Essential Gear Needed to Make Beats

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The Juicy Details on Audio Interfaces

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Recommended Audio Interface

Here’s a cool tidbit of knowledge:
Using higher sample rates actually allows you to use lower buffer settings!

The benefit of an audio interface is being able to plug in your studio reference monitor speakers, high quality microphones, and access the audio interface’s ASIO drivers for better performance inside your DAW (if the audio interface’s drivers have been coded well.)

In my beginnings, I started with an M-Audio Fast Track Pro.

It was a poor experience. I personally think I purchased a lemon because the pre-amps (the volume knob for your microphone) was not responsive at all. It was either fully on or off.

I then decided to try a different brand, Focusrite, and I was very happy with them.

I was able to have full control over my microphone’s volume, plus Focusrite has a really cool touch to their audio interface with their halo lights indicating if you’re recording too loud (red) or at a good volume (green).

If you are going to purchase a Focusrite, make sure to purchase their Second Generation.

It will give you much better performance as it’s the newest model.

Audio Interface Settings and Latency

I want you to be careful with what you read online in regards to audio interfaces.

These companies promise us zero-latency, but I don’t believe technology is yet able to achieve this. (I think we’re close, though!)

So there’s a term called round-trip latency.

It’s the process when you talk into your microphone, it then goes into your computer through the audio interface via USB, and then that audio has to be played back to you via your speakers/headphones.

In that time, there is a delay between your voice and listening to your voice in your headphones.

You may think, so.. big deal?

But it’s actually so distracting for the performer, and it totally skews their ability to perform.

Here’s a research paper that someone did on orchestra players to see how much latency we can bare and still perform well:
Round-Trip Latency Research Paper

Over the years technology has become much better, and with Focusrite’s Second Generation, there was a SIGNIFICANT improvement to this latency.

You adjust latency with your audio interface’s buffer settings; common settings are 512, 1024, 2048, etc.

But here’s the thing: the lower the number, the harder your CPU has to work, but the less latency!

When you have a huge song already making your CPU run hot, then you go to record vocals and you lower this buffer setting, you’ll start to get pops and clicks (under runs).

A way around this is exporting the song as an MP3, then recording your voice in a new project so you can allow your CPU to focus on the low buffer setting for less latency.

When you’re buffer setting is 1024 and above, the echo really throws you off.

But again, with Focusrite’s Second Generation, there is a significant improvement.

I’m just passing this on to you so you’re aware that this is a problem for us recording artists, and these audio interface companies try to mask the issue with new ideas/techniques which don’t fully fix the issue, they are more of a work around.

And so we can all relate here.. This isn’t just for recording voices. If you try to play notes on your MIDI Keyboard and notice a delay, this is because your buffer setting is high.

Computers are becoming more powerful, so soon this will no longer be an issue.

And as a pro-tip, you can avoid audio latency all together by getting a mixer.

Watch my “funny video” about avoiding a mixer here:
Using a Mixer to Avoid Audio Latency