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Help! External USB recorder/sound card needed

Member for

21 years 2 months
I really hope someone can help me with this problem, I feel like I’ve made some headway but I’m still slightly clueless! Apologies if this post is a bit long.

First off my system: I have a relatively new Compaq 1.6ghz laptop, 1GB mem, win xp sp2, with a crappy internal soundcard, no slot for a new internal one.

My goals
1. (Main aim) To be able to play my huge mp3 collection (standard mp3 format, 192kbps) through my stereo (standard one amplifier/2 speaker set-up). I really want sound quality as close as possible to approaching that of my current hifi setup (hence 192kpbs – my judgement on a balance between quality/ limited memory), so attaching a cable through my headphone jack is not an option as the sound is crap essentially.

2. As a musician I’d also like to do basic recording (if someone doesn’t know about this side of things I’d still be grateful of a reply as this is the secondary aim, thanks). I only need guitar/vocals…and I think I’m right in thinking I’ll need something with a pre-amp in built otherwise plugging in an electric guitar will be nigh on pointless (given I have no other equipment or budget to buy any).

What I’ve come up with so far is that I obv need an external USB unit (no firewire port), and that USB 2.0 is preferable (?). My budget is limited to about GBP100 (if your in the US its prob not equivalent to USD200 because all your stuff is comparatively much cheaper…so I’d say USD150-175).

I’ve looked at the creative audigy nx 2 external soundcard but not great on the recording side by the look of things, and has lots of 5.1/7.1 home audio/surround stuff I don’t need given I only need stereo sound. So the best thing I can find for a good price is the creative EM-U 0202 USB
This is the link to the site and I’d be grateful if someone could tell me the following things that I’m trying to get my head around…

1. Sound output: It has two outputs (left and right) that it shows on the diagram on the site can be attached to an integrated standard amplifier/speaker set-up via a 1/4in to rca connector…so my question is will this give me good sound quality when listening to my music collection.

2. Recording: Can I plug an electric guitar (my guitar amp is dead!) straight in and record, and will the pre-amp sort it out so the resulting sound is like playing a normal amplified guitar? And this is much less important, but until I get a new dedicated guitar amp for normal playing/jamming, could I cheat by inputting my guitar to the EM-U and outputting the sound through my stereo (would this work…will there be latency issues?)

I’m open to suggestions as to what else I could use also (seen something similar from Tascam, and there’s the creative audigy 2 nx as I said before)

Thanks, any help will be much appreciated.


Member for

15 years 7 months

Boswell Mon, 05/21/2007 - 07:41
The EMU unit will work acceptably for replay of your MP3s. Bear in mind that the bit rate is coded into the particular MP3 being played and is not set by the replay hardware.

For recording, no computer interface is a substitute for a guitar amplifier. You can certainly plug your guitar directly into the EMU unit, and it will act like a DI box. However, the result won't sound like recording a guitar amp, but you could use it for practice at low volume (to protect your hi-fi).

You can use a mic on the other channel at the same time. You shouldn't have any latency issues.

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Mon, 05/21/2007 - 22:13
Thanks, i fear however that i've uncovered a new problem on the recommendation of the turns out the company don't support win xp media centre edition (i have xp media centre 2002 sp2 according to my sys info), i never even considered this could be a problem, but m-audio have this link on their site (which i'll add below) to an unofficial list of non-compatibles with xp mce...and what should be included but all emu products and all m-audio products as i already said! if anyone could advise me on this it would be greatly appreciated...i guess my first port of call is emu to confirm they don't support xp mce...otherwise can anyone scan this short list and recommend something not on there that fits the original requirements. thanks again

Member for

20 years 9 months

AudioGaff Thu, 05/24/2007 - 02:11
E-MU does not support Windows Media Center. In fact I think you will find most pro audio interfaces do not officially support Windows Media Center as it is meant for basic consumer multimedia use and not for professional audio use. That doesn't mean it won't work, it just means IF you have any problems, you are on your own.

FYI: Compaq is one of the, if not the worst, of the off the shelf brand PC's for DAW use.