Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

An Affordable Pro-Quality Sound Card? 126

TFGeditor asks: "The company I work for is launching a pre-recorded radio program. I will be working with other staff (all in remote locations) to create the sound clips and then cobbling the show together (mixing). I will also interface with the co-host at a remote studio over the net via uber-broadband connection, producing our portion of the show as if we were in the same studio interacting with each other. What is the best sound card for the money (PC/XP) for this type of application?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

An Affordable Pro-Quality Sound Card?

Comments Filter:
  • The one that is marginally better than your speakers/headphones. What kind of speakers will you be using to preview the sound?

    There is no point getting an über sound card if you have unter speakers.
    • by qortra ( 591818 ) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @11:50PM (#16241001)
      Not necessarily. People keep pushing this viewpoint, but it isn't always true. Sure, if you're using a fisher price speaker with your computer, you might not be able to discrimiate between sound cards, but in general, a relay race is a more apt analogy for audio equipment than a chain. Each component can single-handedly degrade or improve the performance of the entire system regardless of the other components' performance.

      To answer the original question, I think the M-Audio Audiophile 24/96 is one of the best consumer audio cards on the market (so long as you're not looking for a ton of I/O).
      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by sr180 ( 700526 )
        To answer the original question, I think the M-Audio Audiophile 24/96 is one of the best consumer audio cards on the market (so long as you're not looking for a ton of I/O).

        I must concur with this. The M-Audio card mentioned is excellent. We use it for professional recording and it performs well.

        • by buswolley ( 591500 ) on Friday September 29, 2006 @12:31AM (#16241305) Journal
          Another worthy M-audio card is the Delta 44.

          If you need to record audio from microphones with XLR inputs I'd go with something like the M-Audio Delta 44 24bit/96. It has 4 ins and 4 outs that can be used for recording from a mixer using professional microphones. The quality A/D and D/A converters are pretty good, and keeps in sync well. I've gotten some good recordings out of the card.

          If you require more ins and outs, I believe that you can stack multiple M-Audio cards.

          Note: They provide drivers for Linux too.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by nnet ( 20306 )
            note: Balanced and unbalanced I/O :)
          • by cloak42 ( 620230 )
            Does it support phantom power? I've been considering getting a higher-end audio card for recording on my home PC and I've been wondering if anything that I do buy will be able to support any higher-end microphones I might consider buying as well. You can buy a USB condenser mic, but it seems kind of like a waste, although I bet you couldn't find anything better for the price. But I'd prefer getting a traditional mic and hooking it up through more traditional means.
            • No. You still need to buy some preamps. So my simple set-up is:

              1. M-Audio Delta 44 ($150)

              2. Behringer Eurorack UB1222FX-PRO Mixer $199(has phantom power),

              3. Rode NT-1A or NT3 Condenser microphone.($199 A really good mic).

              SOme cables etc. Then your good.

              • Wait I noticed something...The M-Audio Delta 1010 LT PCI Digital Audio System has preamps.. I dont know much about that card.,..I think it only has two analog ins though xlr
        • M-Audio has some great hardware. They are owned by Avvid, which is also the parent company of DigiDesigns, known for their professional interfaces and ProTools (Note that you can also get ProTools M-Powered, which is the same software but works with M-Audio interfaces instead of DigiDesigns interfaces). Edirol gear is also DEFINATELY worth looking into. I've done quite a bit with an Edirol UA-25 USB interface. It's inexpensive and has GREAT sound, provides full 48v phantom power, etc. Also, Roland help
        • by Znork ( 31774 )
          Just got an M-Audio card myself (Revolution 7.1), and I must say I'm perfectly happy with it. A large improvement in quality over the sound I got from the integrated NVidia card.
      • I must concur. Even with $20 budget speakers, i can tell the difference between onboard and my card, an audigy value.
      • It's not so much that you can't discriminate between the soundcards or that the signal is degraded (which it won't be because of the speakers obviously) - but that you optimise your sound for the flawed speakers. If the speakers have no bass response and the top end is tinny you will mix and EQ the sound in a very different way than if you were using better speakers which give more faithful reproduction. It will still sound better to you with a better soundcard but your output will be poor. I suppose the vi
      • Sorry, but there is NO piece of equipment that can improve the sound. When we capture audio with a microphone, there is a Signal to Noise ratio. Every piece of equipment in the signal chain adds a (hopefully) small amount of noise, thus the ratio decreases with every piece of gear in the chain. If you start with a very high signal to noise ratio, then the small amounts of noise can be barely noticable. This is why Pro Soundboard manufacturers have been using very high quality Mic Preamps. If they get t
        • by lkeagle ( 519176 )
          I think that by 'Improving the sound', the parent wasn't necessarily talking about S/N ratio. Any processing we do to a signal (EQ/Compression/etc) is meant to 'improve' the sound, at the expense of S/N.
      • I have the 1010lt (cheaper than the above). For your needs (not multitrack music) it would certainly not be your weakest component, which, of course, is what you have to worry about.

