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Do you need an Audio Interface if you only do Electronic Music?


The headline poses an interesting question. If you only want to do electronic music, do you really need an audio interface?

The answer is, as always:

It depends.

At first I thought the question was kind of weird. Well, of course you need one. But after thinking it over, there are definitely instances where you really don’t need one. At least not yet.

Doing Electronica In-The-Box.

On one hand, you can easily go without an interface if you’re only interesting in case you don’t need an interface.

Also, if you have no via USB.

So technically, you can still produce music without an interface. And you might actually get pretty far without it.

Checking Your Mixes

However, if you go without an interface then you won’t have any way of plugging in a good pair of monitors to check your mixes on. And keep in mind that you can forget about recording vocals or any other acoustic instrument over your electronic tracks. Without an interface, you simply won’t have anywhere to plug those things in.

It’s harder to know how your mixes translate to other systems without mixing them in a room. Sure, you can double-check your mixes on other systems around your house and in your car, but it’s time-consuming and inconvenient.

My Recommendation?

In the long run you do need an interface. You can get away with a good pair of headphones and Reason to begin with. But if you want to do any serious mixing, investing in a cheap audio interface and some nice reference monitors is definitely the way to go.

What do you guys think? Have you gone without an interface while still producing music on your computer? Leave a comment and let me know.

Image by: furibond


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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

Read more

LEAVE A COMMENT

  • Phunkbeat

    I believe in my Apogee One ! And a pair of KRK RP6

  • Phunkbeat

    I believe in my Apogee One ! And a pair of KRK RP6

  • Alex

    Your right, I went a long time w/o an interface. I even recorded vocals, guitars, and bass and had them connected to my monitors. But yes at some point you need an interface if your looking to do quality work.

    • Bastian

      Pardon me if this sound stupid,but what’s the use of an Audio Interface in music production?

  • Alex

    Your right, I went a long time w/o an interface. I even recorded vocals, guitars, and bass and had them connected to my monitors. But yes at some point you need an interface if your looking to do quality work.

    • Bastian

      Pardon me if this sound stupid,but what’s the use of an Audio Interface in music production?

  • Skrillex just used the headphones and computer! Amazing in fact.

  • Skrillex just used the headphones and computer! Amazing in fact.

  • Aid

    The built in soundcard on MacBooks are of high quality and that’s pretty much all you need until you make a living off of your music. When you start to make money, then you can consider buying a new audio interface.
    But all in all; the built in soundcard on MacBooks are great.

    A really nice pair of headphones, a macbook pro, maybe monitors of the more expensive models, and two or three years of intensive music production and alot alot alot of interest and curiosity, and you’ll be more than qualified in terms of skills to work proffessionally with music

    good look!

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      Hi,
      While the MAcbook soundcard is fine, it’s not at all up to any quality standard if you’re serious about producing music. Sure, you might get away with using headphones through that soundcard, but you will need an interface to plug in your monitors because the A/D converters in the Macbook are not that great compared to recording interfaces. I’m all for starting small, but everyone should buy an interface as soon as possible.

      Interfaces aren’t that expensive, and even the cheapest ones are better than Macbook Pros(or other computers) since you can’t really plug in monitors or microphones to your computer if you need to record something.

      On the other side, interest and curiosity are definitely very worthwhile things to have, since if you push yourself through those things you will improve.

      Thanks for the comment,
      Björgvin

      • Aid

        Well, for a start, the macs are great in terms of audio quality. beginners and most amateurs dont even know exactly what an audio interface does to the sound and what the impact of the conversion has on their development.They might know it technically, but they might not know it like personally. But thats a part of the learning curve.
        I think that once they get a hang on how to mix right, and how to properly balance each and every sound in their songs, then the natural path is to find a audio interface that fits them. and that is really hard to do because most people dont have the money to buy an audio interface, test it, buy another one, and test that, etc etc.
        also audio interfaces only affect the playback, not the actual audio data stored in the wav/mp3 file.

        so in short: audio interfaces sound different, much like speakers sound different.
        So combining the right audio interface with the right speakers is a whole problem in it self if one was to hunt for ultimate sound quality.

