1. Register NOW and become part of this fantastic knowledge base forum! This message will go away once you have registered.

What is a good Souncard?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Michael P, Oct 16, 2001.

  1. Michael P

    Michael P Guest

    What are the hot audio cards these days? I currently use an old Card D+; however, it is time to move up. All suggestions are welcome.

    Thanks,

    Mike
     
  2. raize

    raize Guest

    i wish i had an answer to your question, but i just wanted to make the comment that the day i actually see a worthwhile reply to this question will probably be the day i already know the answer and end up posting it =).

    i'm searching for the same info myself. i'm currently leaning towards something i can afford like the echo audio layla24.

    the problem is i'm not sure WHY i'm leaning that way yet.

    everyone seems to be able to give their opinion, but no one can ever give the why, and then state the practical applications to back up the why.

    hell, if you know anything about soundcards let me know.
     
  3. audiogirl

    audiogirl Guest

    Saying that there is one good audio sound card is like asking what is the best car to buy.
    The answer depends on your needs. Ask these questions:
    1. How many ins and outs will I use?
    2. Do I already have good AtoD Converters?
    3. Do I need built in PreAmps?
    4. Do I need on board processing power?
    5. What kind of slots does my computer use (PCI MCIA )?
    6. What sample rates and bit rates can I realistically use (consider drive space, RAM and processor power?
    7. What digital transfer standards do I need (SPDIF AES firewire ADAT)?
    8. Price?
    9. Software compatibiltiy (WIN MAC GSIF ASIO)?
    10. Availability?

    Once you understand what you need, then do some web searching for tables and charts that compare features. You will find that your choices will be few. Then ask for some reviews on discussion groups and see what ppl say about the choices you've selected. Then buy it from a local dealer is possible...so that if you don't like it, then take it back for another choice.
     
  4. Logan

    Logan Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2001
    Location:
    Elm Tree Ont. Canada
    Greg has given some great points to consider. I use an RME Hammerfall card, and it's very good for the following reasons.
    It has great drivers for every format, this is really important, as a lot of big name cards still don't even have Win 2000 drivers. I use a dual processer machine and Win 2000 is very stable.
    The converters are not in the machine where they can pick up stray electrical noise.
    The card has Spdif and three light pipe I/O so I can deal with alot of different converters. When coupled with an ADI PRO 8 (the RME 24bit 48hz converter box)I can also deal with Tascam TDIF units. You can use more than one card and this allows pretty big setups, I'm currently running 24 channels of 24 bit 48 hz analog in and out. If I added another card I could add 24 more channels of converters.
    The card installs easily and has been in constant use for over 3 years.
    The card supports zero latency monitering which is important as I'm tracking bands live from the floor. You need a converter set up that has analog in and out, and a mixer to use this feature. take care Logan
     
  5. raize

    raize Guest

    ahh, now we're getting somewhere.

    thank you for your knowledge, i'd like to pick your brains a little bit more now and ask about applying the soundcard once it's selected.

    i'm currently attempting to setup a DAW and a small home studio. like logan, i'll be recording my band with this studio, and i'd like to record the instruments (vocals, one or two guitars, bass, drums) on separate tracks for later editing and mixing.

    again, how would a soundcard help in this situation? looking at the echo layla24, it seems like i might be able to do everything right through that, and i also have a mackie 8 track mixer (the 1202vlz or some such model) which i'm guessing can help in certain instances.

    your information has greatly helped with the "what" and also the "who".. is it possible now to learn the why, and the how?
     
