A common question that comes to mind about studio monitors is about their Compatibility & Utility. A lot of people get confused between studio monitors and audio interfaces. And how do they relate? In this article, we will look at the question, do you need an Audio Interface to connect Studio Monitors?
And not only one question but several others that relate very closely between Studio Monitors and Audio interfaces.
But do you know the meaning and use cases of Studio Monitors and Audio interfaces?
Let’s check them.
Audio Interface: An audio interface is a premium version of a sound card found in electronic devices. The primary purpose of an audio interface is to maintain and serve studio-grade audio quality. The audio quality depends on various factors like converters used in the interface, mic preamps used for recording purposes, sound resolution, and sampling rates.
[Also check: 11 things to consider before buying an audio interface]
Studio Monitor: Studio Monitors, as the name suggests, are made for sound monitoring purposes in a studio setting. They have a flat frequency response and do not alter any sonic frequency. What it means is that you hear the actual audio without any makeup done to it. And this is where they come in handy for mixing or mastering music.
What is connection between Audio interface and a Studio Monitor?
The audio interface is a sound card and cannot expel sound by itself. It needs a medium for sound propagation. This is where the studio monitors come into action. They connect to an audio interface and acts as a medium for sound to propagate, which then reaches a listener.
We are warmed up with the basics. Now, it time to dive further ahead into the article.
Can you use studio monitors without an audio interface?
Yes, you can use a studio monitor without an audio interface. But there should be a sound card present in the device that is connected to the audio interface. The studio monitor is a type of external speaker with distinct features. It means that they also function as a typical speaker. To propagate sound, a studio monitor requires a sound card or an audio interface to propagate the audio signal towards their input ports. So, as long as the sound card present in a laptop or an external sound card-like audio interface is doing the job correctly of sending the signal, the monitors can do their work as well.
So, is there a specific way to use a studio monitor instead of a regular laptop or computer speaker?
Yes, the following sections take us through a proper way of doing so. Let’s see them.
How to connect studio monitors to a computer without an audio interface?
Now that we know it is possible to connect studio monitors to a Laptop or a computer without having an audio interface and a sound card would work just fine, let us see how to connect a pair of studio monitors to an audio interface.
First of all, we need some cables. The cable we’ll use is 1/8 Inch TRS Stereo to Dual 1/4 inch TS Mono Y-Splitter Cable 3.5mm.
1) GRAB THE RIGHT CABLES
And the cable look something like one in the image below.
Or you can use the regular cables that come with the audio interface. These are called 3.5mm to 2-Male RCA Adapter Audio Stereo Cable. Refer to the image below.
2) PICK YOUR STUDIO MONITORS
In my home studio, I use PreSonus Eric 3.5 Active monitors. For small rooms or bedroom studios, these speakers are best in class. I haven’t found any better speakers than the PreSonus Eric 3.5. These speakers are affordable, fit perfectly in any corner, and have transparent audio.
Once you have made the connections shown in the above image, the next step is pretty easy.
3) Plug the other end of cable to your Laptop, Mobile or Computer
Take the other end of the cable you are single and plug it in the headphone jack of the electronic device.
Boom! That’s precisely how you are going to set up a studio monitor without an audio interface.
[Also check: Best budget audio interfaces under $200]
how to connect studio monitors to audio interface?
Three things are required to connect studio monitors to an audio interface:
- 1/4″ TRS Cables,
- An audio interface,
- A pair of Studio Monitors.
[Also check: Best audio interfaces under $100 that have a good sound quality]
Next, after you have all the required items, let us connect the studio monitors to an audio interface.
1) Pair the two Studio Monitors together
After unpacking the studio monitors, connect both of the active speaker units by using wires included in the box.
Then, plug two of the TRS 1/4″ cables into the balanced TRS input of the active speakers.
2) Connect the studio monitors to the audio interface using TRS Cables
Connect the other end of the TRS cables to the Line outputs of the audio interface. Ensure that you have correctly connected the Left and Right wires to the line output of the audio interface.
[Also check: Audio Interface setup diagrams to make connections to speakers & instruments like studio monitors, mixers, microphones, MIDI instruments, guitar and many more.]
How to connect multiple studio monitors to audio interface?
Most of the music producers own multiple sets of Studio Monitors or active speakers. Having two different sets of monitors allows better mixing capabilties and a wide perspective of how an audio signal will sound on differently built speakers. It is a one of the best ways to perfect the song mix.
So, let us see how we can really setup or connect multiple studio monitors to an audio interface.
1) Check the output ports on the audio interface
The first thing before anything is to check the compatibility of the audio interface. Look through the output ports of the interface and see whether it has four output connection options or not.
If Yes, we are great to go.
2) Gather cables
For our purpose of connecting four studio monitors to an audio interface, we’ll need some cables.
Specifically, we’ll require 1/4″ XLR cables.
Make sure you have enough length available so that the cables can effectively reach all the monitors.
3) Determine the output type
Now, decide which pair of active speakers/studio monitors connect to the main output and which team gets the secondary output ports.
Lastly, go to your DAW and set up different monitoring channels for each monitor.
If you have an identical set of monitors and a reasonably large studio, it is best to use all four speakers in sync.
Should I buy an audio interface for my Studio Monitor?
There are several reasons that you must get an audio interface for Studio Monitors. Audio interfaces come in all shapes, sizes and a great thing about them is that you don’t have to invest a huge sum to get one.
There are many reasons to get an audio interface. But, a few important of them are:
1) Audio Quality and Noise levels
A huge reason for getting an audio interface is Audio quality. Not getting an interface and directly connecting a Studio Monitor to a Laptop/Computer generates a considerable amount of noise. The amount of noise you hear highly depends on the sensitivity of your ear.
As a music producer and mixing engineer, my ears are sensitive enough to pick even the slightest noise. And that annoys me a ton!
I would recommend making a small investment of less than $200 and get a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen. it serves all the basic features, has a premium sound quality, and has a classic metal body. And it is very portable.
[Also check: Do I need an audio interface?]
2) Mixing Music
If you are a music producer, you need to have at least one portable audio interface in your arsenal. As a mixing engineer, I can say that a good audio interface would significantly cut your mixing time. It makes workflow fast and very well organized. Another reason is to get rid of any significant noise or distortion.
[Also check: Best audio interfaces under $500 that provide a premium sound quality]
3) A portable Studio
A budget audio interface is complete in itself. But, a high-end audio interface is even better. It has the power of bringing a whole band together, several record vocalists, instrument players, and other artists simultaneously at high audio qualities.
As the prices go up, you get more features, high-quality preamps, and a massive list of software bundles. But for beginners or solo artists, you can start at a price as low as a few hundred dollars.
Before wrapping up this article, I would say that getting an audio interface is a must if you are a music producer or want to start your journey in music. You don’t have to obtain a super expensive interface; anything below $200 will work great for a beginner.
If you bought a pair of studio monitors / active speakers intending to replace your regular speakers, I’d recommend checking the noise level without using an audio interface. Purchase a budget interface in case the noise levels are audible.
All in all, I hope this article helped. you out. And do let me know in the comments that whether you are going to get an interface or not.