        In fact, considering the state of codecs, broadband, and computer speakers, the guy who suggested the Soundblaster isn't too far of the mark.

    • Soundcards (Score:5, Informative)

      by clockwise_music ( 594832 ) on Friday September 29, 2006 @02:11AM (#16241787) Homepage Journal
      • Stay the hell away from any internal cards. Noisy and a royal pain in the bum.
      • A "breakout" box will make your life a lot easier. Try to get something that has at least 4 ins and 2 outs. Avoid those things that are an internal card but come with a jack with lots of female plugs. Ergh.
      • Stay the hell away from anything by Creative.
      • Try to get yourself a decent microphone. A nice condenser makes everything sound a lot better.
      • Have you considered software? What are you going to use? What have you used previously?
      • Myself, I have an MBox2 by digidesign. Doesn't seem like a long of bang for your buck, but it does come with ProTools. While this may be overkill for a radio show, if you want to seriously get into recording and mixing, it's really the industry standard. Works fine in XP. (Also consider Cubase).
      • M-Audio hardware is meant to be ok. Check it out.
      • Don't listen to those losers who tell you that you need a Mac. You'll be paying twice the price (no offense, I love OSX, but hardware is $$$) for the same thing.
      • Getting a great soundcard + mic will make a big difference, even if you have crap speakers (or headphones). Especially if you're doing stuff for other people. Mixing will be difficult though.
      • Get yourself a good pair of headphones. Annoying, but a lot cheaper than a good pair of speakers (+ amp).
      • Go to a recording studio and ask if you can 'shut up and watch' for a while. Don't go a super-duper expensive studio, maybe just a place where they record demos. If the guy is nice enough you'll learn a lot.
      • Keep it simple! The less stuff you have, less can go wrong!
      • Mixers are cheap as hell these days. The behringer stuff is very cheap and good. If you're not recording multiple sound sources simultaneously, consider getting a good soundcard that only has 2 or 4 good AD converters and piping everything through your mixer.
      • Don't skimp on patch leads and plugs and connectors.
      • Sales people will bullshit you into buying expensive crap! Don't listen to them! Find someone who is genuially interested in helping you meet your needs!
      • Good luck!
      • Myself, I have an MBox2 by digidesign. Doesn't seem like a long of bang for your buck, but it does come with ProTools.

        Other way round, ProTools comes with a 'free' MBox. It's a fucking expensive piece of software. I believe there is a light version around now - look on Digi's site for "M-Powered" - that works with M-Audio's gear.

        Don't listen to those losers who tell you that you need a Mac. You'll be paying twice the price (no offense, I love OSX, but hardware is $$$) for the same thing.

        ProTools 7.2 on Int
        • Agreed. Macs really are better for audio production - it's not a silly myth. I'm a pro and if a guy turns up with a PC for serious use everyone just thinks 'amateur'. Sorry, it's just the way it is.
          • by cyclop ( 780354 )

            Agreed. Macs really are better for audio production - it's not a silly myth. I'm a pro and if a guy turns up with a PC for serious use everyone just thinks 'amateur'. Sorry, it's just the way it is.

            Any actual, practical reason for this? Or am I just feeding a troll?

