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Old 14th July 2011, 09:52 PM   #1
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Default Sound Card Recommendations (For Audio Measurements)

Bear with me . . .

I'm interested in acquiring a decent sound card for the Personal Confuser, so I can start playing with some of the audio testing software. Unless there are compelling reasons to do otherwise, my preference is for something that would use an internal PCI slot rather than an outboard module hung on, e.g., USB, Firewire, etc. I appreciate that, in order to achieve the full capabilities of this setup as a measuring instrument, I'll probably need an external interface module to condition the audio I/O signals. I have a currently unused, out of date, computer that could be dedicated to housing the card and software.

Based on suggestions found on a few discussion forums, I determined that the "ESI Juli@" was an excellent choice for this application. Retail price seems to be about US$150. That's a bit steep for my budget - I've been watching E-Bay and Craigslist for something in the US$50 - $100 range. (Even at that, "Spending $100 for a sound card when the computer's built-in sound seems to work just fine." will be entered on my wife's list of "Things My NEXT Husband Won't Do!".)

Today I came across an "M-Audio Audiophile 192" offered for US$65. As best I can tell, it seems to be roughly equivalent to the ESI Juli@. Can somebody confirm that the M-Audio card would be suitable for my application? Any known weaknesses, shortcomings, or other "gottcha's"? Would it be wiser to keep looking? (There's no rush - I have plenty of other projects to occupy me for the next 6 months.)

I'll listen to your unsupported opinions as well as conclusions supported by hard data. Thanks for your time,

Dale
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Old 14th July 2011, 10:01 PM   #2
jcx is offline jcx  United States
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you can search the web for the soundcard name and RMAA together for loopback measurements of most cards
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Old 14th July 2011, 10:08 PM   #3
SY is offline SY  United States
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I have had superb results with the M-Audio 192 card.

Yes, you'll need an external interface- I have a homebuilt one based on BUF03 buffer chips. Pete Millett published a more versatile unit which is probably cheaper to build.
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Old 15th July 2011, 01:08 AM   #4
BFNY is offline BFNY  United States
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I use the M-Audio 192 too and also can vouch for it. There are other threads here where I posted it's capability with screen shots.
With all these soundcards, the source is the limiting factor. The 24 bit A/D is much better than the source, by 10-20 dB, so using an external low THD source works best if you really want to push it to the extremes. I use the source built into the HP339, or the Tek plug in SG505. Both are extremely low distortion sources.

Bob
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Old 15th July 2011, 02:26 AM   #5
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I had trouble with the M-audio 192 card when it first came out. if you played around with the panning and audio settings, at one setting it would output noise at full volume. M-Audio's tech support flat out told me "oh well" and at that point i just returned the card and vowed to never use a M-Audio product again...however they may have fixed the issue since then. I am running a M-Audio Delta card in my PC based Spectrum Analyzer as it has balanced inputs and i was able to buy if for $30 and have had pretty good luck with it. not sure how it stacks up against the newer cards.

The ESI card does look VERY nice! I love that you can tap into the I2S port on it and choose if you want RCA or 1/4" outputs!
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Old 16th July 2011, 09:40 AM   #6
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Thanks for the responses. I went ahaead and bought the M-Audio 192.

Dale
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