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Benefits of a decent soundcard?


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- better quality analogue to digital and digital to analogue converters

- possibly more inputs and outputs, including a wider variety of connection types, e.g. balanced/unbalanced jack ins/outs, XLR connections, SPDIF in/out, etc

- zero latency monitoring, e.g. monitor your guitar as you record it with no latency

- more flexibility with routing, e.g. run inserts (e.g. reverb/delay/distortion units) across sound card inputs and outputs.

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A decent M-Audio sound card will let you run Pro Tools M-Powered. It's crap and horrible to use and sluggish as hell, but then you can try and find the harmonizer plugin!!!

Failing that, the points Spellchecker mentioned pretty much cover it...a sound card with mic pre's and phantom power is always good as it saves you needing an external desk, and eliminate the risk of degrading the signal through a desk's channel and then the cable you're connecting it to the sound card with. Clean signal paths are the key to good recordings, and quality AD/DA converters. The focusrite saffire thing is supposed to have good pre's (also has the bonus of having some DSP effects, good for saving CPU for the usual plug ins such as reverb etc), and the slightly cheaper Presonus firebox is supposed to have good clean pre's also. These are also good as they are firewire devices, so you can use them across desktops and laptops effortlessly, great when portability is needed.

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The Presonus firebox looks uber-tempting. Im getting well into home recording. Next on the list is a microphone for guitar and vox, any recommendations for around 50-60? or maybe I need to spend more?

Thanks for the info guys.

Reject Monkey, your answer was crap:up:

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The Presonus firebox looks uber-tempting. Im getting well into home recording. Next on the list is a microphone for guitar and vox' date=' any recommendations for around 50-60? or maybe I need to spend more?

Thanks for the info guys.

Reject Monkey, your answer was crap:up:[/quote']

the best way to start out home recording is to not over complicate things, and learn why you might want to do more / use more complex setups, by pushing the limits of what you already have around you.

for 50-60 quid you could pick up maybe a sennheiser or second-hand shure mic, e.g. an sm-58 or 57, both are good for vocals, though the sm57 is often considered an instrument microphone.

you will most likely need some form of pre-amp for your microphone. your soundcard may include a gain stage or an actual pre-amp, but more likely it won't and you will require something like a wee mixing desk, a pre-amp box/strip or similar.

the m-audio delta cards are good, reliable have good drivers and are well tested. i have been using mine for around 2 years now, and it was one of the better choices i've made in time. the best way to approach buying sound cards is to think what you actually want to use it for. if you want to do a lot of overdubs, with possibly more than one input at a time, then a proper multi-channel sound card with multiple jack/xlr inputs and outputs is probably what you want.

if you just want to record only one source at a time, or you have another mixing source that you just want to take stereo output from to record a mixdown to a computer, then you can maybe get away with something simpler.

inevitably, there's no right or wrong choice, infact when starting out it's perhaps best to get it a bit wrong, so you can learn what it is you actually want to do, either by reaching your limits or by requiring extra features with the hardware you have bought.

bear in mind that home recording fidelity always comes down to much more than just microphone or soundcard choice, other important factors are

- instrument choice

- amplification choice

- player style and ability

- microphone choice

- recording technique, equalisation & microphone placement

- room shape and acoustics

- computer equipment and soundcard choice

- monitoring techniques, e.g. headphones/speakers/monitors

making the best of use of what is available by knowing how to use it properly is the most important thing i think.

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  • 2 weeks later...
For recording. Just wondering.

Not sure if you're interested' date=' but a colleague is selling his M-Audio Audiophile Firewire:


Think he was looking for just under a hunner or something, though may negotiate.

I think it's pretty new, he's simply looking for a different model with a PCMCIA interface so he has less to carry around (live dj).

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For recording. Just wondering.

As you know soundcards vary in price from 30 pounds to 10,000 pounds so not all soundcards are equal. Lets say your recording a multitracked session recording individual parts one at a time and your using a cheap sound card, the accumulative effect of recording multiple sources through the cheap cards convertors will rear its ugly head pretty sharpish. The sound will be thin. cold and sterile and will lose definition..

Now do the same with your more expensive card the sound quality will remain intact(ish). Its all down to the quality of the AD convertors and the soundcards word clock stability.

However if you only need a soundcard for monitoring a card of about 100 quid would do the job very nicely. For decent recorded results I guess a minimum of 700 would be required. Like everything else you get what you pay for

hope that helps


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For 200 more you're getting 6 more mic pre's/channels....thats 4 times as much for twice the price. You then have an 8 track studio in your PC basically, so you can record live drums or whatever. You can now hook up two firepods for 16 tracks at once aswell!

I always wanted a firepod but credit records stood in the way. Im torn between that or the Delta1010 however....one day :D

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Well, I bought a Presonus on Ebay today. Not the firebox after all, just the inspire. It seems to have everything I need, firewire, 2 xlr and 2 guitar inputs and Cubase LE.

One other quick question, how come my effects pedal sounds decent through my 4 track when using distortion but is really fizzy when its through the sound card? Should I use my mixer? :up:

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  • 2 weeks later...

just checking, but quite a common mistake is getting muddled with steinberg's seperate asio configuration tools, when you just need to setup the soundcard within cubase by going to device settings, vst multitrack to select your asio driver (should be installed), check the vst inputs and outputs (should all be there). When you're working on a project (or template), setup the inputs/outputs by going to "vst connections" and adding input/output busses as neccesary. (then just assign the inputs to tracks and whatnot).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hog what spec is your pc?

Have you looked at the lineport ux2.

For recording guitar this is knees bees.

Of course it depends if you want to record more than one istrument at a time.

I have 3 soundcards, built in one on motherboard, c-media and lineport.

I use them all at the same time using Sonar giving me 6 mono line ins or 3 stereo.

Any keyboards can be done using midi.

Live recording set up.

Track 1 Keyboard midi

Track 2 drums 1st soundcard left

Track 3 drums 1st soundcard right

Track 4 guitar 1, 2nd soundcard left

Track 5 guitar 2, 2nd soundcard right

Track 6 vocals lineport soundcard left

Track 7 bass lineport soundcard right

This all depends on what line up you have and can be overdubbed such as backing vocals.

Hope this helps.

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