An audio interface does two things:
It converts analog signals created by a mics\/headsets into digital streams suitable for recording.
It converts digital streams sent by computers or mobile devices into analog signals suitable for headphones\/headsets and speakers.
If you have a USB mic or headset, the audio interface is built in.
If you have XLR mics, you'll need to buy an audio interface.
|Input||Price||Inputs||Interface Type||Phantom Power|
|Mackie Oynx BlackJack||$100||2 XLR||USB||Yes|
I'm Team Audio Interface (or recorder, although you can't do a mix-minus Skype setups with a Zoom H6). But in an attempt to be fair and balanced:
- ☑︎ Physical knobs and sliders are cool and fun
- ☑︎ If compressor/limiter, useful for live/live-to-tape scenarios
- ☒ Built-in USB output typically only 2 channels
- ☒ Built-in A2D hardware typically offers mid-range quality
- ☑︎ Captures one track per input (easier to process, edit)
- ☑︎ Typically better A2D hardware
- ☑︎ Typically supports better sample rates/resolutions
- ☑︎ Allows for a far more compact setup, easier to store/transport
- ☒ Clumsier for live/live-to-tape scenarios
- Capture for iPad
- Spire: Multitrack Music Recorder by iZotope (free)
- MultiTrack DAW by Harmonicdog ($10)
|Mixer||Price||Inputs||Interface Type||Phantom Power|
|Mackie ProFX8v2 8-Channel||$230||4 XLR||USB||Yes|
Single-enders vs. multi-enders
One person + USB mic
Traditionally, podcast recording setups included a mixer, whose job is to mix several audio inputs — for example, multiple mics — into a stereo output suitable for recording.
Lately, "mixer-free" setups are becoming more popular.
Tips & Tricks
- DO record and save and edit on your primary drive (vs. an external or network drive). You can always copy or move files after.