Do I need an audio Interface to Produce Music?

Most people don’t get an audio interface because they are unsure about whether it is the right type of investment to make early on in the production journey or not. And some without knowing anything, buy expensive units that they don’t necessarily need.

Maybe, you are one of those people stuck in no man’s land. Or maybe, you’re a budding music producer researching about gear requirements and you cannot wrap your head around the need for an audio interface.

This post will walk you through when the requirement of an audio interface arises in music production and why you should get one.

Why you’ll need an audio interface?

First of all, let’s see the top ten situations where you’ll find yourself wanting an audio interface.

1) Record Vocals

This situation is pretty evident as to why you are going to need an audio interface. Maybe, you are a singer and want to record your vocals on a blank template of DAW to sketch an idea or, even better, on top of the beat you just made.

An audio interface sets the foundation when you want to get studio quality recordings at home.

You may even have tried recording your vocals using the built-in microphone, but it feels too noisy and not very clear. The inbuilt mic can be great to sketch a quick idea, but it does not cater to the audio quality you need for a hit record.

Maybe you have a microphone and do not know where to plug it in the computer because the mic has three weird pins that make a triangle. This is where the need for an audio interface will start to urge as a music producer or even a vocalist.

XLR cables

The Microphones connect using XLR cables by plugging one side of the cable to the audio interface and the other to the Microphone. The cable ensures high reliability, performance, and low signal loss.

This marks the end of reason #1. Now, off to the next ones.

2) Record Hi-Z/ high headroom instrument inputs

do i need an audio interface
Photo by Stephen Niemeier from Pexels

Hi-Z inputs refer to a special class of high impedance or high headroom inputs. A common example of these includes electric or bass guitars. Most of the budget audio interfaces under $200 like Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 are equipped with the Hi-Z inputs. It is just one example but these days almost every audio interface has got at least one Hi-Z input.

Hi-Z input/instruments need a higher headroom than other line-level inputs such as keyboards. High headroom implies to what amplitude a signal can peak before it starts to clip off. A high headroom range gives more space for instruments to breathe and retain the harmonic quality. The hi-Z content is one of the most important criteria when selecting the best budget audio interface.

Read more about Hi-Z vs line-level input!

3) Record MIDI keyboards or other MIDI instruments

do i need an audio interface
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Next comes the need for an audio interface when you’ll encounter a MIDI instrument. A MIDI instrument cannot produce sound on its own simply because most of the MIDI instruments have got no internal/in-built speakers. Instead, it uses studio monitors or external speakers to output its sound by using the audio interface.

One great audio interface where you get a MIDI I/O port is the PreSonus Studio Series or more specifically the PreSonus Studio 24c.

A similar concept is followed here to that of recording vocals. Firstly, you plug in the MIDI instrument to an audio interface. And then further connect the audio interface to external speakers. So, whenever you play any key on your MIDI keyboard, the sound signals follow the path from the MIDI keyboard to the audio interface and from the audio interface to external speakers. 

The challenge for audio interfaces here is to maintain low latency and high signal clarity known as audio quality.

You may also like: Best budget audio interfaces under $200 that are a bang for their price.

4) Connecting Studio Monitors

connecting studio monitors to audio interface
Image by wjg from Pixabay

Till now, we discussed connecting the inputs to the audio interface. But, there is a lot more to it.

The signal that goes inside the audio interface must come out in some form, preferably audio. To get the output from the audio interface in terms of audio, we connect either headphones or the external speakers/studio monitors.

Studio monitors are very different from regular home theatre or Bluetooth speakers. They are far more neutral and flat in frequency response. In simple words, they don’t alter some frequencies so the others can shine through. Each frequency is treated equally.

So, why are Studio Monitors necessary? Read the following section to find out!

5) Mixing your own music

In the phase of mixing music, it becomes crucial to hear your mix on different speakers and not just headphones.

You may produce music without real instruments by using different VST Plugins. But, how’d you mixed it? Mixing a track on laptop speakers, headphones, or other external speakers cannot give you a good starting point. However, a good starting point in a mix often starts with a great pair of studio monitors. The Studio Monitor provides a strong foundation, for you, to hear your music in the most incredible possible detail, which regular speakers tend to hide.

