The Music Espionage

Manufacturers Specifications – Interfaces



Manufacturers Specifications – Interfaces: Welcome to part three of The Music Espionage’s tutorials on Manufacturers Specifications. In part one we covered the basics of electricity, Manufacturers Specifications –Electronics. Part two we looked at everything to do with Microphones, Manufacturers Specifications –Microphones. In this posts we will be looking at audio interfaces, Manufacturers Specifications –Interfaces. Here at The Music Espionage we would argue that this piece of equipment changed the way modern artists/musicians record and produce their music. No longer do you need big expensive recording studios to get your music out of your head and into a format that others can listen to. A microphone, a computer and a good interface are all you need.

Manufacturers Specifications – Electronics

 

Through out this tutorial we will be using the Scarlett 2i2 interface, by Focusrite. This is a great little interface for getting started on creating your own music and learning audio production. It’s not all singing, all dancing, but for a little red box it packs a big punch and is excellent for an entry interface and for any beginner “bedroom creative”! The Music Espionage reviewed the 2i2 shortly after it was released back in 2012, to find out more please read “Review Focusrite Scarlett 2i2”, or watch the video below.

Review – http://www.themusicespionage.co.uk/review-focusrite-scarlett-2i2/

 

Interface System Requirements:

One of the main elements, if not the main element when considering any audio interface is your system requirements. You really need to check what the interface needs from your computer in order to run and work correctly. These are normally listed for both ‘Mac’ and Windows’ Operating Systems. This is simply a matter of going through and checking your computer’s operating system is up to date, you have ample processing power, this measured in GHz and finally the amount of RAM needed. Typically anything higher than 2Gb should cover standard, none-professional interfaces, but as with everything music techie you need to check.

 

Manufacturers Specifications – Interfaces

Interface Inputs:

As with any audio interface you will want to “input” your performance and have this converted into digital information, which is then stored on the computer hard-drive and editable on your choice of music software. There are only a few input connectors that are common practice these days, but you will need to think about what it is you want to do with the interface and what it is you want to record.

Manufacturers Specifications – Interfaces

 

On the font of the 2i2 it makes use of “Neutrik Combo” sockets, these basically allow for two of the most common connection types used today, these being XLR and Jacks (1⁄4). So nearly all professional and none-professional microphone types and everyday instruments like guitars, bass guitars and keyboards can be used in this interface. The only other input you may feel is missing is MIDI, but with the development of USB controllers, MIDI inputs are really becoming a thing of the past. The final thing to consider when looking at an interface’s inputs is for 48V – Phantom Power. If you are wanting to record vocals and want to use a professional condenser microphone for these (which you should!) you will need Phantom Power to make sure the microphone works.

Manufacturers Specifications – Interfaces

 

Interface Outputs:

Conversely, you will need to consider the amount of Outputs needed from your interface. Basically, how many different places do you want the interface to send your music and where you want it to go? Normally for a small scale recording musician/artist two is enough. This would be one for the main monitor-speakers and the second for headphones when you need to carefully listen for detail or if your parents are at home! For more serious and even mini-studio applications you can get interfaces that have up to six or eight outputs. This allowing for far more creative applications like setting up headphones mixes for different musicians recording at the same time also being able to use different reference monitor speakers to listen to when Mixing and Mastering. Interfaces like the MOTU Traveler MK3 have various outputs, with many different connection types.

Manufacturers Specifications – Interfaces

http://motu.com/products/motuaudio/traveler-mk3

 

 

Interface Connection Types:

So, the next element to consider is how the interface will connect to your computer? Again this will really depend on your budget and the specifications of your computer. Interfaces are often categorised by their connection type; USB, such as the M-Audio M-Track; FireWire, like the Focusrite, or Saffire and finally Thunderbolt interfaces including the Universal Audio and Apollo Twin Duo.

Manufacturers Specifications – Interfaces

You could write a book on interface connection types and all the elements you need to consider, but if your computer doesn’t have a FireWire or Thunderbolt port why bother even thinking about these.

 

USB: This is popular in audio interfaces mainly thanks to its universal connectivity with just about any type or make or computer and its very simple operation. Commonly, USB interfaces are driver-less, this meaning that they can be plugged in and used without installing software and normally do not need main power to work. The Scarlett 2i2 interface is a great example of this category of interface.

 

FireWire: This type connection has become a standard for audio applications that was developed by Apple in 1995, however is seeing a great drop in use with more modern interfaces. Its implementation is popular in audio interfaces thanks to its ability to transfer high amounts of data at fast transfer rates. Many believe that FireWire has far less ‘clicking’ or ‘popping’ during recordings than USB, meaning transfer is a lot smoother and at a more constant rate than USB. If model of interface supports it, FireWire devices can also be daisy-chained together to add more inputs to your setup. So you could start off small and keep adding inputs as your bedroom studio became more and more professional.

 

Thunderbolt: Thunderbolt Audio Interfaces offer a super-fast 10Gbps connection allowing a much quicker data transfer rate in comparison to that of USB or Firewire. This technology offers ultra-low latency performance for the recording and playback of audio. Thunderbolt also allows the connection of multiple devices such as hard drives and HDMI/USB 3 hubs all without sacrificing performance or speed.

Manufacturers Specifications – Interfaces

 

Here are the other tutorials;

Part One: Manufacturers Specifications – Electronics

Part Two: Manufacturers Specifications – Microphones

Part Three: Manufacturers Specifications – Interfaces