      • by phazer ( 9089 )
        "Mixers are cheap as hell these days. The behringer stuff is very cheap and good. If you're not recording multiple sound sources simultaneously, consider getting a good soundcard that only has 2 or 4 good AD converters and piping everything through your mixer."

        Behringer? The entire bussiness model is based on making knock-off's of successful products. It's all very cheap, but also cheaply designed and engineered.
        I've considered buying their items a few times now (Guitar AMP, digital effects.) They look grea
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SkunkPussy ( 85271 )
        Stay the hell away from anything by Creative.

        hear, hear. I have had no end of problems with 2 different soundblaster lives. In both cases, creative's own drivers refused to install claiming no soundblaster product existed in my system. For reasons known only to creative, they wrap their drivers in some shite installer that fails to detect their soundcards in many cases. They cripple their drivers so that they cannot be installed through the normal windows hardware detection routines, so when their installer
      • I'm trying to figure out why some idiot mod moderated this as 'flamebait.' Like any opinion-based discussion, some will take issue with a few of his points. But by and large, it's pretty much correct.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Liked this post and just wanted to add (to the OP, not this one), What do you define as "pro audio"? Today's high-end systems are 24-bit, 192kHz; to me, that's pro audio. There aren't a lot of vendors out there making USB or Firewire equipment that operates in this realm, and the ones that do have really big price tags. I do a lot of live and studio recording for musician buddies of mine. Haven't done anything for money for a while, but do work for beer! If this person is only going to be doing voice r
        • by lkeagle ( 519176 )
          99% of audio production ends up in the 16bit/44.1kHz(or48kHz) domain in the end. I would say this satisfies most definitions of 'Pro-Audio'.

          'Pro' is just a gimmick. A 'Pro' engineer has a working understanding of acoustics, psychoacoustics, signal processing, music, electrical engineering, and knowledge of audio history as well as a sense of current recording/broadcast styles. The equipment that a 'Pro' engineer chooses to work with is almost always based on usability, and how it will enhance/impede his
      • by cpct0 ( 558171 )
        Flamebait are very quick to happen in Slashdot, ppl should relax a little.

        - I agree for Creative products. They are getting trumped all the time, and basically M-Audio is much better bang at the same buck. Although I cannot say if Creative's products are *cough* misleading anymore, they used to sell 96KHz 24bits products that barely was able to recognize 14-15 bits of stuff with deceiving frequencies.
        - The message was not about microphones. If he's doing radio, he only needs to invest in decent cables with
  • M-Audio (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    M-AUDIO has some fantastic pro-sumer sound cards and equipment.

    http://www.m-audio.com/ [m-audio.com]
  • Wrong place. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Eideewt ( 603267 ) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @11:46PM (#16240945)
    Get thee to an Audio forum, fool.

    I'm not normally one to complain about "Ask Slashdot" questions, but this isn't the best community to turn to for a recording question. There are forums in which nearly every member has bought many different audio interfaces -- you want one of those, not Slashdot.
    • Re:Wrong place. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Eideewt ( 603267 ) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @11:49PM (#16240993)
      I should add: your question is very vague. Will you be recording audio yourself? If so, you'll be wanting a decent microphone and preamp, as well as a quiet recording environment, more than a special sound card (assuming you've got something better than a Soundblaster), although the sound card is good to have. If you're not recording, just get some decent monitors and call it a day.
  • Just why do I think the terms "pro-quality" and "affordable" don't mix?

    IMO, "pro-quality" means: having this be less good than your competitor's means you don't eat. "Affordable" well seems to be a little less picky.
    • I believe that we are in the age where pro and amateur equipment quality are not easily distinguishable. Amateur recordings are getting better and better. Oh and cheaper and cheaper. When my dad built a studio in the 70's he spent thousands on a Teac 4-track 1/4" reel to reel. Now you can spend that much and get really good digital equipment or if analog is your thing you can spend $3000 dollars and buy yourself a 2" reel to reel 16 track recorder that used to go for $100,000.

      The fact is there are really o

      • by lkeagle ( 519176 )
        >>Oh and Guys...Lay off the compressors. You're killing the sound. With digital recording we have enormous dynamic ranges available to us. So use it!

