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View Full Version : [ubuntu_studio] What PCI audio card to buy for playback?



nazaroo2
January 25th, 2012, 11:27 AM
Right now I have a DELL Optiplex 330 (dual core) box with Linux 10.04 Lucid Lynx.

I have installed most of the free studio software and have played with Jack, Patchage, Guitarix etc.

I have a guitar and a microphone as inputs.

The guitar is plugged into a DigiTech RPx400, which I have set as a system input via Jack.

This unit (RPx400) also has a microphone input, and can flexibly assign mic and guitar to the two digital outputs (via USB to computer input).

Right now I'm listening to either headphones (jack on computer front),
or I can also listen to sound from crappy computer speakers plugged into line out (back).

Obviously this isn't ideal.

I was wondering if there was a cheap, but good quality PCI card I could use instead,
to monitor what is being played into the computer and recorded, for monitoring and playback.

I also have a cheap ART Tube MP to warm up the microphone,
and a Behringer Xenyx502 mini mic mixer/EQ, which I hope to hook up for input.

I was going to get a Behringer UCA202/222 but decided it wasn't good enough quality,
and I'm looking for a 24bit/96 kHz ADC instead, to replace the guitar pedal (RPx400).
The mini-mBox doesn't look right, because of setup/compatibility problems.

So for input A/D I was hoping for a 24bit/96 kHz PCI card or external unit under $100


I am hoping for a minimal, but high quality recording station for simple acoustic songs.

Any advice would be welcome

Sylos
January 25th, 2012, 02:20 PM
Hello there.

Im a little confused as to what it is you want. The thread title says card for playback but then you post seems to suggest you are also looking for something to the capture as well.

Assuming you want a card for both - I would recomend something from the M-audio range. The use the ICE 1712 chipset which is pretty well supported for a few years now and most of the cards work well with minimal fiddling.

There are a range of cards - I have the DELTA 66 - and they offer a range of inputs/outputs. The 66 is 6 channels or you could go for a 44 if you only need 4 channels or less. Be aware though, that you will need a mic preamp if you want to use the mic with the card. Maudio do offer an OMNI box that you can get with the 66 (I've got it) which has a couple of pre-amped mic inputs. Its quite expensive new but I picked mine up off ebay for 65ish for card and box. Might be worth a look. If your only going to do 2 channels at a time then might be worth looking at the 44 with a separate preamp box.

Anyway, just my opinion. I like Maudio because it has been reasonably good for me and thats the only one I've ever used. Others will no doubt have different preferences.

Cheers

nazaroo2
January 26th, 2012, 03:35 AM
Hello there.

Im a little confused as to what it is you want. The thread title says card for playback but then you post seems to suggest you are also looking for something to the capture as well.

Assuming you want a card for both - I would recomend something from the M-audio range. The use the ICE 1712 chipset which is pretty well supported for a few years now and most of the cards work well with minimal fiddling.

There are a range of cards - I have the DELTA 66 - and they offer a range of inputs/outputs. The 66 is 6 channels or you could go for a 44 if you only need 4 channels or less. Be aware though, that you will need a mic preamp if you want to use the mic with the card. Maudio do offer an OMNI box that you can get with the 66 (I've got it) which has a couple of pre-amped mic inputs. Its quite expensive new but I picked mine up off ebay for 65ish for card and box. Might be worth a look. If your only going to do 2 channels at a time then might be worth looking at the 44 with a separate preamp box.

Anyway, just my opinion. I like Maudio because it has been reasonably good for me and thats the only one I've ever used. Others will no doubt have different preferences.

Cheers

Thanks for your reply!

The reason I also talked about other stuff was,
that there might be a card that has both a stereo output and also a couple of inputs.
I was willing to go either way, either separate cards or devices, or one card with both.

Since I only need a simple playback, one pair of outs is fine.
Since I already have two microphone preamps, the problem of needing one is not an issue.

So it looks like you are recommending the Delta 44 for my case.

Is the Delta 44 a card that has at least 24 bit/ 96-182 kHz sampling rates?
update: Yes it appears to be, and is a combination card and external box:
"M-Audio DELTA 44 24/96 PCI Digital Professional Audio Card "

The cheapest (used) offer I can find here is about $115 + shipping (say $150?)




Thanks for your input.

