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Old May 24th, 2005, 11:15 AM   #1
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Sound Card Suggestions for DV Editing PC

Still doing homework before making purchase decisions and spending the $$. Looking to career transition into professional video/audio production - very likely aiming at the corporate/event videography markets initially - and setting up my PC for DV and sound editing. Seeking suggestions on sound cards this go around. Presently the box, Dell XPS Gen2, is equipped with a Dell OEM version of the Sound Blaster Audigy 2. Most likely will be acquiriing a Canon XL2 for shooting, recording sound either single or double system as might be best for the job at hand and possibly with multiple mikes as might be appropriate. Plan on incorporating a DV deck in the edit suite to avoid wear and tear on the camera's mechanism. Anticipating music, double-system dialog, and fx capture, creation, or editing with software such as Adobe Audition, Sony Acid and Soundforge, and SonicPro and video editing with either Premiere or Vegas. Anticipate output mainly to DVD or DV tape but also think it would be smart to be able to work with analog VHS tape as well for those clients with legacy systems. With DVDs would like have the ability to create 5.1 Surround as well as conventional stereo tracks and DTS would be a plus. Taking into account Heinlein's admonition that specialization is for insects (LOL) though not a musician myself I'm also interested in offering small scale but fully professional quality location sound recording services - small ensemble concerts, recitals, etc - to mix and record onto music CDs for interested clients.

So much for the background scenario - looking for your suggested "best practices" and the reasons behind them. My present Audigy card does a pretty good job for regular consumer computer audio and music listening but I'm concerned that it isn't flexible enough or up to par for professional level DV and audio mastering. Just like professional quality video editing requires such parts of the chain as a calibrated NTSC monitor, it seems like the audio side of it would require a pro-level chain as well. In other's experience is it adequate for starting out or should I be looking at upgrading to something more capable early on? Have thought about either an small initial upgrade to something the Audigy 2 ZX or Audigy 4 Pro lines in a conventional consumer soundcard - the OEM card only has single consumer type line in, line out, and mike connectors - or taking a little bigger step and replacing it altogether with a step up to the next level of a full-blown multichannel but relatively economical Audio Interface system such as an EMU 1820M and a hardware mixer board such as those by Behringer or Mackie in order to get things like multichannel mixing and fx, audio capture from analog and live sources, professional grade balanced signal paths, S/PDIF I/O and so forth? Or are such capabilities largely moot for DV? What are folk's thoughts on these issues?
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Old May 24th, 2005, 12:43 PM   #2
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Location: Toronto, Canada
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To have a good environment for mixing, you'd need:
knowledge/experience/talent - This is definitely important, and you can kind of buy this by buying books (i.e. Jay Rose's Audio Postproduction for Digital Video see The other way is to work under someone.

A room with low background noise
A room with good acoustics - I would read Jay Rose's book about this, although you may need to check some other material. It helps to pick a good room- low b/g noise, doesn't reflect bass a lot [i.e. concrete walls], not too small. If you are building it, canted walls might help. When the room is built, you want to add absorption material to cut down on the reverb time but have it even over all frequencies. The DIY way would cost a few hundred.

Monitor speakers - not consumer stuff. See the Now Hear This forum for some recommendations.
Also see this thread at Harmony Central forums [url[/url]

Proper placement and mounting of the monitors.

The sound card you have already should be good enough for DV work (assuming destination format is television). There may be better choices than an Audigy (i.e. M-audio Revolution) but if you already own that card there's not much point buying another one.
If you want to do multitrack field recording, a multitrack recorder would be good. A laptop + USB/firewire audio interface is a multitrack recorder that could work.

Some people like control surfaces since it speeds up their mixing. You can move the faders on the control surface to control volume, instead of rubberbanding with your mouse. Not all video editing programs support them. For DV work it's not a big deal to rubberband things, because usually you only have very little tracks to deal with.
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Old May 24th, 2005, 09:07 PM   #3
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I've been completely satisfied with my Audigy 2 ZS for DV work. Any complicated mixing/remastering/sweetening gets handled quite well in Adobe Audition (a fantastic app even if you are not into the Video Collection).

I'm happy I spent the few extra $$ for the ZS rather than the plain Audigy 2 because:

-It has the front side I/O plate, which is a monster convenience.
-SPDIF, Optical, Mic x2, Midi I/O (all on the front-side).

But you would have to judge whether that sort of convenience is worth an all-out upgrade.
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