        I agree. But if you lay off the compressors and processing in most pop music, the artists would be exposed for the frauds they are. There goes 90% of the recording industry!!!

        Not that I wouldn't rather be recording symphonies for a living, but those jobs are few and far between.
    • by s4m7 ( 519684 )

      Just why do I think the terms "pro-quality" and "affordable" don't mix?

      most likely because you are not familiar with the many "prosumer" audio offerings to choose from. There is a large pool of very decent hardware that is not quite professional but far beyond the needs of the average consumer. Frankly, any of the soundblasters from Live! on would be adequate for the task described. The good low-end pro models are the M-Audios, which I think are what the submitter is looking for, being both mac and pc

    • Let me just say as someone who is a bit of an audiophile and audio engineer that pro-quality and affordable are no longer mutually exclusive terms. In the past ten years in particular, I've seen gear that would have cost you $10k+ drop to less than $500. Many technological advances have attributed to this; better A/D technology, better DSPs, USB, Firewire, faster desktop systems, better drivers!, etc. So, the recording gear, i.e., the A/D boxes, the HD recorders, etc. has gotten better and cheaper on a m
  • It's hard to make a recommendation without knowing at a granular level what you want to do. How many inputs? How many outputs? Is latency an issue? What about frequency/bitrate? Digital inputs? Analog? MADI? Lightpipe? Some light reading... On the ULTRA high end, you would go with Apogee- http://www.apogeedigital.com/ [apogeedigital.com] - these are some of the industry's best da/ad converters; and with something like a big ben+rosetta on firewire, you'd be in good hands. Another contender could be rme http://www.rme-audio. [rme-audio.com]
  • by wrfelts ( 950027 ) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @11:47PM (#16240961)
    First, identify the tools (software & hardware) you will be using. THEN, see which boards are 1) recommended and 2) of good reputation with said software+hardware (review sites & blogs are good places to search). Look for reported compatibility problems and see if the vendor has corrected them. After you get done with that, you will have a very short list of boards you KNOW are working in the field.

    good luck...

  • audiophile + motu (Score:3, Informative)

    by ElephanTS ( 624421 ) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @11:47PM (#16240963)
    I probably wouldn't go for an internal card. Better to have an external box in many ways. This one a friend of mine has and it's very good for the money.

    http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/AudiophileUS B-main.html [m-audio.com]

    I've only used it on OSX but I think the drivers should be just as reliable on XP.

    This one sounds even better but is more expensive and you'll need firewire.

    http://www.motu.com/newsitems/traveler-press [motu.com]

    I've got their 828mkII and this one uses the same DAC/DAC as that which sound really good.
    • I have problems believing a USB sound card would be the best solution. Mainly because I do not trust USB and Firewire for realtime transfers. If you're going to sugest an external box, how about one with a better connection to the computer? Some in the Creative Audigy series have external boxes that connect to an internal sound card. Most of the processing is done in the box, not on board. Works great and is just as convienient.
      • Why would you not trust Firewire for realtime transfers?

        I can understand your concerns with USB - but Firewire is designed for real-time video transfer and provides rock-steady bandwidth. Why would there be a problem with realtime audio transfer over Firewire?
        • For firewire it mainly comes down to no direct experience with it. I haven't had a peripheral yet that used it so I have no idea how good it is. I know it was designed for realtime video. However, without the experience of having used it I won't recomend it. I have direct experience with the Audigy cards, hence why I recomend it instead.

          Related to this. I generally don't trust external general purpose connections. This is mostly due to USB, PCMCIA and TCP experience.
          • Firewire is basically a step between scsi and usb in terms of CPU utilization, at least in my experience. One of the reasons I like my 4G ipod so much over the 5G is the fact that it'll still transfer over the firewire bus. Makes it a lot faster when you have 10 gigs of music you're sending over; I zap my ipod every few months because I've found, at least in my experience, that the iPod'll lose song and send over a group it's already sent over.
          • by hab136 ( 30884 )

            For firewire it mainly comes down to no direct experience with it. I haven't had a peripheral yet that used it so I have no idea how good it is. I know it was designed for realtime video. However, without the experience of having used it I won't recomend it. I have direct experience with the Audigy cards, hence why I recomend it instead.

