Do you need an audio interface for studio monitors? In this article, we’ll give you 4 reasons to consider using an audio interface to connect powered speakers to your computer.
Quick Answer: We recommend using an audio interface with your studio monitors for improved sound quality, real-time monitoring, usability, and connectivity – but it is not required.
Reason 1 – Balanced Audio Connection
From a sound quality point of view, the number one reason to use an audio interface is that it offers a balanced connection to your powered speakers or monitors.
This helps to prevent buzzing and fluttering caused by electrical interference commonly encountered with unbalanced connections, e.g., plugging your speakers directly into your computer with a 1/8″ to dual 1/4″ TS cable.
- TS connector (single ring)
- Carries one version of the audio signal
- Susceptible to electrical interference
- TRS connector (two rings)
- Carries two versions of the audio signal (1 x normal, 1 x phase inverted)
- Cancels noise by comparing the two audio signal versions
While there are lots of other ways to connect studio monitors to an audio interface, we always recommend using balanced 1/4″ or XLR cables where possible.
Reason 2 – Real-Time Monitoring
Real-time monitoring is a big deal when you’re recording as any delay can be a real distraction. Connecting your speakers directly to the computer can introduce delays as the audio source has to be processed by the computer before being routed back out to your monitors.
Many audio interfaces, like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, offer real-time monitoring functionality and some audio interfaces can also blend/mix audio input sources with playback from the computer.
Reason 3 – Big Volume Knob
When it comes to ease of use, you can’t beat having a quick way to make volume adjustments. Sure, you can adjust the volume setting on the back of the speakers, go into the settings on your computer, or even use a shortcut on your keyboard. However, we find it more convenient to have a volume knob on the desk in front of us.
We love the huge volume knob on the Solid State Logic SSL2+ audio interface; it’s the biggest control on the device and stands out from any other clutter. For us, having an intuitive, tactile volume knob on our desk is enough to justify the cost of an audio interface.
Reason 4 – Microphone & Instrument Inputs
If you’re investing in studio monitors, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re interested in recording and/or having better audio, meaning you’ll want to connect a microphone to your computer at some point.
An audio interface gives you the connectivity that you’re likely to want in the future, opening up a world of microphones and instruments. While this final reason doesn’t strictly affect your speakers, it’s a worthy consideration.
Audio Interface & Studio Monitor Pricing & Specs
- Focusrite Scarlett 2i2: https://currentprice.io/scarlett_2i2
- Solid State Logic SSL2+: https://currentprice.io/ssl2_plus
- Yamaha HS5 Studio Monitors: https://currentprice.io/hs5_monitor
- TRS Cable: https://currentprice.io/trs_cable
- TRS To XLR Cable: https://currentprice.io/trs_xlr
- 1/8″ To TS Cable: https://currentprice.io/14_to_dual_18
- 1/8″ To RCA Cable: https://currentprice.io/18_rca
- Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro Headphones: https://currentprice.io/beyer_dt_990