How To Use an Audio Interface With Discord (Setup Guide)

Audio interfaces are incredible devices that allow you to use a high-end XLR microphone with your computer. It may improve the sound quality of your headphones or speakers as well. However, making an audio interface work with Discord isn’t fully straightforward.

Here’s how to use an audio interface with Discord:

  1. Connect the audio interface to your computer.
  2. Plug your microphone into the audio interface.
  3. Check if the computer recognizes the audio interface.
  4. Fine-tune your microphone settings.
  5. Change the microphone settings in Discord.

This article will go over the steps mentioned above in more detail. I’ll also explain how to troubleshoot audio interface problems in Windows and Discord if you’re having trouble setting it up.

Audio Interface

1. Connect the Audio Interface to Your Computer

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If this is your first time using an audio interface, it’s time to familiarize yourself with this amazing piece of audio equipment.

The main purpose of an audio interface is to convert your microphone’s analog signal into something your computer can understand.

And since your computer speaks in 1’s and 0’s, that means it’s converted into a digital format.

So, most audio interfaces connect via a simple USB cable. You probably know that already.

But here’s something that you perhaps don’t know — you should use the USB port on the back of your PC.

When you plug it into the back, you’ll connect the audio interface directly to your motherboard.

If you plug it into the front USB ports on the case, that’s a whole additional step in your setup. The front ports are essentially just a hub that uses a cable to connect to your motherboard.

So, before you get a headache trying to figure out why your audio interface isn’t working, plug it into the back.

When you connect it, the LED on the audio interface should turn on. This indicates that the device is working.

2. Plug Your Microphone Into the Audio Interface

Your audio interface has an XLR input connector. It’s what you can find on high-end microphones, like the one you probably have.

So, plug the microphone’s connector into the audio interface. 

Turn on phantom power (+48V on the audio interface) if you’re using a condenser microphone. Condenser microphones require phantom power to work because they have active electronics.

If you don’t have a condenser mic, ensure that phantom power is off.

Audio Interface 1

3. Check if the Computer Recognizes the Audio Interface

You should now check if the audio interface is recognized on your computer. 

You can do that by right-clicking the speaker icon in the bottom right corner of your taskbar. Next, select Open Sound settings.

You should see your audio interface in the drop-down menus of Choose your output device and Choose your input device. If it’s not auto-selected as the default, select it yourself.

Most audio interfaces are plug-and-play. They install any required computer drivers automatically when you plug it in for the first time. 

Double-check your manufacturer’s website for this piece of information, though. If they have official drivers for your audio interface model on their website, download and install them.

Check out: Do You Need an Audio Interface if You’re Not Recording?

4. Fine-Tune Your Microphone Settings

You didn’t spend all your money on a nice audio interface and high-end microphone to get a muffled or low-quality sound. 

That’s why you have to change a few things in Windows before opening Discord.

So, here’s what you should do:

  1. Go to Start and type Sound settings.
  2. Under Input, ensure that your audio interface is selected and go to Device properties.
  3. Open Additional device properties. If you don’t see it, open the window in full screen. It’s on the right.
  4. Go to Advanced.
  5. Under Default Format, use the drop-down menu and select the highest sample and bit rate. It’s the last one on the list. This will ensure that you’re recording in a high-quality format.
  6. Under Exclusive Mode, turn on “Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device” and “Give exclusive mode applications priority.” This will ensure that you can fine-tune the settings in Discord later.
  7. Under Signal Enhancements, turn off Enable audio enhancements.

But one of the hardest things to fine-tune is the volume and boost. Especially on high-end microphones with audio interfaces.

Your audio interface most likely has a gain knob and a volume knob. 

The volume knob is pretty self-explanatory. The gain knob isn’t.

Gain adjusts the amplitude of your microphone signal that gets captured. It may behave like a secondary volume knob, but it really isn’t.

You can think of gain as a preamp for a guitar. It adjusts how much your microphone picks up in the first place.

If you turn gain all the way up, every fraction of a soundwave will end up in your audio.

But the issue is that Windows already has virtual gain and volume sliders. This can make a high-end Rode microphone sound like a smartphone mic.

So, here’s what you should do:

  1. Go to Start and type Sound settings.
  2. Under Input, open Device properties.
  3. Turn the volume slider all the way to 100.
  4. Open Additional device properties.
  5. Select the Levels tab.
  6. Turn the Microphone Boost slider all the way down to +00.0 dB.
  7. If you want to hear your microphone, go to Listen and turn on Listen to this device.

You can now use your audio interface to adjust the volume and gain. Ensure that your microphone is in a good location.

You should hear everything the microphone picks up now. If you don’t, turn the gain knob up a bit.

Fine-tune the gain and volume knob until you sound perfect.

If you don’t hear yourself, don’t fret. We’ll talk about troubleshooting your audio interface in Windows later.

Once you’re happy with your settings, turn off Listen to this device and close the settings.

5. Change the Microphone Settings in Discord

This is the final stage of your audio interface setup. Discord has several useful settings that allow you to adjust your mic settings. 

That’s why we had to turn on the Exclusive mode settings previously.

