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#1350323 - 12/03/14 12:05 PM Sound Card Windows 7 Machine? and Opinions wanted
Sparky_Sound_Tech Offline
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Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 115
Just got one of the last of the Win7 Machines and I want a nice sound card. Have seen this one toughted and wondered what people's thoughts are and or options for something better.

Using this for Mixing and mastering music.
ASUS PCI-Express x1 Sound Card XONAR ESSENCE STX/90-YAA0C0-0UAN00Z
on Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001OV789U/ref=...d=I6QRDDTM7Z1OD
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Sparky

Running VS-2480HD VS-1824CD and loving it!!!
Plextor PX-W1210TSE SCSI CD-RW drive
http://www.slipperywrench.com
G&L F-100, Fame Acoustic, Pevey Strat copy, Cort V series, Banjo, Tascam 424, Fender FM65R, Custom Oak Cab 2 10" Scorpions, Crate GFX1000, and misc other stuff

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#1350345 - 12/03/14 02:35 PM Re: Sound Card Windows 7 Machine? and Opinions wanted [Re: Sparky_Sound_Tech]
uptildawn Offline
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Registered: 12/15/01
Posts: 8095
Loc: Iowa
As pci soundcards go, this appears to have a reputation for good sound. I don't know that it's necessarily something I'd expect to use for mastering.

The biggest reason I, myself, might not get it is for the lack of a breakout box that brings the most necessary hookups to the desk, or at least at the front of the computer. I suppose if you plan on running all necessary extension cables out from behind the computer, so you have them handy, it wouldn't be so bad in that respect.

The equivalent card for my general duty and light audio work pc is a 2nd generation SB Audigy2. It may not have as high a quality amplifier section as this one you're looking at (based on the reviews I found), but it does have an internally mounted (3.5" drive bay) box that contains jacks for analog and digital I/O, as well as headphones and even firewire and midi... no crawling behind the machine for anything except my main speaker output, which stays put most of the time.


I can't comment on actual sound quality, without having used it, or read more deeply into tech specs and tech-oriented reviews.





Edited by uptildawn (12/03/14 02:36 PM)
_________________________
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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#1350346 - 12/03/14 02:35 PM Re: Sound Card Windows 7 Machine? and Opinions wanted [Re: Sparky_Sound_Tech]
bear Offline
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Registered: 10/25/99
Posts: 6223
Loc: abq,nm,usa
That is really just a gaming/consumer unit. I would look for something else for serious recording applications...
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#1350394 - 12/03/14 06:10 PM Re: Sound Card Windows 7 Machine? and Opinions wanted [Re: bear]
Sparky_Sound_Tech Offline
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Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 115
Open to suggestions, willing to spend some money on it but would like to stay under $300
_________________________
Sparky

Running VS-2480HD VS-1824CD and loving it!!!
Plextor PX-W1210TSE SCSI CD-RW drive
http://www.slipperywrench.com
G&L F-100, Fame Acoustic, Pevey Strat copy, Cort V series, Banjo, Tascam 424, Fender FM65R, Custom Oak Cab 2 10" Scorpions, Crate GFX1000, and misc other stuff

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#1350414 - 12/03/14 08:18 PM Re: Sound Card Windows 7 Machine? and Opinions wanted [Re: Sparky_Sound_Tech]
uptildawn Offline
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Registered: 12/15/01
Posts: 8095
Loc: Iowa
There's so much variety and most of it depends on your needs and your setup, but also your ability to make the marriage of the card and pc pan out, if it does not do so on its own.

That's one of the challenges of modifying a stock pc to become a robust music machine - It's also one of the joys of the challenge for many people. It's also the reason a lot of people pay to have a music machine built from scratch, or to build their own.

Personally, I think most modern machines are up to the task of what you want to do, without a lot of major mods... mostly just a whole lot of tweaks - especially where anything from Vista and beyond is concerned, where security reigns as the number one priority. Most of that security stuff has to be turned off, or tamed to make a good music machine hum.

I realize it's somewhat of a rant and OT, but hopefully, you'll find it helpful to consider as you modify this new pc of yours. Maybe you'll find very little to do besides the new soundcard - that would be sweet, for sure!

Anyway.....

rant over.
_________________________
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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#1350420 - 12/03/14 08:43 PM Re: Sound Card Windows 7 Machine? and Opinions wanted [Re: uptildawn]
uptildawn Offline
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Registered: 12/15/01
Posts: 8095
Loc: Iowa
I think your plan to go with PCIe is a solid start, especially to get more than two simultaneous inputs and outputs and low latency, high sample and bit rates and high quality sound and monitoring capabilities all together.

However, you may also find that they are rather costly and not only above your price point, but usually require some preamp to interface with them - another added cost. But, you also get what you pay for. Here's a quick search to see what brands are considered pro-level, I think: http://www.sweetwater.com/c703--PCI_Audio_Interfaces/low2high

My personal favorite and most of my experience is with RME, but I've heard the praises of Lynx for low track counts and fantastic audio quality (wish I have actual experience listening to them). It's quite possible to find some of the older generation RME cards on the used market - they seem to pop up a lot as people upgrade from smaller to larger systems (and vice versa, I suppose). Not sure that you could find a used RME pci-e card and preamp to interface for $300 total though... maybe?

