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help me please, seeking expert advice

Discussion in 'Recording' started by kungfuthug, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. kungfuthug

    kungfuthug Active Member


    I have accumulated the following gear so far. As you can see I am in need of a sound card upgrade.

    HP m8000n tower with
    AMD Athalon X64 Dual Core 2.6 GHZ processor
    ATI Radeon HD4650 Graphics (I am not a gamer)
    Soundblaster Audigy 2ZS sound card
    Presonus Inspire 1394 GT
    M-Audio Oxygen 8 Keyboard
    AKAI - MPD32 Controller (Just bought and waiting to be shipped)
    Behringer HA4700 Headphone Amp
    CAD GXL 3000 Phantom Power Condenser Mic
    Fender Telecaster Electric Guitar


    I need a card that has 2 MIDI inputs, phantom power for my mic, and input for my guitar. Unless I should stick to USB connections of MPD32 and Oxygen 8 Keyboard. I am thinking MIDI is a better way to go, am I wrong??

    I am looking for advice on what kind of soundcard I should get to accomodate this. Maybe I can still use my 1394 Presonus Inpspire GT to get phantom power for my mic or for use as a guitar interface in conjunction with a new card. Maybe I should abandon the Presonus Inspire completely. ANY IDEAS???

    I am obviously on a budget so the best value for quality needs to be considered. Thanks for reading :D

    Hope this makes sense :shock:
  2. kungfuthug

    kungfuthug Active Member

    Oh I forgot, I am running Windows Vista 32 BIT
  3. apstrong

    apstrong Active Member

    The Presonus Firebox IS a soundcard, sort of. It's an interface. Think of it as an external soundcard. It takes input from the mics/instruments/midi, and converts it to a digital signal that your computer can deal with. And when you play back, it does the same thing in reverse, converts digital to real live audio you can hear. You don't need the built in soundcard, and more to the point, the Firebox is a much better choice for audio input and output than a standard computer soundcard anyway. It has phantom power for your mic and it supports midi too, so you're good to go. Two midi inputs? I'm not a MIDI guy, but isn't one of the great things about MIDI instruments that you can daisy chain them together? Why do you need two inputs? And even if you did, I can't see how using USB instead of MIDI cables and connectors would make a difference. I could be wrong about that, but I will say that I have two MIDI keyboard controllers connected via USB to my DAW at all times, and I've never had a problem.

    Bottom line, it doesn't look like you're in need of a sound card upgrade to me. How's that for value for money: no money required, you've already got what you need. The firebox is a perfectly serviceable audio interface that has phantom power, allows mic input, and supports midi. What more do you want?
  4. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Why wouldn't you use the midi thru port?
  5. kungfuthug

    kungfuthug Active Member

    I do not have a midi input on presonus to m knowledge, guess I need a breakout cable or something. The latency is a little bad too with firebox, soundblaster audigy 2zs has much better response time.
  6. kungfuthug

    kungfuthug Active Member

    I was wrong when I said firebox, it is a Presonus Inspire 1394 GT. I looked into it and there seems to be no midi input. My Audigy 2ZS sounds a little better with less latency than Inspire interface.
  7. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    And I was wrong. There is no midi thru port on either of those devices.
  8. apstrong

    apstrong Active Member

    Well that changes things. My advice, since you're on a budget, is to first deal with the latency issue by tweaking the life out of your computer. Search this forum for latency, you should find plenty of advice on what to do. Costs nothing. (so far)

    The Inspire claims to have zero-latency input mixing. Never tried this unit, but if it works like the Presonus Firestudio Project mixer, then you shouldn't have any latency at all. Unless you're monitoring yourself *after* processing in the computer, i.e. monitoring yourself through software effects and plugins. When it comes to monitoring your input though, clean, just the way it's going into the Inspire, it should be zero latency. If you really need to monitor yourself after processing, the challenge is to get a computer fast enough to do it, the interface isn't going to play a big role in creating the latency, it has more to do with how fast your computer can process all that data. This will also depend on how much you're asking your computer to do at once - how many tracks, how many effects, are those effects resource-intensive, etc..

    Anyway, do the standard tweaks to your machine to reduce latency as much as possible first, then you'll know how bad the problem really is with the Inspire. The real problem might be your computer, and spending money on a better interface might not do you any good. The inspire or some other audio interface will do better quality recording than the built in soundblaster, so the key is to try to get it working. If you can reduce the latency, then you can decide whether or not to get a better interface that supports MIDI.
  9. kungfuthug

    kungfuthug Active Member

    Well, this is what I am wondering. Is there many avaliable PCI or PCI-E soundcards that have MIDI IN, XLR IN with phantom power? I am almost certain there is, however, I was hoping someone could give me some advice on any particular brand and model they had experience with.

    Another option I thought of was this. I purchase a PCI based card that has MIDI in. THen I hook my presonus Inspire 1/8 output into the new soundcard 1/8 input. Would that work for recording or would this be a recipe for trouble? I have never tried to record from line in on my soundcard simultaneously while using Cubase other than using my Presonus Inspire by itself . Gonna try that now with my current hardware.

    And yes, my latency issue does occur with processed effects with live monitoring of vocals. I guess I can record them dry and then add.
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Both RME and M-Audio make PCI cards that have breakout cables including 1 midi in/out. For RME there is the 9632 and the 9652.
  11. kungfuthug

    kungfuthug Active Member

    Yes I have looked at them breifly before. I was just wondering what people were using these days that want quality and performance on a budget. I am almost certain that most of us are on realistic budgets here.

    With my presonus inspire I get 4ms latency. Pretty good, except I get noise as well.

    With my Audigy 2ZS I get 50ms. Pretty awful, less noise though.

    This is why I need a new sound card. I am gonna try and do some tweaking to see if I can get Audigy 2ZS latency down.

    What soundcard/Interfaces is everyone using out there and why?

    Any recommendations for $200-$400 range?

    Is it better to use MIDI over USB from keyboard controllers and pad controllers?

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