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Old April 13th, 2005, 12:41 AM   #1
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What soundcard + speakers? Amplifier?

Hi, I'm in the process of choosing a new soundcard and speakers for video editing. I just want to filter/edit some stereo audio and the pc will be used for some gaming, too. No need to connect external sound sources.

- What would you recommend? SoundBlaster Audigy 4? Some M-Audio card? Why?

- Also, should I connect it optically to a real amplifier (like an affordable Yamaha) and some nice speakers?

- Does anyone consider Creative speakers good for anything more than just gaming?

Thanks
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Old April 18th, 2005, 05:09 AM   #2
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If you want good quality you will have to invest in good quality components,
this includes real speakers (not the ones from creative).

What is your budget for this? Our audio guru (spot) is at NAB I think, so he
might not be able to chime in with his thoughts on a good setup before the
end of the week.
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Old April 18th, 2005, 10:08 AM   #3
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I am using the Audigy 2ZS with Edirol MA-20D Monitors..

It seems to be a good setup.. However for gaming, you may want to go the 5.1 speaker route but for the most part those are geared for excellent audio reproduction in my past experience.. I use the Logitech Z-5500's for gaming.. But they don't come close to sounding as good as my little edirol's..

Speakers $220
Audio Card $80
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Old April 19th, 2005, 11:34 AM   #4
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>What is your budget for this?

I haven't thought about that yet. More than what I would pay for the Creative 5.1 speakers. Maybe twice as much but probably not much more than that... I haven't decided yet. What price range would you recommend for hobbyist/prosumer use? I'm going to listen to 90% of my music, too, using those speakers, so decent sound is a requirement.
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Old April 24th, 2005, 02:00 AM   #5
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Ralf, you might want to check this thread where I asked a similar question and got some good advice. What I was looking for is a little different than what you want (no gaming for me), but this may give you some ideas:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=40570

With those suggestions as a start, I did a lot of research. I'm not sure gaming and audio editing mix, based on what I've read.

For gaming, it sounds like you can't beat the Audigy card you have and a decent set of 5.1 surround speakers.

For recording and audio editing, the Audigy card is not favored. Supposedly it resamples in hardware to a set rate (either 44.1 or 48kHz, I forget), then samples back to the rate you select, resulting in a loss of some quality. Probably not so noticeable, but audio people are a picky bunch. M-Audio Delta, E-Mu, Echo, and RME are often mentioned as good choices for sound cards. As for speakers for audio editing, most people favor getting as close as they can to studio reference monitors. The M-Audio LX4 set that Spot recommended to me (2.1 upgradeable to 5.1) or the Swans M200 pair is probably about as cheap as you can go for that kind of speaker.
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Old April 24th, 2005, 10:33 AM   #6
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I thought I would add I just bought a pair of Edirol MA-10D speakers for home use since I liked the MA-20D's so much..

I really like and enjoy the sound from the 10D's as well.. for $129 they are a great speaker and I use my audigy 2 Digital output into those. However, I would assume if you were really into true professional audio you may want to spend some more money..

Work Setup
Audigy 2 Analog to Edirol MA-20D's

Home Setup
Audigy 2 Digital to Edirol MA-10D's

Both are just fablous at least for me, in what I do..
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Old April 30th, 2005, 02:59 AM   #7
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Hi, and thanks for advice. Now I have many cards and speakers to choose from. I feel less lost now.

I would be very thankfull if anyone could help me just a little bit further in choosing a sound card. I'll tell more about my modest needs (in terms of fetures, not quality) soon. First a few comments on speakers, though.


SPEAKERS
I took a look at the specifications of the M-Audio LX4 speaker set. Looks good. The M-Audio BX5 speakers + SBX subwoofer would be even better. I'll consider those both.

Strange that all "monitors" I have (yet) found are active speakers - so no amplifier but an awful lot of power cords instead. Maybe I just have to live with it... Is there some specific reason as to why these are active speakers?

The Edirols seemed to be a nice set of speakers, too, but they feature a bass/treble adjustment, don't they? Doesn't that very button destroy any faithful sound reproduction? And somehow I liked the M-Audios a little bit more.


SOUND CARD
Choosing the sound card is more tricky, though. I don't understand all the specifications. I know what frequency response is and what S/N and dynamic range mean, but that's it. Also, I cannot compose, I cannot sing, I cannot play any instrument. My sound editing needs are thus quite limited: post processing only. What I want is:

1) Widely used standard connectors - not the propietary(?) creative ones because I want to use good speakers such as the M-Audio BX5. (And if I want to boost bass or something like that, then I would prefer doing it with a mixer program and not with the speakers.)

2) I would love to be able to expand an initial 2.1 setup to a 4.1 setup with two side speakers (rear speakers would be better of course, but harder to place). This would improve games and sometimes music.