  6. Logan

    Logan Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2001
    Location:
    Elm Tree Ont. Canada
    Well why? now that's a tough one.'Cause the punters I record can't afford tape for a 2" analog machine is probably the real answer ;-). Although the answer I think you want is that you can put together a muti tracking DAW for a decent investment and produce truely professional results.
    Bear these things in mind tho'. You can acheive satisfactory results on a home computer, but if you want to be serious you will want a machine that is dedicated to audio. If you load the machine up with modems and game controllers and virus protection schemmes and screen savers etc, you'll be asking for trouble.
    I use a dual processor machine with big fast ultra160 SCSI drives, 1024 meg of CAS2 Ram, and a burner for the mixes, with only the sound card, dual head video card and the software I use for audio installed.
    I can track 24 tracks at a time and edit them and process them all in the box. I can automate volume, fades, mutes and effects ,when I mix. I can spread the channels out over my dual moniters and still see all the plugins I bring up to sweeten the tracks. That kind of power would demand an investment close to $100,000 if I went the traditional console and tape machine and outboard gear route. Instead I have $5000 invested in computer $3000 in sound card and converters and $3500 in software, and that's the real why.
    I also have an analog machine and a 40 input console but they are doing less work and the DAW more, these days.
    The how is done with software, a sound card, and analog to digital converters. You will also need at least a stereo pair of digital to analog converters.
    There are many software choices, the program i use is Nuendo and it has a great feature set and will track at least 150 tracks in a project.
    The sound card i use is a RME Hammerfall and it installs in the computer in a PCI slot. It has 3 light pipe I/O which you see at the back of the computer, once the card is installed. The converters I use are RME ADI Pro 8s and a Tango 24. These both have light pipe in and out and both have 8 analog in and 8 analog out. I hook up the converters to the computer with the light pipe cables and hook 8 things to the box, either mics or instrument line levels and the light pipe carries all 8 mics (or whatever) to the computer. I have set up the tracks I want to record, in the software and I see a wave file for each track when I am finished the recording.I can hear the tracks on a stereo bus ,the same as I would on a mixer, which goes out to the digital to analog converters, on the light pipe cable hooked up to the out on my card. The DA converter ishooked to my amp and speakers. Or since I have 24 Digital to analog converters, i can send each track to my console independent ly if i want to mix in the console and add further out board gear.
    I can keep or erase the tracks as I choose or punch in at any point I choose, on any track. I can edit the track or EQ it or add a compressor or reverb, endlessly until I have it the way I want it. I can copy a track and delay it or replace part of a track with another part if I don't like the second chorus, I can delete it and copy the first chorus and insert it, where the second chorus use to be.
    I would recommend contacting the music retailers in your area and ask if there are any demos of digital recording products happening. It's a lot simpler to see the process in action than to have someone try and explain it to you.take care Logan
     
  7. raize

    raize Guest

    again logan, i'd like to take an opportunity to thank you for your experience. i've printed the thread out for consumption at my own pace. the more you get into the technology, the more frantic the pace seems to get. it's hard to slow down and digest it all.

    what you're telling me does make some sense to me, but i think it'll come in much more handy once, like you said, i'm using it in practice instead of reading about the procedures.

    one last thing if you do end up having another minute to spare, and it actually gets back to the heart of the whole subject.

    you mentioned you use the RME Hammerfall. that's another card I've heard of, and it fits my budget fine. but my biggest problem is in that area. why the RME Hammerfall, and why should I get it over the echo layla, or an MOTU, or any of the other familiar names I've heard of?

    is it sound quality, overall versatility, compatibility? this is the biggest hurdle for me at the moment. once that piece is in place, with the information you and the others have given me, i think i'll have a fantastic foundation set up to begin recording.

    not only that, but the other wankers in my band will feel like god kicked them in the face when i "cut" our first studio-quality-like track :)

    again, thanks for everything up and to this point.

    c 'n u
     
  8. raize

    raize Guest

    again logan, i'd like to take an opportunity to thank you for your experience. i've printed the thread out for consumption at my own pace. the more you get into the technology, the more frantic the pace seems to get. it's hard to slow down and digest it all.

    what you're telling me does make some sense to me, but i think it'll come in much more handy once, like you said, i'm using it in practice instead of reading about the procedures.

    one last thing if you do end up having another minute to spare, and it actually gets back to the heart of the whole subject.

    you mentioned you use the RME Hammerfall. that's another card I've heard of, and it fits my budget fine. but my biggest problem is in that area. why the RME Hammerfall, and why should I get it over the echo layla, or an MOTU, or any of the other familiar names I've heard of?

    is it sound quality, overall versatility, compatibility? this is the biggest hurdle for me at the moment. once that piece is in place, with the information you and the others have given me, i think i'll have a fantastic foundation set up to begin recording.

