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Advice on soundcard please-

Discussion in 'Recording' started by cridom, Apr 5, 2009.

  1. cridom

    cridom Guest

    I got a Macbook recently and was wondering If any of you know which sound card/interface would work well with it, ill be using protools or cubase sx3.

    I want something around 300-500 dollars , this will be mainly to record while Im on vacations and stuff like that.

    I need at least 1 phantom powered mic input , dont need many ins and outs as ill be probly just recording guitars vocal, bass and maybe drums (but probly once or twice). Just something that has good preamps and sounds pro.

    I need somthing usb as the new macbook doesnt have firewire.

  2. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Say, did you know that the macbook(I have one made in may of 2007) has up to 96k 24 bit spdif via the 1/8" mini jack in and out?

    Newer intel macs use the 1/8" mic and headphone jacks to connect via Toslink cables. These connections are instant and cause no latency. :p :p :p EDIT: NOT! I was wrong dead wrong! Use the internal spdif connection where a mild amount of latency is acceptable, ok?

    I discovered this more recently and have not tried using it at 96k but have used it from my DAT for backing up ancient sessions of mine.

    You will need these special optical cables to connect since certain adaptors do not fit. You can find these here:


    You will notice that these connections are 1/8" mini headphone adaptors with the optical cable coming out the tip on the one end while the other is a standard toslink connection.

    I hope you are as excited as I was when I found out! :lol:

    You could just get an interface that has optical output and connect in/out, however I do not know of one that has both of the top of my head thats any lower class than this one:




    Hey, I hope this helps you.
  3. cridom

    cridom Guest

    nice!!! Im excited!!! I had no idea so for just recording guitar and stuff I can just get that cable and record without getting an interface? sorry if im ignorant but Iam a noob to this but very excited and willing to learn.
    I just want somwthing to lay down tracks with good quality semi pro.
    thanks a bunch for your reply ill search more to see what I can find about this!
    btw this is a 2009 macbook unibody the 2.0ghz version
  4. cridom

    cridom Guest

    wait I think I know what you mean , so with a toslink I can sorta add and interface via oprical out? and just use the interface as a console kinda thing? if so how can I power the interface, via toslink too?

    I mean having spdif via those jacks alow me to record using the integrated sound card and using those cables to use an interface without the need of a sound card?

    god now Im more confused hheehe
  5. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Wait. Yes, you need to convert your signal from analog to digital, right? :wink:

    Thats why you want that RME box or something. I actually have the ART DSPII which has Toslink built right in.


    The pre sounds about as good as the PreSonus Firestudio that I have.

    Your still gonna need the D to A, thats why I suggest saving your $ and get the RME, its much better that your average box that will retain its value.

    Wait! I think you can just run out the headphone jack to line out actually!
    I can check it out and get back to you since I have it all right here, I just received the toslink cables from monoprice the other day.

    Now you got me excited :p

    If you don't mind waiting a while, I'll post what happens with this within a couple of days, I have to stay up late and finish my taxes for last year :(
  6. cridom

    cridom Guest

    that would be awsome, Im trying to get a simple setup that I can hopefully carry around to my beach house and stuff like that and record at home with my band. the RME is nice but a lot of money for me right now, i guess ill start saving .

    Ill keep looking at the post and writing any ideas I get on this.

    I just want to get something that works and simple.

    thanks again.
    pd: Ill ask a friend over a recording school here to see if he knows anything about this maybe he can give us some info on this.
  7. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Hey, I catch your drift. I'm more into the really good recording gear, those USB interfaces are not really all that great if your looking for something that gives no delay issues when say tracking a vocal without that slap back effect.

    At least, I know from using firewire that there are significant delays with the buffers required for recording. This sound technical, however its just the limitations of the technology.

    I really have no idea how USB interfaces are doing these days, I just assume their not any better than firewire. However, you may try searching the forum for similar posts to yours. You see, you may not find a compact interface that is toslink, but you may find a high quality one that lets your computer perform to its maximum capabilities while making really great tracks.

    See ya within a couple days
  8. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Here is one more goodie for ya... :wink:
    I pulled this from this huge thread that you can find called "Cheap set-up help" in the budget gear section of the forum.

