USB plugin soundcardish thingie
October 2, 2013 3:38 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone ever tried one of the USB plug-in things sold as "soundcards"? Last night's lightning storm ate my motherboard sound ports and I have no alternative.

My motherboard has all of 2 card slots. One is in use for an add-in SATA controller that I can't spare. A previous lightning storm got my onboard network port, so I had to evict the Audigy 2 soundcard that was in the other slot to make room for an add-in NIC and fall back on the cheapie motherboard sound ports which are now history.

I still have USB ports in gracious plenty. I can see that just the mechanical stress of even a tiny-plug cable hanging off a USB sound dongle may be a problem. I'll deal with that with string and bubblegum or duct tape or something.


PS what on earth am I going to do about things like this when my PC is a tablet or a phone? Sorry, never mind...
posted by jfuller to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
USB network adapters are cheap and plentiful if you want to go that route.

(also, man, invest in some power protection)
posted by Oktober at 3:43 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've been using one of those $5 USB thingies on my radio computer; works great. It's not able to drive too large a load, though.

(Yeah, I'm driving an $1000 radio through a $300 switchbox with a $5 soundcard; I know. Works great, though!)
posted by scruss at 3:48 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've used the basic equivalent of a cheap "USB console" from Behringer ($50 or so). Worked fine, no real distinction in quality to my (admittedly made of tin) ears. You could use a female to male USB port to alleviate mechanical concerns, or use one of the USB port of your case, or even a PCI bracket with a USB connector on it connected to one of the USB headers of your motherboard, if you have a free PCI bracket.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 3:50 PM on October 2, 2013

USB DACs are pretty mature tech. I'd go for something like this Turtle Beach which is less of a pure dongle, or if you're willing to spend a bit more, the Head-Fi people discuss options here. Better perhaps to go cheap and spend on a surge protector.
posted by holgate at 3:52 PM on October 2, 2013

I use a USB speaker on my Macbook, and it works great.
posted by 4ster at 4:09 PM on October 2, 2013

I've had this Behringer UCA202 Audio Interface for years. Sounds great through my NAD integrated amp and Paradigm speakers. Somewhat more full-featured than the Turtle Beach Audio Advantage, it has RCA input & output connectors; it's used a lot by people doing basic home studio recording.
posted by bertran at 4:18 PM on October 2, 2013

Have a Turtle Beach USB soundcard which not only works, but works way better than my (very old) laptop's onboard, which stutters and clearly doesn't have the same kind of processing power.
posted by opsin at 4:56 PM on October 2, 2013

Sound Blaster used to make (maybe still makes?) a USB version of the Audigy called the Extigy, if for some reason you really want a 1:1 replacement. Today's USB sound cards are IMO even better, and if you don't need studio shit like phantom power for your compressor mic or whatevs, you can snag one for less than $50.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:35 PM on October 2, 2013

btw def do not buy an Extigy. I just looked up some reviews and wow was it worse than I remembered.

I have an M-Audio MobilePre which is quite excellent, but completely overkill if you aren't doing any recording. Names I'd more or less trust would be Tascam, Behringer, M-Audio, and Presonus (in roughly ascending order of trust), but really anything well-reviewed on Musician's Friend should be a solid replacement.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:45 PM on October 2, 2013

I've been using one of these to drive my headphones and speakers. I'm happy with the sound.
posted by chazlarson at 10:13 PM on October 2, 2013

In addition to your sound solution, I think you should buy a decent UPS to help with your lightning problem. Personally, I don't use wired networking except for very temporary hookups after loosing a machine and a router and a cable modem to a lightning strike.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 3:02 PM on October 3, 2013

« Older Where can I find reliable economic data for Iran?   |   Frozen ground meat in the crockpot... how long do... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.