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Thread: External USB Interface + Internal Sound Card?

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    micro-macro is offline Registered User
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    Question External USB Interface + Internal Sound Card?

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    Hello everybody,

    Beginner question here.
    If I'm going to use a n external box like MBox2 or Nanoface for example, do I need to have a good internal sound card as well?
    Or are the two not related?
    If I should also get a good internal sound card, what would you recommend? In the $500 range maybe?

    Thanks

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    Ethan Winer's Avatar
    Ethan Winer is offline Acoustics Expert
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    If you get an external USB sound card you do not need another one inside your computer. As for product suggestions, there are so many models I can't try them all. But I've been very happy with my Focusrite Scarlett 8i6, and Focusrite makes a number of fine USB interfaces with varying numbers of inputs and outputs.

    --Ethan

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    mjbphotos's Avatar
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    The external audio interface becomes your sound card when you use it.

    When choosing an AI, the first thing to consider is how many simultaneous tracks you need to record separately at one time and how many microphone preamps you need.

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    micro-macro is offline Registered User
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    Thanks for the replies.
    Ok, so the main thing is how many channels will be needed.
    What about warming up and juicing up the signal going into the box?
    Is it worthwhile to get like an 8-track mixer with lexicon verb for example?
    Or a good standalone preamp and separate good verb box?
    If so, any suggestions are welcome.

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    Bobbsy's Avatar
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    You're generally better off recording your tracks raw/dry and doing any "juicing up" in the mix. Once you've recorded a track with an effect, it's unchangeable even if you decide something else would sound better when you hear the whole mix together.

    As for separate pre amps, my personal view is that they're not worth it unless you've spent a LOT of money on the mic and are willing to spend an equally big "lot of money" on the pre amp with a specific goal in mind in terms of how you wish to vary the sound. The internal pre amps in most interfaces are generally pretty neutral and useable. Others have different ideas of course.
    The pessimist sees the glass as half empty. The optimist sees it as half full. The realist just drains the darn thing and gets a refill!

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    Standalone preamps are useful if you have a specific aim in mind and they have a specific attractive tonal quality that you want... but do your research... "warming up" ain't necessarily what you think it is...
    Support your local songster.... The Jongleurs "Absence" now on CDBaby. Baby.

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    Beck's Avatar
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    If you’re serious about your music I wouldn’t use a USB interface for real-time recording. Yes I know, plenty of companies sell them and thus plenty of people buy them, but I put them in the “Toy” category when it comes to professional standards.

    A 10-year-old buss mastering PCI card will run circles around any USB interface. USB is everywhere of course in the amateur recording world. As a computer consultant for the last 12 years and a recording engineer for the last 30 years it puzzles me to no end how USB ever managed to make such inroads among consumers.


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    That is simply not true anymore. There are excellent, fully professional USB2 interfaces used widely in the industry--check out some of the offerings by MOTU and RME.

    Even if you go to less expensive USB2 interfaces, the offerings from companies like Focusrite, Tascam and M Audio are capable of excellent quality and acceptably low latency.

    Yes, there were some good PCI interfaces 10 or 15 years ago (though there were some dogs as well--the interior of a computer is a noisy environment and poor design showed quickly) but development of PCI gear hasn't really taken place in the last ten years. If I was buying new, it would be USB2.
    The pessimist sees the glass as half empty. The optimist sees it as half full. The realist just drains the darn thing and gets a refill!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beck View Post
    If you’re serious about your music I wouldn’t use a USB interface for real-time recording. Yes I know, plenty of companies sell them and thus plenty of people buy them, but I put them in the “Toy” category when it comes to professional standards.

    A 10-year-old buss mastering PCI card will run circles around any USB interface. USB is everywhere of course in the amateur recording world. As a computer consultant for the last 12 years and a recording engineer for the last 30 years it puzzles me to no end how USB ever managed to make such inroads among consumers.

    No disrespect, Beck, but perhaps you should catch up on your reading. And "run rings around" in what respect?
    Support your local songster.... The Jongleurs "Absence" now on CDBaby. Baby.

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    mjbphotos's Avatar
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    Yeah, telling a beginner Home Recordist that he needs to think PCI card these days is just poor advice.

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