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Are soundcards required anymore?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by EZmpc, Dec 27, 2010.

  1. EZmpc

    EZmpc Active Member

    At what level of audio production is a soundcard needed anymore?

    Modern motherboards have onboard audio and there are even some with SoundBlaster onboard and SPDIF. CPU and bus speeds are incredibly fast such that dedicated processors on a sound card aren't perhaps as necessary as they used to be. Audio devices can be connected via USB or Firewire directly to the motherboard.
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Onboard soundcards are not designed for professional audio. While some could be made to function in the most basic of fashion, it is not adequate to the task. The best most latency free sound cards are still PCIe cards but on chip/mobo are not the same thing. Trust me, if recording engineers could get away with not spending thousands of dollars on getting audio into a computer then we would buy some more microphones instead. It ain't ***y like a Neumann mic or a DW Fearn preamp, but it is necessary.
  3. EZmpc

    EZmpc Active Member

    Thanks, Jack - it's been a long time since I updated my setup and my SB Audigy 2 isn't agreeing with me anymore. I'm on the fence whether to go with a PCIe card or external through USB/Firewire. I don't go mobile with my setup so I'm not against an internal card. Do I need dedicated DSP on a card or is it ok to use the CPU for typical home use? I'm not stringing tons of VST's or layering 32 tracks of audio or anything like that. The Roland V-100 has piqued my interest and I'm trying to sort out if I would need to get anything additional for processing the audio.
  4. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I use Firewire 800 as my data link for two Fireface 800's. In today's world for small track counts and minimal VSTi instruments, USB can be adequate as well. The only reason I do not have PCIe is that I am mobile based and use laptops exclusively these days. And the versatility of the Fireface units.
  5. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    I had a friend of mine a few years ago that had a SoundBlaster Audigy card in his computer and it was pretty nice "soundcard" at the time...
    It wasn't very good at recording though it would crash for no reason, lock up or start squealing bloody hell...and that is the difference between computer soundcards and actual audio interfaces. One is for listening to computer speakers and the other is for recording music. Of course if all you need is something like a cassette style recording deck like the all in one versions (like the V100) that will work just fine if that's what you prefer.
    With the current FW and USB audio recording technology out there and the software packages like CakeWalk or Cubase it's pretty inexpensive to step up to higher quality recording equipment.
    For most people these days it's a fun hobby and your budget is really the main factor.
    You should also think about how much you really need to record yourself or a garage band.
    Nowadays it doesn't take a lot to lay down some sweet music...and just have fun with it!

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