Audio Interfaces

I have the Presonus USB 90 only to connect my monitors to my iMac. I noticed that with sone virtual instruments the volume was really low. It was normal to me. It wasn’t until I went to a friends home studio that I could actually “feel” His music. I asked and he does not use an audio interface. He just runs cables straight from his computer to his monitors.

Are audio interfaces needed? Should I be running cables from my iMac’s headphone jack to my monitors? I just want to hear a big sound when writing and playback. Currently, I can barely hear some of the instruments, especially flute and Oboes.


An audio interface is 100% needed. They don’t only contain your mic preamps and input/output for mics and monitors… they also include a better quality sound card that enables you to hear HD sounds more clearly.

It’s totally natural for some of your sounds to be quieter in different patches, I definitely wouldn’t worry about this! The feel of the audio instrument is entirely fictitious… it’s a virtual instrument. Obviously you get a good visceral feel of the dynamics and timbre but a lot can be said for the actual feel of a midi interface. My friend has an MAudio keystation 88, he loves it because you have to hit the thing quite hard… I hate it for the same reasons :joy: I have a novation and I like that it’s semi weighted with after touch, he’s only just got used to it… but just how you approach playing keys really effects a whole lot. So don’t be discouraged. Make sure your running at either 44/48khz playback with a decent buffer and you’ll be fine.

Regarding audio interface, yes it is essential for professional quality in all ways, including latency etc. This is why next time I upgrade audio interface I will go for top tier, probably even thunderbolt 3 because I am getting so annoyed with all the USB troubles I have from maximizing the internal USB-bandwidth of my iMac with my 20+ USB-devices! :stuck_out_tongue:

Funny about the MIDI keyboard thing you mentioned. I literally can not compose music without a true weighted piano action keybed! :stuck_out_tongue:

However, as you may have seen on my videos, I also have a synth action keyboard since it is by far superior for fast parts like high percussion, ostinatos etc.

Thank you Geoffrey, I was starting to think something was wrong with my setup. As far as midi keyboard, I have the NI S61. I really do love the feel of it. However, there are two things that I don’t like about it. 1) that it doesn’t have any sliders, and 2) when ever I use the mod wheel for volume control, sometimes it will jump to zero volume on its own.

When I was in the market I really thought about getting the novation. I didn’t get it because I am new to sample instruments and at the time I didn’t realize that I would need sliders.

One of these days I will invest in a midi fader box. I’ve been looking at the Nanokontrol Studio but I have been reading mixed reviews.

Thanks again for clearing that up for me.



Just yesterday I too realized that I was having USB Hub issues. I have the Star Tech 7. It is supposed to be high quality, metal casing, and now I realize after testing that four of the seven ports don’t work. And of course it’s just a few months past the warranty.

Ok, so can you give me an example of an audio interface that you consider top tier? I currently have presonus usb 90. I consider it to be entry level.


I have had sooooo much trouble over the years with USB. It is simply not stable when you use a lot of USB devices. I had dropouts out on my video cameras that are on USB, on my audio, MIDI keyboard suddenly stopped working. And they were not even on the same hub. So in the future I will get either Thunderbolt, or at least the new USB-C for all hardware.

In the case of audio interfaces, I have mainly been looking at UAD, simply because they can run on Thunderbolt. Now, of course I need to first get a new Mac, since my iMac does not have Thunderbolt 3. But when I do, I am probably going to get the UAD, something like this one:

I too have had two USB hubs not working and threw them away. Then I ran to the store and bought a cheap one and now it just works. :+1:

No problem, it’s something that often we might not think of, but if we think logically about it… without the soundcard your only able to listen at 16bit. That’s only 16 frames (or snaps of the audio per second) which isn’t a lot at all. Because of this your computer would fill in the missing information with Loggerythmic information meaning the signal would distort in those spaces, adding noise to the signal. This ultimately makes the sound louder but the quality goes down which is the issue we face. A higher bit rate enabled us to overcome this which is why an AI is essential for professional work.

Your NI station is great, so I’d not worry about that. If it works then keep it, mine Novation is about 7 years old and I still love it. I have no issues and the weight is great for me despite being used to a normal piano weight.

As for USB interfaces. I’ve honestly had no issues and I use around 10 usb inputs atm so I’m not really at liberty to say anything but I have a 1st gen focusrite 18i20 and it’s great. Goes up to 98bit rate, awesome sounding preamps and I enjoy it’s warmer tone. It’s never really failed me except for once when I downloaded the wrong driver… oops :grimacing: the only issue I find is past 4 o’clock the noise floor goes up to about -21db which is a little high… though I use izotope to clean it up if it becomes an issue so it’s all good… having said that it’s never been an issue as I record at quieter levels as it’s good practice to :slight_smile:

Hi @jonnelson1988,

check out my VIDEO about your case, if you haven’t already. We all started somewhere…

Audio interface is important if you want to improve in whatever you are doing with audio. So it should be on your list. Your speakers and headphones will instantly sound better and clearer, than using your jack input. That’s what I have said in the video as well. So the quick answer is “Yes, you NEED one!”.

In almost every case the rule that “the more money you spend, the better the product will be”…applies to audio technology (in most cases). In every money-class you can find something that will work for you. However, audio interfaces are definied by two aspects.

  1. How many inputs and ouputs

  2. What connection: USB, Thunderbolt, etc.

  3. The more inputs you have, the more it will cost. So you need to decide for yourself how many instruments (live) you want to record at the same time. 2, 4, 8…

  4. You pay the price for the connection speed as well. Thunderbolt 3 is obviously the fastest connection at the moment, so the most expensive one. The speed is responsible for so called “latency”, meaning that you hear less “echo” effect on your voice or instrument during recording.

Interfaces you can look at: Focusrite Scarlett Series, RME Baby Face, UAD is great, without a question, however, $$$. Presonus 192 Series is great as well. Payable.

They all do the same thing, record audio. One thing I would recommend checking out which of the devices has a good history for your computer system. If you use Mac, then you should have less problems in general with all of them. Windows depends always on the in-build components and audio drivers.

I use Mac, and never had big issues with all devices and companies. But if you want to do it right from the start, UAD Apollo Twin as Mikael has mentioned is the way to go.

But as I have said before, it depends on inputs first of all. And after you have answered that for yourself, you go from there.

Kind regards,



Yes I just watched the video “5 things” as well. Very good stuff. I still have my Presonus 90 but I plan to upgrade to the UAD Apollo Twin. Regarding the video, I use Mac only, Logic, Presonus USB 90.