Subject: Summary of laptop soundcard suggestions From: Satrajit Ghosh <satra(at)BU.EDU> Date: Mon, 9 Jun 2003 19:07:35 -0400
Dear List members, Thank you for all your responses. I have compiled below a summarized list of the products suggested so far. Thank you, Satra -- Satrajit S Ghosh Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems, Boston University They've been grouped into type of interface: USB followed by PCMCIA. See Dave Isherwood's notes at the end concerning USB and PCMCIA. Website : www.edirol.com Product : UA5(2 channel), UA1000(10 channel), UA3D Interface : USB Submitted by: Tomasz M. Rutkowski, Rahul Shrivastav Notes : I am using it for sound separation experiments and it works really great, even with Matlab. Generally in your case USB devices would be a good choice and additionally you will be free from possible interference/noise that sometimes occur inside computer boxes. Website : www.soundblaster.com Product : Creative Extigy Interface : USB Submitted by: Tomasz M. Rutkowski, Satrajit Ghosh Notes : From a price perspective this is a very decent USB card and is suitable for many situations. The new external box called the Audigy Platinum Ex has much better specifications, but I'm still trying to find out how well it works through the Firewire interface [satra] Website : www.dolphinmusic.co.uk Computer Music > Sound Cards > USB Product : Multiple USB sound cards Interface : USB Submitted by: John Culling Website : www.xitel.com Product : Hi-Fi Link [standard/pro] Interface : USB Submitted by: Lars Bramslow Website : www.digigram.com Product : Digigram VXpocket V2, V440 Interface : PCMCIA Submitted by: Michael Howes, Ville Sivonen, Frank Ekeberg H. Notes : 1. It is a bit touchy to install but seems to work great. More info through the main site. If you decide to buy one, you can often find them at musician website's for a good bargain. (musician's friend, etc)[Michael] 2. I have earlier used Digigram VXPocket v2 PCMCIA sound card with a laptop. The sound card was high quality, except at low sampling frequencies (<16kHz), when the noise floor was quite high for some reason. However, when using a higher sampling rate there were no problems. [Ville] Products : MOTU 828, Nuendo, Emagic's boxes,Metric Halo, DAC Submitted by: Richard Nance Notes : The PCMCIA cards that connect the externals are good if you need the bandwidth for multiple inputs, but Firewire or even USB can deliver a couple of channels of 96kHz, 24bit signal. Be sure to always check out the analog specifications. The digital specs won't matter if the analog stage is junk. Website : www.sheldoninst.com Product : BULLET II Interface : PCMCIA Submitted by: Tony Miller Notes : I have used the BULLET II board in the past to measure otoacoustic emissions and acoustic energy reflectance. It is the DSP board for the Starkey DP2000 measurement system [http://dp2000.starkey.com/dp2000/public-clear/] Website : www.rme-audio.com Product : Multiface Interface : PCMCIA Submitted by: Piotr Majdak, Guillaume VANDERNOOT Notes : It's an external half-19" box with 8 analog I/Os (24bit, 96kHz) and 8 ADAT I/Os. Together with the "Card-Bus interface" (PCMCIA card) you can use it in a laptop. There is a PCI-card to connect Multiface to desktop computers, as well. Using with laptops requires power supply which is included with the multiface. NOTES CONCERNING USB and PCMCIA [David Isherwood] I have no personal experiences with USB soundcards but have read and heard from others that, even with the newer USB 2.0 there are some issues that have to be born in mind USB shares multiple devices on a single IRQ so, unlike PCMCIA or PCI soundcards that have dedicated IRQs, depending on the number of devices attached and each ones bandwidth, there may be buffer under-runs if the audio output buffer size is not high enough and latency jitter depending on the access frequency of the devices. Remedying these problems boils down to having only the most neccesary USB devices attached to the PC when using the soundcard and making sure that the output buffer size is large enough. Apogee also recommend that a USB soundcard not be connected to a hub and that the cable length not exceed 5 metres (although there are devices that extend the range of USB, e.g.ICRON Ranger, these are hubs and so should be avoided). [Added by Satra] I think most computers today share IRQs among devices although a USB hub/controller is often provided a dedicated IRQ. From a shielding perspective it does seem better to have the A/D conversion done outside the computer. I believe the choice would depend on your application requirements.