[PlanetCCRMA] sound card recomendations?

JOHN LYON jalyon at shaw.ca
Sat May 2 07:33:00 PDT 2009

I have the Focusrite SAFFIRE PRO IO 26 (cost me roughly $700 Canadian $).  Once I put a Texas Instruments firewire card in my computer it started to work. ffado-mixer works -- it's a little quirky. You need ffado-mixer to turn phantom power on and off, and to turn volume up on the two headphone outputs.  I'm using the 'edge' 2.29 kernel Fernando put up a while back, with mostly good results. It's a bit more 'bleeding edge' than I want to be, butt the 2.27 Linux kernels have a bug in them which prevents them from working with my ASUS P5QL PRO motherboard (it's well documented on the web).  I've had a few crashes and freezes while using Ardour and jack with the focusrite, but I attribute those mostly to my attempts to wring the lowest latency out of the system, i.e. I kept trying jack settings that produced lower and lower latencies until I started getting xruns and system instability.  I'm writing from another computer, so I don't have the settings in front of me, but I suspect they are of limited value because they really only apply directly to my hardware (nvidea video card, ASUS P5QL motherboard, Pentium D dual-core 3.0 gigahertz CPU, 2 gig of RAM,  etc.).  I think at this point you have to experiment with the jack settings for your computer and see what works for you.  (If I'm wrong about this, someone please correct me). 

I'm sorry but I don't know which firewire card I have --- its a PCI card, so won't work on your laptop anyway. Yes, it would be nice to have this stuff better documented.  And I wish there was a decent ffado manual.  

I ahve also used the Delta 1010LT card (internal PCI card) with good results.  I'm not sure why I went with firewire rather than the delta. I was hoping for improved sound, and perhaps I'll get it.  I believe the Delta 1010LT has lower latency than a firewire connections, but I also believe that the results I get from firewire are 'good enough'.  

I haven't had the time or energy lately to do much recording, so I haven't formed any strong opinions yet about just how good all this equipment sounds, but I promise to put up some messages about it when I'm a little further along in my explorations.  At this point, I'm just happy to have some equipment that's working (my Apple-using musician/recording friends are amused by this --- they tell me everything in a Mac environment 'just works', including the foucsrite stuff.  My wife has been hinting that she may buy me a Mac just to reduce my stress levels. I'm telling her to hold off becuase I've been a user and lover of Linux since 1994 with absolutely wonderful results --- until my attempts to make audio recordings ran into real-time kernel problems, problems trying to understand Ardour, jack, etc.  I suspect that we'd all end up way ahead of the game if we all stopped our programming and just worked to produce some clear, well-written documentation on the whole process of using Linux for high-end audio recording.  On the other hand, I can't wait to try the MIDI enabled version of Ardour, so yes, I can see why the programming proceeds apace).

Good luck in your search for 

----- Original Message -----
From: Oded Ben-Tal <oded at ccrma.Stanford.EDU>
Date: Saturday, May 2, 2009 4:27 am
Subject: Re: [PlanetCCRMA] sound card recomendations?
To: Juan Reyes <juanig at ccrma.Stanford.EDU>
Cc: planetCCRMA <planetccrma at ccrma.Stanford.EDU>

> More queeries on this hot topic...
> While a number of people recomended the delta1010 from maudio, 
> recently 
> nando pointed out that I won't be able to use it on a laptop.
> So I'm back to more searching. Saffire firewire came up in 
> vairous 
> threads, I presume this is the one?
>   www.dv247.com/invt/25740/
> And there were some mention that different chipsets (on the 
> computer?) 
> do/don't work. I'm trying to find the specification for that on 
> my laptop 
> (thinkpad T400) but can't locate that. Anyone know the magic 
> command 
> (through either linux or Win.)
> And a final question: any other thoughts about multichannel 
> interface (4 or 8 channels) upto $300?
> thanks
> Oded
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> PlanetCCRMA at ccrma.stanford.edu
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