            "For internal combustion engines it mainly comes down to no direct experience with it. I haven't had a vehicle yet that used it so I have no idea how good it is. I know it

            • I've never heard of a hardware port called TCP, and Google is no help (it wants to talk about TCP/IP). Care to enlighten me?

              You haven't? Gee. You must be really new to computers then TCP is what TCP/IP sits on. Several companies actually use this for direct communication over RJ-45 connectors and CAT5 cable. Some are for high end video applications as well, but that requires some expensive high end hardware. They don't bother using TCP/IP as that just adds an extra layer of complexity onto the TCP la
              • by hab136 ( 30884 )

                You haven't? Gee. You must be really new to computers

                Insults aside, I'd really like to learn what you're talking about.

                then TCP is what TCP/IP sits on. Several companies actually use this for direct communication over RJ-45 connectors and CAT5 cable. Some are for high end video applications as well, but that requires some expensive high end hardware. They don't bother using TCP/IP as that just adds an extra layer of complexity onto the TCP layer. Perhaps you should read up a bit more about networking?

                You or

      • I have recorded 10 channels of 44.1 KHz audio at 24 bits simultaniously. That requires a thoughput of 10 megabits a second, while firewire can handle 40 times that. DV25 streams flawlessly...

        Firewire is rock-solid. The only problem I have with it is the sensitivity of bridge chips to static electricity.

        That being said, I still prefer a PCI solution.

        Also, USB is crap for realtime. If I remember correctly, IEEE1394 uses hardware-based buss control, and USB is software based.
      • by DrSkwid ( 118965 ) on Friday September 29, 2006 @02:38AM (#16241911) Homepage Journal
        Yeah, I can't think why we use Firewire to transfer data from our DV cameras into the computer for online editing ready for TV broadcast, it's just so lossy! 25 Mbit/s is just sooooo demanding.

        Stick to what you know sunshine.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by forkazoo ( 138186 )

        I have problems believing a USB sound card would be the best solution. Mainly because I do not trust USB and Firewire for realtime transfers. If you're going to sugest an external box, how about one with a better connection to the computer? Some in the Creative Audigy series have external boxes that connect to an internal sound card. Most of the processing is done in the box, not on board. Works great and is just as convienient.

        Well, feel free to not believe all you want. You can pry my USB audio hardware

      • by Eivind ( 15695 )
        Stereo audio is very low bandwith by todays standard. CDs, for example, are sampled at 2 channels, 16 bit depth at a frequency of 44.1 Khz. This works out to 44100*2*16 = 1411200bps, or about 150KB/second.

        This is an itsy-bitsy tiny-winy part of a current USB or Firewire-connection. There's no issues that I'm aware of with realtime audio over either USB or Firewire.

    • by Optic7 ( 688717 ) on Friday September 29, 2006 @12:21AM (#16241255)
      I'm no expert at this, but hang out in certain audio/video boards and read professionals' opinions on this (and stayed at a Holiday Inn last night). The common advice is to get an external audio interface that hooks to your computer via USB 2.0 or Firewire. The reason for this is that the electronic environment inside the PC case is extremely noisy (RF interference) making it almost impossible to get really clean audio if the analog audio circuitry is in there. That's why any professional audio card you see is usually external. I have seen M-Audio and motu recommended too. Oh, and what someone said about noise-free environment (quiet room) and correct microphone are also very important.

      By the way, I imagine you'll probably find a better selection (and prices) of these interfaces at your local Guitar Center or discount music superstore than at your regular computer parts store.

      Good luck.
      • Ummm, don't you mean that you stayed at a Holiday Inn Express? The regular Holiday Inn is for dumbasses, or so their commercials would lead me to believe.
      • USB has timing issues.

