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#671285 - 11/09/07 04:04 PM Sound Card Recommendation?  
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Wing Fat Offline
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I just bought a new computer which does not have a sound card (on board sound only). I want to know if anyone has a recommendation for a good sound card. I'm planning on running Synthogy Ivory and I need something compatible, but I also want the sound card to be appropriate for everyday use (gaming, watching DVDs, etc.).

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#671286 - 11/09/07 11:39 PM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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Eternal Offline
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I use Ivory myself. You want something with low latency (the time between you striking the key, and the PC playing the sound). It can be accomplished by cards supporting ASIO drivers. You also want a card with low noise, and capable of high sampling rate recording. I am partial to PCI interfaces as well. Finally it's nice to have MIDI inputs right on the card to make interfacing with the piano easier, and not have to use dedicated USB adapters. Also - after spending $300 on Ivory, I didn't want to spend another $300 on a card.

I did my research and came up with M-Audio's Audiophile series. There were two models I looked at:
Audiophile 2496 and
Audiophile 192

The first option is a cheaper one ($100), as opposed to the ($125). I went with the latter, because for a few extra dollars you're getting a newer generation, with twice the sampling rate recording capability (24 bit, 192kHz) versus 96kHz of the cheaper model. I don't know how you are planning on hooking up your DVD - the card does have digital IO (SPDIF).

Like I said before - I've been using the card for almost a year with Ivory, and have been very happy with it. There is virtually no latency (that I can notice), my Casio is just as responsive when I play Ivory, as if I was playing built in sounds. The recording quality is superb as well - there is no hum or noise in the background.

Make sure you get proper adapters if you go with this option. The card's analog outputs/inputs are all 1/4", Left and Right split into their own connectors. You'll want something like this
adapter if you just want to feed the signal back into headphones.

#671287 - 11/10/07 03:12 PM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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Wing Fat Offline
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Thank you for the information. I actually had an Audiophile card several years ago but what I remember about it is that it wasn't a good all-around card for Windows (although I can't remember why I felt this was the case... I think it had limited control panel options), so I wound up swapping back and forth between it and a SoundBlaster card. I am trying to avoid that this time, although maybe the software for the Audiophile cards has improved.

I am looking closely at the 192 card. I don't need anything fancy as far as inputs, etc., single stereo in and out is fine (although having on board MIDI is a definitely plus), but as far as cost goes I'm willing to spend what it takes to get a card that works for me.

#671288 - 11/10/07 04:25 PM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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Wing, If your experience with M-Audio was like mine, their setup can be a little tricky. Once they're set up tho, their drivers are stable.

I switched to E-mu's XXXXM series, to get a better dynamic range; for the price, it's extraordinary. You can read about them here and there's an active forum with company participation here. This series includes a software mixer and included voices and effects. I play piano only, so don't use any of that. Fortunately there's a preset which let me just install and use the card.

As with the M-Audio, it's important - "vital" might be a better word - to read the installation instructions and follow them to the letter.

E-mu's ASIO drivers are stable, but if you want to use Gigasampler, you'll have to run it in Rewire mode, because their WDM drivers are - or at least were when I bought - less so.

RME's PCI cards used to offer a step up in class and a big step up in price. I haven't looked at them in a couple of years, because my E-mu 1212M does everything that I want to do. RME's home page is here and it includes a link to a forum. Again, my info is dated, but all types of drivers used to be highly rated and did offer multiple connection options.

Edit: Mike Warren's post reminded my about the DVD watching. No problems with the E-mu 1212M.

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#671289 - 11/10/07 06:10 PM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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It's generally possible to retain the on-board sound when you install a proper music card. I have done this (or used 2 cards) for many years. I just feed both cards into my mixer.

If you really must have a gaming type card that works with Ivory, you can use a Sound Blaster Audigy card (PCI not USB. These come with ASIO drivers and work resonably well but they are a compromise.


Digital Fake Book
Free Chord/Lyric Display Software for Windows.
http://mike-warren.net/digitalfakebook/
#671290 - 11/10/07 09:50 PM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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You didn't state which operating system your new computer uses. Some of the good sound cards do not yet have final drivers available for Vista.