Before we talk about the different mic settings in Discord and what they do, let’s first ensure that Discord runs through your audio interface.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Open Discord.
  2. Log in to your Discord account.
  3. Go to User Settings (The cogwheel icon in the bottom left corner, next to your account).
  4. Go to Voice & Video.
  5. Under Input Device, press on the drop-down menu and select your audio interface.
  6. Ensure that the Input Volume and Output Volume sliders are set to 100%.

You can keep the input device on “Default,” but your mic can get muted if you plug in another input device later.

Plus, your computer may have a digital input device that can cause problems later on.

Don’t close the Voice & Video settings just yet, though. There are quite a few other settings that we must talk about first.

Input Mode and Input Sensitivity

There are two input modes in Discord: Voice activity and Push to Talk.

Voice activity turns your microphone on automatically when you speak. Push to Talk turns your mic on only when you press and hold a button.

You can select whatever you prefer. If you choose Push to Talk, Discord allows you to bind the shortcut that turns the mic on. 

I recommend any of the mouse side buttons because they’re the easiest to access. Avoid using keys that are common in video games like “R” and “Tab.”

If you selected Voice activity instead, you should adjust the Input Sensitivity. I recommend that you leave Automatically determine input sensitivity on.

But if your friends are complaining of keyboard clatter, turn it off and adjust the threshold. You can see on the slider how many dB your voice is when you talk. Adjust the slider so that your voice is louder than your keyboard.

Noise Suppression

Scroll down to the Advanced section in Discord, and you’ll see Noise Suppression.

Discord worked with Krisp to enable their noise suppression technology in Discord for free. Krisp is an AI-based noise-reducing program. It can analyze, identify, and block everything that isn’t your voice.

If you want to reduce background noise, I strongly recommend that you use Krisp over Noise Reduction.

Voice Processing

Echo Cancellation processes your audio and blocks out any echoes it identifies. If you have an extremely large, empty room, you can enable this to reduce echo.

If your friends complain that they hear you twice, Echo Cancellation may fix that issue. Otherwise, keep it off because it doesn’t work very well.

Noise Reduction is the other noise-filtering processing that Discord offers. However, it’s not nearly as good as Krisp. So, keep it off.

Advanced Voice Activity should be kept off. It’s supposed to block out background noise. However, the keyboard clatter will stay, but your voice won’t. It’ll cut you off mid-sentence when you lower your voice slightly.

Automatic Gain Control is yet another gain feature. Just like with Windows Microphone Boost, you should always keep this off. Your audio interface has a gain knob that works far better.

Troubleshooting Audio Interface Problems in Windows

If your audio interface doesn’t work in Windows at all, it’s usually an issue with drivers.

So, first and foremost, you should go to the manufacturer’s website and download the latest drivers. Only download drivers for your specific audio interface model.

Since some manufacturers offer very similar models, double-check the serial number.

Another solution I mentioned earlier is to always use the USB port on the back of your computer. 

Never use a USB hub or the front USB ports for your audio interface. It’ll cause incompatibility issues that are impossible to fix.

If your microphone works, but you don’t get any playback audio, it’s because the audio interface took over all audio on your computer. To fix this, simply plug your speakers or headphones into the audio interface instead of the computer.

If your audio interface seems to work only sometimes, it could be a problem with Sleep in Windows. It’ll turn off your audio interface on a system level and may not boot it up again.

Turn off automatic sleep in Windows to fix this issue.

It’s also worth disabling Exclusive mode to see if that fixes the issue. This happens when a program (other than Discord) hijacks your audio.

Troubleshooting Audio Interface Problems in Discord

First and foremost, there’s something that you should know about Discord and audio interfaces — there’s no official support.

It seems like Discord only brings this up if you contact their support team and say that your audio interface isn’t working.

It’s unbelievable that one of the largest voice chat services in the world doesn’t support audio interfaces. But this is the world we live in.

If your audio interface and mic work out of the box with Discord, that’s great. But for many, this isn’t the case.

Thankfully, there’s a workaround. But before you do anything, ensure that your audio interface and mic work in Windows in the first place. 

If they do, here’s a workaround explained by Reddit user 9OutOfBen:

  1. Download and install Virtual Audio Cable and OBS Studio.
  2. Open OBS Studio and open the settings for the mic/aux.
  3. Select Properties > Input > USB Audio device.
  4. Open the same settings again and go to Audio Monitoring > Monitor and Output. You can now hear what the mic picks up.
  5. Open the settings below Control.
  6. Go to Audio > Monitoring Device and select Virtual audio cable.
  7. Open Discord > Settings > Voice & Video.
  8. Select Virtual Audio Cable as your input device.

In a nutshell, this records your microphone and then sends it to Discord virtually. It’s an annoying workaround, but it works.

If your audio interface works fine for recording but has problems with voice chat programs, consider VB-Audio instead. It’s more or less the same workaround like the one mentioned above.

Check out some of my other articles:

Final Thoughts

Making your audio interface work with Discord isn’t clear-cut. There’s no official support for XLR devices, so it’s up to us to figure it out.

Thankfully, there’s a workaround. But before you try it, ensure that your audio interface works in Windows to begin with.

When you get your audio interface up and running in Discord, optimize all input settings for better sound quality and voice clarity.

Sources

Vinnie

I'm Vinnie, and I'm here to support you to create your own studio at home, whether it’s for photography, recording audio, podcasts, or videos!

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