Isaac Bennetch on 13 Jun 2011 08:31:47 -0700

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Re: [PLUG] USB audio interface w/linux support?


On 6/13/11 10:51 AM, Adam Zion wrote:
OK, here's an oddball question.

I'm looking to play guitar on Second Life- seriously, people tip you
to do this- and I'm told that a good thing would be to use a USB audio
interface to combine the two audio channels- guitar (from a pickup)
and voice- into a single mono channel + then feed this to a stream.

I've seen a simple Behringer USB interface, but it appears to have
only RCA inputs, where I'd need dual 1/4" inputs. Any suggestions for
a USB audio adapter with 1/4" inputs that supports linux?

Yes, I've Googled- that's where I found the small Behringer interface
I mentioned.

What you need is a mixer -- either software or hardware -- to take in the mic and guitar signals and allow you to control the mix between the two. A decent sound card can do this (well, even a cheap sound card, but then you're putting more effort on getting the signal in than it's worth). You could also do it with a traditional audio mixer and send the outputs of that to whatever sound card you have laying around.

If it were me, I'd buy a cheap mixer and feed the output of that to my sound card. Some mixers even have USB outputs and do the analog to digital conversion so you don't need to use your sound card at all, which can help with the quality if you've got a cheap card. Using a mixer gives you direct control over the mix between the microphone and guitar...doing it in software means you'll have to get to the audio mixer settings to tweak the mix, which could be a problem if you're in a full screen application.

I guess it also depends what type of equipment you already own. Most sound cards have a mic and a line input; if you've got a cheap little computer microphone that works with your existing soundcard you can probably find a way to get the guitar to the line input, mix it through the software audio controls, and you're set. I'm not sure offhand if the guitar pickup will have enough signal to drive a PC soundcard, and it limits your microphone choices. So one option is go with a small mixer and microphone, and feed it to your soundcard from the main outputs of the mixer.

The SM-58 made by Shure is a cheap, solid, quality microphone. I'd recommend that you get one and a decent boom stand (if you don't already have a microphone, of course).

A few mixers offhand:
* Behringer 302USB (not yet released, needs an adapter to get your guitar in, but has the USB interface. No word on Linux compatibility).
* Mackie 402-VLZ (doesn't have USB)
* Either the M-Audio Fast Track or MobilePre look like they would be perfect -- but I'm not sure about Linux support. It's not claimed on the M-Audio web site, but a quick Google search suggests that both can work.

In the time it's taken me to write this, Bhaskar has also written about the MobilePre, so that helps fill in what I didn't know about Linux support. That's what I'd do -- get an M-Audio MobilePre. They've got the best of both worlds -- it's a USB interface, so you don't have to worry about interfacing to your sound card, and it's got knobs on the front, so you don't have to dig down in menus just to turn your voice up a little bit.

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