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.
Most Digital mixers mimic the look of the old analogue desks, but have the advantage of no added noise,easy signal routing and being able to save and load whole templates. There are also usually many on-board effects getting rid of the need for external hardware.
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Thunderbolt interfaces use an extremely fast connection to not only offer very low latency audio, but many also offer dedicated DSP processing, which wont put any load on your CPU.
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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