Do Audio Interfaces Improve Sound Quality? 7 Facts

An audio interface is a valuable piece of equipment for a home studio. It lets you record and play new music to and from your PC. But will an audio interface improve your sound quality?

Audio interfaces do improve sound quality, but only when monitoring. You can change the gain on the output signal of an audio interface, and your studio monitors or headphones will also get a stronger signal. An audio interface also boosts the input signal, but it doesn’t change the sound quality.

That said, audio interfaces have many different applications, and you usually don’t get one just to improve your sound. Read on to learn a few interesting facts about audio interfaces and why they matter.

Midi3 28

An Audio Interface Improves Sound Quality

Having a dedicated audio device of any kind improves sound quality. Even a cheap sound card is usually better than the built-in chip on your motherboard.

Most audio interfaces on the market have built-in preamps. So, they improve sound quality in the same way an amplifier or preamplifier does.

The signal gets amplified when it goes through the audio interface. The result is better sound clarityOpens in a new tab..

If you want crystal-clear audio, you’ll need a high-quality audio interface. It requires good digital-analog conversion, though. You can then essentially use it as a DACOpens in a new tab. replacement.

I recommend the PreSonus AudioBoxOpens in a new tab. from It allows you to convert up to 24-bit recording, which is crucial for HD audio. You can quickly expect studio-grade quality from this audio interface.

Another way an audio interface helps is by adding more gain. You can fine-tune how much you need for your speakers to get the best and most powerful sound.

Don’t worry if your amplifier already has a gain knob. Adding more gain is always good, especially if your microphone or speakers aren’t loud enough by default.

PreSonus, 2 Audio Interface, Blue, PC/Mac-2 Mic Pres (AUDIOBOX USB 96) Opens in a new tab.
Opens in a new tab.
2,543 Reviews
PreSonus, 2 Audio Interface, Blue, PC/Mac-2 Mic Pres (AUDIOBOX USB 96) Opens in a new tab.
  • Value-packed 2-channel USB 2.0 interface for personal and portable recording.
  • 2 high-quality Class-A mic preamps make it easy to get a great sound.
  • 2 high-headroom instrument inputs to record guitar, bass, and your favorite line-level devices, plus...

Last update on 2024-05-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If your audio interface sounds badOpens in a new tab., check out why and possible solutions in my article here.

Upgrading an Old Audio Interface Improves Sound Quality

We’ve come a long way in the world of audio. If you don’t believe me, listen to an original 40-year-old song – there’s a reason why we remaster those golden oldies.

The same is true for an audio interface. If you’re using an old M-Audio USB interface, for example, you’ll need to upgrade as soon as you can.

The difference in sound quality is irrefutable. Nowadays, pretty much any audio interface is good. You won’t get much by upgrading a recent one.

However, old audio interfaces don’t sound that good. They usually have more delay and can even add unwanted distortion.

This YouTube video explains how upgrading an old interface improves sound quality:

If your recordings sound muddy, out of whack, or distorted, it’s probably your old interface.

An Audio Interface Reduces Latency

Delay, latency, lag, or however you want to call it is annoying. If you’re adding effects and plugins to the sound, the delay becomes even more noticeable.

Alternatively, there’s a chance your speakers are causing the delay, which can be a huge problem for producers (and gamers).

However, if you use an audio interface, you can significantly reduce latency.

An audio interface uses a dedicated digital signal processorOpens in a new tab.. This means your computer doesn’t have to do any sound processing.

It significantly reduces delay because a digital signal processor is specially built to process audio. Even if you have a high-end CPU, it’s still not good enough.

It’s just like your CPU is pretty bad at rendering graphics. And your GPU can’t do any of the CPU’s work.

As Sound On Sound explainsOpens in a new tab., an audio interface skips buffers required for plugins and does the digital-analog conversion.

For more information, check out my full guide to how audio interfaces lessen audio latency.Opens in a new tab.

Your Computer Works Less With an Audio Interface

I’ve already hinted at the improved efficiency above.

Your CPU has to do a lot of things just to keep the operating system running. Add an audio workstation like FL StudioOpens in a new tab. to the mix, and your CPU will already be overworked.

