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View Full Version : Can anyone recommend a sound card?


GarretGraves
11-21-2009, 07:49 AM
This Audigy 2 is so fucken old I think it might be hindering on my sound as a whole. Time to upgrade! PCI is what I need. Affordable price range but open to more expensive setups as a long term goal.

GO!

EDIT: One more thing. Is 64bit windows any better for sound or recording?

Yoozer
11-21-2009, 12:27 PM
Error in line 1: Define budget as a a positive whole number of currency, since "affordable" means something different to you than it does to me.

EDIT: One more thing. Is 64bit windows any better for sound or recording?

Do not go the 64-bit route (or even the Windows 7 route) unless you have confirmed for yourself, with currently available software and hardware that you will not run into problems.

Having to buy an older license for 32-bits XP or Vista because your soundcard just doesn't work (yet*) on your new, shiny Windows 7, 64-bits simply sucks. Don't do that to yourself. Wait until they've ironed the bugs out.

That said, the advantage of having more RAM in 64-bits is going to be pretty awesome if you're running big-ass sample libraries.

*a manufacturer's promise is useless in this case. Only actual, tested and confirmed bugfree drivers count.

Souliarc
11-21-2009, 01:43 PM
Typically beginner/consumer audio interfaces run from $100 to $200 (very general price range) and do very well if you don't need that many inputs/outputs. I for one used the Echo MiaMIDI (PCI) and it was flawless. They go for around $129, but I just sold my on eBay for $80 and got a Presonus Firestudio Project. I haven't had any problems with the FSP either (been using it around 2 months). I love the fact that all that I/O is going through one Firewire cable :)

Like Yoozer said, a 64-bit OS will allow you to access more RAM. A 32-bit OS allows you to access only 2 GB of RAM per process (unless you do the 3 GB switch, which I've heard is unstable sometimes). A workaround of this is to using something called Jbridge that allows you to run processes as separate process inside your select DAW. Check out this (http://ocremix.org/forums/showthread.php?t=24170&highlight=jbridge) thread to learn more.

If your DAW is also 64-bit (like Sonar), it allows more headroom for recording and drastically reduces your chances of clipping. 64-bit will more accurately reproduce audio because it measures the waveforms amplitude many, MANY more times than 32-bit.

Harmony
11-21-2009, 04:39 PM
Like Yoozer said, a 64-bit OS will allow you to access more RAM. A 32-bit OS allows you to access only 2 GB of RAM per process (unless you do the 3 GB switch, which I've heard is unstable sometimes).Yep, agreed. There's your big advantage for going the 64-bit route, but it's potentially full of headaches right now, so I'd heed Yoozer's advice.

If your DAW is also 64-bit (like Sonar), it allows more headroom for recording and drastically reduces your chances of clipping. 64-bit will more accurately reproduce audio because it measures the waveforms amplitude many, MANY more times than 32-bit.well....no, not really. It can be confusing, but I think you're mixing up terminologies. Sonar's 64 bit architecture means that the program can read memory addresses that have (at most) 64 bits (slots for storing binary info). This gives the program the ability to understand numbers like 8,796,093,022,208 (the number of bits in a terabyte) where a 32 bit architecture wouldn't have enough "places" to understand something that large. It is also important for being able to understand very small numbers. Sonar isn't doing the sampling though, your soundcard is. That's where recording bit depth comes in.

First, to clarify, bit depth doesn't specify the number of times your amplitude gets measured. That's determined by the sampling frequency (for example 44,100 samples per second). Bit depth determines how accurately each one of those 44,100 samples in a second can be represented. As an illustration, let's say that the amplitude of one of your samples is actually 0.987795739237492 in whatever units. A bit-depth of 4 would represent that as 0.9 (it can essentially only represent 1 decimal place). A 24 bit recording would record that as 0.9877957. As you see, you have the ability to represent sound more accurately. As you said, you get more leeway before clipping with higher bit depth recording. Why? Well let's say you have two adjacent samples of value 0.987795739237492 and 0.987796987564456. Even though the values are actually different, the 4 bit recording would record those as 0.9, 0.9. Get enough of the same amplitude values in a row (even just 2 or 3 can be audible) and you have clipping. The 24 bit recording would give those two values as 0.9877957, 0.9877969. Two distinct values and you're less likely to have an audible artifact.

