Spot:Audio Card recommendations?

plasmavideo wrote on 7/1/2004, 1:47 PM
Spot, I know you are really into the audio side of things, so here is a question I posted in the Sound Forge forum, but I thought I might catch you here for your thoughts. Since posting this, I have been looking at the M-Audio website at their cards. Several of the low end cards look interesting:

"I just put together a new A/V editing computer, a P4 with hyperthreading and WinXP. I would like to get a sound card to replace the onboard AC97. I edit as a "prosumer", and I do a lot of "home movie" video editing, audio for video, some voiceover work and restoration of old audio material. I had a Sound Blaster Audigy on the old computer. I loved the sound quality, but it was a PCI bus hog and I had some problems getting it and my Canopus Storm video card to love each other. There were some other issues as well.

Are the new Audigy 2 drivers any better in this regard? Keeping in mind that my budget is "Audigy card compatible" are there any other recommendations for an audio card with similar specs, including 24 bit encoding? What about the USB interface boxes? Perhaps I need something to compliment my onboard sound rather than replace it and the USB idea seems to be ideal for that. Mutitrack instrument recording or midi is not a priority. In fact, 2 channel stereo in and out is about all I need. I will be going in and out of the I/O with a Behringer mixer.

I use Sound Forge 7, Acid, Vegas and the Canopus Storm editing software. Any ideas would be most welcome. Thanks!"



MyST wrote on 7/1/2004, 1:55 PM
If you're into audio, stay away from Creative.
A great deal right now is the discontinued Delta 410 from M-Audio which is available from for only $113!!
You will NOT find another card of this caliber for that price anywhere else.
Since it's a Delta series, the drivers should continue to be updated for it, but call M-Audio tech support to make sure.
I realise I'm not Spot, but that Delta is a great deal. Actually, I was in the process of ordering it when I found out that Newegg only sells within the US.

plasmavideo wrote on 7/1/2004, 1:59 PM
Wow, thanks! Their Revolution 7.1 "consumer" card has some impressive specs as well. I'll check out the 410 on the Newegg site.

Thanks for the tip.
Chanimal wrote on 7/1/2004, 3:07 PM
What are the major noticable differences between a Creative Audigy2 card (have currently) and the M-Audio card?
MyST wrote on 7/1/2004, 3:25 PM
Creative is (currently) geared towards gamers. M-Audio is geared towards recording and editing.
ALOT of posts over the years on the Acid forum complaning about glitches and such when using a Creative product. For awhile, ASIO drivers needed to be obtained from a third party for users to get usable latency.
There's just been too many complaints for me to even consider buying one.
I recently changed from an Echo Mia since I wanted a surround capable card. The Creative offerings were cheaper than what I ended up buying, an M-Audio Firewire 410. That still didn't give me a reason to consider them. I would have kicked myself if I would have had problems.
I'm still waiting to finalize my new PC, so I haven't tried out the FW 410 yet, but Spot uses one on the VASST tour. If it's good enough for Pros...
Firewire 410... dual mic/inst pre-amps, dual headphone outputs with volume control, midi input and able to handle up to 7.1 surround audio monitoring.

kevvo wrote on 7/1/2004, 3:38 PM

One problem with Audigy is that the sample rate is set to 48kHz.
This may not be a problem for you, but they are not generally accepted to be "professional" sound cards.
M Audio drivers are pretty solid and will record at 44.1 kHz at 24 bit with extremely low latency. If you are recording audio and especially dubbing multiple tracks then this is very important.
The entry level M Audio card, the Audiophile 24/96 offers superb value for money (you should be able to find a brand new one for around £80 or $140 - second hand even cheaper)
I use one for audio recording and have had no problems at all. Well worth checking out.
Try browsing somewhere like:
and do a search for Audiophile. You will find out everything you need to know there.


