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Old January 11th, 2003, 10:14 PM   #1
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Audio Card and Speaker advice required

Hey all. I'm thinking about spending some money on upgrading my audio gig on my PC. I've had the same speakers and sound card for years (Sound blaster Live) and now that I'm going to be doing some DV sound stuff more seriously I will probably need to upgrade. I was wondeing what people here use for their audio stuff in the way of audio card and speakers? I will mainly be doing documentary and educational stuff for video/DVD (And possible broadcast at a local station at some point) so need reasonable quailty, but not Theatrical quality. That said I don't want to sacrifice audio that much so that I can't, in the future do something like that for local film festivals etc.

Do I need something that will play 24bit so that I can edit at that rate for better resolution or is 16/48 ok? The SB Audigy from what I've read can't handle doing effect in 24/96KHz so downsamples. Is this a real issue or not (i.e. can I just turn of effects and us software for everything?)

As I said, I've been out of the sound card loop for years and even then It was basically Soundblaster or nothing, so any help is much appreciated to help get my investigation focussed correctly.


Cheers
Aaron
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Old January 11th, 2003, 11:08 PM   #2
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I/O

How many In/Outs do you need? What is your budget?

24/96 sounds fantastic, and other than using more disk space there's no down side. I have been recording, mixing and mastering at 96k for a few months and I'll never go back to 16/48 it's awful once you hear (A/B) the difference.

You might look at some cards by MAudio, they are inexpensive, and have been highly praised by other users here.

There are lots of options though, and the only reason I sugguest MAudio is that it seems to work well for Video apps on the PC.
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Old January 11th, 2003, 11:45 PM   #3
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Hi Mark, thanks for the reply.

I don't need that many I/O ports. I will have DV cam audio in some cases (Yes I know it's not the best with something like the XM2) which I'll use firewire for and I will probably use minidisc (one with s/pdif of course into the card's digital port). I can imagine that sometimes I might need to digitise analog audio but I don't think that I'll ever be realtime digitising and mixing many channels from many devices. At least not for a long while.

My budget isn't that big. I'm thinking about $1000 (US$500) for card and speakers at the most, preferably less. M-Audio? I did have a brief look at their site and the cards looked on just not lots of information. Might look around for some reviews of them.

You say that you've been recording at 24/96? I don't think I'll have that level of equipment for my recordings so that aside is it worth getting a card that handles it from the editing side of things?

Thanks
Aaron
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Old January 12th, 2003, 09:21 AM   #4
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The original audigy claimed 24bit, but really couldn't do it.

The SB Audigy 2 series can do true 24/96 playback, but lacks 24/96 recording capability with only support for ASIO1 drivers.

The SB Audigy 2 eX (external breakout box) will support true 24/96 playback AND recording with ASIO2 standards. It will be released within the next few months, and has hardware and software differences from the previous Audigy 2 cards.

I own an Audigy 2 Platinum, and will upgrade to the eX when it becomes available.

MAudio has been suggested, and I also believe it's a great alternative (technically they are superior). Echo cards are also worth looking into, but as soon as you get beyond the barebones solutions from these manufacturers, you're going into the $400 range.

I purchased the Audigy due to my other needs (gaming, and DVD), and can't afford 2 cards :) There are those who buy Creative for gaming, and a secondary card for multimedia production.
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Old January 12th, 2003, 11:34 AM   #5
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sound card

I have an MAudio 24/96....great card, easy to install, has 24/96 record and playback. digital and analog IO...will NOT work with avid Xpress DV....BLAME AVID...works great with Premeire and Sound Forge,,,,AVID likes Sound Blaster....go figure....
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Old January 12th, 2003, 11:42 AM   #6
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24/96

is magic! I recently got three albums to master that were brought to me on CD -16/44.1.

The first thing I did was upsample them in Pro Tools to 24/96 and WOW. They sounded more spacial, three dimensional, and almost like you took the towels off the speakers. I have since upsampled everything I have worked on if I couldn't record native at 24/96. Mind you I'm doing records for release, not sound tracks for video.

I have decided that nothing will leave the studio that has not been at 24/96 at some point. It's weird too that when I bounce it back to 16/44.1 for the final CD it just sounds better, even if I take the original CD upsample it then re-convert it down again, it seems to retain some of the "sheen & gloss" of the 24/96 sample. Some people can't tell the difference, but my customers even though most don't understand the process or even know about it, all seem to think we do something "different" here as thier recordings sound better and translate better than stuff from other studios.

I guess I just want my stuff to sound good, but I may be a little over the top. I figure if it doesn't cost any more why not at least have the capability, and it may save an upgrade in the future. One other thing; the new DVD-A standard is 24/96.