3) I want a headphone jack, volume control (headphone/speakers) and mic-in in a box on my desk. I want to turn off the speakers while using headphones. My microphones have XLR/balanced connectors. Two XLR connectors for the mic(s) would thus be preferred.

4) The card should ideally fit in a 100MHz PCI-X slot, but standard PCI and USB2 is available too.

So, pretty simple high quality surround sound plus headphone jack, volume control and dual XLR inputs for mic - all available on desk.

Last edited by Ralf Strandell; April 30th, 2005 at 03:23 AM.
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Old April 30th, 2005, 08:44 AM   #8
 
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Hi Ralf, Just noticed this one, it got kinda low on the pole for a bit there.
Most professional monitors, especially for video, are powered these days, and that's a good thing. It means the amplifier is matched to the speaker components, and, less opportunity for noise to leak into the system.
the LX4's are very good, but you're right, the BX5's would be better. Not because of size, but because of air movement. You need a nominal volume to monitor, and smaller monitors need to come up in volume to give a present and fairly balanced sound. Depending on the room, that could either be too loud.
As far as your sound card description, you're looking for a professional card with consumer features. I don't know there is such a thing. There is no good PCI sound card that has the connections on the card that I'm aware of. Cards can be connected one of 3 ways; PCI, Firewire, and USB. If you're gonna record much, USB is more or less out. 2 channels max, and shared resources make this a bear sometimes. Firewire is the next best, with PCI coming in as the best.
I'd look at the M-Audio FW410. It has everything you're looking for, it's inexpensive, has 2 headphone outs, and a hardwired Aux channel.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 03:51 AM   #9
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Thanks! The M-Audio FW410 is just what I need. I love the portability, too.

I was so focused on PCI-cards that I completely ignored these external sound cards at first. There was such a bewildering range of feature packed PCI cards available that it would have required quite an effort from me to narrow down the choices... But this was spot on - and instantly. I found some nice reviews of the FW410, too.

This thread has been most helpful. Thanks for you all :)
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 02:43 PM   #10
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There has been some contention on this - Spot was going to check it out but I never heard back, so I just checked again with M-Audio. There are NO balanced connectors on the Firewire 410. Email from M-Audio themselves below.

Aaron

Quote:
Aaron, the mic line inputs are unbalanced as well as the outputs. There
are no balanced connections on the F410.

Best regards,

Greg St. Peter
greg@m-audio.com <mailto:greg@m-audio.com>
M-Audio/Midiman An AVID Technology Company
800-969-6434 Ext. 261
FAX 626-633-9070
Tech Support 626-633-9055
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www.m-audio.com <http://www.m-audio.com>
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 12:36 AM   #11
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Does it matter that the mic inputs on FW410 are unbalanced?

I only know that an XLR/balanced connection is generally better than an XLR/unbalanced due to better immunity to noise, or something. It was something about shielding or signal levels I think... For short cable lengths it doesn't matter, does it?

So, can I connect just about any XLR mic to the FW410?
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 01:24 AM   #12
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Ralf, absolutely you can connect them up. I mentioned this only because you said your mics had XLR/Balanced connections so I was thinking you might want to use that feature.

I myself wouldn't connect my mic up via unbalanced, unless I was using a very short run and not in an electrically noisy room. But it might be perfectly fine for what you want.

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Old May 3rd, 2005, 02:44 PM   #13
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Wait! The FW410 seems to have balanced XLR connectors after all. Maybe it's the 1/4'' TS that's unbalanced...

The M-Audio web page http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_u...e410-main.html

tells:
"A front-panel switch for each channel selects between 1/4 TS (-10dBV) line-level input on the rear and Neutrik (1/4 TS and balanced XLR) mic/instrument input on the front."
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 03:21 PM   #14
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Well I'd put more faith in my emailing them (Twice now) and them confirming that it didn't, than a website. Then again who really knows? It seems M-Audio doesn't and that is why I haven't bought one of these units. I do think it's bad that there is such a descrepancy - and I have bought it to their attention in the past, but obviously the website hasn't been updated.

Spot knows one (or more) of the guys at M-Audio, and I was hoping he could confirm with one of them, but this was a while back now.


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Old May 3rd, 2005, 04:08 PM   #15
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So it was too good to be true... This is almost a law of nature: good things are allways hard to find. Easy to find things are not good.

So, if the M-Audio FW410 doesn't have balanced XLR connectors then one could always get an Edirol FA-101, right?

The Edirol FA-101 costs $100 more ($500) and I wouldn't probably benefit from it enough to justify the cost - just adding commentary and using it as a connection to good speakers while editing simple video sound tracks. The FA-66 would be cheaper but with less outputs and thus less fun when switching over to fun (film, games,...).
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