It’s getting easier and easier to build your own audio studio at home and we’re often asked “Should I buy and audio interface or an audio mixer?”.

Quick Answer: An audio interface takes multiple audio signals and your computer can process each signal separately. An audio mixer takes multiple audio signals and combines them together to create one or more output mixes.

Audio Interface vs Audio Mixer

In this article we will show you the similarities and differences between a stand alone audio interface and an audio mixer with a built in audio interface (audio interface vs mixer). In order to find out what solution is best for your home studio we need to compare the price, size, and features of both devices.

Audio Interface VS Mixer Pricing

When comparing the price between an audio interface and audio mixer, there isn’t a clear winner in terms of which is more affordable. There are many factors that make up the price including:

  • Quality of preamps
  • Build quality
  • Bundled software
  • Warranty
  • etc.

The pricing of audio interfaces and audio mixers is very brand/model specific and both categories contain options that are inexpensive and very expensive. Below we have some examples of options for both categories.

Under $100

Under $300

Under $500

Under $1000

Audio Interface VS Mixer Size

Generally speaking, you will find that audio interfaces are more compact and portable when compared to an audio mixer.

Audio mixers have many more on-board controls that need to be displayed and this will greatly increase the amount of desk space that they require.

Audio Interface vs Mixer Features

When you compare an audio interface to an audio mixer, the differences in features are quote obvious.

An audio interface is built for multi-track recording. Generally speaking, they do an amazing job of recording multiple sources at the same time so you can edit everything on your computer. Once you have the recording on your computer, you can apply compression, effects, noise gates, equalization, etc.

An audio mixer is built for “mixing” multiple source into a single mix. This means that you have more control on the device itself (compression, effects, equalization, etc.) but this final mix is often locked-in and cannot be edited after the recording, live stream, or event is finished.

USB Audio Interface

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface

An audio interface takes multiple audio signals and your computer can process each signal separately.

Pros of an Audio Interface

  • Portability: They’re generally quite small and portable.
  • Quality: They have a great preamps and audio quality
  • Power: Generally they are USB Powered which makes them very easy to use.

Cons of an Audio Interface

  • Software is required for any effects or audio processing (compression, eq, gate, etc.)
  • Not built for live events/performances

USB Audio Mixer

Yamaha MG10XU Audio Mixer

A USB audio mixing console is a great tool that will allow you to connect a variety to inputs, mix them, and send the final mix to your computer. 

Audio mixing consoles are especially useful for live performances and other situations where the sound needs to get processed and mixed without the help of a computer. 

The easy access to gain, compression, eq, panning, and effects make this very desirable for when you need to quickly make changes in a live environment.

Pros of an Audio Mixer

  • Versatility: Can be used for live events or home recording.
  • Inputs: Lots of inputs for whatever you many need.
  • Built in Compression (on some mixers)
  • Built in EQ
  • Effects (on some mixers)
  • Ability to Pan

Cons of an Audio Mixer

  • Large size: Takes up a lot of desk space
  • Not great for multi-track recording

Audio Interface Vs Audio Mixer, What Should You Buy?

Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface

Generally speaking we have the following rules:

Audio Interfaces Are Better For:

  • Multi Track Recording
  • Podcast Recording (not live)
  • Voiceover Recording
  • Instrument Recording
  • Mobile Recording

The small size and ability to multi track makes an audio interface perfect for any type of non-live recording.

Yamaha MG10XU Audio Mixer

An Audio Mixer Is Better For:

  • Live Events
  • Live Streaming
  • Video Conferencing
  • Video Meetings
  • Hybrid Events

The easy access to controls make an audio mixer better for anything that is happening live, in real time.

Digital Audio Mixers, Best Of Both?

Yes, it’s possible to combine the best elements of an audio interface with the best elements of an audio mixer. With a digital audio console, you can multitrack 16-64 channels of audio with quick access to level, gain, eq, compression, etc.

The downside of a digital audio console is that they are expensive and can take up a large amount of desk space.

Topics Covered In This Video

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 0:45 – Audio Equipment In This Video
  • 1:20 – Pricing
  • 2:12 – USB Input / Output
  • 4:33 – Size
  • 5:28 – Inputs (Microphone , Line, Instrument)
  • 6:25 – Input Gain
  • 6:52 – Monitoring (Blend Knob)
  • 8:11 – Compression
  • 9:00 – EQ / Equalization
  • 10:00 – Aux & FX
  • 10:53 – Pan (Left & Right)
  • 11:24 – Mute Buttons
  • 11:40 – Level Adjustment
  • 12:23 – Multi-Track Recording
  • 12:58 – Live Events
  • 13:27 – Video & Audio Streaming
  • 14:18 – Video & Audio Conferencing
  • 14:40 – Hybrid Events
  • 14:56 – All Types Of Events
  • 16:00 – What Sounds Better?
  • 16:35 – What’s The Best For Vocals?
  • 17:13 – What Is More Popular?
  • 18:22 – What If You Want The Best Of Both? (Digital Audio Console)
  • 19:55 – Summary
  • 20:22 – Final Thoughts

Disclosure: If you purchase an item or service from an outbound link, we may receive a referral fee, which helps to support Kettner Creative.

Jordan Kettner

I consider myself to be half entrepreneur and half A/V geek. I am never content to settle for what is expected or determined by others to be the “industry standard”. Instead, I work extremely hard to break new ground and deliver value to whoever I meet.

My passion for the audio visual industry drives me to create content that will help others learn the best tools and techniques to learn how to setup their home studio.

"Recognizing opportunity is so difficult for most people because it goes around disguised in overalls, looking like hard work!"
- Thomas Edison

View all posts