Sylos
January 26th, 2012, 01:58 PM
Hmm. Seems the price is a little steep. When I bought mine I waited and sniped an auction at the end - had to wait through a few first though.

There is one here but its a UK auction soo...

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/M-Audio-Delta-44-Professional-4-In-4-Out-Audio-Card-/120848368782?pt=Midi_Controllers&hash=item1c231fc48e

You could maybe have a look at the M audio Audiophile 2496 card too. Its a little cheaper and has no breakout box. But it might suit your needs just as well. Have a look at the specs and see if it matches your requirements.

nazaroo2
January 27th, 2012, 07:58 AM
Yes, to tell the truth, I don't need a fancy external box.
The critical issue is 24//96 playback, and maybe inputs too.
I am seeing other sound cards around for as little as $35... I hope they are compatible with Linux. That would be the "other" question..

nazaroo2
January 27th, 2012, 09:15 AM
I found another option:

ASUS PCI 5.1 Channel Sound Card XONAR_DG (http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-Channel-Sound-Card-XONAR_DG/dp/B0045JHJSS/ref=pd_sim_e_1)

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/415cYhC5yCL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

This looks like a real bargain,
because it is only about $30!



Audio Performance: Output Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted): 105 dB; Input Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted):
Frequency Response (-3dB, 24-bit/96kHz input): <10Hz to 48KHz; Output/Input Full-Scale Voltage: 1 Vrms (3 Vp-p);
Audio Processor: C-Media CMI8786 High-Definition Sound Processor (Max. 96KHz/24bit); 24-bit D-A Converter of Digital Sources: 1x Cirrus-Logic
24-bit A-D Converter for Analog Inputs: 1x Cirrus Logic CS4245 (104dB DNR, Max. 192KHz/24bit);
Analog Recording Sample Rate and Resolution: 44.1K/48K/96KHz @ 16/24bit; S/PDIF
103 dB; Output THD+N at 1kHz: 0.0025% (-92dB); Input THD+N at 1kHz: 0.0022% (-93dB)
Analog Input Jack: 1x 3.50mm mini jack(Line-In/Mic-In); Other line-level analog input (for CD-IN/TV Tuner): Aux-In (4-pin header on the card)
Bus Compatibility: PCI v2.2 or above bus compatible
(I think this means basic PCI for most computers)

CS4245 (104dB DNR, Max. 192KHz/24bit), 1x Cirrus-Logic CS4361(103dB DNR, Max. 192KHz/24bit)
Digital Output: 44.1K/48K/96KHz @ 16/24bit, Dolby Digital, DTS, WMA-Pro; ASIO 2.0 Driver Support: 44.1K/48K/96KHz @ 16/24bit
Digital S/PDIF Output: High-bandwidth Optical Connector supports 96KHz/24bit, additional SPDIF-out header for HDMI audio output;
Front-Panel Header: Supports headphone jack-detection, automatically switch audio output from back-panel to front
High Fidelity Headphone Amplifier: Optimized for 32~150Ω; Analog Playback Sample Rate
I/O Ports: Analog Output Jack: 3x 3.50mm mini jack(Front/Side/Center-Subwoofer);
Operation System: Windows 7/Vista/XP/MCE2005; Accessories: 1x Low-profile Bracket; 1x Driver CD; 1x Quick Start Guide
Resolution: 44.1K/48K/96KHz @ 16/24bit for all channels

-------------------------------

Two reviewers commented:

I must also add that this card comes with the Dolby Headphone Licenses which are great for games and movies. The Xonar DS does not have this. And its more expensive so I highly recommend this card. This card is also 96khz and not 192 like the DS and DX. But I can't tell the difference
I would tend to agree that I probably couldn't tell the difference between 96 and 192 kHz sampling rates at 24 bit! (not on any headphones I will likely own...)


The following caveat is probably not important for recording and playing back stereo recording:


I have returned this item because I bought it to have a DDL output to my digital only 5.1 speakers. Unfortunately, while it does have a TOSLINK connector, the only option available via SPDIF in the Asus control panel is for PCM encoding, which is only 2 channel.
DO NOT buy this if you wish to enable Dolby Digital Live or DTS over the digital connection. This option is just not available in the drivers (and probably the hardware) for this device. Maybe this is the best price/quality break so far:

The only serious question is, can this card be recognized by LINUX?

