When you have just bought your audio interface (AI), your first question on your mind is, “how to connect audio interface to computer?”
Being a musician is more than just playing a specific instrument and singing.
Sometimes, it’s all about learning how to work with digital tools that will help you edit and spread your music.
This article will teach you everything you need to know about connecting an audio interface to your computer.
How to Connect an Audio Interface to Your Computer
In this section, your question “how to connect audio interface to computer” will be answered.
This section will consist of three parts to help you understand audio interfaces, what they require, and how to connect them to a computer. Let’s go!
Understand Your Audio Interface
To connect your audio interface to a computer, you have first to understand everything about your audio interface.
An audio interface is a device that receives audio frequency from sources such as a condenser microphone, keyboard, and other inputs from your instruments.
The audio interface then converts these sound inputs from analog to a digital frequency that can be understood and analyzed by computers.
Depending on the model of your audio interface, it might have one of three types of connectors; thunderbolt cable, FireWire cable, and USB cable.
A soundcard may be required if the computer does not have any stereo jacks where you can connect the audio interface to a computer.
It will have the jacks and inputs that are needed.
You may be thinking, “Does the process end with being able to connect my audio interface to a computer?”
You will also set up a digital audio workstation to process the inputs.
In the next sub-sections, we will teach you the steps to do this and some tips and hacks to help you along the way.
What Do You Need to Connect the Audio Interface to Your Computer?
You will need to have the following devices when connecting your audio interface:
- Audio interface
- Different cables
- Sound card
Step 1: Plug In the Audio Interface to Your Computer
Other models need more than just the cables to be connected to a computer. If your computer does not have a jack, you must use a soundcard first.
Before, an audio interface came with a CD with a driver that would automatically install the interface to your computer.
Nowadays, this may or may not be true depending on your operating system.
For most, you will not need to install drivers as the system already uses a standardized driver that your computer can understand.
All you have to do is to plug in the audio interface and wait for your computer to recognize it.
Step 2: Choose Your Audio Interface in Your System
If your audio interface cannot be recognized by simply plugging it in, then this next step will address that issue.
The next step is to find the audio settings for your operating system.
- For Windows Sound Settings, you must click Start Menu > Control Panel > Hardware & Sound > Sound. After that, you will work within the Playback and the Recording tabs.
- For Mac users, go to the top left of your menu bar and click Apple > System Preferences > Sound > Output & Input tabs.
If you are constantly changing your input and output devices, it will benefit you if you practice and memorize these steps, especially if you like recording on the go.
Again, these are all assuming that you did not have to install drivers or a specific software from the manufacturer of the audio interface anymore.
Step 3: Connect Your Input Device to Your Interface
Depending on your audio interface, it might have only one input, two inputs, or even multiple input options for those who are veterans in the music production industry.
An audio interface usually has two types of lines for inputs: the line input and the instrument input.
Both of these are used to connect to an external audio device.
As you may have guessed, the line input (a.k.a line-in) is for a condenser microphone, your headphones, speakers, or other types of microphone that you use for recording.
There is also another type of input, which is the instrument input. You can simply plug your MIDI keyboard, synthetic drums, and the like here.
NOTE: Your headphone jack, computer speakers, microphone, or some cables may not be compatible with the input of your audio interface. In this case, you will have to use a 1/4″ adaptor.
Step 4: Set Up Your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
Depending on the digital audio workstation, you will not have to look for the Menu Bar of your computer as it will come with the current driver of your interface.
For a DAW to be connected to a computer, you must first install a separate driver or software.
There are a lot of exclusive deals online for an appropriate DAW. You can think of your DAW as your digital recording studio.
Here, you can process all the input into mono tracks or even two mono tracks for your goal output.
Once the DAW software is downloaded into the computer, the next step is to set up your digital audio workstation.
Open the program to the general settings of your software. Select the name of your audio interface as your input device and select preferred set-ups.
Regardless of which software you are using, the sound settings will allow you to select the input and output devices that will be connected to your computer.
Once you are done, you can now start recording and performing direct monitoring of all the audio signals your input and output lines are receiving.
Step 5: Choose the Input for Your Audio Track
Before you can press record, you must select input for a single track. This is done so that your audio will come out clean and your recording process and workflow much easier!
Your input may be your microphone or a microphone connected to your headphones. The thing is, the software of your digital audio workstation cannot distinguish it.
