"Dave, what is the best Audio Interface for home recordings?"
As another year comes to a close this is still the most frequently asked question I get.
Which means I get another chance to state my case.
In general, it's easy to fall into the trap of putting too much stock in online reviews, forums, and websites (yes - even this one!)
Because everyone who spends time developing those resources has some level of confidence and has forged their own viewpoints from experience.
All this (often times conflicting) information/advice can be paralyzing at times.
So who knows what's "best" for you? Well... YOU DO!
I believe that the "best" (fill in the blank here) for you is the one that satisfies these 3 criteria:
It can help you create the music you want to make
It can be bought for a price that won't make you miserable
It is something that you are willing to actually LEARN
The first really deals with "Will it work for your needs?"
For example: if you want to record MIDI, you will need a MIDI interface either stand-alone or built into your Audio Interface.
This isn't anyone's opinion it's just a fact.
In the same way, if you want to process your vocals like T-Pain then you'll need some sophisticated software.
Once again, these are just the facts of the case.
Sometimes knowing what you need is the hardest part at the start because it's all so new.
Do your best to push through this initial learning curve, make a list of things you want to record, and start to identify what you need by researching each line item.
Check around the rest of my site for more info or send me a note via Facebook if you're really stumped.
Sometimes I can't help but I'll at least try to point you in the right direction.
Criteria #2 is also important for our discussion.
Now you can find deals, and you can get a good price by shopping around, but in the end... you will pay for quality.
This is not a bad thing, just don't expect to pay for a Ford and then be dissappointed that it doesn't perform like a Porsche.
That's not how it works.
That's not how it works with cars and it's not how it works with music gear.
Everyone's threshold for financial pain is different, but my advice is to not buy something so cheap that it fails on you before you even get started - and not so expensive that you hate yourself for buying it.
So don't break the bank on the most expensive one in the store, but also don't be tempted by the cheapest piece of junk either.
Balance is the key.
Which takes us to the end...
Critera #3 - You will have to spend time with your stuff.
You will have to search online, read the user's guide, buy a supplemental guide, hit up your friends, get lost, kick your computer over, pick your computer up, and find your way back out again.
There is no shortcut.
If you want to play this game you must pay the price of admission.
And here I'm talking about the price of your time.
I promise you that you will want to scream like a banshee and set your recording software on fire (impossible by the way - I tried).
I promise you I have felt this way too.
But I also promise you that when it all comes together, when you get that sound you've been hunting for, when you get that reverb to bounce just right, or when you punch in to save the one flaw in that otherwise "perfect take" it will all be worth it.
It can be quite an emotional roller coaster too, but if it were easy then everyone would be doing it already.
And don't sit and wait to research the "perfect" or "the best" anything. Before you could drive did you hold out for the "perfect car"?
Not me! I just wanted anything that had 4 wheels (though I'd probably settle for 3).
You don't need the BEST thing... You just need ANY thing so you can get out of the starting gate.
Believe me, you'll soon figure it out for yourself what works and what doesn't.
And you won't have to feel bad about reading what someone with 1,000,000,000 posts on some forum thinks.
So get something that helps you create the music you want, at the price you can live with, and that you are willing to master.
You are the only one standing in your way - now get out there and do it.