An interface allows you to get audio or control signals in and out of your computer.
PCIe, Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 based interfaces are generally best, as they have the fastest connection to the computer and can handle the biggest number of audio channels, although low channels counts, Midi and CV are perfectly able to be transferred via USB at optimal performance.
At the heart of the Digital Audio world lies arguably the most important part of the system, the Analogue to Digital and Digital to Analogue convertors. Simply put, these convertors take an Analogue signal (such as a voice through a microphone) and convert it into a series of numbers, able to be sent great distances or stored over a long time, and then convert them back from digital into Analogue, but without them, we couldn't even begin to make music with our computers.
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PCI based audio interfaces are internal sound cards fitted inside your system. Whilst not as portable as the USB & Firewire variants they can offer slightly better latency in some situations due to the direct connection to the motherboard and the drivers having more direct control over the hardware.
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USB & Firewire audio interfaces offer high quality inputs and outputs for recording and playing back your audio. With the added advantage of being easy to transport and move between systems, they are a popular solution for performers wishing to have a single high quality interface they can move between the studio and stage with ease.
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