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Soundcard recommendations?

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I've used the EMU 0404 internal card for years, but after building my new Windows 7 machine I've had nothing but problems with it. I'd like to buy a new soundcard.

I don't need anything too fancy, because I have a Mackie 1202 VLZ Pro mixer that I do all my recording through. Most important point for me is low latency. Just need basic in/outs for recording and running through the mixer. Any suggestions?

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I hadn't considered a USB interface; do you notice a latency loss when going that route? Bonuses I suppose would be portability, but I was thinking more of an internal card... I used to have an old Audigy 2 USB setup for my laptop and it wasn't superb.

You're comparing a Creative Labs sound device to a Focusrite?

I have the 18i6, I can sport 22ms or less, depending on my buffer.

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When going the USB/FW route you do get latency that you can very much feel. With USB the lowest I can get is about 10-13ms and with FW the lowest I can get is about 8ms. For $300 you can really get some great stuff but it all depends on what you're looking to do, and since recording and latency are issues for you I'd stay clear of those.

Your best bet is to look at good PCI cards like:

Echo Mia

Delta 1010lt

ESI Audio Julia

Audiophile 24/96 (not recommended)

These all fall within the $50-200 range. If you are patient you can get the more expensive ones (1010lt or MIA) for around $80-100 on ebay.

If you want to extend your budget by about $200 you can get some more robust cards that offer you more along the way of inputs, but with any of these listed above you're looking at latencies of anywhere between 2-5ms which is perfect for recording.

The next thing to consider are the drivers. Most of the companies making these value priced cards have moved on to USB, so many of these are discontinued. The good thing is that Echo Audio is a fantastic company that continues to support their discontinued products with driver updates, so they have windows 7 drivers. Same with M-Audio, the Delta series drivers for windows 7 work flawlessly. But yeah as far as advice goes, you want to make sure that there are compatible drivers for any soundcard you buy (PCI, USB, or whatever else).

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Thanks Snapple, shaggy, and Dan for the suggestions and advice.

The Delta 1010lt looks best for my needs at this point. I want to go the PCI route with my setup.

EDIT: Well, I found an older Beta Windows 7 driver for the 0404. I got it working...for now. This is probably the third time it just stopped working and each time I had to use a different method to fix it. Still will be keeping my eyes on that Delta 1010lt.

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