A recording studio’s collection of gear often includes both analog and digital components (learn more about analog and digital audio.
An analog-to-digital converter, abbreviated as A/D or D/A converter, allows these different devices to interact.
These are usually rack-mounted units, but can also come in the form of a sound card or audio interface.
An A/D converter is an electronic device that converts an analog signal into its digital equivalent.
The D/A converters do the opposite by converting digital information back into analog form. However, all converters perform both A/D and D/A functions. A/D converters come in varying price ranges and configurations. Many professionals would agree that the quality of the converter makes a huge difference in the quality of the sound.
Speed and accuracy are two of the most important characteristics to consider when you are looking to purchase a good converter.
Also, the better the converter, the less likely you will encounter problems such as quantization and jitter. Some A/D converters perform only A/D functions and do not include other options.Audio Interfaces include A/D converters, pre-amps, and other record/mix controls.
Audio interfaces are often paired with dedicated software, but many interfaces are not proprietary and can work with any software type.
Pictured below are the two-channel Focusrite Interface and the TC Electronic Konnekt 6 Audio Interface
These particular units have mic preamps, phantom power, headphone outputs, monitor controls, USB 2.0, Optical ins/outs,
MIDI ins/outs, S/PDIF ins and outs, and additional I/Os. Both of the aforementioned units are affordable options.
Other brand name audio interfaces include: Apogee, Lynx, M-Audio, Behringer, Mackie, Digidesign, Presonus, and MOTU. The price ranges are anywhere from $50 a channel up to thousands per channel.