I use several of the eMu products, all on Windows XP, and am pleased with the results. The lowest priced is the 0404 PCI card, single unbalanced stereo input and output. Next up is a 1212M, takes two PCI slots, gives me balanced stereo input and output and a lower noise threshold.

My primary digital audio workstation is going to an eMu 1820M - two PCI cards in the computer connected to an external box. one pair of mic/line inputs (48volt phantom power available for mics), three pair of line level inputs, one can be switched to magnetic phone. Four pair of outputs.

My notebook is running into an eMu 1616M, PCMCIA card (which can be used by itself for a single stereo output) into another minidock similar to the 1820M. This does require AC power for the minidock; but I still have a fully professional recording studio setup that runs on a notebook computer.

All of the above work through a software based mixer that has full control. In addition to audio, they all do MIDI in and out, and offer some dedicated effects functions.

Latency is quite low on all of these. They come in at different price points, ranging from about $100 to about $550.

I have turned off the built-in sound on all the above computers in the computer BIOS - I have no problems running anything that Windows does through the cards. I am not a hard-core gamer, but everything that I have tried in application software worked fine using the eMu (except Windows "sign-on" sound - the eMu drivers have not loaded at the time when it runs - so no sound then).

HTH,
Jim


Jim Cason
Promised LAN Computing, Inc.
Howard C171 Grand, Kurzweil PC3X, PC3, PC361, PC2X, PC2.
JBL 10&15 EONG2s, EV SxA100+s QSC K10s, HP & ThinkPad DAWs, eMu 1820M & 1616M.
Epi Les Paul & LP 5str Bass, Trace amp-cabinets.
Formerly in electronic keyboard repair trade - semi-retired
#671291 - 11/10/07 09:53 PM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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My teacher has Ivory with an M-Audio 24/96. There's no noticeable latency.


http://www.youtube.com/user/Theowne- Piano Videos (Ravel, Debussy, etc) & Original Compositions
音楽は楽しいですね。。。
#671292 - 11/11/07 03:05 PM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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Hello, I am new here, looks like a great place...
Ivory was the 1st ss I purchased when I got into daw. After a lot of research, I purchased the rme ff 800. It works very well although quite pricey, but I hoped to avoid problems later. Ivory is a dream.

#671293 - 11/11/07 05:26 PM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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Thanks everyone for the comments. Since Sound Blaster supports ASIO I may just go with that.

I remembered reason I had a second sound card in the past. It's because Gigastudio requires "GSIF" drivers, which Sound Blaster doesn't offer. However, it's not clear if Gigastudio 4 requires GSIF drivers or not. Does anyone know? The Tascam website is pitifully short on information.

I am using Windows XP. I might be willing to try the M-Audio 2496, but what bothers me is that they have not released Vista drivers for that card. Even thought I'm not using Vista right now, Vista has been out for a while and the fact that M-Audio hasn't released an update is a red flag that they don't support or update their products.

So right now I'm leaning towards Sound Blaster. I'm disappointed to find the recent Sound Blaster cards don't have FireWire or MIDI ports. My computer only has two PCI slots, so I'm concerned about trying to maximize as much as possible (which is another reason I don't want to run more than one sound card).

#671294 - 11/11/07 06:08 PM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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Quote
Originally posted by Wing Fat:

I am using Windows XP. I might be willing to try the M-Audio 2496, but what bothers me is that they have not released Vista drivers for that card. Even thought I'm not using Vista right now, Vista has been out for a while and the fact that M-Audio hasn't released an update is a red flag that they don't support or update their products.
M-Audio's page, claims that the Vista drivers for that particular card are in development:
http://www.m-audio.com/index.php?do=support.faq&ID=2b9102ba8e228823582720fb3beba029

But quite frankly I'd never "downgrade" to Vista, while I have a perfectly fine XP machine with stable driver releases.

#671295 - 11/11/07 06:28 PM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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Quote
Originally posted by Eternal:
But quite frankly I'd never "downgrade" to Vista
I wish more people would think like that. Vista is the beginning of the end for many reasons, not least of which is the stupid DRM stuff.

http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.html

Many early adopters of Vista are discovering it causes headaches with music production.


