Audio interface vs DAC and preamp

November 20, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

7 comments on “Audio interface vs DAC and preamp”

  1. Paul is correct!
    Audio interfaces are usually used in the pro audio world.
    Such as recording studios.
    And the designers of such products, do have different golls in mind when they’re designing products like those.
    And on top of that, sound quality is at the very bottom of the list.
    If you want a really good DAC, there are lots of companies that make them for home use.
    Some of them, puts sound quallity at the very top of the list.
    Just some food for thought!

  2. Paul’s advice is right on the money here! Although it is possible to get good sound by going into the world of pro-gear, it would be a tougher slog to get to the point of products that have been intentionally designed for high fidelity.

  3. Why should professional audio interfaces be „better“ than high-end or „audiophile“ DACs if – as we all have learned here – nothing is perfect in the audio world and most products are far from perfect as multiple driver loudspeakers? The major intention of a sound engineer is to make his living by recording and mixing music, even music that doesn’t meet his individual taste and preferences. Based on the limitations of microphones, ADCs, DACs, preamps and loudspeakers he then tries to mix the best sound possible for the mass audience (having even lower quality audio equipment) by using all kind of mixing tools/plug-ins improving the “sound quality of the recording. Why should he invest in high-end equipment and thus consequently minimizing his profits at a given budget? I also doubt that audiophile equipment is found in clubs, mall and elevators. 🙂 Thus the only logical solution for hard-core high-end aficionados is finding boutiques labels producing for high-end audiophile standards hoping that they record the music of his own taste and preferences.No no.1 hits to be expected.

  4. There are very high quality audio interfaces, such as Antelope, and Apollo, that sound great. I use a Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 for my mic preamps and interface to my computer for recording and mixing. I run balanced outputs to JBL Series 3 near field monitors. To me, mixing requires high end audio as well as listening. I try out mixes on my PSA Steller Strata as part of the process. I think audio engineers in the more “classical music” and acoustic music genres are striving for great sound quality.

  5. Why should the gear our valuable recordings are made with sound worse than home audio equipment? I get it that with speakers listened to in near field situations it‘s a different story.
    I for instance am combining RME ADI-2 pro with PS audio amps and Goldmund speakers.
    The sound is terrific.

  6. Well, I would (as often) say, it depends. I have used in different setups and with friends audio interfaces DACs from Apogee, Presonus, Motu and SolidStateLogic also in Hi-Fi setups. Most of the times they did a great job and from a sustainability perspective it is probably also better to buy less but better gear and have more than one use case (e.g. homerecording and hifi) for it. It also depends on the quality of the built-in components. Maybe one can compare it a little bit with Headphones. Most of the professional monitoring, mixing, studio headphones have a hifi twin from the same vendor. These are most of the time more expensive and sound for sure different than the pro stuff. I have to admit that very often I even prefer the neutral sound of the studio versions. If you have the chance, just try to test it. But, there might be a clear showstopper for using audio interaces instead of a hifi DAC: very often the missing support for DSD

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