    not only that, but the other wankers in my band will feel like god kicked them in the face when i "cut" our first studio-quality-like track :)

    again, thanks for everything up and to this point.

    c 'n u
     
  9. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2001
    Ok...why choose the RME over a Layla...well, many reasons..pro and cons!!
    Ok..you go with the RME..Pro's..great drivers, great sounding converters, Low Latency operation(effects in real time while recording!!), 26 channels of input...but here's the cons..
    You now need an A/D Box or a digital mixer like the Mackie D8B for instance! The con is that more money to spend on high end converters. You could go with cheap A/D boxes but why not go for the best to maintain quality throught!!
    Now...Layla...you get 8 analog ins..One Adat port(8 channels of optical), SPDIF, MIDI in and Out, Word Clock in and out. Drivers are stable right now with Win2k, but low latency is not quite there for Win2k yet!! The new drivers help a little but they still need work. The Layla is nice becuase you hook it up right to your analog board! No digital mixers or A/D boxes needed.
    But, you can use the Optical and the analog ports simulatneously!!
    So that's 16 plus the SPDIF so that 18 tracks in at once! Also remember this...the RME converters are in the PCI card..it's not bad but it's generally known that a Computer is a bad place for converters.
    Read this:
    http://www.apogeedigital.com/pdf/apogeeguide.pdf
    Other aspects between the two are this...one is made for more pro oriented people with some cash to invest in this!!
    The Layla is definately high end in their class!
    The RME cards are just superior in converters and latency right now
    So thus the choice of what route you take...pure digital or a combination of analog and digital inputs or just all analog inputs?!
    Good luck my friend
    Opus
     
  10. audiogirl

    audiogirl Guest

    This will help.

    Signal Path:

    Analog Instrument output
    (EX:Guitars, Mics, Keyboards, outboard Samplers)
    (Jack: 1/4 inch, Mic XLR, RCA/phono, Nuetrix)
    o/
    Pre Amp or Line Amp
    (Ex: Mixer, Outboard PreAmp, DI to board)
    (Jacks IN and OUT: 1/4 inch guitar cable, Mic XLR/Cannon NOTE: HiZ vs LowZ/Bal vs UnBal)
    o/
    Analog to Digital Convert/PC interface card
    (Ex: DIGI001, Layla)
    (Jack IN: 1/4inch TipRingSleeve (bal/unbal), XLR, line level or mic level)
    (Jack OUT: PCI card in computer, PCI/MCIA laptop card)
    OR

    Analog to Digital Converter (AD)
    (Ex: Specialized AD box like Apogee)
    (Jack IN: XLR or 1/4 inch INput)
    (Jack OUT: SPIDIF, AES/EBU, TOSLink, ADAT Optical, Light Pipe)
    o/
    Digital Interface Card
    (Ex: RME Digi cards, Sonorus StudI/O)
    (Jack IN: SPIDIF, AES/EBU, TOSLink, ADAT Optical, Light Pipe)
    Jack OUT: PCI PCI/MCIA)

    And reverse the whole thing for Output and monitoring.

    Sound Card Comparison charts:
    Nemesys the GigaSampler Folks did a GR8 one:
    http://www.nemesysmusic.com/support/hardware.html

    http://www.cdrecordingsoftware.com/card_compare.html
     
  11. Logan

    Logan Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2001
    Location:
    Elm Tree Ont. Canada
    Hey C&U
    Well I'm a long way from an expert but I have had a working DAW for sometime now.
    Why RME? First of all I have no relationship with them I just like the product. I got my card and converters from Europe and may have had the first setup in Canada. I went that way after doing alot of research and seeing a number of folks pissing around with Layla/Frontier Design/Terratec /Pulsar/ MOTU stuff that was not working and always needed tweaking. The RME stuff worked and since I wanted a dual processor system, for the better CPU usage involved, and needed to use Win 2000 to deal with the dual setup, RME was the only card that had bullet proof drivers at that time.
    Now RME has American distribution, and is easier to access. The converters are not on the card but in the breakout box the ADI PRO 8. There is a German mag that has done bench tests on the ADI converters that show that the jitter, signal to noise ratio, converter stability all are better than the Apogee 8000 which is a well know and very expensive converter. I myself have done tests against the Apogee Rosetta, a stereo unit that cost more than the 8 I/O ADI PRO, and found that I liked the sound og the RME stuff better.
    There are also great converters made by Lucid/Mytek and other companies. By all means try as many as you can.
    Anyway Bottom line is that I've been working with this Nuendo/ RME/ dual P111 800 system for a year now without a major crash or losing any tracks. That means a lot to me and my clients like the sound, which is the real test. I do have great mics and some great mic pres and often track the drums to tape for a little tape compression, but the DAW has become the centre of my studio. As I learn a little more about the mixing quirks of the system I find myself using the console less and mixing with the mouse more. I would recommend a contoller to use when mixing as the mouse is a little awkward for fader moves. I'm researching the possiblities now (waitng for some feed back on the new crop that has come out) and haven't made that move yet. take care Logan
     
