Audio interfaces vary greatly in their functionality and their price. In this episode, I teach you how to choose an audio interface for your podcast.
How do you choose the right audio interface for your podcast?
Hey, I am Ryan from PodcastFast.com and I recently created an article on the 10 Best Audio Interfaces For Podcasting which you can check out at PodcastFast.com/25. But a lot of questions came out of my research for that article and I wanted to answer them to help anyone online who may have these questions.
So how do you choose an audio interface for podcasting? How do you know which one is going to be right for you?
There are a lot of different audio interfaces on the market and they range from very cheap, around $100, to extremely expensive, we are talking $2,500 or more in terms of how much this audio interfaces cost. So it is pretty tricky as a podcaster to understand what should I buy, how much money should I spend, what are my needs, etc. So this video is a guide to help you make the buying process slightly easier for you. So there are a few things that you need to consider.
The first thing is obviously going to be your budget. How much do you want to spend? If you only want to spend $100 well then you are very limited and there are only going to be a couple of good options for you. For example, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo is $99. That is a good option. There are a couple of other ones out there as well. The PreSonus Audiobox 2×2 is a good option for $100. But if you do not want to spend much like you only have a budget of $100 or $200 then you only have a couple of options.
If you have a larger budget and you really want the best for your podcast then the buying decision comes a bit more complex because do you want one of these cheaper models? Will it do the job of what you are actually going to get for the more expensive model? So there are a few things that you need to consider when purchasing your audio interface for podcasting.
The first thing that you need to consider is the number of inputs that the audio interface has. And if you do not know what an audio interface is, go back and checkout my episode on What Is An Audio Interface at PodcastFast.com/27. You can check it out over there and learn all about it. But basically it connects your analog microphone to your computer – so you put your analog microphone into the audio interface which is like a really good sound card and it basically converts that into digital format. It gives you really good sound and sends that to your computer and your recording software whether that be Audacity or Screenflow or GarageBand or whatever it may be. So that is just a quick summary of what is an audio interface.
But when you are looking to purchase an audio interface, you want to look at the number of inputs that you need. Now I do a solo podcast. It is just me recording and my microphone is actually a USB microphone; it goes directly into my computer. But let us just imagine that this was an analog microphone that I want to plug into my audio interface. Now I do almost all of my recording by myself with just 1 microphone, a single microphone.
So really, when it comes to purchasing an audio interface, I only need something that has 1 input. But let us say I started a podcast with my wife, which is something that we have been talking about and considering, I would ideally like to get 2 microphones and have 2 inputs. So now the audio interface that accepts only 1 microphone is not going to be good enough for me. I am going to need one with 2 or more microphone inputs.
Now let us say I create a podcast about my favorite TV show at the moment which is The Expanse, which is a sci-fi show. If you have not checked it out, go ahead and check it out. It is absolutely awesome, Game of Thrones in space basically. So let us say that I want to get 5 of my friends together and we are going to talk about each episode of The Expanse and talk about what we love and we are going to create a podcast like that. Now all of a sudden I am running 5 different microphones and so I now need 5 microphone inputs and that all of a sudden gets quite complicated and I am going to need an audio interface that has 5 inputs or more.
Generally, audio interfaces have 1, 2, 4, or 8 or more interfaces or mic inputs that you have available. Also when you are looking at inputs, there are inputs for line-in and for instrument but for most podcasters that is not really going to be a consideration unless you are also creating your own music and you want to record that for your podcast. Really, you are just focusing on the XLR inputs or the microphone inputs. So that is the first consideration, how many inputs does the audio interface have.
The next consideration that you want to look at is 48 volt phantom power. Now if you do not understand what this is, basically 48 volt phantom power is power that is needed to charge certain microphones so you can use them. So condenser microphones for example, often need the 48 volt power because they just need that extra power in order to run and in order to deliver their sound. So most good audio interfaces will have 48 volt power and if you check out my episode over at PodcastFast.com/25, on the Top 10 Best Audio Interfaces For Podcasting, they all have 48 volt power. But if you have a condenser microphone, you are going to need the 48 volt phantom power so you just need to make sure that your audio interface can deliver that.
Another thing that you might want to consider is the output that you want to create. Some people want to use their audio interface both for recording their podcast and also for listening back to their podcast. So you can record your podcast; it goes through your audio interface into your computer. But you actually might want it to come out of your computer, get processed in your audio interface and then go into your headphones or into speakers. So you may want to consider what sort of outputs they have as well. Most of them have a headphone output and they have studio speaker outputs so you should be fine with basically any model that you get. But that might be something that you want to consider.
Now when it comes to sound quality they are all going to deliver pretty good sound quality. But as you get more expensive, they are going to deliver better quality sound. But the way that it works is that you are either going to pay more for better quality sound or you are going to pay more for more inputs. So let us say you have a product that is – let us look at the $100 range because the Focusrite Scarlett Solo, which is $99, and there is the Audiobox 2×2, which is $99.
