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Soundcard for laptop


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I finally bought myself a laptop to be more mobile with my equipment, now the problem is that I yet have to get myself a proper soundcard. On my old PC I used a M-Audio Delta 1010LT and was very satisfied with it. However, as far as I know there are no internal soundcards for laptops so I have to get an external one. What soundcard can you recommend me? Just assume that price doesn't really matter. And keep in mind that I've got some hardware synthies too.

 

Thank you

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I finally bought myself a laptop to be more mobile with my equipment, now the problem is that I yet have to get myself a proper soundcard. On my old PC I used a M-Audio Delta 1010LT and was very satisfied with it. However, as far as I know there are no internal soundcards for laptops so I have to get an external one. What soundcard can you recommend me? Just assume that price doesn't really matter. And keep in mind that I've got some hardware synthies too.

 

Thank you

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If you want quality, I'd say go for

MOTU:

either: Traveller (firewire)

or: 828mkII (usb 2.0 or firewire)

for a little less cash: Ultra-lite (firewire)

 

All have superb audio quality and plenty of in's and out's

RME makes some good ones too

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Personally I stay away from both firewire and usb based cards for laptops as I've seen to many get their connections knocked out with bumped cables (although I will say that firewire on Mac seems to be pretty stable). I personally prefer pcmcia based cards as they are much more stable. Depending on what you want it for there are some good options. If you want something easy and portable for playing out live with little fuss, etc, the Echo Indigo cards have been very good to me and have never failed me live.

 

If you are looking for a more "studio" like card, I can also recommend the E-MU 1616M. The mixer takes a bit of getting used to, but its a good card with a wide range of contective possiblities and it also has been very stable for me. I think it is one of, if not the best card in its price range and it has a mess of good free software included as well. RME also has a few cards with PCMCIA adaptors as well. I haven't tried any of those but they are a quality company and if you have the money you probably wouldn't be disappointed.

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My experiences are on the PC side, so I cannot comment on Mac. I have an Echo Indigo DJ, which I bought for about $150 US, and I am very satisfied with it. It has performed nearly flawlessly from the get go, with latency < 6ms very comfortably for live performance.

 

I have also used a firewire MOTU 828 MK2, and it has performed very well, with a few minor problems along the way. Can successfully get 2ms or less latency, but generally don't use it, to free up more CPU.

 

I used a M-Audio 410 firewire before, and had nothing but problems with it. I sold it.

 

I think both Echo & MOTU are viable options. I would stay away from USB, as it is simply susceptible to more software problems on Windows platforms, especially if you are going to be using other USB devices. Some considerations:

 

-PCMCIA is probably more stable. However, it is also a more fragile physical connection. Any PCMCIA card you have is going to either have the connections directly on it, or to a break-out-box. Consequently, it may have proprietary cabling. Depending on the configuration of the ports on the PCMCIA card, you may have cables blocking access to the area around the PCMCIA slot (ex: idigo 1/8" cabling blocks one of my usb ports on the side of my toshiba laptop). PCMCIA is not outdated yet, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was phased out with a new standard in the next few years, or just replaced by firewire/usb entirely.

 

 

-Firewire will be more susceptible to connection recognition problems, but not like USB. There are more places that the thruput speed can go wrong than with PCMCIA. No proprietary cabling, and you will have more soundcard options to choose from, that's for sure. Firewire cables are restricted to a max length of 15ft or so, otherwise you need a repeater, but most of us want it close anyways. Firewire is more portable, as most machines will have a firewire port nowadays.

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Totally agree  :)

 

Btw, I know there was problems with the old usb but didn't think there was too many with usb 2.0...(?)

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My reservations about USB are due to my old USB audio interface and more recently (back in Sept) having my midi controllers moved around by other djs during the tail end of my live sets and having the connection fail on me and having to do the rest of the set via mouse (luckly it was the last track). I'd trust firewire before I would USB, but I've seen firewire run the range of experiences, from one artist having the table is gear was on collapse and the computer/soundcard not miss a beat (that was a Mac with a MOTU 828 I believe) to having the connections suddenly and regularly go out for no reason.

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Thanks everybody for recommendations and advice, I really appreciate it.

 

I'm a complete noob when it comes to firewire, so how do you connect the firewire box to the laptop if not via USB?

And what connections do those PCMCIA cards have?

I've heard that USB soundcards eat up quite a lot of CPU power, is it the same with these cards?

 

Hmm, I'm still absolutely clueless what to take. I need it both for recording and for live. :unsure:

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usb and firewire are different interfaces with different connection. you should check whether you have firewire on your laptop since it's not that common yet. usb uses more cpu, but it's not something you'll notice imho.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Serial_Bus

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FireWire

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agreed

 

Lumpi, I would suggest shopping a few firewire interfaces (provided your have a firewire port on your laptop), and come back here with your favorite picks.

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I just noticed that my laptop is not PCMCIA card compatible, but it has an expresscard slot... so firewire is the way to go I guess. Anyway, how do I know for sure if firewire is available at all on my laptop? Sorry, I'm just bloody new to this sort of things. :)

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Lumpi, I would suggest shopping a few firewire interfaces (provided your have a firewire port on your laptop), and come back here with your favorite picks.

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OK, just ordered myself an RME Fireface 400 ^_^ Looks so damn ugly, really. But else it should do fine, I guess. Now I can even get rid of my old Midi interface and my mixer (which I didn't like anyway). Thank you all

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OK, just ordered myself an RME Fireface 400  ^_^  Looks so damn ugly, really. But else it should do fine, I guess. Now I can even get rid of my old Midi interface and my mixer (which I didn't like anyway). Thank you all

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best choice there is.

enjoy. :)

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OK, just ordered myself an RME Fireface 400  ^_^  Looks so damn ugly, really. But else it should do fine, I guess. Now I can even get rid of my old Midi interface and my mixer (which I didn't like anyway). Thank you all

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Very fine choice, though I would have went for the Motu traveller. Especially if it's going to be used live due to its backround lit lcd-display and the metering.
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Very fine choice, though I would have went for the Motu traveller. Especially if it's going to be used live due to its backround lit lcd-display and the metering.

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Yes, that would've been my second choice. We'll see, I've got enough time to check this out, worst case I just give it back and replace it with a MotU Traveller. :)

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