The audio interface is responsible for the quality of digital to analog audio conversions that largely contribute to playback quality when using a combination of analog and digital devices, for instance, a console and DAW setup.
The audio interface should ideally represent the same number of input and output modules as the number of channel strips on the console itself. This will provide no limitation when presented with larger productions that require maximum usage.
The DAW and audio interface are typically paired with one another as the interface is what allows the DAW to process and playback recorded audio.
A microphone feeds the input section on a channel strip, the signal is then routed from the output of the channel strip to the audio interface where the analog signal is converted to a digital sign that allows the DAW to read and reproduce in the digital domain. The digital signal is processed "in-the-box" before being routed to the audio interface once again where the digital signal is converted back to an analog signal for the mixing console to process. There is consistently a two way street for traffic making conversions back and forth from analog to digital signals as long as a computer and DAW are involved.
This fact alone proves that great research on the most ideal audio interface for a studio is required.
The sample rate and channel count are the two primary specifications that help to determine the audio interface that’s right for any production. Higher sample rates indicate a higher resolution in sound providing the highest quality analog to digital (A to D) and digital to analog (D to A) conversions. High resolution is none other than standard for professional studios providing high-quality recordings.
Small scale setups use only a 2 in and 2 out interface meaning 2 microphone/line inputs and a left and right output channels for stereo systems. Large scale setups can have audio interfaces that are chained together via cables and represent 32, 64 or even more ins and outs. Matching the console with the interface is highly recommended.