        My story is that I used to produce my music with a PC which I later on compared with my macbook pro, and oh boy did the macbook pro have much much better audio representation than the PC.
        And later on I bought a pair of AKG Q701, and WOW I could hear every single detail in every song that I once loved so much. I even noticed that my favorite songs werent that good and I was thinking that maybe it was because of my headphones? I was correct.
        Because I thought that if great songs sound “bad” like this (not really bad theyre great songs) then I could produce even better than this. This sparked me up to REALLY get into music.

        A couple of months later with my macbook pro which I find to have a great audio representation, together with my AKG Q701 which have undeniable quality, and the interest and curiosity which was sparked by the two discoverys I did with the macbook and the headphones, I now have great chances of getting in to the music industry. Why? because thanks to the 4 ingredients of mac, headphones, interest and curiosity, people have really been blown away of my music quality. and that was when I barely had any good song production.

        So the quality is Key, but interest and curiosity is what it comes down to in the end.

        So you’re right in youre article; “Do you need an Audio Interface if you only do Electronic Music?”
        Answer: It depends!

        And until this day I havent read any article or seen any video that explains what people seem to want to get an answer for, which ultimately is: How to create great music? or at least How to make my music sound great?
        Thats something that people always want to get an answer to.
        What’s missing in the production? Lack of audio quality (audio interface, headphones)
        Or is it maybe lack of skills?

        Sorry for the long post, just wanted to share my view of how I see it 🙂

  • Aid

    The built in soundcard on MacBooks are of high quality and that’s pretty much all you need until you make a living off of your music. When you start to make money, then you can consider buying a new audio interface.
    But all in all; the built in soundcard on MacBooks are great.

    A really nice pair of headphones, a macbook pro, maybe monitors of the more expensive models, and two or three years of intensive music production and alot alot alot of interest and curiosity, and you’ll be more than qualified in terms of skills to work proffessionally with music

    good look!

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      Hi,
      While the MAcbook soundcard is fine, it’s not at all up to any quality standard if you’re serious about producing music. Sure, you might get away with using headphones through that soundcard, but you will need an interface to plug in your monitors because the A/D converters in the Macbook are not that great compared to recording interfaces. I’m all for starting small, but everyone should buy an interface as soon as possible.

      Interfaces aren’t that expensive, and even the cheapest ones are better than Macbook Pros(or other computers) since you can’t really plug in monitors or microphones to your computer if you need to record something.

      On the other side, interest and curiosity are definitely very worthwhile things to have, since if you push yourself through those things you will improve.

      Thanks for the comment,
      Björgvin

      • Aid

        Well, for a start, the macs are great in terms of audio quality. beginners and most amateurs dont even know exactly what an audio interface does to the sound and what the impact of the conversion has on their development.They might know it technically, but they might not know it like personally. But thats a part of the learning curve.
        I think that once they get a hang on how to mix right, and how to properly balance each and every sound in their songs, then the natural path is to find a audio interface that fits them. and that is really hard to do because most people dont have the money to buy an audio interface, test it, buy another one, and test that, etc etc.
        also audio interfaces only affect the playback, not the actual audio data stored in the wav/mp3 file.

        so in short: audio interfaces sound different, much like speakers sound different.
        So combining the right audio interface with the right speakers is a whole problem in it self if one was to hunt for ultimate sound quality.

        My story is that I used to produce my music with a PC which I later on compared with my macbook pro, and oh boy did the macbook pro have much much better audio representation than the PC.
        And later on I bought a pair of AKG Q701, and WOW I could hear every single detail in every song that I once loved so much. I even noticed that my favorite songs werent that good and I was thinking that maybe it was because of my headphones? I was correct.
        Because I thought that if great songs sound “bad” like this (not really bad theyre great songs) then I could produce even better than this. This sparked me up to REALLY get into music.

        A couple of months later with my macbook pro which I find to have a great audio representation, together with my AKG Q701 which have undeniable quality, and the interest and curiosity which was sparked by the two discoverys I did with the macbook and the headphones, I now have great chances of getting in to the music industry. Why? because thanks to the 4 ingredients of mac, headphones, interest and curiosity, people have really been blown away of my music quality. and that was when I barely had any good song production.

