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A/V Sound Card for Recording

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by TheMusician, 7 Aug 2009.

  1. TheMusician

    TheMusician Audio/Tech Enthusiast/Historian

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    Hi all,

    I use Ubuntu Studio for recording, because of its real-time kernel, which allows for the CPU to prioritize sound recording. This way, there is no latency and the timing of recordings within Ardour (the most advanced multi-track Linux software) is perfect.

    If I try to record within Sony ACID or Cakewalk Sonar in Windows XP, the timing always screws up, and the latency is horrendous.

    The thing is, Jack is not great, at least for actual usability.

    It seems that more and more, Jack is acting up, and will fail while i'm recording someone. Ardour randomly shuts down without warning. Whenever i'm in the realtime kernel, Pidgin and other software become ridiculously unstable.

    The mixer controls, layout, and system within Ardour are not as efficient and intuitive as the ones that i've worked with on previous systems within Windows. VST effect working is beyond me.

    That said, I shouldn't really complain, as it's all free, and for something free, it does a good job of recording without latency issues.

    The realtime kernel in Ubuntu Studio compensates for my lack of proper hardware, and it works. But I want to move on to something more concrete, so I come to my question for you all. What kind of sound card should I get for recording?

    M-Audio cards seem to be excellent pieces of hardware, but with no drivers for newer OSes, and Creative seems to be the same.

    What should I be looking at? I don't want to spend more than $100; I don't care about 96KHz recording or whatnot; I just want proper hardware acceleration so that latency is not an issue.

    All the professionals use Mac Pros these days. I just don't have the money. :sigh:
     
    Last edited: 8 Aug 2009
  2. Coldon

    Coldon What's a Dremel?

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    the latency issue is cause by the directsound/wave interface, if you want high quality recording with no latency you'll need a sound card that supports ASIO.

    I personally use an ESI maya44 sound card for my home studio, but any card with an ASIO interface would work -> X-fi / xonar. You just need to specify that whatever software you use makes use of the ASIO interface. Also set the sample rate to around 128 for no latency.

    I would recommend a proper recording sound card tho since then you wont need to use jack adapators and so on, also proper recording cards have built in headphone amps and 48v phantom power for high end mics.

    there is also the option of getting a usb/firewire recording interface something like a presonus firebox.

    as for recording software, I'd whole heartedly recomend reaper, its got the same features as cubse with a better interface and a fraction of the price. (www.reaper.fm)
     
    Last edited: 7 Aug 2009
  3. antiHero

    antiHero ReliXmas time!

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    I use an Esi U46 and like it a lot. Dont record on it as i use it for DJ gigs but it has all you need. Headphone amp, phantom power for Mic and enough IN/OUT for most users. I payed 150€ for it but that was a while ago. Dunno what they would cost in pound

    edit: As for driver. Works out of the box with XP,Vista, OS X and Ubuntu. Have not tried any other OS but that should be enough :D
     
  4. dawhead

    dawhead What's a Dremel?

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    so glad you're enjoying ardour

    as ardour's primary author and architect, i am so happy to hear of your experiences with the program. perhaps instead of simply raising them on yet another audio-tech focused forum, you could consider joining us on our IRC channels and/or our bug tracker/feature request system, as documented at http://ardour.org/support.

    what is it about the mixer controls that you believe is "bollocks"?
    the layout is largely modelled on protools, with improvements inspired by logic, samplitude, cubase 3, nuendo and others. what is it that makes you feel that this is "bollocks"? What is "the system"?

    We don't provide professional effects - we are not a plugin company, and we leave this to others. I regret the absence of the kind of plugins that you are looking for, but its not something I am in much of a position to do anything about myself.

    Making Windows VST plugins run on another operating system is essentially magic to begin with. Why do so many of you imagine that this should "Just Work"? Do you understand that on a fundamental level, this is a very, very difficult thing to make work reliably? That it is not something that the creators of these plugins ever intended, and that for the most part they do not provide us any aid in accomplishing? If VST plugins are so vital to your workflow, it would probably be wiser to remain on a platform for which they were intended. To be honest the response of the "potential user" community to the hint that Windows-VST's-can-run-on-Linux is such that I almost regret ever having played a role in making it happen.

    this is not true, and i am not sure where you got this idea. an RT kernel might patch over a few issues with misdesigned, misconfigured or otherwise inappropriate hardware, but fundamentally its really there to ensure that the OS can the timing deadlines of the audio interface when configured with its lowest possible latency settings.

    as for hardware, yes, we recommend either RME devices for the high end or various M-Audio cards (PCI, not USB or firewire) for the low end. in particular M-Audio's Delta series is well supported on Linux.
     
  5. TheMusician

    TheMusician Audio/Tech Enthusiast/Historian

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    Okay well, Mr. Davis, I over-reacted, as I had just returned from a pretty crummy session in which for some reason, some project files of mine had corrupted, and I had to export the left-side of the individual tracks on both sides, because the right-track on every clip for some reason outputted loud static. (I basically mono-ized everything but exported into a stereo WAV file and started a new project, importing the clips as stereo)

    Anyway, yeah, i'm not a professional; I don't know all the specifics of buffering and latency, but what I do know is that my experiences with Cakewalk Sonar on a previous machine have been better than that in Ardour, ever.

    However, Ardour really isn't bad software. I overreacted; the mixer isn't bollocks, the interface isn't that bad; it could be better, but really, I'm just not used to it.

    Please excuse my ignorance and I hope that you can accept my sincerest apologies.

    Really though, to me, Jack.. is no good. I've worked with ASIO config panels and ReWire and things similar in Windows, and they seem to work far better, though it's quite possible the variables are just more suitable for it. A lot of my bad experiences in Ardour are probably because of Jack + my ineptitude, and i've basically reached my wits end with it.

    I'm sorry for being so ignorant and rude, it's just that the usability of Sonar, Acid, and Audition make me extremely jealous of those with proper sound cards; I can't use any of them for recording, because of the latency issues and ASIO's unknown incompatibilities with my run-of-the-mill AC97 sound on the motherboard of this computer.

    My real computer died about two months ago in an accident. I'm hoping to build another soon, but it's not really on the top of my priorities as i'm graduating high school this June.

    When I made that comment about VST in Linux, I didn't mean to connect it to my complaints about Ardour. I understand fully that it's not up to your team; I just made that as a comment about the availability of effects within multi-track audio software suites within Linux.

    I'm going to stop babbling now and just leave you with a respectful sorry.

    By the way, I really admire the achievements of Amazon.com, and just how far GNU/Linux has come. I don't think it'll be long before idiots like me can use it without issue.
     
    Last edited: 8 Aug 2009

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