Audio Interfaces


I am an audacity newbe, just starting out at recording music using my home pc. I am looking to buy an ausio interface shortly and I am looking for details on compatability. I am thinking about buying an EMU 0404, or an M-Audio USB interface that allows me to plug mics and guitar up to the PC and I was wondering if this audacityis compatible with such devices. Are there any restrictions? will the set-up and config be easy? Are there any interfaces I should avoid?



The best choice depends on your existing hardware, and what you want to do with it, but here are some general pointers.

If you are using a desktop or tower PC, (not laptop), then PCI sound cards are usually far less trouble than USB or firewire.

Audacity does not support ASIO drivers (due to licensing restrictions) so if you get an ASIO sound card, make sure that it has alternative drivers (for Windows these are usually called WDM drivers).

If you are using a laptop, then USB may be an option, but several USB audio devices will not allow you to directly monitor what you are recording. If you are just transferring stuff from cassette or vinyl this is not much of a problem, but if you are doing multi-track recording then it is.

Recording vinyl from a normal turntable also requires a “phono pre-amp”
(Example: Turntable->Phono Pre-amp->Sound card->Audacity).

Many “studio microphones” require “phantom power”, so if you intend to use one of these you will need an interface that provides phantom power, or use a mixing desk/pre-amp before the sound card.
(Example: Condenser microphone->Mixing desk->Sound card->Audacity).

I’m not going to say that “USB turntables” are rubbish as I don’t wish to offend anyone, but there are thousands of problems raised on this forum about them.

If you want to record multiple tracks simultaneously, you need to use a multi-channel device, but a little caution is still required. Some multi-channel hardware uses drivers that appear as multiple stereo drivers, rather than a single multiple input device. Audacity only support a single audio input device.