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Audio interfaces come in a range of different shapes & sizes. The only real differences between them are the number of inputs, outputs and quality of internal components used to build them. Technically, they all do the same thing. Provide a means to connect microphones, instruments and external audio hardware to your computer. They also offer superior audio chipsets and drivers that outperform those built onto the motherboard of your computer.
First connect the interface to your computer using the supplied USB, USB-C, Firewire or Thunderbolt connector.Second, ensure power is going to the interface Useually there will be an LED light to indicate this. Most consumer interfaces are powered directly by the USB, USB-C or Thunderbolt connection. Some interfaces may come with an power supply to power them.Third, download and install any drivers or firmware updates for the interface. Some manufacturers will provide a CD with the necessary drivers included. If unsure, head to the support section of the manufacturer's website.
Now that the interface has been set-up, Windows needs to be told to use it as the "Default Playback & Recording Device". Otherwise, Windows will not use the interface for playback & recording. On the bottom right of the Windows taskbar, there is a speaker icon. Right-click the icon and select "Sounds". This will open a new window with 4 tabs. Select "Playback" then scroll down the list until you see your Audio Interface, right-click on the interface and select "set as default device". Next, navigate to the "Recording" tab and repeat the same steps.
Some audio interfaces include a software-based mixer for controlling various functions directly from Windows. The software allows you to control buffer sizes, sample rates, volume levels for speakers and headphones, direct monitoring for 0 latency and more. Sometimes the interface can be muted from within the software. If you can't hear anything, this might be the culprit.
Now test your interface by playing a video or listening to a track from the desktop. Windows should now be using the interface as the default device. To check a signal is being sent to the interface, simply open "Sounds" then "Playback Devices" tab and look at the meter for green bars moving up and down. You can also check by opening software mixer for the interface. Some interfaces also have volume meters which show you there's a signal. If you still can't hear anything, make sure Windows isn't muted and that the correct driver is selected. To check this simply left-click on the speaker icon in the taskbar.