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I have a few needs and want to build a home recording studio.

  1. I want to produce a podcast and have multiple mic working at the same time (with each guest wearing headphones). I'd like to pause us talking and play audio from other sources too.

  2. I have an Ableton Push 2 and I am enjoying creating music. I want to wear headphones but also have the output going to monitors when someone else wants to listen.

  3. I want to buy a keyboard and start learning to play the piano.

I have everything plugged into a USB Hub right now and it doesn't work well or reliably.

I am stuck on what audio interface to buy. Focusrite always seems popular. I recently saw BEHRINGER makes the UMC404HD. I have tried reading reviews and it seems every single product has positive and negative feedback and it is hard to filter the noise of reviews to understand the true capabilities of the product.

How do I determine the minimum requirements an audio interface needs, based upon my goals, but not shoot myself in the foot and buy something underpowered or really overpowered?

  • Hi Jason, welcome! Unfortunately asking for recommendations is offtopic here, so this question might end closed... You might ask for, what should be the minimal characteristics a sound interface needs to suit your purpose however... – Tom Aug 18 at 15:23
  • @Tom_C Thank you. I will work to clarify the question. – Jasmine Aug 18 at 15:24
  • "I'd like to pause us talking and play audio from other sources too." - um, if the "other sources" are "files on your computer", that's something you can just edit in in post, so not something that your audio interface is involved in at all. What other sources specifically do you have in mind? – user70370 Aug 18 at 16:45
  • @Taschi perhaps trigger a clip from my Push 2, possible play audio files from iTunes or garage band or Live, etc. – Jasmine Aug 18 at 19:05
  • @Jason, the Push 2 has its own USB port so it doesn't go through the audio interface. I assume you have Ableton Live, and from there on playing samples during a recording session is just a matter of software setup. – user70370 Aug 18 at 19:10
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Your 'minimum requirements' are "Does it have enough plugs, sockets & knobs to do what I need?"
After that you tend to get what you pay for, but on a logarithmic scale… ie twice as good costs 10 times as much, or, to avoid the pedants who don't think that classes as truly logarithmic… jump from amateur to pro & it will cost you 10 times as much.*

If you're under a couple of hundred $£€ then just look at feature set.

Half the complaints & issues you will find on budget gear can often be resolved to a laptop with a poor power supply & no dedicated earth. A good portion of 'pro audio' is the elimination of obvious signal path & grounding issues, such as coherent earthing structures throughout. Pile a whole lot of cheap gear powered by un-earthed wall-warts into a laptop & listen to it all buzz ;)

*This is common to all pursuits that have an enthusiastic amateur level, followed by an 'I earn my entire, rather comfortable, living from this job' level.
Take photography. Entry-level DSLR & 'kit' zoom lens, $£€ 500. Pro camera & just one zoom [though you need three to cover the 'standard' range]… $£€ 5,000. [8 grand if you go for the other two zooms.]
Don't even ask about cinematography, where you could shoot on your phone for 500, but one decent pro zoom lens is going to cost 40,000.

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    That's not a logarithmic scale... – leftaroundabout Aug 18 at 17:20
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    I thank you for your pedantry. Describe it better in 8 words. – Tetsujin Aug 18 at 17:27
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    You're welcome. Unfortunately for you my pedantry operates on a logarithmic scale, i.e. for me to turn up the pedantry one notch you first need to get twice as annoyed with it. – leftaroundabout Aug 18 at 17:32
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    Are we talking power of my annoyance, or merely perceived volume? – Tetsujin Aug 18 at 17:39
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    @Tetsujin I am using a new, top of the line MacBook Pro. Your answer makes sense to me and it's a but painful I didn't think about this in the same way you presented it. :-) – Jasmine Aug 18 at 19:03
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the minimum requirements depend on your maximum needs. not everybody needs nor does the same thing with their home studio.

there are many sites that tell you what you 'need'. look at them for ideas. discard what you do not need. identify anything you want to do that was not covered in those lists.

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