Best External Sound Card for Music Production Reviewed
All musicians understand that the process of recording music can truly be a challenging task. It can also require a substantial financial investment. Those who desire to be in the professional music industry will definitely need to learn some basic music engineering. Thus, investing in the right external sound card for music production is imperative. With the right audio card, your music will sound more impeccable, and quite skillfully done.
The Diversity of External Sound Cards
With an audio card, you’ll have better options since the input and output capacities have become more varied. As a result, producing professional sounding musical recordings on a laptop, desktop or even a tablet have become highly attainable and more convenient with the audio interface.
Another advantage of owning an audio interface is that you’ll be able to do electronic musical mixes, giving your musical recording a more modern feel. Purchasing a higher quality microphone would also be best when you intend to record professional quality audio, especially if your recordings will require quite a bit of vocal prowess.
The most advanced that MOTU has to offer. The lengthy name of this sound card alone indicates that it enables its user to utilize a USB 2.0, and a Fire Wire.
Not all modern audio interfaces have that feature. Take note that these two connection types are presently accessible to every personal computer – be it a laptop, desktop or a MAC.
Just imagine the convenience that it offers! Also, when you use the Fire Wire, your MOTU UltraLite-mk3 Hybrid will gain access to all of the power that it needs directly from your computer of choice. This also includes the phantom power that will be necessary for your condenser microphones.
The CueMix FX cross-platform mixing software feature of the MOTU UltraLite-mk3 Hybrid effectively allows you to have better graphic mixing and editing of the parametric EQ. Aside from that, the UltraLite-mk3 Hybrid also has a tabbed interface that makes it more convenient for you to gain access on all of its features in just one window.
For travelling musicians, the MOTU UltraLite-mk3 Hybrid can also become a stand-alone mixer with great sound effects. The set-up is very user-friendly, and you will definitely have no problems installing the drivers necessary on your computer. The MOTU UltraLite-mk3 Hybrid has a plug and play type of interface. The protective casting of the UltraLite-mk3 Hybrid is so sturdy, and even if you happen to knock it off and drop it with strong impact, it will still stand strong and play great quality music.
As for the connectivity, the UltraLite-mk3 Hybrid features a 24-bit / 192 kHz operation that comes with more inputs and outputs. There are also two microphone pre-amplifiers, 6 balanced line-level ¼” TRS inputs, and 10 analog TRS outputs.
The MOTU UltraLite-mk3 Hybrid also includes a stereo S/PDIF digital input and output, a dedicated stereo headphone output, and MIDII/O for other gears and better accessibility to controller keyboard.
Native Instruments have been very well noted for constantly updating their range of audio interfaces. Its most recent update is the Komplete Audio 6 Mk2. This is a larger model, and is specifically made for those with more diverse and advanced recording needs.
With this audio interface, you can plug an electric musical instrument, microphone, and synths. You will also have the capacity to send and return sound loops with unique effects. With the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 Mk2, even a beginner in the musical recording scene will be able to build and polish recordings in a convenient and professional manner.
The main features that are quite astonishing are the six ins and out that doesn’t require any external power sources. These inputs and outputs remain exclusive for S/PDIF though. So far, all types of microphones, electric musical instruments and headphones work well with the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 Mk2.
You’ll also enjoy the perks of having a 48V phantom power, additional CV / gate control for your analog gear. The easy to view top panel LED VU-meters makes the musical recording process more convenient. Thus, your creative juices can just flow naturally. With the USB bus-power, there will be fewer cables, giving your setup a more sophisticated look.
When you are ready to take your performance on stage, the big volume knob on the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 Mk2 will allow you to have an easier adjustment on the different levels that you wish to have.
Installation and Sound Quality
Installation is quite simple too, since you’ll only need to add a basic driver. For MAC users, the Komplete Audio 6 Mk2 will appear on the software drop downs for “audio”. Your musical recording will surely have a blast with the full range audio quality. The response that you’ll acquire from the MIDI is quite amazing, and for sure, you won’t have in and out latency.
Just like Native Instrument, Focusrite is also a company that upgrades their products in a timely manner. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen is their latest upgrade. It has been such a hit in the music industry! In less than a year after its release, it made became one of the best-selling audio interfaces in the global market.
It boasts of a highly advanced, state-of-the-art USD audio interface that has 2 Scarlet microphone preamps that have been upgraded, optimized preamp gain structure, instrument inputs that can effectively handle scorching hot pickups, high performance 24-bit / 192 kHz AD/DA converters, and no latency.
What makes the Scarlett 2i2 3rd generation better than the last model?
The “air setting” option that the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen has allows your acoustic and vocal recordings to have an open space sound effect. This is definitely great for those who are working on their recordings in a small studio with limited space.
Moreover, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen can run on USB bus power and the microphone, line and instrument inputs that can be plugged simultaneously allows the recorder to have a playback of two channels, with monitor outputs and independently controllable headphone.
Why travelling musicians should get the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2?
For musicians and recorders who are on the go, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen is perfect, since it has been designed to stand for days while you are on the road travelling. Another convenient feature of this audio interface is that it has the ability to connect directly to your PC, MAC or tablet just by utilizing a USB cable.
You won’t even need an external power source to get this up and running. All of the software tools needed to begin are already in the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen. You’ll also get two comprehensive digital audio workstations – the Pro Tools Focusrite Creative Pack and the Ableton Live Lite.
Of course, just like all other Focusrite products, the Scarlet 2i2 3rd Gen also comes with a two year warranty, excellent customer support and a free membership of their Plug-in Collective that offers amazing discount deals to Focusrite customers.
To Sum it Up
Now that you’ve read all three best external sound card for music production, you might feel ready to make that purchase and eventually produce better quality musical recording.
All the three products that we have meticulously described are very suitable both for pros and newbies in the musical and sound recording scene.