Audio InterfaceBuyer's Guides
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Anyone who's going to produce music at home or on location is going to have a hard time doing it without an audio interface. Pretty much every computer has a sound card built in, but the problem is that your computer's original sound card isn't going to be good enough to make high-quality recordings (unless you use a USB microphone, which bypasses the interface). Plus, the original sound card doesn't have any XLR or 6.3mm inputs or outputs, which are important if you want to connect a large diaphragm condenser microphone, an instrument or monitor speakers.
An external audio interface, such as a USB sound card, is a good solution for most people. You can simply connect it to a USB port on your computer, and you'll have all of the connectors you need for recording, as well as good audio reproduction and recording quality. We also have extra-compact interfaces that have been designed specifically for connecting one microphone and one instrument, such as a guitar interface. If your computer has room for an internal sound card, then you should consider a PCI audio interface. If you have a Thunderbolt port, you can enjoy an extra-fast audio data connection with a Thunderbolt interface.