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Need advice from a musician/gamer

Last response: in Components
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November 20, 2002 9:21:12 PM

Does anyone here compose music? I'm looking for a soundcard that is geared for recording music, but is still decent at playing mp3's or games. I previously owned the Hercules Game Theatre Xp and composed some songs on it before the hardware gave out on me. It did it's job OK. Latency was not very good, and it couldn't handle moderately complex tracks simulatneously for recording much of the time. Does anyone have a soundcard that they are happy with for composing music? I've been looking into "Terratec 6fire" or "Audiophile 2496 soundcards" and heard good things about them, I was wondering if anyone here uses these cards or have other recommendations. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions from the veterans here. Having a card that records high quality music at low latency is more important to me than a card that has the latest EAX standards for gaming and whatnot, but it would be nice to have both, wouldn't it? Thanks for any help you can give me.

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November 20, 2002 10:02:59 PM

I'd go with the Terratec. It's not as strong in gaming, but it'll definately fit the bill when recording. The only other card would be the Audigy2 Platinum EX when it comes out next year with the ASIO2 drivers, but I'd still be hesitant without reading a review, especially if you have a VIA chipset. Turtle Beach had a couple higher-ended cards at one point, but I'm not familiar with what they have out at the moment. If Kurzwiel is still making chips for them, it could be another good choice. After that, your looking at multiple cards in your box to satisfy the games and pro-audio, which is not neccessarily a bad thing. If you have the cash, this gives you the option of getting a good card thats dedicated to audio with more inputs/outputs, and then still have a card for everyday use with everything else.

Jarrett
November 20, 2002 10:16:40 PM

Thanks for your help Jarret. I attempted to get your help from another poste titled "HELP!". You can ignore that post from me. I do have a question about the MotU Micro Express card you mentioned you used for MIDI recording. What do you think of this card, and would you recommend it above the Terratec as far as recording music is concerned? Thanks again for your help, it is exactly the advice I've been searching for.
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November 20, 2002 11:11:36 PM

It really depends on what you need it for. The Terratec is a great card, and I've one in the past. The main reason I went with the MOTU equipment was for portability. I wanted gear that I could use on multiple systems instead of buying gear for each individual system. The gear I chose fit the bill because they were external, firewire(828) or USB (Micro Express) based, and could be placed in a rack for transport.

The Micro Express is half-rack sized. It can be used on the desktop, and is also available in a version that uses the parallel port version. Before anyone screams because I said parallel, it is still a feasable interface for this use, and actually lacks a latency issue with reguards to USB (which I found out after the fact, though not nearly as bad as audio). I also have alot of midi capable gear, and sequence not only keyboards but also patch changes on vocal and guitar processors, and hope to eventually even sequence my stage lighting. I wanted the multiple outs so I can separate the MIDI channels somewhat as well. This way, I don't have all the gear chained in a single MIDI loop. But enough about me.

It really comes down to your own needs and whether internal or external gear would work better. If you don't need more than 16 MIDI ports and don't mind snaking MIDI cable from one item to the next, the Terratec will do great. There are also a couple pci-card MIDI interfaces that will give you at least another 2 ins/outs. I believe MidiMan makes one of those, along with other external interfaces. This holds pretty close in the audio side of things as well, though the choices are much more pci-to-breakout box based. It should also be noted that although there are USB audio interfaces, they are mostly USB 1.1. USB was not designed for steaming data, so even USB 2.0 will send data in large bursts rather than a steady stream as in firewire. USB audio has the potential to drop out during a recording, and is also inherently latency challenged.

I hope this helps you out. I would suggest a few thing to check out, but it has been a long day at work and I'm a little fried. Check out what your local music store has, or pick up a catalog/visit websites such as Musicians Friend or Sweetwater Sound, and see your options are. Most manufacturers have alot of info on their sites as well.

Jarrett
November 21, 2002 8:30:12 PM

I think you've sold me on the Terratec card. Portability is not an issue with me, it sounds exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks very much for your time.
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