Digital Fake Book
Free Chord/Lyric Display Software for Windows.
http://mike-warren.net/digitalfakebook/
#671296 - 11/12/07 01:37 AM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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Regarding XP vs. Vista, as I said in my initial post I just ordered a new computer this week, a Dell, and I think it's telling that Dell is still offering XP as an option on new computers even though Vista has been out for nearly a year. I think it's also telling that Microsoft is still making new XP licenses available. Draw your own conclusions.

Regardless of whether you love it or hate it, Vista is the latest version of Windows and it seems to me that hardware vendors should support it. If a hardware vendor promises "we'll support it someday," and a year later they're still saying that... well that's a bad sign in my opinion.

#671297 - 11/12/07 03:08 AM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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GSIF drivers are needed if you're running Giga in standalone mode. When Giga is run as a "slave" to another audio app, it uses the same drivers as that of the "master" app. So if you're running Cubase, you'd be using ASIO drivers.

#671298 - 11/12/07 06:28 AM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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Wing Fat Offline
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FogVilleLad: Thank you. I'm going to be using Sonar Home Studio and it looks like Gigastudio will run as a VST plug-in in that application and I won't need a GSIF-compatible card after all. That gives me a few more options.

#671299 - 11/12/07 10:50 AM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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I use an M-audio 24/96 which is hooked up to my mixing desk, to which I connect my various keyboards etc... so I have my machine dual booted across two HDD's - Vista for my non-music apps, and XP for my music alone, tweaked to make best use of the system's hardware. I find that this does work well, combined with the potential system resource overheads that Vista places on your hardware, XP is tried and tested and a much better bet - especially if you are using VST plugin stuff from within your computer, through a sequencer. Even if you go for a low end Vista - i.e. Vista without the bells and whistles Aero interface, even at idle this still uses a heck of a lot of system ram to just 'sit there' and run the O/S.


--------------------
Hohner HP-128 Upright
Kurzweil PC1X
Yamaha EX5
Roland XV3080
Muse Receptor Rev.C
East West Bosendorfer 290 amongst others....
#671300 - 11/12/07 11:03 AM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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Quote
Originally posted by Wing Fat:
(...)I'm going to be using Sonar Home Studio (...)
I'm also using it - make sure you get the XL version (you can get student price for it on eBay).

#671301 - 11/20/07 11:18 PM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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Jumping into this thread seeing as how I'm looking into a similar setup...

I'm going to get a laptop and get rid of my desktop (to save space, energy, etc. etc.) Wing mentioned Creative's Sound Blaster cards, which is quite affordable and well supported. I don't think I've seen anyone mention it before... I've only seen Emu and M-Audio being thrown around. I'm a beginning piano student and I do not know much about sound equipment to make an educated choice. I see all these technical specs about frequency range and Khz this and dB that, but I don't know how that will apply in producing piano sounds. Also, connection is a bit of a mystery to me. I'm thinking it's just a cable that runs from the DP to the sound card (via the Input jack), is that right? Do I really need anything else in between?

I saw this card on the Creative site. Any thoughts on it?
http://us.creative.com/products/pro...category=208&product=16642&nav=1

Thank you for your help.

#671302 - 11/21/07 06:05 PM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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Quote
Originally posted by Mike Warren:
I wish more people would think like that. Vista is the beginning of the end for many reasons
LOL, you'll probably be saying the same exact thing about the next version of Windows in 5 years. And you were probably saying it about XP 5 years ago.

#671303 - 10/02/08 02:19 PM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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ere Offline
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Eternal,

I just noticed that you use Audiophile 192 as well ... How do you record? Which software do you use? I'm just having all sorts of problems when trying to record Ivory


My gear: Roland FP4 digi-piano, M-audio A192 sound card , Sennheiser HD580 phones , Synthogy Ivory+ Italian Grand , soft-piano Pianoteq (highly recommended)
#671304 - 10/02/08 06:51 PM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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Currently I use Sonar Home Studio XL. But before that I was using free Cantabile Lite .

What are you using to record, and what kind of problems do you have?