In conclusion, I want to say one thing. An audio interface may or may not help you produce music, but it will help you get a better mix of all your tracks if you have a pair of studio monitors.

6) You cannot produce and mix Music on headphones only!

Even if you can use headphones for a prolonged period, I recommend stop doing that. Because ears need rest and lengthy studio sessions can put an enormous amount of stress on the eardrums from all the different frequencies in your track.

Another reason is mixing. A good mix starts on a good pair of studio monitors. You can mix your tracks on headphones, but I recommend sparing your ears for the job from the insane pressure headphones put on them.

7) Co – Producing

An audio interface will play a vital role when you have the opportunity to co-produce and collaborate with other artists. There will be a need to record vocals, samples, instruments, connect crazy microphones and other different MIDI instruments, or even Preamps or compressors. Who knows what type of studio gear one is going to get exposed to and when.

At that time, having an audio interface will make or break the deal! It is pretty harsh to say as the industry is quite harsh.

You may also like: Best High end audio interfaces for co-producing great records.

8) Your Computer is just a Medium

Your computer or laptop might be a great deal expensive and loaded with a bunch of features. But, it cannot emulate a studio environment and pristine high-quality sounds or mic recordings.

The sound cards in the PC, too, are pretty standard. No matter how expensive, everything in a PC is not fit for recording or hearing purposes, especially when you want to get the most excellent precision in your mix where the chances of error are low.

It becomes essential to build a home studio in which an audio interface lays the foundation.

Also check: Best audio interfaces for a professional home studio

9) It makes using DAWs, a bit, easier

Having different features of the DAW on the interface like gain monitoring, adjusting gain, controlling master gain, controlling individual inputs, and Microphones can make your workflow a bit easier.

You can see how your input signals are behaving without going back and forth to the DAW. Some audio interfaces provide the option to do some of the nitty-gritty tasks on the interface itself.

10) It expands your range of producing music

Having the facility to record yourself and various other instruments, it is pretty normal to see producers taking a plunge ahead of their game. You may record funny sounds, make your samples, and I don’t even have to say, there’s so much scope.

What it means is that you will experiment with the possibilities you have. And from that something miraculous will emerge out.

What kind of Audio Interface will I need?

PreSonus Studio 24c USB-C Audio Interface Review
PreSonus Studio 24c – example of portable audio interface

If you are a beginner, picking one of the best beginner-friendly audio interfaces will help you know the basics of audio interfaces. In the beginning stages, you do not need to set a whole studio up. Therefore, going with a regular and kind of basic audio interface is a great choice.

However, if you are a touring artist or enjoy vacations now and then, pick and select one of the best portable audio interfaces. These interfaces will prove hassle-free and much easier to set up when you’re in the mood to create music looking at a beautiful sunset.

And you can always upgrade to a better and more expensive audio interface whenever you like in the future. But, in the beginning, phases don’t go haywire.

Check out our list of best audio interfaces under $500.

Do I need an Audio Interface to make beats?

The answer, here, is not very simple. It is more of a personal preference. If you are okay with long studio sessions on a headphone, go for it. Otherwise, buy an audio interface and connect a pair of studio monitor to hear your beats. Although, I recommend going for the setup because it is a whole different feeling when you hear the beat on a pair of monitors. It just pumps you up. In addition, certain kinds of hi-hats and kicks may cause severe irritation in your ears making you saturated in a very quick time period.

I know most the music artists that started off with just a pair of headphones. You can too start off in the same manner, but what I think is that in a world of fierce competition, please don’t take any chances. Sometimes, you have to do what others are doing.

Do I need an Audio Interface for MAC?

Yes. You do need an audio interface for Mac too. Good thing is that if you have M1 Mac, there are a lot of audio interfaces that are now fully compatible with the latest macs.


In conclusion, having an audio interface, even though a budget one, is vital to a modern producer’s arsenal. There are many types of audio interfaces available. But, how do you choose an audio interface is a matter of personal preference and actual requirements. However, it is a whole another topic to consider, and discussing it here will not do any good.

The choice is yours. You can use the same old piano roll editor to continue making chords progressions and melodies or you can try experimenting. Both are equally good in their own way.

But a mix of both is what a modern world requires!

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