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MNX2010 PC AUDIO SITE

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  NX2010 PC Audio Sites - Introduction :

PC & Music This site is meant as a support site for everything that has got something to do with audio, but especially PC-orientated audio. Nowadays a wide range of soundcards is available, varying from simple to semi-professional till studio quality. It hasn't been for long that the PC is suitable for professional audio use. Present day's fast computers are capable of working with multiple channels at once with a variety of VST/DX-plugins and -instruments without problems. So if you are in the lucky possession of such a fancy fast computer, you're already quite far on the road of making music with your PC. Next things necessary to buy are a good, often expensive soundcard and an audio-software program. Futre Music
Such an investment can cost up to several thousands of Euros, which is quite an amount of money. A good advice can save you a lot of money and trouble, and that's where this site comes in the picture, because its main purpose is to give advice and to exchange experiences. Therefore it's also possible, as owner of a soundcard or audio-software, to post an e-mail of your experiences with it. These can then be shared trough this website, so that it can expand with (your) user opinions. However, judging these opinions or following any of the advices given there are your own responsibility.... mnx September 2003.

Audio Card Purchase of a soundcard?

Nowadays people can choose from an overwhelming variety of soundcards. However, the quality of a lot of these cards is something to dispute. Some manufacturers simply promise more than their products really offer. Some cards have a very high latency, crackle, or just sound bad. Some cards aren't provided with good drivers for it, or for all operating systems, are to minimal or have bugs in it.

In general, there are three different kinds of soundcards:

  • The simple, most common 16 bits soundcard. These can be equipped with or without S/PDIF in/output, optical and coaxial, and with or without surround outputs. Standard 5.1 surround soundcards are equipped with 3 x stereo outputs (mini-jack).
  • The semi-professional soundcard "24/96" (24 bits, 96 KHz). These are mostly equipped with S/PDIF in- and output, 8-channel audio buffering, gold-plated in- and outputs (mostly jacks or cinch), MIDI i/o and a low latency.
  • The professional soundcard. These often have the same quality as the semi-professional soundcards, but have more i/o's (8 or more) and often have extras like ADAT, balanced digital i/o's, expandable to 16/24/48 tracks, digital sync, multiple MIDI channels and an extreme low latency.

The cheaper soundcards, like the Korean Terratec and Hoontech soundcards, have disadvantages such as bad drivers or no support for some programs. Or the hardware just isn't sufficient and delivers mediocre sound quality, like the Soundblaster soundcards. The professional soundcards, like from Motu and RME, offer good hardware and software quality, but these are mostly so expensive that only the real music freaks and professionals can afford them.
Fortunately there are some exceptions to this, and in every price category you have some cards with an excellent price vs. quality. But the fact remains that if you have high demands a good soundcard will cost up to 500 Euros, which is quite expensive, surely for me.

Audio Card 2 Maybe the best thing to do is not to stare blindly at all available soundcards. Find out what exactly your wishes are and buy a card that meets your requirements more or less, or wait until that dream-card becomes affordable. Better and better cards become available, so perhaps that won't take that long!

For those who can afford it, you can of course buy a professional soundcard. Then you are sure that you have something good, and you can have lots of fun with it for a long time. Surely you'll have to use it in a fast computer to make use of all the capabilities of it.

Then, there is still the problem with the software. With the release of a new OS, such as Windows XP, and new hardware, there is a fair chance that something goes wrong, and that there are no compatible or good drivers available. This happens even with the professional products. These 'childhood-diseases' are mostly solved over time, and therefore it might be a good idea not to buy the newest product available. Wait at least until updates are available! A tip concerning this: check newsgroups on certain products and read FAQ's; there you can find user experiences, and problems with that specific product, which can be quite horrifying sometimes... Try to find opinions, pros and contras etc. Once bought it can be a hell of a job to get rid of it again!

Purchasing software?

note You might not consider it with hardware, (then again, why not?) but with software this is a golden tip: buy second-hand! If you want to buy a professional software program but don't want to spend professional money: buy a license second-hand, from an earlier version for instance. That shouldn't cost that much, and than you can upgrade it to the newest version for a fraction of the cost. It could save you a lot of money!
Lots of software programs are way too expensive in my opinion. Also, more simple (lite), or even free versions are often available. For instance Pro-tools there is a free, older version available. This way you can find out if this is a suitable program that meets your demands, very handy indeed! This goes for the demo, shareware en freeware versions as well. A tip for demo-versions with time-trial: if the try-out time expires, and you have made a 'ghost image' with the program called 'Ghost' from Norton, install the ghost, install the program again and you are good to go for another 'evaluation period'! Then there is, last but not least, illegal software. Everyone should make out for themselves if they want to use this and bear all the risks involved. Main thing is: don't buy anything unless you know it is good for you and does what you want.

Links PC Music Magazines :


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