  9. cridom

    cridom Guest

    I was looking at this http://www.emu.com/products/product.asp?category=610&subcategory=611&product=18388 its got good reviews and should be fine but I really want to use the toslink thing as it seems nice to use it, I dont want to buy something usb just because I cant find a good interface with optical out. Ill keep seaching in the meanwhile.
  10. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Hey dude, I checked out this interface and did a quick search and found a different version with Toslink optical built into it!

    You may consider emailing/calling EMU and asking them if you can still power the box via USB while using it with Toslink.


    Check it out! You could always get it and return it if it does not work. One things for sure, if you are going to go ahead and get the interface you may want to order your cables in advance.

    I hope this helps.
  11. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Ok, I was wrong and I mean dead wrong! :shock: :shock: :shock:

    I finally got all the cables hooked up and the buffers in the internal Toslink connection are far worse than I had anticipated.

    Go figure, you never really do know until you try.

    So I can imagine running a device on USB 2.0 is WAY better than trying to use the internal digital interface.

    Even when you crank the rate up to 96k you still get delay! Well, I got it wrong man! :(

    I really thought it would be great, I hope that everyone interested in using there internal Toslink spdif connection on a macbook for recording gets a chance to read this before trusting it will work as well as anticipated
  12. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Optical connections come in a couple of different varieties. The optical S/PDIF format is the more limited of the two. It isn't any better or worse than phono plug S/PDIF. ADAT optical protocol can transmit much more information can get the job done.
  13. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    Don't know what DAW you're using, but check your monitoring options to rid yourself of the latency.

    Also firewire is more effecient than USB and the possibility of lower latency... if correctly setup.

  14. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    gdoubleyou, thank you for your post. I took very little time yesterday to draw my previous conclusion with the latency of the test, I had promised to try within a couple days.

    I have been too busy to get involved with the forum as much as I would like.

    In the first test I used Garage band 4 (iLife 08 ) with the small buffer setting on the audio/MIDI page of the preferences menu. I did not run Logic Pro to verify the buffer stetting there

    On my second verification of the latency issue with the built in SPDIF Toslink audio I tried using Logic Pro 8 with the buffer settings as low as you can get, which is 32 samples.

    I found that it performed much better, in fact quite nicely. However, when I played the track at 32 samples it crashed logic.

    So, I then set the buffer to 64 and playback resumed correctly.

    So, for now I will conclude that using the internal SPDIF connection with Garage band will not perform well with low latency because of the only two buffer settings in the preference menu do not allow a low enough setting for the latency to be resolved.

    In logic pro 8, a setting of 32 works for recording a mono track with very little latency. Stereo I have not tried yet. I will have to conclude later with Logic as I begin to utilize the SPDIF Toslink interface built into the MacBook computer.

    Till next time,
  15. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Do not expect each separate program to generate the same identical latency values.
  16. cridom

    cridom Guest

    sorry I havent posted in a few days but I forgot where thredt was haha!

    thanks for the info man!

    not sure what program ill use, Im very new to mac and yearss ago a used cubase sx3 and loved it, not sure how it runs on mac. I think ill just buy the emu 0404 as it seems preatty good for the price and I will probly only record one track at a time.

    I really forgot a lot of what I had learned but for 200 bucks I guess you cant go wrong with emu, although I think is more of a windows friendly interface so Ill keep searching a bit before I make a final desicion thanks a lot guys. Ill post in a few day.
  17. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    The E-MU 0404 USB is great if you need theS/PDIF and MIDI. Has step up converters and preamp but not can not be bus powered, has to have external 5V poower supply.

    Other thing to note is that the S/PDIF port can only be accessed via ASIO software.

    Get the Limited Edition White E-MU 0404 USB. It comes with XP/Vista 3rd party software. The Gray one is XP only.
  18. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Man, I love this forum. How could I ever know all this detail?

    Does anyone know if you can run ASIO on Mac? Say that I want to buy Cubase 5, does that use the ASIO driver?
  19. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    The ASIO driver is for the interface itself - I think ASIO is still needed for Mac though. Cubase should indeed be able to see it assuming it installs correctly.
  20. cridom

    cridom Guest

    sweet! thanks Ill probly get this emu in a month or so ill post asap and maybe give a little review (limited by my knowledge)

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