        FWIW, I achieved a much higher S/N ratio with an internal M-Audio Audiophile 24/96 than I did with an Edirol USB interface. Internal isn't always bad. Most of the comments are overstating the effect of interference on a quality board.
    • I second the motion (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Friday September 29, 2006 @12:22AM (#16241259) Homepage
      Internal sound cards have gotten pretty darn good, but you can still wind up with RF noise leaking into the audio. Keeping the ADC/DAC outside of the computer eliminates the possibility.
    • Do you find it suspiscious that MOTU refuses to publish their SNR / DNR for their cards? I was interested in a traveler but couldn't find the specs for it ANYWHERE.
  • You've more or less asked what's the best car for driving to and from work and around town. Good luck with that.

    There's a huge variety of pro and semi-pro audio gear on the market. If you've got detailed requirements then you need to start reading tech specs and reviews. If you don't have detailed requirements then just search for "usb audio interface" and/or "firewire audio interface" and pick something in the $100-$200 range.

    There are a vast number of features and quite a wide price range and I really dou
  • It's a great card. I own one and it's great if you can manage the wiring. It's all unbalanced RCA and MIDI connections, so it's not that out of thr ordinary. But if you don't have RCA jacks on your speakers you'll need a adapter for them. The card runs about 100 bucks.
  • The iMic [griffintechnology.com] USB soundcards are really nice. Good quality parts, 48k@24 bit recording (iirc). Interface-wise these cards are very simple. They pretty much just have volume and balance, no frilly features to speak of. Oh, and it runs on Mac, Linux, Windows, etc. without special drivers. By far one of the best (consumer-grade) sound cards I've ever used. And no, I don't work for them.
    • by hanwen ( 8589 )
      The iMic really sucks. It actually has more noise output than the audio jack on my Mac Mini.
  • You probably want something like an M-Audio firewire unit. Another poster recommended the 2496 box, which is excellent. Their other models work well, too.

    An external unit will prevent the electric noise from your PC from causing issues, and using firewire instead of USB will mean less CPU usage for the same work.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I'd recommend M-Audio as well. In a break out box. All the professional solutions are external. If you can find a cheap one that is still external, it's probably at least better than most consumer cards.

      You'll still have some latency problems because of your PC, but I'm not sure if that will be an issue with what you're using it for. Check M-Audio's recommended PCs/Macs if it's an issue.
  • Echo makes some good budget pro audio cards, 20 or 24 bit DACs, well designed, with propper sheilding. Pick one that meets your needs for input / output channels. Be sure to have a sound engineer hook things up, or at the very least learn how to avoid ground loops. If you don't have any PCI slots, theres good external boxes out there that plug in via Firewire. Also you can possibly find a good PCIe card.
  • Other Sound Cards (Score:2, Informative)

    by knuxed ( 854959 )
    The ESI Julia@ and Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1 are very very nice cards.Quite popular in Malaysia as it is dirt cheap,or u could even go for a modified 0404 ,though i am not so sure on the price
  • Since discontinued, but more likely than not better quality than anything you're going to need.

    Get thee to Ebay! [ebay.com]

    (No, that is not my auction.)
  • Avoid Creative Labs (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 29, 2006 @12:51AM (#16241423)
    Seriously. Their quality has gone up quite a bit in the past few years, but it's still not as nice as the MOTU, Echo, or M-Audio gear. Creative sells a great deal of gear to people who believe gimmickry like their claims of impossible S/N ratios, so you must understand that their efforts are really focused on attention-grabbing features (like 5.1 simulations from stereo in hardware) instead of quality (like rock-solid clock signals). Also, their drivers suck. Professionals DO NOT use Creative's products, and their attention to professional features like simple, solid drivers is lacking for that reason. Other manufacturers cater to the crowd that is more discriminating about these details and don't care about 3D audio accelleration in games, for example.

    Finally, they recently had a serious issue where they advertised 24bit audio, but it was only 24bit on PLAYBACK. This may have been resolved, but I recently saw some posts on a forum that indicated that it wasn't. I have been doing semi-pro audio on PC's since the days of the Turtle Beach Tahiti in 1994 (back when TB made really wonderful gear... sigh) and I would never trust my music to a Creative Labs product. -NEVER-

