Gear & Tech Tips / 14 September 2021

What is an Audio Interface?

For beginners, audio interfaces might sound a little technical, but they really aren’t that scary. An audio interface is a device that will allow you to record any instrument or vocals into your computer, laptop or mobile device. You may be used to recording directly into your phone using the mic on your headphones. However, if you are looking for a more professional sound, purchasing an audio interface is the first necessary step.

Shop Audio Interfaces

Here is a quick rundown of some of the buzzwords you’ll come across when shopping around.

Read more: MIDI Controllers Under S$300


Latency is a short period of delay in music production from when you play or record a signal, for the sound to process and record onto your computer/device. Although this is often milliseconds, it really can cause problems when producing. Imagine if you felt perfectly in time, but every time you recorded something in, it sounds slightly out of time. If this is happening to you, you need an audio interface.

  • Zero latency = no delay time.
  • Zero Latency Monitoring = allows you to hear yourself exactly in time through headphones or studio monitor speakers.


2 input channels on the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

2in/2out is an abbreviation for two input channels and two output channels. When considering which interface to buy, don’t just think about your home set up but think about how you record. If you record one channel at a time, then usually you will only require a single input, but if you want to sing and play the guitar at the same time, then you need multiple inputs and outputs to suit.


Thunderbolt port at the rear of a Focusrite thunderbolt interface.

These are different types of connections that offer varying amounts of transfer speed. For home studio setups and beginner producers, most connections will have more than enough transfer speed to accommodate your needs, but try to purchase an interface that has been released in the last couple of years to avoid having to unnecessarily upgrade in the near future. Without going into too much technical detail, Thunderbolt has the highest transfer speed, USB (varieties 3.0, 2.0, and 2.0 30-pin which is mainly for use with iPads) has the lowest and Firewire (typically 400, or 800) somewhere in the middle. PCs and tablets generally use USB and Thunderbolt is Mac’s high-speed version of USB.

Digital Signal Processing

If you’re looking at an interface that says DSP, this means that you can use the interface to add audio effects such as EQ and Reverb while you are recording, or when you play it back. This can be particularly useful if you want to reduce some of the processing load on your CPU. It’s also a nice go-to option for the hardware purists out there.

Phantom Power

48V Phantom power button on a Focusrite Scarlett Solo

It sounds like a mixture of scary and cool, but Phantom Power means that your audio interface will power the microphone that you are plugging into it – typically a condenser mic requires this. Check your microphone before you shop and see if you need phantom power. If it’s 12V or 24V, an interface without Phantom Power is fine. If it needs 48V, choose one with Phantom Power.

That’s just about it for our crash course in audio Interfaces! You’re well on your way to being versed enough to take the necessary steps towards improving the quality of your recordings.

Shop Audio Interfaces

If you’d like to check out our audio production and recording gear, head down to our Swee Lee stores. Alternatively, you can also order them over on our online store too. We’ll deliver domestically for free straight to your doorstep.

Read more: Build Your Home Recording Studio under $1k, $2.5k & $5k

Related Reads

New for 2021 – the Ibanez AZ Essentials (AZES) Series
#Gear & Tech Tips

The New Ibanez AZ Essentials Series: The Best Beginner Super Strat?

Ibanez have launched a new series – the AZ Essentials. An ultra-affordable flanker to their already successful and highly-regarded AZ lineup, the AZ Essentials has big footsteps to follow. The last year has seen a boom in the guitar industry and we’ve welcomed an unprecedented number of new guitar players.… Read more

Guide to acoustic guitar body shapes
#Gear & Tech Tips

Guitarology 101: Acoustic Guitar Body Shapes

Details matter! Especially if you’re talking about the subject of acoustic guitar body shapes.  Take a second to think about it – acoustic guitars change tonally depending on a myriad of factors (woods, construction, strings, you name it!). You can even read the article we did on bracing types for… Read more

Guitar technician servicing an acoustic guitar
#Gear & Tech Tips

Fighting the Guitar Humidity Battle in South East Asia

"Store in a cool and dry place". "Guitar humidity is paramount for your instrument's best performance". Sound familiar? So many of the products we buy come with that label, and it's not surprising we take it lightly. But reconsider that advice when it comes to your guitars! We've spent too… Read more