USB audio interfaces were not that solid for more than two-track use until recently, but I'm hearing more and more good reviews of usb audio interfaces (complete with preamp) that can handle 8-16 tracks lately. Again, I wish I had personal experience to toot about, but I don't. Again, RME is a very big contender in the usb market.

One of the reasons RME is considered so highly is their attention to the driver software they write - It is considered about the most stable out there and stability is very high on the desirability list!

By far, the most common I/O configuration is 2x2. Using the search filters here, you can see which units have the best price per feature set for you, at least as a starting point: http://www.sweetwater.com/c695--USB_Audio_Interfaces

I'm not particular to Sweetwater, but they happen to have a good assortment of what's available and a decent search design.

This may all seem sort of vague, but it's really difficult to just advise somebody on what brands and styles to get for their system without knowing a whole lot more detail about the system and what the specific needs and visions are of the person seeking info.

Hope this is helpful. I feel like I'm rambling, so I'll stop...............
_________________________
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).

Top
#1350422 - 12/03/14 08:47 PM Re: Sound Card Windows 7 Machine? and Opinions wanted [Re: uptildawn]
bear Offline
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Registered: 10/25/99
Posts: 6223
Loc: abq,nm,usa
The first thing to define is what you are going to do with it.

First question is how many inputs you will need to record at the same time. Whole bands with 16 mics? Just yourself playing a kazoo?

And how many outs... do you need headphone mixes? Mixing out of the box?

Is 44.1k 24 bit good enough?

Pretty much standard requirement is ASIO drivers.

Then what physical interfaces does your machine have...PCI? PCIe? USB? FIREWIRE?

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#1350565 - 12/04/14 11:57 AM Re: Sound Card Windows 7 Machine? and Opinions wanted [Re: bear]
Sparky_Sound_Tech Offline
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Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 115
Thanks for all the great input much appreciated I love this forum.

What it will be used for is Mixing and Mastering. The recording we do with a 2480 or other gear, then move the files into Cakewalk or Sonar depending on what you want to call it LOL

I have a nice set of powered monitors and would not like to color the sound with an Amp between the computer and monitors.

I prefer to work with Higher bit rates, yea I know the arguments about being able to "hear" a difference, but I know the more stuff is compressed the better the chance of nuance being lost too. That an most of the gear we record with records at some pretty high bit rates.

PCI-e is what I have been thinking about, however USB is as people are pointing out becoming much better. Firewire isn't an option without adding it. It does have USB-3 ports.

Thanks again for all the input it is greatly appreciated.
_________________________
Sparky

Running VS-2480HD VS-1824CD and loving it!!!
Plextor PX-W1210TSE SCSI CD-RW drive
http://www.slipperywrench.com
G&L F-100, Fame Acoustic, Pevey Strat copy, Cort V series, Banjo, Tascam 424, Fender FM65R, Custom Oak Cab 2 10" Scorpions, Crate GFX1000, and misc other stuff

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#1350572 - 12/04/14 12:16 PM Re: Sound Card Windows 7 Machine? and Opinions wanted [Re: Sparky_Sound_Tech]
bear Offline
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Registered: 10/25/99
Posts: 6223
Loc: abq,nm,usa
If all you want is two track stuff basically I would look at USB boxes.

Roland quad capture is nice.... or even duo capture

There are many others in the $150 to $250 range.

PCIe cards are very nice - you will end up paying more for them than a USB interface though. And USB is totally adequate for what you are describing

Again, no matter what you get - you want good ASIO drivers - maybe WDM drivers if you are planning on Sonar

Reaper is whole heck of a lot cheaper than Sonar for what you want to do...

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#1350589 - 12/04/14 01:50 PM Re: Sound Card Windows 7 Machine? and Opinions wanted [Re: bear]
uptildawn Offline
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Registered: 12/15/01
Posts: 8095
Loc: Iowa
As bear says..........


also, be sure that the device you choose is capable of both recording and playing back those high sample and bit rates you want to use. Some will advertise high sample/bit rates, but you only find out after reading the manual that it's only for playback. Some devices may have digital outputs, but not inputs. Some devices have digital jacks that are only used for surround applications....... just be thorough in your research before buying.
_________________________
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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#1350690 - 12/04/14 07:06 PM Re: Sound Card Windows 7 Machine? and Opinions wanted [Re: uptildawn]
Sparky_Sound_Tech Offline
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Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 115
Bear amd Uptildawn much appreciated I am going to look at USB more carefully. I'm not in a hurry to get anything, it's a work in progress (that and being in MN working in a hard to heat basement studio isn't the funnest place to be).

My inclination was that a sound card would free up processor power. Which would give more power to handling effects and stuff that I do to the tracks in mastering a mix. Usually looking at mixing 18-24 tracks at a time and if necessary a full 48.

I have a few different pieces of software but use a version of Cakewalk I have mostly cause I have gotten used to it.