  12. speedracer

    speedracer Guest

    I use a dual processor machine with big fast ultra160 SCSI drives, 1024 meg of CAS2
    Ram, and a burner for the mixes, with only the sound card, dual head video card and
    the software I use for audio installed.
    I can track 24 tracks at a time and edit them and process them all in the box. I can
    automate volume, fades, mutes and effects ,when I mix. I can spread the channels
    out over my dual moniters and still see all the plugins I bring up to sweeten the
    tracks.

    Logan,

    While we're on the subject, what motherboard and CPU's work best for a dual processor setup? And, is Win2k better than Win98. :confused:

    Speedracer
     
  13. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2001
    hey guys...ya know this discussion really should be on teh computing forums...plus we are going over pretty much all of this on the DAWworld computing section...Lets try and keep related topics to one thread...
    Logan..I'm an Apogee Tech. The RME converters are great but I'll have to say that if you use it on conjunction with an AD8000SE...wow!! Also now the AD-16 unit we just came out with..great stuff!! The Rosetta has the same clock as everything else but our newer units have a slighlty different architectual design that makes the difference.
    Just thought I'd throw my $.02 in..
    So..if you want to discuss dual CPU boards lets bring this discussion to the computing forums! M'Kay?
    Opus :D
     
  14. Logan

    Logan Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2001
    Location:
    Elm Tree Ont. Canada
    Hey Speedracer
    Not sure I'm qualified to tell you what mother board is best, just the one I use which is a MSI694D Pro with a Via 133 chipset and two p111 800s. I will say that lots of folks have problems with the via stuff and I think I get away with it because I don't use midi. The timing issues with midi are what most seem to have problems with. I use another machine for midi.
    You need win 2000 if you want to use dual processers. I used to run win98se when i used single proceser machines.
    However I think that Opus is right this discussion is propably better had in the DAW world section as there are guys there much more qualified than I to handle these questions.
    Hey Opus if you want to send me an AD8000, I'll be happy to give you my impression. ;-). While your at it see if you can russle up a Radar with the Nyquist cards 'cause I think that's where I'm heading. Take care Logan
     
  15. speedracer

    speedracer Guest

    Thanks Logan,

    I appreciate you giving me some help. :D I'll cruise on over to DAW world to see if they can add to what you've told me. :w:

    Speedracer
     
  16. raize

    raize Guest

    alleluia, you've opened the door for me.

    ironically, reading over the messages the interesting thing i think i've noticed is that a strong majority of the posting members seem to know their stuff when it comes to the recording process (with respect to amps, preamps, mixing down, bouncing tracks, etc etc), but not so much when it comes to the actual building of the computer.

    the ironic part is i'm coming in here knowing way too much about the hardware and software of the computer, and very little about the hardware and software of the recording process.

    what i'm getting at is, this sharing of information is a wonderful thing, and my band and i thank you from the cockles of our viscus.

    if you can think of any other links to resources that can explain the recording process as it applies to the DAW, please let me know about it here or somehow. otherwise, see you in another thread!

    seenyou
     
  17. OTRjkl

    OTRjkl Guest

    If ya'll want the REAL lo-down on many of the current soundcard choices plus the nitty-gritty tech-head bench test results to boot, check out the Soundcard Comparator at: http://www.pcavtech.com.
    :w:
     

Share This Page