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#1302024 - 05/19/14 08:44 PM Sound Card recommendations
ShedHack Offline
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Registered: 07/11/01
Posts: 2908
Loc: Lake Serene, WA USA
I am having a new PC built and I would appreciate recommendations for a sound card. I use an M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R interface for recording.

The PC guy is recommending a Xonar DX7.1. I am somewhat concerned that this is more oriented toward gamers than toward audio production. I am NOT a gamer.

Any advice would be welcome.
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#1302119 - 05/19/14 10:00 PM Re: Sound Card recommendations [Re: ShedHack]
Popmann Offline
Loquacious Planeteer


Registered: 05/23/02
Posts: 27993
Loc: Twangville, TN
For audio work on Windows, you need something with a good ASIO driver...and a breakout box for the analog connections. It will almost assuredly not be PCIe now....they're all USB and FireWire except a few older designs. RME is the safest bet, if on the pricey side.
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#1302172 - 05/19/14 11:08 PM Re: Sound Card recommendations [Re: Popmann]
uptildawn Offline
Planeteer


Registered: 12/15/01
Posts: 8095
Loc: Iowa
First off, I'm not sure I understand why you're looking for a soundcard.... Your M-Audio IS a USB audio interface. It's complete for input, monitoring and line output, with spdif digital and ASIO driver support, as well.

It seems as though you are planning on using PCI, or PCIe for your soundcard/interface maybe, since you are building your own. Have you already got a motherboard with PCI slots?

I would definitely skip the gamers soundcard market.... You need something much higher quality, feature-wise and performance-wise, designed for professional audio work.

In that respect, I also agree with Popman on this....

Besides RME, which I've been using for years and have never heard anything bad about - at least not anything that goes without being corrected in short order - MOTU, LYNX and M-Audio offer interfaces that are rated pretty high up there (with M-Audio having gone through periods of inconsistent drivers). I don't personally know where your M-Audio fits into the list of acceptable devices, but the biggest problem most people have with USB interfaces is because of higher latency issues.

Good, reliable ASIO driver capability is a must today, if you have any hope of obtaining low latency that is useable in a realtime feel situation. For editing and mixing after the fact, low latency isn't necessarily a big deal, but for live input and overdub sessions it is a must. Buffer settings are considered low latency enough for typical live work in the 2x64 and higher up to maybe 4x512, but that high produces quite a slap delay and I find it useable only when I don't need to hear tight audio, but am simply monitoring a live session to get a clean recording... sa at a live concert. I've even tollerated much higher buffer settings, when I must, but it's not fun. \:\(

For overdub recording, I've found that certain musicians will (mildly) complain about 2x64 and even frown at 1x64, or 2x32 equivalent.... but I think they wouldn't generally be bothered by it, had they not seen the settings before playing, really. I have no issues with 2x64 and monitoring with headphones, playing guitar.

Even older RME PCI interfaces, on an older PC can easily handle 2x64 buffer settings and I assume from what I've heard, that the others I mentioned have no problems at those settings.

If you're going with PCI, older RME units like the Multiface and Digiface come with a great PCI card and fantastically reliable drivers. There are other older RME interfaces/soundcards which also use the same basic PCI card technology that you might find suitable, although they don't necessarily use breakout boxes for Ins and Outs. If looking for used, be sure and get something in the HDSP line (Hammerfall DSP), not the older stuff.

Seems to me that you could use your M-Audio as an 8-track mic pre, using the line outs to go into the Multiface, for instance, which has 8 line-level balanced 1/4 jacks, plus a single 8-channel ADAT port, as well as coaxial spdif I/O.

Depending on your needs and the age of the system components you're building, you might even find 2x64 buffer settings with MME drivers a doable thing. Many people have said that the MME drivers were better than ASIO (at least at one time) and regretted having to let them go.... depends on your needs and preferences.


Hope this helps somewhat.


Edited by uptildawn (05/19/14 11:12 PM)
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uptildawn

2013 Iowa City JazzFest sets!
Dr Lonnie Smith Trio w/Jonathan Kreisberg on guitar
Pharoah Sanders Quartet
Fred Hersch Trio
These are post mixes set to single camera video (by Rich Rauch).

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#1307869 - 06/10/14 10:05 AM Re: Sound Card recommendations [Re: uptildawn]
Bobkat Offline
Planeteer


Registered: 01/23/08
Posts: 1203
Loc: St. Marys,Ontario,Canada
Great info from uptildawn and Popman!I'm thinking of purchasing a Foscusrite Scarlet 18i20 USB interface which a friend of mine bought and loves.Lots of options and featrures including 8 Focusrite mic preamps.(499.$)
Check it out,
http://us.focusrite.com/usb-audio-interfaces/scarlett-18i20

I also would like to find a 3.0 USB recording interface but still waiting.


Edited by Bobkat (06/10/14 10:07 AM)

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