Sound card for entry-level music production?
January 16, 2011 7:48 PM   Subscribe

I'm just starting out recording/producing music so I'm looking to buy a decent sound card which will get me started, but without getting too high-end. Ideally I'd like to have a couple of mic ports (for guitar + vocals) and also midi I/O to connect my keyboard. Any recommendations/advice?

Ideally I'd like to be spending less than £60 = $100, but I understand that might be a bit optimistic, and I'd be willing to go over that anyway if there's a really noticeable gain in value. My main concern is not to end up paying for really professional kit which would be wasted on me.

Cheers, Luke
posted by insperatum to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Digidesign's MBox 2 might be within your price range if you buy used. 2 analog inputs (XLR or line level), MIDI in and out, headphone output, monitor outputs. Not difficult to use and good audio quality. It connects to the computer via USB. I was able to find one for $100 on the local craigslist, so look around. Don't get the "MBox 2 Mini"; it has fewer ports. I'd provide a link, but the website is kind of lame and you'd have better luck googling it yourself. Try image search to see what it looks like on the front and back panel.
posted by Maximian at 8:26 PM on January 16, 2011

the Presonus Firestudio Mobile is about $300, gives you 2 preamped universal inputs and a lot of other ins and outs and midi. (M-Audio and Echo have similiar firewire cards out I think).

As the cheapest possible option, you could use something like The MIDISport Uno for midi to USB and a USB to XLR thing (that will provide phantom power to your condenser mic you already have). Your stuff will sound fine to start out as long as you get a non-horrible condenser mic hooked up in some way to your computer and you apply some compression and eq effects.

Here is some guys guide about getting started.

craigslist is good, but getting it new can get you some phone support and warranty stuff (from a music store, or sweetwater, or someplace like that)
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 12:59 AM on January 17, 2011

I bought the m-audio firewire 410 and really like it.
posted by empath at 1:28 AM on January 17, 2011

I've had bad experiences with M-Audio stuff breaking down or simply not working - the casing's pretty flimsy plastic from what I remember and I don't think the construction's that great.

When my M-Audio card stopped working (not long after I took it out of the box), I replaced it with a very rugged Edirol UA-25 which could seemingly survive a nuclear blast. It's about £160 or so, but you might be able to get lucky on eBay or Craigslist. I'd recommend it a hundred times over.
posted by Ted Maul at 6:11 AM on January 17, 2011

At that price range you will have to take what you can get. I'd just do a search on say DV247 for "Audio Interface" and take the cheapest one that has most of what you want. - you should dbe able to get a few inputs + Mic Pres and Midi I/O for £100.
posted by mary8nne at 6:33 AM on January 17, 2011

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