#671305 - 10/02/08 07:50 PM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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ere Offline
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Hi,
Well, I tried Cantabile Lite, but it was simply crashing all the time (i had to select Windows mixer for recording and then the whole thing froze).
Now I am using Reaper, and while it records pianoteq fine, Ivory is always recorded with clicks, pops and skipped notes. I have tried all sorts of bit rates, sampling rates, etc... Just playing Ivory- everything is perfect at 3.3 sec latency...


My gear: Roland FP4 digi-piano, M-audio A192 sound card , Sennheiser HD580 phones , Synthogy Ivory+ Italian Grand , soft-piano Pianoteq (highly recommended)
#671306 - 10/03/08 10:58 AM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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Eternal Offline
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Are you recording to wav right away or doing MIDI first and then rendering?

#671307 - 10/03/08 02:34 PM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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ere Offline
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Midi first... Although I've tried recording to wav straight away too - in Reaper the result is about the same, cantabile simply crashed.

Is Sonar difficult to understand/configure? Does it hog resources?
If not, maybe i should try it too...


My gear: Roland FP4 digi-piano, M-audio A192 sound card , Sennheiser HD580 phones , Synthogy Ivory+ Italian Grand , soft-piano Pianoteq (highly recommended)
#671308 - 10/04/08 05:01 AM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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I use RME HammerFall 9632 with UAD 2.
one computer is For PLAY libs and one is for Kontakt2 libs and Kore 2 and tons of crap. Most sounds cards out there will work for you just make sure they have awesome A/D converters.
An awesome price on a sound card is the 1212M by EMU!
it's only 200 dollars! cheap!

#671309 - 10/04/08 05:04 AM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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Wing Fat I like your Icon this is off topic Sorry I guess I like it because I do have a Japanese cd coming out soon. SO it's Cool^_- I also remember Wing Fat from some Woody Allen Spoof Spy movie(where he dubbed the voicing funny Sh#$%$!)

#671310 - 10/04/08 07:28 AM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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I have to add my $.02. I have the Echo Mia Midi card [$150] which is just excellent. I use it with Vista 64bit. With Garritan's Steinway I get latency of 2.6 ms - impossible to sense any lag from my Casio AP-45 keyboard. Absolutely no conflict or interference with the motherboard sound output.

This card is great. Price comparable to the M-Audio products, with a no-sweat installation and great drivers. It has an input dongle for midi cables that works great. No headphone out, though.

If you're thinking about about getting a high-end card for use with piano VST software, this one's great.


Baldwin M
Casio PX-330
Casio AP-45
#671311 - 10/05/08 05:55 PM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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Quote
Is Sonar difficult to understand/configure? Does it hog resources?
If not, maybe i should try it too...
I've yet to find audio software that's easy to set up. This one was average in terms of difficulty. The recordings come out fine (no cracks or noises). I haven't done any recordings on my new system, but on my slow old one, I'd do MIDI first, and then render.

#671312 - 10/05/08 08:43 PM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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PX-5S FA-06 PX-320 SL-MKII Graphite 49; VST: Pianoteq 5.5+Bluethner UVI TrueKeys EWQL-SO + Hollywood Strings/Brass, AAS GS-2+LL EP4 Sonokinetic; Mobile DAW ROG G751J: i7 4720 32GB RAM 250+500 GB SSD Scarlett 6i6 TS110A x2; https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfiQst_xQwNgKL_FS9OXSKw
#671313 - 10/05/08 08:59 PM Re: Sound Card Recommendation?  
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Quote
Originally posted by ere:
Hi,

Now I am using Reaper, and while it records pianoteq fine, Ivory is always recorded with clicks, pops and skipped notes. I have tried all sorts of bit rates, sampling rates, etc... Just playing Ivory- everything is perfect at 3.3 sec latency...
If you've tried everything, like:

1) change the PCI slot location of the M-Audio 192
2) all sampling rates possible
3) memory/buffer sizes within Ivory
4) partitioned you're hard disk drive to at least two (2) volumes (e.g.: Drive C: for Windows and Drive D: for Piano sample libraries like Ivory etc.)

Then, maybe you can try this:

1) get another physical/separate hard disk for Ivory or Garritan or any other sample-based piano software library you plan on using...

