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Aligning a mic and audio buddy with Mint Linux
December 8, 2011 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Great mic, nice pre-amp, sound card completely incompatible with Linux. What to do?

At the moment, I've got an M-Audio Delta 44; my "studio" is an Audio Technica AT3035 in the bedroom with towels draped on the shelves around it. The cable runs through a couple of walls, into an M-Audio Audio Buddy for phantom power, and then 1/4" out to the 1/4" in on the Delta 44 breakout box.

It's a simple system, but I like it.

Honestly, I'm not using the breakout box on the Delta 44 to its full potential -- never have. The audio buddy runs into one of its inputs; two of the outputs run straight to my stereo and then to the speakers. My technical skills are minimal. I'm a goon with a nice mic for the occasional paid v/o project and self-amusement, not a hardcore gearhead.

I'm trying to make the switch to full-time Mint Linux, keeping Windows only for iTunes/iPad maintenance (and games). The only thing that Mint can't handle is my sound card; apparently getting it to work will require technical expertise far, far beyond my newbie powers.

The motherboard I'm currently using (ASUS M4A87TD) has a built-in soundcard, currently disabled in the BIOS to see if that helps Linux detect the Delta 44.

What's your recommendation here? Obviously, the ideal situation is to get the Delta 44 up and running in Linux, but it seems to be a stumper (especially for somebody of my skill level). The mobo's sound card seems to be reasonably robust, so maybe there's something to be done there, but I'm wondering if there's a simple recommendation here: a Linux-friendly sound card with 1/4" inputs, or a tiny USB mixer that can take the audio buddy output and plays nice with Linux, etc.
posted by Shepherd to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Is the problem driver install? I did a quick google and seems like someone got it to work on Ubuntu, perhaps you'd like to try that road.

For recommendation wise, I'm using a Mackie Onyx Blackjack, it works on OSX and Ubuntu (10.04) - it's perfect for my needs and the amps on those are supposedly good, and it has phantom power on board. With a nice set of headphones, it's audio bliss :3
posted by TrinsicWS at 8:41 AM on December 8, 2011

I have had a M-audio Delta 44 working with linux. I liked it too. I had this setup in around 2007 with Debian. My system had phantom power so I guess I had the upgraded I/O box. I didn't have to do much to get it working. I found the utility envy24control useful. It is part of the ALSA packages.
posted by bdc34 at 9:04 AM on December 8, 2011

Ubuntu studio might have better support. I haven't used it in a while but it's geared towards audio, video, and graphics.
posted by bravowhiskey at 1:54 PM on December 8, 2011

Ah, Linux and sound. Welcome to hell. Does the Delta 44 use the envy24 chip?

I have an M-Audio 2496 that uses the envy24 chip. I've had it for about 10 years, moving it from system to system, and getting it to work in Linux has always been... interesting. The problem is that Linux distributions use different audio frameworks that they change every couple of years, and it's a struggle with each one. I had the best luck with ALSA, but Linux abandoned that about 5 years ago. I also got the card working fine with the non-free (i.e. $$) OpenSound drivers.

Ubuntu changed their sound system to PulseAudio in 2009; I still haven't been able to get the card to work with Pulse. At this point I've abandoned it. Pity because it's a really nice sounding card. (At some point I'll put together a RedHat 8 or Ubuntu 07.04 system to use the card on.)

It looks like Mint also uses Pulse for its sound server. If you feel up to doing the major surgery required to remove Pulse and install ALSA, you can get the card to work. (Assuming you can come up with the correct list of kernel modules to load at boot time.)
posted by phliar at 3:44 PM on December 8, 2011

bdc34, thanks -- I may get back to you with some more specific questions later.

After 24 hours of reflection, I guess I should prioritize my solutions:

• I'd rather spend $100 than 10 hours of time to figure this out.

• I don't have more than $100.

phliar's post scares the wet blueberries out of me: I'm just now starting to wrap my head around Linux itself, so the idea of anything involving Linux and the phrase "major surgery" is really, really, really not in my wheelhouse.

It seems like there are three broad options here:

1. Buy new audio equipment,
2. Figure out how to get the Delta 44 to work with Mint 11,
3. Figure out how to get the audio buddy to feed into the motherboard's sound card.

#1 seems simple, if there are cards that play nice out of the box with Linux, don't cost an arm and a leg, and especially have some sort of breakout box that accepts 1/4" mono input.

#2 seems like something I can invest another couple of hours in before cutting bait.

#3 might be my best option, given that I have a bunch of old mixers and stuff in the basement, and can probably jerry-rig one of my old four-channels to take the audio buddy's 1/4" in and channel down to the motherboard's line in, then feed right out to the stereo from the mobo's line out. I suppose I could always just adapt the 1/4" out to 1/8" and see how that works as the only line in on the mobo as well -- 99.9% of what I do when I record is just use that mic.
posted by Shepherd at 6:56 AM on December 9, 2011

Oh, and #4: install Ubuntu Studio and see if that works better for me. That's also very viable.
posted by Shepherd at 7:00 AM on December 9, 2011

Looks like the Audio Buddy's output is balanced... for option #3, I hope you have a balanced->unbalanced converter. (They can be pricey.)
posted by phliar at 4:31 PM on December 9, 2011

Reading the manual, I *hope* I'm getting this right and I'm okay:
Outputs 2 and 1: These are the main outputs for the dual
Audio Buddy preamps. They provide unbalanced outputs if a
tip-sleeve 1/4” plug is used. Or, they provide balanced outputs
if a tip-ring-sleeve (stereo) 1/4” plug is used. The level of these
outputs are independently controlled by the front panel gain
controls. Remember, Preamp 1 and Preamp 2 are completely
Some very nice people at the Linux Mint forums are trying to walk me through the Delta 44 install process, but it's... not going super great. I'm going to keep plugging away on that this weekend and, if it fails, probably try to mess around with the mixer and the mobo's sound card.
posted by Shepherd at 6:14 AM on December 10, 2011

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