Spot|DSE wrote on 7/1/2004, 4:03 PM
Audigy? Ouch! Not a good card....IMO. Noisy for recording, but decent for output. They do have compression built into the outputs, I think it triggers at a fairly high point.
Look at any of the Echo products such as the Indigo or Gina, look at most of the M-Audio products. Anything that uses USB, AVOID if you're going to do any recording.
M-Audio Firewire 410 is a great card in the mid 300 range, I'm very partial to the Echo Layla and Mona (discontinued)
Avoid MOTU for PC, they're rulers of the Mac though. Avoid ESI, decent cards but crap customer service and weak drivers. Hammerfall works good on high end systems and crashes like a mutha on cheap BIOS systems.
What's the mixer for? With Vegas, you don't need a mixer. Check out the Mackie big knob. You also might like this article, fresh off the press....
VOGuy wrote on 7/1/2004, 7:03 PM
I have the M-Audio Audiophile 2496 in my former main (Now standby) machine. Newer "main" machine uses the M-Audio Audiophile USB. The USB unit is on an independent (not shared) USB port. I get better sound and fewer (like NONE) glitches from the USB unit.

To be fair, it should be noted that the "new" machine is twice as fast as the "standby" one which has the 2496

I like the idea of keeping analog audio out of the computer chassis.

I like the M-Audio stuff, I just wish their drivers wouldn't complain about not being Microsoft certified on installation - makes me uneasy. - They seem to work fine, though.

Spot|DSE wrote on 7/1/2004, 8:01 PM
I've yet to see a USB card that can manage two channels (as opposed to stereo) recording with absolute glitch free recording at 48k, let alone higher sample rates or bit rates. That's not to say one doesn't exist, I've just never seen it on anything as fast as a 3.06 processor system. The way USB shares resources adn/or calls for them, it's a challenge to set these up well and totally trouble free, whereas dedicated or Firewire cards are much less hassle.
Regarding the drivers for Microsoft....I wouldn't want to pay M$ 10 grand or more to certify my product either. Doesn't make me uneasy at all, not when it's coming from a source I trust like M-Audio or Echo. But...I understand that ugly feeling when you see that big ugly STOP sign when installing drivers.
plasmavideo wrote on 7/2/2004, 8:37 AM
Thanks for all of the comments. I'm looking seriously at the 2496 card, although someone I just talked to said it is a discontinued product - sigh! They are still available from some distributors, however. I guess the problem is I'm looking for the best of all the works - good audio recording and a good general PC "gaming/mp3/everything else" card.

Spot, I use the mixer as part of the small A/V studio for the relatively decent mic preamps and for source to source dubbing outside of the computer. Sometimes the projects are as simple as Reel to Reel to Cassette (remember them things? - I still have a huge cabinet of old Reel to Reel tapes of airchecks from radio stations that friends and I've worked at and also occasionally I get a call to restore an old recording on R to R ) or MD or S-VHS to VHS without editing.

Spot|DSE wrote on 7/2/2004, 8:52 AM
Understood re; cassette, RtR, we get the same thing. I still have a 7" Wollensak in addition to my Pioneer RT 15" machine. Not to mention cassette. For a short time, we had a wax player as well, when we did the Smithsonian remasters.
Anyway, the Mona, which is also discontinued, has great pre's in it, with 4 inputs and 6 outs. I love this card!
bowman01 wrote on 7/4/2004, 3:11 AM
how does the m-audio cards work with 5.1 mixing? i use that creative audigy and it works great. with the creative asio drivers it's fixed to 48Khz but working with DV and encoding to DVD is at that sample rate anyways so i was just curious as to how much better it is with the m-audio range?
Spot|DSE wrote on 7/4/2004, 3:19 PM
The M-Audio cards don't have precompression built into them, and there is no coloration of the original sound like there is with the Creative tools. Creative is aware of this, they are allegedly launching a professional series card in the very near future.
M-Audio is a professional card even at their cheaper points, because they don't concern themselves with consumer-oriented tools, parts, etc. They use Cirrus chips for i/o, and it's pretty well a straight shot from the input to the card to the input of the monitor. They sound pretty dang good.
Chanimal wrote on 7/5/2004, 11:33 AM
Gosh darn it--and here I thought I already had the ultimate Vegas editing machine (with my AMD64, 1.5gig of ram, 6 harddrives, etc...and my Audigy2). Of course, I think the sound card is probably better than my microphones, so I may not notice the difference--but it looks like I'll check out an M-Audio my next time around.

Thanks for the good info.
John_Cline wrote on 7/5/2004, 4:34 PM
The "professional" division of Creative Labs, E-MU, has introduced a new series of audio cards and they appear to be surprisingly decent. You can read about them here:

Digit-Life Tech Review

Chanimal wrote on 5/14/2005, 3:51 PM
Any more news about E-MU. I saw an E-MU 0404 in CompUSA today for $99. I also saw an M-Audio solo firewire (don't know what this does) for $249.