GarretGraves
11-21-2009, 08:20 PM
Error in line 1: Define budget as a a positive whole number of currency, since "affordable" means something different to you than it does to me.


This line in itself is not necessary. You could still recommend a product without being Sheldon (from The Big Bang Theory). :)

But if you must be so specific, $100 to $200 is more in the affordale range for me. But I'd like to hear more expensive/advanced products to aim for as a long term goal.

Souliarc
11-21-2009, 08:54 PM
Yep, agreed. There's your big advantage for going the 64-bit route, but it's potentially full of headaches right now, so I'd heed Yoozer's advice.

Indeed, I myself had the opportunity upgrade to 64-bit and I declined because there were so many problems with compatibility across the board.

well....no, not really. It can be confusing, but I think you're mixing up terminologies. Sonar's 64 bit architecture means that the program can read memory addresses that have (at most) 64 bits (slots for storing binary info). This gives the program the ability to understand numbers like 8,796,093,022,208 (the number of bits in a terabyte) where a 32 bit architecture wouldn't have enough "places" to understand something that large. It is also important for being able to understand very small numbers. Sonar isn't doing the sampling though, your soundcard is. That's where recording bit depth comes in.

First, to clarify, bit depth doesn't specify the number of times your amplitude gets measured. That's determined by the sampling frequency (for example 44,100 samples per second). Bit depth determines how accurately each one of those 44,100 samples in a second can be represented. As an illustration, let's say that the amplitude of one of your samples is actually 0.987795739237492 in whatever units. A bit-depth of 4 would represent that as 0.9 (it can essentially only represent 1 decimal place). A 24 bit recording would record that as 0.9877957. As you see, you have the ability to represent sound more accurately. As you said, you get more leeway before clipping with higher bit depth recording. Why? Well let's say you have two adjacent samples of value 0.987795739237492 and 0.987796987564456. Even though the values are actually different, the 4 bit recording would record those as 0.9, 0.9. Get enough of the same amplitude values in a row (even just 2 or 3 can be audible) and you have clipping. The 24 bit recording would give those two values as 0.9877957, 0.9877969. Two distinct values and you're less likely to have an audible artifact.

Yes! I apologize, I was rushed at work when I posted. Still no excuse... but it's also been a while since a explained this topic to someone.

Bit depth is basically a vertical ruler, where the lines on the ruler are the bits. The more lines for measurement, the more accurate the sample can be measured. Horizontally, the sound wave is represented and sampled a certain amount times depending on your sampling frequency. If the sample measured falls in between the lines on the ruler, it will have to be rounded and cause distortion. Thus, the more bits, the less the sample will have to be rounded which equals less distortion and better quality.

The reason the higher bit depth also helps with lower level sounds (numbers) is the same. When you record a lower level signal a smaller range of bits is used, and in a sense, the bit depth of the recording is "lower". So even if the bit depth is "lowered" at low level recordings there are still essential more bits to represent that level if you're running at a higher bit depth. Which is why it is important to record as hot as you can, without clipping, because more bits can represent the sound wave.

WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!

GarretGraves
11-22-2009, 05:31 AM
regarding bit depth, im gonna need a visual representation on that cause reading it im getting a headache. lol

avaris
11-22-2009, 06:02 AM
regarding bit depth, im gonna need a visual representation on that cause reading it im getting a headache. lol

Listen to be honest tons of hit records and amazing songs have been done on 32-bit. (pretty much all of them that are done 100% in the digital domain thus far) Honestly first and foremost is your own skills. Yeah honestly in the digital domain there are a couple of differences between some of the 20grand systems and lower ones, but unless you work for Universal Records it ain't worth it.

I had used a m-audio 192 audiophile while on windows and for the price it is an excellent purchase.


Whether this hits home now or 2 years from now, your knowledge and experience far outweigh any technological advantage a musician could ever hope to have. If you are unconfident in your current set-up look to see where you could improve your current skillset before looking to upgrade your hardware.