If you decide you really don't need the 24/96 capability, the Digidesign MBox is very cool. It's USB, has a couple of Mic pre's with phantom power, a couple of Line ins & outs and is about $400. The great thing is that Pro Tools LE is one awesome program for editing audio. It's not as extensive as Logic, but the learning curve is very short and the true power of Pro Tools is in it's ease of use. I know it works with Mac OS9 & XP but you'll have to check thier site for compatibility with other OS's www.digidesign.com.

my 2 cents
Mark
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Old January 13th, 2003, 10:03 AM   #7
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I've been using a Waveterminal 192M, it records at 24/96 and supports up to 24/192 out. It has a breakout box that can fit in a 5 1/4 drive bay. 8 unbalanced anolog out will let you mix out to up to 7.1 surround. It has 2 stereo preview output jacks for headphones or Studio monitors. It's full duplex.

Has 2 balanced mic ins or 4 unbalanced inputs. On board pre-amps for all inputs.
Also has sp/dif and optical out.

Includes drivers for just about anything.

Supports external midi, but does not support on board midi the way the M/audio or Audigy does.

This is a 10 track professional recording and mixing card.

www.esi-pro.com
Basic info on the left side of the screen.
Select all the menu options at the top, for more info, plus you can download the manual.
Worth a look.
You will need professional studio monitors or at least headphones.
The drivers have been ver stable on Win2K. Even has drivers
for Gigastudio.

I've seen it online for 199.00
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Old January 13th, 2003, 10:42 AM   #8
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sound card

Just remember, AVID probably wont support such a cool sound card.....fact is, I went to the AVID support page for Xpress DV, and could not find a listing for supported audio cards....WHATS UP WITH THAT?? if anyone can actually find one, let me know....what I DID find was a listing of 3rd party integrators who built turnkey systems based on AVID. What they all seemed to be using was "Creative SoundBlaster Audigy w/OHCI 1394cards". I am assuming that they are using this card because it is one of the few that actually works with avid......
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Old January 13th, 2003, 12:54 PM   #9
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Just another vote for M-Audio products. Their 2-in (stereo), 2 out, s/pdif in/out card the Audiophile 24/96 is probably exactly what you need, as long as the concerns about software compatability are met. I use an M-Audio Delta 66/Omni studio with Vegas and other Sonic Foundry products and it works great.

For speakers, I would suggest M-Audio as well. The Studiophile SP-5B 5-inch studio reference monitors are on sale at Musician's friend for only $200 for the pair, with free shipping. As soon as I deposit a check this week I'll be grabbing those myself. If you are willing to spend a bit more, you can couple them with the 8 inch subwoofer, or get the 8-inch monitors.

Musician's Friend listing for SP-5B ($200 is a *great* deal for these):
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7/.../base_id/59391

Listing for the sub:
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7/.../base_id/60638

BX8 monitors (8-inch drivers):
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7/.../base_id/87180

Audiophile 24/96 card:
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7/.../base_id/52393

Musician's Friend doesn't always have *the* lowest price, but they're a good reference point. The $200 deal is certainly the best I've ever seen.
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Old January 13th, 2003, 04:50 PM   #10
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I see that you are getting a lot of recommendations for semi/pro Audio cards, is this what kind of speaker setup are you looking for? Are you looking for a nice pair of speakers to compliment your computer , a set that will be used for gaming and/or DVD playback ?
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Old January 13th, 2003, 08:16 PM   #11
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Yeah I'm still looking at what speakers to get. I want something that will give me accurate sound within my limited budget. I don't want anything that boosts the bass frequencies or anything like that. Basically as flat a frequency response that I can get for the price. I'm not getting them for games, more for monitoring the videos and things I'm looking at making. So, these will be primarily dialog based applications so the dialog frequencies are most important.

Thanks all for the answers regarding the cards. I might be able to get away with the Audigy 2 as I am happy to use software effects, and I don't need to record through the ASIO at anything higher than 16/48, I can use the regualr windows drivers (directx etc) for that...correct?

Cheers
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Old January 13th, 2003, 10:28 PM   #12
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Frankly, as long as you are editing for video with DV or DVCam recording, I'd leave the sound card alone and focus on a good pair of Near Field monitor speakers. They will make more difference than the sound card to the quality of your audio for video.

And spend a little bit of money controling the sound in your editing suite. Maybe a bass trap or two. At least get a book on the subject and add-on as you can.

A good pair of monitor speakers and a reasonable amplifier shouldn't cost you more than $500 US if you shop around. One way to save money is to purchase a refurb amplifier and spend the rest of the money on the speakers. I think I paid about $200 for 60 watt Rotel amp and $300 for a pair of KRK K-ROK speakers. I'm still using a Sound Blaster that is about 4 years old as a source. What I want is an external unit to avoid the electrical noise inherent inside a PC.

If you can wait on the sound card, sometime this year Pro Tools is promising their very nice 2-channel external box with Pro Tools LE for about $500. That should be a very nice addition to a video rig.
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Old January 14th, 2003, 01:41 AM   #13
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Thanks Mike. Yeah people's advice seems to be on making sure I get some decent speakers, so I think I'll look into that. Gonna look around and see what I can get secondhand.

Cheers
Aaron
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