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Old March 5th, 2005, 07:35 PM   #1
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PC Sound Card Questions

I am a still photographer and pianist who has recently started shooting mini-DV as a hobby, mostly just family shooting. I'm finding it addictive and am enjoying editing in Vegas, which I run on a fast PC with lots of memory (built for Photoshop). It works great, but although I play piano, sound editing on my PC was never a priority before, so I have no sound card and only a cheap speaker "sound bar" on one of my LCD panels.

I have $500 on a gift card that must be spent by the end of the month or it expires (seriously!), so I'm thinking of using the money to start improving my PC sound. Down the road, and obviously with a lot more than this initial $500, I'd like to use my PC to play and edit MIDI files as well as DV files.

I need help prioritizing. Where would you start with $500? Is something like an Echo Gina 3G sound card overkill, or a good start? And as far as software and speakers go, I'm totally open to suggestions. For example, I am not sure what Sound Forge provides that Vegas doesn't, and I have no idea where to begin if I wanted to work with MIDI files -- maybe something like GigaStudio Solo.

That latter question is OT, but I know Douglas Spotted Eagle occasionally hangs out on this forum and there are probably other musicians here that might have suggestions. I'm not looking to build a professional studio or anything, but I would rather get good tools than compromise.
Brian Kennedy
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Old March 5th, 2005, 08:17 PM   #2
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Boston, MA
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With $500, you could go a couple of different ways. You could go with a PCI Interface like the Delta 1010LT by M-Audio (http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/Delta1010LT-main.html), or the E-MU 1212m (http://www.emu.com/products/product.asp?product=2209&category=754&maincategory=754).

The other way you could go is with a usb/firewire interface. The Gina 3G is definitely not a bad way to go. Other interfaces like that include the MBox by digidesign (www.digidesign.com) which comes with Pro Tools LE, two mic pres and midi i/o. The Tascam US-122 (http://tascam.com/Products/US-122.html) comes with Cubase LE and Gigastudio 3 LE, has 2 mic pres and midi i/o.

Any of the above interfaces will do what you're talking about doing. Pro Tools is the industry standard in the audio world and a lot of people will swear by it. I have heard though, that the midi capabilities are lacking, so that's something to consider. The beauty of buying these interfaces is they come with some nice software. Cubase, Gigastudio, and Pro Tools are all very capable of doing professional level mixes.

As far as speakers go, you could probably get away with a 2.1 set up by Klipsch or Creative. They go anywhere from $50-$150.

Hope that helps! Good luck finding an interface.
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Old March 6th, 2005, 12:53 AM   #3
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Stockton, UT
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#1 choice =Echo Layla (old model
#2 choice -M-Audio Delta
#3 Echo EchoFire 8
#5 M-Audio 810
#6 Presonus Firestation 8
#7 Echo Mona (if you can find one)
#8 Mackie Spike
#9 Echo Indigo I/O
#10-M-Audio Sonica

There are others, but these are the ones I've tested in recent months on the PC side. If you have a Mac, I'd add the MOTU in there as #2 or 3.

Avoid cheep speaks no matter what you do. Look at the M-Audio LX4 or similar as the lowest grade to peep out, IMO.
Without good sound tools, you simply have bad sound and don't know it.
Douglas Spotted Eagle/Spot
Author, producer, composer
Certified Sony Vegas Trainer
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Old March 6th, 2005, 07:39 AM   #4
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Thanks for all of the info, guys! Lots more homework to do as I look through those choices. Luckily, I have a few weeks to make up my mind. :-)
Brian Kennedy
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