Question about using an Audio Interface as DAC only

Hello everyone,

I’m an owner of a JDS Labs Atom AMP that is connected directly to the line out of my PC. I was going to buy a new XLR microphone and was trying to choose an Audio Interface to go with it. However, I have some questions;

1-I want to be able to connect my AMP to the Audio Interface and use it to monitor my microphone, is this possible?

2-Will I be able to use the audio Interface as an external DAC for my Atom AMP?

3-Most Audio Interfaces have an amp for the monitoring part too, will I be able to bypass this amp if I connect my atom amp to the Audio Interface? Or will I be using two amps one after each other?

4-Is there anything bad with using two amps one after each other? I heard “it was looked down upon” by the audiophile community

5-How can I check if the audio interface has a balanced output or a non-balanced one? As you know, the atom amp is unbalanced (so is my headphone cable) Will it be incompatible if the Audio Interface has a balanced output and my amp is non-balanced?

6-What kind of a cable/setup do I need to connect my audio interface to my amp? Can I just use a 3.5mm stereo jack to 2 RCA cable between them? (Even if the Audio Interface has balanced output)

I was planning on buying a Behringer Uphoria UMC22, will it be an ok choice to use as a DAC/Audio Interface? What others can you recommend me as budget options? The maximum I’m willing to pay is around 100$ max for the audio interface. (However as cheap as it is possible would be great.)

Thanks a lot for taking your time to read my post.

Most interfaces have pre or line outs, so yes


Most interfaces will typically send the monitoring out of the line/pre out, so you should be able to hear your monitor using your atom

Yes, avoid this when you can for various reasons

So most interfaces will tell you on a spec sheet or you can just look at them, typically they have either XLR, 1/4 Inch, or RCA outs. The XLR are balanced outputs, the 1/4 inch can be both balanced or unbalanced (depending on if you plug in ts (for unbalanced) or trs (for balanced), or RCA for unbalanced. Even if all your outputs were balanced you can just grab simple balanced to unbalanced adapters and not really hurt sound quality

It depends on the interface, but you should be able to get something that connects the interface to the 3.5mm port on your atom

I think if you are going for cheap and good the umc22. Just to check what are you plugging into the audio interface? To connect to that interface, all you need is this cable if you want to use the 3.5mm port on the atom, you would connect to the two rear 1/4 inch ports on the umc22

Thank you so much for your reply, with these information I looked into umc22 more and found this information when I googled it: “There’s a lot of confusion around this because this product is so poorly documented. If it had true balanced outputs they would advertise this as it’s not cheap to implement. It turns out the products is pseudo-balanced. It is “impedance balanced” to be precise. Google this for details. That’s why the outputs use TRS. When shopping for cables make sure to get TRS to TRS or TRS to XLR (depending on your monitor/amp setup) to take advantage of this.”

What I get from this is I will need a balanced to non-balanced adapter to be able to connect it to my amp while bypassing the audio interfaces own amp, right? Or does the interface have unbalanced TS jacks?

I also found this article on JDS Labs blogs posted by the president of JDS Labs
Honestly, I don’t really understand why he reccomends this on his post. I would be happy if any of you could inform me on this.

I’m going to connect an XLR microphone (will come with the XLR cable for it) and an adapter to get the TRS outputs compatible with my Atom Amp and cables going from the adapter to the amp that either ends in 2RCA or 3.5mm stereo.

The cables I linked will bypass the amp and would connect the atom to the interface. The atom is unbalanced and will not benefit from balanced nor can it use balanced, so it will be run unbalanced. The cables I linked are TS so unbalanced and the interface will output an unbalanced signal for the atom

It’s more general information, he is just saying you can for the most part, basically saying to use the unbalanced line out of your interface to connect to the atom

Sounds like a plan then, I don’t foresee any issues if you hook it up right

A solid choice for your budget could be the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 1 . it is a common recomendation as an entry level interface and has rca outs for your atom

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Thanks again for the information M0N, lasty, since UMC22 has TRS balanced ports that are “psedo-balanced” where can I find a balanced to non balanced adapter? Or if I connect a TS cable to those balanced ports, will I be able to get an unbalanced signal? Thanks in advance.

Native Instruments Komplete Audio 1 seems like a straightforward solution since I can directly link them together with an RCA cable. However, it is also about two times more expensive. Will the DAC of Komplete Audio 1 be better? Is it worth the price increase?

Yes, I would use a ts cable here to connect the atom

From my short experiences with it (and I mean brief) yes, I think it’s got a higher quality dac and adc, along with better software/driver support, less nonsense. The mic pres sounded pretty solid. If it’s worth 2x the cost would depend on your budget, I think if you can comfortably fit it in then yes, but if you really have to stretch for it then I’m not sure

One last question, I also found out about another model for Behringer which is called: UM2

It has no balanced outputs, Just rca which is perfect for me, It’s mic preamp is a bit worse but I believe I can easily deal with that. Would the DAC performances be different than each other? UM2 seems like an even better alternative to save money.

The dac performance is similar on the um2 to the umc22 imo, if you are going for most cost savings the um2 is about the cheapest you can go without getting garbage

Hello. I just did the set up like this: To my UMC22 audio interface, two TS to RCA adapters are connected. To these RCA adapters, a 2RCA to 3.5mm cable is connected which goes to my atom amp. However I have a problem. This set-up didn’t bypass the headphone amp of my UMC22. I am pretty much using double amps at this point. Should I have used TRS to 2RCA adapters instead and connected my RCA cables to only one of each as in +R and +L like shown in this link?

How so? If you are using the rear outputs you aren’t double amping. Using trs isn’t going to change that either, it will be functionally the same as you have it now

I am using the rear outputs to connect my adapters. However I can still change my volume with the output knob at the front of my audio interface. This means I’m still using the amp of the audio interface therefore double amping, right?

No this is normal, the interface has a pre out for using powered speakers, just max it out and you will get a line level signal (at least get close to maxing it). You are still bypassing the headphone out

Ah I see now, thanks a lot for the information. My amp behaves like normal again. Thanks.