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desperately seeking advice (soundcards, etc.)

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Randy G, Feb 3, 2002.

  1. Randy G

    Randy G Guest

    Hi everyone - this site is so informative I had to register (an escapee from Harmony Central). I have some basic concerns about home recording. I have a P3, 20 gig hard drive, 128 mb, and I have been using Sonar, for recording guitars (nylon string and electric), keyboards, bass, midi drums and acid loops. I have some latency on some tunes, and I need to upgrade.

    I either need a soundcard, or a system like Digi 001. With another soundcard, I could pick and choose my software - is that the case with 001? Will Acid loops work with 001? I have heard that the Roland Studio Pack is also a good deal (soundcard, logic audio and a digital mixer). Opinions please! Thanks for any help. Randy
     
  2. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    Hey Randy:

    First off, you could easily upgrade to a new soundcard, and stick with Sonar. If you are comfortable with Sonar's features, it makes sense to upgrade the card, then decide later if you want to change software. By purchasing the right card, you can use it with just about anything.

    The type of card you buy is a huge step, and also a complicated decision. How many inputs do you need? Do you need mic preamps? On and on...

    Take a look at the RME Hammerfall line at:

    http://

    Also, take a look at the Echo Mia card (as well as their other stuff) at:

    http://

    There are *tons* of options here...and those are just 2!!! Pick up a recent recording magazine and look at the ads...then go web surfin'!!!

    As far as Acid with 001...Hmmmm...I'm sure you could export from Acid as a WAV and then import it into Protools LE, but you might have some alignment issues to deal with. Sonar works with Acid files in a way that most other programs can only dream about! I use Cubase, but have a copy of Cakewalk's Home Studio 2002 just to do some Acid file manipulations.

    If I were to offer you some advice, I would say to get a new sound card (RME???), and stick with Sonar for a while.

    DH
     
  3. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    To be honest the best card for you would to get an Echo product as they are truly multi-client friendly. You could have ouputs 1 & 2 set for Sonar and outputs 3 & 4 set for Acid and use both programs at once. They wont be locked up together(the two programs that is)but you could do your loops in Acid, export them into Sonar and the listen to them instantly while Sonar is still open without having to close one program and open the other.
    The MIA card is a great option for those who dont need too many ins and outs but I would look into the Gina card or the Mona card as that has Mic inputs right in front and the converters arent too bad. RME cards are nice but to be honest they are better for digital than the analog and dont have the multi-client like Echo does.
    Those are your best bets
    Opus
     
  4. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Hey Randy - call me anal(og) if you will, but you didn't mention the speed of your P3 or anything about a second, dedicated hard drive for recording, or which OS you're using, whether you're using MME drivers or WDM, or which steps you've taken to optimize what you already own. In fact, you didn't even mention which soundcard is in your system now. You did mention only 128 MB of ram, which prompted the above observations.

    All of these things can affect latency, some 'way more than a sound card. I'm not trying to talk you out of a new "spiffy" sound card, just warn you about YMMV. (Does anybody have a link to a COMPLETE list of chat-type Acronyms?)

    Just something to think about - My latest (actually running) DAW is a P-3 500, with 512 mB ram and two drives, and I have current upgrades for Sonar XL, several DXi soft synths, SoundQuest's Infinity, and Samplitude 2496 V6.01 , NONE OF WHICH I have even installed, because I know there's not enough horse-power in that old machine to pull all those goodies DOWNHILL in a good tail-wind ! (Also, a new DAW is part of my on-going Total Studio Upgrade project)

    I know opinions are like assholes (everybody's got at least one) but here's my recommendation - If you can afford it (big IF, I know) Upgrade everything in your system to the latest/greatest/biggest/bestest/fastest, get the stuff running and tweaked, learn how to use it, and then leave it the ^#$% alone and make music for at least a couple of years. If you don't, you will most likely forget how to play whatever instrument(s) you play by the time you get thru screwing around with piece-meal upgrades. Remember, you don't need to "keep up with the jones's", you just need a system that is "bad" enough to stay out of your way and let you create.

    One way to find out where to start upgrading - set up a project in Sonar, record a stereo pair of anything (even a ripped CD track) copy it to tracks 3-4, etc. until you have like 32 tracks (pick a number that's at least TWICE what you EVER think you would actually use) - Then, take each track (or pair) and change it somehow (EQ one, flange another, chorus on another, different EQ on the next, etc. - When you're done massaging each track (don't time-slip anything or you won't know what's causing stutter without looking at system usage meter) then play back the whole mess (real-time mixed to stereo outs) and listen, watching the system monitor also. If your system chokes, then a sound card won't help you until you upgrade your other hardware. (This test will scare the hell out of a system with in-adequate resources, but NOT because of the sound card -) All the sound card is being asked to do is play a stereo pair of tracks, and even a non-duplex $8 no-name card can do that (even if you wouldn't want to listen to it)

    After the above test, you should have a better idea of where your latency is coming from, as well as how many simultaneous part-time jobs you need to take so you can afford to fix it... Good hunting... Steve
     

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