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Can You Use A USB Mic With An Audio Interface?

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Can You Use A Usb Mic With An Audio Interface

You have a brand new USB microphone, and everything is exciting. You begin learning everything there is to know about home recording, but you soon realise something…

The phrase “audio interface” is frequently used. You witness audiophiles praising their personal favourites.

But isn’t all you really need a USB microphone? Should you purchase an audio interface (see also ‘Audio Interfaces With XLR‘) right away? What are the variations? Are both necessary?

The response is: Depends! Let’s go over the technical lingo and see if we can’t help you by simplifying the solutions. You will understand what to do at the conclusion of this article.

What Is An Audio Interface?

audio interface

Audio interfaces transform instrument and microphone information into a format that your PC and software can understand. The interface also sends audio from your PC to studio monitors and headphones

Although some interfaces link to your computer using Firewire, Thunderbolt, or even ethernet, USB connections are often the preferred method.  (Also see, ‘Best Audio Interface For Podcast‘)

The cost of an interface can range from far below $100 to a few thousand dollars, but even the smallest modest ones have excellent audio quality and offer essential capabilities. 

You might not require an audio interface if you only use one mic (also see, ‘How to Make Your Mic Sound Better‘) and a USB microphone works for you.

If you want to utilize an XLR microphone (also see, ‘Best XLR Podcasting Mics‘)or monitor on speakers, it may be time to consider buying a professional audio interface.

Do You Need An Audio Interface With A USB Mic?

A USB microphone comes equipped with the AD converter, preamp, and microphone you need to record (analog to digital). The USB cable carries the signal into the PC, and presto! The sound is received by the computer. (Also see, ‘Best Podcast Starter Kit‘)

Everything you just read, minus the microphone, is an audio interface. The interface serves as a link between the PC and the source (such as a guitar, microphones, etc).

Due to the inability of audio interfaces to use USB as an input, you cannot plug a USB mic into one. They’re designed to be an affordable, all-in-one recording option for better quality.

Therefore, in theory, a USB microphone DOES NOT require an audio interface. 

Though is a USB microphone the ideal choice for your circumstance? Or is the ideal solution an audio interface alongside a separate microphone? Let’s investigate that a little more.

What Do You Hope To Record?

If you’re a musician or songwriter on a tight budget, you may wish to be able to create podcasts, interviews, voiceovers, or even just vocals or perhaps an acoustic guitar.

The good news is as follows: You could certainly get by using a simple USB microphone.

The majority of people in these circumstances don’t require exceptionally high quality to do their tasks, thus the USB microphone is adequate.

However, if the quality is crucial to you and you’re trying to step up your game, an audio interface alongside a separate microphone would be the best choice. Additionally, this path allows you more alternatives in the future.

Still uncertain? Let’s investigate both of these possibilities a bit more to determine which would be the best choice for you.

Using A USB Microphone

usb mic

It’s just a microphone that uses USB to connect to your computer. It offers a small solution that performs all of the digital conversion tasks an audio interface should perform.

There are numerous justifications for purchasing one. It is a more obvious choice because you can buy these in various price levels, from affordable to expensive. These can be an easy solution to record in high quality on a tight budget.

Additionally, a USB microphone just requires one cable, as opposed to several cables needed for an interface, making the USB alternative much more appealing to people who value simplicity.

Therefore, you ought to consider omitting the USB mic if quality is your primary concern and you intend to remain with it for the long haul, whether that be now or in the future.

Directly access the audio interface then select a high-quality USB microphone.

There are many different USB microphone possibilities. However, a solid interface and microphone may compete with the top-tier expensive solutions, so you really shouldn’t spend too much here. 

You will probably outgrow this microphone even if you don’t anticipate it.

Choosing the less expensive USB microphone will still offer you a respectable sound, but it will also allow you a backup plan in case you decide later to spend more money on a superior setup.

Using An Audio Interface

An audio interface transmits sound to your computer from a device (such as a guitar, bass, or microphone). The sound is converted into a digital format that the computer can understand and use.

Can You Use A USB Mic With An Audio Interface (1)

You can connect external monitors using it. A group of inputs and outputs, gain controls, and volume knobs are also included. 

Compared to the USB mic, it offers a more comprehensive option. The best option is to invest in an audio interface if you wish to record vocals and instruments.

It is a better option than a USB mic due to its flexibility. Remember that the costs are significantly greater, and include a mic or instrument(s) in your budget. Additionally, unlike a USB mic, they are not precisely plug and play.

A wide range of models are available for audio interfaces. To record numerous instruments or voices at once, you can select single input and multiple input.

Some of them use Firewire, while the majority use USB. Stick with the first if you’re curious about what that is. Firewire ports aren’t even present on the majority of computers. A waste of time.

Wired Clip is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission, at no additional cost to you.

Final Thoughts 

Some people might think that an audio interface’s extra features are superfluous. In this scenario, you can continue using the USB microphone that you now own or intend to purchase.

Alternatively, if you wish to create new opportunities, that’s a different matter. Want to record a variety of instruments using a variety of microphones? Then it would probably be worthwhile to update to an audio interface.

Matt Brook

With a background in Journalism and years of experience in the industry, Matt brings a wealth of knowledge to the WiredClip team.

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