If you're serious enough about your audio equipment to require an audio interface, it goes without saying that you need to do some research consider your different options.
After all, an audio interface is more than a computer card – it's a way of enhancing the recording ability of your equipment.
But how do you make sure you buy the right one, or at least one that will function properly and not screw up your entire system?
It pays to start by asking some important questions.
What's your budget?
This is the question you'll want to start with. How much money do you have available? It's a question that address more than the cost of the audio interface you're considering, because you'll also have to ask yourself if you need to be Pro Tools compatible. Pro Tools is the "industry-wide standard" according to About.com, and the cheapest version of Pro Tools will set you back $329.
Do you have enough spending power to make sure that you're Pro Tools compatible, or will you need to explore a different option with your audio interface?
Is it possible to "get away" with a regular sound card?
If you're using a program like Apple's GarageBand, you might not even need to buy an Audio interface. The sound card alone should provide enough quality for you. This might not be an option if you're not using GarageBand, but you'll need to ask yourself if an audio interface is worth the investment.
If your budget is limited so much that you can only get a low-quality interface without many options, it may simply be a better decision to stick with a sound card.
What do you really need?
Taking an honest look at your audio needs means placing more importance on those needs rather than your wants. Make sure you do plenty of research into making sure an audio interface you're considering would be compatible with the other hardware and software you're using; if you're in doubt, try and ask people who know more than you: you can find them on Internet message boards or simply around the electronics shop.
Ultimately, choosing an audio interface that doesn't screw up your recording experience means looking for that compatibility.
If you do decide on buying an audio interface, focus on how your audio interface could fit in with your other equipment.