The Focusrite Solo has 1 input and the Audiobox 2×2 has 2 inputs. So you either pay more for the processing power and to get better sound or you pay more for the inputs. So the Audiobox 2×2 probably is not going to deliver as good of sound but you get 2 inputs instead of 1 for the same price. Whereas the Focusrite Solo is probably going to deliver better sound, but it is only going to give you one mic input which may be limiting.
So I say this for you need to think about how many inputs do I need. So let us say, I am by myself; I might record a podcast with my wife but the chance of my recording with 5 or 4 people is very slim so the most inputs I am ever going to need is 2. And so I might want to purchase one that has 2 inputs, but I am not going to stretch and purchase one that has 4 mic inputs just in case I need it because the chances are I am not going to need it. And if I really needed it, I can go and purchase it down the track.
So what I will do in that case is look for the most expensive one I can purchase within my budget with the least amount of line inputs. And so for me that would be the Apogee Duet 2, which is around $600 and has 2 mic inputs. So the Apogee Duet, great product, which is highly recommended by a lot of people, that is the one that I would probably recommend as well.
But yes, you are either going to pay for better sound quality or you are going to pay for more inputs. Now, as you are going to get into the really expensive range – we are talking thousands of dollars here; that might change. That is kind of outside my level of expertise so you would need to do some more research around there. But definitely up to the $600, $700, $800 mark, you are going to get better sound with less inputs. But basically just do your research. Go on YouTube and check out the ones that you are interested in. Or check out my article on the 10 Best Audio Interfaces For Podcasting.
So what do we need to consider? We need to consider our budget because that is going to be a limiting factor. We need to consider how many inputs our audio interface has. So how many mic inputs there are. We may need to consider how many outputs there are but probably not really. We are also going to need to consider how many mic inputs it has because we only want a little amount so that we can get the best quality sound. We are paying for the sound and not paying for the extra inputs that we are not going to need.
When it comes to how it goes to your computer, there are common ways to do it. They can send it through USB, FireWire, or thunderbolt cable. Now you want to be careful with these because the ones that use thunderbolt cable are probably only going to be compatible with a McIntosh computer. So if you have a PC, be very careful with the ones that you purchase. Basically any product is going to work with a Mac but if you have a PC you need to be a bit more careful.
There are also some options out there. I have listed a couple in my top 10 list that can actually adapt and work with your iPhone or your iPad, and that is pretty cool. So you can run a microphone through your audio interface, get awesome quality sound, but then record that in an iPad. So if you are on the road, you do not need your big 27-inch iMac like I have. You might just need a little iPad and you can go on the road or even an iPhone, and you can record great quality sounding podcast with your iPhone as the recording device if you have that audio interface.
So there are some there when it comes to USB versus FireWire versus thunderbolt, really they are all just as good and they are all extremely fast these days. But you might want to consider is it going to work with my computer. And also if you want to record on your iOS device or if you want that flexibility then you will need to look into that because there are only a few devices that do that, not all of them do that.
And so that basically covers all of the things that you need to consider when choosing an audio interface for your podcast. So basically, look at what you can purchase within your budget. Look at the one that is around that price range but make sure you are not paying for extra audio inputs that you do not need and just make sure that the cord connects to your computer or your device and is going to work with your type of computer because no point in buying an audio interface that you cannot use because it only works with Macs and you have a PC.
So buying an audio interface is extremely complicated on the outset but if you follow those simple rules, it should not be too difficult for you and any audio interface that you purchase from my top 10 list is going to be great even the ones where you are spending $100 or $200. You do not need to spend $600. You definitely do not need to spend $2,500. If you want to go high-end, $600 for the Apogee Duet 2 is going to be a great choice.
You would only go higher than that if you need a ridiculous amount of mic inputs and you are doing a lot of stuff with the audio interface. So Apogee Duet 2 would kind of be the top tier that you would go for, which around $600 and the cheapest is $100. So somewhere within that price range, but for $150 you are still going to get a great audio interface. You can start with that, see how you go, see how you like it. And then you can progress out to something like the Apogee Duet 2 when your podcasting gets to that level.
So I hope that that has helped you learn how to choose an audio interface for your podcast. And now you can go out and make your podcast sound great. Actually, after I created this article and now I am creating these videos, I am actually thinking maybe I should go out, I should get a high quality analog microphone like the Heil PR40 and get a high quality audio interface like the Apogee Duet 2.
So I am going to be spending around $1,000 but I will get great quality sound for my podcast and once you have set it up, it is not a lot of effort and you are just going to get that next level sound above the Blue Yeti, which is good but not phenomenal. And so definitely something that I am considering at the moment: going out to purchase my own audio interface. So we will see how we will go. I will keep going with this for a while. And if it is going to be worth it for me because that is a lot of money and I have 3 kids to feed so I am not 100% sure. But you do what is right for you and until next time, do not just podcast, podcast fast!