I am still using my Audigy ZS, but the noise floor is too high (In a sound room so quiet your ears buzz, my mic is still 1/3rd up the meter from internal Audigy noise).

So today--about 9 months later, what is the BEST sound card for the low range, the mid range and the high high range?

I want the following:

- Used to record "clean" voice over work
- Want at least 5.1 capabilities
- Want midi capability for my keyboard

I'm confused at the M-audio site, since they don't have a comparitive matrix between their products (bad marketing) and I don't want to create one just to understand their product line.

Are they the best options, or the Emu, or something else?
fultro wrote on 5/14/2005, 4:08 PM
Spot - re the Mackie controller - you said "hot off the presses" - why then does your article refer to Vegas 5 -- I take it that all applies to Vegas 6 - perhaps even some newer implementations ?

I'll also add that the M-Audio stuff has been rock solid for me too
cheroxy wrote on 5/14/2005, 4:58 PM
Look at the date of the post. :)
Chanimal wrote on 5/14/2005, 5:34 PM
Sorry about that. I searched for an old discussion with m-audio and thought I might resurect this thread--since I wanted to refer back to it when asking a question that has been addressed previously.

Jay Serafin wrote on 5/14/2005, 9:18 PM
I own, am and the lead editing engineer, for one of the top post-production editing facilities in the SW Chicago Suburbs. With both 35 years of being a certified audio engineer, custom building all of the PC's used here in the Studio (4 master editing stations as well as 2 main servers), I've had to go through a lot of research, as well as "beating the hell" out of a lot of audio and video equipment.

I've found that the MidiMan M-Audio Delta 2496 (S/PDIF) and the Delta DiO (Toslink & S/PDIF) PCI cards have withstood the test of time. Outside of being a beta tester for another company, which supplies their own propriatary 32-track sound card, every editing workstation has at least 2, and up to 4, of these Delta series cards in them.

NO OTHER COMPANY has come close to giving me complete control over every aspect of both the importing and exporting of analog and digital audio streams as has M-Audio. I've never experienced a single failure with any of the cards, which is something I cannot say about any other ones which I have tried. My own testing of the specifications of these Delta cards has shown that they have ALL EXCEEDED their published specifications, as far as S/N ratio, noise floor, latency, etc.

I have to be extremely "picky" when it comes to puschasing any equipment here, whether it be internal or external to the PC's. And even though the price on these Delta cards can be "misleading" (the price is roughly $100 street in the Chicago area at Guitar Center), do not let that fool you. I've tested, and returned, well over 2 dozen different sound card brands/models over the past few years, and not one has given me everything I wanted/needed (and more).

I would urge you to consider purchasing one of these Delta cards. And with the capability of allowing a user to put MULTIPLE Delta cards into their PC/MAC PCI slots, the number of user presets is almost unlimited. I've seen no reason to not recommend these cards to anyone, whether the person is just starting out, or whether they have an existing/good rep Studio in place.

I hope this info helps you out in making your final decision.
Chanimal wrote on 5/14/2005, 10:35 PM
Jay - Thanks for the feedback.

How do the Delta 2496 and DiO compare to the current M-Audio product line? Which would be the equivalent?

craftech wrote on 5/15/2005, 5:50 AM
The M-Audio Audiophile 2496 is going for $99.95 or less these days.

FrankieP wrote on 5/15/2005, 7:27 AM
The E-MU line of cards are highly recommended. I have a 1212m on my MCE2005 HTPC and they sound great. Has low latency ASIO drivers and built in DSP effects to boot that is very usable (except maybe for the reverbs). The effects are driven by the card's own DSP so no hit on your CPU. The 0404 is the cheapest one but I would recommend the 1212m instead if you plan on adding more inputs/outputs in the future. For extra, you could purchase the Audiodock in the future which is a breakout box that has XLR I/O's and headphone monitoring. It works great with Vegas.
woodrose wrote on 5/15/2005, 7:48 AM
I have the E-MU 0404, Stay away from this card. E-MU does not play well with sony software. E-MU is working on better drivers that will work with are software. So they say. Do a search over at the acid forum, you will see the trouble some have been having like my self.
Spot|DSE wrote on 5/15/2005, 7:49 AM
The Emu also has problems with Audition, too.