Home recording: What difference will a new soundcard make?
September 25, 2004 9:14 PM   Subscribe

Home Recording: my current setup is a Mackie 1402 board direct into an Audigy Platinum card. I was thinking about getting a higher-quality card--this was recommended--though truthfully, I'm not sure what noticeable differences to expect. Also, what is the advantage to having a breakout box if I've already got a decent mixing board?
posted by dhoyt to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
The big difference is that the Audigy can't record at 24-bit/96kHz, and the M-Audio can.

A breakout box is always good -- it'll allow you to use balanced inputs and outputs. Otherwise, you might have balanced I/Os from your mixing board, but you'd still be sending unbalanced to your card.
posted by Jairus at 9:33 PM on September 25, 2004

Your motherboards emits all kinds of analog "noise." An internal sound card can easily pick this up and transmit it on out to the mixing board.

With a breakout box, the signal typically remains digital until it is outside the computer, then goes through the D->A process inside of an RF shielded box.

If you can detect a light "hum," "buzzing," or repetitive "ticking" in your output (particularly with a weak signal highly amplified by the mixer) with your current card then you are very likely hearing noise from inside your computer. Also, what Jairus said - many boxes allow balanced output. This further reduces noise.

Note that if you are a lo-fi rocker, you might want the noise and grunginess of an internal card. Just about everyone else wants a clean signal.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:50 PM on September 25, 2004

We have a really small Mackie DPX-6 with an M-Audio Audiophile 24-96 card and no breakout box, and it works really well. The card you want is definitely a step up from ours, but anything is better than Audigy because the connectors aren't so great.

More professional set-ups would use the breakout box, but we get on fine without it. As far as the card itself, we've noticed a brighter sound, definitely -- it was well worth buying. I don't know what you're recording, but if it's just you, you may not need the breakout because of course you're only recording a track at a time. That's how we find it easiest to do it. Feel free to visit the url in my profile and download whatever you want; everything there was recorded as I've described.

Also, if you don't already subscribe, Tape Op's free and it's by far the best source out there for home recording information. They did a great interview with The Shins' James Mercer a few months ago, and it turns out that his set-up for a lot of what's on Oh Inverted World is much like what we've got (he even used CoolEdit). So, you can get some fairly decent sound this way.
posted by melissa may at 9:50 PM on September 25, 2004

Typo -- it's a Macki DFX-6. Anyway, good luck.
posted by melissa may at 9:53 PM on September 25, 2004

The breakout box on the Delta-66 *does not* contain the converters - you'd need to go right up to the Delta 1010 for that. The 66 has the converters onboard (so the bo box doesn't shield you from audio noise) - it merely makes plugging and replugging stuff easier...
posted by benzo8 at 1:11 AM on September 26, 2004

The breakout box on the Delta-66 *does not* contain the converters -

Do you mean the ability to convert analog -> digital?
posted by dhoyt at 8:13 AM on September 26, 2004

Since it is somewhat related, could I ask readers of this thread to comment on mobile firewire audio interfaces? I need something for my laptop to capture audio from my mixer and was thinking of the M-AUDIO - Firewire Audiophile but would consider other options if suggested.
posted by gen at 4:07 PM on September 26, 2004

Puerile, vulgar, semi-topical, amusing.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:42 PM on September 26, 2004

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