An Audio Interface allows you to connect your instrument and/or microphone directly to your computer. Some are designed just for electric guitars, basses, and other instruments that plug-in; others allow you to also plug in a microphone. Technically you can record into your computer using your computer’s built-in microphone, but the quality of this is not ideal. If you want to record anything serious you’re going to want to invest in some kind of interface. The good news is, many of them are very affordable and easy to use!
Depending on what you want to record there are a couple of ways to go.
For recording ONLY electric guitars, basses or other electric instruments that plug in using a standard ¼” instrument cable, here are a couple of very simple and inexpensive options:
iRig – Electric Instruments only, or acoustic instruments with pickups
Apogee Jam – Similar to iRig but better quality
For recording vocals or acoustic instruments, you will need an interface that allows you to plug in an external microphone. There are lots of different ones out there, but here are a couple of recommendations:
Scarlett Focusrite – A good place to start. The built-in preamps are not super high quality, but if you have a good mic and some plug-ins you can get great sounds.
Universal Audio Apollo – This is pricier but really high quality. It’s built-in preamps are incredible and it comes with a plug-in package which you can use in your DAW to manipulate your audio. Plug-ins are awesome tools in digital recording allowing you to use various preamps, compressors add all kinds of FX like delay, reverb, etc. to your tracks. There are also a ton of plug-ins that simulate guitar and bass amps so that you can record without an amp and simulate that sound within your DAW.
Want to Learn More About Recording at Home?
We’ve also got an overview on everything you may need to start recording your music at home. Check out the full blog here.