How to Connect Audio Interface to a Computer: Necessary Steps & Tools

In this guide we'll explain how to connect your audio interface to a computer and what tools you are going to need for that.
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Last updatedLast updated: August 30, 2021
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An audio interface can open up loads of possibilities for recording a variety of different instruments and taking a feed from a microphone. This means that audio equipment that would not otherwise be compatible with your computer can be used to record straight into a DAW. In this guide, we’re looking at how to connect an audio interface to a computer on Windows or Mac operating systems.

In the vast majority of cases, the connection itself is really simple, but you also need to ensure that you are using the correct drivers and compatible cables so that the audio signal is properly recorded. Our guide will help you to get audio signal into your DAW Trusted Source Digital audio workstation - Wikipedia digital audio workstation (DAW) is an electronic device or application software used for recording, editing and producing audio files. DAWs come in a wide variety of configurations from a single software program on a laptop, to an integrated stand-alone unit, all the way to a highly complex configuration of numerous components controlled by a central computer. en.wikipedia.org .

What you’ll need

How to Connect Audio Interface to a Computer: Necessary Steps & Tools

Naturally, what you’ll need will vary slightly depending on what you are using. You will have to work out what cables are required based on both your interface and your computer. Knowing how to connect your Focusrite audio interface to your computer might be different from connecting a different brand to your laptop.

That said, the vast majority of audio interfaces just work using USB cables. The type A to type B USB cable will connect to both the back of your interface and the USB connection within your laptop.

You will need:
  • A cable to connect the audio interface to the laptop/computer (ordinarily a type A to B USB)
  • A cable to connect the instrument input, or microphone output. This is usually a ¼ inch jack lead or an XLR cable.
  • Audio interface (plus power supply if it is not USB powered)
  • Computer


Though the majority of modern models of interface, especially for home recording and beginners, use USB, there are some other models out there. Always base what you need on the equipment you have. If you want to know how to connect a Yamaha audio interface to a computer, such as the Yamaha RSio64-D Dante/Mini-YGDAI Converting Audio Interface, you may have to explore more complex inputs and outputs, such as Mini-YGDAI Trusted Source Mini-YGDAI Card Matching - Yamaha - UK and Ireland Mini-YGDAI card matching table shows the number of cards available on the host device. To prevent equipment failure, please use a safe combination of cards as shown by the results. uk.yamaha.com cards often used for broadcasting.

For Mac users, another option is to use a thunderbolt connection. There are a number of audio interfaces that use thunderbolt. The steps for connecting the interface are the same, with the thunderbolt and USB cables switched. The UA Apollo is one of the best audio interfaces you can buy for home use or even for some studios, and this makes use of the thunderbolt connection.

Connecting an audio interface to your PC/Laptop

Fortunately, the task of connecting an audio interface to your PC or Laptop is pretty simple in the majority of situations. This is especially true if you buy a model that is designed to be portable, these are set up for simplicity rather than taking a long time to connect.

The steps are as follows:

  1. Use your USB or thunderbolt cable to connect the interface to your USB/thunderbolt input.
  2. Assuming that it is USB powered, check that the audio interface is receiving power, often indicated by a light.
  3. Check that phantom power is not turned on unless you will be using a condenser microphone.
  4. Turn the gain setting down to the bottom.
  5. Check in your DAW or audio inputs and output settings on your computer that your computer recognizes the interface.
  6. Connect your instrument or microphone to the inputs of the interface, using a jack cable or an XLR.
  7. Check the input signal is coming through by gradually increasing the gain on the model. This will usually be indicated by a green light as you play the instrument or sing or speak into the mic.
  8. Set the audio to a clear level that is not peaking or clipping Trusted Source Clipping (audio) - Wikipedia Clipping is a form of waveform distortion that occurs when an amplifier is overdriven and attempts to deliver an output voltage or current beyond its maximum capability. Driving an amplifier into clipping may cause it to output power in excess of its power rating. en.wikipedia.org .
  9. Set the input within your DAW to the audio interface and you should be ready to record.

There are a couple of other considerations. If your audio interface isn’t recognized by your computer or DAW automatically, you might want to check if you need to install a driver. Many audio interfaces will automatically install the driver when you plug it into the device, and some do not need a driver, but some may need you to manually install one.

Final thoughts

An audio interface lets you do a lot of the recording that you would have once had to go into a recording studio for. Podcasters, guitarists and instrumentalists love the fact that they can record their own instruments, but knowing how to connect an audio interface to a computer can be confusing if you are new to it. While you might have to troubleshoot based on the model you own, and you should always read the manufacturer’s instructions, the general steps in this guide will help you to connect your interface and get started making high-quality recordings in the comfort of your own home.

References

1.
Digital audio workstation - Wikipedia
digital audio workstation (DAW) is an electronic device or application software used for recording, editing and producing audio files. DAWs come in a wide variety of configurations from a single software program on a laptop, to an integrated stand-alone unit, all the way to a highly complex configuration of numerous components controlled by a central computer.
2.
Mini-YGDAI Card Matching - Yamaha - UK and Ireland
Mini-YGDAI card matching table shows the number of cards available on the host device. To prevent equipment failure, please use a safe combination of cards as shown by the results.
3.
Clipping (audio) - Wikipedia
Clipping is a form of waveform distortion that occurs when an amplifier is overdriven and attempts to deliver an output voltage or current beyond its maximum capability. Driving an amplifier into clipping may cause it to output power in excess of its power rating.
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