        So the quality is Key, but interest and curiosity is what it comes down to in the end.

        So you’re right in youre article; “Do you need an Audio Interface if you only do Electronic Music?”
        Answer: It depends!

        And until this day I havent read any article or seen any video that explains what people seem to want to get an answer for, which ultimately is: How to create great music? or at least How to make my music sound great?
        Thats something that people always want to get an answer to.
        What’s missing in the production? Lack of audio quality (audio interface, headphones)
        Or is it maybe lack of skills?

        Sorry for the long post, just wanted to share my view of how I see it 🙂

  • Eric

    hi . will it bring my music as good as commercial musics if i get an audio interface one ? ive been lost for too long in this case . help

    • No. If you’re hoping an interface will make your music commercial sounding you’re very mistaken. You should work on your recording skills and get practice tracking and mixing in order to get closer to a commercial sound.

    • NYC PIZZA RAT

      depends… depends on your genre of music. If its trap, all you would need is a good mic preamp for warmth like the avalon and your almost there. the difference between bedroom producers and the pros are the expensive channel strips and 4,000 dollar mics.

  • Eric

    hi . will it bring my music as good as commercial musics if i get an audio interface one ? ive been lost for too long in this case . help

    • No. If you’re hoping an interface will make your music commercial sounding you’re very mistaken. You should work on your recording skills and get practice tracking and mixing in order to get closer to a commercial sound.

    • NYC PIZZA RAT

      depends… depends on your genre of music. If its trap, all you would need is a good mic preamp for warmth like the avalon and your almost there. the difference between bedroom producers and the pros are the expensive channel strips and 4,000 dollar mics.

  • Remah Saqalla

    So someone correct me or guide me if I’m mistaken…I can mix & record electronic music with a pair of good headphones & it can get me somewhere if the mixes are good? Mentioning that I use Audio Technica USB mic then I don’t need an audio interface since audio interfaces are all about recording instruments & vocals? Coming to my biggest questions…I guess it’s a MUST to get an audio interface for mastering since it has to be done by speakers to get the optimum results and better monitoring for crossfade and all these other stuff, is it? I have a Pioneer Hi-Fi System consists of a pair of main speakers & a subwoofer for bass, can this be connected to my audio interface and be considered as my monitoring speakers or I have to get the proper studio ones?? Sorry for all these questions but I find this topic exciting and I’d like to gain good knowledge about it. 😀

  • Remah Saqalla

    So someone correct me or guide me if I’m mistaken…I can mix & record electronic music with a pair of good headphones & it can get me somewhere if the mixes are good? Mentioning that I use Audio Technica USB mic then I don’t need an audio interface since audio interfaces are all about recording instruments & vocals? Coming to my biggest questions…I guess it’s a MUST to get an audio interface for mastering since it has to be done by speakers to get the optimum results and better monitoring for crossfade and all these other stuff, is it? I have a Pioneer Hi-Fi System consists of a pair of main speakers & a subwoofer for bass, can this be connected to my audio interface and be considered as my monitoring speakers or I have to get the proper studio ones?? Sorry for all these questions but I find this topic exciting and I’d like to gain good knowledge about it. 😀

  • Gordon Bennett

    To monitor on external speakers why can’t you just hook the speakers up to the headphones socket on the computer?

    • Bramski

      I had the same thought. He might be alluding to the fact that not all monitors offer the same connections eg RCA vs XLR and TRS for example. It’s true you’d need a soundcard to use the balanced outputs but there’s nothing to stop you just using adaptors to go from the 6.5mm line to headphone jack..

  • Gordon Bennett

    To monitor on external speakers why can’t you just hook the speakers up to the headphones socket on the computer?

    • Bramski

      I had the same thought. He might be alluding to the fact that not all monitors offer the same connections eg RCA vs XLR and TRS for example. It’s true you’d need a soundcard to use the balanced outputs but there’s nothing to stop you just using adaptors to go from the 6.5mm line to headphone jack..

  • sam

    Great insights!

    Best Audio Interfaces

  • sam

    Great insights!

    Best Audio Interfaces