Does Audio Interface Help CPU? (What you need to know)

Audio interfaces are great pieces of tech that allow producers to get high-quality audio both in and out of a computer. But every time you plug something in or out, you may wonder how it can impact your performance. So, does an audio interface help the CPU? 

Audio interfaces can slightly reduce CPU usage, but it may not be very noticeable, especially if it is a high-end computer. If you are dealing with DAW projects or do other heavy tasks, an audio interface will not significantly impact your CPU usage. 

But if you have an older processor, an audio interface with an onboard processor (DSP) that handles audio can result in better CPU performance. 

Your RAM and your SSD or HDD play a much more significant role in performance than your audio interface.

If you have plugins that do the same job as your audio interface, remove those plugins, and you will immediately see better performance. Also, increase the buffer size and lower the sample rate. 

The audio interface will make sure that your sound quality does not suffer. It also does something that your CPU can’t – it lowers latency. For more information about the topic, keep on reading.

Audio Interface

How Does an Audio Interface Help CPU?

A good quality audio interface will decrease CPU usage because it will do all the processing required instead of the CPU. If you experience freezing or popping audio, then an audio interface is a sound investment. 

If you have a bad CPU, don’t expect the audio interface to work miracles. It would help if you still had a decent multi-threaded CPU to do any serious work.

If you experience stutter and already have an audio interface, try to tweak the buffer and sample rate settings. 

The sample rate is the single most impactful setting that uses a lot of CPU. Audio interfaces allow you to capture or listen to high-quality sound even if the sample rate is not on the highest settings, thanks to the DSP processor.

If you have a good CPU and audio interface, you can increase performance by upgrading your storage by getting a fast SSD and increasing RAM. 

This is because audio recording has to use a lot of RAM. After all, audio files are continuously being read and written when you work.

Latency is also something that you may experience if you do not use an audio interface. Latency is the delay between the moment the sound is produced and when it was captured on the computer.

Latency makes syncing audio very difficult, even if you have a good CPU. An audio interface will reduce latency by doing the hard work by itself instead of using the CPU.

When you plug in an audio interface, the audio part of the I/O that is usually handled by the CPU is moved onto the audio interface. 

The DSP in the audio interface handles the I/O (in-out), but it also handles the A/D and D/A (analog-digital and digital-analog) conversion. 

So, what does that mean for you, the consumer?

It means that you can use a higher sample rate while still getting high-quality audio recording and playback. It also means that you will experience much lower latency, and your CPU usage will drop.

The digital signal processing (DSP) in your audio interface can lower CPU usage because it digitally processes all audio signals. 

It does the same thing as your plugins in your DAW. If you want to get better performance, remove all plugins that are obsolete and that can be replaced by an audio interface. 

All that being said, an audio interface is not a magical device that will make an old CPU fast. It will only slightly reduce the CPU usage. You will still notice a huge difference in the overall performance, sound quality, and latency with a good audio interface.

How to Lower CPU Usage When Using an Audio Interface

If you want to reduce CPU usage, the best way is to increase buffer size and lower the sample rate as your project gets bigger. Also, turn off all plugins that require a lot of CPU power because your audio interface can’t help you with that.

Your audio interface will mostly help with the sound quality and lowering overall latency. Your CPU still has a lot of data to process. You can remove plugins that are replaced by your audio interface. 

This will significantly reduce the CPU usage, and you will immediately notice that your computer is much faster, especially when trying to get work done.

Another way to increase performance for free is by turning off all programs that use your CPU when you are working. If you do not have any antivirus or antimalware program installed, consider getting one. 

This will make both your CPU and your storage much faster and allow your DAW to use as much CPU power as it needs.


An audio interface helps the CPU in many ways. First and foremost, it reduces the latency between the recording and the time it plays back on your DAW. 

Second, it reduces the processing power required for the audio I/O and the conversion of digital and analog signals. This is thanks to the onboard DSP.

You can easily notice that your recorded sound is crisp and clear even when you use a larger buffer size and lower the sample rate. 

That is in no small part thanks to the audio interface. In general, your CPU usage will not drop by much when you use an audio interface, but the audio interface still helps.

You can remove all CPU-hogging plugins that you no longer need because you have an audio interface. That will significantly improve your performance. Make sure to fine-tune the buffer size and sample rate to get good audio and low CPU usage.

At the end of the day, an audio interface is only one piece of equipment that you need to be a professional. 

It would be best if you still had a good computer that has a CPU with many cores and threads to have the best performance possible.

Jacob Miller

Hi, I'm Jacob Miller, and welcome to AudioOver, a platform designed to help aspiring music producers create music from home. With a musical background inspired by my award-winning father, I've been passionate about music since I was young.

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