An audio interface helps take the load off your CPU by doing the digital audio conversion instead.

Audio processing also uses up a lot of RAM cache space. By shifting the processing to the audio interface, your computer will work better.

In addition, if you’re using a lot of pluginsOpens in a new tab., you’ll be happy to learn that the interface takes care of them too.

Use Microphones and Instruments With an Audio Interface

One of the main reasons people get an audio interface is to plug in their recording equipment.

You can’t use an electric guitar or bass with your computer. There’s no place to plug the ¼” (0.625cm) jack in. Even if you use an adapter, it still won’t work.

This is because the output signal from the instrument or your microphone is incredibly weak. It has to go through an amp to work.

An audio interface with preamps can boost the signal enough to be audible.

So, you don’t even need to run your guitar through an amplifier to use it. You can plug it directly into your audio interface and start recording.

If you’re using an audio interface for a guitar, I recommend the AXE I/O PremiumOpens in a new tab. from

This interface lets you plug in two guitars at the same time. It has many plugins that you already use with your guitar, 3 preamp circuits, and it allows you to fine-tune the sound. It also has a microphone port in the back if you need it.

IK Multimedia AXE I/O premium 2-in 5-out 24-bit, 192 kHz USB audio interface for Mac/PC with advanced guitar tone shaping, Hi-Z re-amp out and massive AmpliTube and TONEX software bundle Opens in a new tab.
  • High-resolution recording: Capture every detail with AXE I/O's 24-bit, 192 kHz dac converters and...
  • Advanced guitar tone shaping: Get the perfect sound with Z-Tone impedance-adapting circuit,...
  • Massive software bundle: Includes AmpliTube 5 and TONEX SE, giving you over 50,000 guitar tones,...

Last update on 2024-05-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Audio Interfaces Record at Higher Sample Rates

Some audio interfaces record at sample rates of up to 192 kHz. The sample rate tells you how many samples are recordedOpens in a new tab. in one second.

Usually, the higher the sample rate, the better the sound quality. However, this is only in theory. It largely depends on what recording hardware you’re using.

A low-end microphone doesn’t need high sample rates. However, if you have a studio mic, you need a studio audio interface to go with it.

Here are a few benefits of using a high sample rateOpens in a new tab.:

  • Less aliasing (distortion) with instruments
  • Better frequency response
  • More data is available for producers to work with

If you want an audio interface that records up to 192 kHz, I recommend getting the Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen)Opens in a new tab. from

It’s a gorgeous, high-quality device with matching performance and is perfect for those who want to record with their microphone.

It also has a headphone jack for monitoring and a high-quality volume knob with a satisfying feel.

Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface for Guitarists, Vocalists, Podcasters or Producers to record and playback studio quality sound Opens in a new tab.
  • Pro performance with great pre-amps - Achieve a brighter recording thanks to the high performing mic...
  • Get the perfect guitar and vocal take with - With two high-headroom instrument inputs to plug in...
  • Studio quality recording for your music & podcasts - Achieve pro sounding recordings with Scarlett...

Last update on 2024-05-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

You Don’t Need a DAC With an Audio Interface

A digital to analog converter, also known as a DACOpens in a new tab., is a helpful device. It lets you send a better sound signal to your studio monitors.

However, an audio interface pretty much does the same thing. In fact, it can convert digital to analog and vice versa as well.

As you might have guessed, a DAC is a one-way road. So, why waste money on it if an audio interface can do both?

As a bonus, an audio interface may even boost the signal going into your computer or studio monitors.

Audio interfaces are more versatile than DACs, and the price of the two is essentially the same. So, I’d definitely recommend getting an audio interface rather than a DAC.

Final Thoughts

Audio interfaces improve sound quality, but not in a way that you expect them to. They boost the signal strength, which results in more clarity.

You can’t make a bad speaker or microphone sound good with an audio interface.

However, if you have distortion, buzzing, and other issues, it may be an issue with an old audio interface.

Newer audio interfaces have some useful features and allow you to record at high sample rates. Furthermore, they ensure that your CPU won’t have to process the audio anymore.


Was this article helpful?


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!

Recent Posts