Being on holiday and writing articles for Sounds From The Apartment is so exhilarating and relaxing! This time, we will be discussing for something that is a kind of a continuation of the “Analogue Inputs” article of the “What is an Audio Interface” series!
As we have already discussed the sound flows into the interface from its Analogue Inputs after it gets converted to an electric signal from the microphone (Check the Microphone Characteristics: Sensitivity article). That is the point of entry but for us to hear that audio, or even processed versions of it back, we need it to come out of the interface from somewhere else. And that is where the Analogue Outputs come into play!
Don’t forget that by checking out the first article, “The Hardware“, of the AXR4 review series, you can see us talking about the Analogue Inputs and Outputs of the AXR4 to a specific degree when it comes to Steinberg’s audio interface!
As we explained, every device that received audio needs to send it somewhere too. In the case of the audio interfaces, they have multiple outputs (some of them differentiate in types as well) that can allow us versatility in use.
These outputs come after the Digital to Analogue conversion (more on that on another article) and after any kind of DSP Processing (more on that later too but you can also check the “DSP and SILK Emulation” article from the AXR4 series to get an idea of what we are talking about) and are there in order to send the output signal to another device that can receive an analogue signal through an Analogue Input.
TRS are the most common of these outputs. These look similar to the Analogue Line Inputs as they utilise the same female TRS plug.
These are mono outputs that have multiple uses in a studio environment as their output and mix can be controlled individually!
For example, you can use a pair of them to send audio to a set of studio monitors. And then another one to another set of monitors if you have two sets of speakers and so on.
Or you could use these to create separate mixes, mono or stereo, for recording musicians that are recording in your studio. You can create as many mixes as outputs you have.
Another use for these is reamping. You can have a dedicated output that goes into a reamping device and then returns back into the interface to record back the reamped signal.
And let’s don’t forget that by following the same principle as reamping, we can route a signal to external processors such as EQ’s, Compressors or ever Reverb, Delay, Chorus units and more, so we can process them out of the box!
The possibilities are endless!
The headphone outputs have only one use. Headphones!
They come use the same connectors as the TRS outputs but they come into a Stereo configuration. When you plug in your headphones you need to carry though that output both the Left and Right channel and that requires an unbalanced connection.
There are ways to split the headphone connetions to 2 mono signals but it’s not recommended and also it is not the purpose of this artcile to go into the detail of how that is possible.
A final note on the headphone outputs is that on cheaper audio interfaces, these outputs are linked with the master output of the interface and you cannot have a separate mix for them. It’s just a convenient system for using headphones if you need to work quietly. On more expensive interfaces with more advanced electronics and mixer panels, you can find that these outputs can either be mirrored from any other output or have their own mix instead!
RCA are less common to be found on an audio interface. But that depends on the price of the interface. Let me explain.
Let’s have a quick throwback to the Basics of Audio Cables article. If you can recall, RCA offers an unbalanced connection and that is not recommended for professional use in studio environments.
However, it can be cheaper than using TRS outputs on an Audio Interface build or it can be for space convenience as smaller and cheaper audio interfaces that are aiming at the people who are new in the audio world or have fewer requirements from their audio interface. The companies conceiving these interface design, allow the most possible functionality while occupying the least possible space in their builds.
Whatever goes in, has to come out!
This is how the analogue outputs are working on an audio interface. Depending on the number of outputs your interface has you can expand the functionality of your studio and utilise more of your equipment easier, more convenient, without having to unplug and plug everything constantly. (Although there is another way to do that, we will get to that on another article – possibly video).
How many outputs does your interface have? If it has more than 2, are you utilising them? How? Let us know how your setup works in the comments section below!
Do you plan on upgrading to an interface that has more outputs than your current one? Again let us know in the comments how that would work for you!
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Till next week, stay safe and creative geeks!