    A friend has the Mia and we're wrapping up an EP on it for our mastering setup. We recorded at my place where I use a Yamaha 01V digital mixer with an optical connection to a Terratec EWS/88D (older stuff, but I like it). The Mia is nice. I've heard great things about the recent M-Audio products as well. You should strongly consider an external box if you are doing recording (as opposed to mixing). Cards are still prone to noise (although it's much better these days than when PC audio first started) and breaking it out from the inside of the EM-washed case makes a big difference. Not to mention that if you get a firewire or USB device you can use it with your laptop and have a mobile recording solution (of course, you will then not be able to match the latency of a PCI card; this explains why I have a card but I use the card as a digital interface to an external A/D D/A converter, my mixer).
    • Plus for overall audio/recording use, their Audigy 4 line is NOT signigficantly better than say the class SBLive 5.1 card they released 6 or so years ago. (ok, Audigy 4 really really for reals does 24 bit now, but, honestly, a lot of mixing software can do that internally, no need for an audio card, per-se, to accomplish that). Of course, there are other brands out there better for "pro" use than Creative these days.
      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )
        You forgot a more interesting point - a lot of the Pro audio cards with better DACs and everything... cost less than the fancier Creative Labs cards! (Look at the X-Fi line - ouch! You can get very decent M-Audio cards that cost half the price.) Looks like the next audiophile is the gamer.

        Sure if you start adding fancy I/O (well, basic I/O for pro use) the cost starts adding up, but the top of the line X-Fi is still overpriced and you can probably get cards with that kind of I/O for way less. Maybe even a f
        • Even then, there are better cards with the *NECESSARY* audio I/O ports need for comparable or cheaper prices.

          At the time, the inputs on the SBLive (for the price) were quite good compared to the competition. However, there were a few inputs I had absolutely no use for. Besides a line in and a mic input, and occassionaly MIDI (which a card is not even need for thes days, aren't there USB 2.0 to MIDI connectors now?), I didn't need anything else. Yeah there was the optical out (why??) and SPDIF (which is
    • by GWBasic ( 900357 )
      About Creative Labs: I find their stuff is usually a good deal when you don't need to run their software. At work, I use a USB Sound Blaster Live for listening to music. It was a bargain at $50. The virtual 5.1 is useless if your source material is stereo, but it does sound excellent when listening to 5.1 music from DVD, (which I do).
      • I'd have to agree 101% with that. I had my machine consistently crash in windows XP, and I would honestly have to absolve Microsoft of blame in the face that creative's shitty drives seemed to be the cause. Running linux with open drives had no such issues (and for cards of similar cost, I *do* recommend creative labs cards for linux, or at least SBLive, because the Open-Source drivers are pretty decent and do handle hardware mixing). When I later tried it on other windows machines, they crashed as well unt
  • If you're just mixing down prerecorded clips already in digital form, then delivering them to another location in digital form, your sound card doesn't matter. The content isn't going through it. What does matter is the software you're using to assemble the show.

  • So how come /. and Fark fade out and leave me sans entertainment before I crash? Cant we outsource some help to a different time zone?
  • Is this what you english people would call an oxymoron?
  • You might also want to check out E-MU [emu.com] cards. I'm not in the business, but their products seem pretty professional to me. I own an E-MU 1212m (because I am into hi-fi) and love it.
  • The Rules (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BigFootApe ( 264256 ) on Friday September 29, 2006 @02:43AM (#16241935)
    Now, the only audio input work I've done was digitizing vinyl, which isn't all that taxing. However, I'm fairly particular about sound quality.

    What I've determined is that even good quality on board D/A equipment is poor. Much better, for a number of reasons, to use an external converter plugged in to an spdif jack (input and output).
  • Look to EMU (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BoneFlower ( 107640 ) <george.worroll@gmail. c o m> on Friday September 29, 2006 @02:47AM (#16241943) Journal
    I'm very happy with my EMU 1820, though for what you plan to do it may be overkill- I doubt you have much of a need for 8 channels of analog input + 10 digital channels, not to mention the other 14 host sources you can mix in(total of 32 channels hardware mixing). But the EMU cards also offer hardware accelerated effects... some of which, especially compression, can be quite important for broadcasting. Taking the load off your CPU can make a big difference sometimes.