> get another SATA drive which has 16MB or 32MB cache like this:

Seagate Barracuda 500GB SATA w/ 32MB cache

2) disable any built-in LAN, built-in audio/sound chip (motherboard BIOS settings) that can be potential sources of IRQ conflicts for your M-AUDIO soundcard

3) increase the system memory (i.e. DDR2...or even DDR3 if your motherboard has slots for this)

> if you're currently running on 2GB DDR2 modules, chances are around 512MB of it is already being used by Windows XP (plus any other software installed like anti-virus, audio-MIDI programs, background Windows XP services running etc.) which leaves you with around 1.5GB RAM left.

> increasing your system RAM can help provide more "resources" or "working space" for your piano samples awaiting processing by your CPU (Core 2 duo or AMD X2)

> increasing your system RAM can prepare your system for migration to 64-bit OS and audio-MIDI programs that can fully utilize or benefit from larger system memory (up to 128GB in certain versions of VISTA) and optimized for multi-core processors (like Sonar etc.)

4) Defragment the partition and/or physical hard disk drive that contains the piano sample libraries

> if you've directed during installation that the piano sample library be installed in, say, Drive D: instead of Drive C:, make sure you defragment Drive D: as well to keep files/bits of data in it near each other to avoid "skipping" or audio clicks.

> or better yet, you can try creating a separate partition on a separate hard disk drive EXCLUSIVELY for Ivory only.


Quote
Originally posted by ere:
Is Sonar difficult to understand/configure? Does it hog resources?
If not, maybe i should try it too...
I also use Sonar P.E. 6.2 and the configuration factor is not as time-consuming as learning, mastering and putting to good use each and every functionality/feature of the software itself.

I haven't considered upgrading to the newer version yet (Cakewalk Sonar 7) because for all the features in its predecessor, I'm yet to utilize all of them...and besides I'd rather spend money on another hardware than a newer version of software (since my current version pretty much runs smoothly).

If you're talking about it being a system resource hog, this would depend on:

1) how many VST plug-ins you use (like reverb effects running simultaneously or applied to other instrument tracks etc.)

2) how many VST instruments you're running simultaneously and how CPU-hungry or memory hungry each individual VST instrument is

> in a typical 4-5 instrument track arrangement running 5 VST instruments (Session Drummer 2, Studio Instruments-Bass, Ivory, Garritan's Personal Orchestra-Strings, plus a synth pad or E-piano etc.) running within Sonar 6, my older dual-core system (Pentium D 3.0 GHz with 4GB DDR800 RAM) usage rises somewhere between 30-40%...to think I'm still using an older processor microarchitecture by Intel. Sometimes usage rises to 50-55% but for the most part it's around 40% for both cores of a dual-core processor (but this is taking into consideration that I have anti-virus and other windows XP services running in the background like firewall, indexing etc. which are usually suggested by some forums to be "disabled" in a Digital Audio Workstation PC).

> If you have a newer Core 2-Duo processor, then this is more efficient and can probably run your audio-MIDI software with VST instruments faster and even better and the CPU utilization with just 4-5 tracks may even be lower due to the better microarchitecture of the processor (better prefetch/algorithms within the Core 2-based Intel processors perhaps) which eventually lead to more data processed efficiently in a given number of CPU cycles.

Overall, your problem regarding pops and clicks may not just be due to the audio-card in itself but may also be due to other hardware configurations (like having a separate hard drive, more DDR2 RAM memory modules, etc.)

Currently, the VISTA drivers (64-bit) for M-AUDIO products are in BETA version but they don't distribute it publicly but privately.

Good luck...optimizing your PC is still a "trial and error" thing.


PX-5S FA-06 PX-320 SL-MKII Graphite 49; VST: Pianoteq 5.5+Bluethner UVI TrueKeys EWQL-SO + Hollywood Strings/Brass, AAS GS-2+LL EP4 Sonokinetic; Mobile DAW ROG G751J: i7 4720 32GB RAM 250+500 GB SSD Scarlett 6i6 TS110A x2; https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfiQst_xQwNgKL_FS9OXSKw

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