Isaac Bennetch on 24 Jan 2011 07:26:38 -0800

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: [PLUG] Need recommendations for USB sound card

Hi Bhaskar,

On 1/23/2011 7:07 PM, K.S. Bhaskar wrote:
(Although I did audio for my college campus TV station, I am
unfortunately a complete newbie when it comes to audio with computers.)

And while I work in TV and know both audio and Linux quite well, I've never done more with Linux+audio than get music to play through my speakers. The software I use for audio is for Mac or Windows. Especially for the creation part, he might have trouble finding suitable Linux counterparts. For a high school student to do a multichannel mixdown, I suspect Audacity would be sufficient, but don't actually use it for that myself.

One of my sons (who is in high school) wants to synthesize, record and
mix music.  Does anyone have any recommendations for a decent (not too
expensive) USB 2.0 sound "card" that works well with Linux?  It probably
needs 3-4 inputs, and appropriate outputs.

It's much better to have more inputs than you think you'll need, so this seems like a good idea. Michael is very right about the m-audio gear; many of their offerings are targeted at the home recording market and have quite good quality for the price. Again, I can't speak directly to the Linux driver support, but suspect that it's possible.

Also, if he wants to access a MIDI keyboard, does he need anything more
than a USB MIDI cable?  In other words, does he need to check about
drivers for MIDI instruments or is the MIDI interface standard enough to
not require device drivers?

I believe It Just Works(tm). MIDI data is pretty standard and you shouldn't need any special drivers to make it work. Your sound card will provide a generic MIDI device and the recording program will know what to do with it.

He is also concerned about latency of USB 2.0.  I have said that in my
opinion, he shouldn't need to worry for audio - only when / if he gets
to video does he need to worry about interfaces like Firewire (which his
laptop doesn't have - it has an eSATA connector, and an HDMI connector,
but no Firewire).

This is sort of a valid concern, depending on factors like how many channels he plans on using at once and how high of quality he needs. USB latency can be a problem, but I doubt he'll have a problem. We do a multichannel recording with an eight channel PCI device (actually several of them together, but that's really besides the point), but I'd be just as happy with Firewire for that, but not USB.

I wouldn't plan on using any other USB devices while recording (as in, not even connected), but plenty of other people in the world record in their basements over USB. I'm not saying it's ideal, but if he really enjoys it and wants to upgrade his system in a few years, then you can look at what needs to be improved. As long as he's not listening back to himself live (and I can't think of why he'd need to), a bit of latency won't kill him either. Worst case scenario I see is that his timing is off in the final multichannel project, and then it's a simple matter to slide various tracks a bit until they match.

A good quality microphone, preamp, and knowing how to use them properly will go a long way toward making the recordings sound better.

Hope this helps (and feel free to have him hit me up off-list if he'd like to chat more)

Philadelphia Linux Users Group         --
Announcements -
General Discussion  --