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Choosing your Audio Interfaces / Sound Cards

January 3, 2007

So you now have your computer, some software to make some music, some instruments to make the sounds for it and some controllers to help you play and record. You’re ready to make music, right? Nearly… First there’s the small matter of finding the right way of getting sound into and out of your computer. Why would you want to get sound in, you might ask. Well, what if you want to record yourself singing along to some of those lovely software instruments you now have installed? Or what if you want to add some real guitar playing as well? Maybe you are part of a band and want to record each member’s individual playing into your computer so that you can use your software to correct timing and tuning? In short there are lots of different reasons to get sound or audio into your virtual music set-up and one big reason to get it out – in order to hear the finished results of your music production! Yes, while your computer may have internal speakers or even an earphone socket, you’ll eventually want to hook it up to some decent studio monitors so you can hear it in all of its undoubted glory.

So you will need an interface with both inputs and outputs, but once glance at the Dolphin website will reveal literally hundreds of them over lots of different and seemingly confusing categories. In fact this is potentially the most baffling area of computer music making but, don’t worry, because as with most computer related malarkey, it’s only complicated because there’s a whole list of jargon, seemingly only invented for those ‘in the know’ to look smugly down upon the rest of us.

While you can buy all sorts of different shapes and sizes of interface, some bundled with software, some with on board sounds and others complete with extra processing power, the simple fact of the matter is that there are only a couple of things you initially need to know when selecting an interface: the number of inputs and outputs you require and the type of interface connections you have supplied with your computer…

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