My brother and I both do recording work, with a variety of devices from the 2480, 48 ch digital, to a new A&H QU32. Most of it is Live recording at clubs like First Ave in Mpls.
_________________________
Sparky

Running VS-2480HD VS-1824CD and loving it!!!
Plextor PX-W1210TSE SCSI CD-RW drive
http://www.slipperywrench.com
G&L F-100, Fame Acoustic, Pevey Strat copy, Cort V series, Banjo, Tascam 424, Fender FM65R, Custom Oak Cab 2 10" Scorpions, Crate GFX1000, and misc other stuff

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#1350692 - 12/04/14 07:43 PM Re: Sound Card Windows 7 Machine? and Opinions wanted [Re: Sparky_Sound_Tech]
RoostRider Offline
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Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 42
I'm interested in what will work well with our new Allen And Heath qu32.... I am told it can stream 32 tracks via USB at 48 .... I haven't even had a chance to plug it in yet... Damn recording gigs getting in the way of play time... I hope my "new gear buzz" doesn't fade before I get it up and running...
_________________________
http://www.slipperywrench.com
mikeb@slipperywrench.com

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#1350696 - 12/04/14 08:21 PM Re: Sound Card Windows 7 Machine? and Opinions wanted [Re: RoostRider]
bear Offline
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Registered: 10/25/99
Posts: 6223
Loc: abq,nm,usa
It appears the QU32 has ASIO drivers and WDM drivers...

Theoretically it should work great with Sonar (or Reaper or any other DAW)

I say theoretically because the quality and robustness of how drivers are written do vary from manufacturer to manufacturer...

Badly written drivers can drive you crazy with dropouts and all kinds of weirdness... well written ones just work and never give any grief

I have no experience with the GU drivers - only thing to do is try it and see... should work a treat though. That is a very nice looking unit.

I will say if you try it with sonar, and it is not working solidly, do try reaper before giving up on it - reaper tends to be really solid with lots of different drivers.

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#1350702 - 12/04/14 09:03 PM Re: Sound Card Windows 7 Machine? and Opinions wanted [Re: RoostRider]
uptildawn Offline
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Registered: 12/15/01
Posts: 8095
Loc: Iowa
I'm curious about this A&H as well. Documentation (manual and website) seems to indicate that it can stream 16/24/32 tracks to and from a mac/pc daw through USB at 48k/24b. But in the brief 1/2 hour I've scanned through the manual, I don't see any clear description of how the computer daw can be set up to record the upstream, or any description of the minimum requirements that computer need in order to maintain a load of up to 32 tracks both ways in realtime through USB. Does anybody have any clue about actual real world examples of this in use?

It also has its own ability to record up to 18 tracks at once at 48k/24b directly to a USB hard drive. They do mention that it requires: Data rate = 144 KB/sec per track (max 4GB total).... figures that are actually something you could check to know whether or not your hard drive meets minimum specs. But that appears to be limited track count and absolute max of 18 simultaneous.

Either way, in my eyes, it appears to be:
1- a multi-track version of the 2-track SD/CF/USB/CD realtime Tascam recorder I have racmounted...... NICE that it can record 18 tracks at once and not just 2.

and
2- a substitute for the two 6-space racks that I currently use to house preamps and interface breakout boxes to feed up to 48 channels of inputs to my pc daw through PCI cards (or more than 24 tracks to my laptop through a PCMCIA adapter card) -

The live mixer application obviously being its main purpose, means that for someone interested in multi-track recording and NOT live mixing to a PA system, it's a lot of money spent on unnecessary hardware devoted (or aimed at) mixing live sound.

That's just from my perspective mind you. I sure would like to know more details about its capabilities and have some real world examples of it in operation. I'm especially interested in its digital snake capabilities.

I don't understand why this machine (as with nearly all the other digital systems) can only use proprietary digital snake technology, or why it's locked to only 48k/24bit operation.

I'm still waiting for the day when someone releases a modestly priced, universally adaptable digital system that can feed not only a live mixing console, but also patch to audio and video recording computers simultaneously (much like the Roland/Sonar REAC system), with flexible, user-defined sample and bit rates aimed at the destination application needs and not locked to a single sample and bit rate and proprietary interconnect systems.

Seriously, does anyone NEED to mix live sound at 96k/24bit (the REAC system). I don't even need to RECORD at those large, cpu and drive guzzling sizes. 48k (and 96k) used to be the preferred rates for video destined sources and 44k for audio, but really, I haven't met a video person lately that cared a whit if the source audio was 44k or 48k, whereas audio destined files are bound to be downsampled to 44k, if the end destination is a hardware CD player and therefore an awkward and unnecessary downsample, requiring much more cpu processing than simply recording the source at 44k, or even 88.2k (double 44.1k).

Why aren't these digital systems set at 44.1k, or 88.2k (for the extra resolution)? And don't give me the 48k is a better sample rate to record because of the higher resolution - If it must be downsampled to CD in the end, there's as much risk of lost resolution at that stage as anything - at least in my mind.

Sorry for the rant. It's totally unnecessary, but I was on a roll.... \:\)

I'm still interested to know much more from those who have experience with the A&H board!



Edited by uptildawn (12/04/14 09:07 PM)
_________________________
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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