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Re: sound card recommendations
Echoing Bob's comments I don't use a Mac so I might be missing something, but *if* there is any weakness in the Mac's built-in sound hardware, I'd expect it to be on the analogue side of the DACs: the frequency and group-delay responses *may* not be so flat or extended (especially at the low-frequency end), there *may* be more noise and more cross-talk between channels, and there *may* be more distortion. The built-in headphone amplifier may also be unable to produce the signal level you require to drive high-end headphones (which usually have a higher impedance and so need a bigger voltage to drive them).
If you do decide you need an external sound card, I've been using a Teac UD-H01 recently and have been very happy with it. It's list price is pretty high (£400 in the UK), but can be found heavily discounted if you shop around (less than half price).
It has drivers for Mac and PC, and has a good built-in headphone amplifier. It has its own separate power supply, and doesn't rely on the USB connection for power so the output level should be high enough for what you need (although that will depend on the sensitivity and impedance of your headphones). The critical specs are as follows:
32-bit/192kHz Dual D/A Converters
Internal up-sampling from 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, or 176.4kHz, to 192kHz (if required)
Frequency Response: 5Hz - 55kHz (-3dB, 192kHz sampling)
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 115dB
Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.0015% (1kHz signal, 192kHz sampling)
The only down-side for scientific experiments is that there is a continuously-variable output level control, so you might need to devise a method for calibrating the sound pressure level heard by your subjects.
On Sun, 6 Jan 2013 08:17:20 -0500
Bob Masta <audio@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> I'm a Windows guy, so I'm not speaking with authority here,
> but I think you will find that current Apple computers can
> easily handle your needs. A quick Google search turns up
> bit depths to 24 and sample rates to 96000 for MacBook Pro.
> Also, a client a few years back used my Windows-only
> software on the Mac Minis already in the lab. This was no
> problem using Boot Camp to load XP. The default sound was
> 16-bit 48000 Hz, but could be set higher by dialog-diving
> in Windows Control Panel. There is surely something
> equivalent in the normal Apple OS.
> Best regards,
> Bob Masta
> On 4 Jan 2013 at 13:36, Josh McDermott wrote:
> > Dear list,
> > I am looking to start running psychoacoustics experiments on Apple
> > desktop and laptop computers, and I would be grateful for
> > recommendations of sound cards that can be used for high fidelity
> > playback of waveforms, e.g. from the Psych Toolbox in Matlab. I have
> > not tested the sound cards that come with current Apple computers, but
> > I presume I am better off going with an external card. I am presenting
> > sounds to humans, so 48kHz and 24 bits should be sufficient. Thanks in
> > advance for any suggestions.
> > Happy new year,
> > Josh
> Bob Masta
> D A Q A R T A
> Data AcQuisition And Real-Time Analysis
> Scope, Spectrum, Spectrogram, Signal Generator
> Science with your sound card!