Advice needed on audio hardware

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Mister Ghostie
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Advice needed on audio hardware

Post by Mister Ghostie »

Hi guys and gals,

I'm in the market for some new audio gear but, being pretty clueless about this sort of stuff, I could really do with some advice.

My current audio setup is:

PC
M-Audio Audiophile 192
Sonar & VSTs
Pod 2.0 & Guitar
Evolution MK-361C

Actually, I'm using on-board audio atm (!!!) as my sound card recently died on me and so I'll need to invest in a new one - I'm just not sure what to get though. My budget is probably around £100 and ideally I'd want a card that is quite versatile (good for audio production, playing games, watching movies) and have been looking at an Asus Xonar D2. Any thoughts or recommendations?

I'm also thinking about buying a sound module or a stage piano as I'd like to have a play around on the keys without the need to switch the PC on all the time. However, if I want to record sound from the hardware then will I also need to invest in an audio mixer or audio interface of some sort? Which kind of leads onto the next question/s.

What is the main purpose of having an audio mixer or audio interface? As I connect the guitar to the computer, would one or the other be useful.....or does the Pod do the job?

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Analog-X64
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Re: Advice needed on audio hardware

Post by Analog-X64 »

I'm in the research phase at the moment, I went to a local music shop and asked about the different interfaces.

There is a variety of USB Based audio interfaces M-Audio being an example.

I'm not sure if I will be using a Laptop for my recording or a desktop pc.

I know that I want to have a Hybrid Setup... PC + VSTi's + Real Synths.

I've narrowed the choices down to 3 types of audio interfaces.

1. USB <--- This will work with either Laptop or Desktop.
2. PCI <--- This will only work with PC
3. PCMCIA <--- Laptop only, but I guess can work on Desktop with a PCMCIA Adapter.

Price also dictates quality and features of device.

The two M-Audio devices that I saw at the shop had the Mic Jacks and output Jacks to bring audio into a mixing console.

The lowest model was $99 Canadian which is 66 Euro.
The higher model was $199 Canadian which is 134 Euro.

The lower model could only handle 16bit / 44khz while the higher model can do 24bit / 96khz

I dont want to settle for the lower stuff, and although I'm on a tight budget, I'm going to wait till I have the money to buy the higher end stuff. I have a Jar set aside which holds my Geek Funds :)

My Current system uses the built in NForce Audio chipset by NVidia and it has worked great for me, but I'm ready for the next step and getting some better gear to work with.

Check out This page
http://www.m-audio.com/index.php?do=pro ... interfaces
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Tonka
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Re: Advice needed on audio hardware

Post by Tonka »

I got one of these a few months ago mainly for vocal recording with my laptop, but am now using it with my desktop PC as well. Built in pre-amps and limiter/compressor, etc. Sounds no better or worse than my Audiophile 2496 and has direct monitoring, built in midi etc... I think it looks cute, too. :D

http://www.rolandus.com/products/produc ... ductId=970

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Specs:

# High-resolution 24bit/96kHz performance with pro-grade mic preamps
# Onboard analog compressor/limiter with variable attack times and threshold control
# USB bus powered, low-noise, wide-range power supply
# Two mic preamps and XLR/TRS combo jacks with 48V phantom power, Hi-Z port for guitar-direct connection, S/PDIF optical I/O, MIDI in/out
# Ground lift for studio and live stage use

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Analog-X64
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Re: Advice needed on audio hardware

Post by Analog-X64 »

Yes... I did see the edirol as well, I'm glad to hear that is a good little unit. Now I cant wait to have the funds to buy one. :)
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Mister Ghostie
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Re: Advice needed on audio hardware

Post by Mister Ghostie »

That's a good point you mentioned about a hybrid setup - I may get a laptop at some point down the line so it may be worth considering a USB option.

What really confuses me is the actual term "audio interface" - is it best to think of one as simply a sound card but with specific audio features and I/O connections?

For example, if I were to buy the Edirol UA-25EX then would I actually need a sound card to handle the audio on my computer (eg playback of audio, vst's, recording guitars, etc)?

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Tonka
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Re: Advice needed on audio hardware

Post by Tonka »

Mister Ghostie wrote:That's a good point you mentioned about a hybrid setup - I may get a laptop at some point down the line so it may be worth considering a USB option.

What really confuses me is the actual term "audio interface" - is it best to think of one as simply a sound card but with specific audio features and I/O connections?

For example, if I were to buy the Edirol UA-25EX then would I actually need a sound card to handle the audio on my computer (eg playback of audio, vst's, recording guitars, etc)?
It's a term that can differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some make PCI soundcards with optional I/O interfaces (or 'break-out boxes') which can be attached to them. With the UA-25EX, it's all built in to the box so it's all you will need to record, playback and run your MIDI gear.

Bit over your budget, but you may also want to consider the Novation X-station: http://us.novationmusic.com/products/x_station?option=1

Does everything Edirol does, but also has a keyboard (which I see you're looking to buy a some point), built in synth engine and loads of effects. Uses the same converters as the Focusrite Saffire.

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Re: Advice needed on audio hardware

Post by Analog-X64 »

Now I'm confused, so the X-Station can be hooked up to a PC and will generate the sounds created by a VST on a Host like FruityLoops?
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Tonka
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Re: Advice needed on audio hardware

Post by Tonka »

Analog-X64 wrote:Now I'm confused, so the X-Station can be hooked up to a PC and will generate the sounds created by a VST on a Host like FruityLoops?
Yes - the X-station acts as a USB soundcard, midi controller keyboard and sound module. The inernal synth engine and midi messages can go through the USB cable (to and from your host DAW) or via the external outputs. S'all very clever... :)

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Re: Advice needed on audio hardware

Post by Analog-X64 »

Tonka wrote: Yes - the X-station acts as a USB soundcard, midi controller keyboard and sound module. The inernal synth engine and midi messages can go through the USB cable (to and from your host DAW) or via the external outputs. S'all very clever... :)
Now that is very slick!!! I wasnt aware such product existed.. I learned something new.
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Marcel Donné
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Re: Advice needed on audio hardware

Post by Marcel Donné »

Or to pawn one of my favourite Boz quotes: Every day is a schoolday :wink:

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Re: Advice needed on audio hardware

Post by Makke »

Tonka wrote:With the UA-25EX, it's all built in to the box so it's all you will need to record, playback and run your MIDI gear.
My only complaint on the UA-25 preamps is that they sound a bit cold if you want a closely miced, smooth and jazzy type of voice. I got a lot deeper sounding results with a Behringer Eurorack and an M-Audio 1010 LT.

But that's the only bad thing I've got to say about the UA-25. At that price, it's a great piece of hardware!
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Re: Advice needed on audio hardware

Post by Chris Abbott »

Marcel Donne wrote:Or to pawn one of my favourite Boz quotes: Every day is a schoolday :wink:
He only says that because he enjoys spending so much time behind the bike shed :)
Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children?

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