If you want an end all book about computer music and digital tid bits here ya go:

http://www.amazon.com/Computer-Music-Tutorial-Curtis-Roads/dp/0262680823

Harmony
11-22-2009, 06:03 AM
regarding bit depth, im gonna need a visual representation on that cause reading it im getting a headache. lol
http://ocremix.org/forums/showthread.php?t=26031

Chapter 1 gives a good explanation.

GarretGraves
11-22-2009, 08:55 PM
http://ocremix.org/forums/showthread.php?t=26031

Chapter 1 gives a good explanation.

I'm an idiot. I had this in my bookmarks and I forgot I had it. Thanks guys!

Also in regards to that m-audio 192 audiophile, am I correct to assume that I would require a mixer for that card? Cause All I see are the s/pdif I/O sockets and some other connection that looks like a printer port lol.

Souliarc
11-23-2009, 01:21 AM
Also in regards to that m-audio 192 audiophile, am I correct to assume that I would require a mixer for that card? Cause All I see are the s/pdif I/O sockets and some other connection that looks like a printer port lol.

Nah, you don't need a mixer. The connection on the PCI are card itself that looks like a printer port connects to a breakout cable that comes with the card. That breakout cable has 1/4" and MIDI I/O.

A small mixer can help though :)

http://www.djdeals.com/images/equipment/maudioAUDIOPHILE192.jpg

GarretGraves
11-23-2009, 03:25 AM
OH! Got it! ok. So I'll also be able to use this as sound for my PC itself? Like for my 5.1 speakers? It looks like i can. And those MIDI in/outs would come in handy later.

Harmony
11-23-2009, 12:20 PM
yes, you can use that as your primary soundcard.

Obtuse
11-25-2009, 06:25 AM
I use a line6 USB soundcard (or at least what I call a soundcard). I love USB since it is portable between my laptop and desktop.

They range from $100 to $200. It's also the perfect device for recording guitar.

http://line6.com/products/recording/

GarretGraves
11-25-2009, 07:11 AM
ASIOs. Got The Gearbox already and it has great tones on it. Granted it could use some more meat for metal rhythm. I try adding enough low end on the EQ for some tones but it's a tad thin IMO.

GarretGraves
01-14-2010, 07:32 AM
Ok kind necromancing a thread here. I apologize. But...

I'm lookin at this particular sound card: http://shop.avid.com/store/product.do?product=288865114326336

it runs at around $100 plus tax.

Avaris mentioned the m-audiophile 192 and when i went to look for it i came across the above sound card which seems like a later version of it. But the breakout cable doesnt seem to support my 5.1 speakers and im having trouble searching for one that does. So now that I have money for one I'm opening up for more suggestions.

And also is firewire better than USB?

EDIT: Scratch that. the 2496 is an earlier version than the 192. Plus it looks like im gonna need new speakers. I currently use these: http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=en&q=Logitech+5.1+speakers&ved=0CBoQrQQwAA&cid=5500593836409131059&sa=image#p

Am I wrong?

Harmony
01-14-2010, 02:55 PM
You should be able to use the 5.1 speakers with either of those cards:

http://forums.m-audio.com/showthread.php?2100-5-1-speakers-with-Audiophile-2496

Arcana
01-14-2010, 08:07 PM
I have a barely-used Echo MIA MIDI sound card that I've been trying to sell for the past 5 months :3

For $50 it could be yours!

/shamelessplug

http://www.echoaudio.com/products/PCI/MiaMIDI/index.php

GarretGraves
01-14-2010, 08:29 PM
You should be able to use the 5.1 speakers with either of those cards:

http://forums.m-audio.com/showthread.php?2100-5-1-speakers-with-Audiophile-2496

that looks interesting. im almost sold on the idea. Thing is im worried about that CO2 not being able to connect to my speakers. I took a look at the pics and manual and I don't see how it can connect to the speakers I've got. Like, I could see my two front and two rear speakers being plugged in but not the front center and sub woofer. It doesnt look like there's enough sockets.