[PlanetCCRMA] laptop studio advice.

Justin H Haynes Justin@Haynes.net
Sun Nov 7 19:37:04 2004

List -

Hi.  I have enjoyed using planetCCRMA at home but have had shoddy 
hardware.  I have RMA'd the new but inexpensive Shuttle SN41G barebones 
machine I bought for the explicit purpose of installing and using 
planetCCRMA.  It died of a BIOS upgrade (even though it was the correct 
one)  I bought a Soundblaster LIVE which worked well initially and then 
burned out.  I put the two cheapey 1370 based ensoniq cards in another 
machine, but it was unhappy and had a poor PCI bus.  xrun city with 
shared video and undiagnosable wiredness as well.

<deep relaxing breath.>

- it takes up too much space anyway
- cheap sound cards will no longer do
- A portable setup is nice.  Having only one workstation I use 
everywhere is even nicer.
- I love my thinkpad
- an external interface can take load off the processor.

I have a Thinkpad 600 266MHz Pentium II with 128 MB ram running FC1.  I 
am not against getting a faster one, but for the time being I am going 
to try and use this.  I have seen this old laptop outperform machines 
with faster processors (500-700MHz range anyway)  I think IBM does a 
really good job on their Laptops and I believe they are better 
integrated than much of the hardware on the market.  Also, I run very 
few processes and use a minimal window manager

That said, I started with RME and looked at their cards.  That is more 
money than I want to pay right now, otherwise it would be my first 
choice.  Ardour is the center of what I am using and and Paul Davis 
likes it, and the features are certainly there.  The features I wanted 
were at least the following:

96KHz 24 bit sampling full duplex one input, stereo output
midi in
low noise
either attach by usb or pcmcia

So I started with alsa's recommendations:

Of those, M-Audio's Quattro USB looked the best:

It does everything I need and then some, EXCEPT it can only handle 96KHz 
24 bit 2in OR 2out, and not at the same time apparently.  Can someone 
confirm this?  That seemed strange to me.  I can live with that, but  
for $350, I would rather have 96KHz 24bit full duplex.

Alsa's matrix isn't complete right now, so I can't see Terratec's stuff 
or beyond.  Also, some of the links are giving CGI errors.  I've looked 
up the envy IO, and its unsupported.  There was a new Soundblaster (ZD?) 
that would be perfect, but its not supported yet I assume.

Basically, my questions are:

can someone please recommend a card to me that would fit the bill?
Any laptop experiences that I can benefit from from any of you?