outputs

ADAT Inputs & Outputs (Photo courtesy of Antelope Audio)

Need More Inputs?

Say you’ve got a band coming in and you need to assign a channel to each band member and their instrument. We hate to say it, but four inputs aren’t going to cut it. A drum kit alone can hog up to eight mic inputs, and you’ve still got a bass, vocals and two guitars to jack in. That said, if you’ve already got an audio interface that you’re happy with, why not expand its potential instead of buying a different one?

It’s All About Connections

First things first: audio interfaces are capable of much more than what most beginners and even some more experienced users realise. Just take a closer look at the I/O panel – in most cases, these offer a lot of expansion potential or, in other words, opportunities to set yourself up with more inputs and outputs.

And if you don’t know, now you know: ADAT

If you shelled out over £250 of your hard-earned cash for your audio interface, odds are it’s equipped with an ADAT input. Better yet, it probably has an ADAT output as well. While ADAT is technically a tape format that was used back in the day to record S-VHS tapes over eight I/O channels, it’s completely digital these days. So, check to see if your interface has an ADAT input because if it does, you now know you can expand it with eight analogue XLR or line inputs. Also, the signals transfer via Toslink cables, also referred to as optical cables!

Expand with What?

To get more inputs – or outputs, in case the interface has an ADAT output – you need an extra preamp. Extra, because your interface already has one or more preamps on-board and will be handling its own set of microphones and/or line instruments like guitars, basses, keyboards and synths. This gives you the opportunity to pick up better-sounding preamps compared to what you have now, but keep in mind that ADAT cuts the eight channels in half to support a maximum audio resolution of 96 kHz/24-bit. Recording in 48 kHz/24-bit quality naturally provides full access to all eight channels.

Tighter Clocking Than a Rolex

Clocking is another often-overlooked cog in the wheel when it comes to digital recording equipment. It’s the technology that ensures flawless, fully-synchronised AD/DA conversion between digital gear and analogue gear and, while most DAW software packs and even your computer have their own built-in clock generators (word-clocks), these are generally less accurate than standalone models. Pretty much every audio interface and preamp has a built-in clock generator as well, since the cleaner the signal; the better the mixing results. Antelope Audio is known as the maker of the world’s best clocking gear and, just to give you an idea of exactly how meticulous these things operate: high-end models only miss a second every five…billion…years.

Got any thoughts to share or questions to ask? Leave a comment below!

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