I doubt ASUS will be writing any Linux drivers...

jejeman
January 27th, 2012, 09:54 AM
Before buying pci audio card it's good to see if it is supported
http://www.alsa-project.org/main/index.php/Main_Page

nazaroo2
January 27th, 2012, 10:40 AM
Before buying pci audio card it's good to see if it is supported
http://www.alsa-project.org/main/index.php/Main_Page

Wow, thanks for this!
I'm still newbing around on this stuff.
I just read horribly negative reports on Soundblaster cards (plastic connectors breaking, no working drivers in windoze),
and now I've also noted that there seems to be problems in Linux with Firewire outputs to external D/A converters.
See this thread! (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1780263&highlight=Firewire+card)

I'm going over now to scout out what cards have a hope of working in Linux.
I DONT want to ever go back to MS Windy

nazaroo2
January 27th, 2012, 11:44 AM
Okay I checked the list (http://www.alsa-project.org/main/index.php/Matrix:Vendor-Asus), and the Xonar DG (chipset CMI8786) is supported (http://www.alsa-project.org/main/index.php/Matrix:Module-oxygen),
but they make a note as follows:


This hardware has no volume controls; use PulseAudio.
Front panel and maybe the HP amp do not work.

That seems encouraging. Presumably one could route it into a volume control/EQ
or a software mixer in JACK, and record. External controls on your playback amp/spkrs would be assumed anyway.

nazaroo2
January 27th, 2012, 12:32 PM
Its too bad that the Alesis IO2 Express doesn't seem to have any drivers,
because it looks like it would be a very useful device if it could run under Linux:

http://www.woodbrass.com/images/woodbrass/ALESIS+I+O2+EXPRESS+USB.JPG


But this unit only seems to do INPUT, not OUTPUT,
and it only goes up to 48 kHz sampling rates....not good enough for the money they want.

Two-channel computer audio recording interface
• Record up to 24-bit, 48 kHz audio into virtually any software
• Monitor sessions with balanced studio monitor and headphone outputs
• High-quality A/D and D/A converters, discrete-design preamps, 48V phantom power
• Inputs for microphones, line-level sources, and instruments including guitars
• Tricolor stereo level meter and lighted status indicators for visual monitoring
• MIDI Input and Output jacks for playing and controlling software with instruments
• USB bus powered – no external power supply needed

INCLUDES:
• iO2 EXPRESS interface
• USB cable
• Software CD

sgx
January 28th, 2012, 01:08 AM
an maudio audiophile 24/96 pci is linux ready, detected correctly
by modern kernels, with midi analog and digital i/o.
The sound quality is excellent. Its kernel module is snd_ice1712,
and envy24control is a dedicated mixer for it.
Cheers

beefheartvliet
January 28th, 2012, 04:29 PM
I have been using my trusty M-Audio Midiman Audiophile for years now. Great Card for the money. I should imagine you will pick one up on eBay cheap enough!

nazaroo2
January 31st, 2012, 08:14 AM
Okay here's my update:

After looking over the brands of cards supported by ALSA (http://www.alsa-project.org/main/index.php/Matrix:Main),
and also considering the price and supply,
I opted for the Xonar DG for starters. Here It cost about $55,
(and the cables I would have had to buy anyway).

Its a standard PCI (2.2+) slot card,
and since I have a graphics card in the only PCI-Express slot,
I was stuck with that lesser connection.
I'm assuming however that this will do better than a USB port for speed,
(the only other issue would be noise floor on an internal card, but thats for a bigger budget)

After physical installation,
Ubuntu is still using the old onboard soundcard (Intel series 7).
I'm going to start a help thread on getting the new card working.

sgx
February 1st, 2012, 03:45 AM
I am hoping for a minimal, but high quality recording station for simple acoustic songs.

Any advice would be welcome
Hi, the amp and cab sims on the rpx can be turned off, which may
help getting a clean acoustic signal recorded, with the side effect
of utilizing rakarrack, guitarix2, and calf-plugins, as the authors
designed them.

Cheers

CivilizationII
February 17th, 2012, 08:41 PM
Sound chipsets from motherboard are more and more capable and very cheap. The classic ALC888 is capable for 24b./96Khz