    Look for high quality DACs. Don't worry too much about 24 bit bit depth, or 96/192khz sample rates... 44.1/16 implemented well will be overkill as it is for any sort of radio broadcast or webcast. If you do want to go further, bit depth will generally mean more than sample rates, at least in my experience recording stuff- but there is little need unless you want to master for an analog medium and get aural advantages over compact discs.

    The one problem with EMU cards is the tendency for the driver to go mental and corrupt itself. On the upside, this has only happened to me on boot- you really don't need to worry aobut it dying in the middle of a session. On the other hand it sometimes requires registry surgery and manual deletion of files in c:\windows\system32\ to let you reinstall the drivers. This doesn't happen often, but it's certainly a pain in the ass when it does.

    For the capabilities they offer, the EMU cards are priced quite low. But as explained above, driver stability can sometimes be a significant issue. If you need 24/7 immediate availability, don't get them. But given that the worst case is probably that you lose an hour a day every 4-6 months(probably less), they can be quite good for many contexts.
  • by cachorro ( 576097 ) on Friday September 29, 2006 @03:44AM (#16242167)
    The best bang for the buck I've found (and used) is the Echo Mia Midi PCI card. It is a pain getting it to work on Linux, but it will work there and I assume it is much more easily configured under Windows or on a Mac.

    AFAIK all the songs at the site www.mauiruhisongs.com were recorded using that card [disclaimer: religious content], so you can listen there to get an idea of the quality of the sound.

    Two channels in and two out are not enough for some though.
  • Get thee an Apogee (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Here be Apogee [apogeedigital.com] they make reasonable convertors. I know people doing voice work with the audiophile but let's not pretend it's professional kit, it isn't.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I own an Echo Mia MIDI, which has the same ADACs as the M-Audio 24-96 but lower noise and better sound (circut design??). Some other popular high-end vendors in a slightly higher price range are Marian and RME
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you're going to record voice you'll need a bunch of good condenser microphones and a mixer capable of supplying them the 48V phantom power. That means unbalanced inputs (at least) and XLR connectors + noiseless cables. You will also need a good environment to take recordings: take into account some sound absorbing panels, they're not cheap. As for the soundcard, the M-Audio is a good cheap (and Linux compatible) choice: I love my Delta 44 also because of the nice penguin on its box:*).

    A couple hints on v
  • For my home studio I use an M-Audio Delta 1010LT. It has 10 ins, 10 outs, and two balanced xlr inputs. It records 24bit at 96KHz and there is no audible noise. Works great with Ardour. The card itself is around $200. It's best to pick up a decent mixer with Inserts for managing the channels.

    Make sure to get some decent speakers for them or a good set of headphones with a flat frequency response. Flat frequency response is important to make sure what you edit sounds good everywhere. When I first star
    • by Eideewt ( 603267 )
      And here we arrive at the golden rule of mixing: never do it with headphones. And always test your mix on systems like the one your audience will be using (bundled computer speakers, in this case).
  • Here's another vote for an external firewire interface.

    For what you are trying to accomplish, you should be able to get an interface and a chinese large-diaphragm condenser together in the $300-500 range. For example, a PreSonus Firebox (~$300) and a Studio Projects B1 (~$100).

    For a place to get started shopping, Sweetwater [sweetwater.com] has incredible customer service. BSW [bswusa.com] has some "podcast" packages with everything you'd need to get started.
  • You might want to give Sweetwater Sound [sweetwater.com] a call and explain to them what your goals are. Also give them the budget you have to work with. They should be able to help you put together a package that suits your needs. Also note that when you look at their Computer Audio section that they don't sell a single thing by Creative. There's a reason for this.
  • I have been searching for a good sound card myself, started with Adlib, had on the road SB16, 32, Gravis Ultrasound (PRO) and currently I got a Digital Mistique [auzentech.com]. A very cheap and quality soundcard where you can change the DAC's. I've been using it for digitalizing my vinyl and sampling and the signal-to-noise ratio is pretty low for this soundcard (even with the already existing DAC's).

    It supports 7.1, Dolby Live, has a optical and coaxial SP/DIF ; it just works.

    With the Creative Labs Audigy I always had th

Brain fried -- Core dumped

Working...