The solution here is for you to instruct the software on which input you are using for your specific recording.
You can open your “New Track” Slide Down Menu from your software’s sound settings.
Remember, your audio interface receives many audio signals and must understand the type of new track you are recording.
Choose the input that you want to use and turn on input monitoring.
Alternatively, you can do this on a mixer, as you can level both your input and output device.
There might be a little trial-and-error when you are still trying to grasp audio interfaces, especially when your computer sometimes says the device is not reader-supported.
Either way, the best method to learn how is to PRACTICE the ins and outs of your audio interface!
Only then can you say that you have mastered how to connect audio interface to computer!
Here is the list of the commonly asked questions about connecting an audio interface to a computer.
We hope that this list answers your question.
How to Turn the Interface On and Off
It depends on the power supply of the interface.
If the interface is externally-powered and you have noticed that it has become warm, switch it off and carefully unplug it.
However, if it is internally powered, such as through the USB cable connected to your computer, you can treat the interface as another output device.
In the same way that there is a notification of the interface connecting to your computer, you also have to disconnect it.
On Windows, find the USB notification icon in the taskbar. Right-click on it until you find the name of your interface.
Select “Remove device safely” and wait until it states you can do so.
The Computer Can’t Detect the Interface. What Do I Do?
If you have done all the steps in the section “How to connect audio interface to computer” and it still has not connected, there is a possibility that your computer is not detecting it.
The first thing you can do is try unplugging and re-plugging the interfaces in the different computer ports.
Check if this gets it connected.
However, a hardware problem might be the cause if it is not detected. If you are using Windows, open the “Device Manager.”
- Select “Sound, video, and game controllers” and try locating your interface. Right-click on it, choose Properties to uninstall it and view if the interface has underlying driver issues.
- Re-install the audio software or driver of the interface. Sometimes, the driver that comes with it is not updated anymore. In this case, it is best to download directly from the website.
Alternatively, try connecting the interface to another computer or desktop. If the computer can recognize it, then the problem might lie on your personal computer.
You can try turning your computer on and off to see if this will read the interface. If not, the driver might not be reader-supported.
How Do You Select Which Input to Put on the Mixer?
It depends on the type of mixer that you have.
For some mixers, such as the Logic Pro X, you will only have to find the Input on the mixer, click and hold, and select an input source.
After that, you’d have to enable the track for it to be active, and you can start recording.
Alternatively, you can connect the whole mixer starting from the main speakers to both the passive and active speakers and power amps.
After that, you can try connecting a condenser microphone, headphones, or other input and outputs.
Select through your digital audio workstation which ones you are actively using for your current track.
Does an Interface Improve Sound Quality?
Interfaces can SIGNIFICANTLY improve the sound quality of the track that you are recording.
You can think of this as using a higher resolution camera to film a short video. With this camera, you will see more clearly and generally enjoy watching the video.
This is what an interface does to your track quality. Interfaces allow you to record at a higher sample rate and bit depth, so you enjoy the benefits of a higher quality track.
Does It Matter Which Interface You Use?
Of course! Every model has different strengths and weaknesses, and you must find the right fit that will fulfill all your needs.
Whether you are just starting out in the music production industry or press record multiple times a day for professional work, the right interface will make a difference.
Can an Interface Run on Phantom Power?
More often than not, your interface often has a built-in phantom power. This is to ensure that your AI can communicate with as many microphones as possible.
If you see a button on the channel strip that tells the AI to send power to the microphone, that’s the sign that your model runs on phantom power.
Can I Connect My Headphones Directly to My AI?
Yes, you CAN connect your headphones directly to your AI! In fact, a lot of models come with their own headphone jacks.
Because the transformation and conversation of the music from analog to digital frequencies are fast, connecting your headphones will let you hear the resulting music.
Directly plugging your headphones will also help in controlling the latency. Reducing the overall latency of your recording will result in a better overall resolution of your music.
However, before buying your AI, please ensure that your current headphones are COMPATIBLE with the model you are interested in.
If not, you can always use the headphones that come with the AI.
Do I Need to Use an AI for Streaming?
Whether you are streaming or performing live, an AI will reduce latency, resulting in better track quality.
We hope you learned something about connecting your interface to a computer.
If you didn’t get it on the first try, please don’t be discouraged! There is always a solution to everything. We hope this article helped you find yours.
Good luck and happy recording!