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Sound Card for an Amatuer Musician

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EssEntial

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Jul 24, 2004
Hi guys, I have been browsing the forums for some time now and have learned a great deal, and I have to say this is the best forum on OCF :clap:

The reason I am posting is that I am building a computer for a friend of a friend who also happens to be into recording his own music. It's just a hobby of his, but he asked me to build him a computer that would be suited to his musical stylings. Now I have built several systems before and am comfortable in that area, but I know nothing about recording music.

What hardware would you recommend for a beginner musician?
 
OP
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EssEntial

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Jul 24, 2004
Ya, all the M-audio cards look good, but how come you recommend that over the delta 410?

Wouldn't 2 inputs > 1 input? Or would you choose the 7.1 output over whatever the delta 410 has?

And what about the M-audio Audiophile? Is that just overkill? Because originally I was looking at that and the Audigy Zs 2 Platinum. Although I have heard the M-audio's quality is superior.

Is anyone out their into this sort of thing? What would be the ideal setup for a musician?
 

shard

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Sep 10, 2003
Location
You Should Make a Wish!
well, I would say that the M-audio sounds about 7% better, but it records at 24bit all the time no matter what.
now the M-audio Audiophile, i would say it COULD be overkill, but for your case, I would get and have all those features

and the delta 410, i cant recall ever hearing about it!:/
 

RobxMcCarthy

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Jul 18, 2004
I have the delta 410, and it's great. I'd say get that, you can pick it up on Newegg for about $100 bucks..
 
OP
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EssEntial

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Jul 24, 2004
Thanks guys, I'm such a newb when it comes to audio, but I'm trying to make building PC's a part time job. This really helped me out.

So how would one go about hooking this up? I'm guessing just plugging in a couple good mics for an acoustic? Any advice on this? And for an electric I heard you plug it into a pre-amp and this connects to your sound card. But what is a preamp, and how does it connect to your sound card?
 

Maxvla

Senior Member
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Jun 26, 2002
Location
OKC
if you are doing alot of recording the revo isn't really what you want.

you want something like the audiophile 2496 or delta 410 like Rob suggested.
 

Randyman...

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Joined
May 8, 2004
Don't forget to "qualify" his exact needs. Will he need Mic Preamps (or does he already have an external mixer wiith mic pres?)? Will he need "Hi-Z" instrument inputs (for "direct" conection of passive guitar/bass pickups)? Will he need any kind of ADAT or SPDIF interface (for linking Digital gear)? How many tracks will he be recording at once? Do you NEED 7.1 monitoring? Really, do you?

If doing "Live Drums", you will need something with AT LEAST 4 Mic Preamps (I use 10-14 mics when tracking drums). If just doing rythm tracks in the PC, and "overdubbing" live guitar and vocals - one of the 2 input boxes would work fine.

Keep in mind - 99.9% of all productions are 2-channel "Stereo", so you may compromise your price-to-quality by requiring a 7.1 output, too. Maybe - use your "onboard sound" for DVD movies and games, and use a "Good" 2-channel type card for "Superior Audio Reproduction". Just a thought.

Later :cool:
 
OP
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EssEntial

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Jul 24, 2004
Nice post Randy, that's the kind of info I was looking for.

I don't think he's too serious about it yet, as this is his first time venturing in to PC music recording. But I wanted to impress him with a sweet PC. I am betting he is only going to be doing overdubbing of guitar and voice.

The most important thing I want in the sound card is expandability. Something that won't kill his budget, but also allows him to expand his setup in the future. I think the Delta 410 would be able to handle this well.

Thanks for the help and let me know if their any other suggestions you might have, Peace.
 

Randyman...

Member
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May 8, 2004
All of the mentioned cards are NICE, but NONE have a mic-pre built in. He will still need an external analog (or digital) mixer to provide Mic Preamplification and Instrument "Direct Inject" level matching.

Something like the M-Audio "Duo USB" or M-Audio "Firewire410" WILL have 2 mic preamps for direct connection of "professional" low-z mics (and an "instrument" input for High-Z guitars).

Most of the "PCI Card" cards will likely not have Mic Pres.

Expandability - most of these will NOT be expandable, but you can simply "upgrade" when the time comes, and get as many I/O's as you need (or as many as your PC will support). MOTU (Mark Of The Unicorn) has a few affordable multi I/O boxes - but they are more than a simple USB 2ch I/O box (obviously), and CAN be expanded with other MOTU units.

Once you have descent software, most of these boxes will work with most PC software (VIA ASIO drivers), so you shouldn't have to change software (unless it is a limited "Free" version with limited tracks, etc)...

Later :cool:
 
OP
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EssEntial

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Jul 24, 2004
Ok, maybe I need to slow this down a little.

What if I just want him to be able to record one or two tracks using a mic that plugs into a PCI card? What would be a good mic and sound card for this? Also, could you recommend some software for this?

Thanks Randy for clarifying all that, I tend to go overboard on these types of things :rolleyes:
 

Randyman...

Member
Joined
May 8, 2004
I don't know of any PCI cards that have a Mic Pre built in. The possible problem with this is - a Mic Pre may have to provide 50-70dB of gain (boost) to the Mic, and the electrically noisy interior of a PC WILL become problematic while providing this much gain to a signal.

I will look around, and see if I can find something. You will likely end up with one of the small external USB boxes - if that is not a problem? Or - you will need an external Mic Pre to interface with a PCI soundcard's "Line Input"...

I'll try and post some links if I find them... Later :cool:
 

pnutz409

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Jun 6, 2005
Location
Texas
M-Box! It's a pre-amp mixer that picks up extreme frequencies... I record in my room with my not so quiet computer and it picks up every little vibration on the computer... Very good for vocals and what not. Almost like a built in studio. I use it to record vocal tracks and also as a monitor for recording using Reason 3.0. I would hear sounds in my headphones that I couldn't hear when using my SB Live soundcard... yeah I know it's a hard comparison but I love it. It has 2 XLR/analog mic connections, also Digital connection.
 

sangram

Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2001
Location
India
The 1010 LT has Mic preamps, and its a PCI card. But it's about $300. Same for the Omni combos that m-Audio makes.

So do some terratec products. I think you'll find that cards with built-in preamps are all well above $200-250

I would recommend the m-Audio Audiophile and an outboard preamp. The two should set you back just north of $200, last I checked. m-box and Audiobuddy are good starter preamps, sounds like someone who is just beginning to get into the home recording game should be satisfied with a combo like that. Or you could ditch the preamp and get a nice outboard mixer/router with its own mic preamps, the quality will not be as good as a standalone preamp but it will be more versatile. I am using a Behringer eurorack (I know it's not the best) and a Delta 66. I got the Delta at a killer used price, but I was really looking into the Audiophile area...
 

rseven

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Joined
Sep 9, 2003
Location
New Jersey
I have a music studio in my home and I use a Gina card by Echo.
http://www.echoaudio.com/
This is a great company that makes some first rate products.
May I suggest that you move ahead cautiously. First off, while there are a lot of people who use PC based recording gear, I find that using a separate hard disk recorder works better for several reasons. First, it never crashes. I have never lost anything I have recorded do to a technical problem. (Human error, yes) They run ultra quietly. They have built in effects. They are easy to use and they are inexpensive.
I only use my PC to finalize and burn CD's.